HOW TO MOVE TO FINLAND FOR STUDYING
How to Move to Finland
Boasting a national average of one sauna for every two people, great social benefits, and the best ranked education system in the world, it’s no wonder you’re thinking about moving to Finland.If you find yourself dreaming about those Northern lights, you can achieve your dreams by applying for a residence permit; organizing the essentials, and making some final arrangements back home and in Finland.
Applying for a Residence Permit in Finland
Register your residency without a permit if you’re from qualifying countries.If you are a citizen of an EU-member country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you can simply register your residency through the Finnish government immigration site: . You must prove that you have sufficient means to support yourself in Finland.
- This means of support can be a stable job, a family network, or sufficient savings.
Find a job to apply for residency through work.You can apply for residency on the grounds that you have a paying job secured in Finland. Use online resources to try to find work from abroad, or temporarily visit Finland to look for work (you can visit for up to 3 months). The Finnish labor administration’s website and the European Job Mobility portal are good places to begin your search.
- If you’re currently in Finland, you can look for jobs in newspapers and visit local employment offices.
- Local employment offices will provide help in your job search even as a non-Finnish resident.
- Keep in mind the job will need to match income requirements set out by the Finnish government (at least 1,189 Euros per month for most sectors).
Get sponsored by a family member to apply on family ties.If you have a spouse or family member residing in Finland, you can apply for residency on the grounds that you intend to live with them when you arrive in Finland.If you apply for residency on these grounds, you will be eligible to work and study in Finland once you arrive.
- Having a long-term Finnish romantic partner does not count as having a Finnish family member, but if you have been in an established relationship with a Finnish citizen and plan to get married, it might make you eligible to apply on special grounds.
Pursue a degree in Finland to apply as a student.If you plan to study in Finland, you can apply for residency on these grounds. Search online for degree programs that match your interests. A website called Study in Finland offers a database of english-language degree courses you can apply to and tips for fulfilling requirements.
- There are separate Finnish entrance exams for universities, but some programs will accept the SAT instead.
- Note that language courses which are not at the degree level will not make you eligible for residency. However, studying Finnish at a university level will.
Submit an application through immigration services.Once you have secured work, studies, or a family sponsor, you can fill out an application on the Finnish Immigration service website: . In the application you will verify your identity, describe your reasons for moving, and establish that you have sufficient funds to support yourself. Visit a Finnish embassy to pay.
- Forms can be completed in English.
- You will need a valid passport that will not expire while you are in Finland.
- Processing time will vary, but the government should provide you with an estimate.
Organizing Travel, Accommodations, and Employment
Book a flight once you have an approved residence permit.Use flight search engines like Google Flights or Expedia to compare prices of flights and buy tickets. If you are starting a job, consider flying a few weeks ahead of your start date to give yourself time to settle in before you begin work.
- Take note of how much baggage is allowed by the airline. You will most likely need to ship what you cannot bring on the plane, so opt for options which give you multiple checked bags.
Find housing through your school or work if possible.To find student accommodations, contact your school or search through the SOA (Finnish Student Housing) website. If you are working, contact your employer about temporary housing available for employees, commonly available in Finland due to shortages in rental properties.
- Short-term employee housing can help you land on your feet while you search the market for long-term housing.
Find housing through the market if school or job housing is unavailable.Search online through sites like HousingAnywhere which advertise properties to rent. A more expensive option might be to use a site like Airbnb for more short term rentals and already furnished places.
- If you are struggling to find places online, you might consider using an estate agent, though this will cost extra money.
Apply for jobs to establish an income.If you are not coming to Finland on work and do not already have a job, it is a good idea to search for employment to support yourself. You can apply to jobs once you arrive in Finland, but you don’t want to burn through your savings too quickly. Search online, through any connections in Finland, and through your school if you are a student.
- The Finnish labor administration’s website and the European Job Mobility portal are good resources.
Making Final Arrangements
Learn Finnish.Learning Finnish will help you adapt when you move, and it will be necessary if you want to eventually apply for citizenship. You can take online courses at the University of Helsinki or look for courses in your area.Free apps like Duolingo can help you to build your vocabulary as you learn.
- Some online resources, like Verbalplanet, will allow you to pair with personal online tutors who speak Finnish and talk with them.
Save at least 6,000 Euros to cover the cost of relocation and rent.Living in Finland is expensive, and you will need to save for the move as well as your first few months. Develop a budget based off of online estimates of living costs in Finland to make sure you can afford your first few months. You will need to factor in rent, groceries, public transportation, and other essentials.
Inform your bank that you are moving.Letting your bank know about your move can help you avoid having your credit or bank cards frozen. See if your bank charges extra to withdraw money in a foreign country or if they charge extra for credit card use internationally.
- If your bank charges international fees, consider switching over to a Finnish credit card when you arrive.
Decide on a health care plan.All residents of Finland have access to public health care, which is not free, but is very reasonably priced. A doctor’s visit costs out-of-pocket around 20 Euros.Apply for a Kela card to get access to public health care. Students can sign up for International Student Insurance for affordable student health care.
- If you have already secured employment, check with your employer about health benefits.
- Research your resources. For example, Finland offers a Foreigner’s Crisis Center, which provides guidance and counseling for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, completely free of charge.
Organize your belongings into shipping, packing, selling or storing.Once you know where you’re living, you can ship large items like furniture or books overseas by plane. The cost of this can be very expensive, so evaluate whether it’s worth it to ship or if you want to buy new items in Finland. Pack up what you will be bringing on the plane, and sell or store the rest of your belongings.
- Selling items can be a nice way to get some extra money to help with relocation costs.
Open a Finnish bank account when you arrive in Finland.Your employer will most likely want to deposit your pay directly to a Finnish bank account. This can help you to transfer money more easily and keep track of your finances once in Finland. You can also open a new credit card in Finland to avoid international fees.
- The three largest Finnish banks are Nordea Bank Finland, the OP Group, and Danske Bank.
Prepare for culture shock.Read online forums about foreigners’ experiences in Finland to prepare yourself for social and cultural differences. It’s natural to deal with some culture shock and loneliness. Once you arrive, keep in touch with people back home, make new connections at school or in work, and keep in mind that it takes time to establish a rhythm in a new place.
- If you end up wanting to stay longer than a year, you can always extend your residency. This will also be necessary if you eventually want to become a citizen, as applying for citizenship requires proof of continued residency for five years (less for specific exceptions).
- While moving to Finland is a long and difficult process, at the end of the road you will be a resident of one of the happiest countries in the world!
Video: The Citizenship Test | Moving To Finland
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