As of this writing, I have lived one year in Finland, in the city of Vaasa. I’ve got my residence permit extension in late September and am now allowed to legally stay and work in the country until late 2022.
I can say that I never regretted it, and at this point it’s probably safe to say that I will never regret it. However of course it hasn’t been all easy. The most difficult part is the general feeling of isolation. I haven’t developed any real friendships (well, I have but not with people I can actually see on a regular basis) or relationships here. Of course there are multiple factors why this is particularly difficult:
- I’m an introverted and rather shy kind of person who doesn’t easily get close with people
- Finns are pretty well known to also be introverted people who don’t easily get close with other people (of course that’s more of a stereotype but it does seem to be grounded in reality)
- I’m 30; adults don’t really make friends easily anywhere
- I don’t know Finnish (or Swedish) language yet which automatically excludes me from a whole range of possible activities with other people; getting somewhat better there but still
- I’m not really into social activities either, my things are more like wandering in the woods or reading about some obscure things
- Vaasa is a fairly small city and there just aren’t that many people here in first place
All of this has been completely expected, there were absolutely no surprises here and I knew that’s how it would go. It still gets a bit depressing at times. Nonetheless of course it doesn’t diminish everything else awesome about Finland. It also helps a bit that I’ve been living a similarly asocial life even before moving to Finland, particularly in the last year, so it’s not like I really have anything to look back to, well apart from my bunny I had to give away. Anyway I hate to talk about personal stuff, but this is something that was fair to mention among other things. After all I’ve been trying to write as complete a guide into immigration to Finland as possible.
Let’s go through some other important or at least notable things that happened in this year that I still haven’t talked about elsewhere.
Residence permit extension
The initial Finnish long-term residence permit is always granted for 1 year; in my case it was to expire on 12.11.2018. It is allowed to apply for a permit extension in three months before the current one expires. You are allowed to stay in Finland (but not leave it) in case your current permit expires before the decision on the new one is made; however if your permit expires before you even apply for a new one, you’ll have to return to your home country and start the whole process from scratch again. It is therefore a good idea to apply for the permit extension as early as possible. In my case I applied at the end of August, 2.5 months before the expiration of my previous permit.
The process, for a “specialist” permit at least, is largely similar to applying for the first permit; you have to fill the same form (preferably online at EnterFinland), attach the same documents, your employer must do the same actions, you or your employer must pay the fee (which is lower than for initial permit, 200€ in this case), and provide the originals of the papers to the authorities. But of course you now do it within Finland, and instead of a Finnish consulate abroad you have to visit a Migri (Immigration Service) service point, which in case of Vaasa is located at the central Ostrobothnia police station.
I provided the exact same documents proving my 8 years work experience (work record book and a note from my last job in Russia) as I did the first time; of course I still have those and their authorized translations from Russian into English. My work contract was amended in April due to a pay rise, so I uploaded its updated version.
One thing you have to take care about yourself again is taking a picture. You can walk inside virtually any photo store/studio and ask for a passport picture (passikuva; the same kind of picture is used for all official documents in Finland as far as I’m aware). That cost me 20€. It is a very good idea to ask for a picture electronic code. This way the photo store will upload the picture to the police server, give you a code for it, and Migri can take it from there when you tell them that code. While you have to visit Migri in person anyway and having an electronic picture is not an advantage in that case, it’ll come useful for renewing an ID card afterwards. By the way you can actually take a picture and upload it to the police server yourself. You will of course have to comply with a bunch of requirements about the picture, and the website is in Finnish/Swedish only. But hey, it’s free!
Unlike visiting a consulate (the St. Petersburg one at least), visiting Migri requires an appointment. Unless the matter is urgent, but residence permit extension in due time is obviously not urgent. EnterFinland will give you a link for the Migri appointment booking website. Migri points are rather busy, and I wasn’t too pleased to learn that I’ll have to wait three weeks for an appointment. (It’s possible to go to any point but it was largely the same in other points across the country, the only less busy ones at the moment were in Rovaniemi, Kuopio, and oddly enough Lappeenranta — you’d think the latter city would have a sizable Russian immigrant population). So I had to wait, a bit nervously of course.
The waiting room of the Migri point at the police station is small and often a bit crowded. It has useful guidelines for the immigrants like this one:
Somehow Migri managed to lose my appointment, so I sat there for 2.5 hours (in the middle of a working day of course) before I could catch an actual living Migri employee and show her my appointment reminder SMS on the phone. Apparently there was one more guy with that problem on that day, an Indian I think. Well, shit happens I suppose.
The actual appointment took less than ten minutes, a Migri employee just checked that all my papers match what I had uploaded, and took my passport picture code. I didn’t have to give my fingerprints again or even to sign anything; they keep both fingerprints and a signature sample from the initial application. They gave a piece of paper saying I can stay in the country legally until the matter is processed.
The handling of this residence permit was even faster than of the original one. The very next day I received a request for clarification through EnterFinland; they asked me to upload there my last three pay slips, presumably to prove that I’m actually working where I claim to (and paying those sweet taxes). I did that without delay (I get a pay slip at work by email the day before the actual salary), and then one more day later they already reached a decision. So my residence permit was approved in two days, which is incredibly impressive.
I again could read a paper with the positive decision (worded nearly the same as their first decision a year ago) on EnterFinland, and the actual residence card came 1.5 weeks later, by a simple letter to my home address. Curiously they also sent a prepaid envelope for me to mail them back the previous expired card. I don’t know why they insist on collecting old residence permit cards; I thought I would get to keep all of mine. In any case that’s not a huge deal of course.
As expected (okay, as hoped) the second residence permit is valid for 4 years, until 2022 which seems pretty far in the future at the moment. In practice in autumn 2021 I will be already allowed to apply for a permanent residence permit. That would be the last time I’ll have to prove I’ve got a job here and qualifications; with a permanent residence permit you are not limited at all in what you can do in Finland. One year later I will be allowed to apply for Finnish citizenship, provided I pass the language exam and satisfy a few other basic requirements.
Let’s hope nothing will prevent me from doing that. Of course as an immigrant who doesn’t have a Finnish citizenship my status is, in principle, at the mercy of the Finnish state. They might change rules and I won’t have any say about it (I cannot even vote, of course, apart from municipal elections where I’ll be allowed to vote in one more year), and in particular I’m nervous about whether the ongoing tensions between Russia and the EU might in some way influence immigration policy towards Russians. But all in all that doesn’t seem very likely. Finland remains very much interested in work immigration (its native population is in decline, if you subtract the immigration), and if anything at the moment it seems the rules for work immigration are likely to get relaxed even further. There will be a general election next spring, but the only really anti-immigration parties (Finns Party and Blue Reform) are not in a position to dictate anything, and in fact their support has declined a lot since the last elections.
ID card renewal
My ID card expired at the same time as my residence permit, so I had to apply for a new one. This time it was very easy; I could do this without visiting the police station in person. As long as you have Finnish bank codes, a recent picture uploaded to the police server, and can pay online too, you can make an online application here. I did that the next day after my card expired; maybe it’s possible to do it earlier, I don’t know. I was able to use the same picture as for the residence permit (they remain valid for 3 months I think?) by typing its code, and the application cost me 54€. They warn you that they might still have to call you for a visit in person but I don’t really see why they would.
My card was ready in just three days. Oddly enough while the residence permit card is delivered as a plain letter, you have to pick the ID card at the post office, which in my case is the local R-Kioski store near where I live. This was somewhat annoying as the cashier there doesn’t speak English (as I already know by now). I can by now understand some Finnish when I’m spoken to but I would much prefer people would do it slower and in simpler words, instead of, you know, speeding up. I tried to identify myself with my Russian passport, but that apparently was no good, as I had to provide Finnish ID. Buuut how can I provide Finnish ID if I literally came here to pick my Finnish ID! Well, in the end it turned out that the recently expired ID card was good enough.
I won’t show the new card — it looks the same as my old one and I’m too lazy to blank out personal identity number and stuff. It is valid for four years, again until the day my new residence permit expires. (That suggests that the police is in principle aware of my exact immigration status and its time limits — not that it’s important, just interesting to note). As with the first card, I later received by paper mail an activation code for the card’s smart card functions. I didn’t bother activating it; by now I know that this stuff is basically useless.
The actual work for the most part hasn’t really been all that eventful (which is the way I prefer it). Of course I cannot really tell many specifics about it.
I work in a small company (less than 15 people) that’s doing P2P loans, basically we take money from some people (investors) and loan it out to other people (borrowers). I’m a software developer in a small team, currently just three people (at least three people that work on this full time). I have gravitated to a frontend role here although I’m supposed to be a full stack developer in principle. The work, which is the development and maintenance of our information system managing investors and borrowers and the user-facing website, is usually not very exciting but it’s also almost never stressful, pretty relaxed in general, pays reasonably well, and I do feel my skills are appreciated here. The processes are usually quite informal, but this might be simply due to the small size of the company. The office is a pretty cozy place in one of the nicest buildings in Vaasa, Hartman Building at the central square (Tori). It has smallish rooms; I’ve mostly been sitting in a room with just two other people, and at the moment I’m even normally having that room to myself. Ultimately work here is not massively different from the jobs I had in Russia, but the workplace atmosphere I would say is a lot healthier in Finland.
It is common to have lunch in the middle of the working day in some nearby restaurant, something that in my experience was not widespread in Russia. Many restaurants specifically offer relatively cheap all-you-can-eat buffets during lunchtime. Such lunches are good for socializing with your coworkers, of course, but I personally I’m just too lazy to leave office in the middle of the day and too stingy to pay 8-12€ for lunch every single day. Eating at the office is of course also perfectly fine and plenty of people do that.
We have some work parties but only a few, two or three per year maybe, big ones. It’s not really wild either although you can drink a lot and usually there’s a sauna involved (although I have yet to visit one with my coworkers). You’re not forced in participate and in fact you’re never forced to participate in any such “teambuilding” activies, something that I appreciate (even though I do like the work parties here).
After four months in the company my trial term was over, and I got a pay raise. Not a huge one (especially considering that after you reach average wages, taxation increases rather steeply and pay rises do not yield that much more net pay) but it was quite appreciated. Now at least I make clearly more here than I did in Russia, though still not by that much. Still salary is a touchy subject and sometimes I can’t help thinking about how I could possibly make more in some other European countries, and far more in the US. Nonetheless I have it nice enough here as it is, and I certainly do not want to try to move somewhere else. I didn’t move to Finland for money after all (and it would really be a pretty stupid idea to move here for money).
I’m still the only person in the company who’s been purposefully hired from abroad, but there are two other people with foreign backgrounds here (neither of them is Russian). I find it nice in that at least I’m not the only one for whom people switch to English, although in fact I sometimes hear native Finnish and native Swedish speakers speaking English with each other too, English being their easiest common denominator so to speak.
I did find one aspect very frustrating; I normally read up a lot about various things I know I have to deal with, but this one took me by surprise, even though I should have known it by then. Finland has a rather weird system of counting vacation days. You earn two vacation days per month in your first year, and 2.5 days per month in subsequent years; one vacation week is considered to include six days (so, with Saturday but without Sunday), and thus you get 4 weeks in your first year, and 5 weeks from then on. The catch is, within every one-year period of 1.4-31.3 you’re only allowed to use days from the previous such period. These 1.4-31.3 dates are set by law and the same for every company, regardless of when you actually started working.
What it meant for me is that I started working on 4.12.2017, and by 31.3.2018 I had worked 4 months and accumulated 8 vacation days. These vacation days are the only paid vacation I’ve been allowed to use until 31.3.2019. So it’s not even two full weeks; I did have a two week vacation in August eventually, but a part of it was unpaid. I honestly do not know why Finland has such a system, instead of just accumulating days from the date you start working. It is, in my opinion, pretty retarded. Well, at least I’ll be getting a lot more vacation in 2019.
I do not have any experience with Finnish public healthcare yet. I used the private clinic from work insurance once (for stomach trouble; can’t say they helped much but eventually it seemed to have resolved by itself), and once went to a private dental clinic (Mehiläinen), paying out of pocket there.
I don’t really have good teeth at all, and one particular tooth had been hurting a lot intermittently, but in summer it got really bad, so in the end I was forced to go to a dentist. You’re allowed to use a public dentist but they’re known to have particularly long waiting times (weeks, possibly even months). If you are actually in severe pain (as I was), then you don’t have to wait and just can go to an emergency dental ward (hammaspäivystys) for that. Maybe I should have done that, but what I did was what I had known well from living in Russia, that is just going to a private clinic. They did everything perfectly, and I can’t complain about anything but the price, which was some 80€ I think for the initial visit + X-ray, and then 140-200€ for each for the three rounds of root canal therapy treatment (my case was really bad; bad enough that I was surprised and massively relieved that they’re not going to just pull out the tooth). Of course it was spread over several months and in the end wasn’t a massive hit to my budget, but still of course that’s very expensive, several times more expensive than the same thing would cost in Russia. I really need to learn to use public health care here, but so far I haven’t had any other opportunity for that, which of course is also a good thing actually.
My public health insurance (Kela card) actually paid for a small part of the dental clinic visits, but it was something rather negligible (some 10% or so); I don’t know why they even bother with that. I also at one point got an antibiotic prescription. When you get more than 50€ worth of prescription drugs in a year Kela starts heavily subsidizing these (and when you get to 605€ worth of them in a year, they become virtually free for you, fixed 2.50€ cost per prescription), but these antibiotics were actually rather cheap so I got nowhere close even to the 50€ boundary. Buying prescription drugs in a pharmacy is quite different from buying over-the-counter drugs; you need to get a queue number, like in Migri or in the tax office. Actual prescriptions are recorded in the OmaKanta patient database, so you only need to give your Kela card to the pharmacist and they’ll give you what you need.
Finland is rather well known for having great municipal libraries, completely free for basic use (reading and borrowing books); they also can order books from other libraries for you, offer public computers with internet access, desks where you can just work or read in a nice atmosphere, places for meeting with friends, allow borrowing stuff other than books (CD/DVDs, computers, I’ve heard some libraries offer for example various tools too). A library is a real community center in Finland, and quite a lot of Finnish people use them; in contrast to Russia, where libraries are generally seen as something dull and very outdated where you can go only if you’re really really bored or perhaps are studying something and need to do some specific research.
However I’ve actually been putting off going to the library for quite some time, even though it’s a five minute walk from my work. Mostly because I didn’t know Finnish or Swedish, of course. Libraries actually also have some books in English too and possibly in other languages, but I’m not really interested in those. I can buy books in English through Amazon Kindle rather cheaply and read them on my phone wherever I want (not that I’m actually doing that often but still). But it seems a lot less e-books are available in Finnish anywhere in general; and I’m interested in stuff like Finnish and Ostrobothnian history that is even less likely to exist in e-book form; and since reading in Finnish is difficult for me, it could actually kind of help to go somewhere specifically to read or to borrow a book with a time limit, as otherwise I can just indefinitely keep putting off reading anything because I’m a lazy ass. As I said in the previous post, by the autumn of 2018 I began to feel that I can actually read in Finnish, and so a few weeks ago I got brave enough to go to the library for the first time.
Vaasa central library (which is also of course the Ostrobothnia regional library) is the main but not the only library in Vaasa; there are about ten smaller branch libraries, including two relatively remote ones with self service hours, and a library bus that visits various points in the city and outside it on schedule. So far I haven’t tried to visit branch libraries. They all form the same system with one library card and website. There’s also the Tritonia library; it is a university library, located in Palosaari close to most of the local universities, and is not related to the other libraries. You still can visit it and I think even borrow books there; you don’t have to be related to any universities for that.
As is often the case in Finland in many (most?) libraries you don’t really need to interact with their personnel, unless you’re registering with them for the first time, need assistance or have some uncommon request. If you have a library card, you can borrow and return books using special machines (I forgot to take a picture unfortunately), and do things like look up a specific book, queue for a specific book loaned by someone else or prolong a book loan if no one’s in a waiting list for it on the library website; your library card gives you access there.
The Vaasa central library is rather vast, although of course much bigger libraries exist in the world too. Some highlights that I could spot so far:
- A really awesome history section, with a great number of books both on Finnish history and specifically on Ostrobothnian and Vaasa history. South Ostrobothnia history in eight volumes! Vaasa history in four volumes! (both in Finnish and in Swedish versions, mind you!) Malax history in one volume! What more can you even ask for? I browsed through quite a few of these books and they are just sooo so awesome. I just really enjoy reading boring super detailed stuff about the things I like. My Finnish would need to be better for me to be able to read through books of that size, of course; so far, I’m rather slow at reading
- Some cool-looking really old (early 19th century) local books, all blackened and tattered from time. I don’t think you can borrow those out but the fact that you can freely touch them and read them is already cool
- Archives of the local parish books (at least that’s what I think those were)
- Big children and young adult wing with a pretty nice selection of books not in Finnish/Swedish for immigrant kids
- Some Welcome Office which I think is supposed to help out immigrants with some general information or something. I’m not sure. Obviously I never used it
- Plenty of public computers
- A small cafeteria
- And of course plenty of nice places to sit and read; my favorite one are these few cozy desks in the corner of the history section
The first ever book that I borrowed was Matkaopas keskiajan Suomeen (A Travel Guide to Medieval Finland) by Ilari Aalto. Which might be an odd choice but I wanted to have something about history, but not overly long or dry. This is a book that, indeed, just tells quite a bit about the life in medieval Finland; year 1400 in particular. It is mostly written from an “in-universe” perspective, that is, as if you actually were a tourist going to Finland in the year 1400. It is rather fascinating and condenses a lot of information about very different subjects pretty well, although I wish it had more specific references than just a general huge list of sources in the end. In two weeks I got through maybe 30% of it, which is not terribly fast but I’ve also been writing down some of the interesting parts, which quickly turned into “basically almost everything”.
One thing that I do not like about the libraries is their weekend hours. They work until just 15 on Saturdays, and are closed on Sundays (central library has its periodicals wing open on Sunday for a few hours). When in fact now when the winter is nearly here I have plenty of weekends when I’d gladly have spent most of the day in the library (because at home I often end up not doing much at all). There are in fact two libraries which have self service hours, meaning that you can come there on Sundays, open the door with a library card and indeed sit there through most of the day; but both are located in villages some distance from the Vaasa proper (Sundom and Vähäkyrö to be precise; the latter is particularly far). I may still try that some time, out of curiosity if nothing else.
As I mentioned before I didn’t actually have much actual vacation this year. I did have some in August anyway. My parents came over to Finland; I showed them around Ostrobothnia, mostly after work, for a week, and then we and my friend Olga went for two weeks on a big trip around North Sweden and Norway (including Abisko, Lofoten, Tromsø and Nordkapp). That was pretty great but also expensive; I took most of costs of the trip myself, which ended up something around 4000€. That’s much more than what I usually spend on any vacation and the following autumn months were somewhat rough. In general I had quite a few other expenses related to moving here to Finland and buying stuff like furniture or car (the car is financed by a loan but there’s for example stuff like winter tires), so it would be difficult for me to afford any other travels anyway.
I still did have some small ones, anyway:
- to North Ostrobothnia and Sea Lapland in early May, exploring these parts of Finland that had been completely unfamiliar to me. There are a few holidays in early May and I used a holiday and a weekend and two days of remote work from a hotel in Oulu. Turned out a very exhausting trip due to how intense and packed with stuff it was
- to Abisko for a three day hiking trip, on Midsummer holiday. I actually wrote about this one in detail
- to Oulanka and Syöte for a weekend trip in September, just for the last glimpse of the north before winter
- to St. Petersburg for a few days (taking some leave at work) in March to bring my old car there and sell it. Didn’t sell it myself, made a letter of attorney authorizing my cousin and her boyfriend to do that, which they did and that was extremely nice of them
- to Imatra for a weekend in April to pick the money (cash) from the car sale, which my friend who was in Imatra for a short trip with her husband brought to me from St. Petersburg
- to Tallinn for a weekend in June to see a friend
- to Jyväskylä for the New Year to see a friend
I probably still did a lot more weekend (two days) trips in 2015-2017 but maybe this is just my perception of it; it’s not like I actually counted. It was rather annoying to realize that while moving to Finland made me closer to Lapland (and Swedish and Norwegian Lapland too) that I love so much, but it is still pretty much out of reach for a weekend trip, except maybe the very southernmost parts of it.
In general, of course, for most of this year I was exploring my new home land, Ostrobothnia and other places in West Finland, within the radius of perhaps 250 km distance or so — that is, the comfortable distance for a day trip by car. Conveniently, West Finland had been almost entirely unexplored by me before (being both too far from Russia for a casual trip, and not epic enough for to spend a vacation there).
Some of the places I visited over the year here on day trips were:
- Local towns: Vaasa of course, Smedsby, Nykarleby, Jakobstad, Kokkola, Laihia, Seinäjoki, Kurikka, Ähtäri, Kristinestad, Kaskinen, Tampere (not that local but it’s probably bigger than all others combined)
- National parks: Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas, Lauhanvuori, Seitseminen, Salamajärvi
- Archipelagoes: trails and villages in Replot and Maxmo archipelagoes, Bergö island
- Museums and other specific points of interest: Tankar lighthouse, Kovjoki museum railroad, Ähtäri zoo, Nanoq Arctic museum, Stundars museum, Kimo ironworks, Bötomberget hill, sites of Napue and Oravais battles, site of Kvevlax plane crash…
- Various minor obscure trails: Kunileden, Levaneva trails, Prännin patikka, Iskmo-Jungsund, Nuijanpolku, Pilvilampi, Risö…
- Events: umm I can only really remember Pori housing fair. I guess I’m not much into events
That’s of course quite a few already, yet I feel there’s still so much to see and to learn. I definitely need at least one more year to get acquainted myself better with West Finland, maybe more. The funny thing is that West Finland is for the most part pretty much the most boring part of Finland. There’s more to see in the south, and the nature is far wilder in the east and in the north. Yet there’s so much to see even here.
In 2019 I of course plan to explore these lands more in the some way (maybe pay more attention to small museums and to lighthouse trips in summer in particular), and to have maybe two or three vacation trips to somewhere. One of them should be to the northeast of Lapland almost certainly, not sure about the rest. In any case it is much more convenient to explore Finland and the rest of the Nordics while living there.
Since there are just too many trips for me to write about in details, I don’t think I’ll be trying to write complete travelogues here anymore as I tried before. There’s just not enough time for that, even if I stop procrastinating completely; I haven’t even finished writing about a mid-2016 trip and a lot more others have happened since. From now on I intend to write far shorter (and more frequent) posts, mostly just one or a few pictures and some information about a specific place. I’m in fact already doing this in Russian for my Telegram channel and on D3.ru board. Maybe I’ll do travelogue-format posts about short enough trips to interesting enough places like I did with the Abisko hike in summer, but that certainly won’t be common.
In any case one thing that I need to do this winter is to buy a new camera, because I managed to drown mine on the August vacation in Lofoten. Not completely drown but it was washed over by the ocean and dragged through sand. It has been refusing to turn on ever since, and salt water and sand is probably a bad enough combination that it’s not worth even trying to repair it. It was a Nikon D5300 + 35mm lens, serving me faithfully since 2015. Well, shit happens. Apart from a new camera, I would really like to get a drone next year and to try to do some aerial photography or videos; this is something that I had wanted for years.
Well, what next? More than once I though this year “okay, now you’re in Finland and more or less set up for now. What next?”
Ultimately, I don’t really know. I’m most definitely not the sort of person that tries to make some far-reaching plans. I have some vague ideas of course.
Most definitely I want to continue to live in Finland. I love it now even more than a year ago. Maybe I love it to an unhealthy degree, honestly. I literally think it’s the absolute best country in the world, and then maybe Sweden and Norway are somewhat passable, and any other country seems like a pretty bad place at best, and an utter antiutopia at worst. I do not want to visit anything else but the Nordics. Of course I don’t think Finland is literally perfect in every regard, and I like to complain about some things (like Vaasa city buses or Finnish railways) as much as the next guy, but still it’s like with a person; recognizing the flaws doesn’t make you love them any less.
I’m however not at all sure I’ll stay in Vaasa for the rest of my life. It is a very lovely city to be sure, and I really enjoy living in a city of that (small) size. However apart from my current job there still isn’t really anything in particular that links me to Vaasa (that could change of course). And if I change jobs, it might be difficult to find something else worthwhile in Vaasa because, again, it’s a pretty small city.
I could consider moving to some other city, which could be, hmm, Kuopio, Oulu, Jyväskylä, Rovaniemi, Tampere in approximately this order of preference. Of course all of them but Rovaniemi are bigger than Vaasa. And even so the most jobs by far are in Helsinki region, and it is not unlikely that eventually I’ll be forced to move there. I’m really not sure what to think about such a perspective. Helsinki is a great city to be sure, and maybe I could actually find a more engaging job there, and it would most probably pay more too, and could be less lonely. Buuut I kind of just don’t want to. I just really enjoy living in a small city, I enjoy its atmosphere and the quality of life it can offer, with zero traffic jams, zero crowds, few problems with parking, and it always feels that the nature is very close by. I kind of also enjoy the feeling that I’m giving my taxes to Ostrobothnian/Vaasan economy; Ostrobothnia obviously needs it more than the wealthy Helsinki.
In Vaasa I still would want to move somewhere else from my current apartment, though. The expected road construction thing began in July of this year. It’s not that bad; there are some annoyances but not fatal ones. But the place now kind of lost the biggest part of its charm, which was that I saw very little but pine trees from any of my windows; the small forest patch between my building and the road has been almost entirely cut down. In fact maybe I could even move to the center; while it would mean even fewer pines, I could save money and nerve cells on commuting to work (Vaasa buses really are pretty bad and I don’t really like to drive my car every day) and perhaps it would feel a bit less isolated. That would still take a lot of money and effort, so probably I’ll be putting that off for quite some time too.
I wish to eventually have my own place, of course, but again I don’t even know where. Probably doesn’t make sense to think of it unless it ever actually looks like I could get my own family. My hobbies are also inherently expensive (and can in principle consume as much money as you can allocate to them) and I don’t really see myself both doing my hobbies and saving up for a downpayment for a house. Well, I can but that would take ages. Perhaps in one more year my situation would get a bit clearer.
I have to keep working as a programmer at least three more years, until I get permanent residence. In principle I could switch to doing something else there then. Sometimes I think that I could just drop the whole programming thing and try doing something that I would really love… but then, really loving Finland/learning stuff about Finland/travelling around Finland isn’t a real job. Maybe I could try writing some guidebooks or picture books, but that’s not really something that can be a full time job I think.
But for what it’s worth it’s been one year in the Suomen tasavalta. I’ve been an incredibly lucky person. Hopefully there will be many more years here. The End, for now.