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Helsinki Relocation Package: City as a Service (helsinkibusinesshub.fi)
701 points by mannylopez on Nov 6, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 599 comments

Overall my experience in Helsinki has been hugely positive. I’ve been here now over a decade and have settled with work and family life.

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).

As extra for the language. Even in tech you should just accept that you NEED to start learning Finnish. You don't have to be proficient speaker, but for normal office chat you need to be good enough to interrupt and step in with English if you want to participate.

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.

Problem is that it's a super difficult language where you can't draw any help from any other languages you might now. Plus it's obscure and if you move out of Finland you'll likely never use it again. I can see why people don't want to invest huge amounts of time learning it unless they plan to stay for the rest of their lives.

Take this as someone who moved to Sweden and have learned a bit of the language, I don't speak Finnish but have had contact with it through Finnish friends for 5+ years now.

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.

> 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.

That is exactly why I said that I take that as a silver lining, I do.

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.

I think years is a bit on the high end of that estimate, especially with dedicated practice. I’ve seen people go from 0 to conversant in 60 days in English classes.

I'd guess that the people you've seen have at least one of these things, probably more: 1). Are proficient with another germanic language 2). Have lots of interaction with English even if they don't speak it (lots of folks read subtitles for English media) 3). Have learned a non-germanic language and have an affinity for picking up on language 4.) Have lots of time. 5.) Their conversational skills are limited to a few shallow subjects, and much variance on these cause them to trip up. 6.) You don't see deficits (can they spell? How is their grammar outside of simple conversation? Can they read as well as speak?)

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.

Minor nit. Finnish is not a Germanic language--though perhaps there are some parallels that benefit from knowing German or Dutch. It's a Uralic language so separate from the Indo-European languages that are the primary languages in Europe.

They were talking about English classes, though.

> a good party trick

Correct - I guarantee you can generate a lot of goodwill (and possibly free drinks) from drunken Finns on the Helsinki-Stockholm booze ferries.

It's not that difficult. Grammar is logical, few exceptions, not many hard sounds to learn for English speakers. I found it easier than Russian for example (took the YKI test for citizenship some years ago).

My inlaws are Finnish... the total lack of germanic/romance cognates makes it very difficult for me to remember any vocabulary. But I've never really put in a serious effort to learn it.

The cognates are difficult, true - there are quite a few old Indo-European words if you know where to look (kulta - gold, kuningas - king, ranta from Swedish strand, i.e. shore). That said, once you've built up a core vocabulary, it's quite easy to learn derived words. For example, kirja, kirjasto, kirjoittaa, kirje - book, library, write, letter. By comparison, you can see how much different all the equivalent English words are due to its mixed Germanic and French/Latin vocabulary, and how much a challenge that makes for non-native learners.

Cool examples! I can definitely see how Finnish would be easier to learn than English, assuming a lack of familiarity with related languages.

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)

This has been my experience too. For me as a native Russian speaker, the grammar is fairly easy and logical, what trips me up each time is the vocabulary. I speak passable German and Spanish and those two help me a lot with other Europear languages. With Finnish, if I don't know a root/word, then I just don't know it and that's that.

I live in South India and I find Finnish easy to my ears (I speak Tamil) due to the double consonants and double vowels that Tamil shares.

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!

Ref: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eero_H%C3%A4meenniemi

As a Finn, sometimes when I see a Tamil name I have to do a double take because at first I'll try to read it as a Finnish name. The written forms of the the languages seem to have eerie similarities, though I fully expect them to superficial coincidences.

Actually, the foundation you got with Finnish should be useful if ever you need to learn Turkish, Hungarian or Japanese. Natural languages are like programming languages in a sense -- Haskell doesn't get as much use as C++ but learning Haskell will make you better at C++.

A genetic relationship between Finno-Ugric and either the Japonic or Turkic language families, if it exists, is so weak that most scholars believe there is no evidence for it.

> A genetic relationship between Finno-Ugric and either the Japonic or Turkic language families, if it exists, is so weak that most scholars believe there is no evidence for it.

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.)

Turkish and Finnish do have the same word structure and very similar sentence characteristics. Both are agglutinative languages with vowel harmony and "floating" word order. Japanese is also agglutinative but lacks vowel harmony. I'd consider scholars who believe these languages are not similar to be quite wrong.

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.

The random sentence order might contribute how finns think its rude to interrupt other person talking. Listen first, then talk.

It helps less than you would think. Finnish doesn't share any intelligible vocabulary with Hungarian beyond the loanwords that are also the same in English (let alone Turkish or Japanese which are entirely different language families).

Yes, there are grammatical similarities, no that won't help you much at all in understanding or talking to people...

Finish shares root of around 200 words with Hungarian, it's just the languages diverged and got influenced by their respective regions. For starters, both languages use different letters for the same sounds. Hell, Hungarian uses written form of sz for the regular s sound, and written form of s for sh sound. The long ő, in the end of a Hungarian word, has previously been a diphtong öü or eü and even more previously ev. Finnish e/ä is written as Hungarian under one letter of e.

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.

From GP:

> 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.

Can confirm, I have a few years of high school level education in Japanese and Finnish sounds right to my ears, until I pay attention and realize I don't understand it.

I'm finn living in japan right. Japanese was really easy to pick up. The locals think i've lived here forever whenever i speak with them.

I never understood this attitude, which IMO is most prevalent in speakers of Romance languages and adjacent languages. What's the point of learning new languages if you're just gonna relearn 50 different varieties of Vulgar Latin. Is learning slightly different ways to conjugate and spell what is essentially the same word in a dozen different "languages" that interesting?

If however you are interested in reprogramming your language center then Finnish is intriguing, because of its foreign nature.

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.

I'm a non-native Finnish speaker. I learned the language in my teens.

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.

> 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.

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.


[fyi: native Finn]

> 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."

About b) it's controversial because it's the standard model that is used by linguistics and is considered useful, and I think it's net-negative-value for education. That's why I want to make it abundantly clear that this is my opinion and it runs counter to the consensus in the linguistics world.

Yes but linguistics is about studying a language, not speaking it. As someone who has learnt a few languages non-natively, I never once spoke a sentence by thinking about the formal rule I'm supposed to use to produce it.

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.

This is how I learned languages non-natively as well. But even learning a language natively is done that way: you don't give babies grammar books.

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"[0].

The way I learned every language was by consuming content that increased in complexity and variety. Patterns were acquired.

- [0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Input_hypothesis

Having learned a tiny bit of Finnish myself, I totally agree with your points. And actually the „controversial” advices b), d) and f) combined with tips like a), c) and h) is very much what popular polyglots like Benny Lewis („fluent in 3 months“) teach for language learning in general if your goal is to actually speak the language.

I agree here. I feel in the places I've worked though, people have generally been welcoming and I have been able to get enough out of the "casual" side to enjoy it :)

As far as language goes, my advice for learning a new one would be the exact opposite of what you say. Force yourself to use the language all the time, everywhere. Otherwise people will just default to English with you, and you'll have a hard time learning the local language.

It'll be very stressful for a few months, but, in my experience, will get you conversing in about half a year.

As someone who has lived in this environment for this long, it doesn't work that way.

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.

I'm a native Finnish speaker near Helsinki. The problems you mention are definitely very common for skilled immigrants here - if you don't absolutely need to learn the language, you're not very likely to put yourself through the hardship it entails. Especially if you've already formed social bonds in English.

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

I don’t buy that. Japanese is completely different, too, but I learned most of it while in Japan where I was forced to speak it.

Finish kids don’t need ten years to learn the language either, do they?

I also learned Japanese to a professional level very rapidly by immersion (and focused study in parallel), but I was single and not working at the time, which was critical. If you have a full-time job (that you need to perform in your native language), you lose 50% of your immersion potential; if you have a (non-local) family, you likely lose the other 50%; now you are just spending scraps of time studying.

So I think in this context of a professional—who likely has a family—coming over to work, deanclatworthy is right.

It isn't the same thing, if you try to speak poor Finnish in Finland they just switch to English since most people speak English. In Japan most people don't even understand basic spoken English so getting them to speak Japanese with you is really easy.

Finnish kids have finnish-speaking parents, and spend their entire days immersed in the language, at home, daycare, or school.

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.

I moved to Finland, and then had a child. He's now nearing four years old and he's very bilingual - to the extent that he translates for me at times.

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".

Finnish is notorious for its complex grammar. I'm half-Finnish and still cannot hold a real conversation even though I took classes for years when young. For Japanese one semester was enough to be able to hold a basic conversation when visiting Tokyo.

If anything Finnish is much easier than Japanese for Europeans.

Only if you're from Estonia or Hungary. Finnish is so different from all the other European languages that it's like starting from zero. The letter system aside I've found Japanese much easier to learn and I'm half-Finnish (Swedish being my native language).

You just need to memorize about 1000 words to be conversational in almost any language. It's not difficult.

Learning Finnish takes time, dedication, and willingness to do it on one's own f you want to master it. I belong to the Swedish-speaking minority here, and there's plenty of people in the Swedish-speaking areas that know little to no Finnish, despite learning it in school and living in Finland.

If you want to learn Finnish, go for it. Just don't expect it to be easy. :)

Finnish belongs to a language group[1] that consists of just two other languages (Estonian and Hungarian). It's quite literally like nothing else.

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.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finno-Ugric_languages

That is slightly incorrect. There are a bunch of languages in the Russian Federation/Scandinavian Peninsula that are very close to Finnish. Much closer than Hungarian itself:


You do not have to force yourself to use the language. It's a stressful, uncomfortable and not particularly efficient way of studying a language, especially for introverts. Some polyglots study this way, some do not - it's absolutely not a necessity. Some polyglots go by the motto: "if you can understand the spoken language, and you're able to write in it, then you're able to speak in it, too".

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.

As an avid language learner, I can confirm this.

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.

As an avid language learner myself, I would be inclined to agree, were it not for the fact that about half of my father's siblings really have no aptitude _at all_ for languages.

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.

Learn the modal verbs. Learn infinitives (verbs) Learn tenses. Learn vocab

Yes that, Exactly!

Moving to a new country and complaining that not all jobs and services are provided to you in your own foreign language comes across as entitled.

Of course you need to learn the language of the nation that hosts you. You are an immigrant.

Not sure people are complaining as such. And these comments are on a piece from a country's government that is literally offering to pay people to move there. It's more of a word of warning, Finnish is a difficult language for a native English speaker to learn compared to, say, French, or even Swedish. Something like Spanish is spoken by a massive number of people in multiple nations - Finnish only in one small one. I try and get by with Finnish when I can, but at the end of the day I still have a rather taxing (hah) job to do full time and I came here by choice so I want to enjoy it.

> compared to, say, French, or even Swedish.

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.

European countries are currently required to translate information about all government services to english because of the european "Single Digital Gateway". Well it's a goal; first mile stone comes in this december.

How is the need to learn the language even a negative? People complain all the time about people coming to their country and not speaking the language after decades, but then gladly move to a foreign country with no intention of ever learning the language. Very hypocritical.

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.

Yes, but: In the case of Finland, it is made clear by advertising from semi/official sources (like this website), if not explicitly but very heavily implied, that you can move here and get by fine with English.

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.

> In the case of Finland, it is made clear by advertising from semi/official sources (like this website), if not explicitly but very heavily implied, that you can move here and get by fine with English.

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.

How do people respond to imperfect Finnish?

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?

They immediately reply in English and have little tolerance for someone speaking their language with even a vague accent.

Have seen it many times.

As a Finn, I'd interprete this as trying to be helpful, and less about not tolerating accent. "Oh, they're struggling with Finnish, it's easier for all of us if I switch to English." In my opinion, this is one of the top reasons for difficulties in learning Finnish - it's difficult to get the Finns talk Finnish with you. One has to insist.

Interesting. Is this professional conversations or in stores / restaurants / on the streets? I thought English is not spoken by many folks over there, at least outside the IT/tech scene.

If you pick an average person under 40 they will have near-perfect English. Partly due to media, partly due to the internet.

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.

I think if you tell people you want to practice your Finnish, and you're not in a busy restaurant / grocery store, they'll entertain you. Younger Finns just have stopped assuming that people would bother learning Finnish.

My experience at the store/ when ordering drinks has been that I'd get the replies more often than not in Finnish and had to switch to English myself when it was something that I didn't understand. Key is to get the pronunciation right - which is far easier as a German.

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!

Sounds like you’re in tech, what range of salary have you seen for software engineers? I know London, Paris, a lot of expensive European cities pay a small fraction of what the Bay Area does so a lot of engineers would have to compromise quite a bit on disposable income and lifestyle.

I can only speak for those in the web tech industry, but salaries go from 4-6k euros. Take-home pay would be in the region of 2.5-4.5k most likely.

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 am less concerned with the taxes, and more concerned that Amazon/Google/etc happily pay ten times that salary. It's literally an order of magnitude difference, and contracting hourly rates seems like a similar story.

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.

You are getting a lot of critical responses, and I hate to dog pile, but:

>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.

Keep in mind though that after a couple of years at a FAANG company, your pay scales much quicker than it would elsewhere.

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 :-)

Unfortunately, even for the same role, the 10x figure is painfully close to reality, once purchasing power of the actual disposable income is calculated.

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.

>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.

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?"

This is a good exercise to make a rough comparison like ths.

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.

Take home alone is a meaningless number if you don't compare it against cost of living. This is a bit like asking "how much to fill up your car" without asking how big of a gas tank it has first.

You don't necessarily want to use that angle on Finland... the gas tank is pretty large and gas is highly taxed, both figuratively and literally.

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.

> You don't necessarily want to use that angle on Finland... the gas tank is pretty large and gas is highly taxed, both figuratively and literally.

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.

Well, good luck hauling small kids, furniture, gardening or construction materials by bike or public transportation. Most of the adults are not singles in their twenties or early thirties, living in a rented flat.

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).

> Well, good luck hauling small kids, furniture, gardening or construction materials by bike or public transportation.

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.

I have plenty of friends who have kids, do gardening etc and don't own a car (or even have a license) in Helsinki.

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.

Unfortunately, this is the reality on the ground. Finland is the least densely populated country in Europe, and one of the most arctic countries in the world. A lot of the people simply need a car to commute to work.

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.

Absolutely true for most of Finland. Not necessarily Helsinki. Espoo, Vantaa metro area is borderline.

One car household is still much more common than two cars per family.

Daycare and Healthcare for kids is cheap though. And you don't have to pay for good schools or move to another neighbourhood to get a good school. This far outweighs the cost of a car.

> You don't necessarily want to use that angle on Finland

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.

Yeah, many people from Helsinki who are good enough to get a job at Amazon/Google/etc are actually moving abroad to work for them, so it doesn't make sense to move to Helsinki if you could get a job like that. Though there are some good cities in Europe with tech giants and their good pay, for example London and Zurich.

Google, Amazon and Microsoft all have offices in Helsinki and are hiring a lot for their cloud businesses. For example we here at AWS consistently have ~10-20 positions open in our new Helsinki downtown office.

Oh, that's nice, I didn't know that! How big is your office? What I know is that Google does not hire software engineers in Helsinki. They have a small office, but it is only for sales people.

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?)

Growing fast into high double digit headcount. But we neither have software engineers in Helsinki - just Account Managers, TAMs, Solutions Architects, etc. AFAIK the closest location for SDEs is Berlin. Anyhow, thanks for noting the problem on that page, just created an internal ticket to get that fixed!

While most salaries fall into the aforementioned ranged, I'd point out that software companies in Finland with "scalable" business models, do have pay more inline with big tech companies.

Obviously there aren't many of these jobs but I'd point to gaming companies like Supercell and Seriously.

There are certainly exceptions, and I have a lot of respect for successful EU tech companies!

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.

Can't argue with this. We've got a small market and few companies with internet based business models.

> I am less concerned with the taxes, and more concerned that Amazon/Google/etc happily pay ten times that salary.

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?

> I would happily pay 3-5x the taxes for a similar salary to emigrate, but if you offer me 1/10 the pay?

Are you calculating the cost of living?

Yes, it's mostly about purchasing power. Rent/property tax/insurance is expensive, but everything else is cheap and there's no VAT. Some states don't even have income taxes. We have insanely painful income inequality, but as shameful as it is, you can usually clear the hurdle prices with a 6-figure income.

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.

It's mostly an mentality / personality thing. To some the European way of "things" are a bit insulting, others like having the corall / safety net. I'm in your camp.

4-6k seems high even for Helsinki. For starting position you can expect 2-3k, then as you build towards seniority you can get to 4-5k range, but you can expect to work for 5-10 years before you get to that 5k/mo (before taxes).

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.

Starting salary is actually pretty much exactly 3k in Helsinki. In most companies as a pure software engineer you can expect the salary to top out somewhere between 5 to 6k. If you are willing to take on management roles you can go higher easily (especially in older/more traditional companies that don't believe in paying engineers that much).

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.

Interesting, these seem somewhat comparable to Canadian pay levels! Canadian taxes are similar, and public programs are good by global standards but not nearly as good as Finland (e.g. free healthcare, no free daycare, University education costs the equivalent of ~5k euros per year in Canada).

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 :)

This looks about right to me. To add for reference, something like 5200 € / month gross puts you to top 10% earners in Finland already. So it is an excellent salary to get locally.

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.

> salaries go from 4-6k euros. Take-home pay would be in the region of 2.5-4.5k most likely

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.).

2.5k - 4.5k sucks :/

Yes, but if you're starting a family, essentially free child care and schooling up to and including university is pretty nice. Hell, if you're accepted for full-time studies at University, the government pays you to keep studying (opintoraha).

This is the correct answer.

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.

Once you get into the big companies, not all teams are work yourself to bone. Many people work 40 hour weeks (with an hour long lunch included in that time) and have very little to no responsibilities outside of core hours. Vacation time can be quite decent as well. (4+ weeks plus quite a few holidays)

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.

Well, there's also a large cohort that has been told that they should be going to the best schools and getting the best grades and the best internships and the best jobs at FAANG etc. Then they end up writing internal CRUD apps or tweaking ad models to eke out 0.01% more engagement, but they keep grinding because that's all they've ever known.

I'm not sure subsidized childcare covers it.

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.

Child care here is around 250€/month with reduced cost for each kid beyond the first in daycare. Pre-school (Age 6->) is free as is school + school lunches.

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).

Right, but the difference in take home pay in the US is almost 3x those costs. So you can pay for it all in the US and still come out ahead.

Then we just need to add the amount of monthly insurance costs and it's about even again :)

I would add to this, if you are software engineer in SV and can work remotely with your current company (and keep making SV money or close) - Helsinki is absolutely worth thinking about if you think you would enjoy a Nordic lifestyle!

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.

Also if you're working remotely, there really isn't a point in moving from another country to Helsinki. It's way too expensive.

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 =)

That's true, if you want to live a bit more countryside (still within 1hr drive of Helsinki) you'll get a lot more for your money

Let's say you take home around 3k, you keep it.

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.

How do you know real estate prices at indefinite moment in future???

But take home pay in Helsinki is basically rent+food+beer money. ´

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.

Looking at the Finland pensions [1], I'd think you would like to save extra for retirement. Max government pension is less than SSA benefit in the USA (€1,368 vs $3,113)

[1] https://www.etk.fi/en/finnish-pension-system/pension-securit...

You can easily have a €4K/mo pension in Finland without private savings. It depends on how much you earned.

Calculator https://www.tyoelake.fi/sv/pensionsraknaren/

I've entered €6K/mo (the senior eng salary mentioned in this discussion, aka top 10% salary in Finland) and used €1414 accrued pension (* median value from the table for a person born in 1960) and got €1.9/mo for someone close to retirement.

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.

Yes obvioiusly the pension you get in a country is related to how many years you worked in that country. If I moved to Finland I too would get a lower pension than others when I retire in 25 years, but on the other hand I’d be getting a pension from the first 20 years of my career in my home country too. Taken together they’d (unsurprisingly) add up to the €4K or so I expect to get.

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.

I think you have misunderstood me. The fact that someone worked their whole life while living in Finland is accounted for. I.e. the link you've shared includes average amount of accrued pension for each birth year. So if someone was born in 1960, joined workforce around 20 y.o., worked for 40 years they would have in average about €1414. If they continue to work until retirement earning 6K, their pension will grow to 1.9K.

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.

Strange, if I enter my birth year (late 70s), 6K salary and the average 1978 figure from the table below it comes out to 3.5k

I would try to keep your current Bay Area job and continue working remotely for the same company from Helsinki. Best of both worlds

You've forgotten one major aspect of life so far north - the near absolute lack of sunlight in the winter which is about 5 months of the year.

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.

SAD is definitely a thing. Certain Lamps and Vitamins do help, though - so does a walk during lunchtime. I'll always prefer fewer sun hours during Winter over regular > 25°c (77°F) during summer.

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”.

Non-white immigration to Finland is relatively recent and has only been in small numbers so i think what you're referring to is just an anecdote. The immigration of Somali groups in particular has led to quite a lot of friction as detailed in this report


See this page also - https://multiculturalmeanderings.com/tag/nordic-countries/

In particular,

>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.

That reflects my experience of Finland as well. Although, in my 20th I found Helsinki a bit boring, but I'm sure it will attract lots of people. Agree with you on language, indeed I can't get the logic of ppl, complaining about the necessity of learning the language of the country you're moved to.

> 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.

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.

If you have acute dental issues then you'll get a time virtually instantly.

There is no such thing as a non-acute dental issue. A filling can wait for a couple weeks max before possibly becoming a real acute issue. You are only aware of the cavity until it starts to hurt, which means already late.

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.

"CT scan for cavities" speaking of over-diagnosis... (Not forgetting the risk of CT scan radiation)

Brush your teeth, visit your dentist. Yes some might do an x-ray for hard to see areas. But this is not rocket science

CTs indeed sound a little overkill. Aren't cavities entirely avoidable? As long as you can afford a healthy diet and have water/toothpaste you won't develop any?

You're supposed to go to the dentist one or twice a year even without any problems.

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.

When I book a dentist or an oral hygienist, the first available times are usually at miminum 8 months ahead. The cost is 60 €. This is at the public healthcare.

Granted, this is another Finnish city, not Helsinki.

> - 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.

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.

Yeah, if the problem is not acute, usually it's months and months of waiting, now even longer because of the covid.

That is messed up. I am planning to go to a dentist to have all my teeth fixed, I expect it to be done this month. Well, one tooth per week at worst.

Hi Dean, hope all is well! I don't think it's all that bad here.

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:


As a Swede working with Finns constantly I find it hard to believe you can get by without knowing the language as most of the Finns I work with have pretty bad English, I work in IT consulting.

You don't need much to live in a place. I don't know about Finland specifically, but based on my experience when I didn't know the local language yet and that of friends.

"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.

Can you pay for private dentists, or similar, if you need more immediate service? And is the wait similar for major things like cancer, brain tutor, or heart surgery?

> Can you pay for private dentists, or similar, if you need more immediate service

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.

No offense but OP is right and you are wrong. Health care in Scandinavia is great in many ways and not so great in others. People do suffer, even die, waiting in line for public treatment, and health care lawsuits aren't really a thing.

I live here. Never heard of anyone who died waiting for care. It's extremely rare.

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.

Finland is not Scandinavia and its systems are not necessarily comparable. You have shortcomings in any healthcare system, but I'd take this and all its flaws in a heartbeat over the absolute shitshow that is the US healthcare system.

Finland is very much Scandinavia, but that's a complete side note.

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.

> 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

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.

Finland is not a part of Scandinavia [0]. It has linguistic, geographic, ethnic and historic differences.

[0] https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/is-finland-part-of-scand...

It's a bit messier than that though. When spoken in English, Finland is often included in the term. However everyone here knows it's not realy. We instead use "Nordic countries" to include Finland and Greenland.

While not a part of the geographic area called Scandinavia, Finland is very much a Nordic country.

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.

You may want to talk to folks who actually use national healthcare services. By and large they are happy with it. Instead you’re just repeating industry FUD https://www.npr.org/2020/10/19/925354134/frame-canada

Sure, people may be satisfied with their system, but that's all they know. And that goes both ways, for Americans and others.

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.

> 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?

I've used the NHS and the parallel private system in the UK. With private medicine everything happens quicker: initial consultation, treatment, operation etc. Inpatients tend to get private rooms, with a food menu, and routine meds like sleeping pills are handed out more freely. However, there are things the UK's private system can't do, probably because it makes no commercial sense. The really big stuff - major surgery like transplants - only happens in the NHS. Roughly one third of UK govt spend is the NHS; ~130B GBP last time I looked. So only the NHS has the financial, human and technical resources for eg heart transplants. Another important point is risk appetite. Private hospitals can choose not to do risky stuff to avoid litigation. The NHS is govt backed, so can take more risk. Ultimately the NHS is budget constrained, so can choose not to offer new and expensive treatments. IMHO the US system can deliver better results than the UK if you're very wealthy. However the UK system will be better for 99% of the population. Disclosure: I'm a British citizen working for a US bank in London, and I benefit from my employer's excellent private healthcare scheme.

I think it's fair to say that the US has the very best healthcare available - but not for everyone and overall healthcare outcomes aren't that great when compared with a lot of other countries


> People do suffer, even die, waiting in line for public treatment

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)

Wait, so you are saying there are no long queues after all?

It took me 4mo to get my old ankle injury that I've had since the teens, to get operated. I was in the lowest priority category and this happened just after Covid-19 hit. I got a quote from a private healthcare provider for the operation for 6000e. In the public one it ended up costing 120e.

> In the public one it ended up costing 120e

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.

There are queues. If you have non-acute problems you might have to wait. Especially if you need a dentistry check up, you might get an appointment that's several months away. Though now with COVID the dentistry lines have become shorter

Finnish public healthcare does what any other public healthcare does: they will prioritize because there's infinite demand for services and limited resources, and they can't quicksort their customers by purchasing power.

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.

> And is the wait similar for major things like cancer, brain tutor, or heart surgery?


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.

Regarding dentisty: Yes, but they can be pricy. I think I had some minor filling work done once and it ended up being around 200-300e.

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.

That’s on par with what you have to pay in the US.

Yes, but salaries over here are 3-4x less.

In Canada our wait times aren't so bad but the quality of service is much to be desired. A lot of the most talented move to the US for higher pay, which most 'average' people probably dont notice but as someone who takes pathology courses for fun online I've noticed we don't get the 'best'.

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.

> A lot of the most talented move to the US for higher pay ... I've noticed we don't get the 'best'

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.

For years I read the US counterarguments that us healthcare is better than the countries with public.

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.

Can I ask what the pathology courses you take for fun are?

Yes, you can pay for a private dentist, get seen very fast, and you even get that part subsidised by the government if you are a resident. It's quite cheap, and the dentists are excellent. I'm from Helsinki but have been living in London for the past 15 years - I still go back to Helsinki for dental work just because I trust the dentists more.

Cancer etc - yes, you get fast tracked on the public health care system.

Employers are required to provide occupational healthcare, which at least in my experience - of IT workplaces - provides quick access to care, dental or otherwise. Actually this is one of the pain points of the healthcare system here, the long wait times for patients without occupational healthcare.

It’s worth noting that the package provided by your employer varies hugely. Mine is flexible right now so if I’m sick I can see someone. Some are super strict about it only being workplace related.

> Some are super strict about it only being workplace related

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.

Obviously there are also plenty of private practices, but they cost a lot.

Cancer treatment, etc, there will be a waiting list as well on public sector. Wait time depend on the severity and where you live.

Yes you can pay or have (cheap like 1k/year) insurance and get immediate service as well. There are private clinics that also work together with the public system.

You can, but what is the point of high taxes then?


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?

The private health care is basically for skipping the line and most employers provide it for you so that you miss no time from work.

My point is that you are also paying taxes for that free healthcare while attending private.

My point is that you don't need the private health care, which also means they are not in a position to rob you if you choose to be their customer.

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.

Yes. We've got decent private insurance and health care.

>I’ve been here now over a decade

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 cannot use it to communicate and I speak English & French (not for some years though).

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).

> 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.

Sounds like a market ripe for disruption :) "Finnish for Tech Professionals"

I'd love to see it, but there's only a small pool of people who can teach the language and they're probably already doing it.

I'm an American and with all its faults (and there are many) I do think Americans overestimate how long it takes to get routine stuff done elsewhere, or non-acute things that pop up and need addressed. It's really nice being able to call a doctor's office on a Tuesday afternoon and get an appointment for Wednesday morning.

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."

I moved to Seattle from India 3 years ago and medical care does not exist in US. Most doctors are not taking in new patients and general consultations are months out. You go to urgent or emergency care because that is the only place that would see you and this is with a reasonable good insurance.

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.

> I'm an American and with all its faults (and there are many) I do think Americans overestimate how long it takes to get routine stuff done elsewhere, or non-acute things that pop up and need addressed. It's really nice being able to call a doctor's office on a Tuesday afternoon and get an appointment for Wednesday morning.

Which country is this? This certainly isn't the America I live in.

Public healthcare in general is good, once you get past the first level to the actual specialists.

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).

Isn't it the case in most countries? As a Brazilian, it's shocking to see the lack of dental care in virtually any other country (I've been to many and lived in a few).

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.

What time do the stores close in Helsinki? I heard in Sweden from a friend who lived there briefly that everything was dark and closed early like 6-7pm. The opposite of a place like NYC or even here in downtown Toronto where it's normal to find plenty to do until midnight.

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.

Is this really a quality of life thing? Are you going to make your decisions about where your live because you have to run your errands before a certain time?

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.

As I mentioned I've been a night hawk for life and tried many times to switch to waking up early and failed.

So yes it would be infinitely boring for someone like me to live in a city like that, it's a deal-breaker.

Well it's night half the year so you'll enjoy it :D

It used to be like this but this image is bit outdated. During recent decade laws got changed and grocery stores can be open now 24/7. Some of the stores do this. It’s not limited to convenience store sized stores so even some of the largest ones are open if you enjoy strolling alone food isles at 4am.

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

Specialty stores usually close around 6-7 PM, larger ones at 8 PM. Grocery stores are usually open to between 8-10 PM. If you move here you want to be up early. At least if you like seeing the sun once every 6 months.

When I was in Finland I remember walking at night around the city and talking with homeless Finns and I was amazed that all of them spoke impeccable English and gave me a lot of tips.

> the main problem is finding time to learn it

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.

I’ve been here a lot less than that. My family circumstances and work brought me here at the start of the year from the UK which given everything that has been going on turned out to be perfect timing! Some thoughts:

- 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.

Can't you pick up Swedish? It's a lot easier than Finnish and seems to get you by in Finalnd. My partner of > 6 years is a Swedish speaking Finn so I go out there quite a lot and haven't yet had to learn anything more than Kiitos!

I have been in Helski half the year as erasmus student. I really liked it there except how long is dark in autumn and winter. I feel depressed every autumn 1000 km south from there so autumn in Helsinki was really rough experience for me.

That are some really good points. I would also add, that while you lose on the money you could earn as a developer compared to eg SV (or Zurich), you get in turn a comfortable life without being forced into believing that money equals happiness. You won't live in poverty of course, but it's telling that many Finnish companies consider their cheap engineers to be one of their main advantages.

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.

> Enjoy the months longs waiting times to see a dentist.

Unless you're in a financial hardship, you could pay about 100€-200€ for a private dentist in Helsinki.

Spent a couple years in Vaasa. Swedish is so much easier for English speakers! Picked it up mostly just from watching tv.

I can't imagine moving to another country where the main language is not English and expecting to survive.

> you can get by speaking English but your kid and partner might not

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!

This is honestly a great way for tech entrepreneurs to experience Nordic living. The fact is Finland has one of the most startup friendly environments around:

— 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!

I moved from SF to the Nordics on a startup visa and feel obligated to temper expectations whenever I see these.

- 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.

Where in the Nordics did you move to?

> - 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.

I agree with everything you said, except that moving away from SF can only be ideological. To me there are some other advantages:

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 lived in SF for 8 years and never once drove a car.

I don’t even ride a bike, but most of my friends do.

Why do you think SF isn’t walkable/bikable?

That only works if you got a good salary and can afford good location, in my experience.

Healthcare is a good point, especially since good insurance outside of an employer is either expensive or requires a significant other with a job with good benefits.

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.

I've got a bunch of health problems which can really screw me over later in life (congenital heart defect + autoimmune disorder) and just feel safer knowing that my family will be taken care of even if the money isn't here or something goes wrong with my investments/life insurance.

> Nightlife is just one of those things America does bigger and better

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.

I would echo this. If you want to experience the best parts of Nordic living (clean/functional everything, super close to nature, great free education, egalitarian attitudes) and are a tech entrepreneur or an investor, Helsinki offers all of the above plus very skilled engineers for reasonable salaries compared to the Bay Area, to build world class companies.

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.

- Nationalised health care.


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.

It is not like taxes disappear into a black hole never to be seen. Most of that money comes back to you in the form of services Americans would have to pay for anyway.

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.

I wish humanity didn't need a military but saying the world's largest military doesn't give anything back is a bit misleading. Some would argue the world's largest military enable the post WW2 order and with it the free trade that most of the world depends on. So in a very concrete way, the American tax payer subsidizes much of the world's economy.

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.

I think the point is that you can choose to go live somewhere that is not the USA and you continue reap the benefits you describe, all the while paying a different countries taxes and personally benefitting much much more.

If I was an American, I wouldn't want to be footing the bill for Global Security either.

That's a valid strategy, akin to geo-politicial arbitrage. But with trends as they are arbitrages don't last forever.

Yes, but I won't last forever either. I have, if I try very hard, 40 years of useful employment left in me. It's possible that the Holy Karelian Empire will displace US hegemony in the next 40 years, but it's not that likely. It's also possible - and much more likely - that Finland will end up on the wrong side of the US and maybe be a site of a hot proxy war between the US and some upstart superpower within the next 40 years, but that also seems fairly unlikely.

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.

>If I was an American, I wouldn't want to be footing the bill for Global Security either.

I think if you transact in dollars or any economy on Earth, you probably do.

> footing the bill for Global Security either.

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).

> If I was an American, I wouldn't want to be footing the bill for Global Security either.

There is a deep and nuanced conversation to be had here, though I will say fourstar already made one important point very succinctly. [1]

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 [2], 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 [3], 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.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25004863

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Britain#Aftermath

[3] https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2020/03/17/c...

Ww2 in Europe was largely won by the USSR. Britain and the US opened a western front quite belatedly after years of begging by the USSR, after the Soviets sacrificed 15+ million lives to turn the tide, and after a lot of wasted time focusing on minor gains in North Africa (at Churchill’s insistence). Combined US and UK military’s deaths were less than a tenth those for USSR. We love to pat ourselves on the back with movies about D Day though. (They should be about Stalingrad.)

Finland incidentally was a key ally for Hitler in his attack on the USSR.

The USSR acted as a serious meat grinder, but a little less than half of German losses where on the eastern front which also included polish forces and the USSR had minimal impact on the Pacific front.

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.

>a little less than half of German losses where on the eastern front

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.

If you’re thinking of losses as lives in the German army and you include non German forces added to the German army and you assume all deaths on the eastern front where with the USSR then you can get very high numbers for German deaths due to the USSR.

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.

Just to add, the most extreme version of this was probably the thousands of miles worth of defenses Germany built along the coast which diverted a great deal of men and resources without meaningful associated deaths.

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.

> 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.

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.

> Finland incidentally was a key ally for Hitler in his attack on the USSR.

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.

You are wildly incorrect. The Winter War ended well before the Continuation War began. See: The Treaty of Moscow. And it was not just a few German troops. Finland served as a staging point for a major if unsuccessful assault on Murmansk. More important, the Finnish invasion (and taking of Karelia) helped tie down Soviet forces near Leningrad. The alliance was eagerly sought by Finnish politicians convinced (not unreasonably) the Soviets would attack after many months of belligerence toward the Finnish ambassador by Molotov. But they were also convinced that Germany would inevitably defeat USSR and usher in a New Europe (code for fascist Europe - long racist toward Russians, the Finns relished the fraternal ties to Germany and the privileged place they could assume in this new world order).

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.)

Thank you very much for your corrections! I wrote my reply in the spur of the moment. This is a fascinating part of European history. I like to think that, after the Moscow peace treaty, the Finnish continued to prepare for war in an undercover way. Thus in my head the war never actually "ended". I'm definitely going to read the book you recommend by Upton.

Oh, I'm glad to hear, it really is a good book although you have to get it used.

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.

Yes, the USSR paid a very high price for the defeat of Germany. And yes, the US and UK could have stayed out of it and the USSR would have rolled up to the Atlantic Ocean and we'd be talking about the amazing growth of the Finnish economy since it's independence from the USSR in 1990.

It's unlikely that the USSR would have been able to defeat Germany on its own. In addition to opening a second front in Italy and a third front in France, and sharing military designs to improve Soviet tanks - direct US aid included:

"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."


> Ww2 in Europe was largely won by the USSR.

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.

> Ww2 in Europe was largely won by the USSR.

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.

>Finland incidentally was a key ally for Hitler in his attack on the USSR.

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.

Finland was basically blocking the Northern approach during the Siege of Leningrad which lasted 2.5 years and killed almost a million Russians.

Finland was really between a rock and a hard place, as the international community was basically a lame duck after the Soviets attacked Finland in 1939 by staging a false flag in the small village of Mainila. Although some in Finland tend to forget it, Sweden provided substantial amounts of men and material which helped a lot, but it wasn't quite enough. The only other player with enough muscle was Germany, to which Finland had good historical connections traditionally, going back to the days of the Finnish Civil War.

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 [1]. Hence the siege ring which didn't really go anywhere nor do attacks against Leningrad.

[1] Kastari: Suomen armeijan toiminta Karjalan linnoitusaluetta vastaan syyskuussa 1941. MPKK, 2019

I get that Finland was in a crappy position during WW2. Aligning with the Nazi's was a matter of realpolitik.

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 agree that the Leningrad siege was a terrible suffering for everyone inside the city, no question about it.

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.

I mean, I'd argue Finland should have no been there. Sure, the Nazi's would have probably taken their place, but it's better than having your country associated with such a horrendous siege.

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.

This is an interesting discussion but wholly irrelevant. Either I'm in the US paying these taxes or I'm not. As an individual I'd rather have my taxes benefit me as much as possible. The US military isn't going to directly help feed my newborn child, especially if I'm not an American.

Yes but...a very large fraction of US military expenditures are based less on the need for defense than on the "need" to keep defense contractors in business absent a realistic threat model. Thus those taxes essentially fund make-work jobs that keep people employed but the fruits of their labor often have more to do with defense theater than defense. The F35 comes to mind [0].

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.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_F-35_Lightni...

Frankly, it it not a coincidence that Silicon Valley and companies like SpaceX are in the US. They are direct results of the military ecosystem that has developed there.

The classic reference is Steve Blank's "Secret History of Silicon Valley": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTC_RxWN_xo

> Frankly, it it not a coincidence that Silicon Valley and companies like SpaceX are in the US. They are direct results of the military ecosystem that has developed there.

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.

I think the GP is trying to say that because of the military ecosystem in the US, it was easier for him to 1. find a large customer and 2. get r&d funding. Note that he says "They are direct results of the military ecosystem that has developed there."

Why do you think Elon Musk chose to start SpaceX in the US?

> 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?

Why didn't Elon start SpaceX in Canada or South Africa?

> Why didn't Elon start SpaceX in Canada or 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.

> Some would argue the world's largest military enable the post WW2 order

I thought nukes and MAD did that.

Also it was the defense spending that created the conditions for Silicon Valley.

That the rest of the world lives under the 'order' and 'free' trade imposed by the usa's overwhelming military power, goes beyond benefit or dependence: it's imposition.

I keep hearing this myth about that US taxpayer dollars go mostly to the military. Sure it's a big ticket item, but half of it goes to social programs: 2019 (USD):

- Health and Human Services: 1,215 Trillion(27%)

- Social Security: 1,101 Trillion (25%)

- Department of Defense: 658 Billion (14.7%)

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_budget

The DoD list item doesn't include the intelligence agencies, DHS, OCO, VA, defense share of debt servicing and other spending. A more honest number is $1.25 trillion [0].

[0] https://www.pogo.org/analysis/2019/05/making-sense-of-the-1-...

That's a bullshit number.

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.

It's much, much closer to the real number.

The DoE budget is almost 3/4 defense related (25B/35B [0])

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.

[0] https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2020/03/f72/doe-fy20...

You can’t throw social security in there since that’s actually paid into from workers. Yes it’s a Ponzi scheme-government backed. That’s not the same thing as a money pit with no revenue incoming.

They're all paid into by workers, taxes are taxes.

In order to withdraw from SS you must be eligible - including have had contributed to it in the past. The money is even accounted for separately from other government funds. The funds are supposed to go and have historically gone from contributor to beneficiary. It’s also not had funding problems until those funds got mishandled by past governments (congresses/presidents) and tapped for other things.

First link from google: https://chomsky.info/20050601/

You can have lower taxes (than in America) and excellent public services in Singapore. Eat your cake and have it, too.

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.

I've been here for close to a year now and enjoying it. It is a very well run country that is clean, safe and modern. That said, I thought expats here can't really make use of most of the public health, housing and education services? Those that I know also are all sending their kids to international schools and have private health (thankfully the private health packages that come with employment are decent).

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.

I lived in Sydney for a while. The heat is usually worse in Singapore, but at least the ozone layer is thicker.

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.

I live in Singapore and my experience is healthcare is extremely expensive unless you have insurance (which I have). Schools for expats are incredibly expensive too unless you want to put them in local ones. Cost of living is very high. I pay SGD 6000/mo to live centrally but with no trees around me.

Most parts of the city I've been to have patches of green at least. I guess the core CBD doesn't have much but even a little bit outside (River Valley, Tanjong Pagar) are quite nice. What area are you in?

Even the CBD has quite a few spots of green, I find.

What are tech industry salaries like in Singapore compared to Silicon Valley FAANG companies?

Fresh grads at Google get about 5k SGD (~ 3.7k USD) a month plus equity. That's lower than FAANG in the US.

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 pay 3000 SGD for 1,200 square feet right next to the CBD. Plenty of trees around here, too.

(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.

I think Singapore is one of my other favourite cities in addition to Helsinki!

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.

Helsinki could also have badly paid migrant workers, if they wanted to. Instead they don't let migrant construction workers nor gardeners nor cleaners etc into the country, which is worse for global inequality. But, out of sight, out of mind.

(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.)

>Helsinki could also have badly paid migrant workers, if they wanted to. Instead they don't let migrant construction workers nor gardeners nor cleaners etc into the country, which is worse for global inequality. But, out of sight, out of mind. (There's more to say about income distribution in Singapore, but having migrant workers, even if badly paid, is a plus in my book.

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.

> 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.

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.

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.

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.

> 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).

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.

> I think Singapore is one of my other favourite cities in addition to Helsinki!

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.

Have you been?

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.

> to constantly use 20% of my brain when out in a cafe to keep an eye

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.

Huh? The police doesn't just casually murder people, we have the rule of law and all that.

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.

And what if I want to smoke a joint or chew gum?

seriously don't come!

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.

Well, caning is arguably a better solution than prisons.

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...

Chewing gum itself is not illegal.

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.)

If you are not ethnically Chinese you are an underclass in Singapore. If you are not black you are not an underclass in the United States. I have no idea what it is like to be black in Singapore but for anyone else, I would think "not being an underclass" is high on anyone's list.

It's nowhere near that simple. Broadly speaking, Singapore is more classist than racist: moneyed expats of all colors have it pretty good here, and locals of all colors are treated much better than workers doing menial jobs. Yes, there's currently a backlash against Indian immigrants in professional middle-class roles, but not long ago there was a similar backlash against mainland Chinese.

I think some of the backlash against PRC people persists.

Doesn't having a popular black president in the US from 2008-2016 rather undermine the idea that black people are an underclass in the US? As opposed to being a group that on average have lower income than other groups in society?

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?


You’re reaching to find racism in a place where it doesn’t exist. Pretty bad faith attempt at understanding the point he was making.

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?”.

That's not what he's saying at all. What he's saying is "If black people are an underclass in the US, then why did a majority of them vote one of the "underclass" in as President?"

Which I think is a valid point.

Could you see an Algerian voted in as President of France?

To be extra pedantic, Barack Obama ain't a classic African-American. His dad came to America as an immigrant.

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.

Are you living under a rock?

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?

LOL. I'm definitely assuming that you don't live in the US otherwise you could not ever make a specious claim like "black people are not an underclass in the United States." Even the hardcore Trumpies will agree with this claim, they will just blame it on the black people themselves and say it's the consequence of poor choices rather than racism, they won't point to Barack Obama and Neil DeGrasse Tyson and say "no they're not."

> Worlds largest military also sucks up tax dollars but don’t give any benefits back.

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.

> The approved 2019 Department of Defense discretionary budget is $686.1 billion.[34] It has also been described as "$617 billion for the base budget and another $69 billion for war funding."

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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_invasion_of_Iraq#Aftermat... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_cost_of_the_Iraq_War

My sibling commenter will be happy to know that Finland takes defense against Russia very seriously. Might be interested in this article: https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/08/15/finland-army-russia-lit...

The US military is designed to defend 2 continents at once since Europe has shown zero interest in actually paying for its own military. Of course that’s going to be expensive as hell.

The US military is under no obligation to do so.

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?

Yes, the US military is obligated to defend Europe under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

Techinically, you are right, but as with the treaty with Iran[0], or the Paris Agreement[1], etc. the US can leave. The US can basically do what it wants, and the political consequences are relatively minor.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Comprehensive_Plan_of_Ac...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Agreement#Withdrawal_fro...

This interpretation of this "obligation" is true of any "obligation". "Obligations" are inherently a social capital forcing function conception. They can always be violated so this point is pretty moot.

You're getting caught on semantics rather than understanding my argument. See my edit on the original comment


Your edit is just as useless. Leaving NATO is not an inconsequential action nor do I see abandoning "The West" to be something likely to be well received by US voters.

No one got caught up in meaningless semantics. It's just that your point doesn't carry much weight.

> Leaving NATO is not an inconsequential action

'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

The political consequences of the US withdrawing from NATO would be unimaginably large, not relatively minor. It would be like the partition of Rome, fundamentally reshaping the world order.

The US is the wealthiest nation by far and has leverage over any other developed nation you can name.

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?

Which decades are you talking about? Finland was part of the Russian Empire between 1809 and 1917, but hasn’t been invaded since — although Stalin gave it a good shot.

Invaded twice, but not occupied. Indeed, I believe Helsinki and London were the only capitals of non-neutral European countries that were not occupied during the WW2.

Moscow wasn't occupied either, was it?

Oops, of course. Good point!

Finland was definitely invaded. While the Finns are often considered the victors in the Winter War because they managed to maintain their independence in spite of Stalin’s onslaught, they nonetheless lost a considerable slice of Karelia to the Soviet Union.

Ok, but that’s very different from “decades under Russian occupation” claimed by the grandparent post.

Quite right. The us$ is up with a large support of the 20 aircraft carrier you have. As said you cannot pay the firman when there is fire.

Military is a big benefit and you can bet it helps Europe as well, especially countries bordering Russia between 1945 and the late 80s, including Finland. That said we (USA) are spending too much on it.

In Europe those services pay for a huge welfare and pension system, and healthcare which is mostly used by the elderly. Very little benefit will be received by a working-age expat.

> In Europe those services pay for ... healthcare which is mostly used by the elderly.

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.

Private dental visits shouldn't cost you more than a few hundred quid per year on average. (In a sane country.)

So they would only justify perhaps about 0.1% higher taxes?

For just routine cleanings, sure. If you need work done it can get real expensive.

Worst case scenario, you go abroad within the EU for that, and pay out of pocket. You just make sure to vet out the dentists well. Italians often go to Croatia for dental care. But, Poland has good cheap dental care too.

Hence me saying 'on average'. In a sane country, you can use insurance to convert variable payments into average payments (plus a bit of overhead).

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.)

> In a sane country, you can use insurance to convert variable payments into average payments

Consider tax paid healthcare to be a public insurance plan that doesn't need to skim billion dollar profits from their "customers" then.

Health insurers profits are a small fraction of overall healthcare spending.

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.

It’s not strictly about getting more out of the system than you particularly put in. On top of that no one knows if their the average or the one who’s going to need expensive life saving intervention. It levels out some of the randomness of the world for everyone, it largely removes one of the big causes of bankruptcy in the US which is medical debt.

As a working-age expat, you might still have an ambulance called after an accident or a drug overdose after partying, having cancer surgery, a flu shot, a pregnancy or an IVF, all for free.

They have ambulances in the US too. Also, isn't Finland a country where you pay health insurance? If that is free, a lot of things in the US suddenly are free as well.

> They have ambulances in the US too.

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.

> Also, isn't Finland a country where you pay health insurance?

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.

You don’t have to pay to use most roads in the USA, on a usage basis at least. The use of the word free but not really isn’t foreign to Americans.

You absolutely pay for roads on a usage basis [1] unless you drive an electric car.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_taxes_in_the_United_State...

That's not paying for roads, that's paying for fuel. You would be paying those fuel taxes even if you were only driving on your own private roads.

The gas tax hasn’t covered the cost of road maintenance since the 80s.

It also pays for education, and you don't need to look at the US for long to see why it's worth investing in having literate citizens.

Is this supposed to be an insult to the US? The literacy rate is 99%, and a higher % of the population has a tertiary education than finland, so I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.


>Is this supposed to be an insult to the US?

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.

If you look closer at the list, the difference in completed tertiary degrees (against many other countries too) comes from the youngest age bracket. It's probably because in the US people tend to have short university educations that they complete young and move more quickly to industry.

I hate to see intellectually lazy comments like this on HN.

It could have been phrased in a much more engaging tone rather than an attempt to "score points".

I'm Australian, I have no interest in scoring points for Finland. It's an honest representation of the differences in how those two countries are seen by an international audience.

It came across as very lazy and cynical.

That's a great generalization about the entire continent of Europe but do you have any specific issues with how taxes in Finland are used?

In the big picture welfare pays for a society with decreased social strife. For a working age expat this means not having to harden yourself and your family against homeless people on the streets, be afraid of getting mugged, and having educated & skilled coworkers because free education doesn't waste the potential of the economically disadvantaged.

> Very little benefit will be received by a working-age expat.

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.

Agree, as a Bay Area SWE, health-care is not a problem as many companies give you very good insurance, HSA, dental and vision for free or with family (wife + 1 kid) 1K per month.

'Bay Area SWE' is an outlier even for the tech industry.

1K per month = not a problem! hahahahaha!

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.

You do realise that $55k even with $12k insurance taken off ($43k "effective' median) is higher than any EU state, apart from maybe Luxembourg. And taxes will be significantly higher in EU states than MI (even if you are paying healthcare privately), which will further tilt it?

But the US citizen will have to save for retirement and kids' potential university education out of the remaining part, correct?

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.

Yeah, as an expat I would love living next to an elderly dying because he can't afford treatment and is waiting his gofundme to work out, I also would love being 5 times more likely to be a robbery victim[0] thanks to lack of social welfare and social support for people in economic struggles, I would also love to have at least a few more veterans begging for money in the streets, and don't get me started on how much I would love to live with a poorly-funded educated system that raises people that end up becoming anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers among many other colorful irrational believes.

[0] https://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Crime/Robber...

elderly dying because he can't afford treatment

The US has universal Medical coverage for the elderly.

Sure, that's great, now we just need the same for the rest: https://i.imgur.com/qRWoLg3.jpg

The American military that you scoff at is what gives Europe it's freedom. It did against the Nazis, against the USSR and now does against Russia and China.

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.

I just have to say to the folks whose only defence of the american militarist empire is the threat of a chinese one, you are absolutely bankrupt.

> What matters is what the taxes give you.

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"...

> Still worth it for 'free' education and 'free' healthcare?

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.

I had a six figure income in San Francisco & insurance, and still ended up medically bankrupt. Bike accident, head trauma, unable to work, work tied to job... employer sponsored healthcare sucks if your ability to work is compromised.

Your employer didn't provide short/long term disability insurance?

Disability insurance provides a percentage of your salary while disabled. It does not provide medical insurance and often you'll get dropped by the company insurance because you're not working.

Do you live and work in America?

Yes I do. If you have a six figure salary (or even a bit less), an employer will certainly buy a short/long term disability plan for their employees. Its a perk even small startups can afford.

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.

Even if they did, I was massively depressed with two broken arms and a head injury. I wasn’t thinking clearly about my options. Trying to navigate the healthcare system when you can't wipe your own ass is not a fun situation to be in.

Barring the few lucky people with those platinum-plated insurance policies, American workers with normal insurance are one random cancer diagnosis away from total bankruptcy. You can have a great salary, do everything right, be frugal, save in your 401k invest well——it all goes poof when you get sick. Honestly, I’d trade half my salary to not have to avoid the doctor because his diagnosis might ruin me.

There's an $8,500 annual maximum out-of-pocket per individual under ACA. That's a lot over several years, but it's not going to be retirement-destroying for most SV workers.

This is only true of Marketplace plans (which are, increasingly, very bad deals is you're not actively using your insurance - even back in 2015 when I was looking for Marketplace plans for myself, I could easily spend close to that amount on the premiums of plans that had high deductibles/coinsurance/etc. and it's not like the Marketplace has gotten more competitive since then), and I think it's only true of expenses that the insurance company is willing to cover - if you get treatment out of network, or if you get treatment beyond what's insured (e.g. you get "elective" surgery on the medical advice of your doctor to avoid a bigger problem later), I don't believe those are covered by the out-of-pocket max.

The out of pocket maximum also applies to non-grandfathered group insurance plans. There were some plans allowed to be grandfathered, so the plans wouldn't terminate as non-compliant, but in practice the vast majority of plans terminate every year, and essentially everyone with health insurance now has an $8,500 per individual annual out of pocket maximum. I'm sure if you look at your own insurance, you'll find $8,500 or less.

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.

Don't most policies have a max out of pocket? Everyone I've seen/had did.

Out of pocket does not mean what normal people think it should mean. Your actual out of pocket can be far larger, up to unlimited.

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 current law bans annual dollar limits that all job-related plans and individual health insurance plans can put on most covered health benefits."


"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.

Well, wait until you get on Medicare. There are no maximum out-of-pocket limits with Medicare, unless you get a Medicare Advantage Plan (which is almost always an HMO).

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.

Yes. Out of pocket maxima are extremely common—basically the reverse side of high deductibles.

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.

You're "making good money in Silicon Valley" and don't have health insurance? Are you freelancing and choosing not to purchase insurance?

The overwhelming majority of Americans who experience medical bankruptcy have health insurance.

You're obviously not from the US.

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).

Since the ACA became law in the US (10 years ago) all health insurance has to cover preexisting conditions.

You're about a decade late with this comment.

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.

You're assuming that whatever you're stricken with leaves you in good enough health to continue working.

But that’s true in Canada as well. The medical expenses might not bankrupt you, but not being able to work will.


You work in Silicon Valley, have good insurance and you’re worried about medical bankruptcy?

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.

How did it go when you had a really serious medical situation? My eye opener was my first programming job when one of the owners had twins with really serious health problems at birth. Turned out a million dollars was the cap the insurance was willing to cough up for them.

I think lifetime caps are now illegal thanks to Obamacare?

No more lifetime caps.

>Even making good money in Silicon Valley I'm perpetually afraid of medical bankruptcy if something were to happen.

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.

It is a very legitimate concern. All it takes is one cancer.

This is an entirely reasonable concern and I agree with it. If you're not in the US (or you're young / otherwise don't know people with horror stories) it may not make sense to you, and yes, it's awful that it's realistic, but it's still realistic.

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?

Coverage issues happen in EU with public insurance as well - years back one of my coworkers son had an eye tumour, the experts in country didn't want to treat him because they knew their equipment wasn't precise enough to treat it without blinding him, the medical insurance would not cover out-of-country treatment because the procedure could be performed in-country. He ended up asking for charity to pay for it out of pocket (can't cash out retirement fund). Another coworker needed to get a private surgeon for his father because he was old and the waiting list on cardiac surgery was months, he was not a priority because age/condition.

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 ?

My friend in graduate school (making $18k a year) had a baby who had some complications; the final bill was $1.5 million dollars. She was an immigrant from the Caribbean; her family there was reasonably paid by national standards there, but... $1.5 million is a lot to cover. And remember, the spouse can't cover you unless you're registered on their insurance.

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.

Don't get me wrong - the situation sounds terrible and I'm sure the US health insurance system is pretty bad for a lot of people (at least it sounds like your friend got the treatment and can go through bankruptcy to clear off the debt) - but from OPs perspective, being covered by insurance on a good income - being in constant fear of medical bankruptcy sounds bizarre to me.

It is bizarre! We live in a country with bizarre healthcare structures! No one is denying that it's bizarre! We're just saying it's true. You Europeans cannot imagine what it's like here thanks to being surrounded by competent social support structurs your whole life, and it's beyond frustrating that you think you know better than we do how awful it is in our country and how we could "just" do something to make it better. If we could, we would.

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.

Having lived in several European countries I'd say Finland has probably one of the weaker health care systems.

* 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.

Actual data from OECD is available, so we don't have to rely on anecdotes.

It is by far not "one of the weaker health care systems".


> 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% [1] 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.


[1] 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."

> Then 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.

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.

> 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.

This is very accurate and has been my experience too. Public has been great when acute (broken limbs) and frustratingly slow with chronic but dehabilitating conditions.

I live in Finland and can confirm that this accurate.

Thanks for sharing these details. It’s always interesting to read what the system is like on a day to day basis versus talking about “universal care” as if every system is identical.

If these numbers are correct, the payroll taxes total about 13% higher than American payroll taxes, but if you add in what Americans pay for the health insurance that’s presumably included in one of these taxes, it’s probably fairly similar. 20-30% is a very normal marginal American tax rate, and the VAT is high (looks like it may be lower for certain things), but not ridiculous compared to a lot of American state income taxes (Since the income tax is on income and not just consumption). I’m skeptical of a halving of disposable income, especially for someone moving from somewhere like California.

> (looks like it may be lower for certain things)

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).

14% for food is quite high, but I've personally lived in two cities with a 10.25% sales tax (Chicago & Santa Monica); so that's not far out of line with at least some American cities.

Ah yes, a healthier, better educated populace - the historic marker of a society in decline.

Thank you for that belly laugh!

As an engineer you're already going to be making enough money to be comfortable in Finland for the rest of your life. In addition to that, there is no stress from minmaxing your whole life like in USA. Real life isn't diablo, you're supposed to enjoy it.

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

> Still worth it for 'free' education and 'free' healthcare?

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.

Yeah, that sounds like a good trade to me. Having free education and free healthcare means I can take risks and join a start-up or get another degree, rather than worrying about losing my coverage and getting sick from my chronic illness. Also I love the sound of the language, and would like to learn it, and the cold never bothered me anyway.

> Still worth it for 'free' education and 'free' healthcare?


Yes, because I'd rather live in a society where everyone has a decent education, instead of segregating the population based on who can pay to become smarter.

Perfectly sums up my feelings.

Sidenote: I would have the internet would have made paying for education obsolete... But it seems information and education are not equivalent...


There are certainly downsides to living in Finland, but you picked a poor comparison in taxes. Taxes in the US are NOT low. Income tax is only one of many taxes in the US. In some states/cities, your property tax can exceed income tax. My state has extremely high taxes on cars too. It all adds up to a lot of money and a relatively high total tax rate. I wouldn't be surprised it a significant number of people in the US have a higher total tax rate than the Finnish average. Of course you can choose low-tax states, but the US as a whole certainly isn't some sort of tax haven.

Not an expert an the area, but from what I read the US is a tax heaven for the super rich, Finland certainly is not. Progressive tax rates are high. There are creative ways to get your (should I say their?) income avoiding progression, then it's flat 30%.

Both are taxing the normal mortals, Finland probably slightly higher.

I live in Helsinki. People here are generally happy to pay the taxes to get all the good stuff from the goverment. I would personally support higher tax levels.

I moved to Helsinki from Edinburgh, my taxes are higher here in Finland than they were in Scotland but I don't complain.

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.

Personally I’m against higher tax: I’ve paid a lot in and gotten very little out.

In Finland?


> Take your American disposable income and cut it in half.

Cancer already takes all of it here, tyvm, so I'd gladly like to see half of it back.

I am not sure that this is much worse than the US. The government gets about 44% of what it costs to employ me (that is, I'm including taxes that the employer pays the government, but come before the negotiated salary, if that makes any sense). I then pay about 9% tax on everything I buy (8.875% technically). This doesn't include any healthcare, housing, food, or savings for my retirement.

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.

Hell yes!!

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.

living in a place too cold to survive on the street probably makes a difference too...

I mean if you do the math on it, it's a lower upfront cost for everyone with insurance that you won't be bankrupted by chance, thus creating more stable more incremental wealth.

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.

Would you not be saving (or at least not spending more) money by not having to pay for your healthcare needs. Besides the fact that if the rents really are cheap, then that would also be a huge savings for a lot of people.

Rents are not cheap, except maybe if compared to SF.

Hey, when I was paying $14k/year for childcare... yep. Now I'm only paying like $8k/yr for childcare. If I had two-three kids, Finland would be an easy financial win. And just think about college there!

My sib went there for grad school because of the finances & stayed. Thinking about following.

Why do you put free in quotes?

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).

Your list has some inaccuracies and omissions.

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)

4-5 weeks paid vacation. No "sick days" to keep track of, if you're sick you still get paid.

It's only dark half the year, the other half is all light all the time.

Yes, definitely.

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.

> Still worth it for 'free' education and 'free' healthcare?


> Still worth it for 'free' education and 'free' healthcare?

For me? Yes. Without the shadow of a doubt. I'd stay out of Helsinki, though. Too many people! :D

That's funny, because when viewing those numbers from a Swedish perspective they're not that controversive or high. I would go so far and say that they're below medium, some of them reaching low. I would get to keep so much more of my salary in Finland, since my income tax is at around 40% here in Sweden. Add to that all the other kreeping taxes added over time.

I love Sweden tho, no tax can change that ;)

I pay federal and state income tax, plus my employer pays payroll taxes, plus property tax. My state has no sales tax, but pretty high property tax. Plus, my employer and I pay about $1800 a month for healthcare, plus a few hundred a month in student loans. My disposable american income is probably much less..

I don't see this as a relocation opportunity. It sounds like a travel opportunity. I think digital nomads will go for this, then that's 90 days of those tax levels, which makes no difference as they are optimising for experience not income (otherwise they'd stay working onsite for a FAANG)

Yes. Come and live in a banana republic and it will be worth it.

> Take your American disposable income and cut it in half.

All that disposable income but no vacation time to spend it.

It used to be that tech employees in the US had very few vacation days compared to people in Europe. However, AFAICT now the FAANG companies seem to offer more vacation days and it seems to get closer to what is typical for Europe.

You can take all the vacations you want if you have money


I doubt the co-founder of Webflow gives a crap.

I’d take higher taxes and welfare state over Trump and American private health payer system any day.

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