Finland is the most sparsely populated country in the European Union, so if you are looking to get away from the crowded cities of the UK, you will love the wide open spaces and clean air of Finland. Finland is also listed as the second most stable country in the world, which is reassuring in turbulent times. The crime rate is lower than elsewhere in the EU, although homicide is higher.
The native language is Finnish, with some Swedish spoken. The currency is the Euro, unlike the other Nordic countries which have retained their currencies. Most of the population and work is concentrated in and around the capital, Helsinki. The country has a high reputation for education, health care, productivity and the protection of civil liberties. Its main concern is the ageing population, with a slowing birthrate and more than half the voters being over 50 years old.
If you decide to stay in Finland long-term, immigrants need to be registered in the Population Information System and obtain an identity number. A KELA card will then be issued providing entitlement to social security. Visas are not required for EU residents, but other paperwork is strictly enforced, so check what is required for your nationality. In order to apply for a job, you will need to have a work permit, and a personal ID number. The Ministry of Labour will assist with all the necessary information.
Healthcare in Finland is good and is funded mostly by public and other insurances. Very few people smoke, and annual alcohol consumption is less than other European countries, although binge drinking is common. It is wise to be aware of these differences. Finns are not big on sports and exercise, possibly because of the weather, and obesity and diabetes are common problems. Other differences include strict libel laws and bloggers have been convicted of serious offences such as incitement to hatred when referring to statistics about ethnicity, so again, beware. Ex-Pat groups are often the most helpful and up-to-date in helping new arrivals adapt to this new and different culture.
The climate is a north temperate climate with winter temperatures permanently below freezing for up to 5 long months. It can reach -20C with summer temperatures up to 30C so there are many climatic extremes to adapt to if you want to live there. Above the Arctic Circle, there are many months when the sun does not rise, and conversely in the summer, the sun barely goes down. The Auroroa Borealis is regularly seen and is a tourist attraction.
Finland has loosened its regulations on the financial and product markets and some of the former state enterprises have been privatized. The main industries include electronics, machinery, engineering, forestry and chemicals. Unemployment is currently around 7%.
The cost of living is about the same as in the rest of Europe, which is not cheap. Similarly real estate is quite expensive, whether you are looking to rent or to buy property.
Most Finns are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland but many only attend services for special occasions such as weddings, funerals and Christmas.