Work life balance is great, there’s a beautiful outdoors to enjoy all year, and the people are warm and kind, if not difficult to start with.
All that said, there’s a lot of bullshit and hot air here in this thread:
- public healthcare is great until you have something difficult to work with or non acute. Enjoy the months longs waiting times to see a dentist.
- Yes, you can get by speaking English but your kid and partner might not. The tech industry employs foreigners here but there are countless people I know and hear of who end up here outside of the tech or sciences industry and cannot get work due to the language. Furthermore, don’t expect the same opportunities provided to Finnish speakers as you won’t get half the jobs at least. I work for an IT consultancy and only about 10-20% of client roles are available to me within the company.
- Winter here is shit nowadays. It used to be cold and snowy. Now it’s just like slushy and miserable
- Not all your services will be available in English. I have English banking for example but their department is slow and difficult to work with. Same with phoning utility services etc.
- Yes the language is hard but the main problem is finding time to learn it. Trust me, you don’t want to spend your free time doing it or you’ll just work and study and not enjoy the lifestyle here.
Don’t get me wrong. I love this place but look through the marketing and try and get some real experiences before you uproot your whole life. Happy to answer more questions here or privately (email through website in my profile).
I've seen many foreigners quit because they felt like they were intentionally left out of casual conversations, but you really have to understand that speaking in a 2nd or 3rd language for just casual stuff takes a lot of mental effort and if you are already working in a field that requires that effort lowering everyone's productivity to keep you in some nonsense about lawn mowers doesn't make sense.
Finnish is hard just because it's too different from our Indo-European languages mental model.
On the other hand, Finnish is easy to pick up if you are going to study it because the written form is very close to the spoken one (even though spoken it will be more colloquial Finnish). If you learn the phonemes you will know how to pronounce words, easily, train your ears to its core minimal pairs and it will help a lot.
The grammar is logical, there are a few exceptions per case, it's just very different from Indo-European languages.
I agree that it's very obscure but I take that for Swedish with the silver lining that learning an obscure language will be, in the worst case, a good party trick.
It takes years to become conversational in a language with dedicated practice -- that's an immense amount of effort to put into a party trick for a person with a full time job and other responsibilities.
It's my own personal silver lining because I value having a surprising obscure detail about my personality to show to people. It's a thing I enjoy doing, just for the sake of fun, taking someone completely by surprise in a nice way, e.g.: I went to visit Brazil only once since I moved from there, during this trip I met a Swede who lived in Brazil for 20+ years, who runs a Swedish-Brazilian restaurant quite far from major cities and surprising him with a conversation in Swedish was a very cool experience, both for him and I.
I create a personal justification to why learning Swedish could be interesting beyond using it in the country, even more when I moved and had no idea if I was staying here for long, why would I bother to learn it if I didn't find other motivations to interest me?
Learning languages is really interesting, it even helps to restructure your thoughts. People find different drives to do things, that's mine.
And I have a job and other responsibilities.
On the whole, no one should expect to have easy conversations in 60 days, regardless of language. These are always exceptions, and are most often small talk instead of including a wide variety of subjects: Simply talking about your own interests in any depth takes some dedication, but hearing about other's interests takes more.
Years isn't on the high end: I took classes. 15-18 hours a week, with a transition to speaking practice in a nursing home (while performing some basic CNA-type work). 2 years of classes. For me, this landed me technically intermediate, but it still didn't take much to get out of my depth of knowledge. This is a pretty normal course. Some folks are faster, sure: But some are slower.
Correct - I guarantee you can generate a lot of goodwill (and possibly free drinks) from drunken Finns on the Helsinki-Stockholm booze ferries.
Edit: we've had to ask you many times not to break the site guidelines. You've continued to make a habit of breaking them. I don't want to have to ban you so would you please fix this?
I'm not going to take my time to cover all of your points, I'm not using academic terms and yes, making up my own terms to put down what it's been my experience. Indo-European languages share a lot of structure and roots, similar ways of thinking even if phrasal structure are very different between Germanic and Latin languages, the same for Slavic ones.
I choose to do with my own time whatever I prefer, card tricks have been part of it, yoyo tricks in my childhood/teens, and so on. I'm not wasting years learning Swedish because I live in this country and I'm becoming a citizen, it's been a fun endeavour that I started with the mindset that in the worst case it'd be a party trick.
This is my experience, instead of being an ass, try to improve on top of it, you help nobody.
Now please, try to behave as is expected by the rules of this forum, I try to come here to have civil conversations and not expecting this place to devolve into some other cesspool subreddit.
Greek is also very synthetic, so a little basic vocabulary goes a long way. I like the word for "waterproofing", literally "against-through-rain-making" (αδιαβροχοποίηση, a-dia-brocho-poiesi)
In fact a Finnish friend of my dad's learnt Tamil via remote from one of our poets .. to get proficient enough to translate some ancient poetry into Finnish!
But from practical point of view, these languages share common features like: vowel harmony, phonetic writing, suffixal affixation, grammatical cases. These skills transfer easily over to the next language, once you learn them with one language.
(Not all languages mentioned share all the features.)
It's true that there is practically no common vocabulary between the tree though. (Hungarian and Turkish share some small amount of words due to relatively recent Ottoman rule, but that's about it)
An Italian friend learning Turkish complained mainly about having to wait until the end of sentence (The Turkish (and Japanese) sentences are canonically Subject-Object-Verb) to understand what's going on. And imagine a native English speaker's frustration when they realize groups of words can come in any order in Latin (and Turkish, and Finnish) and it's the suffixes that make up a word's function in the sentence!
So, my point was that being exposed to a language with a different grammar is simply good mental exercise and will come in handy when learning other, seemingly separate foreign languages, regardless of the amount of people who speak it.
Yes, there are grammatical similarities, no that won't help you much at all in understanding or talking to people...
And here are some examples:
Hung. kéz (hand) = Finn. käsi, Hung. vér (blood) = Finn. veri, Hung. méz (honey) = Finn. mesi, Hung. szarv (horn) = Finn. sarvi, Hung. vaj (butter) = Finn. voi, Hung. eleven (alive) = Finn. elävä, Hung. menni (to go) = Finn. mennä, Hung. reped (to be torn) = Finn. repeää.
Then you have switches from h to k, as in Hung. hal (fish) = Finn. kala
Then you have switches from f to p, as in fej (head) = Finn. pää, Hung. fészek (nest) = Finn. pesä
Or, the letter n in Finnish is often replaced by ny in Hungarian, as in Finn. niellä (swallow) = Hung. nyelni, Finn. miniä (daughter-in-law) = Hung. meny
Hungarian and Finnish diverged 4500 years ago, and they represent the opposite spectrum of the Ugro-Finn language group. There are 9 languages in the same language group, and the middle parts of it have more in common with both languages than Hungarian with Finnish.
> Finnish is hard just because it's too different from our Indo-European languages mental model.
I'd imagine having this experience sure helps. Lots of people struggle to give up relying on mental translations to/from thoughts in their first languages.
Spoken and written/theoretical Finnish are quite different. In practice you choose from a small subset of possible suffix combinations and this choice is informed by a lot more than you would first think based on how the theory is presented.
It's not a difficult language, at all. It is actually surprisingly simple. The problem is the obscurity - there is very little interest in Finnish as a second language, and the teaching community for it is small and hasn't developed the kind of resources that imperial languages that were taught to countless millions of people during the age of empires (English, Spanish, French) have available. There's just not been a long enough history of teaching Finnish to adults and the resources are poor. My recommendations if you want to learn it:
a) constant low-level exposure to local media - local television has foreign-language films in original language with subtitles - this is super useful as a way to pick up new vocabulary you don't encounter in your everyday life, such as "get to the chopper" :P
b) this is controversial but I think the standard language model used by linguists is too strongly inspired by Latin and a very poor fit for Finnish. I find trying to learn grammar formally is counterproductive and will set you back. Instead, think of the noun suffixes as a preposition equivalent. Trying to think of them as cases will mess with your progress
c) hang around people having conversations and listen. Don't try to understand, just get comfortable with the sound of it. One of the more difficult things with agglutinative languages (languages that stick things together, very roughly speaking) is parsing out bits of words. Early on I'd sit on buses a lot and eavesdrop on random conversations just to get comfortable with the language.
d) Language courses are a poor path to fluency. I know people who spent a decade and a half on language courses and were unable to effectively communicate. If you are in a language course, try to counter its effects by at least equivalent-time exposure to random conversation
e) Music is a great in - it's way easier to remember complete phrases as song lyrics than standalone, and you can listen to an album a few times and then try dissecting a particular song's lyrics to figure out what it's all about.
f) Your primary bottleneck as a beginner is vocabulary - ignore grammar at first, just collect as much vocab as possible. The grammar is so simple and structurally regular that you'll pick up most of it from context, but that only works if you know what the hell people are talking about. Collect words everywhere you can. Read comics, read newspapers. Read medication warning labels. Read user manuals. The latter two are especially useful because they're parallel text so you have the translations right there. Don't try to keep score of how many words you know, keep score on how many word roots you recognize on an average day.
g) Try transcribing things you hear. youtube-dl a news broadcast, play it at 0.75x speed and write it all down, pausing the video if necessary. Don't bother trying to comprehend everything, just write it all down.
h) Use Finnish in boring everyday stuff - supermarket checkout, for example. This is easy low-level stuff and you'll get functional at that level very quickly. Do this way before you feel comfortable. This will give you daily active low-level practice. Use Finnish for all interactions where it doesn't have severe consequences if you're misunderstood.
i) Use media targeted at children. Story books are a great way to get lots of simple vocab in, and also a bit of culture. Go to the library, pick up a bunch of books targeted at 6-12 year olds, read them all. Repeat.
j) It may appear superficially that all the vocabulary is weird and foreign but a whole lot of it is borrowed, just borrowed a long way back. Not so useful early on but you pick up some patterns eventually. A number of phrases are word for word translations from other languages - for example "elintarvike" (food products, groceries) is a word for word translation of German "Lebensmittel". Learning German after Finnish I found a lot of familiar phrases. Going further back, you see a ton of germanic roots in everyday words like "tuoli" (chair). It's not obvious at first until you look at the Estonian version "tool", which is an earlier form of the same word. That is of course an abbreviated version of "stool"/"Stuhl" which is clearly germanic. Again, this won't help you learn new vocabulary but it may help with the feeling of "what the fuck how do they come up with this shit" that you get on first exposure to a new language group.
Expect 18-20 months before you can make sense of most things your colleagues say. Going from there to fluent communication depends entirely on how much you actively use it. It's not hard, it's just that nobody has had a century or two of experience teaching it to adults, so you have to figure out ways of making it work for you. Have faith in yourself. Once you break through the initial "this is so weird" barrier, progress is quick and very rewarding.
There is also nowadays Yle's Selkouutiset (Simple Finnish news). It's a short daily news bulletin of most important headlines read really patiently and while avoiding using any difficult words (i.e. only basic vocabulary. If complex vocabulary is needed the newscaster actually stops to explain what that word means in simpler terms.)
As a native speaker it hurts my head to listen to it for some reason when it comes on the radio. But I've heard from many Finnish as second language leaners that they find this public service resource really useful.
> b) this is controversial but I think the standard language model used by linguists is too strongly inspired by Latin and a very poor fit for Finnish. I find trying to learn grammar formally is counterproductive and will set you back. Instead, think of the noun suffixes as a preposition equivalent. Trying to think of them as cases will mess with your progress
Interesting point. This is what a lot of people learning the language tend to get overtly confused with. Perhaps your point isn't as controversial as one would think...
> j) It may appear superficially that all the vocabulary is weird and foreign but a whole lot of it is borrowed, just borrowed a long way back. Not so useful early on but you pick up some patterns eventually. A number of phrases are word for word translations from other languages - for example "elintarvike" (food products, groceries) is a word for word translation of German "Lebensmittel". Learning German after Finnish I found a lot of familiar phrases. Going further back, you see a ton of germanic roots in everyday words like "tuoli" (chair). It's not obvious at first until you look at the Estonian version "tool", which is an earlier form of the same word. That is of course an abbreviated version of "stool"/"Stuhl" which is clearly germanic. Again, this won't help you learn new vocabulary but it may help with the feeling of "what the fuck how do they come up with this shit" that you get on first exposure to a new language group.
hehe, yeah that's the second difficult part of the equation. Trouble is that we also borrow a lot from Swedish (which isn't too far from German, but still) and also Russian.
But you're right in that the word formations themselves are pretty logical (maybe this is a Germanic thing?) - for example, computer [tietokone] is literally "information machine", airplane [lentokone] is "flying machine", and my favourite example is the old word for television [näköradio] which is literally "vision radio."
As in machine learning, just throwing a bunch of training data at my brain (in the form of complete, native sentences) way outperforms building a rule-based system to the point where I just don't bother learning any rules at all.
We do that as programmers as well: we get familiar with a syntax/grammar just enough so that we could get to reading source code, learning idioms to do things such as open a file, or make a request, or use a regex. The quick tutorial + cookbook works very well in programming.
This is one reason I lean towards Stephen Krashen's work on language acquisition, and his "input hypothesis".
The way I learned every language was by consuming content that increased in complexity and variety. Patterns were acquired.
- : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Input_hypothesis
It'll be very stressful for a few months, but, in my experience, will get you conversing in about half a year.
This is not a language that shares any traits with English. It is hard to get going, and the vocabulary takes a considerable amount of time.
You can't switch to Finnish at work, as you simply would not be able to get by, and you can't do it at home as it changes the dynamics of your relationship. This is not an excuse, it's reality.
That's what I was trying to say. If you do want to learn the local language, you have to be willing and able to put up with it being pretty crappy for a few months. My experience has been that it's very hard to integrate a new language into your persona without immersing yourself in it. For most people it's not worth it if they can get by without. Completely understandable.
Now you've got me wondering if I should start thinking about how to teach Finnish to English-speaking professionals :D
Finish kids don’t need ten years to learn the language either, do they?
So I think in this context of a professional—who likely has a family—coming over to work, deanclatworthy is right.
Expats are most likely are in an English-speaking environment at work, where speaking Finnish at the level of a four-year-old is going to be a bit of a hindrance; no practice at home unless they have a Finnish partner, and no real options for social activities that will tolerate the learning curve, like children have.
And if it is anything like the Netherlands, any mistake you make will instantly and irreversibly switch the conversation back to English.
Children learn the local language, partly because of immersion, but also because they're corrected nearly constantly when they begin to speak. We forget that when they're capable of "good" communication.
I'm seeing interesting things here, I speak to the child exclusively in English and as far as he's concerned I speak/understand zero Finnish. I'm hoping I can start speaking more Finnish in the near future, he should be able to understand I'm "mostly English".
One obvious thing that really drives the language home is the notion of pronouns. Finnish has no gendered ones, so when he speaks English to me he'll be "Mummy is asleep, he will wake up soon?". I have to keep saying "Mummy is a girl, we say she". I've been doing that for 8+ months, and he still doesn't get it right. That's the level of repetition that's involved in learning a new language.. and even now it hasn't "stuck".
If you want to learn Finnish, go for it. Just don't expect it to be easy. :)
Living in a neighboring country I understand nothing of Finnish. Spanish, Italian, French — I can make some sense out of it without knowing the languages.
I must however add that I've witnessed, more than a handful of times, English speaking knowledge workers moving to Sweden who continue speaking English and only English for years and years.
It comes with a social price though. You will never quite understand all the social codes or become a part of the social fabric. At many parties and dinners I've seen the whole group having to switch to English because there's someone in the group who has lived here for five or ten years and still haven't gotten around even attempting to speak Swedish. Everyone will switch but but it will be a different night, without all the nuances we usually enjoy. In the end everyone loses.
If you plan to stay, do everything to learn the language. You will be happier person in your new country.
There is no shortcut to learning a new language - even if you're fluent in 9 languages, the 10th will still take 1000+ hours. The most efficient way appears to be a loop of listening and drilling vocabulary, particularly listening to excerpts that come with text transcription.
I always make most progress when I’m forced to use the language when I’m in the country.
I’m surprised OP isn’t fluent with the language after 10 years in the country.
One uncle has been living in France for over 40 years, but anyone can still hear he’s a foreigner, most Dutch will immediately recognize his accent as Dutch, and many can immediately pinpoint the region he grew up in. (Part of the reason is probably: he himself doesn’t care. He just talks —sometimes with hands and feet— and his interlocutors manage to pick up enough of what he says to suit him.)
An aunt used to live in Brazil for years, and never could get the hang of Brazilian Portuguese. Her son has been living in Brazil for some 15 year now, and is still not fluent in the language...
People's ability to pick up languages can be totally unrelated to their general intelligence.
That said, I _personally_ agree that immersion is the best way of learning a new language. But it still does take time, and you've got to have the opportunity.
Of course you need to learn the language of the nation that hosts you. You are an immigrant.
I'm not sure the "even" is actually appropriate here. Both Swedish and French (along with probably every other Western European Indo-European language) are among the easiest for English speakers to learn. Swedish also has a disproportionate amount of resources online due in part to immigration patterns, as I understand it.
You move to a country, you learn the language. If you don't, that's your fault and you have have to deal with it.
This is pretty much true, many people do. You can get your paperwork sorted, buy a car, a bank account, deal with the government and have a social life all in English. I have done.
But, all of the comments I'm seeing here are saying that while this is true, if you want to take the step forward into learning Finnish, it _is_ harder than other languages and that the resources around doing so as an adult are not as developed as in other languages. The fact that you don't strictly need to and that a lot of people have excellent English here anyway makes it harder, therefore active and sustained effort is needed on your part, you are not going to 'just pick it up'. If I had lived in France for as long as I have in Finland (not even a full year), then there is no question that my French would be at a much higher level than my Finnish is now.
Imo, that's just an excuse. I live in a country that has fantastic English speakers, don't even plan on staying here longer than 3 years and still took the time to learn the language (probably B2-B1 after 2 years). Sure, it's understandable that not everybody wants to do that, but it should be obvious to any foreigner that you lock yourself out of a multitude of jobs by not learning the language.
The only reason I'm saying this is because the top comment listed learning the native language as a negative, which imo it really isn't.
> If I had lived in France for as long as I have in Finland (not even a full year), then there is no question that my French would be at a much higher level than my Finnish is now.
That may be true for you, but definitely not for others. There are foreigners living in France that can barely count in the language. I've seen and heard that first hand. Some extreme example have been in the country a decade. It really depends on where you move to, where you work, who you surround yourself with, and how motivated you are.
In the US I (as a non-native speaker) was very pleasantly surprised that accents do not matter and mistakes that do not kill the meaning are universally tolerated. People would still gladly chat with you over beer, etc.
But that is not the case in some other countries: optional conversations suffer a lot if you, say miss a few conjugations.
Where do Finns stand on this?
Have seen it many times.
English seems common in the groups of immigrants you come across too. I know people who've moved from France, etc, and there are lots of immigrants from various countries - many of whom speak their own language, and English as the second. Some go on to learn Finnish to a greater or lesser extent.
I've ordered food in restaurants, cider/whisky in pubs, etc, and had the server just reply back in English.
Me: "saisinko omena cidre?"
Them: "Do you want ice?"
On the one hand it is helpful at times, but on the other hand it is deeply frustrating. 90% of the staff at the local newsagents has pulled me aside on a quiet morning and asked "Do you prefer English or Finnish?" I say "Finnish", but to be honest the conversations I have with the shop-staff are mostly them reading the total, and asking "would you like a receipt/bag/anything else?" so it doesn't help me in any real sense, but it's nice they offer/ask.
And yes, younger people know English well and will usually switch to English if you're struggling - unless they think that their English is too bad (which it usually isn't).
Alcohol is very expensive though!
I've seen a lot of whining about the high taxes here, but honestly this is not a European way of thinking. You are safe here. You have a safety net if things don't go right in your work or health.
Taxes are also super simple. You tell the tax office your predicted income, you get a percentage and give it to your employer. You don't have any other dealings with them unless you need to adjust it due to change in income, or you have some expenses to lower your tax percentage before the end of the tax year. It's highly efficient and works well.
I would happily pay 3-5x the taxes for a similar salary to emigrate, but if you offer me 1/10 the pay? That's tough. It makes me feel like there isn't a big market for my services across the pond.
It's a shame, because I love tech and I lean heavily left. But this has been the case for at least the past decade, and it shows no sign of stopping.
>Amazon/Google/etc happily pay ten times that salary
In the thread, they say Helsinki juniors start out at ~$3k/mo after taxes. In the Bay Area, let's say you are a junior at a FAANG and are getting $150k/year. This works out to $8k/mo after taxes. So the difference between a FAANG and Helsinki is more like 3x. Maybe, 4X if you account for bonuses/options. But it's not 10x.
Obviously, 3-4X is still a lot. If it's a choice between Helsinki and SF, SF wins hands down.
Problem is that most of the engineers working in the US are not working for a FAANG company in the Bay Area. If you look at what engineers are getting paid in places like Houston or Atlanta, you will find that juniors start at $60k/year, which is $4k/mo after taxes. That's very close to the reported $3k/mo rate for Helsinki.
There is this weird trend I noticed on HN. Whenever the subject of money comes up, people start casually quoting Bay Area numbers like they are representative of the industry as a whole. I don't think they are.
That junior earning $150k/yr total comp is closer to $300k in a few short years.
At that point you're getting awfully close to the OP's 10x claim (Before taxes) but of course you don't subsidized healthcare, a useable pension, decent government services, clean/safe streets, etc...
After living in the Bay Area for a decade, I would pick Helsinki over any city in the Bay. Fool me once shame on me... fool me twice, well you can't fool me again :-)
Juniors don't start at $3k/mo after taxes, it's more like $2.5k. On top of that, there's ~20% VAT vs. ~5-10% sales tax in US. On top of that, the price level in Finland is notably higher (25% pricier according to PPP conversion factor). Also, practically nobody gets stocks or options here, and any kind of bonus pay is usually insignificant. There are much fewer options to live frugally. Majority of the sectors of the economy are dominated by monopolies, duopolies and silent cartels.
As a silly example illustrating the fact - a junior software engineer in Finland can purchase 0.52 Tesla Model 3s per year for his take home pay. The same engineer in Bay Area could buy 3, maybe 4 with stocks.
Americans (and capitalist supporters -usually people without a real capital-) are fixated with raw amounts of money. It's very different from European culture, where we usually consider many other factors as quality of life first.
Also they tend to consider us as poor. I've been told several times in conversations "nobody can afford iPhones in Europe" and other nonsense like that. Hey at least I never had to worry about getting medical treatment. I can perfectly afford a stupid iPhone if I want but there are much more important factors in life than "how many gadget can you afford to buy?"
However, actually a junior would make something like ~3k€ before taxes in Helsinki, not after taxes. The taxes are (very) progressive, at that income level it's something like 27% in Finland.
In addition to the relatively small salaries, the cost of living is pretty high in the capital area. If you do move to some of the smaller cities your price-to-value ratio for living will go up way faster than trying to reach the same ratio by instead hunting for a larger salary around Helsinki.
But even then there's the purchasing power which is also relatively low everywhere. It depends on what you spend your money on, of course, but generally unless all you buy is telecommunication services everything feels pretty expensive. Moreover, the price difference to nearby countries and to the rest of the Europe is often so much higher that even if I'd very much like to support local Finnish business often there's just no way I'm going to justify that to my wallet.
While the cost of car ownership and general cost of living is high, I'd like to point out that you don't necessarily need a car if you live and work in Helsinki. Or at least you don't need two cars in the household.
A bicycle is a perfectly viable option for transport for about 8 months of the year, or at least 6 if you're afraid of the weather (or can't change clothes at work). The bike paths are excellent and safe and if your route involves going through the city center, it's by far the fastest mode of transport (you can average 20km/h easily, can't match this by car or bus in the city). Bicycling may not be quite as good as continental Europe, but it's pretty good and the city is small enough to go everywhere by bike.
The rest of the year can be covered by public transport, which is very reliable.
Unfortunately COVID has hit the public transport in many levels, but hopefully that situation will get better. On the other hand, it did bring grocery delivery everywhere so that negates another need for a car.
Once you get a family or buy a house, owning a car is basically a must. And the price tag for it in Finland is very high. 1000e a year just for mandatory car tax, mandatory yearly checkup and liability insurance. ~70% of the price of gas is taxes. Cars themselves are so expensive that Finland has one of the oldest car fleet in the developed world (12.2 years).
I see plenty of parents with small kids in public transport, those that are using strollers don't even need a ticket. I even remember one co-worker telling that when he moved to Helsinki, he tried using car once to bring his kids to school & coming to work after. He switched to metro after that one attempt and said it made things much easier.
Furniture, materials etc. are not usually things you are transporting daily (or even monthly). Personally when I needed those, I just either paid for home delivery or rented car for few hours.
I won't claim that there are no need for car (e.g. there are some routes that take a longer with public transport compared to your own car & there are ares which don't have many connections available), but it's not as critical as some people might think.
Most people in Helsinki live in apartments so construction etc is not an issue. If you can afford a house in Helsinki, car ownership is not a significant chunk of your budget.
And I have plenty of friends who do have a car for kids etc, but only one car per household. Which is not viable in many places in the world or even elsewhere in southern Finland.
Cars in Finland have not only a value-added tax (VAT) of 24% but also a separate car tax slapped on them. At the extreme cases this can result in over 100% additional tax to be paid on top of the retail price of a car.
One car household is still much more common than two cars per family.
I don’t have an angle other than “compare salaries against CoL, rather than looking at salaries alone.” I find it very interesting how the automatic assumption is that I’m arguing for or against Finland here in some sort of proxy left vs. right fight.
Edit: Also by https://www.amazon.jobs/en/location/helsinki-finland it seems that Amazon is not hiring in Helsinki. (If you actually are, maybe you should update the page?)
Obviously there aren't many of these jobs but I'd point to gaming companies like Supercell and Seriously.
But I really dislike rat-races, so I tend to avoid areas with loads of competition. The US tech market is like a bottomless money pool, and it's hard to justify putting a lot of effort into moving somewhere that would tie you to a few well-paying employers.
I like working on and learning about things that benefit the people around me! But I also like relaxing and not starving. C'est la vie: it's not perfect.
6k€/month is $86k a year. Ten times that is $860k a year, almost 1 million a year. How many years do you need to work to get to that level of salary?
Are you calculating the cost of living?
I'm not an aristocrat and I oscillate between working hard and going off into nature for random periods of time, so I'd sure like to live somewhere with a stable safety net. But for now, the US seems cheaper even with its ridiculous baseline CoL expenses. I can buy vehicles on a whim and mess with them and bum around for years on 5-10hr/week gigs even after $Nk monthly expenses, which would be difficult in the EU. And if you can pay the exorbitant health insurance rates, the medical care is actually quite good.
I do feel bad sometimes, but it's not exactly easy to change your citizenship, and the whole political situation sure isn't my fault.
Now all kind of exceptions will come out the wood works telling me how they are "easily" making 10k/mo by doing something and working for someone who they won't admit. Yes even I know someone who is (or at least was) making 10k/mo, but he was very specialized expert, actual 10x developer. Most people are making far less. 3k/mo seems like the most common salary (again before taxes) for generic tech job.
If you are in a "high scaling" tech company expect the salaries to be higher as Helsinki basically competes with places like Stockholm, Amsterdam, Berlin, etc in salaries for the skilled people to build that stuff. Still no Silicon Valley but really good if you factor in the cost of living/"free" services.
Another thing to add to the salary is that you are truly expected to only work 7.5h per day (8h minus a 30min lunch break). If you work more you will get paid for those hours. So if in SV in reality you end up working 60h work weeks you should be paid roughly 50% more when compared to the 37.5h work week here just from the hours alone. If you work on weekends then even more as those get extra multipliers in Finland.
Also things like being on the 24/7 on call rotation that I see as being advertised as "part of the job" in a lot of job adverts are actually paid time here. So basically you end being paid for the hours outside normal work hours at 50% of your salary converted to hourly salary.
As a beginning developer I made the equivalent of ~3k euro/month in Canada and worked my way up to 5k in 3 years.
With a bit of experience and luck one can then move to the US to make ~15k euro/month and pay 30% lower tax rate, at the expense of basically all functioning public institutions :)
I also know of a few developers making 10k€ / month but I have to say they're very rare to come across in this country.
With 6k salary, you would likely be taking home at most 4k. 6k translates to about 75000 yearly (lomaraha, i.e. holiday bonus, is about 50% of single month's pay). With standard deductions, your tax rate would be around 29% (that's with 19% municipal tax, it varies a bit depending where you live) & you need to add 8.40% to that for retirement & unemployment (those are required). 6000*(1-0.3745)=3753. Additional 156 if you add 1/12 of lomaraha to that.
Some additional deductions can bring the value up a bit (transport, home office etc.).
If you're a single software engineer, don't come to Helsinki. Go to SV or somewhere where they pay you mid six figures to work your ass off 16 hours a day.
But if you're either too old to find that exciting or have children, Finland is a great place to live. Just the subsidised child care itself will make it worth it. No "college funds" either.
Even the unicorn startups don’t always work you to the bone. Honestly, I see it more like many people who /want/ to do that end up in that position because they want that stuff. It makes them feel like they’re doing something with their life (usually because they have an empty life outside of work).
I mean, think about the effort it takes to get into some of these companies. You don’t do it because you’re just a regular person who wants a well paying job. You’re career oriented - your career dictates your life satisfaction. That’s why you’ll work yourself to the bone - because it’s what you wanna do. This area attracts that mentality massively.
If you're comparing 3k EUR takehome to a mid-level engineer in the bay area which is probably 15k USD (rolling in bonus + stock), that's 144k USD more per year take home.
Even for 2 kids at $24k per year ($48k total), you can cover childcare and have another ~$100k USD left over.
Compared to what, a few thousand a month PER CHILD in the US?
Also birth and all pre-natal care etc. is practically free (tens of euros per visit max).
Great startup/tech scene, close to nature, Finns are fun to hang out with.
Best experienced during the summer, but the 90 day relocation "trial" with everything organised sounds pretty good now too.
For the price of a 1 bedroom flat in Helsinki you can get a hectare of land and a 100m2+ house a bit further up north. You'll still be practically next to Helsinki by American standards =)
You can get an apartment in the (actual) city center around 50m^2 for 900-1000 of that, food expenses I'd guess are around 500 (never tracked it) and that leaves you with 1500 to enjoy on life each month.
I purchased my place after about 5 years which is 5mins by subway to the center, and I pay around the same for my mortgage as I did on rent, except I am investing in equity now. I'm also set to make a large profit when I sell this place. I'm very happy with my entry into the property market here. It's completely infeasible to do this in cities like London or any major metropolitan area in the US.
Take home pay in the US is college money, rainy day money, retirement money...
Can't really compare take home pay in a welfare state with US take home pay. It's just not possible.
Now: if you plan to retire in the US, obviously your equation would be slightly different. Paying for an education in the US, then moving to a place where salaries are set assuming people get good pensions and free education, then moving back to the US where you again need retirement money - that's the tricky equation.
So far I am not sure how easy it is to get to 4K/mo.
But my point was more about you mentioning retirement savings only for US workers. While median income earners will get very similar government pensions in both countries.
Similarly if you move there from a country with lower taxes/pensions such as the US you’d probably bring savings to compensate that you missed a number of years.
After all, these pensions based on number of years worked is often just a form of mandated savings from employers payroll taxes.
If this 4K/mo is easily achievable only if you have another pension from a more generous country, then it is not proving your point much.
My first year in Finland, i got SAD - seasonal affective disorder - and it was horrible. No amount of money or learning Finnish can address that. Oh and there's yet another downside to an ethnically homogenous society like Finland - you'll never be more than a tolerated person if you are a visible minority. Someone who's visibly different will never be a fully equal member of society.
Personally, this is why i much prefer life in the US or Canada despite all their downsides.
I'm surprised about the second point though. Outside Helsinki, sure - but in HKI I've met enough non-white people who grew up there, speak Finnish and didn't feel like that at all. I felt like the language is more important for being considered a „proper Finn”.
See this page also - https://multiculturalmeanderings.com/tag/nordic-countries/
>The 2020 OECD report about Finland criticizes that their education is unevenly distributed. In an interview with the HPR, Michaela Moua, a senior officer at the Office of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman in Finland, recognizes racially motivated guidance in schools, especially in the Finnish as Second Language studies: “Black and Brown students are often advised to take these classes even if Finnish is their first language.”
>She adds that “this shows how it is still widely thought that one cannot be a person of color and Finnish at the same time.”
At the heart of the problem is that Finnish identity overlaps significantly with Finnish ethnicity. So yes, i think your anecdotes are the exception, not the norm.
Months long waiting times for a dentist? I'm not sure if that qualify their public healthcare as great. In a months time your dental issue might actually become acute.
A good rule of thumb is to have a CT scan every year for early detection. I have been doing it for the last 5 years and boy it did save me from lots of pain. Lots of cavities are hiding unseen and with no pain.
Brush your teeth, visit your dentist. Yes some might do an x-ray for hard to see areas. But this is not rocket science
Actually, in some places you have to pay a premium for your insurance/social security if you don't visit the dentist at least twice a year.
These control visits qualify as non-acute, and they greatly reduce the amount of acute dental issues you might have.
Granted, this is another Finnish city, not Helsinki.
Months? What? Why? We have universal health care but the dentist is just days away... if you have pain, usually 1-2 day, or immediate extraction. I live in Eastern Europe.
Most employers offer private healthcare and even if you buy the insurance yourself its inexpensive. I also disagree that difficult cases aren't dealt with properly on the public side, in my experience it's been the opposite: simple cases are ignored, but serious ones are taken care of properly.
There's plenty of English language daycares and plenty of non IT jobs for non-Finnish speakers in both smaller companies and medium sized ones as well. IT consultancies are a different story.
Winter is no worse than in mainland Europe or Britain and if you go a bit inland, you see a lot more snow.
If you use a big bank like Nordea then you get great English service, at least in my experience, same goes for other services.
I grew up in Finland and wanted desperately to get away when I finished high school, but having lived in the UK, Germany and Russia and spent some time in the US, my views have changed.
An aside, if anyone reading this is interested in relocating here as a developer, we at Toughbyte can help. Here's a blog post we wrote on the topic:
Finally all our open positions in Helsinki can be found here:
"Hello, thank you, goodbye, yes, no, sorry, I don't speak Finnish, English?" is probably ok for everyday life, if you don't care about not fitting in.
And even that might not be necessary, most of the time you know what might be asked. E.g. if your getting groceries then pretty much every answer is going to be no from you. Just a head sign and a smile will work fine. Or just go to the self-checkout.
For administrative stuff, Google Trad (or similar) is often good enough. Especially nowadays where most things are online. For critical stuff (hospital, ...), they'll find someone that speaks English.
Funnily enough, it's the stuff like getting an haircut, going to the garage and other non-critical but non-automated/common tasks which are the most difficult. You start to dread those situations because you cannot make by with just smiles and yes/no.
If you need immediate service, you get to a fast track queue and can get free dentist care on the same day. If it's non-acute, you can go to a private clinic which is highly subsidized but does costs some money. But nothing like in the US.
> And is the wait similar for major things like cancer, brain tutor, or heart surgery
If you have serious acute illness, you will not be stuck in a queue. Such a situation would probably be grounds to a lawsuit.
There are sometimes investigative journalism of malpractice cases in the media, but that happens on the private sector too. Yes, many people are often frustrated when they have to wait for their non-acute check up times, but "people dying in queues" as something that would be normal here in Helsinki is a total myth.
The point is, it's absolutely not true that health care in Finland or the rest of Scandinavia is anywhere near as good as popularly imagined by Americans or even by many Scandinavians themselves. Anyone who moves to Scandinavia thinking the high taxes will give complete access to instant top notch treatment in case of cancer or many other conditions will have been straight up misled and deceived.
Pointing that out doesn't imply thinking US health care is preferable or better - I certainly don't.
If you want top notch anything, it's pretty obvious that the privilege is accessible only to billionaires. There's no roof on how much money you can spend on any service. The point of the public health care system is that a basic level of care is guaranteed to everyone, not to provide the most opulent service that money can buy.
The healthcare system here is pretty comparable to the other Nordic countries, although there are some differences. The quality of care depends a lot on your particular health issues and the place you live, though.
As someone who has experience both the US system and a universal system, there are things you get in the US system (if you have insurance) that you won't get in other systems.
Can you elaborate?
Never heard of anyone dying waiting for public treatment here in Finland. If you have some life threatening issue you will get treatment right away.
I would say the only one coming anywhere close to that here is the somewhat bad access to mental healthcare that can end up in suicide if left untreated. But based on the amount of homeless people with severe mental illness on the streets of America I don't think things are better there (though beating USA in health care is a really low bar)
Yes if you have some non-urgent problem you might have to wait a few months in the public health care (if you have the money/insurance you can go to the private sector)
Also, just as a sidenote, if you have no income other than governmental income support, Kela will pay these fees. So it is free for those who do not have the income to pay for it.
So, if your condition won't get worse in a few weeks/months, you wait, and get the free healthcare when they have time (within some legal limits). They'll be too busy working on the more acute cases while you're waiting.
You can certainly pay for your own dentist visits. I do - not because the waiting lines (I could just book my annual check at the same time each year and get the visit roughly annually) - but because I trust my dentist, and I want the same person to do my teeth each time. Most people do, I think, because public dentistry services weren't included for adults for decades until 2000's or so. So, you would get public dentists till you're 18 and then pay for your private dentist after that. That actually worked pretty well in its time but now that everyone is allowed public dentist visits there are queues.
You can pay to see a medical doctor as well. There's a large number of private medical clinics that will take you in the very same day. Some people use their own money to buy that service but most commonly people use these via their employer's healthcare benefit or via private insurance. For example, if you have kids you can buy them a private insurance for 150-200€ per kid per year and should they acutely need a doctor you can just take them to any private clinic instead of waiting in the emergency reception in a public healthcare center or hospital. But if it's something really acute you'd be taken in anyway, so many people will just use the public service.
For serious illness or acute accident that needs hospitalization, the public health care is excellent and fast. And it won't bankrupt you, even for the most demanding medical care (usually you pay small flat fee for every day you're hospitalized).
For non-urgent doctor's visits and routine dental care, not so much. Wait times can be long and the system can be quite frustrating. It's a bit better for children.
Most employers in tech sector (and most white collar work, even some blue collar work) will have additional health care benefits that will get you your doctor's or dentist's appointment faster from a private health care provider. You can get insurance or pay out of pocket too.
There is absolutely no issue if your issue is acute or serious with the public healthcare. But as mentioned, if your issue is complicated (e.g. i have an undiagnosed hip issue for a year) it takes ages to get scans and such.
The major thing beyond that perception though is you get a ton of doctors offices who work like mills, they try to get as many patients as possible through each day as possible. Even 'family doctors' as a opposed to 'walk-in clinics' where you don't need to be a 'member' with a specific doctor.
It's because in Canada the get paid for 15 minute (or optionally 30min) chunks regardless if they saw you for 2minutes or 15 minutes. So there's always this underlying pressure to get you out the door.
You have to learn to really pressure them to take your conditions seriously and take them time to review your condition.
Don't get me wrong though, I'm otherwise a die hard capitalist for most areas and still think that public health insurance (not hospitals or doctors) is the moral and better choice. Healthcare insurance lacks many benefits of a market and places like the US meddle with them to death anyway where they aren't true markets, so they might as well be public. Just like prisons, some things should be run by the state, just very few things.
That doesn't match my experience. Several of my classmates who went to major Canadian medical schools also had offers from "top" US schools but stayed in Canada because the quality of education is good and they didn't want to pay $300k+ for their degree. Maybe there's certain top specialists that can only be found at Hopkins or Mayo in the US, but that's not where most Americans are going (even within the 1%).
The doctors I've seen in Canada are equally competent to the American ones in my experience (at "good" but not "world-class" clinics), but I will concede that the American ones take more time with their patients and seem more aggressive with testing and treatment.
Then I moved to CA and got health insurance from work, using UCLA health as my main network.
It's the exact same. I go to see my PCP and she's literally trying to just go through lists of things, is routinely late, and response to 90% of issues is a recommendation to go to another doctor.
Literally the exact same experience.
Cancer etc - yes, you get fast tracked on the public health care system.
AFAIK, that's illegal. Your employer might not cover everything, but your employer cannot dictate what service you can use. I've seen this before where my employer said "we have health care, but you are not allowed to use it". I later on learned that that's totally illegal, they just wanted to cut costs by hoping that people would comply.
Cancer treatment, etc, there will be a waiting list as well on public sector. Wait time depend on the severity and where you live.
If you get in a car accident, have a stroke, drug overdose or get cancer, you get almost free world class treatment in the public hospital urgently.
If you hurt your knee while playing tennis but it doesn't prevent you from working and living a normal life (but you can't play tennis with it), you go on the low priority surgery waiting list for public health care or get it faster from private sector via insurance or paying out of pocket.
Does this make sense?
Even if you don't use the public health care it's there for everyone as a safety net in case something is not covered by your employer or insurance, you are between jobs etc.
What is your level of Finnish now, and how did that progress over the time you've been there?
Is English your first and only other language?
I can get by in restaurants and supermarkets but I stopped studying a year or two after moving here as I realised very quickly that I was spending my day's at work and my free time studying. If I had not done this, I would have definitely moved back home as I wouldn't have had time to appreciate the things I enjoy in life here.
The government here doesn't do enough unless you're unemployed to get you to learn the language. The courses at university are hard to get into and in demand and there's not intensive courses shaped around the realistic work/life schedule of technology professionals.
I don't know a single person who has learnt the language here to the point where they can use it professionally, who hasn't either a) studied intensively or b) been forced to learn it as part of being a student or c) had no choice (ended up outside of Helsinki in a place where English-language skills aren't as high).
Sounds like a market ripe for disruption :) "Finnish for Tech Professionals"
I will say though that my dentist is very busy, and unless you're on a waitlist for cancellations they are basically booked solid 6 months out with all the routine cleanings and checkups. If you're lucky you might be able to get in for non-emergent stuff within a month but most likely you're going to wait 2-3 months to get a call of "we can see you in 45 minutes if you can make it in, I need an answer now because there are 6 other people to call on the waitlist."
If I really have a serious injury or a life threatening emergency, I am confident I will get good care. But I would also be dreading the bill and whether I went to the right hospital in my network etc.
Which country is this? This certainly isn't the America I live in.
Public dental care sucks. For regular checkups and maintenance, go for a private clinic. Yearly checkups, cleaning, occasional minor patching cost me around 200-300 € (edit: if you shop around you can likely find cheaper; I didn't), and I've been much more happier with the whole process. Never got that "we haven't opened our next year's calendar yet, try calling us again in 3 months" from them I got used to at the public side.
For something more expensive, go to a private clinic for diagnosis and get a referral to a specialist at the public side (never had to, but I hear it works).
In Australia they were charging me 7k AUD for wisdom teeth extraction, and they wanted to take me to a hospital to do general anaesthesia... nuts!
In Germany the cleaning procedures were super basic and the doctors were not very careful.
Beyond being very expensive, the dentists are scared of doing certain procedures. I wonder if it's due to liability, improper education, or something else.
Unfortunately many countries still don't treat dentistry as a vital part of your healthcare.
They said it was some sort of strict cultural thing. Everyone wakes up early and you got to get used to that early schedule. And I've been a life long night-hawk.
Not talking just about bars either. I have multiple 24/7 convince stores and gas stations near by. And Uber Eats shows quite a few options at 1am on week nights.
That said, there's no issue in Helsinki. Big shops and malls are open until 8-10, some smaller shops might close around 18 but they have to go home to feed their families.
The 24/7 lifestyle might be convenient, but I've never thought I might need it.
So yes it would be infinitely boring for someone like me to live in a city like that, it's a deal-breaker.
Other stores close 9pm. Bars are open till 2am, night clubs 4 or 5am. Some places stay open but they can’t serve alcohol in the morning hours. Getting food after 12am is trickier but there are restaurants that are open until 4am.
And it’s dark. And people on average go to work early and clock out early. And definitely not new york or berlin nightlife wise.
Talking about helsinki here pre covid regulations.
Edit: reading other comment, it’s true most speciality stores which only have one set of employees close 6-8pm. Larger chains are open till 9pm
Some friends of mine who moved for work to different European countries told me their companies would just provide language courses if the number of 'imported' workers were high enough. Is that not a thing in Finland? Seems like it'd be prudent for them, after spending money to get you to come over, to also give you a reason to stay with some anchoring language learning.
- Work in tech, the company is as international as any back in London, just with a higher margin of Finnish people. Total compensation (take home / benefits / holiday) is pretty much comparable to places I worked in London. I’m
not a web developer.
- Not had to use healthcare luckily apart from paying for a COVID test so I could shorten the isolation period on my last trip back. It would cost you more to be ill here - prescription prices for one are higher than in the UK. It feels like a public insurance system and not a National Health Service. NHS has waiting times and I’m sure they do here. Private sector is more established.
- If I earned a couple of 10s of thousand euros either way (higher or lower) then UK taxes would definitely be cheaper but tbh as a portion of my salary it seems about the same. The high taxes manifest themselves as the ‘built in’ price for pretty much everything. Bell peppers (paprikas) are something like 3 times the price as the UK. Neither country grows them at any meaningful scale (crappy example I know)
- The country is effectively an island on the edge of Europe (Finland, not the UK). It has a small population so there isn’t really an economy of scale - this also makes things more expensive.
- Language is a pain. I went to a class to study the basics, and make an effort to pick things up. I can order coffee and beer in Finnish but a lot of the time they switch back to English. I can get the gist of a lot of conversations. Most of my friendship group are friends of my wife or other foreigners. Tbh most of my good friends in London weren’t British so that’s the same.
- Immigration isn’t really on the same scale as London. Yeah as a proportion it’s probably higher but it is a small number of people.
- Education is free in both (student loans in the U.K. are just a tax under a different name. It’s not a loan. I was also paid to do my PhD back there) But here you could choose to study a(nother) masters degree at any point in your life for basically free which would be very expensive in the UK.
- I’m writing all this from my perspective as someone who had a job lined up before arriving. If you are thinking of starting a new life here and you’re not highly employable but have bought in to the American hype about it being a land where the state will provide everything for you then you’ll get a rude awakening. Even as a (not any more) EU citizen I had to provide proof of income to fully register here which ironically the UK never required from EU citizens.
- I had to drive 20km to find a good curry last weekend.
However, if you enjoy family life I would say Finland and Helsinki area are really great places to raise your children. If you enjoy getting rich as an elite programmer, maybe SV would be a better match.
I think part of it is cultural too, and if you are a sort of honest type who enjoys actually working socialism I think you'll find the way of life easier to adapt. Learning Finnish as an adult is difficult (especially if your SO is not a Finn) but certainly in Helsinki area there are a lot of companies that have only-English speaking employees. Really good tech-workers will always find a job if they can just bother applying hard enough. IT-consultancies here seem to attract most of the tech-talent.
Unless you're in a financial hardship, you could pay about 100€-200€ for a private dentist in Helsinki.
Living 10 years in a country and not learning the language is not only stupid. It is borderline creepy. I guess many locals end up seeing you as somebody who has an active dis-interest in their culture. No wonder you have trouble making friends!
— top schools (Aalto U. produces incredibly talented engineers)
— startup friendly ecosystem (cheap rents, cheap internet)
— Finnish work culture (direct, no nonsense, hard working but balanced)
— fantastic food and beverage scene in downtown Helsinki
My wife is originally from Finland but we live in SF now, but as soon as COVID is over we'll all go back to Helsinki so I can start Webflow's first EU office there. Hope this program stays around for that!
- There are good schools and people, but don't expect the density of top people to be anything close to SF. Finding friends to talk shop with requires active engagement.
- Every European country is trying to promote itself as startup friendly, and what you are seeing from a distance is being heavily curated by government funded marketing efforts. I recently declined to take part in an marketing video because I cannot in good faith suggest people leave SF/US unless it is for ideological reasons. Expect your company L's valuation to be 1/10th of what the would be back in the US. Expect to make up the private investment shortfall with hugely distracting public funding, both in terms of wasted time applying/reporting and tangental product development. Labour laws will require you to have a _at_least_ extra 3 months of runway on hand so that you can give the mandatory notice periods.
-Nordic work culture gets really old really quickly if you're a high achiever type.
- Nightlife is just one of those things America does bigger and better
- Finally, and this is admittedly tongue in cheek, expect to be taxed to hell and back on all things fun unless it involves making babies.
Anyone planning a move to Europe as an entrepreneur, please take time to talk to people and understand the downsides. It's still okay to move for ideological reasons or if europe offers a better environment than your home country. But understand a lot of what you are seeing is being promoted by marketing departments, not entrepreneurs.
> - There are good schools and people, but don't expect the density of top people to be anything close to SF. Finding friends to talk shop with requires active engagement.
This is true in terms of density, but if you do put in a bit of effort, you can find lots of hardcore skilled people to talk shop with. Depends on your speciality but lots of good devs in Helsinki, across web/mobile dev, embedded, game dev, machine learning (check out papers coming out of Nvidia Helsinki office), audio and graphics dev (great demoscene legacy), also more exotic fields like quantum physics or SAR satellite tech.. In fact you can find experts in most fields to hang out with
> - Every European country is trying to promote itself as startup friendly, and what you are seeing from a distance is being heavily curated by government funded marketing efforts. I recently declined to take part in an marketing video because I cannot in good faith suggest people leave SF/US unless it is for ideological reasons. Expect your company L's valuation to be 1/10th of what the would be back in the US. Expect to make up the private investment shortfall with hugely distracting public funding, both in terms of wasted time applying/reporting and tangental product development. Labour laws will require you to have a _at_least_ extra 3 months of runway on hand so that you can give the mandatory notice periods.
There is some truth to this (though I would say early stage valuations are perhaps half, not 10%), but there is nothing fundamental stopping you from building a global company in the Nordics, there are many examples of this - Skype, Spotify, Supercell etc. Also I think there is more and more VC money available, also from US VCs, to Nordic companies - they are seeing the high quality of startups and attracted by the non-inflated valuations. If anything, I would say that as an employer, reasonable engineering salaries and somewhat less competition for talent is in your favour vs SF.
1. some of the cities here are walkable and cyclable. can't say the same about SF.
2. my kid goes to a free kindergarten and it's been fantastic
3. healthcare doesn't revolve around money, and again, great experience with the public sector, including my wife giving birth here. it's a breath of fresh air when you understand that money is not really a factor when it comes to diagnosing and treating you.
I don’t even ride a bike, but most of my friends do.
Why do you think SF isn’t walkable/bikable?
In the scheme of things though, once you've incorporated and put yourself on payroll, health insurance becomes just a cost of doing business. If you're the type that thinks purely think in terms of maximizing lifetime earnings, or even lifetime impact, free health care won't make a dent in that. If that happens to be your thinking and you can afford SF or the bay, you're better off staying where you can maximize your income and impact.
That's highly debatable, I'm European and lived in SF/LA for a while, night life over there always felt "fake" (I don't know how to explain it better but i know many people in my circles felt the same) compared to my experience in Europe, it was like being in a parody of an American feel good movie. So I guess it's very dependent on where you come from and what you grew up with.
People generally work hard but smart, tell you how it is to your face and are generally honest, kind and sincere.
And welcome to Helsinki, I think Webflow will do great there! Love the platform.
24% VAT (sales tax)
18% employer payroll taxes
10% employee payroll taxes
20-30% typical income tax
Take your American disposable income and cut it in half.
Still worth it for 'free' education and 'free' healthcare?
Also a lot of cold and darkness.
What matters is what the taxes give you. A lot of American taxes don’t give people much of anything. Maintaining the worlds largest prison population is expensive but what exactly does that give the Average American? Worlds largest military also sucks up tax dollars but don’t give any benefits back. Finnish taxes give you education, health care, child care, sick leave, vacation, job retraining, great public transport and many other thing directly improving your quality of life.
Now in a post cold war with the growing isolationist tendencies of Americans, this may require most of the world, namely western europe to start paying for their own physical security.
If I was an American, I wouldn't want to be footing the bill for Global Security either.
Forty years ago the world was not too different - the USSR and East Germany existed and China was not so strong, but the shape of the rest of it was otherwise broadly similar. There are very few countries that were prosperous and peaceful and lightly-armed in 1980 that are bad choices today.
I think if you transact in dollars or any economy on Earth, you probably do.
It is way too generous towards the USA to describe its military as "Global Security". The U.S. military main job overseas consists in defending north-american economic interests by military means. If this implies overthrowing democratic governments or supporting dictatorships, or the inverse, so be it. It is more a like a mafia (that protects the economic interests of the people who support them) than a police force (that is supposed to protect everybody).
There is a deep and nuanced conversation to be had here, though I will say fourstar already made one important point very succinctly. 
I will point out that it has been the position of the American people since WWII that we are happy to foot the bill for global security. So while you might not feel that way, Americans feel differently. I'll give a bit of background on how that came to be.
While Hitler was cutting through Europe there was a extensive internal debate in the US whether just focusing on defending the Pacific would be sufficient. During the time leading up the Battle of Britain, we decided the US view of security needed to be global-- if Hitler overran Britain the threat was just too large. It would turn out that the Brits won one of the most significant military victories in history , but prior that fact emerging American policy had come to the firm conclusion that we had to defend east as well as west. The Brits handled it, but it was tough to know that at the time.
Since WWII we have not really reevaluated this policy. Some in the US believe it is time to do so and the current election will decide much of this. But in the last 10 years we have witnessed the biggest land grab in Europe since World War II , so now might not be the time to dissolve the world order.
This may be more detail than you were expecting, but I hope you found it interesting. The world is a much more fragile place that I wish and at the end of the day we all need to chip in for global security.
Finland incidentally was a key ally for Hitler in his attack on the USSR.
The US footed a lot of the material costs needed for Europe and the USSR to stay in the fight via lend lease. To the tune of about $575 billion inflation adjusted, and 22% of that going directly to the USSR. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lend-Lease
So, the USSR played a significant role, but where far less effective than your suggesting.
Where did you get this from? According to Wikipedia, and most other sources, 70-80% of German military casualties were on the Eastern Front.
>The US footed a lot of the material costs needed for Europe and the USSR to stay in the fight...
More than 80% of the aid to USSR was delivered after the Battle of Stalingrad was won by the USSR, and the outcome of the war was pretty much settled.
>the USSR played a significant role
...far greater than what you are suggesting.
On the other hand if you look at losses as the capacity to make war then things are different. As a land war the German navy for instance was largely uninvolved so you need to consider how many tanks was a battleship worth. How critical was a lost factory or oil field etc. And in that context while Germany gained some men from their invasion of the USSR* a major goal was the acquisition of oil in the caucuses, because having been cut off from other sources they would have likely lost with or without the invasion.
In the end it was the loss of aircraft factories more than aircraft that really cost them the air war. While we think of WWII as a modern war, Germany used 2.75 million horses in WWII. Fuel, raw materials, and industrial capacity for engines where tight.
*~230,000 of the deaths on the eastern front where originally from the USSR but fighting for the Germans.
The French resistance was again almost completely useless in terms of killing German soldiers. However, they had a more meaningful impact on German military effectiveness as demonstrated by deployment of forces.
To be clear, I am in no way debating the casualty figures, but winning a war isn’t just about running out of people. Militaries trade off between different types of resources.
If you think WWII was settled in February of '43 then that says all we need to know regarding your credibility on this matter. I only mean to be as harsh as is necessary, but it is crazy to be as cavalier as you are being regarding the history of a war where so many lives were lost.
It is extremely callous to Finland to put it that way!
The USSR attacked Finland while Germany and the USSR were allies against Poland. Understandably, Finland defended itself from this attack and entered into a defensive war with the USSR. Two years later, while this war was still going on, Germany attacked its ally the USSR. Thus Germany and Finland became allies by accident, because they were both fighting the same country. As the Russians started defeating Germany, the Finns expelled the (very few) German troops that they had allowed into their territory, who had to escape to Norway (still occupied by Germany) through the north.
Finnish leaders actually served time in prison after the war for their war crimes. I am sympathetic to Finlands position but to say the Winter War never ended is an absurd falsehood. An entire book was written about the period between the wars by AF Upton. Finland In Crisis. It is superb. It details extensive deliberate planning at the highest levels between Finland and Germany for months prior to Germany turning on its then ally USSR.
(Here’s a quiz for you. If it was only a few German troops in Finland who quickly left, why is it they burned so much of the north and center of the country e.g. Rovaneimi on their way out and why did Finland have to fight them to get them to leave? They were dug in in bases supplied by Finland.)
Part of the reason I clicked into this thread is if I have been fasicnated with Finland, especially the last 12 months or so, so you caught me at a time when I have Finnish history particularly close to my memory :) I am reading a book by the same author AF Upton presently on the Finnish "revolution" (peaceful) and civil war. I read a winter war book at the start, also good. That's all my Finland knowledge, beyond wikipedia.
I don't blame you for defending Finland, it is a wonderful country, one of my favorites. I don't think of them mainly as German collaborators or anything. They did have to defend themselves against some pretty terrible USSR behaviour. Cheers.
PS Do you watch any Aki Kaurismaki? Great Finnish filmmaker, lives in Portugal these days.
"more than 400,000 vehicles, 14,000 aircraft, 13,000 battle tanks, gasoline and explosives, and thousands of radio sets and motorcycles, as well as food, blankets, machine tools, factory equipment, and boots. The U.S. had provided 55% of the aluminum and 80% of the copper used by the Soviets."
fourstar isn't denying that. Yet the sacrifice of the USSR did not entitle them to hegemony over the free world. Instead it merely saved them and us.
This comment is unrelated to the discussion you are replying to, but I'll give it a brief response. First, all you need to know about whether the Soviet efforts in WW2 and the American efforts in WW2 were better for Europe is to consider the outcomes of East and West Germany. Second, I have serious doubts whether the USSR alone could have prevailed against Germany and Japan. But as to whether the US and the UK could have, you need only ask Oppenheimer.
Key ally how? Beyond diverting troops from the southern front to the finnish theater, how did finland contribute to the german war effort?
You also seem to forget that then leader marshall mannerheim refused to advance on key cities in the north, such as st. petersburg and petroskoi even though hitler was quite insistent.
Also, East Karelia as an area was Finland's strategic target. Finland hoped to regain what the Soviets stole and to have a buffer in place for the next Soviet attack. Many Finnish people recognize the saying "If the enemy does not come from the East, they have taken a detour", a reflection upon historical facts.
As for Leningrad, Finland didn't really care about Leningrad, but Finland had to do something to keep Germany happy. According to Kastari, Finland made strategic errors in the East Karelia war effort, however it seems that Finland's aim was actually to get as short a border with the least effort . Hence the siege ring which didn't really go anywhere nor do attacks against Leningrad.
 Kastari: Suomen armeijan toiminta Karjalan linnoitusaluetta vastaan syyskuussa 1941. MPKK, 2019
And I agree that their involvement in the Siege of Leningrad amounted to a blocking force, but mother of god, that blocking force contributed to an absolutely horrific existence for the civilians inside the city.
One could maybe argue that if the Finns didn't help the Nazi's the Nazi's would have been enable to lay siege to Leningrad anyways, but the Finns are definitely tainted by their involvement.
I'm not sure though what Finland could have done otherwise; if they had not been where they were, Leningrad would have received shelling from all sides, and like you say, the city would have been under siege anyway - possibly with worse consequences, since the Lake Ladoga route would've likely been cut then as well.
Actively resisting the Germans in their aspirations was not feasible, as Finland needed the German military muscle to repel Soviets then and in the years to come.
So, Finland could not not be there, and if Finland had not been passive, then the only option available would have been to actively contribute to the siege and fire at an innocent civilian population. I'm not saying the decision to avoid this was because of moral or ethical concerns; the reason was probably more mundanely a lack of material. Artillery shells and bullets were best reserved for soldiers and not starving civilians in a strategically uninteresting city.
A side note about the "Nazi alignment": if that taints Finns, then it should, strangely enough, taint Russians as well; even the Soviets aligned with Nazi Germany. The secret clause of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact divided Europe to Soviet and German spheres of influence. Then, soon after the pact was signed, Poland took the first hit in 1939 with attacks by both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. And weirdly enough there was even a joint Nazi-Soviet military parade in Brest-Litovsk.
And yes, there is plenty of Nazi "taint" to go around that was pretty quickly forgotten/forgiven after WW2. The Russians are definitely the big ones, but also the Finns, the Hungarians, the Romanians, and of course the Italians.
Note I didn't say the whole DoD budget is a waste, but a huge portion of it is only justified by politics cosplaying defense.
The classic reference is Steve Blank's "Secret History of Silicon Valley": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTC_RxWN_xo
SpaceX is the direct result of a South African who studied in Canada and came to the US because that's what he wanted to do. The idea that the US "military ecosystem" could claim "direct" responsibility for what Elon has achieved is an insult to him.
Why do you think Elon Musk chose to start SpaceX in the US?
Should we ask the founder in South Africa who was able to recruit the right technical talent and hold a majority share of a private rocket/satellite company while remaining in South Africa?
Exactly my point. If you want to start a company as ambitious as SpaceX, the US is the only place to do it. If you do it somewhere else, you incur serious risk of getting a large chunk of the company seized/taxed, even if you are successful.
I thought nukes and MAD did that.
- Health and Human Services: 1,215 Trillion(27%)
- Social Security: 1,101 Trillion (25%)
- Department of Defense: 658 Billion (14.7%)
You want to roll in the entire Department of Energy budget?
You want to roll in the entire Department of Homeland Security budget? So airport security is now defense spending?
You want to roll in the entire USAID budget?
I mean, if you're going to do this, do it for other countries as well. Then the US spending won't seem all that out of line.
The DoE budget is almost 3/4 defense related (25B/35B )
DHS is far more than TSA, which is only 16% of its budget.
I wouldn't have rolled the entire USAID budget in, but it's disingenuous to not include peacekeeping operations and military aid, which are a big part of it.
Regardless, even with adjustments you've pointed out, the number is well over $1t, which is almost double the disingenuous number that GP threw out.
First link from google: https://chomsky.info/20050601/
Very startup friendly as well and excellent food.
The tropical weather takes a bit of getting used to, though. I much prefer gloomy European skies.
Have to agree on the tropical weather front. As someone who has lived in Australia close to my whole life you would expect I'd be used to heat, but it's the humidity that kills me. Australian heat is like being on a frying pan, Singapore heat is like being in an oven.
Expats can still rent HDB. Just can't buy subsidized HDB.
If you have kids here and want to use the local schools, I would suggest getting PR or citizenship perhaps.
I've paid out of pocket for medical expenses recently. Wasn't that bad overall, and all fairly transparent up front. But am back on company provided insurance now. With gold plated insurance, my raw medical costs are sure to go up, since I don't care about keeping them low anymore.
With any kind of experience, salaries quickly ramp up. For example, I know an unremarkable Facebook E6 with 550k SGD (~ 408k USD) total yearly comp. You can also work in the tech department of finance companies, like Goldman Sachs or some funds.
Take home pay is about 80% of gross. There's no capital gains tax.
(We are looking for someone to take over our lease by the way, as we are moving into a bigger place.)
In the last few years I usually paid out of pocket for any medical treatments.
In many ways it's very different though - while the taxes are lower, its generally much more expensive, especially if you have kids. Singapore is a very dense, packed, hot city - you get a bit of island fever and are not so close to nature. Helsinki is literally the opposite. Singapore and Helsinki are both very, very safe, but I find Singapore has more extreme ends of wealth distribution (very badly paid migrant workers).
Both are super functional though, with good universities, and both great options for running a company/working in tech. I would happily live in either city.
(There's more to say about income distribution in Singapore, but having migrant workers, even if badly paid, is a plus in my book.
If Singaporean immigration was more open, they would have even more low paid foreigners. Making the situation look worse, but be better purely in terms of global equality.)
With kids: I think it's mostly expensive if you are an expat and go the expat route with everything. If you go more local and earn a decent amount of money, the amount you save in taxes should more than make up for some extra costs.
(There's also a breakeven point for expats with kids at private international school, but it's obviously much higher.)
I also think low-skilled migrants are ok, to a degree. Migrants from EU can travel and work in Finland freely without visa. There are many Estonian, and some Bulgarian etc construction workers - but there also legally enforced minimum salaries for everyone. In Singapore there is no minimum salary and that is one of the causes of their extreme income distribution.
> With kids: I think it's mostly expensive if you are an expat and go the expat route with everything. If you go more local and earn a decent amount of money, the amount you save in taxes should more than make up for some extra costs.
(There's also a breakeven point for expats with kids at private international school, but it's obviously much higher.)
This is true - but getting a space for a foreign child in local schools in Singapore is really, really difficult. So you almost have to factor in private school fees. Other costs are fairly comparable to Helsinki, except health care, and cars are even more expensive in Singapore - you don't really need one though. But you're right, post-tax income quickly becomes attractive in Singapore for people on higher levels of income.
You are mixing up two things. First, Singapore doesn't have minimum wages for locals. There are much more interventionist for foreigners: there are different visa categories, and they come with restrictions like minimum salaries and various levies etc.
(And that's independent of any critique of the notion that outlawing jobs for people with low productivity does them a favour.
Interestingly, Finland also doesn't have a universal minimum wage. Just like my native Germany didn't use to have one.)
But yes, you are right to remind me that the EU is rather big and has parts that are much poorer than Finland where the Fins might draw construction workers.
About cars: for most people they are status objects here. There's more of a real need for cars for people with lots of kids, but even there ride hailing has gotten much more convenient in the last decade.
About the costs: the well to do foreigners that can afford private schools are also exactly those that the country is most open to offering permanent residency and citizenship to.
Absolutely right that Singapore wants to primarily attract foreigners longer term who won't place a burden on the already stretched public services (state provided housing or schooling). Though even for many of them PR/citizenship can be a long, long time away.
Helsinki should also increase capacity of English speaking private schools to attract well-to do foreigners interested in living in Helsinki, that's one of the things this "City as a Service" plan isn't able to arrange at scale right now - there are simply not enough places since there are only 1-2 private schools for English speaking kids.
The tax situation couldn't be much different between the two, but beyond that I think both countries offer a high quality of living and a vibrant tech sector. Also, for people running their own companies there are always ways to plan your tax affairs, regardless of where you live.
I'm not sure those public services are 'already stretched'. Perhaps at most in a relative sense compared to the rest of Singapore's generous infrastructure?
> Also, for people running their own companies there are always ways to plan your tax affairs, regardless of where you live.
That there are ways to optimize your taxes in multiple places doesn't make them equal, nor even similar. (Otherwise, eg the American corporate tax cut a while ago wouldn't have been such big news.)
In any case, regardless of tax rate, taxes here are much simpler. There's less overhead in doing your taxes.
Some friends of mine ran businesses both in Singapore and in Poland. Their accounting in Singapore is vastly simpler.
> You are right, Finland doesn't have universal minimum salary, but it does have a similar, interesting state sanctioned relic - most industries with unions have a union enforced, national minimum salary for their industry - this includes construction, hospitality, manufacturing etc. It has been criticised for creating lack of flexibility in the job market - perhaps so, I don't have a strong opinion.
I am familiar with the system from growing up in Germany. Alas, I'm also familiar with trying to foist higher wages on a part of the country than the market can support. That's what led to decades of high unemployment in East Germany.
(Though to be honest, the German unifiers were between a rock and a hard place. It was either high wages and people migrating away from unemployment, or otherwise people migrating away from low wages.
Politically, it was an easier sell to convert the East German Mark and associated contracts etc at the symbolic rate of 1:1 (and 1:2), instead of the more realistic black market rates of 1:5 to 1:10.)
> Absolutely right that Singapore wants to primarily attract foreigners longer term who won't place a burden on the already stretched public services (state provided housing or schooling). Though even for many of them PR/citizenship can be a long, long time away.
One more remark on that: Singapore isn't a monolith. In general, the government is more open to migration and capitalism than the population. Many (but far from all) of the existing restrictions are to keep the voters from rebelling.
You have a really open mind if two such different cities are your favourites! In my view, Helsinky is a really nice place, but Singapore is a scary, hellish dystopia.
It's perhaps not for everybody. But the usual complaint from the set of people who have been and don't love the place, is that it's perhaps a bit too boring and well ordered.
It's pretty much the opposite of scary here. I like that I don't have to constantly use 20% of my brain when out in a cafe to keep an eye on my stuff like in London, where things get nicked left and right.
Same thing for me. Singapore would stress the heck out of me, I'd have to constantly use 20% of my brain on whether I can drink that coffee or it is an illegal substance and police will just casually murder me. No way I'm setting foot on that crazy hellhole.
Most other places have illegal substances as well. It's just that the list differs from place to place.
There's no capital punishment for consuming illicit drugs here. That's reserved for dealing. (And in any case, there's no penalty for consuming anything by accident.)
It's all fairly boring. If you are set on wanting to be stressed out, you'd have an easier time complaining about long working hours in local companies. (Working for multinationals is fine.) See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiasu
It's a legitimate position that you want more drugs to be legal. But it's rather weird to clad your complaint in the words of stress.
the locals who really want to do those things have long moved out of the country. those who choose to remain here enthusiastically enforce the order of the country. caning and hanging continue to enjoy popular support.
As for capital punishment: I'm not a fan. But have a look at the numbers on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_Singapor...
Don't come, if you like to partake in recreational drugs.
(Though plenty of expats usually just hop on a plane on the weekend and indulge in one of the surrounding countries. Drugs are no more legal there, but their governments are not as competent in enforcing their laws.)
Couldn't assuming that any individual black person has low income or is part of an "underclass" be considered racist, in the sense of making judgements about individuals based on their skin color?
Pointing to a country’s president as example of how black people are no longer underclass is akin to saying “he did it, why can’t you?”.
Which I think is a valid point.
Could you see an Algerian voted in as President of France?
Recent migrants with black skin seem to do much better than African-Americans who ancestors have been in the US for generations. Feel free to insert your own speculations as to why.
Sorry if I'm being rude, but ... seriously, I would be curious how much you know about U.S. history and current events. What's your context / are you a young person / do you not watch much news, or know much history?
It's easy to say a military is worthless until you actually need it. But, Finland was under Russian occupation for decades. I would guess plenty of Finns wished they had a better military then.
You don't think it possible the US military could be any smaller and still defend its nation? Invading Iraq hasn't really had any fruitful outcomes, but absorbed more than a trillion of dollars of tax payer funds.
Edit: People are getting caught on semantics here. Change 'is under no obligation' to 'not required' if you please. There's no pressure for the US to remain (see comment to reply for examples of the US breaking treaties). Perhaps there are incentives to stay that are privy to policy-makers, but are those incentives what the average tax-payer wishes for?
No one got caught up in meaningless semantics. It's just that your point doesn't carry much weight.
'consequences are relatively minor' != 'inconsequential'.
> nor do I see abandoning "The West" to be something likely to be well received by US voters
Opinion. May be right, may be wrong. Trump did in fact try this at one point, but it was shot down by the house. Doesn't really reveal how many voters would support it, though.
> It's just that your point doesn't carry much weight.
That's a baseless assertion until you explain why. Why shouldn't the US polity reconsider it's attachment to NATO? What are the bad outcomes? Bad for whom? And what are the good outcomes for citizens? (eg. say, for instance, but not exclusively, less taxes, or money spent better else where)
What does it mean to the people? That is the central question of democracy. And my ultimate point is that's what should be driving whether the US continues with NATO. And I think that carries weight with anyone who believes the US should be a democracy
It has to be asked, what is being bought by the US participating in NATO? What are they getting in return? And is that in the interest of the majority of US citizens or not?
There seems to be a push from the US and the UK towards returning to isolationism. There are pros and cons to further isolation, which ought to be considered and balanced in the interest of the people - assuming democracy is the overriding principle.
That said, what consequences do you think would be borne by the US if they pulled out of NATO? And do you think there might be some benefits to counter that?
Finnish public healthcare encompasses things like regular dental visits that people of every age use.
Also, those high taxes pay for world-class public libraries and child daycare which the broad public use, even expats in the IT sectors.
So they would only justify perhaps about 0.1% higher taxes?
Or, you just self-insure for dental, if you make a reasonable amount of money or have some savings.
(It's much more feasible for dental where the realistic maximum amounts are still quite small, compared to cancer treatment or similar.)
Consider tax paid healthcare to be a public insurance plan that doesn't need to skim billion dollar profits from their "customers" then.
In general, I'd prefer services with competition and that you can opt out of.
Having said that, Singapore's system works fairly well in practice. But it's not at all like eg the NHS.
We were talking about costs. In the US, calling an ambulance is not guaranteed to be free.
OP claimed that as a young, healthy expat, you don't benefit from a system where your tax payments finance health care.
I showed examples where a young, healthy expat directy benefits from this system, by having medical emergencies that would potentially bankrupt you in the US.
Not sure I followed your point here.
Not really. You pay income taxes in general, and some portion of that funds the public healthcare system, but healthcare isn’t something you ever have to think about in particular.
Yes, but it's one I hope I'll one day no longer be able to use.
> The literacy rate is 99%
So, there's a decent chance you Googled "US literacy rate" and copy-pasted it from there. I would recommend clicking the actual article and reading through it, because Google's quote is... not exactly representative of what's contained within.
If you didn't do that, you're probably citing this from the World Factbook, who use a definition of literacy broadly encapsulated by "is capable of reading". By that definition, if you can look at some words and then say them out loud, you're literate. Useful for developing countries or historical contexts, but not exactly meaningful in a modern society with many resources.
These days most literacy studies look at actually understanding content, and being able to reason about it. This typically includes some level of numerical literacy (not necessarily mathematics, but e.g., being able to understand the difference between a million and a billion), as well as things identifying internally contradictory statements. By those standards, the United States does abysmally.
It's worth noting here that the U.S. does disproportionately suffer in some studies that look specifically at literacy in a small number of official languages (English for the U.S., occasionally also including Spanish), rather than counting literacy in any language as sufficient. My comments here are in regards to the latter.
> and a higher % of the population has a tertiary education than finland
The people who choose to go to tertiary education in the United States (or indeed any other country) are not usually the people in desperate need of better education. The problem is predominantly in insufficient primary and secondary schooling, combined with a cultural attitude of anti-intellectualism that leads to many people thinking they never need to learn a thing once they exit the school system.
Not a uniquely American phenomenon (Michael Gove's "the people have had enough of experts" quote being a particularly flagrant European example), but one that's uncomfortably persistent there. For example, it takes a very unintelligent person to be in the middle of a global pandemic, yet think that the opinion of a reality TV host is more important than the professional advice of a doctor. Those people exist everywhere, but they exist in astonishing concentrations in the United States.
> I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.
My point is that, as someone who lives in neither North America or Europe, if I had to pick a random adult citizen from the population of either the United States or Finland to make a rational decision for me, I'm picking Finland.
It could have been phrased in a much more engaging tone rather than an attempt to "score points".
Speak for yourself: I've never paid a penny for healthcare in the UK, besides an effective tax rate lower than I now pay in the US and the occasional prescription charge where an OTC version of the relevant medicine was not available at lower cost.
Ok, for a (male or lesbian, since you specify 'wife') Bay Area SWE, you're right. But do look at that election map and notice the scores of people living in the rest of the US, in large part voting against their own health-care interests but still. In Missouri the median income is around $55k. Putting $12k of that into health insurance (not health care, but insurance) is pretty hefty.
For such a middle class person Europe is likely to be better / more stable economically. Single software engineer will surely have it financially much better in the US though.
The US has universal Medical coverage for the elderly.
I just have this to say to the folks who despise the era of American power and hegemony, you are absolutely going to love the Chinese one. Good luck buddy posting similar comments about them in that world order.
Indeed. Like less trust from the state in how you use your own money, and less power to decide over what to do with the money you've earned from your own hard work. Instead you are forced to trust that the government is better at allocating that money than a private company.
You effectively get no choice in the matter either, except every fourth year. And that isn't even a real choice, because you're not choosing a better medical company, or a better insurance deal against joblessness when you vote. Instead you're hoping that more than 50% of the people who are eligible to vote in your country, will agree with you that the medical deal or accident insurance (and a whole swathe of other stuff, take it or leave it) offered by some politician that you like, is also liked by them. If not, then you're forced to take whatever the people—who do not have your own best interest at heart—wants instead, because they just happen to be in the majority. On top of that, you're supposed to celebrate it, and thank the guys who forced you to accept what you'd rather not have. That's what's known as a democracy, and somehow you're supposed to think that that is the pinnacle of "freedom"...
No brainer, absolutely worth it.
Even making good money in Silicon Valley I'm perpetually afraid of medical bankruptcy if something were to happen. And the cost of education here takes another 15% off my salary for schools far lower quality than in Finland.
Also California is unique among the states in that it runs a mandatory short term disability plan through payroll deductions but employers are able to buy enhanced plans which cover higher income thresholds.
It's true this cap only applies to in-network, approved care. But that's the same under any health plan, whether universal, or not. For instance, Sovaldi and Harvoni are curative for hepatitis C, but it costs $50,000 for a 12-week course of treatment in the UK. There are 210,000 people with hepatitis in the UK, but the NHS only furnishes 10,000 courses of treatment per year. If you're not approved, you can't get it from the NHS, but you're free to buy it yourself, of course.
First, every dollar you pay does not count towards the insurance company tally of "out of pocket". Often it is a tiny fraction. I've personally had years where my true out of pocket was in the several thousands but according to the insurance company my "out of pocket" was less than $100. With that kind of multiplier you can see one can easily spend many tens of thousands before reaching the nominal limit according to insurance company. How do they do this? Because they can and there's nothing to stop them.
Also, insurance plans have caps on what they'll pay. End up in the hospital for months and exceed the limits and it's all out of pocket, which can be in the millions.
Also, these don't include things like prescriptions. A friend (working at a FAANG in SV) spends about $50K/year out of pocket on medicines for chronic conditions.
"The health care law stops insurance companies from limiting yearly or lifetime coverage expenses for essential health benefits."
I wonder what's included in "covered health benefits"/"essential health benefits" and what's not.
Medical underwriting is permitted for Traditional Medicare Part B supplemental/Medigap plans, so pre-existing condition clauses apply, even with the Affordable Care Act.
In other words: once you go on a Medicare Advantage Plan (an HMO) you can never truly go back to traditional Medicare.
If you have cancer or a rare disease (it's not uncommon to have a rare disease--about 7% of the general population collectively has some sort of rare disease) you likely cannot risk being on an HMO if you want to stay alive.
I have 2 rare immune-mediated neurological diseases affecting my peripheral nervous system, and I have traditional Medicare. I require a blood product, called subcutaneous immunoglobulin (administered in that form--it is the only medication that has ever worked for me and has put me in pharmaceutical remission).
If I come back to the United States, I can expect to pay $50,000+/year for my healthcare (mostly due to the subcutaneous immunoglobulin) due to something called the Medicare Part D catastrophic coverage level.
A lot of people, and I mean a lot, get screwed due to the part D catastrophic coverage level. Actually, because of this "program" I never plan on living/working in the US ever again, unless things drastically change.
The parent is fearmongering for some reason. The real scenario is a 2-3 year illness that takes you out of work so long that your lose your employer sponsored plan, have to hoof it with whatever ACA plan you can find, and not have income in the interim.
In the US, they have this concept of a "pre-existing condition", and depending on your situation, a health insurance might cover it, or not, as far as I understand.
Even making good money in SV, you can still end up with a medical bankruptcy (or your family, for that matter).
Just like I won't expound on German healthcare policy, maybe you should reserve judgement on US healthcare policy until you actually know what you're talking about.
I was in the same shoes as you and had zero concerns about it (yes I realized that a very lucky position to be in). Even if I had something horrible happen my max out of pocket was like $4k for the year with no limit to coverage.
If I lost my job, had zero income and no insurance I’d qualify for Medi-cal.
Let me get this straight - you are covered by medical insurance (assuming on "making good money"), and you're "perpetually afraid" that you will be forced in to bankruptcy after being treated for life threatening condition ? Not the fact that you'll first need to have a life threatening condition that requires a huge amount of money to treat, which you will need to overcome to get to the bankruptcy part, but the fact that you'll need to go through bankruptcy afterwards ?
I mean there are ways to hedge against that scenario if you have the money and are really afraid of it - maybe start treating family better and share your money so you have a support network to fall back to if you get in to such situations, or work on building it - going through those scenarios alone is going to suck without it - ignoring social safety net and economic factors.
You people make it seem like bankruptcy is worse than death.
1. Coverage by medical insurance, in the US, does not generally translate to 100% coverage. For a variety of reasons, including coinsurance, copays, out-of-network coverage (especially common if there's some sort of emergency), in-network coverage beyond what's covered (e.g., the doctor says "this is medically necessary" and some bureaucrat at the insurance company says "I disagree"), and so forth, you can have a medical insurance plan and still be on the hook for large amounts of money.
(I don't think you implied this, but just to clarify, "making good money" is typically not strongly correlated with having good insurance. Because of how byzantine medical insurance is, it's hard for a potential employee to figure out what their offered benefits will actually cover, so it's generally not a factor in negotiations at all, unlike actual salary, and in turn higher-paying employers don't have a particularly strong reason to offer better insurance plans.)
2. You can have a "life-threatening condition" that is easily manageable via modern medicine. Take diabetes, for instance - life-threatening if unmanaged, but very well-understood in how to manage it. I have a friend with a chronic condition that requires taking an (expensive, only partially covered by high-tech-employee insurance plans) injection once a month. As long as they take that injection they're fine; their body becomes effectively unusable without it. I know multiple people who have beaten cancer; I don't think any of them would say that the actual process of beating it was easy (or cheap). The whole reason you care about medical care is so that "life-threatening conditions" stop being life-threatening.
Also, we have this pandemic going around which absolutely can be life-threatening, but even among the people who get very sick with it, many of them come out of it fine provided they have immediate high-quality medical care.
3. Beyond the assumption that the person you're replying to is treating family poorly... the amounts of money in question are generally larger than can even be pooled across many family members and large support networks, even if they all have substantial savings on their own. And even if technically I can manage to pay off a medical bill by exhausting my life savings and those of my extended family, what happens when someone else in the family gets sick?
I don't understand how those amounts can be larger than you can pool from a support network if you have insurance. Even if you lose your job/insurance your spouse can cover you ?
A few weeks in the NICU and a couple surgeries and there you are, and there is no 'lifestyle change' that really can prevent that sort of thing.
I feel like if there's a risk of needing to go through bankruptcy in order to have a child, I would be justified in being terrified of it. Childbirth is in fact a life-threatening event, but it's also one a lot of people go through successfully, and you want to end up on the other side of it with enough money to raise the resulting child.
* every legal resident has access to basic health care in their own municipality. A visit costs around 30 euros, max 700 euros a year (Which is a lot compared to Germany, cheap compared to the US). Queues can be long, several weeks. Negotiation skills help, but as a foreigner you might get blocked completely as a trouble maker if you think to negotiate in English
* nearly everybody with a full employment contract has basic health care coverage by their employer at a private provider. Normally you get an appointment the next day or so and you pay absolutely nothing. So most employed people just skip their "free" public health care, because it is worse. Yes, the employement health care is subsidized by tax money (although they are cutting back). This is not mandatory, so the details especially for mor expensive treatments and examinations vary a bit. When your employer stops paying you need to fall back to public service or pay yourself.
* for kids around 50% have private insurance to avoid the queing at the public service
* medicines are expensive compared to Germany, but cheap compared to market prices. Well, basically they are covered by the public health insurance, but the compensation is far from 100%, own contribution max 600 euros a year.
* hospital care is 50 euros a day, max 700 a year. There can be some queues, but for acute cases there should be no problem. (Non-acute cases can be a pain.)
In real serious cases the 1500 or so Euros you pay a year is of course cheap compared to complete bankruptcy or even remaining without good treatment. Being relatively healthy paying several 100 Euros a year is more than you would pay in many European countries with a public health insurance systems.
It is by far not "one of the weaker health care systems".
Definitely not worldwide, maybe not even over whole Europe. I said of several European countries that I have experience of. That's a huge difference.
Remember the old saying: Don't believe any statics that you have not manipulated yourself.
Fact is that even OECD statistics about Finland is made by Finns. And Finns take a lot of pride in having their country look well internationally. The whole 90 day program is such a sign. Systematic doping in skiing happened over decades. After a big scandal in 2001 when it became public results have been much more mixed.
Normally these good international rankings are celebrated by the press. When the first World Happiness Report win came 2 or 3 years ago, for the first time the reactions were mixed: Local social research could not really find any explanation. Happiness is certainly not noted in the country on a regular basis.
My daugther, grown up in Finland, showed me the explanation posted on her social media channels: All those who are not happy are driven into suicide and no longer count.
While I don't say that that's the truth, there is a background to the cynicism: Suicide rates in Finland are 50%  higher than in Sweden, which is pretty close. Some say a neighbor country, but that might exaggerated because there is a sea in between.
Remember Nokia being the world leader in mobile phones? Less than a decade later they were out of business. All the time they were hiring those best engineers in the world...
I am far from claiming that everything is bad in Finland. But I have learned that these international comparison studies have to be taken with extreme caution. They report things that you don't necessarily see in your daily life, when you see people just not getting that doctor appointment.
 That figure is either 20 years old or covers just young adult males. I cannot find fresh reliable figures now. But there has always been significant difference. OECD wrote: "Suicide rates in Finland fell by 25.8% from 2000 to 2011 compared to the OECD average reduction of 7% over the same period, and are still falling. Despite this impressive fall, Finland’s suicide ratesremain one of the highest in the OECD."
What I remember reading about this is that the researchers pointed out that there are cultural differences, so "happiness report" has to normalize for it. For example Americans often talk how happy or unhappy they are, or how much they "love" something, but Finns don't generally think this way or almost ever say "I'm happy (olen onnellinen)". There is also a certain cultural modesty, so in conversations you rarely make extreme statements like "I'm really happy" which could make you seem superior to others, you would rather say something like "things are good". I think what the happiness report concluded that while many people don't state or show extreme joyful happiness, many are more content or in peace with their life and have less anxiety.
That's my personal observation following my friends or family in Finland and comparing that to friends and family in California. See that people in US have more extreme need to achieve, work very long hours, compete and be better than others, be joyful constantly, but also have lot of fear and anxiety, especially when it comes to children. Many of my Finnish friends have both parents working and they have to do very little for the kids schooling. Kids go to the school by themselves and are expected to do their homework by themselves.
In US one of the parents have to be almost 100% homemaker and even then it's a lot to raise a family since you get very little help from the society. They also more have worries and anxiety of their own future and their children futures. Are they safe? If they get sick will do we afford healthcare? Can they get educated? Can they get a job and live good life? Can I retire when you need to? The competitiveness even seeks in to the very first years of the children's life where in Finland you don't even get grades and there are no standardized testing until you're 18.
In Finland, people might have similar fears or anxiety, but in lesser degree since most of those situations are covered by the society.
True. Although Finland is on a downwards trend compared to 2 - 4 decades ago. Not dramatically and still very far from a US level, but clearly visible. Influence of parents' status to kids' success in school is growing again. Some schools have bullying and violence problems. As a family you need to select the place where you live with schools in mind if you want avoid problems. In the countryside because schools getting closed and and the city because social problems are growing. Nothing compared to the US I repeat, but getting worse instead of easier.
Namely, 14% for food (both groceries and restaurant, excl. alcohol), 10% for books, exercise services like gyms, culture/entertainment tickets, hotel accommodation, public transit, and over-the-counter drugs (prescription drugs are heavily subsidized by the state).
There's a reason Finland tops satisfaction/happiness charts every single time.
I think it says a lot about the person on how they value these decisions
Yes. The taxes are worth it, for a stable society.
This US 2020 election:
An Associated Press analysis reveals that in 376 counties with the highest number of new cases per capita, the overwhelming majority — 93% of those counties — went for Trump, a rate above other less severely hit areas.: https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-nw-coronavirus...
2016 US election (there are multiple studies on it but there was one from Boston University public health that was the most revealing): Study: Communities Most Affected By Opioid Epidemic Also Voted For Trump: https://www.npr.org/2016/12/17/505965420/study-communities-m...
I am a dual US|Croatian (European Union) citizen. I happily pay Croatian taxes, just for the stability. I don’t have to worry about amassing a huge amount of savings for retirement as an EU citizen and I can work/live/retire in 30+ countries. (By the way, if you save for retirement, in the millions range, it may not pay for your cancer or rare disease treatment, even if covered by insurance, due to Medicare Part D catastrophic coverage level. I know this because my out-of-pocket responsibility for my blood product costs $50,000+/year under Medicare Part D, under catastrophic coverage level. 7% of the general population has some sort of a rare disease and obviously cancer is a common diagnosis)
> Also a lot of cold and darkness.
Well, I’m from Seattle and I have to say, you eventually get used to the dreariness, cold, and darkness.
Sidenote: I would have the internet would have made paying for education obsolete... But it seems information and education are not equivalent...
Both are taxing the normal mortals, Finland probably slightly higher.
The public transport, the child-friendly facilities, and similar things make me "happy" to pay.
Lovely city and I regret nothing about my time here.
Cancer already takes all of it here, tyvm, so I'd gladly like to see half of it back.
The cost of having a society is high. The big difference between Europe and the US is that there is some sort of safety net if you become unable to work. Here, you get a cardboard box under the highway and a stern lecture to try harder next time from a 104-year-old politician that's never had a real job in their life. It's good when it's good, but it can get bad fast.
In other posts people are complaining about the homeless people living in SF...
you know how you avoid homeless persons?? by having taxes paid healthcare (there is no free), taxes paid education, taxes paid home support.
So it depends, but as a general policy it's far more sensible to have stability than not.
The question should be whether we could lower those costs (taxes) and still have the free education and free healthcare, and if so what are the compromises to be made in order to do that.
Remember it's not a zero sum game, which means a nation can start to produce wealth or save on costs, bringing up efficiency and lowering the required taxes per person to deliver the same goods and service.
The real problem is corruption, and inefficiencies.
My sib went there for grad school because of the finances & stayed. Thinking about following.
Weather its wort it is still a personal question, but my education was certainly free including my masters degree (I even got paid a stipend to study like everyone else).
There are also quite significant 14% (e.g. groceries, restaurants) and 10% (some specific services) VAT categories.
Most of employer payroll "tax" (~18%) and employee payroll "tax" (8.4%) is actually mandatory pension fund payments and counts toward your accumulated pension.
Many people choose to pay the 1% church tax, even though it is entirely optional (most of those people participate in any church stuff only for weddings and funerals).
We also pay ridiculously high taxes for cars and fuel, tobacco and alcohol.
Additional things we get for our taxes:
* 'free' defense against our eastern neighbor (we only have to pay with our blood, if they ever decide to try again)
* 'free' mental health care and basic necessities for the crazies in the subway, so I don't have to be their therapist and they're slightly less likely to murder me for my pants
* 'free' police force who are respected by the society, rarely need to resort to lethal force, and don't get to keep the money from traffic tickets and impounded property
* 'free' elections, with no armed mobs demanding the vote to be changed to their desires
* 'free' air conditioning, just open a window (also there's no need to pay for sunblock, you won't need it)
It's only dark half the year, the other half is all light all the time.
If you only think about you and your family, in this system you can also be sure that your children will have access to free education and free health care, and your grandchildren too.
It's also nice to live in a society where everyone has access to free education and free healthcare. The inequalities are not as big and it benefits you indirectly.
For me? Yes. Without the shadow of a doubt. I'd stay out of Helsinki, though. Too many people! :D
I love Sweden tho, no tax can change that ;)
All that disposable income but no vacation time to spend it.