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Moving to Helsinki

Helsinki’s popularity as an expat destination has grown thanks to its healthy economy, dynamic cultural scene and high standards of healthcare and education. Finland's capital city continues to be at the forefront of design, with many areas and suburbs boasting their contemporary architecture and inventive cuisine. The wide avenues of Helsinki are lined with buildings that showcase centuries of architectural excellence from the neoclassical era through to art deco and cutting-edge contemporary buildings. Expats will find Helsinki lacks none of the sophistication of home; it may even surpass it.

In the Uusimaa region of southern Finland, Helsinki is the country’s largest and most heavily populated city. Set on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, it’s located about 50 miles (80km) north of Tallinn, Estonia, 250 miles (400km) northeast of Stockholm, Sweden, and 242 miles (390km) west of St Petersburg, Russia. Spread across a cluster of promontories and peninsulas, Helsinki stands as the political, educational, financial and cultural centre of Finland.

As an economic hub, many foreign companies which operate in Finland have bases in this region and the city's job market draws in many expats. When it comes to entertainment and lifestyle, Helsinki with its prolific coffee culture has something for everyone. While the cold may put a damper on the mood, Finnish sauna culture will surely raise one's spirits and central heating systems keep residents cosy in their comfortable accommodation

For expats relocating as a family with children, there's plenty of things to keep them occupied, and parents will be pleased to know that both public and international schools provide an excellent standard of education.

Whether moving alone or as a family, public transport makes getting around easy, allowing expats to explore Helsinki and other regions of Finland to take in nature, learn about the culture and observe the spectacular northern lights.

Overall, expats in Helsinki will be able to make the most of their time in one of Northern Europe's most attractive destinations, benefitting from accessible social services and indulging in the city's built-up and natural wonders.

Accommodation in Helsinki

Most expats choose to rent rather than buy property in Finland – it's the simple option, particularly for those staying short term. Employers usually assist and guide expats in finding a place to live, and if not, the services of an estate agent are helpful, especially as Helsinki’s rental housing market is quite competitive.

Helsinki, being Finland’s capital city, is a hub of economic and social activity, which is attractive to foreigners looking to study or find work. This appeal has made the housing market increasingly competitive, and rent prices alongside it, adding to the already high cost of living.


Types of accommodation in Helsinki

Accommodation in Helsinki's centre usually comes in the form of apartments. Freestanding houses are hard to find in the city, and those who want a larger family home with a garden will need look for it on the outskirts, and consequently have to tackle a long commute to work each day. 

Furnished vs unfurnished

Expats should be able to find a range of furnished and unfurnished accommodation in the city. Furnished accommodation may be harder to find and is generally more costly, but usually contains everything a new arrival will need to feel comfortable.

New arrivals often perceive renting in Finland to be quite different from their home country. For example, basic items such as light fittings, carpets and curtains aren’t necessarily included in all rental properties but amenities such as a fridge and washing machine might be.

Municipal vs private rental accommodation

Finnish municipalities own apartments for rent and this is managed by The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (ARA). Expats can find more information on this from the City of Helsinki and ARA websites where expats can make housing applications.

While privately owned flats can be found quicker, they are pricier. Expats looking for more affordable rents can look for municipal or state-subsided housing if they have citizenship or a residence permit. The catch is that the waiting lists are long, so it’s advised to start planning long in advance or to look into areas outside of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa.


Finding accommodation in Helsinki

A good place to begin searching for a home is on established online property portals. Vuokraovi, Forenom, Kodisto and HousingAnywhere are useful portals, accessible in English. Expats can also post their own adverts looking for accommodation.

The classifieds sections in local newspapers are good sources of information. While estate agents in Helsinki will quickly be able to find a property that meets an individual’s needs, their fees are high compared to international standards.

Occupancy rates for apartments in Helsinki are high and nice rental properties are snapped up quickly. Speaking to friends and colleagues can be useful as many apartments are rented out through word of mouth before being advertised in newspapers or through estate agencies. 

For expats on a budget, accommodation in surrounding neighbourhoods and even nearby cities such as Vantaa and Espoo can be more suitable. Although these areas are not in the city centre, they have an interesting mix of young, international students, working professionals and entrepreneurs. Families with children will also factor in how far the accommodation is located from schools and how easy it is to get around.


Renting accommodation in Helsinki

Once expats find a suitable property in Helsinki, they need to act fast to secure it. It’s important to fully understand what is included in the rental agreement and check with the landlord regarding how furnished the accommodation is before signing a lease. Most leases last a year, but Finland has two main types of tenancy agreements, one being on a fixed-term and the other being more flexible, set until further notice.

Fixed-term leases

Tenants can sign a lease agreement to reside in an apartment up until an agreed-upon date decided by them and the landlord. Fixed-term leases (määräaikainen vuokrasopimus) are useful for expats who know how long they are due to stay in the area and how long they wish to reside in that property. If expats decide to extend their stay, they must agree with the landlord and sign a new lease.

Leases valid until further notice

For a more flexible and open-ended alternative, expats can sign a lease valid until further notice (toistaiseksi voimassa oleva vuokrasopimus). To new arrivals who don't know how long they are in Helsinki for, this option is attractive as they can end or extend their stay as required. The downside is that landlords may want to end the lease before tenants do, and so it’s recommended to agree on a notice period when signing this lease.

Deposits

Tenants are expected to put down between one to three months’ rent as a security deposit. The cost of any damages to the property will be deducted from this when the contract is terminated. 

Utilities

Water is often included in monthly rental costs, although dwellings may have a water meter and if excessive amounts of water are used then this becomes an additional cost.

Tenants are usually expected to pay for their electricity and sign a contract with an electricity provider themselves. Landlords can give them information on this and prices between companies can be compared. Phone lines and internet connections are also rarely included in the rent.

As most apartments in Helsinki have centralised heating systems, heating is included in the rent. Sometimes, if it is oil or electricity-based heating then it is an additional expense. In detached houses, heating and waste management are generally paid by the tenant. Regarding one's normal household rubbish, tenants should be aware of how to sort it based on the type of material. Tenants can ask their municipality or landlord about this.

Some dwellings may have a laundry room, a parking space and a sauna – which new arrivals will learn is far from unusual in Finland. A fee may be charged for these facilities but can be discussed with the landlord.

Areas and suburbs in Helsinki

The best places to live in Helsinki

Helsinki is bursting with colourful, modern and vibey scenes with built-up urban areas as well as refreshing forest and waterfront views. Some areas are quaint and vibey with interesting architecture, and everywhere is worth exploring. The city is walkable but public transport makes getting around – even to areas outside the city – a breeze. While expats often look at central areas such as Ullanlinna and Kamppi, they shouldn't dismiss cities a bit further out. Whether it's to live in or for a getaway or day trip, nearby cities such as cosy, medieval Porvoo are not to be missed.

An expat’s budget will be the biggest factor determining where they live in Helsinki. Other things to consider include proximity to work and schools, availability of amenities, and personal lifestyle choices.

These are some of the city’s most popular expat neighbourhoods.


City centre in Helsinki

City

Töölö

Built in the first half of the 20th century in response to a major housing crisis, Töölö is an excellent example of Nordic Classicism and is home to a wide array of trendy boutiques and cafés. Set against Töölö Bay, this is a beautiful area to live in. It’s a vibrant area where residents can buy fresh produce from the small local market square. Excellent transport links make getting around the rest of Helsinki easy. Töölö is split into two neighbourhoods: expats can stroll the park and see the Sibelius Monument in the northern neighbourhood or visit Parliament House in the southern part.

Kallio

This once-rundown Helsinki neighbourhood used to house many of the city’s lower-income residents. Today, it is one of the most densely populated urban areas in Finland, making it the epicentre of city culture in Helsinki and the birthplace of many global trends. Kallio is also a laid-back residential area which is popular with bohemian artists, young creatives, professionals and expats alike.

It’s home to an eclectic assortment of art galleries and boutique shops, and those who enjoy eating out will find a host of good restaurants in the area, with several specialising in Middle Eastern cuisine. There's always something to see and do in Kallio, be it a concert at Kallio Church or exploring the artisanal crafts and local delicacies in Hakaniemi Market Hall.

Both the young and elderly reside alone in the small apartments of Kallio. Lower rental prices in Kallio drew in many new arrivals, although the area's growing popularity and gentrification mean that rents are not as low as they once were.


Outer suburbs in Helsinki

Viikki

Itäkeskus

Located in eastern Helsinki, just a few kilometres from the city centre, Itäkeskus offers functional and affordable apartment accommodation. The highlight of the area is the Itis shopping centre, one of the largest shopping centres in the Nordic region.

Itäkeskus is served by efficient public transport and road links which make it easy to get to other parts of the city. 

Viikki

Not far from the city centre lies the ecological heart of Helsinki. Viikki is home to some of the finest parks and natural areas in Helsinki, including the Viikki-Vanhankaupunginlahti nature reserve.

Helsinki’s university is located here and is a hive of activity, providing a large number of jobs for residents. There are also several good schools in the area, making it a great neighbourhood in which to raise a family.


Nearby cities to Helsinki

Porvoo

Vantaa

While Vantaa is outside of the city centre, the area of Kartanonkoski is a quiet and peaceful leafy suburb. Families may find this to be an ideal area due to the proximity of a well-reputed international school. There are also bus links into the city. 

Espoo

For residents who find Helsinki rent too high, Espoo offers a more affordable alternative. It is outside of Helsinki, but the efficient bus and train links make the commute to the capital comfortable and easy. Expats may even be able to find jobs in Espoo itself – it is Finland's second-largest city and municipality, and affords all the modern conveniences and comforts.

Education and Schools in Helsinki

The standard of education in Finland is regarded as one of the highest in the world. Expats moving to Helsinki with children can count themselves lucky to be in a country with such an impressive learning culture. Finland's fantastic social support extends to quality education and learning support to foreigners.

Children may have longer recess periods and less homework than in other countries but teachers are highly valued and well paid. While education in Finland may come across as unorthodox, the country has a proven track record of academic excellence and a culture of individual attention which helps children overcome their most difficult learning challenges.


Public schools in Helsinki

Expats legally residing in Finland are entitled to send their child to a public school at no cost. Lessons are taught mostly in Finnish or Swedish and, as a result, public education is more often taken up by those who intend on staying in the country long term or those with young children who will be able to pick up the language quickly. That said, multicultural preparatory education programmes implement bilingual support to better integrate children and families into Finnish society.

The official website of Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture is a useful resource for specific and general information on the education system.

Finnish public schools boast high standards and there is often little difference in the quality of education from one school to the next. The Finnish education system covers everything from early childhood education to higher education.

Pre-primary education

Pre-primary education is the year before children turn seven and start basic education. Pre-primary schools are free, and attendance is compulsory.

Basic education

Primary education in Finland is called basic education or comprehensive school. Starting the year a child turns seven up till they complete the basic education syllabus at age 16, comprehensive schooling is free and affords top-class learning environments.

Upper secondary school

Upper secondary school follows this, either general education or vocational learning and training. General education, or lukio in Finnish, normally lasts three years and prepares students for university, providing them with a national school-leaving certificate.

Students who opt for vocational education learn the basic skills required in specific fields, preparing them for the world of work. With this, they can go on to work and study in universities. Vocational education and training are not limited to young people – adults can also apply for it.


Private schools in Helsinki

There are few private schools in Finland. Owing to the Finnish government's regulations on educational institutions, even privately funded institutions are free of charge. 

These private schools have slightly more leeway in determining their curriculum and language of tuition. Yet, private schools in Helsinki may have more difficult entrance requirements and admissions processes than their publicly-run counterparts. 

Many private schools are faith-based and so parents following a religion may prefer that their children attend such a school. Some private institutes are Steiner schools that focus on creativity and imagination as well as artistic, intellectual and practical skills. 


International schools in Helsinki

Due to the short-term nature of many expat assignments, international schools are often the preferred option for foreigners' children. The biggest advantage of these schools is that they allow students to continue studying a curriculum with which they’re familiar, usually in their home language.

There are several international schools in Helsinki which cater to the needs of children from countries such as the UK, Germany and France. Fees are high, though, and many of these schools have long waiting lists, so expats should apply as early as possible if they want to secure a place for their child.


Special needs education in Helsinki

Expats will be pleased to know that Finland recognises the diverse learning needs of children, including children with multicultural backgrounds who do not speak Finnish or those with special needs or talents. It follows that special education is available and accessible at every level of education, aiming to integrate all students. Learning environments strive to remove barriers, both physical and learning, by providing support and early intervention.

Municipalities and schools must provide special needs support and individualised learning plans, cooperating with teachers, teaching assistants, specialised professionals and families.


Homeschooling in Helsinki

As the quality of education is high in Finland, most parents send their children to school and few families homeschool their children. That said, homeschooling is possible and getting permission from public authorities is not always necessary.

The local municipality must decide with the parents how to supervise and assess the process. A teacher is normally assigned to this. Parents must select a curriculum and how to educate their children as well as how often they must take assessments, usually once or twice a year.

For more information, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is a useful organisation and website to look at for homeschooling regulations in different countries.


Nurseries in Helsinki

The Finnish education system covers early childhood education and care (ECEC) as well as pre-primary education, the year before beginning basic education. Learning and development are valued in Finland and there are national guidelines for early education for centres to follow. Expat parents can find bilingual daycare centres as well as Montessori nurseries in Helsinki.

Local municipalities are accountable for providing this education and parents normally pay a fee based on their family income and size as well as how much time the child spends in the ECEC centre.


Tutors in Helsinki

Adults and children can find tutors easily in Helsinki. In today’s online world, there are many online platforms, such as Apprentus, to connect tutors with tutees, adapting the searches to specific subjects and needs. Expats can arrange to meet tutors in person or online. Online learning is becoming more and more popular, and tutors can be found all over the world. It may be useful to get a tutor to learn some Finnish and overcome some language barriers when settling in Helsinki.

International Schools in Helsinki

Owing to shorter expat stays and difficulties in learning Finnish, many expats choose to send their children to international schools. The biggest advantage of these schools is that they allow students to continue studying a curriculum with which they’re familiar, often in their home language.

These can be difficult to get into and so parents must plan well in advance and contact the schools directly for a full list of entrance requirements.

Below is a list of some of Helsinki's best international schools.


International schools in Helsinki

Deutsche Schule Helsinki

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: German
Age: 5 to 18
Websitewww.dsh.fi

Ecole Française Jules Verne

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: French
Age: 3 to 17
Websitewww.ecolejulesverne.fi

The English School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Finnish, Cambridge A-Levels and SAT
Age: 5 to 18
Websitewww.engs.fi

The International School of Helsinki

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Age: 4 to 19
Websitewww.ishelsinki.fi

Ressu Comprehensive School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate (Finnish and English streams)
Age: 7 to 15
Websitewww.ressuy.edu.hel.fi

Lifestyle in Helsinki

A small but bustling city, Helsinki presents a great lifestyle for expats. Whether expats want to spend their hard-earned cash on designer goods, learn about local culture at one of the city’s museums or get the adrenaline pumping on the ski slopes, there’s a lot to keep travellers and expats of all ages entertained, kids and young students included.


Shopping in Helsinki

Helsinki is a shopper’s delight. Expats looking for designer furniture, the latest fashions, antique jewellery, healthy organic food or a particular foreign delicacy will be able to find whatever they need in the city.

Expats can visit Helsinki’s Design District and Kämp Garden to find streets brimming with eclectic jewellery shops, design collectives, antique stores, fashion boutiques, quaint museums, art galleries and showrooms. The city is also home to open-air markets which are fun places to shop at for traditional foods, sweet treats, handicrafts and souvenirs while enjoying a unique relaxed atmosphere.


Arts and culture in Helsinki

Helsinki is home to more than 80 museums and galleries, so there’s no excuse for expats to get bored on weekends. The most popular venues include Amos Rex, Ateneum Art Museum, The Bank of Finland Museum and the Helsinki City Museum. 

The city also has a prominent theatre scene. The Finnish National Theatre presents all sorts, from historical plays to more experimental productions. There are also many smaller high-quality theatres and independent show houses scattered throughout the city. 


Eating out in Helsinki

The Finns enjoy showing off their culinary skills by giving contemporary twists to traditional favourites, and Helsinki’s restaurant scene is said to be one of Europe’s best. Locals favour poultry and fish dishes, especially Baltic herring and vendace. Expats looking to sample the local flavours will be suitably awed by Helsinki's take on New Nordic Cuisine, with many restaurants rivalling the best that the lands of the Vikings have to offer. 

New arrivals to Finland may be surprised to find out that reindeer are more than just part of Christmas lore, but are quite delicious too, often with served with mashed potatoes.

Those looking for a taste of home will be able to find an array of international foods in the city. 


Nightlife in Helsinki

Helsinki may not be known for its nightlife compared to cities such as Copenhagen, but expats looking for a night out won't be disappointed. Certain areas and streets, especially the city centre along Uudenmaankatu, are popular for clubs and bars.

Bars get busy around 9pm and although alcohol can be pricey, there is always an interesting atmosphere, music and a friendly crowd. For those into the club scene have plenty to choose from and can dance to music of all genres, electronic, techno and rock. Clubs attract all crowds and occasionally have live music performances and DJs.

Festivals are another great experience for live music and a fun night. Live music festivals pop up throughout the year and are common in summer months, drawing both local and international musicians and artists. Many festivals expose not just music but also urban art appealing to a wide variety of tastes.


Sports and outdoor activities in Helsinki

Helsinki has lots of recreational areas where outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy pursuits such as golf, mountain biking, wildlife watching and running. Although routes around the city have relatively flat terrains, there are many hills perfect for hiking and picnics. As the city is coastal, fishing is another outdoor activity in Helsinki that anyone can try out, provided they carry a permit. Expats can enjoy the best of what Helsinki has to offer from their urban spaces to nature scenes and waterfront views.

During winter, active expats can hit the slopes in ski resorts just outside of the city, and there are several gyms and fitness centres too. 

Kids and Family in Helsinki

Finland has a reputation for honouring and caring for its population of young ones. From its progressive schooling system to its beloved Moomins (the Finnish children's book and animated characters that are now considered a national treasure), expats will find that few destinations are more child friendly.

Helsinki serves as a case in point and its events, attractions and parks all serve to show the Finnish people's appreciation of the process of growing up.


Outdoor activities for kids in Helsinki

Harakka Nature Centre

Those who are looking for a more peaceful adventure can head to Harakka Nature Centre. Situated on an island, visitors have to travel by boat to the centre where they can view wildlife in the seashore meadows and marshland. Entrance is free and tours are led by knowledgeable staff.

Seurasaari Open-Air Museum

For a bit of history, visitors can learn about traditional Finnish lifestyle at the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, which is made up of many buildings scattered across a forested landscape.

Helsinki Zoo

Children can also look out for wildlife at Seurasaari, but the Helsinki Zoo on Korkeasaari island is the best bet for this kind of activity. Home to around 150 species, animals are carefully selected and cared for to ensure they can survive Finland's climate. The zoo is among the oldest of its kind in the world, and animals from habitats as diverse as the Amazon rain forest to the Arctic tundra are on the cards and are sure to leave youngsters suitably intrigued.

Theme parks in Helsinki

Helsinki boasts several world-class attractions that are perfect for a family day out, including a selection of thrilling theme parks. These outings can get expensive, so many local families buy season tickets which offer better value for money. Linnanmäki is one of the most popular amusement parks in Finland, while Serena Water Park in Espoo is fun for all ages with both indoor and outdoor pools. 


Indoor activities for kids in Helsinki

Helsinki City Museum and Children's Town

Helsinki is also home to expertly-curated museums such as the Helsinki City Museum which explores history and culture and often shows off new exhibits. Helsinki City Museum is ideal for parents and their children: parents can learn more about the city in which they live, while their children do the same in the museum's newest section, called Children's Town, where Helsinki's history is imparted to them through play and joint activities.

SEA LIFE Helsinki

Right alongside the Linnanmäki amusement park, families can also visit SEA LIFE Helsinki to marvel at all their wonderful sea creatures and have fun in play areas. Children's events are always popping up here, and families can organise birthday parties and special events for the little ones. Parents would be wise to consider the annual passes which allow unlimited entry.


Parent networks in Helsinki

Expat parents are likely to encounter a world of stresses when moving abroad, especially to a country with an unfamiliar language. There are many ways families can reach out to build and strengthen their support networks in Helsinki. One of the easiest ways to do so is online, through expat-parents groups on Facebook as well as looking at websites such as Meetup to get out there and make new connections and friends. Parents can also make friends through their children's schools where they can meet both foreign and Finnish intercultural families.

Getting Around in Helsinki

Public transport in Helsinki is comprehensive and efficient, allowing people to commute easily to and from the suburbs and around the city centre for work and school. Most expats living in Helsinki elect not to buy a car as parking is limited and expensive, and using public transport is generally faster and more cost-effective. Not only does it cover buses, trains, trams and the metro but also the ferry around the Helsinki archipelago.


Public transport in Helsinki

The city has an integrated public transport network coordinated by the Helsinki Region Transport Authority (HSL). This means that tickets are valid on buses, commuter trains, metro, trams and the Suomenlinna ferry. 

Tickets can be bought from a kiosk or ticket machine and online through the website and HSL app. Expats who plan to commute regularly should get a reloadable travel card. It may be possible to buy a ticket on a bus, but it’s advised to check the HSL website and app for up-to-date information. Expats can also visit various HSL information offices, such as the main office at the central railway station.

Helsinki public transport is split into four zones (A, B, C and D), covering not only Helsinki but also Espoo and Vantaa. Expats should buy their tickets according to the zones they will be travelling in and can look up more information on the HSL website. Holders of the Helsinki travel card can use public transport in zones A and B for free.

HSL operates an honesty system when boarding trains, trams and the metro, but inspectors do random checks and those caught without a valid ticket face a hefty fine.

Travelling at night using public transport can be tricky because most trains and trams stop running at midnight. While there is a limited night bus network, journeys can be slow. 

Trams

Helsinki’s tram network provides a scenic means of transport within city limits. It’s one of the main forms of transport around the city centre and is popular with tourists too. Trams offer new arrivals an excellent opportunity to get to know their new home, sightseeing and exploring the city’s architecture. 

Buses

The bus network is extensive, reaching areas and suburbs further away from the city centre and around the capital region, which private bus companies operate across. The main hubs are at Eliel Square, Railway Square (Rautatientori) and Kamppi Center. Long-distance buses can be found at the Kamppi bus terminal, and the Finnair City Bus runs every 20 minutes between the airport and the city centre at Eliel Square.

Buses run regularly on most routes and it is best to check the HSL website when planning a journey. 

Metro 

Helsinki’s metro line is extensive, reaching outside of the CBD. The line runs from Matinkylä, Espoo to Helsinki’s city centre and its eastern suburbs. There are two main lines, Matinkylä–Vuosaari and Tapiola–Mellunmäki, and they run quickly and efficiently with short waiting times, especially during peak hours. For expats commuting between Espoo and Helsinki, the recently extended metro line provides a useful mode of transport.

Trains

Suburban trains leave from the Central Railway Station and branch out in three directions. There is the Tampere line, running from Riihimäki via Tikkurila; the Turku line, from Kirkkonummi via Espoo; and a line from Vantaankoski via Myyrmäki.

While the Helsinki Card and HSL tickets are valid around the greater capital area, a commuter train ticket is needed when travelling further afield beyond Helsinki’s municipalities. For long-distance train travel, check the VR website.

Boats and ferries

Helsinki is a coastal city facing an archipelago of over 300 islands. HSL-issued public transport tickets and the Helsinki Card are valid for use on the Suomenlinna ferry that moves around various islands where expats and locals enjoy the natural scenery and can find things to do for kids and family. Other ferry companies, such as the JT-Line, operate different routes and timetables and separate tickets must be bought.


Taxis and ridesharing in Helsinki

Taxis are readily available and generally easy to find in Helsinki. Available taxis, shown with the yellow light on their roof, can be hailed from the street at various taxi stands including Helsinki Central Station and around Senate Square, Esplanade Park and ferry terminals. Apps such as Uber and Lyft are available too.

Taxis are a pricey means of getting around and fees vary across taxi companies and drivers. 


Driving in Helsinki

Driving in Helsinki’s city centre is not recommended. It is easier to walk, cycle and use public transport. Avoiding congestion and keeping pollution to a minimum are prioritised, so drivers coming into Helsinki from further away are encouraged to use Park and Ride facilities at various public transport stations to continue the commute by other modes. 

Parking is charged on most city-centre streets during the week and in the CBD on Saturday, quickly adding up. Fees vary depending on the parking zone.

To get out and about and see more of the region and country, many expats rent a car from one of the many international car rental companies. Drivers should remember to use headlights and appropriate tyres in winter months, and that traffic flows on the right-hand side of the road.

In some cases, an International Driving Permit may be needed. Expats over the age of 18 can obtain a driving licence permit and get information on the requirements for it by visiting the Traficom website or their driving school.


Cycling in Helsinki

Avid cyclists will be pleased to know that Helsinki has an extensive network of bike lanes that are marked with blue signs. Cyclists are required to stay in their designated lane and cycling is allowed on pedestrian streets if the bike is fitted with a bell. Expats who don’t own a bike will find plenty of outlets which offer rentals for a small fee, including yellow Helsinki City Bikes, Greenbike and Ecobike.


Walking in Helsinki

Helsinki is a highly pedestrianised city with a relatively even landscape. Walking is one of the easiest ways of getting around the city – it’s free, healthy and allows new arrivals to see some of the city using their own two feet.