The average cost of living in Finland for a single student varies between EUR 700 and 900 per month, depending on where you live and your personal spending habits. This amount includes accommodation, transportation and meal costs. Living expenses are relatively high in Finland, although comparable to the EU average. Bigger cities are usually more expensive than the smaller ones.
You can get an idea of average prices in Finland.
The following public holidays are celebrated annually in Finland. Please note that the dates of some holidays vary from year to year. Shops and banks are usually closed on public holidays and Saturday opening hours are usually followed on the eve of a public holiday (e.g. December 24).
|Saturday between 31.10.–6.11.
||All Saints’ Day
||New Year’s Day
|Friday before Easter
|Monday after Easter
|Fortieth day after Easter
|10 days after Ascension Day
|Saturday between 20.-26.6.
The Finnish time is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. There is only one time zone covering the whole country. Daylight saving time or summer time (kesäaika) is used from the last Sunday of March to the last Sunday of October. The shift is usually done early on Sunday mornings so that it does not cause extra difficulties.
The electrical current in Finland is 220V (50Hz). Electrical plugs are the two-pin continental size. In Finland, the unit of measurement is the metric system.
|4 oz. (1/4 lbs.)
|8 oz. (1/2 lbs.)
|12 oz. (3/4lbs.)
|16 oz. (1lbs.)
|1 fl oz.
|2 fl oz.
|3 fl oz.
|4 fl oz
||120 ml/ 1,2 dl
|5 fl oz.(1/4 pint)
||150 ml/ 1,5 dl
|6 fl oz.
||180 ml/ 1,8 dl
|8 fl oz.
||240 ml/2,4 dl
||1 cup (1/2 pint)
|10 fl oz. (1/2 pint)
||285 ml/2,85 dl
|12 fl oz.
||340 ml/3,4 dl
||1 1/2 cup
|16 fl oz.
||455 ml/4,55 dl
||2 cups (1 pint)
|20 fl oz. (1pint)
||570 ml/5,7 dl
||2 1/2 cups
|1 1/2 pints
||900 ml/9 dl
||3 3/4 cups
|1 3/4 pints
||4 cups (1qt)
||1 1/4 litres
||1 1/4 quarts
|2 1/3 pints
||1 1/2 litres
||3 US pints
|3 1/4 pints
The Finnish monetary unit is the euro (EUR, €). The euro is divided into 100 cents. Bank notes are in denominations of EUR 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500. The coins are 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and EUR 1 and 2. Unlike in most euro countries, the coins of 1 and 2 cents are not used in Finland. Cheques are rarely used in Finland and they are not accepted as a method of payment in shops and businesses. International credit cards (e.g. Visa, MasterCard) are widely accepted. If needed, please make sure you exchange some currency before arriving in Finland since it is difficult to exchange currency if you don’t have a bank account.
There are several branches of banks in all cities. Banks have very limited opening hours so please check them beforehand. You can withdraw money from cash machines or ATMs (automatic teller machines) with Finnish bankcards and with most of international cards as well (fees may apply). If you lose your Finnish ATM card, please call immediately tel. +358 20 333 to report the incidence (24 hour service). Lost Diner’s Club cards can be reported by calling +358 800 9 5555 and American Express cards +358 9 6132 0400.
Students who wish to open a Finnish bank account are advised to do so as soon as possible after their arrival. You should make an appointment with the bank in order to be able to open an account. When opening an account, be prepared to show proof of your identity (e.g. passport) and a proof of registration at UEF (study certificate or in some cases the Admission Certificate is accepted). Please note that banks will require you to have a Finnish Personal Identity Code to open a bank account, so remember to acquire one! Please ask the bank for a price of a service package and list of other charges (e.g. international money transfers). Fees are usually charged for receiving money to your account from abroad and sending an international money order. Fees depend on the bank and the form of transfer.
Online banking is the best method to pay bills and transfer money. If possible, it is advisable to use your home country’s online banking since the banks in Finland have reduced their services and usually do not allow online banking for short-term use.
Remember that you need the SWIFT code (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) or the BIC code (Bank Identification Code) when making international transactions. If you are making the payment from Europe, you will also need to use the IBAN code (International Bank Account Code).
Some Finnish banks:
Some students have used European on-line banks, for example N26 Smart.
The Finnish Post mostly has post-in-shops service points and Posti Parcel Points (pakettiautomaatti) at certain grocery stores or R-kiosks where you can send and receive parcels. These follow the opening hours of the store. Find the closest post-in-shop.
See more for sending letters and parcels.
Letters can be mailed at post offices or dropped into letterboxes throughout the city. The time when the letterbox is being emptied is written on the box. Incoming mail is delivered to your address Monday through Friday. There are no deliveries on Saturdays, Sundays or on public holidays.
When dialling a phone call to Finland, please remember to use the following formula: the international prefix +358 + the area code without the initial 0 + the phone number. When calling from Finland to another country, you have to attach an international prefix before the country code. There are several international prefixes depending on the company you choose. The most common ones are 990, 994, 992 and 999 but if you call abroad a lot, you should check the other possibilities and compare prices. You can also always use the pan-European code 00, and then dial the country code, the area code and the destination number. Note that the first number of the area code (often 0) is usually omitted. See more information about international phone calls.
Please note that an area code is always needed when using a mobile phone. For international number enquiries, call 020 208 (there is a fee + local call charge). For domestic number enquiries, call 118, 0200 16200 or 020202, but please note that there will be an extra charge.
In Finland, everyone uses mobile phones and this is why there are practically no public coin-operated telephone booths. Unless you already have a mobile phone, it is definitely worth considering buying one for yourself as well. Mobile phone shops usually sell second-hand phones at reasonable prices.
You can open a post-paid mobile phone connection with a Finnish mobile phone operator (e.g. DNA, Elisa, Sonera). However, you might be required to pay a substantial deposit in order to get a post-paid mobile phone connection. This is why many times a pre-paid subscription is a better alternative.
You get the Pre-paid Start-up kit in your ISYY Welcome Package because ESN Joensuu has a contract with DNA Oy whereby all the incoming international students who join the Student Union will have the possibility to receive a free DNA Prepaid start-up kit.
There are cheaper ways to call than the old-fashioned phone calls. If the internet connection is working, you can use for example Skype or WhatsApp.
You can access the Internet at the university when you get the username and password for the university’s IT services after registration. There are computers with Internet connection all over the campus. In addition, most of the student apartments have the technical capacity for a fixed Internet connection.
Local public libraries have computers with Internet connection for you to use. Please note that you have to make a reservation for the computer beforehand, and usually you can use the computer for an hour at a time. Internet cafes are not common in Finland, because most people have an Internet connection at home. There are some cafes and bars with internet connection in the city centres. In Joensuu, you can access the Internet also at the Community Resource Centre. Free Wi-Fi is available at the Market Square, Shopping Centre Iso Myy, Carelicum, Taitokortteli, Art Museum Onni, Joensuu City Library, Joensuu Arena and Vesikko swimming pool. In Kuopio, free Wi-Fi is available at the Kuopio City Library, Kuopio Info, Apaja, Multicultural Centre Kompassi, City Hall, Music Centre and several cafés and restaurants.
There are several TV channels in Finland, which are available throughout the country. The programmes are usually broadcast in the original language with Finnish subtitles. International cable channels can be available in the student apartments, too.
Television transmissions in Finland are all-digital. Digital broadcasts can be received by an ordinary TV fitted with a digital adaptor, known as a set-top box or a converter box. Alternatively, it is possible to buy a TV set with a built-in digital receiver.
Many programmes are also available online. The Finnish Broadcasting Companyt (Yle) aims to make all four of its channels available online for viewers in Finland.
Finnish TV channels online: Yle Areena, Katsomo, and Ruutu.
If you wish to get more channels in addition to the free ones, you can get a cable/ payTV package for additional cost. Here are some pay TV providers: Elisa, Dnatv.
If you receive salary from Finland, you have to pay the TV tax regardless of whether you have a television or not. The tax is collected at the same time as other taxes, so it does require any action on your part.
If you would like to keep up with the Finnish and international news you may find it interesting to read e.g. Helsinki Times newspaper or the news of the Finnish Broadcasting Company.
The opening hours of shops were liberated in 2016 and the shops are now free to choose their opening hours. Many shops seem to have chosen extensive opening hours (opening hours seem to be often at least 10am–7pm daily).
Grocery stores usually advertise weekly or daily in the local newspapers or print separate advertisements delivered to your mailbox. This allows you to compare food prices and special offers at different stores.
The general level of prices in Finland equals to the European average. However, here are some useful hints for the student budget. Make sure that you are aware of all possible student and other reductions available and compare prices. Also, check if there are cheap or free services provided by public libraries, hospitals, the Student Union, the university, your campus town, etc. The meals at the student restaurants are worth the money, because you get a good discount with your student card. The price of food in grocery stores varies a lot. Always compare prices before you buy. Please note that the open market place (tori) is not necessarily the cheapest place to buy food in Finland like it is in some other countries. Also, check out some of the private product labels in stores (e.g. Euroshopper, Extra, Pirkka, Rainbow). They are usually cheaper than the well-known brand names. For daily grocery shopping, many students prefer Lidl, which is the cheapest option among Finnish grocery stores.
In addition to the shops in the city centre, Kuopio also has a big Matkus Shopping Centre with an IKEA about 12 kilometres from the city centre. Busses 31 and 32 operate to Matkus from the city centre.
Tipping is not customary in Finland; most likely, a tip is given for hotel and restaurant door attendants and porters on some occasions. A service charge is automatically included in hotel and restaurant bills. Moreover, barbers, hairdressers and taxi-drivers do not expect tips. Still, you can always tip to thank for good service if you want to.
If you need to use the services of the Finnish Board of Customs, please visit their website or call the Customs Information Service + 358 2 955 201 for more information.
In Finland, strong alcohol, such as wine and spirits, can be bought only in special shops called Alko. Low-alcohol content drinks (e.g. beer, cider, wines that have less alcohol) are sold in regular stores, supermarkets, gas stations and kiosks. However, the sale of alcohol in grocery stores and supermarkets is limited to between 9am–9pm. Low-alcohol content drinks (max. 22% alcohol by volume) are not sold to persons under the age of 18, and strong alcohol is not sold to persons under the age of 20. If you are under 25 years of age, please show your ID on your own initiative, do so even if you are in a group buying alcoholic beverages together. Every member in the group must be of age if they wish to make purchases at Alko. They accept the following IDs: a driving licence, a passport and an official identity card with photo. Note that social insurance cards with photo, student cards and military IDs are not suitable ID documents at Alko shops.
Please keep in mind that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly forbidden. There is an exact permissible limit of 0.5 per mil for alcohol in blood. Infringement of this rule means a penalty in the form of a fine or imprisonment.
The non-smoking policy is very strict in Finland and smoking is prohibited in all public facilities (e.g. schools, trains, hospitals, buses). Hotels, bars and restaurants have designated areas for smoking and most trains have carriages or special rooms for those who wish to smoke. The University of Eastern Finland is also a non-smoking organisation, and smoking is only permitted in designated outside smoking areas (e.g. not in front of any entrances of the university).
It always takes some time to adapt to a new culture. This section describes some characteristics (generalisations) of Finns that might help you in understanding them, but please keep in mind that not all people are alike. Your own experiences with Finnish people might give you a completely different opinion.
Sometimes visitors may feel that Finns are shy and reserved, but especially the younger generation, being multilingual and internationally minded, do not fit into this stereotype. Still, Finnish university students often tend to be quiet and obedient listeners as well as very independent and hardworking. Some international students may find the class atmosphere reserved, but you will find that most Finns are eager to talk to you and help you, if you make the first move. Most Finns have learnt the basic skills of at least one foreign language at school. The most commonly known foreign language is English, which is quite widely spoken and understood in Finland. You may notice that some Finns are a bit shy about using a foreign language, especially in a group conversation. One thing you may find a bit peculiar is the great tolerance of silence in conversation. Finns describe themselves as fairly straightforward people, because we say what we mean and we mean what we say. If a Finn suggests that you could have lunch together sometime, you can usually consider this as a real invitation, not just small talk.
In fashion, comfort is often (although not always) considered more important than looks. Life in Finland has a relaxed pace. In fact, the older generation has occasionally voiced the opinion that things are becoming a bit too relaxed or informal. Older people still appreciate more formality, such as a polite handshake on being introduced. However, keep in mind the Covid19 restrictions! Handshaking is also common in business meetings, both on arrival and departure. At work the atmosphere tends to be informal, first names are used and people dress informally. It is also completely normal to call your teachers by their first name, even at a university. Equality between the sexes has progressed quite a way both at work and at home. The difference between the sexes is probably most obvious when considering salaries and comparing the number of women and men working at the executive level.
A particular Finnish trait is the habit of drinking milk or sour milk with meals and even adults do this. Others prefer mineral water or beer, and even the wine culture is making headway. As a nation, we love quizzes and competitions of all kinds, and it may be this characteristic, that underlies our craze for sports. Finns are also crazy about coffee. You will rapidly get used to the fact that when Finns get together for a chat, coffee is invariably part of the scene. However, note that the coffee in Finland is usually not as strong as in Central and Southern Europe.
During the summertime, you may wonder where all Finnish people are, as especially during the summer months, the suburbs seem to become uninhabited. This is due to the love Finns have towards nature and summer cottage. In Finland, there are approximately half a million summer cottages, which means that nearly every third family has one. Sometimes the name summer cottage can be misleading because some people spend their free time there also during the wintertime.
Sisu (stamina) is a concept used to describe a certain feature that is considered to be something typically Finnish. Sisu is what makes a Finn grit their teeth against all odds; continue fighting against an overwhelming enemy; clear the forest with their bare hands; go on to win a race even after falling over. Sisu is what it takes: guts, determination.
Sauna is an essential part of the Finnish culture. There are 5.5 million inhabitants and over two million saunas in Finland. Practically every Finnish house has a sauna of its own. For Finnish people sauna is a place for relaxing with friends and family as well as a place for physical and spiritual relaxation. Finns think of saunas not so much as a luxury, but as a necessity, and after taking a few bathes you will probably agree.
There are also public saunas available at such places as swimming pools and student housing (common saunas). It is not customary for men and women to go to sauna together unless they are members of the same family or particularly close friends. Public saunas are also separated by gender (men together and women together). Please note that you are not allowed to wear clothing or swimming suit in sauna, because it is considered to be unhygienic. If you feel uncomfortable, you may wrap a towel around yourself.
How to bathe in a Finnish sauna?
First having undressed, you take a shower and enter the sauna still wet, although some prefer to enter sauna dry first. The temperatures in a sauna usually range from 60°C to 100°C. Sit back for a while and let the heat permeate your body and open the pores of your skin. The stones on top of the stove are very hot and when you throw water on them, a humid cloud of steam (löyly) suddenly fills the small room. The steam gently warms your skin and your body starts to sweat. There are several tips on how to bathe in a Finnish sauna, but rule number one is that you should feel good all the time. After a short while, you can take a break. You can take another shower before re-entering the sauna and then take your time to relax and enjoy the warmth. The process can be repeated several times. After the final time in sauna, wash yourself off in a refreshing shower to complete your relaxation.
Many Finns have saunas at their summer cottages by a lake. There, the sauna experience is not complete without a refreshing swim, which you can take when you leave the sauna for a break. You can also try a thick wisp or bunch of birch twigs, called either “vasta” or “vihta”, depending on where you live (“vasta” in Eastern Finland). Dip it into warm water and then gently beat yourself all over with it – it definitely feels better than it sounds! In the winter, some sauna enthusiasts will even make a hole in the ice and take a dip in the icy water (approximately +3°C to +5°C) or roll around in the snow.
For more information about sauna.
Winter may bring many questions to your mind, if you have not experienced the Nordic winter before. To help you come to terms with the winter season, it might help you to not to think of it as a long, monotonous period of darkness, cold and snow, but as a sequence of several distinct phases, each of which has an atmosphere of its own. By accepting it as it comes, you will find the winter in Finland a richly rewarding experience.
At the first sign of winter, the streets occasionally get filled with slush, but eventually everything gets covered up with real snow. The months from December to February are a time of stillness. The sun always rises above the horizon in eastern part of Finland, but the light hours are not many during midwinter. It is recommended that you take vitamin D supplements to stay healthy. As for the temperature, a typical midwinter reading in eastern Finland would be something between -5°C and -15°C, but sometimes it gets colder, even down to -30°C. Fortunately, Finnish houses (including student flats) are equipped with triple-glass windows and central heating, so you have no reason to worry. However, when you are outside in cold weather, it is always wise
to be wary of frostbite and this is best done with appropriate clothing (e.g. woollen cap, mittens, warm socks and shoes as displayed). However, do not let this discourage you from going out, since very cold days have a special atmosphere, which you should not miss. You might even see the northern lights.
After the winter solstice in December, the amount of light steadily (although slowly) increases again. However, you need to wait until the end of March until the day once more outlasts the night (spring equinox). The day becomes longer and longer, and the snow gradually melts away, although it still might snow a bit occasionally. Spring is slowly, but surely, on the way again, and soon it is the time of the light nights of the Nordic summer.
For more information about layering, dressing appropriately for the winter and preparing for the weather: