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This page is designed to document the process of moving to Finland, in particular to the BECS department at Aalto University. It may be applicable to other places. This page is not designed to duplicate all of the other resources out there, but describe the practicalities which other places do not often say. Thus, you ''must'' read the other information also - if there is nothing to add, some things are not mentioned here!

You should get a browser that translates (Google chrome can, probably others by plugin). This lets you use pretty much any website (though some fancy javascript can break it). The experience isn't perfect but you can do most things.

When is the best time to arrive? Perhaps about 1/3rd of the way through a calendar month. That way, you have a week to get legal/money things taken care of, then a few weeks to look for an apartment (easiest before the 1st of the month, since most leases start there), and then a week to get your place furnished before you go over a one-month Töölö Towers stay (up to 1 month is a flat rate, so once go past the daily rate there is no urgency to move out sooner).

Credits: This page includes both ideas and words from everyone at BECS. Please contribute, too. If you don't know where something should go, add it to the bottom and someone else will sort it.

== Legal issues ==

 * Residence permit (Non-EU people)
  * Go to a consulate to apply. Costs ~500€. I got mine back in about a month since it was off-season. The consulate you apply at is your only contact point for any questions, but they will probably tell you to have the department HR contact migri. They send the permit card back to where you applied. The website says "you have to cancel your application if you come to Finland in the meantime". What that means is if you move to Finland in the meantime, they will still send the card to the consulate you applied at, and you can't pick it up in Finland.
  * Make sure you see "Shortcut to personal identity code" below.
  * Time it took to make a decision to be made and cards to arrive back at the consulate: (Paris, FRANCE: October, 2 months- visa application forms got lost when sent by consulate to Migri, one month delay due to this), (USA: October, 1 month), (Argentina:).
 * EU Citizens
  * You don't need to do anything before you arrive, but you will need to go to the police to register after you get here (which residence permit holders don't need to do).
 * Shortcut to personal identity code: during the above process (residence permit or registration at police), make sure you request a personal identity code (social security number, format DDMMYY-NNNX). This can now be done at the same time as applying for a residence permit or registering at the police, see [[http://www.migri.fi/services/customer_bulletins/1/0/a_personal_identity_code_can_now_be_applied_for_at_the_same_time_as_the_residence_permit_56973|this link]] or [[http://www.migri.fi/information_elsewhere/certificates_and_documents/personal_identity_code|this one]]. You must ask explicitely to get a personal identity code, they won't do it automatically. This will save some time later, and is a great service introduced only in 2014 December.

 * Once you arrive, come to work and sign your contract. Keep this with you when you go to each of these other places. Also get a phone, see below.

 * Bank account
   * Nordea http://nordea.fi
     *: Go to the tapiola center (google the exact location). At around 1500 on a Tuesday one of us had an under 5 minute queue, and the process took 10-20 minutes. If you are over (or >= maybe) 29 years old, the monthly account costs are 2€/month for the debit card and 2.5€/month for netbank. If you are under 29, netbank and the account fee is free.
     * In order to open a bank account, Nordea requires your passport (even for EU citizens) and a recommendation letter from your previous bank. However, the second condition is not too strict if you say that you have not had a previous "serious bank account". In case that particular branch is not flexible enough you can just go to another branch and repeat the procedure.
     * Bring bank account number back to the department's HR to get salary payment set up.
     * You don't necessarily have to make an initial deposit.
     * Visa Electron debit card + PIN will arrive in about one week in the mail (separately).
     * To be able to use your card for online payments, you need to specifically ask for a separate 8 digit PIN. You get to chose the first four digits, and the complete PIN is sent to you by mail a few days later.
     * They say that netbank can't be activated for you until you have had your account for three months. However, at least one of us had it activated immediately. Ask if you can have it, and see if you can convince them to activate it right away.
     * To complete some online purchases (such as buying insurance), the site will verify your Social Security number through the netbank. To do this, you need to have your Finnish ID number on file with the bank (which you won't have until a week or two later). Also, Nordea needs an ID document listing both your Finnish ID number AND your picture - in practice, an ID issued by the police which costs ~50€. One of us was able to have that ID number added without this by asking hard enough. Getting this would be useful, since then you can do more things online and without needing to call.
     

 * Registering at Police: Only needed if you are EU (if you are non-EU, you already have done the equivalent by getting a residence permit, which EU doesn't have to do.) There is a time reservation system for this. http://www.police.fi/. N.B. You can register only while the contract has already started. The registration at the police is the cornerstone of the whole immigration procedure, so make sure you do this first.
   * When you do this, ask for a personal identity code. See "Shortcut to personal identity code" above.

 * Local register office (maistraatti): The one in Helsinki was not busy on a Wednesday morning. You can't make appointments in Helsinki or Espoo (but it appeared you didn't need one). They will ask you basic information about yourself and your immediate family, such as: birthdate and place, current address, last place of residence, parents names and birthdates. Have your contract with you. If you are going to stay in Finland at least for 2 years, when you receive this ID number, make sure that your address is registered as permanent address (this is different than a permanent residence permit). If is registered as temporary address you will probably not be able to benefit from public health care system.
   * New system for personal identity code: If you did the "shortcut" above, you may already have the personal identity code, in which case you don't have to wait for it to be mailed to you and can immediately go on to the next steps below.
   * Old system for personal identity code: You will receive a unique Finnish ID number by mail (if you insist they allow you to provide your email address so you can go pick it up when it's ready), which will later be needed in many places (e.g. to get a travel card).

You should be able to accomplish everything above within about 24 hours, if you plan it right. For all the following steps you need to have your Finnish personal identity code (DDMMYY-NNNX).

 * Tax card. Go to "Into Finland" service point - it's right by the Kamppi metro station (Salomonkatu 17, doorway A, 2nd floor). Take a queue number. It was not busy at all early in the morning (You'll need to queue twice: once for tax, once for KELA). Present your passport, residence registration, contract. They'll give you a sheet listing the tax amount: base tax rate for the amount shown on your contract, and a marginal tax rate for any additional income you may earn. If you have already been paid in the current year, bring information on that (how much you have been paid, how much withheld, etc), date of last employment. They don't care about income from other countries. You can ask for a certificate which shows that your are fiscally resident in Finland to avoid paying taxes in multiple countries {this document is issued in several languages).

 * KELA card. Also at Into Finland service point - see above. At this point, you fill out an application for KELA benefits. You will receive a decision in about two months (depending on how long their queue is). For two-year postdocs, the application will basically always be yes.
  * KELA is social security: unemployment, retirement, etc.
  * Health care is provided by municipalities and is also a part of the Finnish social security system. As soon as you get registered at the local register office, you are then covered (no need to apply or have any other validation). All you have to do is go to any point and present your KELA card, and you will receive free treatment (prior to 2013, there was about a 12€ co-pay). If you have not received your KELA card yet, you might need to pay and later when you have your KELA card apply for reimbursement (same in pharmacies). They gave me a list of health care locations at KELA just for my information. For emergencies, you can go anywhere, but for non-urgent things, you should go to ones in your own municipality (Helsinki vs Espoo).

 * Travel card. Go to the HSL service point in the central railway station metro, and get a resident travel card. Bring register office sheet listing Finnish ID number and ID (passport). Cost will be 5€, and you have the option to add value there, or else fill it at your convenience at any of the normal points. http://hsl.fi/ Travel card costs are approx (50€/14 days + 40€/each additional 14 days) for a two-region card, or 24€/14 days + 19€/each additional 14 days) for a one-region card. So, two-region is basically double the cost. But, if your annual commuting costs to work exceeds a certain amount (~ 600 euros), you can apply for a tax deduction and get it partially back. Make sure that you keep all the receipts when recharging your transit card!

Everything above this point you should be able to do in 1-2 hours after you get the Finnish ID number (they are all right next to each other downtown - go in the morning).

 * When you move:
   * Submit a notification of move: http://www.posti.fi/changeaddress/ (online, by phone, at the local register office, or post office).
   * Banks, mobile phone operators, most companies and state institutions (KELA, post office, register office, ...) will be notified automatically based on the above notification.

After you have been here a while

 * Renewing your residence permit: make an appointment well in advance. They will say that processing times are four months, but in reality it can be as fast as one month. Still, make your appointment as early as possible. Your extensions will be based on your contract, not when you apply, so there's no reason to wait for the last moment. Ask for your extension contract early! HR won't give it to you early unless you ask, but funding has to be set up first.


== Aalto things ==

 * Computer networks: There is "aalto open" wifi which anyone can use. There is "eduroam" which you can use after you have an account. For wired networking, there are two types of ports: "visitor" (blue cables) which have DHCP, and managed desktop (white cables) which you can only get an IP on if the staff set up the machine. Just try it, if you don't get an IP you are on the wrong network, and try again. From the main aalto homepage you can go to the BECS wiki which explains more about networks, but you have to have the computer account to log into wiki first. https://wiki.aalto.fi/display/becsintra/Home/

 * Computer accounts: You need to go into the HR system (you can NOT get a computer account before you provide the HR with your bank account information). Computer accounts can be made in as few as 1-2 days, if some sort of other office expedites it. Otherwise it could take a week or two. You can call the IT desk to ask if the account is created already. You'll walk to the main building (right south of us, enter through the M door on Otakaari. Walk back towards the lecture halls, then go right down the corridor and you'll see the office on your left.)

 * After you get a university account, you will get a BECS account from BECS IT. They are down the hall and quite friendly. https://wiki.aalto.fi/display/becsintra/Home/ documents more about the computer setup. This will allow you to log onto the local Ubuntu workstations.

 * Complex Networks wiki: https://wiki.aalto.fi/display/CompNet Lists more about research and things.

== Other ==
 * SIM cards / cell phone service. You want to get a phone ASAP.
   * In order to get a contract, there is a fairly standard 300€ deposit (can go up to 800€ if you want a new phone and a two-year contract) across providers unless you have had your Finnish ID number for more than two years. Luckily, prepaid is quite affordable and there isn't a strong reason to get a contract.
   * New (2015): The company Elisa has a plan which is registered, but prepaid, so suitable for people with bad credit (or no credit, in your case). With this, you could get a SIM card which is registered to your name (so is replacable), can benefit from other discounts, combined plans, and so on. I think that new people should definitely check this out. Prices are similar to prepaid, but is better for the future because your number will never have to change. Link: https://kauppa.saunalahti.fi/#!/puheliittymat/latausliittymat .
   * The prepaid SIM cards are generally quite affordable and about as cost-effective (for low/moderate use) as a registered plan.
   * If you need to get a new phone: FIXME.
   * Various providers include: Elisa(Saunalahti), Sonera, DNA. Most people I know use Elisa/Saunalahti for prepaid.


== Finding a place to live ==

 * You'll probably stay in the Töölö towers http://www.unihome.fi/ or Aalto Inn in Otaniemi (campus where BECS is), until you find your apartment, ask about the daily and monthly rates. For one of us, the point of equality between the two was only 17 days: it costed the same to stay anywhere from 17 days to one month. This may help you plan out your move date.

 * housing@aalto.fi can provide advice and set up meetings. Read the Aalto info at http://www.aalto.fi/en/about/careers/international_staff/other_essentials/#housing and then mail them with your situation (arrival, contract length, single/couple, what you are looking for.)

 * It IS safe to assume that anyone you call or write to via website speaks enough English to communicate. Just do it, if it doesn't work move on. The English success rate is probably well above 90%.

 * Websites.
  * A browser with a built-in translator is very useful here. (Google chrome and ... ?)
  * http://asunnot.oikotie.fi/vuokrapalvelu [highly recommended, you need to translate but their map view is good.]
  * http://www.jokakoti.fi/ [also has a map view]
  * Aalto Inside: once you have a Aalto login, you can log in to this and sometimes find announcements for housing ads.
  * http://www.vuokraovi.com/vuokraovi/main/main.action (has an English version)
  * http://www.forenom.com (available in a few different languages). For furnished apartments: A temporary back-up solution if there is no room available in Töölö towers.
  * you basically have to search and leave a message for the ones you are interested, with your phone number/email. they might even announce a day/time for a visit in their profile pages, where you just visit (you need not tell them before); there will be someone to show you, if you like the apartment just fill up a form they give, and wait if they call you back (they have to like you!). otherwise, it works with individual advertisements (private owners) which whom you arrange to visit.
  * how to search? the search tree is south finland > uusimaa > Helsinki or Espoo >
  }}}

 * Where to live?
   * The basic choice is Espoo (close to work, but not usually close enough to walk every day, you get more ) vs Helsinki (if in the south, more action and energy, if in the north, somewhat similar to Espoo). Most people live in Espoo. Helsinki is costlier and has double the transportation cost (though no necessarily much more transportation time, depending on where you live). There may also be more competition for Helsinki apartments.
   * You can find places near downtown Helsinki (Kamppi, Töölö) for a similar price as Tapiola, but they will be significantly smaller and have more minimalist furnishings (kitchen, bathroom, etc). This may be what you want. It is harder to find small studio places in Espoo. Thus, "Helsinki costs more" really depends on what your goal are. It's worth viewing at least one place in both cities.
   * Some specific neighborhoods to consider:
     * Tapiola (in Espoo): Close to work. Has the center with lots of businesses and buses to Kamppi for more action or shopping.
     * Matinkylä (Espoo)
     * Haukilahti (Espoo)
     * Lauttasaari (an island between Helsinki and Espoo)
     * Kamppi (In Helsinki, downtown): By taking buses 102 or 103, you can get to work very fast.
     * Töölö
     * Meilahti (Helsinki, north of Töölö)
     * Others: Most important is use the trip planner to make sure there is a direct bus to get to work. Most places will have good and quick connections to downtown, so you won't be stranded wherever you are. Consider looking along the route of the bus #550.

 * Renter's information sheet.
   * Instead of a full application for each place, consider making an information sheet ("renter's CV") to give to places you are interested in. This will have all information on the applications they may give you, so you probably won't have to fill out a separate application (so you won't have to read Finnish). You can also present some other things about you that would make the apartment owner want you to be in their place.
   * You can include: name, phone, email, if you have a Finnish ID number (or if it is applied for. I had one and I put (010101-NNNX (Available by request)) to keep the last part private unless they asked.
   * Nationality, Finland residence permit validity dates, languages spoken.
   * Employer, salary, contract duration. HR contact name/phone/email for employment verification.
   * Education, degrees earned, past locations lived.
   * Anything else that might make you a good renter (don't smoke, no pets, no loud music, don't drink, etc...)
   * Everything here is a suggestion, feel free to adjust it as you see fit.

 * How the actual apartment hunting process goes
   * Browse the websites and you eventually see something you might like.
   * Call or email to arrange a viewing. If a viewing is listed online, you don't necessarily have to email, but it can't hurt.
   * Arrive at the viewing five minutes early minutes early. If you have to take transit to get there, arrive with a larger margin and use the time to explore the neighborhood. By the designated time, there will be several other people waiting outside with you. Use this chance to talk with them and see if you can make some friends. Don't be late.
   * As far as languages go, English is no problem. People will by default talk in Finnish, but if you greet someone in English they'll happily switch and talk in that.
   * The agent will arrive and let you all in, and people will mill about examining the location and talk.
   * If you like the place, before you leave, approach the agent to leave an application. They may have a form to fill out, but if you have your "Information sheet", you can usually just hand them that instead of filling out the application.

What happens next depends on the showing.
 * If there are many people at the showing:
   * I don't know exactly what happens here, but below is my mental model I use to explain it to myself:
   * The agent will take all applications and show them to the owner or manager. The owner makes a sorted list of who they want to take the apartment. This could include credit checks and other things.
   * Usually by the day after the showing, the agent will call the first person on the list and offer the place to them. You may have to decide "yes" or "no" immediately. If you decide "yes", you are out of the game for anything else you have applied for and will be expected to sign very soon. (Of course, you could play the system, ask if you can wait until evening because "I need to talk to someone first", or say "yes" and then retract before signing, if that matches your ethics.)
   * Thus, you can apply to multiple places at the viewings.
   * It is fair to ask the agent by when you will hear back and how soon _you_ would need to make a decision if you are selected. You can get an idea of how many people are applying by the viewing.
 * If it is a private viewing:
   * You could ask how many people are interested and if they think you can get it. If you are lucky, they may say "If the landlord approves and any possible credit checks work out, then yes".
   * You generally have more flexibility in this case. This is the best case possible, since then you are first in line but don't have to make a decision right away. You can keep looking at other places, but realize if there is another showing (ask if there are any others scheduled) then you need to decide before then.
   * Private showings may have a greater chance of being currently occupied, so you may not be able to move in immediately. It may start on the 1st of the next month. You may be able to negotiate to buy the previous tenant's time so you can move in early.

So, that is the way the game is played. If you saw and applied for multiple places, you will have to guess the chance of receiving each apartment and use that to make a decision on each, as calls come in, without knowing which other ones you will get selected for. A summary:
 * Public showings, you compete with many people, they pick you, and you basically need to decide right away after they call you back. You want to apply for as many places as possible in this case, but if you apply for too many you may have to make an agonizing decision about if you want to take what is offered, or wait and see if something better will offer.
 * Private showings, you ask more openly and hopefully have a greater chance of getting it. Thus, you may want to attempt to get some private showings.


 * Electricity http://www.aalto.fi/en/about/services/housing_services/practical_information/getting_started/
   * Electricity in Finland is demonopolized, you can pick your electricity provider. Helsinki Energy owns the distribution system in Helsinki, Fortum owns the distribution system in Espoo.
   * Helsinki Energy http://www.helen.fi/index_eng.html is city-owned, and gets about half the power from nuclear, half from renewable, and a little bit from fossil fuels (I presume as part of their local cogeneration plants for district heating). You can borrow free watt meters, thermal cameras, etc from them downtown. Has a good English site, including English site to make a contract online.
   * Fortum fortum.fi is a big multi-national (but Finnish based) energy company. They say they sell you only hydroelectric or wind power, but they own many nuclear plants (presumably, they claim the nuclear power only goes to industrial users to make consumers feel good). About half from nuclear, half from renewable, tiny bit from fossil fuels (a bit less than Helsinki Energy). They have limited English on the website, they direct you to call to make a contract in English. You can make a contract online if you translate the web forms.
   * This site http://www.sahkonhinta.fi/ lets you compare prices and the origin of electricity from the many different companies. DO NOT blindly take the cheapest one! There are at least two dubious companies, "220 Energia Oy" and "Market Energia Sähkönmyynti Oy", that look cheap but have been reported to be problematic (extra charges, miscalculated bills etc.)
   * You can buy either 1 or two year fixed-price contract, or month-to-month where price changes with market price. (At least Fortum says the fixed-term contracts can be terminated if you move or pass away). I read the main source of market fluctuation is the level of reservoirs in the North. You can set up a contract before you move in, with a future start date.
   * Recommendation: Helsinki Energy if Helsinki, Fortum if Espoo. Price difference is small, basically same commitment to renewable energy.
   * If you use a company other than the one that owns the distribution system, you'll get separate bills for the electricity you have used and for the distribution. You don't need to do a separate contract with the company that owns the system since that's organized by the one that sells you the electricity.

 * Home insurance http://www.aalto.fi/en/about/services/housing_services/practical_information/getting_started/
   * Tapiola (tapiola.fi) has a web form you can buy online, but not very good English information.
   * Pohjola (pohjola.fi) has pretty good English description of the contract terms, but no apparent way to buy it online.

 * Internet
   * Some companies ask for a 300 Euro deposit for customers who have not lived in Finland for the previous 2/3 years. Also the procedure might be long with them noticing you of the payment, then sending the router to the local post office. You then get a notice in the mail to go pick it up. DNA instead asks you for no deposit and gives you the modem straight away, with internet being available within 2-3 hours.
   * Cable and DSL are quite universal and cheap. GSM tethering is also a possibility if you don't have large needs.
   * If your apartment has a phone jack, any provider can give you DSL.
   * If it has cable (for TV), only the company owning those cables can give you a cable connection, but for some modern buildings any company can provide service.
   * Look around, you might find multi-year contracts which are cheap.



=== Unsorted information ===

 * home furnishings:

 * IKEA (http://ikea.com/fi/fi/ for prices, http://ikea.com/gb/en/ for searching): probably the best solution if you are planning to stay for a few years and willing to buy new furniture. There are four IKEA stores in Finland (as of January 2013), two of which are located in the Helsinki region: one in Vaanta and one in Espoo.
   * There are a couple of free shuttle buses everyday between Helsinki and these two stores (Timetable: http://www.ikea.com/ms/fi_FI/customer_service/ikea_bussi/index.html). but at least to Espoo it's not that bad on public transportation.
   * If you look at the ikea.fi website you can check the real time availabilities of any item in a particular store. If you are using the IKEA website of another country, beware that prices are '''not''' the same even in different Euro Zone countries and IKEA catalogs of different countries are not identical. ikea.fi also has http://www.ikea.com/ms/fi_FI/customer_service/ikea_services/ikea_services_en.html one page in English, where they explain their services.
   * They deliver in 3-5 business days, via a separate contracted company. You go to customer service after checking out, and arrange it there. You can give some notes about what is a good time, and the delivery company will SMS in a few days telling you an exact time (and you can call and reschedule then if you need to). If you are in a hurry to have your furniture at home, when paying for the delivery ask them to leave a note about this for the delivery company and they will give you priority if possible (example: order on a Saturday at closing time, was delivered on the next Tuesday afternoon). The basic delivery unloads the furniture at the very first door of the building, the "plus" delivery will take it to your own apartment.
   * Online order is also available for most items but you will pay extra for the delivery since online orders are delivered directly from Sweden and you will probably end up waiting for longer!
   * In the Espoo store, yellow tag means you must go to an info desk to prepare the order, and it is picked up at a warehouse about 1km away (this is done for you if you are getting delivery). Red tags mean you pick it up in the warehouse yourself that is at the store.

 * Kierratyskeskus (http://www.kierratyskeskus.fi/in_english) is a "reuse and recycling center", basically a giant thrift store. They have various shops around Helsinki, Espoo, and Vaanta (including a "huge warehouse" at Kyläsaarenkatu 8, near the Arabia campus, with lots of furniture.)
   * The quality varies, as is expected at a reuse center. There is lots of kitchenware and small things, fair amount of clothes. There is a fair amount of furniture, but it may be hard to get your initial furnishings there if you have something specific in mind.
   * They deliver purchased goods for a fee of 35 euros in the home municipality, 45 for the whole region. Upon paying, they offer you time slots they have available, from which you can choose one that suits you the most. They are usually booked a day or two in advance, at holiday time it could take longer (a few weeks even).

 * Other shops
   * second-hand furniture and other stuff
     * FIDA [several in Helsinki, Espoo (Nittykumpu)]
   * Small tools, plastic boxes, kitchen appliances, home hardware ...
     * Class Ohlson (in Kamppi or Sello)
     * Biltema, http://www.biltema.fi (car parts and other hardware)
   * Electronics and home appliances
     * Verkkokauppa, http://www.verkkokauppa.com (in Jätkäsaari near Ruoholahti, but also by mail). Good for raw computer parts, in addition to all sorts of electronics.
     * Gigantti (several in Espoo). Good for all sorts of electronics and appliances - browse online.
   * http://vertaa.fi - price comparison website

== Useful websites ==

 * Aalto university information
   * International staff page at http://www.aalto.fi/en/for/international/ , especially the first two sections.
   * Housing information at http://www.aalto.fi/en/about/services/housing_services/ . Look at the sidebar and make sure you go through all subtopics, especially "Housing Services -> Practical information -> Getting Started".
   * Noppa: Catalog of all courses offered at Aalto (there is also a list of all web services for teaching and studying at Aalto in the front page of Noppa) https://noppa.aalto.fi
   * Oodi: Online registration for courses at Aalto (for students and staff) https://oodi.aalto.fi
   * Halli: work allocation sheets https://halli.org.aalto.fi/ If you have a contract with Aalto, you have to fill out the work allocation sheets every month.
 * The Into Finland http://www.infopankki.fi/en-GB/into has some information and checklists, but the core is duplicated on the Aalto page.
 * Expat-Finland: http://www.expat-finland.com Worthy of its own mention because of the depth and completenss of information.
 * Websites of Expats in Finland
   * http://www.expat-finland.com
   * http://www.finlandforum.org
   * http://africansinfinland.tdv.co/ (South Africans in Finland)
   * http://www.salutfinlande.net (in French)
 * Transportation
   * Helsinki region journey planner http://www.reittiopas.fi/en/ There are also different applications available for mobile devices (e.g. Reitit and ReititGPS which finds your location itself).
   * Automated demand-responsive public transport service https://kutsuplus.fi/home (for some explanation: http://www.servicefactory.aalto.fi/fi/archives/2363 or http://www.kutsuplus.fi/index?lang=en_GB)

   * Finnish Railways http://www.vr.fi/en/
   * Intercity buses http://www.matkahuolto.fi
   
 * HSY waste sorting instructions: http://www.hsy.fi/en/wastemanagement/instructionsandbrochures/sortingofwastes/Pages/default.aspx

 * Local website for user generated reviews of restaurants http://www.eat.fi
 * Buy and Sell network for Aalto people (needs an Aalto email): https://aalto.sharetribe.com , or open to public: https://oin.sharetribe.com
   Sharetribe is also good for finding (temporary) accommodation.
  

This page is designed to document the process of moving to Finland, in particular to the BECS department at Aalto University. It may be applicable to other places. This page is not designed to duplicate all of the other resources out there, but describe the practicalities which other places do not often say. Thus, you must read the other information also - if there is nothing to add, some things are not mentioned here!

You should get a browser that translates (Google chrome can, probably others by plugin). This lets you use pretty much any website (though some fancy javascript can break it). The experience isn't perfect but you can do most things.

When is the best time to arrive? Perhaps about 1/3rd of the way through a calendar month. That way, you have a week to get legal/money things taken care of, then a few weeks to look for an apartment (easiest before the 1st of the month, since most leases start there), and then a week to get your place furnished before you go over a one-month Töölö Towers stay (up to 1 month is a flat rate, so once go past the daily rate there is no urgency to move out sooner).

Credits: This page includes both ideas and words from everyone at BECS. Please contribute, too. If you don't know where something should go, add it to the bottom and someone else will sort it.

  • Residence permit (Non-EU people)
    • Go to a consulate to apply. Costs ~500€. I got mine back in about a month since it was off-season. The consulate you apply at is your only contact point for any questions, but they will probably tell you to have the department HR contact migri. They send the permit card back to where you applied. The website says "you have to cancel your application if you come to Finland in the meantime". What that means is if you move to Finland in the meantime, they will still send the card to the consulate you applied at, and you can't pick it up in Finland.
    • Make sure you see "Shortcut to personal identity code" below.
    • Time it took to make a decision to be made and cards to arrive back at the consulate: (Paris, FRANCE: October, 2 months- visa application forms got lost when sent by consulate to Migri, one month delay due to this), (USA: October, 1 month), (Argentina:).
  • EU Citizens
    • You don't need to do anything before you arrive, but you will need to go to the police to register after you get here (which residence permit holders don't need to do).
  • Shortcut to personal identity code: during the above process (residence permit or registration at police), make sure you request a personal identity code (social security number, format DDMMYY-NNNX). This can now be done at the same time as applying for a residence permit or registering at the police, see this link or this one. You must ask explicitely to get a personal identity code, they won't do it automatically. This will save some time later, and is a great service introduced only in 2014 December.

  • Once you arrive, come to work and sign your contract. Keep this with you when you go to each of these other places. Also get a phone, see below.
  • Bank account
    • Nordea http://nordea.fi

      • : Go to the tapiola center (google the exact location). At around 1500 on a Tuesday one of us had an under 5 minute queue, and the process took 10-20 minutes. If you are over (or >= maybe) 29 years old, the monthly account costs are 2€/month for the debit card and 2.5€/month for netbank. If you are under 29, netbank and the account fee is free.

      • In order to open a bank account, Nordea requires your passport (even for EU citizens) and a recommendation letter from your previous bank. However, the second condition is not too strict if you say that you have not had a previous "serious bank account". In case that particular branch is not flexible enough you can just go to another branch and repeat the procedure.
      • Bring bank account number back to the department's HR to get salary payment set up.
      • You don't necessarily have to make an initial deposit.
      • Visa Electron debit card + PIN will arrive in about one week in the mail (separately).
      • To be able to use your card for online payments, you need to specifically ask for a separate 8 digit PIN. You get to chose the first four digits, and the complete PIN is sent to you by mail a few days later.
      • They say that netbank can't be activated for you until you have had your account for three months. However, at least one of us had it activated immediately. Ask if you can have it, and see if you can convince them to activate it right away.
      • To complete some online purchases (such as buying insurance), the site will verify your Social Security number through the netbank. To do this, you need to have your Finnish ID number on file with the bank (which you won't have until a week or two later). Also, Nordea needs an ID document listing both your Finnish ID number AND your picture - in practice, an ID issued by the police which costs ~50€. One of us was able to have that ID number added without this by asking hard enough. Getting this would be useful, since then you can do more things online and without needing to call.
  • Registering at Police: Only needed if you are EU (if you are non-EU, you already have done the equivalent by getting a residence permit, which EU doesn't have to do.) There is a time reservation system for this. http://www.police.fi/. N.B. You can register only while the contract has already started. The registration at the police is the cornerstone of the whole immigration procedure, so make sure you do this first.

    • When you do this, ask for a personal identity code. See "Shortcut to personal identity code" above.
  • Local register office (maistraatti): The one in Helsinki was not busy on a Wednesday morning. You can't make appointments in Helsinki or Espoo (but it appeared you didn't need one). They will ask you basic information about yourself and your immediate family, such as: birthdate and place, current address, last place of residence, parents names and birthdates. Have your contract with you. If you are going to stay in Finland at least for 2 years, when you receive this ID number, make sure that your address is registered as permanent address (this is different than a permanent residence permit). If is registered as temporary address you will probably not be able to benefit from public health care system.
    • New system for personal identity code: If you did the "shortcut" above, you may already have the personal identity code, in which case you don't have to wait for it to be mailed to you and can immediately go on to the next steps below.
    • Old system for personal identity code: You will receive a unique Finnish ID number by mail (if you insist they allow you to provide your email address so you can go pick it up when it's ready), which will later be needed in many places (e.g. to get a travel card).

You should be able to accomplish everything above within about 24 hours, if you plan it right. For all the following steps you need to have your Finnish personal identity code (DDMMYY-NNNX).

  • Tax card. Go to "Into Finland" service point - it's right by the Kamppi metro station (Salomonkatu 17, doorway A, 2nd floor). Take a queue number. It was not busy at all early in the morning (You'll need to queue twice: once for tax, once for KELA). Present your passport, residence registration, contract. They'll give you a sheet listing the tax amount: base tax rate for the amount shown on your contract, and a marginal tax rate for any additional income you may earn. If you have already been paid in the current year, bring information on that (how much you have been paid, how much withheld, etc), date of last employment. They don't care about income from other countries. You can ask for a certificate which shows that your are fiscally resident in Finland to avoid paying taxes in multiple countries {this document is issued in several languages).
  • KELA card. Also at Into Finland service point - see above. At this point, you fill out an application for KELA benefits. You will receive a decision in about two months (depending on how long their queue is). For two-year postdocs, the application will basically always be yes.
    • KELA is social security: unemployment, retirement, etc.
    • Health care is provided by municipalities and is also a part of the Finnish social security system. As soon as you get registered at the local register office, you are then covered (no need to apply or have any other validation). All you have to do is go to any point and present your KELA card, and you will receive free treatment (prior to 2013, there was about a 12€ co-pay). If you have not received your KELA card yet, you might need to pay and later when you have your KELA card apply for reimbursement (same in pharmacies). They gave me a list of health care locations at KELA just for my information. For emergencies, you can go anywhere, but for non-urgent things, you should go to ones in your own municipality (Helsinki vs Espoo).
  • Travel card. Go to the HSL service point in the central railway station metro, and get a resident travel card. Bring register office sheet listing Finnish ID number and ID (passport). Cost will be 5€, and you have the option to add value there, or else fill it at your convenience at any of the normal points. http://hsl.fi/ Travel card costs are approx (50€/14 days + 40€/each additional 14 days) for a two-region card, or 24€/14 days + 19€/each additional 14 days) for a one-region card. So, two-region is basically double the cost. But, if your annual commuting costs to work exceeds a certain amount (~ 600 euros), you can apply for a tax deduction and get it partially back. Make sure that you keep all the receipts when recharging your transit card!

Everything above this point you should be able to do in 1-2 hours after you get the Finnish ID number (they are all right next to each other downtown - go in the morning).

  • When you move:
    • Submit a notification of move: http://www.posti.fi/changeaddress/ (online, by phone, at the local register office, or post office).

    • Banks, mobile phone operators, most companies and state institutions (KELA, post office, register office, ...) will be notified automatically based on the above notification.

After you have been here a while

  • Renewing your residence permit: make an appointment well in advance. They will say that processing times are four months, but in reality it can be as fast as one month. Still, make your appointment as early as possible. Your extensions will be based on your contract, not when you apply, so there's no reason to wait for the last moment. Ask for your extension contract early! HR won't give it to you early unless you ask, but funding has to be set up first.

Aalto things

  • Computer networks: There is "aalto open" wifi which anyone can use. There is "eduroam" which you can use after you have an account. For wired networking, there are two types of ports: "visitor" (blue cables) which have DHCP, and managed desktop (white cables) which you can only get an IP on if the staff set up the machine. Just try it, if you don't get an IP you are on the wrong network, and try again. From the main aalto homepage you can go to the BECS wiki which explains more about networks, but you have to have the computer account to log into wiki first. https://wiki.aalto.fi/display/becsintra/Home/

  • Computer accounts: You need to go into the HR system (you can NOT get a computer account before you provide the HR with your bank account information). Computer accounts can be made in as few as 1-2 days, if some sort of other office expedites it. Otherwise it could take a week or two. You can call the IT desk to ask if the account is created already. You'll walk to the main building (right south of us, enter through the M door on Otakaari. Walk back towards the lecture halls, then go right down the corridor and you'll see the office on your left.)
  • After you get a university account, you will get a BECS account from BECS IT. They are down the hall and quite friendly. https://wiki.aalto.fi/display/becsintra/Home/ documents more about the computer setup. This will allow you to log onto the local Ubuntu workstations.

  • Complex Networks wiki: https://wiki.aalto.fi/display/CompNet Lists more about research and things.

Other

  • SIM cards / cell phone service. You want to get a phone ASAP.
    • In order to get a contract, there is a fairly standard 300€ deposit (can go up to 800€ if you want a new phone and a two-year contract) across providers unless you have had your Finnish ID number for more than two years. Luckily, prepaid is quite affordable and there isn't a strong reason to get a contract.
    • New (2015): The company Elisa has a plan which is registered, but prepaid, so suitable for people with bad credit (or no credit, in your case). With this, you could get a SIM card which is registered to your name (so is replacable), can benefit from other discounts, combined plans, and so on. I think that new people should definitely check this out. Prices are similar to prepaid, but is better for the future because your number will never have to change. Link: https://kauppa.saunalahti.fi/#!/puheliittymat/latausliittymat .

    • The prepaid SIM cards are generally quite affordable and about as cost-effective (for low/moderate use) as a registered plan.
    • If you need to get a new phone: FIXME.
    • Various providers include: Elisa(Saunalahti), Sonera, DNA. Most people I know use Elisa/Saunalahti for prepaid.

Finding a place to live

  • You'll probably stay in the Töölö towers http://www.unihome.fi/ or Aalto Inn in Otaniemi (campus where BECS is), until you find your apartment, ask about the daily and monthly rates. For one of us, the point of equality between the two was only 17 days: it costed the same to stay anywhere from 17 days to one month. This may help you plan out your move date.

  • housing@aalto.fi can provide advice and set up meetings. Read the Aalto info at http://www.aalto.fi/en/about/careers/international_staff/other_essentials/#housing and then mail them with your situation (arrival, contract length, single/couple, what you are looking for.)

  • It IS safe to assume that anyone you call or write to via website speaks enough English to communicate. Just do it, if it doesn't work move on. The English success rate is probably well above 90%.
  • Websites.
    • A browser with a built-in translator is very useful here. (Google chrome and ... ?)
    • http://asunnot.oikotie.fi/vuokrapalvelu [highly recommended, you need to translate but their map view is good.]

    • http://www.jokakoti.fi/ [also has a map view]

    • Aalto Inside: once you have a Aalto login, you can log in to this and sometimes find announcements for housing ads.
    • http://www.vuokraovi.com/vuokraovi/main/main.action (has an English version)

    • http://www.forenom.com (available in a few different languages). For furnished apartments: A temporary back-up solution if there is no room available in Töölö towers.

    • you basically have to search and leave a message for the ones you are interested, with your phone number/email. they might even announce a day/time for a visit in their profile pages, where you just visit (you need not tell them before); there will be someone to show you, if you like the apartment just fill up a form they give, and wait if they call you back (they have to like you!). otherwise, it works with individual advertisements (private owners) which whom you arrange to visit.
    • how to search? the search tree is south finland > uusimaa > Helsinki or Espoo > }}}

  • Where to live?
    • The basic choice is Espoo (close to work, but not usually close enough to walk every day, you get more ) vs Helsinki (if in the south, more action and energy, if in the north, somewhat similar to Espoo). Most people live in Espoo. Helsinki is costlier and has double the transportation cost (though no necessarily much more transportation time, depending on where you live). There may also be more competition for Helsinki apartments.
    • You can find places near downtown Helsinki (Kamppi, Töölö) for a similar price as Tapiola, but they will be significantly smaller and have more minimalist furnishings (kitchen, bathroom, etc). This may be what you want. It is harder to find small studio places in Espoo. Thus, "Helsinki costs more" really depends on what your goal are. It's worth viewing at least one place in both cities.
    • Some specific neighborhoods to consider:
      • Tapiola (in Espoo): Close to work. Has the center with lots of businesses and buses to Kamppi for more action or shopping.
      • Matinkylä (Espoo)
      • Haukilahti (Espoo)
      • Lauttasaari (an island between Helsinki and Espoo)
      • Kamppi (In Helsinki, downtown): By taking buses 102 or 103, you can get to work very fast.
      • Töölö
      • Meilahti (Helsinki, north of Töölö)
      • Others: Most important is use the trip planner to make sure there is a direct bus to get to work. Most places will have good and quick connections to downtown, so you won't be stranded wherever you are. Consider looking along the route of the bus #550.
  • Renter's information sheet.
    • Instead of a full application for each place, consider making an information sheet ("renter's CV") to give to places you are interested in. This will have all information on the applications they may give you, so you probably won't have to fill out a separate application (so you won't have to read Finnish). You can also present some other things about you that would make the apartment owner want you to be in their place.
    • You can include: name, phone, email, if you have a Finnish ID number (or if it is applied for. I had one and I put (010101-NNNX (Available by request)) to keep the last part private unless they asked.
    • Nationality, Finland residence permit validity dates, languages spoken.
    • Employer, salary, contract duration. HR contact name/phone/email for employment verification.
    • Education, degrees earned, past locations lived.
    • Anything else that might make you a good renter (don't smoke, no pets, no loud music, don't drink, etc...)
    • Everything here is a suggestion, feel free to adjust it as you see fit.
  • How the actual apartment hunting process goes
    • Browse the websites and you eventually see something you might like.
    • Call or email to arrange a viewing. If a viewing is listed online, you don't necessarily have to email, but it can't hurt.
    • Arrive at the viewing five minutes early minutes early. If you have to take transit to get there, arrive with a larger margin and use the time to explore the neighborhood. By the designated time, there will be several other people waiting outside with you. Use this chance to talk with them and see if you can make some friends. Don't be late.
    • As far as languages go, English is no problem. People will by default talk in Finnish, but if you greet someone in English they'll happily switch and talk in that.
    • The agent will arrive and let you all in, and people will mill about examining the location and talk.
    • If you like the place, before you leave, approach the agent to leave an application. They may have a form to fill out, but if you have your "Information sheet", you can usually just hand them that instead of filling out the application.

What happens next depends on the showing.

  • If there are many people at the showing:
    • I don't know exactly what happens here, but below is my mental model I use to explain it to myself:
    • The agent will take all applications and show them to the owner or manager. The owner makes a sorted list of who they want to take the apartment. This could include credit checks and other things.
    • Usually by the day after the showing, the agent will call the first person on the list and offer the place to them. You may have to decide "yes" or "no" immediately. If you decide "yes", you are out of the game for anything else you have applied for and will be expected to sign very soon. (Of course, you could play the system, ask if you can wait until evening because "I need to talk to someone first", or say "yes" and then retract before signing, if that matches your ethics.)
    • Thus, you can apply to multiple places at the viewings.
    • It is fair to ask the agent by when you will hear back and how soon _you_ would need to make a decision if you are selected. You can get an idea of how many people are applying by the viewing.
  • If it is a private viewing:
    • You could ask how many people are interested and if they think you can get it. If you are lucky, they may say "If the landlord approves and any possible credit checks work out, then yes".
    • You generally have more flexibility in this case. This is the best case possible, since then you are first in line but don't have to make a decision right away. You can keep looking at other places, but realize if there is another showing (ask if there are any others scheduled) then you need to decide before then.
    • Private showings may have a greater chance of being currently occupied, so you may not be able to move in immediately. It may start on the 1st of the next month. You may be able to negotiate to buy the previous tenant's time so you can move in early.

So, that is the way the game is played. If you saw and applied for multiple places, you will have to guess the chance of receiving each apartment and use that to make a decision on each, as calls come in, without knowing which other ones you will get selected for. A summary:

  • Public showings, you compete with many people, they pick you, and you basically need to decide right away after they call you back. You want to apply for as many places as possible in this case, but if you apply for too many you may have to make an agonizing decision about if you want to take what is offered, or wait and see if something better will offer.
  • Private showings, you ask more openly and hopefully have a greater chance of getting it. Thus, you may want to attempt to get some private showings.
  • Electricity http://www.aalto.fi/en/about/services/housing_services/practical_information/getting_started/

    • Electricity in Finland is demonopolized, you can pick your electricity provider. Helsinki Energy owns the distribution system in Helsinki, Fortum owns the distribution system in Espoo.
    • Helsinki Energy http://www.helen.fi/index_eng.html is city-owned, and gets about half the power from nuclear, half from renewable, and a little bit from fossil fuels (I presume as part of their local cogeneration plants for district heating). You can borrow free watt meters, thermal cameras, etc from them downtown. Has a good English site, including English site to make a contract online.

    • Fortum fortum.fi is a big multi-national (but Finnish based) energy company. They say they sell you only hydroelectric or wind power, but they own many nuclear plants (presumably, they claim the nuclear power only goes to industrial users to make consumers feel good). About half from nuclear, half from renewable, tiny bit from fossil fuels (a bit less than Helsinki Energy). They have limited English on the website, they direct you to call to make a contract in English. You can make a contract online if you translate the web forms.
    • This site http://www.sahkonhinta.fi/ lets you compare prices and the origin of electricity from the many different companies. DO NOT blindly take the cheapest one! There are at least two dubious companies, "220 Energia Oy" and "Market Energia Sähkönmyynti Oy", that look cheap but have been reported to be problematic (extra charges, miscalculated bills etc.)

    • You can buy either 1 or two year fixed-price contract, or month-to-month where price changes with market price. (At least Fortum says the fixed-term contracts can be terminated if you move or pass away). I read the main source of market fluctuation is the level of reservoirs in the North. You can set up a contract before you move in, with a future start date.
    • Recommendation: Helsinki Energy if Helsinki, Fortum if Espoo. Price difference is small, basically same commitment to renewable energy.
    • If you use a company other than the one that owns the distribution system, you'll get separate bills for the electricity you have used and for the distribution. You don't need to do a separate contract with the company that owns the system since that's organized by the one that sells you the electricity.
  • Home insurance http://www.aalto.fi/en/about/services/housing_services/practical_information/getting_started/

    • Tapiola (tapiola.fi) has a web form you can buy online, but not very good English information.
    • Pohjola (pohjola.fi) has pretty good English description of the contract terms, but no apparent way to buy it online.
  • Internet
    • Some companies ask for a 300 Euro deposit for customers who have not lived in Finland for the previous 2/3 years. Also the procedure might be long with them noticing you of the payment, then sending the router to the local post office. You then get a notice in the mail to go pick it up. DNA instead asks you for no deposit and gives you the modem straight away, with internet being available within 2-3 hours.
    • Cable and DSL are quite universal and cheap. GSM tethering is also a possibility if you don't have large needs.
    • If your apartment has a phone jack, any provider can give you DSL.
    • If it has cable (for TV), only the company owning those cables can give you a cable connection, but for some modern buildings any company can provide service.
    • Look around, you might find multi-year contracts which are cheap.

Unsorted information

  • home furnishings:
  • IKEA (http://ikea.com/fi/fi/ for prices, http://ikea.com/gb/en/ for searching): probably the best solution if you are planning to stay for a few years and willing to buy new furniture. There are four IKEA stores in Finland (as of January 2013), two of which are located in the Helsinki region: one in Vaanta and one in Espoo.

    • There are a couple of free shuttle buses everyday between Helsinki and these two stores (Timetable: http://www.ikea.com/ms/fi_FI/customer_service/ikea_bussi/index.html). but at least to Espoo it's not that bad on public transportation.

    • If you look at the ikea.fi website you can check the real time availabilities of any item in a particular store. If you are using the IKEA website of another country, beware that prices are not the same even in different Euro Zone countries and IKEA catalogs of different countries are not identical. ikea.fi also has http://www.ikea.com/ms/fi_FI/customer_service/ikea_services/ikea_services_en.html one page in English, where they explain their services.

    • They deliver in 3-5 business days, via a separate contracted company. You go to customer service after checking out, and arrange it there. You can give some notes about what is a good time, and the delivery company will SMS in a few days telling you an exact time (and you can call and reschedule then if you need to). If you are in a hurry to have your furniture at home, when paying for the delivery ask them to leave a note about this for the delivery company and they will give you priority if possible (example: order on a Saturday at closing time, was delivered on the next Tuesday afternoon). The basic delivery unloads the furniture at the very first door of the building, the "plus" delivery will take it to your own apartment.
    • Online order is also available for most items but you will pay extra for the delivery since online orders are delivered directly from Sweden and you will probably end up waiting for longer!
    • In the Espoo store, yellow tag means you must go to an info desk to prepare the order, and it is picked up at a warehouse about 1km away (this is done for you if you are getting delivery). Red tags mean you pick it up in the warehouse yourself that is at the store.
  • Kierratyskeskus (http://www.kierratyskeskus.fi/in_english) is a "reuse and recycling center", basically a giant thrift store. They have various shops around Helsinki, Espoo, and Vaanta (including a "huge warehouse" at Kyläsaarenkatu 8, near the Arabia campus, with lots of furniture.)

    • The quality varies, as is expected at a reuse center. There is lots of kitchenware and small things, fair amount of clothes. There is a fair amount of furniture, but it may be hard to get your initial furnishings there if you have something specific in mind.
    • They deliver purchased goods for a fee of 35 euros in the home municipality, 45 for the whole region. Upon paying, they offer you time slots they have available, from which you can choose one that suits you the most. They are usually booked a day or two in advance, at holiday time it could take longer (a few weeks even).
  • Other shops
    • second-hand furniture and other stuff
      • FIDA [several in Helsinki, Espoo (Nittykumpu)]
    • Small tools, plastic boxes, kitchen appliances, home hardware ...
    • Electronics and home appliances
      • Verkkokauppa, http://www.verkkokauppa.com (in Jätkäsaari near Ruoholahti, but also by mail). Good for raw computer parts, in addition to all sorts of electronics.

      • Gigantti (several in Espoo). Good for all sorts of electronics and appliances - browse online.
    • http://vertaa.fi - price comparison website

Useful websites

MovingToFinland (last edited 2015-09-16 15:56:50 by RichardDarst)