Vantaa is probably best known as the location of Finland’s Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Expats living in Vantaa will soon get used to the hum of aircraft, and will probably find they miss it when they stay in other cities! Vantaa wasn’t always a busy transport hub, however. Located just outside of Helsinki, it was formerly known as the “Helsinki Rural Commune” and best known for its salmon fishing and trade markets. Outside the city you will still find some of Europe’s most extraordinary countryside, but the city center is now a thoroughly modern place. Find out more about the city’s history at the Vantaa City Museum, and then take a glimpse into Finland’s future at Heureka, the Finnish Science Center. Plus, expatriates in Vantaa will find that Finland’s vibrant capital city of Helsinki is just a 20 minute drive away, while the stunning Finnish coast is less than ten miles from Vantaa.
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Vantaa is located in the south of Finland, on the banks of the Keravanjoki River. Of its 92 square miles of surface area, almost one square mile is water, and the river is an important part of Vantaa life. Tourists still come to fish during salmon season, and water sports are popular with the city’s youth. Expatriates moving to Vantaa should however not just pack their fishing poles and swimming trunks but also prepare for Finland’s infamous winters. Between the months of November to March, temperatures can plummet as low as -32°F, while snow and ice are a permanent feature. Make sure you are equipped for getting around in the snow, and aware of all the emergency contact details for your district. By joining InterNations and using its forums and private messages system, you can easily get in touch with other expats living in Vantaa or other parts of Finland and speak to them about surviving the long Finnish winters.
Vantaa is a bilingual city, with both Finnish and Swedish as the official local languages. English is generally taught at schools, but not necessarily spoken widely. If you are planning on working in Vantaa, take a few Finnish language classes and practice speaking it as much as possible. Learn a few key words and phrases in Finnish before you start your life as an expatriate in Vantaa, and make sure you can read the local road signs. Vantaa’s proximity to the airport means that many of the city’s residents are employees of airlines, the air authorities, or one of the corporate headquarters based in the airport area. This makes Vantaa a cosmopolitan place to live, but with a community feel. If you are worried about making new friends, or assimilating into a new working environment, simply get in touch with to other expats through InterNations in order to socialize, network, and share your experiences of expat life.