After about 1.5 years in Vaasa, I decided to move to Helsinki.

I probably mentioned it before in some of the early posts, but Vaasa is actually a rather unusual place for an IT specialist to move to from abroad. It’s a fairly small city (although quite decent by Finnish standards), and although it has universities and some significant industry, the IT field isn’t exactly well developed there. I originally managed to get a fairly nice job, which also didn’t demand any languages other than English, by sheer accident only.

Vaasa is a great city to live in; its size is pretty much perfect in many practical aspects. However, from the very beginning I expected that I would probably move away from it eventually, unless I get some really strong local ties here; possibly a really great job (or a really great experience at the current job), or something like getting married. In 1.5 years such ties unfortunately have not materialized. So when I felt it was time to look for a new job, I looked outside Vaasa right from the start.

To be honest, at the moment I’m not sure if moving to Vaasa was such a smart idea in first place. The main issue here was feeling very isolated, once the initial novelty of living in my dream country wore off. It would have been a lot better if I moved here with a family in first place, or if I worked in a bigger and more international company, or if Vaasa wasn’t so damn far away from nearly everything and my Russian friends could visit me here more often, or if I would be a more outgoing person myself; I’m a fairly shy man. I’m of course not blaming Vaasa or anyone else; it just would have been better for me to take all these things into consideration myself. Still by the end of these 1.5 years it got really rough for me. This has been the main reason I started looking for a new job in a bigger place already. Originally I wanted to do this only at the point my Finnish (including spoken Finnish) would get more useful; while it has been getting better, and you probably could already hold some sort of a conversation with me in Finnish if you really wanted, this wouldn’t be fun for either party.

Of course, I’m not regretting anything. I lived 1.5 years in what I would consider “the real Finland”, which is an experience many work immigrants don’t really get (because I don’t believe Helsinki area is the real Finland). Moreover I lived in West Finland, which is probably the part of Finland least known internationally, and I’ve got to see and know many things about it. My blog about moving to Vaasa has also enjoyed some mild popularity; over this time I’ve got some people writing to me and asking questions, and saying they’ve actually used information from my notes to move to Finland themselves. Indeed, I believe it is one of the most detailed resources on the subject currently available in Russian at least. This has been fairly satisfying actually.

But, well, the decision was made. Originally I considered moving to Oulu. It’s a city three times bigger than Vaasa, about 300 km north of it, with a relatively developed IT industry, and also very close to my beloved Lapland; I would have been able to go on day trips to the fells of Ylläs or Pyhä-Luosto. For me personally this alone is a huge advantage. However, there still aren’t really many job openings in Oulu (there are some, unlike Vaasa, but not many), and I made a few applications (five or so) but for some reason I never got any replies to any of them. Then I thought that maybe going to Oulu is not such a great idea. It’s close to Lapland, sure, but do I really want to spend winters in this place? Winters there are much colder and darker than even in Vaasa, and they’re pretty damn dark in Vaasa already. And Oulu would be even farther from the rest of the world.

So then I decided to look for a job in Helsinki area, which is, of course, where like 90% of IT jobs in Finland are, and where probably like 90% of IT specialist immigrants settle down. In some way this felt like a personal loss; resorting to the default option, with a tail between my legs. Well, on the other hand, there’s actually a reason why all these people end up living there, and not in Vaasa or even in Oulu.

I should add that I was still only looking for a job in English. I don’t believe I would be able to land a job in Finnish at that moment. Vaikka kyllä puhun ja ymmärrän jo vähän suomea. (Being able to read Finnish fairly well also turned out to be quite useful in practice for researching information on how to arrange the move.)

Job Search

Shitty phone picture from a tiny room in a hostel in Merihaka near the center of Helsinki, where I spent a night before one of the interview days

To be honest I don’t remember well where I actually found my new job, but I believe this was on LinkedIn. There are plenty of IT jobs in Helsinki on LinkedIn, and I ended up applying to some (like 5-7) that looked interesting. Unlike Oulu, I eventually get some responses, not very soon but within a month at least.

Some companies said they weren’t interested; one invited me for an interview right away. Another one also invited me over, but I was at the moment focused on the first one, so the second one eventually did a Skype interview, and then invited me for an in-person interview anyway. Still another one had an HR person screening call with me, and then invited me over too. So in total I had three interviews in Helsinki.

Relocating for a job within Finland is, in some ways, more difficult than relocating from abroad. Of course companies are a lot more willing to talk to you, if you’re already in the country and have a valid residence permit (and mine is valid until 2022 now); but conversely, you’re expected to be able to come to interviews from across the country, and generally handle the internal relocation on your own. At least none of the companies where I was interviewed offered any help with that, or any relocation bonus. Well, to be fair relocating within Finland is not that difficult, and certainly less nerve-wracking than when you have to wait for your residence permit; it’s just that there are many possible options on how to approach that, and you’ll need to make quite a few decisions. In my case I had very limited savings and was interested in moving as cheaply as possible, and eventually I succeeded with that.

Since I had no idea how many times I would need to visit Helsinki for job interviews, I was doing these trips also as cheaply as possible. The cheapest option for long-distance travel in Finland is currenty pretty much always Onnibus buses. A one way ticket from Vaasa to Helsinki costs about 16€ if you do it at least a little bit in advance, or maybe 24€ in the last days before departure. Train ticket would be 44€ (or 22€ if bought really well in advance), and with car travel I usually use the 10 km = 1€ formula for gas, which would also mean about 40-45€ for a drive from Vaasa to Helsinki.

Of course, buses are also the slowest option. A trip on the Onnibus route F3 Helsinki-Tampere-Seinäjoki-Vaasa takes over 6 hours. The buses are quite good; with air conditioning, power sockets, Wi-Fi, toilet; and for 2€ extra you can get a seat in the front row of the second floor of the double-decker bus, with a great view of the road. I always got these. One more advantage was that I was able to work from the bus (6 hours is almost a whole work day after all) instead of taking days off. Still 6 hours in a bus seat is not particularly enjoyable, especially if you go back on the same day, which I did.

The first company ended up rejecting me after an interview. The second one was satisfied and sent me a job offer soon afterwards. The third one also was interested, but their interview was a very basic one and they wanted more interviews and/or test assignments. I ended up accepting the offer of the second company (and declining further interviews with the third company).

Fredrikinkatu 42, where my new work is, in Kamppi in central Helsinki

The job in the new company seemed to match my skills quite nicely, and the company itself belonged to the healthcare industry, which is rather cool; I would get to do, you know, something actually useful for the mankind, which isn’t really something I could say about any of my previous jobs in my life. The company is much bigger than my previous one (two orders of magnitude bigger), and a lot more international and diverse. Better paid than in Vaasa, too; although of course taxes and increased rent spendings eat a large part of the difference, my disposable income still increased by a pleasant few hundreds.

The office is located in the center of Helsinki, in Kamppi area, almost across the street from the central bus station, and in a 10 minute walk from the central train station. While I expected I would live outside Helsinki proper, it’s quite nice to work in central Helsinki at least as a first job here. So that, you know, I would actually get to see actual Helsinki, instead of some nondescript office blocks god knows where.

I actually got the call that I got the job quite soon after the interview, in a few hours on the same day. They briefly explained their offer, and said they would send the official one by email, which they did after a weekend and one more workday. I had ample time to think about it, and replied that I accepted. They asked a few personal details (including my Finnish personal number, and residence permit scans), and sent the employment contract in a few more days. And I thus got to announce my resignation at my previous work.

This went over quite calmly. Well, to be honest after the changes my company in Vaasa had been going through I wasn’t feeling I had much to do there in first place. By law, if the employment contract doesn’t specify it otherwise, an employee has to make a notice at least two weeks in advance when resigning (one month, if employed for over 5 years at the same place). I announced it three weeks in advance. This was fine; I was only asked to do it in writing (free-form).

I had used only two weeks of my vacation for the year 2019 at my old work, and thus since I was resigning they had to compensate me for three more unused vacation weeks (since I’ve been employed there for more than a year, I was entitled to 5 weeks of paid vacation). Of course at the new work there wouldn’t be any paid vacation until next year. Well, at least I made a trip to Åland and to my hometown of Yekaterinburg in May; also a short trip to North Sweden at the end of May; and also there was a one week trip to North Norway in the end of June, which ended up being on a break between jobs. I decided to tell the new company that I would be able to start work since Monday, 8.7. That meant I would need to find an apartment in the Helsinki area and move there by July.

Terminating the Rental Agreement

My old apartment building in Vetokannas area in Vaasa. My balcony is on the third floor, to the left

The original idea had been to pay rent for the old Vaasa apartment for July as well, and move my stuff in early July. However, I wasn’t too eager to pay 640€ extra, and decided to break the contract by 30.6. That meant that I had to break off the old rental agreement even before I found a new apartment, which was a bit of a leap of faith, of course.

A universal rule in Finland is that the notice period for moving out of a rental apartment is at least 1 month; if you make the notice any time in May, you can move out by 30.6., and if you make the notice in June, you can move out by 31.7. Obviously you can move out earlier if you want to, you just would need to pay the rent for the remaining month in full anyway. Luckily I got the job contract signed in late May still, so I could notify my rental company, Pikipruukki, that I move out, and wouldn’t have to pay for July. The notification in their case is made by a simple one-page form, that you have to fill and sign, and deliver to their office in person, by mail, or by email (scanned); I obviously took the latter option. In that form you need to give the bank account number to refund the security deposit. The actual refund is supposed to take place in about a month after the end of the lease; presumably by that time possible damages are supposed to be noted.

Pikipruukki responded that it was okay, that I could return the apartment keys to their office by noon 1.7. at the latest, and reminded me that I will have to clean the apartment, and to show it to possible new tenants, if any (they would give them my phone number). That last thing I had to do once, quite soon. I don’t know if those people decided to rent this apartment (they said they wanted to come one more time but never did). But my apartment never reappeared in the list of free ones on the Pikipruukki website, so maybe they actually did. (Quite a few apartments in that building are vacant now, and Pikipruukki at the moment rents those without a security deposit; presumably it’s hard to find people willing to live next to a construction site.)

Apartment Search

Leppävaara area in Espoo. Too urban for my taste 🙂

Apartmens in Helsinki area are naturally in a lot more demand and are a lot more expensive than in somewhere like Vaasa. Still they are relatively affordable (compared to Helsinki area salaries, and of course heavily depending on the particular location), and renting one is not overly difficult. It is in fact one of the major but non-obvious advantages of Finland as a place to live; so far it has avoided housing crises pretty well (as compared to for example its “western neighbor”, Sweden).

After several bus trips to Helsinki for job interviews, I wasn’t too eager to make some more such trips again for apartment search, with similarly uncertain results. However this is Helsinki we’re talking about, and there actually was a nice option for me: the online apartment store from Lumo company.

In Vaasa there were only two options for rental apartments, the municipal company named Pikipruukki (I lived in their apartment) and private renters. In the municipalities of the Helsinki area there are also municipal companies, but there are also private ones, and it is much more convenient (though possibly somewhat more expensive) to get an apartment from them. Sato and Lumo are the biggest private companies, and Lumo in particular has an online store feature. Here it is possible to rent an apartment right away by just paying online the first month rent. How cool is that?

A bit more details on how this works:

  • Not all Lumo apartments are available directly through online store, and the prices might be a bit bigger (although I’m not sure)
  • You’re required to have a clean credit record. Credit records are originally clean for all people, including immigrants; it requires actually missing some payments (invoices, loans, fines, tax arrears etc.) for quite a prolonged period of time to get a mark on your credit record. You would know if you don’t have a clean credit record
  • I’m not sure if they could rent an apartment through an online store to someone who just arrived to Finland (if you’re curious about that scenario), although they don’t mention any such requirements explicitly, and I heard one success story. I don’t remember anymore but I think you need at least bank codes for online authentication, which can be difficult to get quickly for a new immigrant
  • There is no security deposit either!
  • But you’re required to make a contract for 6 months. I’m not sure but I believe if you move away, you would have to keep paying for these months anyway. (It is also possible to make a contract for 3 months for a significantly (about 20%) bigger price)
  • Originally you just register and pay online, by card or by Finnish online bank. You will receive the lease agreement in the email, and subsequently from the second month onwards you’ll have to pay your rent with a bank transfer, as usual
  • Lumo calls you after you rent the apartment and among other things offers you to actually visit it. You can visit the apartment within 3 work days, and at that point you’re allowed to refuse it, and they supposedly would refund your first month payment in full. Note that you’re allowed to see the apartment after paying for it, but not before
  • After 6 months, unless you break the contract, it is renewed as a permanent one, with usual rules about rental contracts in force from there one (in particular, at least 1 month notice time for termination)

One more downside was that there actually weren’t that many good apartments available. I was looking for one in Espoo, and pretty quickly it came down to just one option, in Kilo area. It was an expensive apartment too, 1020€ for a 44 sq. m two-room apartment; my previous one in Vaasa was 640€ for 57 sq. m, I think, but even for Espoo and Kilo 1020€ is on the expensive side. However it was the only one in a nice area with no obvious downsides.

Kilo area in Espoo

The question of where exactly you should get an apartment in Helsinki region is of course big enough to write books about. And obviously if you want to live in the downtown (kantakaupunki), maybe not actually right in the center of Helsinki but at least within the reach of its tram network (somewhere like Pasila or, farther away, Pikku-Huopalahti), that’s going to be quite expensive. You can still do this if you really want to, but personally I really don’t see any upsides. The neighborhoods would be more cramped, there will be less greenery and more parking difficulties, there aren’t really any fancy restaurants or bars or anything in most places (if you’re into that), and the funny thing is, even if you work in Helsinki center, living farther out in Espoo/Vantaa but close to a metro or railway station can well actually allow you to get to work faster than living in Helsinki in an area where there are only buses or trams.

So I would recommend to live within a walking distance to a metro or railway station, in a nice neighborhood. Whether that would be Helsinki proper or one of its two immediate satellites, Espoo and Vantaa, is not really very important. These three municipalities (technically also Kauniainen, which is a small rich enclave of Espoo) form what is caled the capital region (pääkaupunginseutu, pk-seutu, PKS). The capital region is a continuous urban area within the limits of the Third Ring Road (Kehä III), and even stretching past it particuarly in the north. Places farther out like Kerava or Kirkkonummi are not considered to be part of the capital region.

Espoo is traditionally considered to be, very roughly, a better-off place than Vantaa or eastern Helsinki (eastern Helsinki, places like Vuosaari or Kontula, traditionally has a particularly spotted reputation, and is really just as far away from the center as Espoo is), but there are “better” and “worse” areas everywhere (and although these perceptions easily shift after you have lived in Finland for a while, it’s still good to remember that a “worse” area in Finland is still much, much better than a “better” area in most of the world). Still I was looking at Espoo, as the “default” choice. Espoo, which is located west of Helsinki, also has pretty good transport links; both a metro and a railway line (metro was opened in 2017 and its extension is still being built), and two motorways (Western and Turku Highways, Länsiväylä and Turunväylä), one of which even goes almost straight to the very Helsinki center. Unlike Vantaa, which is more inland, Espoo is also located on the sea coast which is kind of nice, even though it’s not like most people here see the sea every day, and my home is pretty far from it as well. Espoo also has own clusters of IT jobs (most notably in Keilaniemi area), so perhaps someday I wouldn’t even need to go to Helsinki for work.

It is also of course possible live outside the capital region, in places like Kirkkonummi, Kerava, Tuusula and so on. Obviously commute time and expenses is going to be long, probably over an hour, but apartments are conversely cheaper. Perceptions of these places also differ; Kirkkonummi, for example, is a “better” place and Kerava is a “worse” one. One argument that I heard about living in such a place is that it is, while obviously small and fairly boring, at least still would actually feel like its own city, instead of just an endless amorphous collection of mostly residential areas (and of course small forests and some offices and industry), which most of Espoo and Vantaa is. I briefly considered these options too, but decided not to get fancy this time.

Espoon Keskus area in Espoo

Espoo has a population of 285,000, which makes it the second most populous municipality in Finland. It is also rapidly growing and getting more diverse. Whether you consider Espoo a truly separate city from Helsinki is a matter of opinion. It is certainly an independent municipality and I would say it feels distinct from Helsinki (even the residential areas), but, like Vantaa, it doesn’t have a well-defined center. Instead there are as many as six distinct “cores”: Leppävaara, Tapiola, Matinkylä, Kivenlahti, Kauklahti and Espoon Keskus. Leppävaara, Espoon Keskus and Kauklahti are located along the railway line, and Tapiola and Matinkylä are along the metro line. Kivenlahti doesn’t have either, but will be getting metro too eventually. Espoo also includes the Northern Espoo, a fairly vast area beyond Kehä III, thinly populated with just a few neighborhoods and some actual villages and agricultural areas. A large part of Northern Espoo is also occupied by the Nuuksio National Park.

Although there is a place named Espoon Keskus (Espoo Center), it is not really the center of Espoo in most practical senses, and in fact is widely considered the least desirabe one out of the aforementioned six Espoo urban cores. Espoon Keskus is where the village of Espoo was originally located, as Espoo had been a small village for most of its existence, and began to explode only in the second half of the 20th century. Virtually the only remnant of the old village is a medieval church. The city council and some other public offices are also based in Espoon Keskus, but otherwise it’s an unremarkable place.

Apart from general accessibility by public transit and distance to the Helsinki center, it is also a good idea to take public transit zones in consideration. These have been reformed in April 2019, and now are based not on municipal boundaries (like before), but just on distance from Helsinki center. There are zones A, B, C and D, and living within A or B means you’ll need only AB tickets, rather than ABC or ABCD. Zone A is central Helsinki, and Leppävaara or Tapiola are in zone B, while Espoon Keskus is zone C and Kirkkonummi is zone D. An unlimited AB 30-day ticket costs 59.70€, while an unlimited ABC-ticket is as much as 107.50€. You can read more about the zone system here.

I could continue on, but you get the general idea: there are quite many options and variables when looking for an apartment in Helsinki area. But my search was surprisingly short, mostly because, as I said, few options from Lumo online store actually seemed attractive. I settled down on a two room apartment in Kilo. Kilo is a residential area immediately to the west of Leppävaara. There isn’t really much in Kilo, apart from two grocery stores and a health center, but it is a quiet and green and overall rather nice place. There is also a railway station, and Leppävaara is just one stop by train (or 20 minutes by foot, or 5 minutes by car), and in Leppävaara there are supermarkets, other stores, library, cinema in so on, pretty much everything in the Sello shopping center by the station. Helsinki center is only 15 minutes away by train. Kilo is within the B zone, so no need for the more expensive ABC ticket.

My new apartment building in Kilo (to the right)

The house where I got the apartment is a rather new one, built in 2014. It is a seven floors apartment building, right by the railway station (300 meters away at most). The apartment at 44 sq. m is not particularly huge, and is obviously meant for a single person or a couple without kids; there are no doors between the bedroom and the main room, and the bedroom is otherwise rather small. The kitchen area is not too big either, but there is a clothes store room, and a huge balcony, almost as big as the bedroom. In general the apartment kind of forces you to arrange furniture in a specific way (e. g. there is pretty much only one option possible for the bed and the dining table), but it’s not a bad way, and overall I found the floor plan nicer than in the Vaasa apartment; although the latter was visibly larger, it was, for example, quite difficult to figure out where to put a dining table (so I never got one in the end).

Some downsides:

  • no apartment sauna again 🙁 There is a house sauna, of course, but I’m probably not going to use it again
  • no laundry room in the house, only a drying room. I always used a laundry room in Vaasa; it was somewhat annoying to go there every time, but they had huge and fast washing machines, and everything dried out quite fast in a drying room as well. So here in Kilo I needed to buy a washing machine right away
  • ongoing roadworks outside. While nowhere as big as ones in Vaasa (where they were rebuilding a road under my windows, and this will continue on for over a year), these in particular affect the building parking lot. So although I rented a parking place (for around 20€/month), it was only since August, and before that I’d have to keep my car somewhere else. Espoo generally doesn’t allow unlimited street parking outside of detached/row house areas (it’s free but usually limited to up to 4 hours on weekdays). Thankfully there are as much as three park-and-ride parking lots around the Kilo railway station, one of which is right by my house as well. It is allowed to park there for up to a day, so I would have to move my car between them daily, which is what I’m doing for now
  • I suppose the railroad outside might be a disadvantage for some. Not for me; it’s not bad looking, I kind of like trains, and with closed windows and balcony door the noise is barely noticeable. Overall the views from the balcony (on the sixth floor) are not bad, onto the railroad, reasonably nice looking residential buildings and health station, and a patch of forest beyound these.

Some niceties that particularly weren’t present in the Vaasa apartment (many of them directly attributable to the fact that the building is quite new):

  • huge number of sockets
  • nicer looking bathroom floor and ceiling
  • the balcony is huge, you could camp there or something
  • very nice felt-like floor covering on the balcony instead of bare concrete
  • window blinds on every single window
  • somewhat nicer soundproofing (I can hear a bit neighbours from upstairs sometimes, but not anyone from the same floor or from the stairs)
  • Internet connection built in — just an Ethernet socket in the wall, no modem of any kind required
  • dishwasher in the kitchen
  • shorter walk to the parking lot
  • storage room in the same building, no need to go outside
  • front door permanently locked, uses doorphone (I don’t know if it’s an advantage as such, it’s a bit annoying to unlock it every time)

So I rented this apartment online, and the next day Lumo called me asking if I want to have a look at it, which I did. I took the final bus trip from Vaasa to Helsinki, walked all the way from the center to Kilo (12 km) to get a better feel where exactly it is, and a Lumo person opened the doors and showed me around. The previous tenant hadn’t moved out yet, so there was their stuff there, but they were at work themselves. My overall impression about the apartment was rather nice, and I confirmed that I want to rent it and don’t want to cancel.

The lease contract came in the e-mail afterwards. The apartment would be mine since 1.7. This all was happening in early June, so I had some more weeks to arrange the move without any hurry.

Moving Out

One of the very last things I got to see in Vaasa was a pride parade on 15.6., which looked quite fun

So I’ve rented a new apartment in Espoo from the 1st of July 2019, and was free to move out. Well as you remember, by that point I had already broken off the old rental agreement, so I’d have to move out by the 30th of June regardless of whether I found a new apartment 🙂

So if I ended my lease of the old apartment on the 30th of June, and moved into a new apartment on the 1st of July, this meant I would need a place to keep my furniture and other stuff temporarily. Sometimes the new apartment can be rented right away or a bit earlier than the 1th of the next month at least, but in my case the new apartment was getting free only on the 1th of July. Moreover, I had planned to do a Norway trip with a friend on 22.6-1.7; this had been planned long in advance. Originally I intended to take a vacation on these dates, and then it conveniently fell on the break between jobs. But it meant I couldn’t physically move in before the 1th of July in any case. (Without this vacation it would have been theoretically possible to move on 1.7. without any intermediate place; you are allowed to stay in the old apartment until the noon of the 1st day of the next month, so on the night of 30.6.-1.7. I could have slept in the old apartment still, and in the morning of 1.7. do the move.)

Well, one option would be to rent some storage space. This is actually possible in Helsinki area relatively cheaply. There is a company named Pelican which can rent some (small) storage space at a reasonable price. I considered this option, but ultimately I decided to ask my old boss Mattias for help. I spent my first weeks in Finland at his dad’s farm in Malax (40 km south of Vaasa) in 2017; that farm is fairly big and I asked if I could store my stuff there somewhere, and got the permission. Yay! Many thanks to Mattias and his dad for that.

Now of course the question is, how exactly I move my things to that farm, and then in July from that farm to the new apartment. There are in principle moving companies in Finland, quite a lot of them, but their services are expensive (online calculators gave me figures of over 1000€ for a move from Vaasa to Helsinki area), presumably twice more so if you need to do the move in two phases. And this move was quite unlike my original move to Finland, where I only had clothes and some books and items of sentimental value with me, and that could fit into my old car. Now I had some furniture and other things like dishes that I wasn’t especially eager to lose and have to buy again. Moving it all to Helsinki on my own car would take many trips, and the sofa in particular just wouldn’t fit in the car, even disassembled as much as possible.

Loading a trailer

Luckily there are such wonderful things in the world as trailers and vans, and in Finland you can rent either quite easily. For the move from Vaasa to the temporary storage at the Malax farm, Mattias and his dad in fact let me use their trailer for free. This was quite an adventure in itself.

The trailer was quite big (and covered), but obviously I still had to disassemble my furniture beforehand as much as possible. I had three large items of furniture: a sofa, a bed and a bookcase. The bookcase didn’t survive the move; I should have disassembled it completely, because when I tried to move it in large pieces, smaller pieces started to break off it. Oh well. The bed and the sofa were quite alright though, although parts of the sofa were very heavy and difficult to maneuver and load myself. While the trailer looked big, it still couldn’t fit all stuff in one go; but all of the smaller stuff I just brought inside my car, in three trips.

Now of course, if you have never tried to drive with a trailer, it is a fairly challenging experience. Mostly backing up with it; even if you kind of understand the general idea of how it works, it might be very difficult to make the car-trailer system move in the way it is supposed to, at least without hitting anything or killing anyone in process. Nonetheless you don’t need a special driving license to do that, or well, I suppose you do if the trailer is big enough, but the one in the picture is certainly okay.

Of course your car also needs to have a towing hook. Lucky me! I paid a few hundred euro extra for a towing hook when I bought my Duster last spring, and had to wait some weeks for it to be installed at the time, only to never actually ever use it afterwards. Now it was time for this towing hook to shine! Of course, as usual, there turned out to be some complications. Apart from attaching the trailer to the towing hook itself, which is pretty easy, you also need to attach its rear lights with a special cable. Turns out, there are two kinds of sockets for those cables, and my car had a newer one while the trailer had an older one. Luckily I was able to buy a cheap adapter from a Biltema store. Unluckily, lights still refused to work. I ended up just driving without trailer lights, very reluctantly but I had no idea what else to do; this at least shouldn’t have been that dangerous, as the trailer is significantly narrower than the car, and car’s own rear lights still were visible. Still I didn’t really enjoy the experience, and after driving with it to Vaasa, backing up to my front door (which took me like 10 minutes) and loading furniture parts into it (which was a pretty tough job, as I had to drag all of them alone, and some of them were pretty big and heavy), I left the trailer overnight close to my house, and the next day Mattias’ dad actually picked it up and brought it to his farm himself, as he apparently was going to Vaasa on that day anyway. I of course still went to the farm one more time myself to unload the trailer.

So my stuff was safely stored in Mattias’ dad’s garage at his farm, and that part of the quest was done with. I still had to live my last few days in the Vaasa apartment, so I kept a mattress, some clothes, a few dishes, a microwave and so on.

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