Finnish society is built on the Nordic welfare state model. It is characterised by comprehensive social security, a wide range of public services, as well as a relatively high level of taxation.

The system provides financial assistance for individuals and families. Services, including healthcare, sickness, parental and family benefits, and pension and unemployment benefits, are available from birth to old age in different life situations.

The system guarantees high-level universal healthcare services and free top-class early childhood and basic education as well as maintaining well-functioning public transport and road networks.    

Finland ranks among the best in the world in several indicators. The small country of approximately 5.5 million inhabitants ranks at the top when measuring, e.g., societal performance, equality, education, human capital and children’s wellbeing.  

Finland is the world’s

  • safest (World Economic Forum, The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017
  • freest (Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2019
  • most stable (The Fund for Peace, Fragile States Index 2019), and
  • happiest (Sustainable Development Solutions Network, World Happiness Report 2019, second year in a row) country

Finland is an equal country, ranking as the

  • third most gender-equal country (World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Index 2020)
  • the country with the second-lowest inequality among children (UNICEF, Fairness for Children: A league table of inequality in child wellbeing in rich countries

Finland also has the most human capital (The Lancet, Measuring human capital: a systematic analysis of 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016) in the world.

Helsinki, for its part, has been named the third best city to live in (Metropolis, The Best Cities to Live in (2016)) and the best city for work-life balance (Kisi, The 2019 Work-Life Balance Index).

More information:

Finns appreciate work-life balance and time with family and friends. Work-life balance is supported by long holidays and reasonable working hours. More information: Balancing family life and work (InfoFinland.fi)

The length of holidays and working days varies by field of work, but an eight-hour workday is normal. It is also common to have a four-week annual, paid summer holiday, quite often in July. In many fields of work, 30 days is the minimum statutory paid annual leave entitlement. In Finland, public holidays are not considered part of annual leave and are therefore paid as normal working days. More information: Annual holidays (InfoFinland.fi)

In Finland, employers, such as the University of Helsinki, have a system of paid leave for their employees, including, for example, parental leave and sick leave. More information: Employee benefits

Finland ranks at the top for combining work and family:

  • 2nd fairest country for children (Unicef, 2016
  • 2nd best country to be a mother (Unicef, 2016
  • 1st for good working hours (European Company Survey). The eight-hour workday leaves plenty of time for family, friends and hobbies. 
  • Helsinki is the best city for work-life balance (Kisi, The 2019 Work-Life Balance Index).

See also: 10 reasons to work in Helsinki

Finnish academic working culture has been described as democratic, efficient and sensible. Personnel from different career levels interact casually with each other, and there is low hierarchy. Titles are not often used in everyday communication. 

Personal space and independence are valued and respected. In addition, honesty, punctuality and equality are highly valued in Finland. These values are also appreciated in working life. The working culture supports autonomy and self-direction, while making sure to include cross-cultural teamwork. Multicultural teams are thus not rare at the University of Helsinki.

Working in Helsinki (MyHelsinki.fi)

Finnish working culture (InfoFinland.fi)

Healthcare services in the public sector are financed through municipal taxes. All permanent residents of each municipality in Finland have the right to use public healthcare. Everyone who is covered by the Finnish social security system or has a European Health Insurance Card receives cost reimbursements when using private healthcare clinics. Additional insurance can be purchased from various insurance companies. Insurance is reasonably priced and gives you the right to use private clinics at lower fees. 

All doctors working in the public and private sectors in Finland have qualifications from a Finnish university, resulting in a high quality of services.

Health services in Finland (InfoFinland.fi)

Finnish social security provides wellbeing 

The Finnish social security system provides financial assistance for individuals and families from birth to old age in different life situations. Benefits include, for example, healthcare and unemployment benefits. There are also several types of benefits for families, including child benefit and home care allowance, private care allowance and maternity allowance. Inclusion in the system and benefits need to be applied for. 

Employers provide occupational healthcare to their employees. The University of Helsinki also offers occupational healthcare and other benefits to its employees.

Finland is a perennial top performer in PISA assessments (OECD). Finland prides itself on its education system, which has become a benchmark for other leading nations. One of its hallmarks is its accessibility in terms of language, as English and other foreign-language schools are popular alternatives.

The ingredients that make Finland's education the best in the world

The early childhood education and school system in Finland is of a high quality. There are public and private childcare centres and schools in the Helsinki Capital Region. Children in public schools start their schooling in the year they turn seven. This is different from many other countries. Preschool is obligatory and free of charge.  

Arrival and family support

According to the Global Property Guide, a bundle of goods and services worth one dollar in the U.S. would cost $1.04 in Finland. For a more comprehensive view of the cost levels, you can see some specific examples of living costs in Helsinki on websites like Expatistan or Numbeo

Finland has progressive taxation, which means that the tax percentage rises along with the income. A tax calculator to estimate the tax percentage can be found on the Finnish Tax Administration website. Taxes are used, among other things, to fund the wide range of public services that Finnish society offers.

In addition to the high quality of early childhood education and comprehensive schools, daycare for children is strongly subsidized by the state, and therefore very inexpensive. It is possible to receive a daycare allowance for private daycare when using international care providers.

Schools are free of charge (except the International School of Helsinki), and so is basically all healthcare, with very small exceptions.  

Cost of housing plays a big role in the total costs in Helsinki and in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Heating and water are often included in the rent, modestly priced internet and electricity are not. Electricity is fairly inexpensive in Finland, compared to most of Western and Central Europe.

Housing in Finland (InfoFinland.fi)