Vaasa region is home to roughly 120 000 inhabitants. There is a strong multilingual tradition in the region, and you will get service at least in Finnish, Swedish and English all around the city and the surrouding areas. The business life in the region is also particularly international - some 70% of the region's industrial production is exported. The region is especially well-known for its highly qualified energy technology sector. The nature and the wildlife in the region are spectacular, and the unique Vaasa archipelago is one of Unesco's world heritage sites.
Lively and urban, yet closely surrounded by beautiful nature and the sea. With some 67 000 inhabitants and altogether more than 12 000 students in the higher education institutions, Vaasa feels bigger than it is in numbers. And yet, everything is conveniently close by. Here you don't need to spend your life in getting from one end of the city to another or waste hours in running your daily errands.
Next to Helsinki, Vaasa is the most international city in Finland. You will find people from more than 100 different nationalities. Finnish being the majority language, there is a 30% minority speaking Swedish as their first language.
Where to get help when settling in?
The City of Vaasa also provides services for immigrants, foreign employees and visitors in the Welcome Office. The Welcome Office is situated in the main library of the City of Vaasa, and you can either make an appointment or just drop by to get information or material.
Want to know what is going on in Vaasa?
Finding a cozy rental apartment is one of the most important factors that influence your stay in Vaasa, and therefore it is advisable to start looking as soon as you know the date of your arrival. Finding a furnished apartment especially in August - September can prove to be quite tricky, so please act on this as early as you can!
The University of Vaasa has one fully furnished studio apartment for the use of visitors. The rent for one week is 190 € / week. For booking the apartment, please contact your host at the University of Vaasa or the University of Vaasa Facility Services Marita Kätevä(marita.kateva(a)uwasa.fi, tel. +358 29 449 8101).
Furnished apartments for short-term visits & other accommodation options
There are some companies in Vaasa that offer furnished apartments for individuals and families that can be rented daily or monthly. The standard of these apartments is normally high and e.g. cleaning services are included. The price is quite affordable and some of the providers offer breakfast, sauna and other facilities that are included in the price. Also some of the hotels offer good deals for long-term visits. You can find all options in the Vaasa region at the City of Vaasa webpage
Renting an apartment in Vaasa
The price of a studio apartment in Vaasa is normally between 400 € - 600 € / month. Usually the owners wish to rent the apartment for at least one year forward, so it is not always easy to find apartments for short term lease. The apartments are usually rented out unfurnished.
It is highly recommendable to get a private home insurance. For some landlords, this might even be a requirement for renting the apartment. It is also common practice to ask for a rental deposit of 1 - 2 months rent when making the rental agreement. The deposit will be returned to you when the agreement ends, provided that the apartment is in good shape.
You will find a list of mediators of rental apartments operating in the region in the City of Vaasa web pages
In Vaasa, your home can be located in the middle of the city, by the sea or in real countryside, and yet you are close to quality services. Check the city guide for the different neighbourhoods.
Here are some useful links about housing in Finland:
- Daily life
Learn more about Finland:
- Learn Finnish online
- Finnish News in English (yle.fi)
- Finnish Meteorological Institute for current weather, weather forecasts, weather statistics and information about the climate in Finland
- This is Finland
- Visit Finland
- Visit Vaasa
A lot of people shop for food in one of the big supermarket chains. Almost in each block there are small convenience stores offering 'basic supplies' for everyday needs. The big hypermarkets with a wider supply are located a bit outside the city center, but are easily accessible especially by bike or car. They’ll contain almost everything you might need from food, kitchenware, furniture and household utensils to clothes and shoes.
There are also quite a few furniture stores in Vaasa, most of them situated in Kivihaka, a bit outside the city. Afordable furniture, kitchen ware and clothes can also be found in secondhand shops.
You'll find a list of all shops and secondhand stores on the City of Vaasa webpage
General insurances and personal safety
The national social insurance in Finland compensates for the loss of income e.g. during parental leave, retirement or during incapacity for work, illness and unemployment. It consists of
- health insurance,
- unemployment insurance,
- accident insurance, and
- pension insurance.
Some of the benefits are earnings-related and based on employment, while others are based on residence in Finland.
There are also general private insurances for e.g your home and belongings (Non-life insurances) that you can take out according to your own needs. These include life insurance, home insurance, accident insurance, and travel insurance. Even if these insurances are taken on voluntary bases, some landlords may require their tenants to take a home insurance before agreeing to rent out the apartment. Even if you are not required to take out a home insurance, it is advisable to do so.
Motor vehicle insurance is compulsory. It is required for all motor vehicles, caravans and trailers used in Finland.
Most people use mobile phones in Finland. Telephone booths and land lines are almost nonexistent. A mobile phone and a pre-paid phone card can be the solution to your communication needs. It is a relatively cheap way of communicating in Finland.
Some of the most common operators in Finland are:
You can buy the prepaid calling cards in the above mentioned shops or in a R-kioski, which is a type of small convenience store.
International phone calls from Finland can be made by dialling ‘+’and respective country and area code. When calling from outside Finland to Vaasa, dial the international prefix + access code for Finland (358) + area code 6 for Vaasa, then dial the number you want.
Library services are free for registered users. Extra services such as photocopying, reserving material or dealing with borrowed material returned late may incur a fine that at most corresponds to actual costs. Everyone living permanently in Finland can obtain a library card, both adults and children alike, and many public libraries issue cards to people who are not permanent residents.
There are also some smaller branch libraries around the City of Vaasa. You can find the locations and opening hours of all libraries online.
Learning Finnish (and Swedish)
The Finnish language has quite a reputation. It is said to be very difficult to learn and master, in fact it is said to be among the most difficult languages in the world. However, we argue that the Finnish language is no more difficult than any other language, it's just different. It does not belong to the Indo-European language group, and thus operates with different grammatical rules and different vocabulary. This may slow down your learning process in the beginning, but as you get past the first stumbling blocks, you'll be likely to find the language quite logical.
So don't be discouraged! And, although the majority of Finns speak fluent English and you can go by with using English only, it would be beneficial for you to learn Finnish (or Swedish). Learning the language will help you with your integration to the society, finding the services you need more easily and all in all make you feel at home faster.
Finland is a bilingual country and has two national languages: Finnish and Swedish. Vaasa and the surrouding coastal region are especially bilingual and some 30% of the population speak Swedish as their native language. In Vaasa, you get service with both Finnish and Swedish everywhere. The street signs are in both languages, there is a Finnish language theatre and a Swedish language theatre, children go either to Finnish or Sweadish speaking schools. There are two periodicals: Pohjalainen in Finnish and Vasabladet in Swedish. In many places, meetings, organisations people apply the "Vaasa-rule", which means that everyone can use the language he/she is most comfortable in using and the conversation partners will in their turn use the language they are most comfortable in using when replying. So in Vaasa learning Swedish is also a good option.
There are several options for learning Finnish / Swedish:
- The University of Vaasa offers Finnish for foreigner courses for the foreign staff members regularily as personnel training. For further information and course schedules, please see the University of Vaasa personnel training calender (in intranet, cannot be accessed without a user name and password).
- Alma is an adult education center in Vaasa, that offers a wide range of non-formal adult education. The courses are open to everyone, and they are mainly held in the evening-time. They provide a variety of language courses, which are accessible to non-Finnish and non-Swedish speakers. They also have courses in eg. arts, crafts, music, dance or cooking. Many times although the course language is Finnish or Swedish, it's possible to participate. This might be a good way to practice your language skills. For courses and enrolment: opistopalvelut.fi/vaasa/index.php?l=en
- Also the Vaasa Summer University (kesäyliopisto) and The University of Vaasa Open University offer courses in Finnish and Swedish languages.
- You can also learn Finnish online, check the material e.g. in Infofinland
The following days are the national public holidays in Finland, and as such, days off from work for the University of Vaasa staff:
- New Years Day, 1 January
- Twelfth Day / Epiphany, 6 January
- Easter: the date varies, in March or April (Good Friday 10.4.2020, Easter Monday 12.4.2020)
- Labour Day / May Day, 1 May
- Mothers' Day: 2nd Sunday in May. Flag day but not a public holiday. (10.5.2020)
- Ascension Day: in May, 40 days after Easter (21.5.2020)
- Midsummer Eve: in June, always on a Friday (19.6.2020)
- Midsummer Day (20.6.2018)
- All Saints' Day: Saturday between October 31 and November 6 (2.11.2019, 31.10.2020)
- Fathers' Day. 2nd Sunday in November. Flag day but not a public holiday (10.11.2019)
- Independence Day, 6 December
- Christmas Eve, 24 December
- Christmas Day, 25 December
- Boxing Day, 26 December
In infofinland.fi you'll find the current dates of all public holidays.
The banks, post offices and other public services will normally be closed during these days. Majority of shops remain open. There will also be other alterations e.g. in train and bus time-tables, so in case you will be travelling during these days, it's good to check the time-tables in advance.
- Travelling to Vaasa
Vaasa Airport is located about 9 kilometres from the centre of Vaasa. A regular connection from Vaasa Airport to the city centre is operated by the local bus transportation. Taxis are on call at the taxi stand in front of the airport during the scheduled arrival times. If you wish to confirm a ride or have special requests, you can book a taxi beforehand: www.taksivaasa.fi/en/
Vaasa airport: www.finavia.fi/en/vaasa
Direct flights to Helsinki
SAS Scandinavian Airlines:
Direct flights to Stockholm
For timetable and tickets:
Daily cruises to Umeå / Sweden. The trip takes about 4 hours.
For timetable and tickets:
- Getting around
As the distances in Vaasa are not very long, it is quite convenient to move around Vaasa on foot or by bike. Many people use bikes to move around the city throughout the year. There are a lot of cycle paths all around the city and the surroundings.
Almost all bike shops see second hand bikes, so you don't necessarily need to spend a lot of money on buying a bike. Another good option is joining one or more of the Facebook buy-and-sell -groups n the region.
Local bus network
A good public transportation system with quite an extensive bus network is also available in Vaasa.
You can travel on local buses in Vaasa using a single ticket, as well as with a Waltti season ticket or a value (pay as you go) card. Single tickets can be bought directly on the bus. You'll find the Wasa Citybus Serivce Points on the City of Vaasa website
There's also a online journey planner with information about bus routes and timetables.
Driving in Finland
In Finland you drive on the right side of the road. The road signs use standard international symbols. The distances between places are measured in kilometers and the speed km / h.
If so required by weather or road surface conditions, winter tyres must be used from 1 November to 31 March. Studded tyres can be used from 1 November to 31 March and also during other periods if so required by weather or road surface conditions. Please note that also vehicles with foreign registration plates must use winter tyres in Finland.
On ajokortti-info.fi you'll find information about driving in Finland and foreign driving licence.
- Family matters
If you are bringing your family with you, you will find a lot of useful information in the following webpages:
Many public services and organizations offer employment opportunities for those who have the working rights in Finland
More information about the open vacancies and job search:
- University of Vaasa
- Aarresaari Career Services
- The Ministry of Employment and the Economy (TE Services)
- Support for finding a job (TE Services)
- Living in Finland: Work and Enterprise
Moving to Vaasa with your family
Vaasa is a safe, child friendly city with a good day care and school network and lot's of free-time activities for small and young children. The family benefits in Finland are also good (see e.g. Kela benefits for families), so it's safe to say that bringing your family to Vaasa will not prove to be difficult.
If you and your family need a residence permit to come to Finland, we advise that all family members apply for the permit at the same time, as the processing time will be shorter for the family members when doing so.
In order for information on marriage to be entered in the Population Information System in Finland, the original marriage certificate duly authenticated in the country of residence or a certified copy thereof must be submitted to the nearest Finnish Embassy or Consulate or sent to the local register office of the municipality where the person was most recently resident in Finland. Since marriage certificates are usually drafted in the language of the issuing country, they must be translated into Finnish or Swedish by an authorized translator. If the translation is carried out abroad then the translation must also be authenticated by an apostille. More information on the Digital and Population Data Services Agency DVV
Recognition of foreign qualifications in Finland
Those who want to work in Finland in a regulated profession or in a post that requires a higher education degree of a certain level, might need a decision on recognition of his / her qualification(s) made by the Finnish National Agency for Education or another competent authority. More information on the Finnish National Agency for Education's
Day Care in Finland
A child under school age is entitled to day care organised by the municipality if the child’s parent has a registered municipality of residence in Finland. Also an EU Citizen's childern under school age have the right to day care organised by the home municipality.
Please contact the City of Vaasa in questions concerning day care, applications and day care fees.
Children are entitled to free preschool (4 h per day) for one year before starting their primary education. After this, children can continue day care in the same day-care centre where the preschool classes are given. You can check the groups for preschools in Vaasa on the web page for individual day-care centres.
Basic education - Comprehensive schools
The Finnish education system is composed of:
- nine-year basic education (comprehensive school) for the whole age group, preceded by one year of voluntary pre-primary education
- upper secondary education, comprising general education and vocational education and training (vocational qualifications and further and specialist qualifications)
- higher education, provided by universities and polytechnics
Basic education is a nine-year education provided for the whole age group in comprehensive schools. Compulsory schooling starts in the year when a child turns seven and ends after the basic education syllabus has been completed or after ten years. Attending basic education in Finland is free-of-charge for all children.
The local or school curriculum is based on a national core curriculum. Completing the basic education syllabus does not lead to any qualification, but the school-leaving certificate gives access to all upper secondary education and training. Nearly all children complete their compulsory schooling.
Read more about basic education in Finland on the Ministry of Education and Culture web-pages
Primary Schools in Vaasa
Primary school education in Vaasa is normally arranged in Finnish or Swedish. Suvilahti primary school and the English department in Vaasa Övningsskola offer classes also in English (CLIL - Content and Language Integrated Learning).
For more information on basic educational opportunities in Vaasa:
- Health Care
In case of emergency, call 112
There is only one emergency number in Finland. Call 112 if you urgently need the police, and ambulance or a fire brigade. No area code is needed. Calls are answered with the words “Hätäkeskus - Nödcentralen”. When you call, first give your name and then explain what has happened. Do not hang up before you are told to do so.
Good public health care services are available in Finland. The public services are not completely free of charge, but are provided at a very reasonable price. The kind of public health care you are entitled to always depends on your current situation.
You are entitled to use the public health services if you have a municipality of residence (kotikunta) in Finland. The right to a municipality of residence depends on the following matters:
- the country from which you have come to Finland
- your reason for coming to Finland (e.g. work, studying)
- whether you are moving to Finland permanently or staying here temporarily
- if you are staying in Finland temporarily, the length of your stay in Finland
In you are an EU / EEA Citizen, you are entitled to emergency treatment in the event of an illness or injury or other medically necessary treatment by presenting the European Health Insurance Card. You can also get medical treatment if you have a pre-existing chronic condition that requires medical attention while you are abroad.
Even if you do not have a municipality of residence, KELA may in some cases grant you a certificate of right to medical care in Finland, e.g. if you come to work in Finland for a relatively short period of time. Again, this right depends on your current overall situation.
Urgent treatment must always be provided regardless of the patient's place of residence or nationality. However, without a municipality of residence or a KELA certificate, the provided treatment e.g. in hospitals can be quite costly. Therefore, we strongly recommend you to take an additional health insurance from your home country before moving to Finland. This is essential especially upon arrival and when still settling in.
Some options are:
Moreover, there are some other private insurance companies that are recommended by the Finnish Immigration Service: migri.fi/en/insurance
General information on health care in Finland: www.kela.fi/web/en/sickness
- Social Security
Moving to or from Finland +358 20 634 0200
Social security when moving to or from Finland and in other international situations
(See also Centre for International Affairs and Contact Point for Cross-Border Healthcare)
Information about Kela's benefits:
The Social Security in Finland is either based on permanent residence or work. If you are living in Finland permanently, you are covered by the National Health Insurance scheme of the Social Insurance Institution (Kela). You may also be covered by the National Health Insurance is you are working in Finland. For detailed instructions on social security when movin to Finland, please see Kela website
Permanent stay in Finland
If you move to Finland on a permanent basis, you can usually receive Kela benefits starting from the date of your move to Finland.
When you apply for a benefit Kela determines whether you are considered to be permanently resident in Finland or if you can become entitled to Kela benefits on the basis of your employment. The determination of residence is affected by, for instance, whether you are a returnee, whether you work in Finland for a long period of time or if you have close family ties to a person who is already resident in Finland. Kela can also consider the residence permanent if you have previously stayed in Finland for a year already.
Temporary stay in Finland
If your stay in Finland is temporary, you will normally not be entitled to benefits from Kela. You are usually not considered to have moved to Finland on a permanent basis, if you stay in Finland for a short period of time for instance as a student, a jobseeker, an au pair or a trainee. Asylum seekers are also not granted Kela benefits while the application for asylum is being processed.
If you are entitled to social security coverage in another EU country, you cannot at the same time be entitled to social security coverage in Finland and you can usually not receive benefits.
You are usually entitled to social security coverage in another country if:
- you are a posted worker from another EU or EEA country or from Switzerland
- you are a cross-border worker who lives in Finland or moves to Finland but you work in another EU or EEA country or Switzerland
- you are employed by a foreign government or an intergovernmental organisation, and
- you are not a Finnish citizen.
Applications for social security benefits are submitted to a Kela either by post or directly to the Kela office. Kela will make a decision based on your current situation, and sends a Kela card to prove that you are covered by the National Health Insurance. If you are covered by the National Health Insurance, Kela will reimburse part of your medical costs and part of the cost of medicines for which you have a doctor's prescription.
For those covered by the National Health Insurance scheme, Kela pays financial support in different kinds of life situations, e.g.:
- National pension and other pension benefits
- Benefits when you get ill
- Benefits intended for families with children
Each application is assessed and handled individually, and the amounts of benefits change from case to case.