Cost of Living in Finland

The cost of living in Finland is undeniably high, even by European standards. Expats from areas of the world where they were used to lower cost of living may find the higher prices a shock and something difficult to adjust to. It's therefore worth considering the cost of things before negotiating for a suitable salary with prospective employers.

Prices in urban areas and especially the capital, Helsinki, are much higher than in other areas of Finland, especially in terms of accommodation. Helsinki ranked 65th out of 209 cities in Mercer's 2019 Cost of Living Survey, making it more expensive than cities such Madrid and Cape Town, but still more affordable than Oslo and Miami.

With a job in place, expats can plan and budget accordingly, and while many goods and services come with a hefty price tag, the excellent universal public education- and healthcare systems make up for it. What makes things slightly easier is the currency – Finland is part of the EU and uses euros meaning that expats from other EU countries will face little issues in currency conversions.

Have a look at the varied living expenses in Finland.


Cost of accommodation in Finland

Housing costs in Finland are high, especially in the capital, Helsinki. Rent can take up a sizeable portion of one’s income, although generally, rates are better further away from city centres. Of course, this is something expats will have to weigh up – the time and financial cost of a daily commute into the city for lower rent versus the convenience and liveliness of city living.

Rent also depends on how furnished the living space is and, when inspecting accommodation, expats should keep this in mind. The cost of buying furniture adds up and may only be preferred by those staying long term.

Utilities are an extra expense. Water and heating are often included in the rent, but electricity and internet are not.


Cost of transport in Finland

Although public transport is efficient and useful in urban spaces and for reaching neighbourhoods outside of the main cities, it's pretty expensive. So we recommend buying a monthly pass or a travel card for the discounted price this offers – every little bit helps, especially if expats will be commuting every day. 

Helsinki itself is quite walkable and has fairly extensive cycle paths, making walking and cycling feasible and healthy alternatives of getting around.


Cost of schooling in Finland

Although Finland has a high cost of living, it has a progressive social system favouring education and healthcare. Not only is there free universal daycare for children aged eight months to five years, but some areas may give financial support to caregivers who choose to provide care for their children at home for the first three years.

Public schooling remains free and includes free school healthcare, daily lunch, books and materials. Upper secondary school from around age 15 requires students to buy their materials.

The issue, for many expats, may be the language. The language of instruction in public schools is mainly Finnish or Swedish, so for expats only staying for a short while or with older children, the better route may be to enrol their youngsters in a private or international school.

Additionally, tertiary education is free to students from the EU and Switzerland, while other international students are required pay tuition. Still, all tertiary programmes that are taught in Swedish or Finnish are free to everyone, including international students.


Cost of healthcare in Finland

Finland has universal healthcare, funded by tax, meaning everyone is entitled to health services regardless of their income level. Private healthcare centre expenses may vary.

Expats from the EU can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in Finland. While employers must arrange health insurance for their workers, this only covers incidents in the workplace itself. Expats from outside the EU must therefore take out private insurance.


Cost of food and clothing in Finland

Food and drinks, especially eating out, can be expensive in Finland and while clothing can be pricey, there are always more affordable options, seasonal sales and the opportunity to buy second hand. How much one spends is down to their lifestyle choices, income level and budgeting decisions. Once expats get more settled, they may find places that offer better deals as well as supermarkets and stores they can go to for the best prices and discounts.


Cost of living in Finland chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Helsinki in May 2020.

Accommodation (monthly)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 1,700 - 2,300

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

EUR 1,100 - 1,700

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 850 - 1,300

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

EUR 700 - 1,000

Shopping

Milk (1 litre)

EUR 1

Dozen eggs

EUR 2.20

Loaf of white bread

EUR 2.35

Chicken breasts (1kg)

EUR 9.90

Pack of cigarettes 

EUR 8

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

EUR 8

Coca-Cola (330ml)

EUR 2.70

Cappuccino

EUR 4

Bottle of local beer 

EUR 6.25

Three-course meal at mid-range restaurant 

EUR 35

Utilities/Household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

EUR 0.07

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

EUR 23

Utilities (average per month for standard household)

EUR 84

Hourly rate for a domestic cleaner

EUR 30

Transport 

Taxi rate per km

EUR 1

City centre public transport fare

EUR 2.80

Petrol (per litre)

EUR 1.55