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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Admiring Finland’s Beautiful Landscapes Comes at a Cost

Finland makes a dizzying drop from 16th place in 2023 to the bottom 10 — its digital prowess can’t compensate for the professional, financial, and social hurdles.

Finland now ranks 51st out of 53 countries in the Expat Insider 2024 survey. Despite shining in the Environment & Climate (8th) and Digital Life (6th) Subcategories, challenges arise in the Ease of Settling In (50th), Working Abroad (46th), and Personal Finances (52nd) Indices, where Finland’s rankings falter. In just one year, expats’ happiness with their life there dropped from 15th to 52nd place. So, what caused this massive shift?

How Expats Rate Life in Finland

Digital Haven with Language Hurdles

In the Expat Essentials Index, Finland fell from a top-10 ranking in 2023 (10th) to 33rd in 2024, with Housing (31st) and Language (48th) dropping 14 and 5 spots, respectively. Only 38% of expats agree that finding housing is easy (vs. 45% globally). And language poses a significant hurdle: a whopping 83% of respondents find that learning the local language is difficult (vs. 40% globally).

For Admin Topics, Finland holds a modest 19th place. It’s become harder for expats to get a visa to move to Finland (from 15th place in 2023 to 25th in 2024) and deal with the local bureaucracy (6th in 2023 to 18th in 2024). Nevertheless, 52% of expats rate the local bureaucracy favorably, compared to the global average of 36%.

The country also excels in the digital realm, securing an impressive 6th place for Digital Life. Nearly three-quarters of expats (74%) positively rate the online availability of government services (vs. 58% globally).

Budgeting Constraints

Finland’s performance in the Personal Finance Index shows a 22-point drop to 52nd. With a relatively high cost of living (42nd), expats may find themselves grappling with budgeting and financial constraints in their day-to-day lives. In fact, expats don’t rate their disposable household income as sufficient (51st), and they’re dissatisfied with their financial situation (53rd).

Worsening Quality of Life?

After a top-3 placement in 2023, Finland’s Quality of Life Index drops to an average 26th place in 2024.

The standout subcategory is Environment & Climate, where Finland excels in 8th place. Out of its six factors, five are in the top 10. This includes air quality in 1st place, followed by the urban (3rd) and natural (10th) environments — 94% of expats positively rate the country’s natural environment (vs. 82% globally).

“Nature is clean and beautiful, and offers many possibilities like sailing, hiking, and cross-country skiing.” – Canadian expat

The worst-performing factor is climate & weather in 47th place, with only 31% of expats rating it favorably (vs. 58% globally). It’s no surprise, as expats complain of the long, dark winters.

Travel & Transit in Finland comes in 21st place. Although affordability (36th) and availability of public transportation (20th) are middling, more than nine in ten expats (91%) find it easy and safe to get around on foot or by bicycle (vs. 76% globally).

The Healthcare Subcategory takes a nosedive from 17th place in 2023 to the 38th spot in 2024. Expats are particularly unhappy with the availability of healthcare (44th): only 56% rate it favorably (vs. 68% globally).

The Cold Climate Extends to Social Circles

Finland’s challenges in expat integration are evident in its bottom-10 ranking for the Ease of Settling In Index (50th) and its three subcategories: Local Friendliness (48th), Culture & Welcome (51st), and Finding Friends (52nd).  

Only 25% of expats are happy with their social life (vs. 52% globally), 37% don't feel welcome (vs. 17%), and more than two-thirds (70%) find it difficult to make local friends (vs. 41%).

Careers See a Reversal in Fortune

From a top-5 placement in 2023, Finland finds itself in the bottom 10 for the Working Abroad Index (46th). The biggest upsets are the Work & Leisure (31st) and Work Culture & Satisfaction (27th) Subcategories, both of which saw a drop from 1st and 3rd place in 2023, respectively. Only 47% of expats are satisfied with their job (vs. 60% globally).

And from a decent 14th place in 2023, the Salary & Job Security Subcategory sees a below-average placement in 2024 (39th). About a third of expats are dissatisfied with their job security (37% vs. 22% globally) and don’t agree they’re paid fairly for their work (31% vs. 22% globally). However, three in five (60%) at least rate the state of the economy favorably (vs. 59% globally).  

In last place is the Career Prospects Subcategory (53rd), which includes the local job market (53rd) and personal career opportunities (53rd). Almost half of respondents (47%) don’t agree that moving to Finland improved their career prospects (vs. 21% globally).

“Job opportunities are halved if you don't speak Finnish.” – Syrian expat

The Typical Expat in Finland

Further Reading