For expats who love beautiful landscapes, incredible culture, and friendly locals, Finland is an amazing place to live. People who arrive in the country fall in love with it and stay for life. However, a move to a new country, though exciting, will always start with unexpected problems and cultural clashes that can be hard to adjust to, especially if you’re moving to a country as strange as Finland.
One of the reasons why you should not consider moving to Finland is the high cost of living, which stems from the high taxes. Finland has the second-highest tax burden in OECD countries for married workers with children. Aside from that, the weather can also be extreme, finding housing can be long, and many more.
Relocating to another country is never an easy thing to do. You have to think a hundred times if it is the right decision, and to be able to do that, you need to weigh the good and the bad equally. So, without further ado, here are the top reasons not to move to Finland.
Soaring high taxes
Finland can simply take over rankings as a country with some of the highest taxes in the world. In 2021, Finland had the 2nd highest taxes for a married employee with two children among 38 other OECD countries. The average tax on a married worker was 38.6% in Finland compared to the 24.6% OECD average.
Moreover, Finland has the 8th highest taxation for single employees. In 2021, it was 42.7% compared to 34.6% – the OECD average.
That said, a high-tax Nordic country, Finland was once called the “country at the end of the world.” And it’s certainly not the best place to be a single earner with children.
With its top marginal tax rate of 56.95%, this small country of just 5.5 million people ranks 8th on this list of highest-tax countries. In addition, Finland has one of the highest capital gains taxes in the world.
In Finland, anyone who stays longer than six months is considered a tax resident. In addition, all residents’ worldwide income is taxed in Finland without distinction as to where the income is sourced.
Finland’s highest income tax rate is 51.3% compared to the average highest across OECD – 42.5%.
For example, the income tax rate for a single without children making 45,000 EUR a year, or 3,750 EUR a month, is 31.1%.
At the same time, you will pay 26.4% in Sweden. Austria, Denmark, Italy, and Germany with the same income. However, Belgium has even higher taxes than Finland; you will owe about 37.6%.
Yet, if you add all possible tax types (municipal tax, state income tax, and church tax), the highest rate in Finland is 56.95%. Yes, some lucky Finish residents may pay that.
Here are the 2022 national tax rates in Finland courtesy of PWC:
|Taxable income||Tax on column 1||Tax on excess|
|19,200 EUR||28,700 EUR||8 EUR||6%|
|28,700 EUR||47,300 EUR||578 EUR||17.25%|
|47,300 EUR||82,900 EUR||3,786 EUR||21.25%|
|82,900 EUR||11,351 EUR||31.25%|
A tax rate of 30% is applied to capital (investment) income (a higher rate of 34% is used if your annual capital income exceeds 30,000 EUR).
Exorbitant depression rates
The happiest country in the world, Finland also has the highest suicide rates in the world, which creates a number of challenges for its population.
Despite Finland’s image as a happy nation, there are numerous challenges in the country, mostly related to suicide and mental health struggles. In the past, Finland had a problematic situation when it came to suicide; the number of suicides had risen since 1945.
In the post-war era, many men returned traumatized from warfronts. Although suicide rates have decreased in recent years, they remain higher than the EU average.
In an article for the BBC, suicide is estimated to account for one-third of the deaths among those between 15 and 24 years of age.
Moreover, the OECD research published in 2019 showed that Finland has one of the highest mental illness and suicide rates in the EU, with depression and alcoholism ranking first and second, respectively.
Nonetheless, suicide is even more common in Baltic countries like Lithuania and Latvia.
A lack of sunlight during the long, dark winter is often blamed for this mood imbalance. As a result of these long winters, people spend less time socializing and staying at home.
Furthermore, depression rates in Finland are also linked to binge drinking and alcohol addiction rates, which are alarmingly high.
Warming up can be hard due to shy people
Finns tend to be shy creatures. For instance, they avoid eye contact on public transportation, such as buses or elevators. It is rare for them to approach strangers since they prefer not to disturb them. Moreover, their space is crucial to them.
Aside from that, it can also seem like silence is a Finnish invention. It isn’t only important for Finns to respect the silence in public, but they also enjoy embracing it privately.
For them, silence is natural and nothing to feel awkward about. However, foreigners like you may find this strange initially, but most people adjust.
Despite these behaviors, Finns are friendly and willing to help if you ask for information. There is almost an underlying feeling that they are just waiting for you to take the first step to get the ball rolling.
There is a good chance they will only answer your question and nothing more. Again, they do not want to disturb you in any way, as you may be in a hurry. But, if you would only make the next move, they would be happy to continue the conversation with you.
Language barriers exist
Learning Finnish is renowned as one of the hardest languages in the world. First-time learners may find this difficult because it is totally unrelated to other Scandinavian languages.
With 15 distinct cases, Finnish has a dizzyingly complex grammatical structure (German has four, English has five). Subtle word endings can completely change a word or sentence’s meaning.
The language barrier is a persistent problem for foreigners when moving to Finland. According to two international students residing there, the Finish Language Requirements in the workplace and community is too high and unrealistic.
Expats who live in Finland experience extreme cold conditions most of the time. But, over time, they begin to acclimate to the ice and snow.
In Finland, it is even harder to accept the sheer amount of winter clothing required. Even to check the mail or take out the garbage, you have to put on several layers every time you step outside.
Winter clothing needs are made worse because expats don’t realize how much the temperature fluctuates in Finland during winter.
When it drops below minus 20 degrees Celsius, clothing that keeps you warm and cozy will be too cold, while deep winter clothing may cause overheating when the mercury increases.
Job hunting can be hard
Finland has a very low unemployment rate, which is a great thing. The downside to this is that there aren’t always that many job openings, so it’s not all good news.
Vacancies aren’t a given in most companies due to the high employee retention rate.
In order to find a job in your field, you will have to spend a great deal of your time and effort – and additionally, you will need to network.
Moreover, as a foreigner living in Finland, you have probably had the challenge of finding a job where English is spoken and finding one that suits your skill set. Even with a long list of skills and qualifications, many people find it difficult to get a job in Finland due to language barriers.
To make your job search faster and less difficult, choose one of the in-demand professions in Finland.
Finding housing is challenging
The largest cities in Finland do not have many rental dwellings to choose from when it comes to housing. Moreover, homes in the city center tend to be more expensive than those further away. Because of this, a large number of Finns live in quite small houses.
There are also many people who live a long way from the city center or in some other nearby municipality, which means that their commute to work is longer than most.
Having said that, if you are unable to find an affordable house in the area you are interested in, it may be possible to consider moving to a smaller dwelling or moving further away from the center of the city.
The housing market in many smaller cities is more affordable, and there are plenty of available dwellings.
High cost of living
Even by the standards of the European Union, the cost of living in Finland is undeniably high. For expats who are from places in the world where the cost of living is lower, the higher prices in the country may come as a shock, and it may be difficult for them to adjust.
Therefore, it is crucial that you take into account the cost of things before you negotiate with potential employers a salary that is appropriate for your needs.
As a matter of fact, the prices in urban areas, and especially in the capital Helsinki, are much higher than in other regions of Finland, particularly in terms of accommodation.
To learn about Finnish salaries, read our guide.
According to Mercer’s 2021 Cost of Living Survey, Helsinki ranked 56th out of 209 cities in terms of its cost of living, making it more expensive than cities such as Berlin and Perth but still a lot more affordable than cities such as Paris and Milan.
When an expat has a job, they can plan and budget accordingly, and while many goods and services can be expensive, the excellent healthcare and education systems offset this. The currency makes things a little easier.
Since Finland is part of the EU and uses euros, expats from other EU countries will not face many currency conversion problems.
Related: How much does a house cost in Finland?
If you like sunshine and summer, then you might find Finland extremely weird. There’s another characteristic of Finnish life that foreigners living in Finland have to get used to, and that is the long summer days that are followed by the long winter evenings that can take some getting used to.
There are 73 days in a row when the sun doesn’t set at Finland’s northernmost point. But come winter, there are 51 days where the sun doesn’t shine at all.
Because Finland is a lot closer to the equator than other countries in the world, living in Finland does not mean living in pitch-black darkness all winter in cities like the capital.
It might be a good idea if you are planning to live and work in Finland in the future to consider purchasing sunshine-imitating lamps, as some people do. As a reminder, in low-light countries, taking vitamin D tablets to help you absorb calcium is very common and a must-do!
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