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About the city

Woman watering flowers in Senate Square

Helsinki is the capital of Finland and the largest urban area in the country. Any story about the city must begin with the sea, as Helsinki has been fundamentally shaped by its maritime environment.

Population

Helsinki is home to around 650,000 people. More than 1.5 million inhabitants live in the larger metropolitan area, which includes the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen. The metropolitan area is located in the greater Helsinki region, which is in turn situated in the southern Finnish province of Uusimaa. Finland is a member of the European Union (EU), and uses the euro as its currency. 

Map of Helsinki and its surroundings
What are the different districts of Helsinki like?

The MyHelsinki website showcases the best that Helsinki has to offer, including this presentation of the city’s diverse neighbourhoods. Take some time to get to know Helsinki’s unique districts today!

Language

Finland has two national languages: Finnish and Swedish. In Helsinki, Finnish is the primary language, as only six per cent of the city’s inhabitants speak Swedish as a mother tongue. Another sixteen per cent of Helsinki residents speak some other tongue as their first language.   

Although the majority of people in Helsinki speak excellent English, learning to speak Finnish can bring many benefits. Learning Swedish is also helpful, but fewer people in the city use it on a daily basis.

The public broadcasting company Yle reports the daily news from Finland in Finnish and Swedish, as well as in English, Russian, Sámi and easy Finnish.

Where can I take language lessons?

The website Finnishcourses.fi can help you find the best language course for you. Find more language instruction options in our Adult Education section.

Climate

Helsinki is one of the northernmost capitals in the world. Despite this fact, its climate is surprisingly temperate. The mercury in the winter months rarely dips too low, and in the summer, the average temperature is a pleasant 20°C (70° F) or so. This is why most of the city’s residents agree that the Helsinki summer climate is just right for spending the long bright days outdoors. 

The sun shines for close to nineteen hours at the peak of summertime. In the dead of winter, however, the skies are light for only six hours each day. The dark winter months are the reason that every home and office in Helsinki is very well heated, with large insulated windows. Every path and road is well lit.

A safe and trusting society

A recent study found that the clear majority of Helsinki residents feel very safe. In addition, residents of the country claim Europe’s highest levels of trust in others and many authorities. As a sign of this communal trust, lost items are almost always returned. 

As a Nordic welfare state, Finland assumes a shared public responsibility for the economic and social well-being of its inhabitants. The general consensus is that caring for the least fortunate improves the well-being of everyone. This brings freedom and peace of mind, especially in the face of uncertainty.

Is it true that Finns are quiet? Finns choose their words carefully and tend to avoid unnecessary small talk. At first this might seem awkward, but with time you may learn to appreciate it. Read this guide to Finnish customs and manners to learn more.

Cost of living in Helsinki

The cost of living in Helsinki is relatively high. Things like groceries and dining out, for example, are more expensive than the European average. In contrast, rental prices are reasonable when compared to other international capitals. On the whole, however, life in Helsinki is rather pricey.

Average cost of living, per month in euros

RentOtherTotal
Single occupant in the city centre8006501 450
Single occupant outside the city centre6006501 250
Family of four in the city centre1 6502 0003 650
Family of four outside the city centre1 3002 0003 300
Sources: City of Helsinki Urban Research and Statistics Unit, Statistics Finland

Keep in mind that the state provides assistance to eligible residents who are having trouble meeting their living expenses. This means that the true out-of-pocket costs for residents of Helsinki vary considerably. For more information, see our section on Housing in Helsinki.

Looking for more Helsinki data? Find current statistics about everyday life and expenses in Helsinki at the state-owned data organisation Statistics Finland.

Top city in many rankings

According to a global survey from Expat Insider, Finland is the best country in the world for family life abroad. A full 93 per cent of the survey’s respondents stated that they were satisfied with life in their new home country. Finland has been number one in this ranking for four years.

With free healthcare and education, loving and professional childcare, generous parental leaves, and the world’s best work-life balance, living in Helsinki is arguably the best choice for young families. 

This short video takes a look at the country’s placement in international rankings over the years.
Why should I move to Helsinki?

Finland and its capital city have been ranked highly in dozens of comparisons. See this great list of recent international rankings.

The most functional city in the world

The City of Helsinki’s highest decision-making authority is the City Council, which is elected every four years. The council appoints a mayor and four deputy mayors to oversee municipal operations.

In 2016, Helsinki’s leadership created a City Strategy that seeks to make Helsinki the most functional city in the world. Sustainability and digitalisation of services have been made top priorities. In a bid to serve its international community better, Helsinki has also improved its multicultural communications, actively promoted employment-based immigration, and doubled its English-language daycare and school options. The City of Helsinki is a member of the Eurocities Network and the EU’s Urban Agenda, which both seek to promote integration.

Helsinki actively works to prevent neighbourhoods from becoming segregated by socioeconomic divides. As a result, Helsinki is the only EU city with falling rates of homelessness. All in all, it can be said that the City of Helsinki does its best to take care of its residents.

Interested in learning more about the City of Helsinki? Find the answers to all of your questions about municipal services and operations at the City of Helsinki website.

The city of participation

Helsinki has introduced many initiatives to encourage civic engagement. See how you can get more involved in local decision-making.

The city of equality

All residents must be able to feel that Helsinki is their home. Learn more about the steps the city is taking to ensure human rights in Helsinki.