Tuesday, October 10, 2017

This is why you need to visit Finland as soon as possible

In my previous post I talked about why it is so incrediblyeasy to live in Finland. But that is not the only reason why you should at least have visited this beautiful country up here in the North. And if you like it, which I bet you will, just stay here right away 😉

The Mökki – the coziest place on earth

Everyone talks about the need for taking some downtime, reconnecting with nature and living off the grid for a while. Well, here in Finland this is reality every summer. After midsummer Finns traditionally leave their city home to pretty much move back into the woods for often several weeks. They head to their summer cottage, or Mökki, how they call them in Finnish. You either go there with your family or friends. And you enjoy the quiet and simple life in nature. 

Who needs Netflix if you can look at the calming lakeside panorama or listen to the cracking of the firewood in the bonfire while making some delicious Loimulohi (lit. “blazed salmon”)? Suddenly time does not play a role anymore, forgotten is the fast city pace and you can just relax. 

A sauna wherever you go



Finns are just crazy about their sauna. You literally find them everywhere in this country. No kidding, there are over 2 million saunas in Finland. That is especially impressive when you take into consideration that Finland has only a population of 5.3 million people. Meaning everyone can comfortably fit into one at the same time. Of course, you find a sauna in pretty much any summer cottages, I mentioned before.

By the way, going to sauna means something quite different compared to the sauna culture elsewhere. It is so much more than just a health and wellness activity. The sauna is an integral part of society here. You go there with friends, you chat, you relax together. You go for a dip in the lake or roll in the snow in between. And of course, you should not forget the obligatory sauna beer (one is enough though, especially for sauna newbies).

The most magnificent natural spectacle ever -  the Northern lights



This is just such a breathtaking experience. When you look up during a clear winter’s night and you see all shades of green, yellow and sometimes even red dancing across the sky. I promise you, it is a sight you won’t forget so fast. During the cold and dark time of the year you can see Northern Lights actually all around the country. Even down here in Helsinki. The lights of the city make it much tougher to spot them and they are rarer. 

To get the full experience, I recommend you pay a visit to beautiful Finnish Lapland. Up there you can see them almost every night. I remember how during my first visit up there I used to stand in front of the house for hours in the cold night just to not miss any of the mysterious shapes the sun flares were painting on the night sky.

Santa Claus lives here


The Americans believe Santa Claus lives at the North Pole. That is of course utter nonsense though. Since it is proven that he comes from Finnish Lapland. Don’t believe me? Then book your flight to Rovaniemi and pay him a visit at the Santa Claus village. And if you are not so keen on spending your day a Christmas amusement park together with thousands of other tourists, then rather go up there in the winter and go for a walk at Korvatunturi, Santa’s true home. And who knows, if you are lucky you might meet him feeding is reindeer on your stroll through the woods.

Oh, and while you are up in Lapland, don’t miss out on all the other amazing things you can do here. Apart from skiing, snowboarding and snowshoe walking, you can also explore the winter wonderland on a husky or reindeer sled. Best places for all those activities are Levi and YllĂ€s. They have excellent skiing areas and are hubs to many snow expedition operators.

There are still a million other things why Finland is unique and why it should be far up your list of countries to visit. If you want to find out some more reasons, check out some of my earlier posts.
And then don’t waste time to book your flight. I’m looking forward to seeing you up here soon!

This post has been supported by a cooperating with the Labour Mobility in Europe ESF-project. More info here. Thank you!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Why it is so damn easy to live in Finland

It’s been almost six years now that I moved from my home country Germany to Finland. Not a big change in life and culture, you’d think. Well, probably not in comparison to coming here from India or Tanzania. But still, it always amazes me, how much better the quality of life is around here. Let me give you a few examples:

Everything is digital


After having to be in touch with German authorities again recently simply to be able to vote in the upcoming election, I realized again how painful bureaucracy is in many other countries – even those that are considered as highly developed. After just getting off the phone with another completely lost German civil servant, I walked through town and came across a booth promoting Finland’s new suomi.fi service. It is a web platform that allows you to use all public administration services you’d need as a Finnish resident like changing your home address, doing your taxes, opening a new company, getting in touch with all Finnish authorities and much more. What other countries still talk about as a vision for the future, is already a reality in Finland. No need to spend half your day queueing in some city office. You just do it online in a couple of minutes. I can tell you, it’s awesome!

Internet is everywhere – unlimited


Another one of those things that still amaze me is the access to the world wide web. While in other countries you can be happy to find a free wifi hotspot in your hotel, the internet is literally everywhere in Finland. If you come here as a tourist and are looking for free wifi, the only problem you will be facing is which free network to choose. And if you live here, you will actually never even get into the situation of ever logging into one. And that is because mobile internet here is everywhere, superfast and UNLIMITED. Yes, you heard me right. No annoying data limits of a couple of hundred megabytes per month. And since the Finnish government made the availability of fast internet throughout the whole country a priority, the coverage of providers ranges at close to 100%. Wanna watch a 4K video somewhere in the woods of Lapland? Be my guest.

Respect for one another


As a German, I was used to strict hierarchies before I came here. Even asking the head of your department to have lunch with you, that was a straight-out crazy idea. Ideas were only good or even looked at if they came from someone that had climbed the career ladder for quite a while. Not so in Finland. Hierarchies here are flat. Sure, there is someone that will make the final decision, but before that everyone’s voice and opinion is heard and taken into consideration. Also in daily life, you can see that Finns are just not the cocky type of people. In Helsinki, e.g. chances are the friendly dude in t-shirt and jeans sitting next to you in a cafĂ© turns out to be the co-founder of a billion Euro gaming company.

Nature is all around


No matter where you are in Finland, after a 5-minute walk into pretty much any direction, you will most likely find yourself at the seashore, a beautiful lake or in the middle of the forest. Nature is literally all around you. And that is a great thing. Escaping the daily hustle and bustle of the city and work life is just so easy. And nature here is clean. Finns feel closely connected to nature and have big respect for it. Hence, littering is almost unheard of here.

These are just some of the highlights and there are still at least 100 other reasons why I myself love to live in Finland. Do you live, have visited or plan to move here as well? What are your reasons? I’m curious to hear! Let me know in the comments below!

This post has been supported by a cooperating with the Labour Mobility in Europe ESF-project. More info here. Thank you!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

5 reasons why Finland is the best place to become an entrepreneur

After having worked in the startup scene in Helsinki for a couple of years now, I thought it would be time, to sum up, why this is such an amazing surrounding to work in and the best place if you consider setting up your own company.

Here are five reasons why you should have Finland and especially its capital Helsinki on the top of your list if you are excited to make your dream a reality and live the life of an entrepreneur.


1 Someone's always there to help


For years Nokia was the economic engine of Finland. At some point, it made up for 5 percent of the country's GDP. No wonder that, after the downfall of the company, it did not look quite so great for the Finnish economy. Since Finland is not particularly blessed with natural resources (at least not the ones that make a lot of money), Finns had to rely on what they have a lot of: excellent education, know-how, and Sisu, which is pretty much the secret sauce of Finnishness (You cannot translate it but it pretty much incorporates bravery, determination, and resilience).

The state started investing heavily into an effective startup infrastructure. The aim was to give creative minds the support they need to turn their good ideas into successful businesses.

For setting up your business, developing a business plan and learning about the dos and don'ts as an entrepreneur Enterprise Finland as well as NewCo here in Helsinki are always available to help and give advice.

To make sure you have some bread on the table during your first hard months with your new business TE Toimisto can help you out with a personal startup grant. Later on, if you have things figured out and a solid business case, get in touch with the guys at Tekes or Finnvera for a more substantial grant, a loan or even investments.

And the system seems to work pretty well. Rovio and Supercell are just two examples that show that you can conquer the world from up here in the North.


2 You never work alone


What good is a brilliant idea if you have to set up the whole business on your own? But how to find potential co-founders that are as excited about the startup life as you are? And how do you find sparring partners to share your ideas with to see if they are any good? Surely not by working from your kitchen table at home. But fear not, Finland has you covered. The capital region provides several excellent co-working spaces where you can work, meet new people and discuss new ideas and business concepts. Many of them are even free of charge such as Microsoft Flux, Startup Sauna, and Helsinki Think Company. And also in other cities around Finland co-working spaces sprout like mushrooms.


3 In each other we trust


"But what if someone steals my idea? I'd rather keep it all to myself.", is what you might think after reading the last section. That is not the way things go here in Finland, though. The business culture, especially among startups, is built upon trust. Whereas in other countries you first have to build trust, here in Finland you have it from the beginning and only face the risk of destroying it.

Sharing is caring. And helping each other out has proven to work quite well among Finnish startups so far. Especially since the country is after all quite small with only 5.5 million people, entrepreneurs and startups live by the motto "together we are stronger".

4 Expanding your network is easy


Even after living here for six years, it still amazes me every time, how easy it is to get in touch with people. The circles are pretty small after all. Once you have made a few first connections, you pretty much know everyone through someone. Finding the right people to meet and talk to gets pretty easy after a very short time. And even if you happen to not have a common connection, just give the person you want to reach a call. You most likely will find their mobile phone number from their company website. No matter if you are trying to reach the marketing trainee or the CEO. Secretaries that schedule a call two weeks from now are not a thing in Finland.

Oh, and since there is so much happening in the startup scene, there are constantly events around the city. My theory is that you could go to some startup or business event pretty much every day if you just had the time. And there is some awesome stuff happening. Most important of course Slush in the end of November, the biggest startup conference in the Nordics. I'd call it the highlight of every Finnish entrepreneur's year.


5 No Finnish? No problem.


Many people see the Finnish language as a big obstacle to live or work here. I say that's nonsense. Sure, it is one of the harder languages to learn. And I myself am still struggling with it. But the good news is, that pretty much anyone speaks English here. Almost anything startup related is in English anyway. And even for all the administration work that comes along with moving here and setting up your business, you will always get service and support in English.

Nevertheless, I would always encourage you to make an effort to learn Finnish. You might not need it to survive but it is always nicer to be able to communicate with people in their native language. And if you plan to stay, it's totally worth it. Actually, you can even get support for language courses. Get it touch with the helpful people at TE Toimisto. I attended one of those courses targeted towards entrepreneurs myself and have it say it's totally worth it.

All in all, Finland is the place to be if you have always been dreaming about your own company or have some kick-ass idea for founding the next Facebook or Google. But don't take my word for it and find out why Helsinki even beats San Francisco and Berlin.

Those are my 5 reasons for starting your own company up North. Do you have comments or other questions about becoming an entrepreneur in Finland? Or do you have a business here yourself? Then share your thoughts and experiences and let me know what you would add to the list below in the comments.

This post has been supported by a cooperating with the Labour Mobility in Europe ESF-project. More info here. Thank you!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Real and real good Italian ice cream

Real Italian ice cream is treat usually only reserved for travels to the country itself. Lucky now it is also possible right here in Helsinki. And that is thanks to an Italian expat who made it his mission to bring the frozen delicacy to the Finnish capital.

Gelatteria Finland

At the Gelatteria Finland ice cream truck they use original Italian recipes to make the ice cream as creamy and tasty as it should be. Every morning the new batch for the day is freshly made.

Pistacchio , Marscarpone, Stracciatella, Coconut - every day the selection of flavors changes. And for affordable 3,90 € you can get two scoops in a proper waffle.

Gelatteria Finland is usually located at SÀÀstöpankintie next to YmpyrÀtalo in Hakaniemi. But to be sure, check their Facebook page beforehand.

Enjoy and don't come too late. On a sunny day they run out of their delicious freight fairly fast.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Finnish municipal elections 2017

The municipal elections are just a bit over a week away. And most of the people living in Finland are eligible to vote.

by Yle News

You are not sure you are among them? Allowed to vote are:
  • Finnish, EU, Icelandic and Norwegian citizens who are at least 18 and have lived in the municipality more than 50 days.
  • Other foreigners 18 who have lived in the municipality more than 50 days and who lived in Finland for at least two years in a row.
If you are eligible to vote, please do so. Now you have a chance to have an influence in what happens in Helsinki.

It might be tough to come by information about the election and the parties if you don't speak Finnish or Swedish. But there are a few sources in English that can help you:

For more information on the election, what it is about and who is eligible to vote, check out kuntavaalit.fi.

For information about the parties check out the link list on Yle as well as the Yle News debate in English.

You still have until next week Sunday to make your decision. So check out the information.

And don't forget to vote on April 9!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Best Expat Blog Finland

iCompareFX Top Global Expat Blog awards 2017
It it always great to get positive feedback on my blog. Today I was happy to receive a nice confirmation of my work from the guys at ICompareFX with HelsinkiIn being awarded Best Expat Blog in Finland.

Check out the link to also view the winner from other countries. You can find great insider tips for countries from around the world.

Thanks though also to all those people leaving their lovely comments here. All that positive feedback is the best motivation to continue writing about the best city in the world :)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Navigate LUX with Spaceitup

On Thursday LUX Helsinki will start again. Around town impressive light installations with aw visitors again for four days again. The 9th LUX Helsinki features 15 exiting exhibits by artists from Finland and around the world.

LUX Helsinki 2016

And there is something special about this year's event. The location service Spaceitup has created a map that allows easy navigation along all light installation.

LUX Helsinki map on SpaceItUp

Just install the Android app and enter the LUX space. You find the app here. Be aware that Spaceitup is still in testing phase and might still have some bugs. The app, as well as LUX Helsinki itself is free.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Welcome 2017!

HyvÀÀ uutta vuotta kaikille! Have a happy New Year! Now 2017 arrived and it is not an ordinary year. This year Finland turns 100! It was opened with a huge party at Kansalaistori and the unveiling of the new city library's name (it is going to be Oodi).

Happy New Year

But there is more, much more to come. Throughout the year there will be loads of special events in the capital of course. On the Suomi Finland 100 website you can read up on everything you should know about the year-long birthday party. Check it out!

But for now I wish you all a great start into the new year and an amazing 2017!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Helsinki has a sky bar

It's another step towards becoming a word city. With the opening of the new Clarion Hotel in LĂ€nsisatama Helsinki got its first sky bar.

Sky Room at Clarion Helsinki

Sure there was always Ateljee at Torni, a wonderful place with an amazing view. But the atmosphere of a sky bar as you can find it in places like Bangkok, Shanghai or New York could not be found in the Finnish capital.

That changed now. With Sky Room a cocktail bar with a big city feeling opened its doors in mid October. From the low chairs and tables next to the giant windows visitors can experience a breathtaking view over the city skyline.

cocktails and snacks at the Sky Room

Besides the cocktails, which are quite out of the ordinary the some nice and hearty snacks are served up here on level 17 of the new hotel. The prices are in the higher price category. You obviously pay for the view as well. But it is worth it and I can highly recommend the visit to anyone.

Check it out and enjoy the amazing panorama!

Monday, October 3, 2016

The herring fishers are in town

It is the time of the year again where Vanha Satama at Kauppatori turns into a floating market. At the Silakka Markinat small and big boats from Åland come to Helsinki to sell their fresh fish, delicious SaaristoleipĂ€ bread and much much more. It is a century old tradition that started in the 1700s.

Silakka Markinat

With the beginning of October the boats come to the Finnish capital and stay for a week. And it's worth to drop by. Step onto one of the big sailing ships for a warm salmon soup or get a little fish snack from one of the many small merchant boats and enjoy the fresh sea breeze.

The market is still on until Saturday. And the weather looks quite promising as well. So go and check it out!