The most common types of housing in Finland are owner-occupied housing, right-of-occupancy housing and rented housing, either state-subsidised or private. Housing choices in the Åland Islands differ somewhat. Information on this is given in the article Housing in the Åland Islands.
For students there are special student apartments provided by foundations and companies. More information on these can be found in the article Student housing in Finland.
In Finland, housing is subsidised in many different ways. For example, you can get housing allowance if you are covered by Finnish social security, and tax relief. It is advisable to look into what subsidies there are and the conditions before making any housing decisions. More information can be found in the article Housing benefits in Finland.
Looking for a home
Nowadays the majority of property listings are online. Other places where you can search for property listings include newspapers, social media and noticeboards. You can also go to estate agents’ offices or post your own search ad.
Types of housing
In Finland you can rent homes on the open market or apply for state-subsidised rental apartments, where the rent is regulated and residents are selected according to their needs.
The availability of rental apartments and the level of rents differ considerably in different parts of Finland. If you are moving to Finland to work, it is worthwhile looking into the possibility of getting a rental apartment provided by your employer.
The rents of state-subsidised rental apartments are usually somewhat lower than private rental apartments. Such homes are owned by municipalities, but also by non-profit housing corporations Applications for rental apartments are made to the owner and homes are rented according to housing needs and also applicants’ income and assets.
Apartments are available both for students and working young people which are designed to be at a more reasonable price level.
It is advisable to look into the options before you move to Finland. In the capital city region in particular there is a constant shortage of rented housing.
Tenants’ rights are monitored by the association Finnish Tenants, who you can contact if you have problems.
Owner-occupied housing is the most common form of housing in Finland. The shareholders of housing companies pay monthly maintenance charges. Apartment or house purchases are generally financed from savings and bank loans. Home loans are the most common type of financing for purchasing owner-occupied homes. The costs of a home loan are affected by both the general level of interest rates, the method of amortisation, the loan period and the amount you have saved up, what collateral you have and your customer relationship (including loyalty benefits) with your bank. Remember that if you are planning to buy a home in Finland and take out a bank loan in another Nordic country, you cannot generally use a home in Finland as security for the loan.
A right-of-occupancy apartment is an alternative to owner-occupied or rented housing. Applicants for right-of-occupancy housing produced with state-subsidised interest or loan schemes must meet certain criteria. Residents in buildings produced through other financing schemes are selected by building’s owners.
Residents pay a right-of-occupancy payment plus a monthly residence charge. Residents run a right-of-occupancy apartment in the same way as an owner-occupied home, but a right-of-occupancy apartment can never fully redeemed. When residents move out, they get back the index-adjusted right-of-occupancy payment.
State-subsidised right-of-occupancy apartments are owned by municipalities, non-profit corporations and right-of-occupancy associations. Apartments constructed by other financing schemes can be owned by other companies or foundations. To apply for a state-subsidised right-of-occupancy apartment you need to contact the municipal housing department and the owner of the property where you want to apply for the apartment.
As well as a permanent dwelling, you can also buy a holiday home or cottage in a rural area of Finland. Most cottages are situated in the provinces of South-west Finland, Pirkanmaa and South Savo. In most municipalities, the property tax on holiday homes is higher than the taxation of permanent dwellings (although property taxation in Finland is very moderate).
Building a new cottage is not always the best or the only solution. You can also get a good cottage by renovating an old one or by renting.
Changing a summer house into a permanent dwelling requires an exemption order if the area is not zoned or if there is no plot for a permanent dwelling indicated in the land use plan. If you are planning to move permanently into a summer house, you should first contact the municipality’s building control services, who will tell you about the permit procedures and give initial information on changes required to the building.
Information on other types of housing, such as part-ownership housing, housing for special groups and housing for the elderly, can be found on the joint website of Finland’s environmental administration.
Buying or renting a plot of land
When buying a plot of land, you should take into cosideration the planning situation and the construction rights of the plot, i.e. how much can be built on the plot, how and for what purpose. An encumbrance certificate, land register certificate and map will show whether the plot is encumbered by a mortgage, whether the plot includes rights to shared land and water areas, what the surface area of the lot is and the borders of the plot on the ground. It is also advisable to check with the local surveying office whether the road leading to the plot is public or private. Private roads may not be used for regular motor vehicle traffic without right of use.
Transfer of a plot is subject to transfer tax, which for real estate transactions is 4% of the purchase price. At the conclusion of the contract of sale the purchaser is also given instructions for the registration of title and the forms for applying for a construction permit.
The permitted building volume is decided by the municipality. The zoning master plan will show whether the area is designated for permanent or holiday dwellings.
Renting a plot of land is also possible. Many bodies make rental agreements, for example municipalities and Metsähallitus.
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NB! If you have questions regarding the processing of a specific case or application, or other personal matters, please contact the relevant authority directly.