More Than the Degree

My First Experience Living in a Student Apartment in Finland

Are you a prospective international student in Finland looking for accommodations? Or are you still considering studying in Finland and curious about what student housing is like here? On this occasion, I want to share my story with the student's apartment in Finland from the application stage until settling in so that you can have a general picture and maybe learn a few things from my experience.

Applying to Student Housing

Before coming to Finland, I have a very abstract idea of student accommodation and how things work. It took me a while to get used to the application system because the way it works is very different from my origin country where we have to find housing on our own by contacting the private sector. Here in Finland, they have established student housing foundations so that the process of searching for accommodation can be made simple and efficient for students and everyone can get accommodation that fits their needs and wants. There are mainly two housing foundations, which are HOAS and AYY. HOAS is a housing provider for all students in Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo, and Kauniainen while AYY is a housing provider for Aalto university students. Therefore, getting an offer from AYY is mostly easier than HOAS because there are fewer demands.

Many people said that you should apply for housing as soon as you get an admission offer and that is true. As for me, I applied to HOAS and AYY in early April. I was waiting for months and wondered why I did not get any email from them. Finally, on 7 July I decided to update my application and change the price range from a maximum of €270 to €350. It is good to do so to make sure that your application is still active. After I got my residence permit, I also submitted it to AYY as a prove to add my urgency points. Not long after that, on 7 July, I got an offer from AYY of an apartment in the campus area with a monthly rent of €331. The average monthly rent for a single room in a shared student flat ranges from around €160 - €380 (reference: here), so mine is a bit on the higher price. Although at first, I was contemplating waiting for the offer from HOAS, finally I decided to accept the AYY offer by signing the contract since the deadline for accepting the offer is 11 July. On 14 July, I eventually received an offer from HOAS and the offered apartment was in Helsinki so it was such a relief that I accept the AYY first.

Contact Request from Other Tenant

Do you know that your previous tenant can be really helpful to you? Most students' apartment in Finland is unfurnished, therefore some students struggle at first to find furniture like a bedframe, mattress, desk, chair, lamp, etc. I was so ready at that time to pack a blanket and pillows for my first night. Thankfully on 1 August, I got an email from my previous tenant and she offered me her furniture and household items since recycling or getting rid of furniture when moving out is generally time-consuming. I said yes immediately and thanks to that, I was able to save money and time when I first arrived here.

First Impression

After a long-haul flight, I was comforted by the sight of my apartment which already looks homey and clean. My shared apartment consists of four single-room, 2 toilets (one with a shower and one without a shower), a kitchen, and a living room.

If you are curious and want to see other examples of student apartments, you can see more here.

Expectations vs Reality

  • I thought “Wi-Fi provided” means that I can get internet access as soon as I arrived here. Apparently, I need to have a router to connect to the provided LAN socket here. So I need a router to be able to access the Wi-Fi and I regret not bringing it with me from home.
  • I expected the room temperature will mostly be cold but apparently, when it is summer it can get a bit hot especially if the windows are closed. On the contrary, when the outside temperature started to drop to 10 degrees or minus in winter, the windows are better closed. The apartment building has a central heating and cooling system, and it will keep the room temperature to be at 21 degrees Celcius. 
  • I brought many electric plugs in case there were only a few electric sockets, it turns out the room has many electric sockets in every corner so no need to worry!

Don’t ever risk getting yourself locked out of your room

Speaking from experience, don’t ever leave your keys inside while you go to the bathroom. The wind can suddenly betray you and it will be too late for you to realize that these things really happen to most people. You should leave a spare key somewhere in the apartment or you can just leave your key hanging on the door when you are staying in your room. During my first week in Finland, this thing happened to me and I have to pay €30 to call the door opening service. I have learned my lesson, so I hope you don’t have to :) 

- Valerie, First year Master's student at the School of Electrical Engineering

View to Valerie's shared student apartment
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