As a lawyer practicing in Montreal, when I informed my colleagues that I would be moving to Finland, the unanimous reaction was 'What???'. Little did I know that many Finns themselves would have the same reaction.
Indeed, when I applied for work in Finland, many companies were interested in meeting me. Getting an interview was not that hard, but it turned out that many of them were just interested in meeting a foreign lawyer with absolutely no knowledge of Finnish wanting to move to their country. So it felt at times as if the most difficult task was to convince them that I would actually stay in Finland. It seemed that most refused to believe that one would want to move to their country on a permanent basis. The question I encountered the most often during my first two years in Finland was a half skeptic half pity '...but why???'. If it had not been for my supportive then-boyfriend-now-husband and a lady who interviewed me and showed actual enthusiasm about my moving project, I would have concluded that all the other guys were on to something. Maybe those natives knew something I did not? Had I missed something in my due diligence on the country? How bad could it be to live in Finland?
I have now lived in Finland for 8 years and feel like I have thoroughly established myself here. And I am not leaving this place. Those skeptics were dead wrong. I admit, the dark winters are rough but apart from this tiny detail, this is a fantastic place to live.
First, people are nice. If you are a foreigner reading this, do not believe what you might read about Finns being difficult to approach. If you chit chat with strangers at the grocery store, they might think you have been drinking a bit but does it really matter? Finns drink too. Simply dare to break the ice! You will see, Finns make the best friends in the world. They are loyal and caring. People here do not pretend to be your friend. They are your friend. Forever. I know this sounds cheesy but I challenge you to prove me wrong.
Then there is the fact that Finland is a very safe place to live. Let's face it, when the main news headline is about the mushroom harvest for the year, you know you live in a safe place. I think that says it all.
And then there are all the perks of living in Finland... Daycare cost does not equal your monthly salary, even if you were to have five kids. You know you will not have to sell your home to send your kids to university. It is practically free. If they become ill, it will cost you only a few euros to get a doctor to treat them. Morning traffic does not mean you have to leave home at 5.30am. You can always find a patch of grass and some trees within a walking distance, wherever you are. The air is as clean as one can possible find on this planet. I could go on for days... . It seems that others are starting to realize this too, at least according to the Independent .
So, the next time you meet a foreigner interested in moving to Finland, I urge you to be a proud Finn and give him the benefice of the doubt! He or she might be less crazy than you think...