moving to Finland guide

Moving to Finland can be an exciting and life-changing experience, but proper preparation is essential to ensure a smooth transition and successful integration into Finnish society. Whether you’re relocating for work, study, family reasons, or adventure, taking the time to plan and prepare for your move can make all the difference. In this moving to Finland guide, we’ll outline the essential steps you need to take to prepare for your move to Finland, from obtaining the necessary visas and permits to arranging accommodation, finances, and cultural adaptation. By following these steps, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on your new journey with confidence and ease.

Top 7 Finland Relocation Tips

1. Enquire About Visa and Residence Permit Requirements

Like with most countries, travelling to Finland and living there requires you to have a visa and residence permit. However, citizens of some countries are allowed to move to Finland without a visa.

European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) Member States

Citizens of EU and EEA countries enjoy freedom of movement within the Schengen Area, including Finland, and do not require a visa for short stays.

Schengen Area Countries

Citizens of Schengen Area countries benefit from visa-free travel to other Schengen member states, including Finland. These countries are made up of both EU countries and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states.

Third Countries with Visa Exemption Agreements

Citizens of certain third countries, including some non-EU countries, may have visa exemption agreements with Finland for short stays. These agreements are typically based on reciprocity and mutual visa waiver arrangements.

Aside from citizens of the exempted countries, anybody travelling to Finland needs any of the following visas depending on the purpose of your travel.

  • Short-Stay Schengen Visa (C Visa): This visa allows stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period for purposes such as tourism, business, or visiting family or friends.
  • Long-Stay or National Visa (D Visa): If you plan to stay in Finland for more than 90 days, you’ll need to apply for a long-stay visa (D visa) or a residence permit depending on the purpose of your stay.
  • EU Blue Card: This visa is for individuals moving to Finland to work in a profession with an employer shortage.
  • Transit Visa (Type A): Citizens of certain countries who want to pass through Finland in transit will need this visa. It allows them to stay only within the airport area. Countries that need transit visas are; Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iraq, Iran, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, and Sri Lanka.

Residence Permit

While not technically a visa, a residence permit is one of the Finnish immigration requirements and serves a similar purpose for long-term stays in Finland. To obtain a residence permit, you must apply to the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) and meet specific eligibility criteria based on your intended purpose of stay. Residence permits can be granted for various reasons, including employment, studies, family reunification, entrepreneurship, or other special circumstances. Once granted, a residence permit allows the holder to reside and work or study in Finland for an extended period, often renewable upon expiration.

2. Make Plans for Housing in Advance

Housing is an important point in this moving to Finland guide. Start by researching the housing market in Finland to get an idea of the available options, rental prices, and housing trends in different cities or regions. For instance, if you are moving to Helsinki (popular Finnish city), the trends may differ slightly from the options in Oulu (another city). Hence, you should take your time to carry out findings for specific cities. Online platforms, real estate websites, and local classifieds can provide valuable information on housing listings.

Similarly, decide on the location where you want to live in Finland based on factors such as proximity to work or study, public transportation accessibility, amenities, safety, and quality of life. Consider whether you prefer urban, suburban, or rural settings. Once you identify potential rental properties, arrange viewings to inspect the accommodation in person and assess its suitability. Pay attention to factors such as size, condition, amenities, neighbourhood, and proximity to essential services. Based on your findings, determine your budget for housing. Also consider your income, expenses, and the cost of living in Finland.

Determine whether you want to rent or buy property in Finland based on your long-term plans, financial situation, and personal preferences. Renting is a popular option for newcomers, providing flexibility and avoiding the initial financial commitment of buying property.

3. Secure Employment or Study Plans Before Travelling

If you are moving to Finland for reasons like working and studying, it is important to make sure that you have a job or an admission waiting for you before you travel. Because, in many cases, obtaining a residence permit for Finland is contingent upon having a job offer or admission to a Finnish educational institution, making it an important moving-to-Finland guide.

Therefore, having employment or study plans in place before your move ensures that you meet the necessary legal requirements for obtaining the required permits. Moreover, having a job or study program lined up before moving to Finland facilitates a smoother transition by providing a clear purpose and structure to your move. It reduces the uncertainty and anxiety associated with relocating to a new country and helps you focus on adjusting to your new life.

4. Understand the Finnish Healthcare System

Finland has a publicly funded healthcare system that provides universal coverage to all residents, including citizens, permanent residents, and legal residents. The system is based on the principle of equal access to healthcare services for all individuals, regardless of their income or social status. While healthcare services in Finland are publicly funded, residents are required to have health insurance coverage to access certain services and medications. Most residents use the National Health Insurance, which provides reimbursement for medical expenses, including doctor visits, hospital care, and prescription medications.

Primary healthcare services in Finland are typically provided by municipal health centres located in communities throughout the country. These health centres offer a wide range of services, including general medical care, preventive care, vaccinations, and maternal and child health services. On the other hand, specialist healthcare services, such as consultations with specialists, diagnostic tests, and treatment for specific medical conditions, are available through public hospitals and specialised clinics. Referrals from primary care physicians are usually required for access to specialist care.

In addition to the public healthcare system, Finland has a private healthcare sector that offers supplementary services, such as private clinics, hospitals, and medical practices. Private healthcare services are available for those who prefer faster access to care or specialized treatments not covered by the public system, but they usually involve out-of-pocket costs. Furthermore, the country has a well-developed emergency medical services (EMS) system that provides prompt and effective emergency care to residents. In case of medical emergencies, individuals can dial the emergency number 112 to request assistance, and emergency medical teams will respond quickly to provide care or transport patients to hospitals if needed.

5. Make Proper Financial Plans

Making proper financial plans before moving to Finland is a crucial moving to Finland guide that ensures a smooth transition and sustains your living in Finland as a foreigner. Begin by researching the cost of living in the country, including expenses such as accommodation, food, transportation, healthcare, utilities, and other everyday necessities. Websites like Numbeo or Expatistan provide cost-of-living comparisons between different cities and countries. Then, create a detailed budget outlining your anticipated expenses and income for the first few months after your move. Allocate funds for essential expenses like rent, groceries, transportation, utilities, healthcare, and insurance, as well as discretionary spending for leisure activities and emergencies.

6. Learn About Transportation Options

Finland is known for its accessibility and barrier-free transportation options, especially for individuals with disabilities. Public transportation systems, including buses, trams, and trains, are equipped with accessibility features to accommodate passengers with mobility impairments. There are also other transport options like cycling, cars or taxis, and air travel.

  • Buses: Public bus networks operate in cities and towns throughout Finland, providing convenient and affordable transportation within urban areas and to surrounding suburbs.
  • Trams: Trams are available in cities such as Helsinki, Tampere, and Turku, offering efficient transportation within city centres and nearby neighbourhoods.
  • Metro: Helsinki has a metro system that serves the city and its suburbs, providing fast and convenient travel between different parts of the capital region.
  • Regional Trains: Finnish Railways (VR) operates regional train services connecting major cities and towns across Finland, offering comfortable and efficient travel options for commuters and tourists.
  • Ferries: Ferries operate between mainland Finland and the archipelago islands, providing essential transportation links for residents and tourists. Some ferry routes also connect Finland to neighbouring countries such as Sweden and Estonia.

7. Cultural Adaptation is Important for Expats in Finland

Adapting to Finnish culture will facilitate successful integration into the society, foster positive relationships with locals, and navigate social, professional, and everyday interactions effectively. Hence, when you are moving to Finland, be open to experiencing and appreciating cultural changes. The country is home to a diverse population, including indigenous Sámi people, Swedish-speaking Finns, and immigrants from various countries. Cultural adaptation promotes respect for cultural diversity and inclusivity, contributing to a harmonious multicultural society in Finland.


Preparing for your move to Finland requires careful planning, research, and organization as shared in this moving to Finland guide. However, the rewards of living in this vibrant Nordic country are well worth the effort. From obtaining the right visas and permits to securing accommodation, finances, and cultural adaptation, each step plays a crucial role in ensuring a successful transition. By taking the time to prepare thoroughly and embrace the adventure ahead, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the challenges and embrace the opportunities that come with living in Finland.