Settling in Finland
Buying a home may be a crucial matter when you’re relocating to Finland. Happily it’s safe and non-problematic. The provisions of the legislation are clear and understandable. Note that to buy in the Aland Islands it is necessary to purchase a special permit from the Finnish government.
If you buy an apartment, you are probably buying shares in a housing company. Check what the costs cover. You will have to pay transfer tax, which is a tax imposed on transfer of property (currently 4% of the purchase price or 2% for apartments). It is also possible to buy a part share.
These are the steps in buying property:
- Find property. There are several websites to help you, but remember the weather can be severe in winter.
- You must have a Finnish bank account.
- Signing the preliminary contract, by both parties in the presence of a notary. This document contains all the relevant details.
- Transfer of a deposit (around 4%).
- Getting a mortgage (if necessary).
- Handover of the property. Double-check property for any defects before finalising the sale.
- Conclusion of the contract of sale. You hand over the balance due and both parties sign the main contract of sale (Kauppakirja) in the presence of a notary.
When the main contract is signed you receive the title to the property. Together with the contract of sale, the purchaser must also get from the seller a number of documents:
- Certificate of registration of property rights (Lainhuuto)
- Extract from the register of real estate cadastre (Kiinteistörekisteriote)
- Certificate of encumbrances (Rasitustodistus)
- Map of the Real Estate Cadastre
- A copy of the architectural plan
- Permission for construction
- Certificate from the technical inspection
- Construction drawings
Immediately after the transaction the buyer must pay tax on the transfer of ownership and then register the transaction in the city court. If you fail to pay tax on the transfer of ownership within 6 months, the tax rises up to 20% and with each subsequent month of delay in payment, it should be an additional tax increase by another 20%.
Apply for registration of property rights. You must fill out a form and send it to the municipal court district in which the acquired property is located, along with a paid receipt for the tax on transfer of ownership. This procedure takes an average 3-4 weeks. Documents must be filed within 6 months from the date of signing the main sale contract, or penalties will be charged. Your certificate of registration of property rights will be sent to you by e-mail. Read more on EE24.
Relocating to Finland may be costly if you want to live there in your own house. Property prices range from around £200 000 to £1.5 million but there is a lot of variation and a few restrictions in certain localities. It usually costs more than you expect, so check your finances carefully. Currency rates will affect you.
Finland is a watery country so lake and river ferries operate effectively. For short distances the bus service is the best option — and trains are best for longer distances. Both are efficient, clean and mostly punctual. You will find timetables and tickets for long-distance and express bus travel ticketing at Matkahuolto.
Driving in Finland
Driving in Finland can be very pleasant with open roads and light traffic. All the rules are in the illustrated booklet: Driving in Finland Booklet. Note that headlights must be used at all times. Driving in snow and ice will be required in the long, dark winter. The alcohol limit is 0.05%.
There is one peculiar thing you need to know when relocating to Finland. Fines for speeding are based on income. In 2002, police caught Anssi Vanjoki, the director of Nokia, breaking the limit on his Harley Davidson. He was fined the equivalent of over £93 000 — so be warned.