The surprising city named the best place in Europe for British expats to move to

A Scandinavian paradise where the residents are famously happy has been named as the best city in Europe for British expats to move to.

Helsinki in Finland is well-known for being happiest and healthiest cities in the world, but now its officially the best for expats as Conde Nast Traveller scored it highly for safety, happiness, walkability and nightlife.

In 2023, the country was once again named the happiest in the worst, according to the World Happiness Report.

In a recent listing in the travel magazine, the city beat out the likes of Zurich in Switzerland, Stuttgart in Germany, and Prague in Czechia to take the top spot.

According to CN Traveller, public transport costs are surprisingly reasonable, while the average rental for a one-bed flat is £859.72 a month – far less than other cities in the top 10. The monthly cost of living is around £2,309 and the average salary is £2,754.54 a month.

READ MORE: British expat shares the most difficult thing about moving to Europe

Helsinki is situated on the shore of the Baltic Sea, was founded in 1550 and is the second smallest capital city in Europe after Brussels. At last count the total population was around 631,000 and the expat population is around 107,000, with 81 per cent of those being born abroad.

Finland is home to stunning lakes – numbering a whopping 188,000 – as well as boreal forests and glaciers to the north of the country.

Closer to Helsinki itself, residents can marvel at the whopping 300 islands along located the shore of the city.

Don’t miss…
I’ve lived in the Netherlands for 10 years – even I had to pay ULEZ fines[LATEST]
Expat fakes heart attack more than 20 times to avoid paying restaurant bills[REVEAL]
British banks poised to ditch expat customers after Barclays brought in £40 fee[INSIGHT]

  • Advert-free experience without interruptions.
  • Rocket-fast speedy loading pages.
  • Exclusive & Unlimited access to all our content.

The country itself is known to be very liberal and is home to free education and healthcare – but for expats with children, the teaching methods and school system is different from elsewhere. Luckily however, most international schools in Finland teach in English.

One aspect that sets them apart is that unlike most other countries, there are no mandated standardised tests in Finland, apart from one exam at the end of the students’ senior year of high school.

Students, schools and regions are not ranked or compared against each other, and all of Finland’s 2,800 schools are publicly funded.

Finnish teachers all have a required master’s degree in education and are selected from the top 10 per cent of the nation’s graduates.

However, while on the surface Helsinki seems like the ideal move, any potential residents should be aware that it is a very expensive place to live and work.

The average salary tax in Finland is 36 per cent and VAT is charged at 24 per cent. Accomodation in particular can be expensive, especially the closer you get to central Helsinki.

If the high taxes don’t put you off, Brits are looking to make a more permanent move and want to buy their own place, the average house price in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area – which includes Vantaa and Espoo – is around £499,000.

However, the further inland you move, the cheaper the prices become – with some one-bedroom apartments being listed for as low as £117,000.

According to Alexander, a Russian expat who moved to the city from St Petersburg to study, and has lived there for more than five years, although he had to deal with high prices, visas and complications it was worth it.

He said: “There were no difficulties when I first moved in.

“The services in Finland worked perfectly. It was very easy to get all the documents and settle down. If you secured a job and a place to stay, everything should go fine.

“What was complicated was arranging work and studies at the same time.

“It was only possible because courses in universities in Finland are very flexible. You can choose any number of courses, many of which can be done remotely.”

Alexander explained that there are many things he loves about the city, from its fast transport connections and beautiful architecture – as well as an abundance of saunas.

He said: “It is a capital, with many things to do, and you can live in a rural area with fast connections to everything. I see it as a very comfortable place to build a home.

“I like the houses in Finland, from cute wooden houses to modern architecture. Most of them are designed with large panoramic windows to gather all the sunlight, which is rare and precious in this northern area.

“Apartments have access to the sauna, and new ones have saunas in every flat.”

However, any new residents should be aware – it gets cold, with temperatures in the winter dropping well below freezing. The lowest ever temperature recorded was -34.3C in 1987 – so pack your thermals.

Source: Read Full Article