Retiring in Finland as a US Citizen: Is It Possible?

A lake in Finland

Finland is an ideal place to live after retirement for many reasons, including the country’s excellent economy and safety. According to Insider, the more rural areas of the country are almost crime-free. Finland ranked as the world’s safest country in a 2017 World Economic Forum report.

For those who want to retire in Finland but are US citizens, you should apply for a permit first. If you don’t have a residence permit, you can only stay in Finland for up to 90 days. Moreover, you should know the retirement costs. You need $1,266 monthly to cover the cost of living in Helsinki. 

Nonetheless, retiring in Finland is a dream for many. Who could miss the opportunity to live in one of the world’s happiest and most beautiful countries? If you’re one of them, read this article until the end to learn everything about retiring in Finland as a US citizen! If you want to buy a house in Finland, read this guide.

Can an American retire in Finland?

An old man sitting on a bench in a park

A robust healthcare system, a thriving economy, and a higher quality of life have made Finland one of the top places to retire.

Despite not having specific permits or visas for American retirees who wish to spend their last years abroad, the nation does allow them to enter the country for up to 90 days with a passport and even longer with a residence permit.

Depending on your circumstances, you may need a different type of residence permit to enter and relocate to Finland. 

When moving to Finland, you should know about the two types of residence permits: permanent and fixed term. The fixed-term residence permit is available as either a temporary or continuous residence permit. If it’s your first time, expect to receive this type of permit as the first residence permit is always a fixed term. 

First-time permits are usually valid for one year unless you specifically request a shorter period. Moreover, extending continuous residence permits for three years is possible. If you want a permanent residence permit, you should reside in Finland for four years without interruption. 

The residence permit indicates the type of permit with a letter. Continuous residence permits bear the letter A, while temporary residence permits bear the letter B. 

The letter P denotes permanent residence permits. Meanwhile, EU residence permits for third-country nationals with long-term resident status in the EU are distinguishable by the letters P-EU or P-EY.

Before you decide to move to Finland, read this article about why you should not do that.

How to apply for a Finland residence permit?

Step 1: Fill in the application form

If you would like to apply for a residence permit online, you can do so through the e-service. Create an account and then choose a suitable resident permit for you. 

On the other hand, if you prefer a paper application, you can find it at a Finnish mission in your area. A Finish mission can either be an embassy or a consulate.

Remember that both types of applications require you to attach a list of documents when you submit your application. Pay attention to this list and proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Prepare your documents

You must have all the required documents ready before submitting your application. These documents include passports, birth certificates, marriage licenses, adoption papers, health insurance, etcetera.

A court-certified translator must translate all documents if they aren’t in English, Finnish, or Swedish. Further, you must also have these documents legalized if necessary.

Step 3: Visit a local Finnish mission

Following your application through the e-service, you must submit your fingerprints at an embassy or consulate in your country to verify your identity. Ensure to bring copies of every document you submit online.

Similarly, submit all your documents along with the completed application form when you apply in person with a paper application. Then, once again, you’ll also have to submit your fingerprints.

Whether you apply online or in person, you must pay a certain amount for the application fee during this process. Thus, you have to make sure to bring either cash or a credit card with you. 

In addition, mission representatives might also ask you to sit down for an interview. During the interview, they may ask you about the reason for your application, whether you have family in Finland, and how long you plan to live there.

Step 4: Wait for a decision

After you submit your application, all you need to do is wait for it to be processed. You may have to wait between 6 and 9 months for the complete process. Several factors influence how long it takes to process an application. Thus, the waiting time will vary from application to application.

Long story short, it will take time to review every application, so please be patient. Rest assured; the waiting game will be worth it once you receive good news.

Step 5: Travel to Finland

Once the reviewers decide on your residency permit application, they will contact you immediately. You would receive a notification of the decision via your account, email, or text message if you applied through the e-service. Conversely, you will get a mail notice if you apply through the local embassy.

For successful applications, you can pick up your residence card at the embassy in about three weeks, or the agency will mail it to you. You can register with a local immigration office as soon as you arrive in Finland.

What are the requirements?

Authorities will re-evaluate your entry condition as soon as you arrive in Finland. Along with your visa, you will need other requirements, such as a valid passport or travel document, an insurance document, and other supporting documents.

You must show that you have adequate funds ($31 per day) to support yourself. Your funds should be sufficient to cover your stay and return or continuation trip. If you have a valid return ticket, the required funds may be less than $31. 

Furthermore, you must not have an entry ban to enter the Schengen area. In addition, authorities can deny entry if they deem you a threat to public order and security, public health, or Finland’s relations with other nations.

Last, but not least, it’s also possible that they will deny your entry if they suspect you of attempting to earn money through dishonest means.

Is Finland a good place to retire?

Here are a few reasons why Finland is an excellent place to retire:

1) Safe and secure country

Finland fits the bill if you want a safe place to settle down. Even if you’re considering relocating to Helsinki, you can expect a laid-back vibe. Taking public transportation or going to city parks alone is usually safe at any time of the day.

However, how is this country ranked so highly in terms of safety? According to Statistics Finland, the country has the lowest crime rates globally and is among the most stable countries worldwide. Also, its government is efficient, its legal system is independent, and it has some of the world’s safest banks.

2) Good public and private healthcare

In terms of healthcare, the Nordic countries rank high worldwide yearly, and Finland is one of the best. You won’t have to pay anything for medical treatment in this country because it is free for residents and citizens.

Finland’s healthcare system emphasizes good health and nutrition education as a critical component of disease prevention. However, you must register with the National Health Insurance (NHI) before using Finnish healthcare benefits. Moreover, you may only do this after four months of living in the country.

3) People understand and speak English

Whether you’re in Helsinki or anywhere else in Finland, you’ll be able to communicate with anyone under 60 in English. Many expats there report that they don’t need to learn Finnish because English is one of the main languages.

A 2012 survey shows that 70% of the Finnish population speaks English. Since everyone is taught it in schools, the actual percentage will be higher now.

4) Clean air and water

You may want to consider Finland your future home if you are sick and tired of pollution in the United States.

According to the World Health Organization, Finland’s air is the cleanest. Like many other Nordic countries, this country has taken eco-friendly living seriously. 

Aside from investing in renewable energy, preserving forests and lakes, and promoting electric vehicle usage, Finland’s strict environmental legislation contributes to its clean air. In addition, it is on track to meet the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Moreover, as one of the wealthiest countries in Europe, Finland has made significant investments in a cleaner, greener world, with more than 80% of its lakes having good or exceptional water quality.

As a result of government investments in cleaning up previous industrial regions, industrial emissions have decreased significantly.

Here are the main reasons why Finland is not a good place.

5) Excellent public transportation

Thanks to Finland’s well-organized public transportation system, getting around Finland is convenient, easy, and straightforward. There is no better way to travel within cities than by commuting by train. The rail is much more comfortable and faster than taking the bus from Helsinki to Turku, Tampere, and Lahti.

With the Finn Rail Pass, you are entitled to unlimited travel for three to ten days a month. Furthermore, railway passes covering multiple countries are also available in Finland.

There are buses for short- and long-distance travel inside the cities. The rail network does not reach Lapland’s far north, so public transportation is limited to buses.

How much do you need to retire comfortably in Finland?

A clear lake reflecting cottage and trees

According to data from Businesstech, average retirement savings in Helsinki, Finland, are $253,715. The research says that you will need this amount to retire at age 65.

If you don’t spend there 20 years of your life, you can get away with less, assuming you aren’t planning to buy real estate.

You will need just enough to cover your monthly expenses, such as rent, food, utility bills, and transportation.

Based on Finland’s Prices, rents for apartments in Finland range from $13.3 to $25.6 per square meter. If you want to save up, you may purchase your own house. Rural homes cost about $40,000, while metropolitan houses can cost $289,000.

The cost of groceries from the local supermarket varies significantly among cities, but on average, it would cost you $200 to $250 per month. Saving money is possible by shopping at discount supermarkets like Lidl, Sale, Alepa, and K-Market.

For the utility costs, electricity averages $41 to $66 monthly for a 40m² flat. Meanwhile, the average monthly water bill is $20.4 per person per month.

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