Finland has continuously scored well as one of the best places to live in the world and there are some very good reasons why. Straight up I confess the weather can be dismal here, especially in the early winter when the days are short. That is why people aren’t swarming in to live here but oddly those who manage to settle in very often stay for some of the reasons we will look at here.
It is refreshing to live in a place where people are honest with each other – Finns tell the truth and keep their commitments. Debts are also paid on time and prices are usually fair and transparent. It takes time and effort as a foreigner to be accepted into society and extended the same trust.
It’s always culture shock when I go back to Australia because people are friendly but not necessarily honest. Australia was settled by convicts which may go some way to explain how things are. I wish it were different there as I see from Finnish society how easy life can be when people deal honestly with each other.
I feel very safe allowing my children to freely move around the community. Speed limits are low and violent crime towards children is almost unheard of. Both parents usually work in Finland so from an early age kids make their own way to and from school.
Finland surprisingly only takes 22nd place on the World crime index. This might be because of all the petty bike theft which has become a big thing in Finland (22,000 bikes reported stolen in 2020). Thanks to the EU policy of free movement and an active immigration program, there are a lot of new faces who are yet to learn the Finnish values.
Most violent crimes are committed by people who know each other and have fallen out. Finns, especially those in Pohjanmaaare are famous for stabbing their friends when they get drunk and upset. There have also been a few random acts of violence over the years including two school shootings and two terrorist attacks, but violence, in general, is rare.
Finland is a matriarchal society and all those strong Finnish women have seen to it that we men get a good deal. I especially saw this when I went through a divorce with my first wife. I expected to get a raw deal but was surprised with the outcome – it was a lot fairer deal than I would have got at home in Australia.
Equality is a strong Finnish value and something people pride themselves on. There is still some inequality in society with things like gender pay gaps but efforts are being made to close these gaps. Women are very well represented in senior positions in both the public and private sectors.
There is still a small degree of racism bubbling under the surface in Finnish society, especially amongst less educated people. In many ways, this is caused by cultural friction coming from poor integration and misaligned values.
4. The Work Culture
I enjoy how easy it is to work in Finland – there is a healthy life/work balance and most working environments are uncomplicated and free of politics. Most teams have a good balance of men and women which keeps things in check. Punctuality is very important for Finns, and people keep their commitments religiously.
Finns by nature are highly productive, self-directed, and independent. Very little time is spent on idle chit-chat as people want to do their job and get home. On the flip side there is a very big divide between personal life and work life and going for drinks with colleagues after work is almost unheard of unless it is a work-sponsored event.
I greatly appreciate the role that education has played in making Finland the powerhouse it is today. The country has transformed itself into a knowledge economy that packs a lot of punch for its size. Education is free including university which helps ensure it is available for everyone.
People often define themselves by their profession and education. Regardless of the profession, Finns usually hold a Masters’s degree or higher. A bachelor’s degree is almost seen as a dropout. There are also technical schools for those who don’t go down the university route. Not having qualifications or certificates can be a very limiting factor in the workforce.
6. Everything just works
It amazes me in Finland how everything just works. Buses come on time, public services are efficient, and there is usually a well-defined process for everything. When something breaks there is usually someone responsible to fix it. Houses and apartment buildings are kept in good repair and people care about the community they live in.
When we are talking about all these great things in Finland it is easy to forget how truly miserable the cold and darkness can be. The secret to sanity in Finland is hobbies – it is what everyone looks forward to after work.
There are millions of not for profit clubs in Finland for whatever hobby you can imagine. These clubs are usually very well run and have excellent facilities. Membership fees are reasonable and there are plenty of opportunities to make new acquaintances.
Back before electricity and central heating it was the Sauna that kept Finns alive. They were born in the Sauna and very often went there to die at the end of their life. Sauna in Finland is sacred.
I have grown to love sauna, especially on days when the cold has sunk into your bones and you just can’t get warm. Sitting in the sauna is the closest I can get to a hot summer’s day in Australia and sometimes when I close my eyes and throw a little eucalyptus oil on the stove I feel like I’m back home.
I love the long days in Summer in the northern hemisphere because of the long days. When you finish work it is like you the whole day in front of you. There is plenty of time to BBQ with friends and do outdoor activities.
Another reason Finnish summers are great is because they are a relief from the cold winters. Flowers blossom and everywhere you look is green. Plants grow fast because of all the sunlight.
It took a while for me to fall in love with Finnish nature. I missed my sandy beaches and eucalyptus trees too much. Getting a dog helped me to spend a lot more time in nature. Jimmy the dog is a huge fan of swimming in lakes and sniffing every tree he can.
I have also had the opportunity to learn a lot about Finnish forests because my wife is a forest engineer. In recent years we have also spent a fair amount of time collecting berries and mushrooms to stock our freezer.
Heard too many positive things about Finland? Try the 10 things I hate about Finland article.