Housing in Finland

Asuminen Suomessa
Here you will find information on the different types of housing in Finland. There is also information on buying a plot of land or a summer cottage.

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 Åland differ somewhat, as described in the article Housing in Åland. For students there are special student apartments provided by foundations and companies. You can find more information on these on the page Student housing in Finland.

There are various housing subsidies in Finland. For example, you can get housing allowance if you are covered by Finnish social security, and tax relief. You should carefully check what subsidies there are and the conditions before making any housing decisions. You can find more information on the page Housing subsidies in Finland. You can find information on housing taxation on the Finnish Tax Administration’s website.

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 visit estate agents’ offices or post your own search ad.

Types of housing

The most common types of housing in Finland are rented housing and owner-occupied housing. There is also information on right-of-occupancy housing, summer cottages and other types of housing.

Rented 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 based on their needs.

The availability of rental apartments and rents differ considerably in different parts of Finland. If you are moving to Finland to work, it is worth 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. These apartments are owned by municipalities, but also by non-profit housing corporations. Applications are made to the owner, and apartments are rented based on applicants’ housing needs and also their income and assets.

There are apartments for both students and working young people at more reasonable price levels. 

It is advisable to look into the options before you move to Finland. Especially in the capital city region, 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

Owner-occupied housing is the most common form of housing in Finland. The shareholders of housing companies pay monthly maintenance charges. Find out more on the webpage Asuminen.fi.

Apartment or house purchases are generally financed with 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 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. Find out more on the page Bank accounts in Finland.

Right-of-occupancy housing

A right-of-occupancy apartment is an alternative to owner-occupied or rented housing. Applicants for right-of-occupancy housing financed through state-subsidised interest or loan schemes must meet certain criteria. Residents in buildings financed in other ways are selected by building’s owners.

Residents pay a right-of-occupancy payment plus a monthly residence charge. Right-of-occupancy apartments belong to their occupants in the same way as owner-occupied homes do, 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 built with other financing 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.

Summer houses

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.

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.

Turning 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.

Other types of housing

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 Asuminen.fi website.

Buying or renting a plot of land

When buying a plot of land, you should consider the planning situation and the construction rights of the plot, i.e. how much can be built on the plot, in what way 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 plot 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. When the contract of sale is concluded, 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 organisations make rental agreements, for example municipalities and Metsähallitus.

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