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.
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.
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!
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.
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
|Single occupant in the city centre||800||650||1 450|
|Single occupant outside the city centre||600||650||1 250|
|Family of four in the city centre||1 650||2 000||3 650|
|Family of four outside the city centre||1 300||2 000||3 300|
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.
Finland and its capital city have been ranked highly in dozens of comparisons. See this great list of recent international rankings.
Helsinki is a place of growth
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.
Helsinki’s leadership created a 2021-2025 City Strategy with the goal to be a city where different lifestyles and opinions can co-exist in harmony. The city will assume a more active role in attracting international businesses, business owners and work-seeking migrants to Helsinki and helping them settle in. Opportunities to study in English will be expanded at all education levels.
The strategy also renews the city’s economic policy priorities, strengthening and developing Helsinki’s status as a top startup hub, innovative environment, and hotbed of business opportunity in Europe. Another goal for the current council term is to eliminate homelessness by 2025 and introduce a therapy guarantee already in 2022.
The fight against climate change is a challenge confronting all of humanity, and Helsinki wants to go beyond simply doing its part. Helsinki pursues only sustainable growth and has moved its goal to achieve carbon neutrality up five years to 2030.
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.