Wallet friendly tips for newcomers to settle in Finland
Finland is an expensive country to live but if you are patient and wait for the sales and promotions, you will see there are many chances to buy all you need at cheap prices
When moving to a new country, there are a lot of things that a person needs to focus on initially.
The primary concern is, typically, the bureaucracy: what papers need to be taken, where and who to deliver them to upon arrival, what to do to have a legal status, among others.
Another one is where to stay. Some people have friends or relatives waiting for them to lend a helping hand. Many do not have that and have to figure something out before the actual move. That usually means, looking online for different solutions like a hostel or renting a room.
But one thing is common to all immigrants, whether one has a job and a support system waiting for him once arrived, or if it is someone that has taken all his savings to try luck in a new country: the need for figuring out where to shop for, virtually, anything.
When moving to a new country one is so focused on the paperwork and housing that tends to forget about simple things taken for granted at the home country: which supermarket to use for grocery shopping and which one is cheaper; where to rent a house or an apartment, which moving companies to use if needed, the best places to buy furniture, electronics, clothes, shoes, or where to go for home improvement supplies, for example.
So in order to help newcomers, we offer here some tips to help settle in.
Rent an apartment
To rent an apartment or a house, there are several companies and ways. One can rent privately through specific websites, like Tori.fi or Facebook groups created to that effect. A list of such sites can be found below.
If renting privately is not an option or preferable, there are companies like: Asuntosäätiö, Sato, Vuokraovi, Lumo, or Oikoitie which are some of the main ones, and usually are easier or cheaper to rent from, depending on the area and size of the apartment.
For example Asuntosäätiö is generally cheaper, but it requests two months rent up front. Sato is easier as it only charges a 250€s deposit for some apartments or even 0€ for others. A list of the main rental companies can be found also below.
If one is renting an apartment, chances are that a moving van will be needed. The most commonly used companies here are: PakkuOvelle and 24rent, where one can rent different sized vans, for different prices. And there are companies, like Niemi and Victor Ek that will do the actual move, but these are usually more expensive.
One can also try and find people online who will do that service but that is always a bigger risk as there are no reviews or guaranties of a good service.
Where to by food and clothes
When it comes to groceries the main shops are: K- Citymarket, Prisma, S-Market, K- Market, Lidl and Alepa.
According to a survey commissioned by Kauppalehti in 2017, Prisma and S- Market were considered the cheapest ones because of the cut in prices they did, in many products, to compete with rivals and the number of promotions and sales they offer on a weekly basis. They also offer, specially K-Citymarket and Prisma, a bigger variety of products than Lidl. From food to clothes, to electronics, to house decor, sports equipment, toys or books, there’s a little bit of almost everything in the bigger supermarkets.
Even so, to know exactly which ones are better for one’s needs, it helps to look through the publicity gotten in the mail, as all sales are promoted there.
It also pays off to join the customer membership, if they have one, as there are many sales available only for those carrying the loyalty card and discounts with most products. This is particularly valid for K- Citymarket as their card also offers discounts and points at other shops like R- Kioski and K-Rauta (home improvement, and house decor).
Another thing to keep in mind is that all these supermarkets sell surplus food at 30% to 50% discount to reduce food waste and offer cheaper alternatives.
There are also Asian, African and middle eastern shops, particularly in the Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa region, that offer more specific products.
As for clothes and shoes, the shops that usually offer better prices are H&M, KappAhl, Ginatricot, Mango, New Yorker and Prisma supermarket. Now, most of the shops, even if they are not the cheapest - like Marimekko, Sokos or Halonen, offer good sales multiple times a year, so if one is looking for better quality clothes or shoes, we advise to wait for such times, as they pay off.
For example: Prisma sells brands like Burton, Superdry, Didriksons, Peak Performance, Nike, Vans, or Icebugs and when sales times arrives, they cut off as much as 60% to 70% of the normal price.
Furniture and house items
When it comes to furniture and house items the cheapest stores are: Ikea (with a free bus ride to and from Helsinki, which can be taken at a bus stop next to Kiasma museum) and Jysk.
Other shops were house items can be bought at cheaper prices are: Hong Kong, Hobby Hall and Tokmanni (the last one also sells some groceries).
Shops like Finlayson, Pentik and Hemtex that sell bed linens and towels and are usually pricier, have significant sales several times a year, and it pays to buy from them then. For example: a bed setting that usually costs around 60€, at Finlayson, can be bought on sales for as low as 17€ or 20€, and towels for as low as 5€ or 7€.
Electronics and tools
For electronics and gadgets, the shops that offer better prices and sales are: Gigantti, Verkokauppa (outlet), Euronics and Power. Something like phones, washing machines or vacuums can be on promotion for as much as 50% or 60% off.
For spare parts, tools and construction, motorcycles and cycling, fishing, hunting, boating and home improvement there is Motonet, which offers a big variety of products. For home improvement, tools and construction and some home appliances there are also K- Rauta, S-Rauta, Clas Ohlson, and Bauhaus.
If buying new is not a choice, then there are many second hand shops around the country. They are called Kirpputoris and everything can be found in these shops: clothing, shoes, accessories, house appliances, toys, tools, home decor items and so on. It is always worth a visit as many good deals can be found here.
There is also the same option but online as there are a variety of websites and Facebook “buy and sell” groups where one can get practically everything second hand, for much lower prices. In many cases there also exchange of products or some that are given for free. Websites or Facebook groups like the ones below are always useful:
- Sell your stuff
- Finland Buy & Sell
- Helsinki Buying, Selling, Giving away
- Helsinki / Espoo 2nd hand / for sale / kirpputori myydä
- Helsinki Rent, Sell, Lend, Give away
- SELL YOUR STUFF - - Suomi
- Finland Secondhand buying & Selling
- Apartments and rooms in Helsinki
- Helsinki region - Flea market, Kirpputori, Kirppis
- Kirpputori Online
- Sell or Buy - Suomessa
- 2nd hand in Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo
- Finland IESAF Buy and Sell
- Myy / Osta / Anna / Vaihda - Sell / Buy / Give Away / Exchange
Our biggest tip is to buy at outlets and on sales, whenever possible, for new products, and always check for the words 'Ale' and 'Tarjoukset' as they are the signs for sales and promotions.
But if buying second hand is not a problem, then that is the best option as good quality and often new / semi new products can be bought for very low prices.