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Accommodation in Finland

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In Finland, it is actually more common to purchase a property instead of renting it. Finding good accommodation at a good price can be hard, especially in large cities like Helsinki. For the most part, the type of accommodation available for rent is apartments (houses for rent are very rare), usually unfurnished and rather on the small side. There is the more affordable option to get housing subsidised by the state, but this is not available to expats very often and, in any case, requires you to be on a long waiting list.

Rental prices in Finland are becoming more and more expensive; probably because the demand exceeds supply by a lot. This is especially the case in the big cities which, despite the high prices, still remain the most popular choice for an expat -- versus a cheaper rural area where it would be extremely difficult to find a place to rent. How much rent you’ll be paying is something that can be negotiated with your potential landlord, but, in any case, the amount you’ll both agree on should be in line with the area’s current market rate. As a ballpark estimate, you could find a 45 square metre apartment in Helsinki for anything between 850 and 1,200 euros monthly, depending on the area and amenities/utilities included.

How to find accommodation

If you’ve found a job in the country, then it would be a good idea to inquire as to whether your new employers can help you with finding accommodation -- even if it’s temporary. Given the state of the rental market in Finland and how difficult it is to navigate it on your own, many companies actually own apartments for this specific purpose; to help their new employees with the transition (some of these apartments are actually available long-term as well).

If your boss can’t help you though, do not despair. There are various websites with rental accommodation listings and local newspapers usually feature some listings as well in their Sunday editions. Local municipalities also keep directories on rental accommodation that you could ask to access, and so do real estate agents. Of course, when it comes to agencies, you could assign them to find you an apartment directly (although this option will cost more). Finally, do not underestimate the power of word of mouth; friends, colleagues, neighbours and any Finnish contacts you have could go a long way towards setting you up for your new dream apartment.

What you need to know about the lease

Once you’ve found an apartment that interests you, it’s time to consider the lease. Leases can be fixed or non-fixed term. The former are binding for both you and your landlord, and can only be terminated in special cases. For example, if you can provide proof that the place affects your health or if your landlord discovers you’re using the apartment for a different purpose than the one agreed, or that you’re disturbing the neighbours. When it comes to non-fixed leases, you must give a notice in writing at least one month before you plan to vacate and your landlord must give you a three months’ notice (if you’ve been staying there less than a year) or a six months’ notice (if you’ve been staying more than a year).

In general, you need to read your lease very carefully before signing and make sure it includes information on the condition of the apartment. Any defects or damages should be mentioned in writing (take photos if you can), otherwise you risk the landlord claiming you caused them during your stay and losing your security deposit when you move out. Your lease should also specify the terms (fixed versus non-fixed tenancy), the rent amount along with any adjustment clauses (for example, whether the rent is going to increase later on and how much), any other charges like water and electricity fees, the date of payment (although in Finland usually rent is paid on the 2nd of every month) and details on the security deposit.

Security deposits usually consist of one or two months’ rent, and legally, they shouldn't exceed three-months worth of rent. If there haven’t been any delays in your rent payments and the apartment is in mint condition when you leave, you can expect your security deposit to be returned in full.

 Useful links:

Apartment search services
Search for rental dwellings
Rental housing for students

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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