Retire in Finland Blog

How to? Read other's experiences. Find useful advice on shipping, immigration, residence permits, visas and more.
Chaapa
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Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2015 4:43 am

Retire in Finland Blog

Post by Chaapa » Sun Nov 06, 2016 11:27 pm

I am thinking of retiring in Finland sometime soon. My husband is an American and I am a dual citizen, US and Finland. We live and work in Massachusetts right now. I have been thinking about this for quite some time and have begun processing an application for a residence permit for my husband. This is not a simple thing to do at our age so I have started a blog to write about the process as well to help organize my thoughts around this. I would appreciate thoughtful comments and suggestions about the blog. It can be found at http://www.retireinfinland.com. Thanks!



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biscayne
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Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:43 pm

Re: Retire in Finland Blog

Post by biscayne » Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:54 am

Retire TO Finland?(??)

Interesting. For quite a lot of foreigners, once the positives of living in Finland such as cheap daycare - good educational prospects, health care etc., are no longer needed and outweighed by the negatives - climate, taxation and the general expensiveness of everything, they often decide to up sticks and go somewhere warmer where the living is cheaper and stretch their pension out a bit. Ok, healthcare is always needed, but it is available elsewhere too....


Rosamunda
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Re: Retire in Finland Blog

Post by Rosamunda » Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:36 am

Thanks for sharing, and it will be interesting to follow your journey. Having deep-rooted cultural ties will inevitably help you to adjust, though your husband may find it much harder. Vaasa, Seinajoki and Hyvinkää are hardly cities by US standards and "things to do in the winter" (especially things to do in English in the winter) may be the make-or-break factor in your move: maybe not immediately but after a year or two. So, keep your options open as far as returning to the US is concerned.

BTW I think you were a little harsh about the Forum - yes, many people are unnecessarily aggressive in their posts but a) that's often the norm on social media b) many are not native English speakers and don't master the complexities of tentative language c) there are also many people on here who are exceedingly helpful and professional and you may benefit from their (free) advice some time in the future.

You were very lucky to be able to get your citizenship papers so easily. There are many people here who struggle to obtain citizenship even though they are working and contributing to society here.


Flossy1978
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:38 pm

Re: Retire in Finland Blog

Post by Flossy1978 » Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:11 pm

I have a question to ask about retiring in Finland. If you've never lived in Finland and never paid into the system at all, are you able to move over to Finland , get the pension, take use of free healthcare etc? And then does it mean the partner of the Finnish person gets to benefit in the same way?

It is kind of screwy if it is like this, isn't it?


Rip
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Re: Retire in Finland Blog

Post by Rip » Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:34 pm

Right of a citizen to move here and bring a genuine spouse is clear. I don't know if one is entitled to 'takuueläke' or similar if one gets pension elsewhere. Regarding healthcare costs one can only hope such persons would die healthy.


betelgeuse
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Re: Retire in Finland Blog

Post by betelgeuse » Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:36 pm

Flossy1978 wrote:I have a question to ask about retiring in Finland. If you've never lived in Finland and never paid into the system at all, are you able to move over to Finland , get the pension, take use of free healthcare etc?
Yes (for citizens).
Flossy1978 wrote:And then does it mean the partner of the Finnish person gets to benefit in the same way?
Yes.
Flossy1978 wrote:It is kind of screwy if it is like this, isn't it?
Which one of these would you remove?
  • Right of citizens to return to the country
  • Universal welfare state
  • Right of citizens to bring their family members
These basic principles can lead to results that in the individual cases can seem unjust to many. However, I would not sacrifice the bigger principles. For the OPs case they will presumably be spending their US pensions in Finland so the expected value to society can be positive (I don't really know what's the net position of such pensioners in terms of direct and indirect tax contributions and services/benefits received).


PJG
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Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2016 10:13 pm

Re: Retire in Finland Blog

Post by PJG » Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:24 pm

betelgeuse wrote:
Which one of these would you remove?
  • Right of citizens to return to the country
  • Universal welfare state
  • Right of citizens to bring their family members
These basic principles can lead to results that in the individual cases can seem unjust to many. However, I would not sacrifice the bigger principles. For the OPs case they will presumably be spending their US pensions in Finland so the expected value to society can be positive (I don't really know what's the net position of such pensioners in terms of direct and indirect tax contributions and services/benefits received).
The universal welfare state would be given the chop, gone, in a heartbeat.

I'm not 100% convinced that somebody who has not contributed an adequate level of taxes to the exchequer in Finland could access a state funded pension paid for by those who have. It would be utterly ridiculous, even by Finnish standards. It's certainly not the case with other EU countries, but then again, this is Finland so anything is possible.

If so, it's one of those truly idiotic consequences of operating the flawed concept of a universal welfare state.

If the OP was resident in the US but paying into the social protection fund here in Finland, that's a very different situation. It's also something she could have done in fact and in all fairness to her, she has not indicated she has any intention of availing of services to which she should not lay claim, at least if she is to behave as a person of good principle.

/rant.

In other news, OP, it's -5C already here and the streets are covered in snow. There have been over 100 RTA's today in southern Finland related to weather.

Honestly, I think you're crazy to want to move here for retirement purposes. It's cold, dark and pretty damned miserable during the winter. It was pitch black outside before 5pm. It's only the start of November. This will last for months.

Don't underestimate just how much this will effect you. By all means, come, retire here and live the life you want for yourselves. It might seems incredibly negative, but that's easy to say when you're not actually facing it day after day for month after month, every winter, for year after year.

I love Finland. But I sure as hell won't spend my retirement years here. Old people take a beating with the weather here, that's for sure.


betelgeuse
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Re: Retire in Finland Blog

Post by betelgeuse » Tue Nov 08, 2016 12:47 am

PJG wrote: I'm not 100% convinced that somebody who has not contributed an adequate level of taxes to the exchequer in Finland could access a state funded pension paid for by those who have. It would be utterly ridiculous, even by Finnish standards. It's certainly not the case with other EU countries, but then again, this is Finland so anything is possible.
They can and it's protected by the constitution.
Section 19 - The right to social security

Those who cannot obtain the means necessary for a life of dignity have the right to receive indispensable subsistence and care.

Everyone shall be guaranteed by an Act the right to basic subsistence in the event of unemployment, illness, and disability and during old age as well as at the birth of a child or the loss of a provider.

The public authorities shall guarantee for everyone, as provided in more detail by an Act, adequate social, health and medical services and promote the health of the population. Moreover, the public authorities shall support families and others responsible for providing for children so that they have the ability to ensure the wellbeing and personal development of the children.

The public authorities shall promote the right of everyone to housing and the opportunity to arrange their own housing.
http://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/kaannokset ... 990731.pdf

I don't know the systems of other countries but I would be surprised if EU did not require minimum support to be provided to pensioners residing legally.


betelgeuse
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Re: Retire in Finland Blog

Post by betelgeuse » Tue Nov 08, 2016 12:49 am

PJG wrote:If the OP was resident in the US but paying into the social protection fund here in Finland, that's a very different situation.
What do you mean? Voluntarily sending money to Kela? I doubt they have processes for that but maybe they would oblige if asked. It would be a gift though and not provide anything in return.


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rinso
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Re: Retire in Finland Blog

Post by rinso » Tue Nov 08, 2016 8:06 am

These basic principles can lead to results that in the individual cases can seem unjust to many. However, I would not sacrifice the bigger principles.
Social benefits are not a goldmine, on the contrary. Very few people will retire to Finland with the knowledge that they will live the remaining of their lives in poverty. For those exceptional cases we don't have to sacrifice anything.


Flossy1978
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Re: Retire in Finland Blog

Post by Flossy1978 » Tue Nov 08, 2016 10:11 am

Oh I did not mean they don't have a right because of being a Finnish Citizen. But I would think you should have had least paid into the system a bit before benefitting from it. Especially if you got citizenship through a parent etc and have actually nothing to do with Finland till you decide to turn up one day. Not that this is what the Poster has done. I don't know their history. I was just curious.

I think it is easy to get into Finland. My Dad is born in Holland. Moved to Australia during the mass migration of the 50's. He's never been allowed to get his Dutch Citizenship back. So we kids could never get it. Rightly so. We have no connection to Holland other than by blood. But there are Australians who've got no connection to Finland, but who can easily get Finnish Citizenship or the right to a Resident Permit and all that entails. Even if it was their Grandparents and not their Parents who were from there.

Does not matter anyway..... From what we see in the news here, the EU and countries within it are going to hell in a handbasket. I don't think retiring their the next few decades will be all that pleasant soon enough.


PJG
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Re: Retire in Finland Blog

Post by PJG » Tue Nov 08, 2016 4:24 pm

Interesting reading:

http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/s ... /07/fi.htm

You need 40 years of contributions for a full pension.

There is no minimum pension.

You pay tax on your pension.

For a detailed explanation of the pension system this publication is also quite helpful:

https://www.julkari.fi/bitstream/handle ... sequence=1

So, the OP will not be entitled to an employment pension for sure. The national pension is another matter entirely.


betelgeuse
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Re: Retire in Finland Blog

Post by betelgeuse » Tue Nov 08, 2016 4:52 pm

PJG wrote: http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/s ... /07/fi.htm

You need 40 years of contributions for a full pension.

There is no minimum pension.
That page is from 1998 judging from the url. Then and now you gain employment pension for every euro you contribute to the pension system. Probably the term "full pension" is defined as how long you need to contribute to reach a certain percentage of your salary.
PJG wrote: For a detailed explanation of the pension system this publication is also quite helpful:

https://www.julkari.fi/bitstream/handle ... sequence=1
There's big rule changes coming into effect in the beginning of 2017 which does not account for since it's from 2013.
PJG wrote: So, the OP will not be entitled to an employment pension for sure.

The national pension is another matter entirely.
Correct.


leisl
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Re: Retire in Finland Blog

Post by leisl » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:31 pm

Awesome, no job to find friends and relying on your wife and her family for a social life, since she isn't working either. So who's your best mate? Oh, my inlaws. And who do you hang out with for a beer or barbecue in summer? Oh, the inlaws. Oh and I sit around looking stupid when they all speak rapid Finnish to each other. Uhuh. Sounds like a blast. I only know it because I've lived it for seven years and by the looks of it I'm 20 years younger. (Self-employed, but that has the same opportunities for not having colleagues to chat with as being retired does.)

There was someone here not so long ago looking to move their elderly mother back alone, as she was pining for Finland and yet hadn't lived here in a long time... understandable that an older person wants to go back to what they remember, or what they've heard stories about from family members, because we all sort of revert to reminiscence in our old age. But nothing stays the same. Life moves on and places change. The elderly lady probably has an advantage in that everyone else in the nursing home will have the same stories to tell of Finland in the 1950s and she'll still have Finnish long after she forgets her English (it happens, that's dementia for you).

Suspicion: that integration assistance and the associated free Finnish lessons might not apply due to the ages. Not sure anyone here would know though, we don't tend to have many retired foreigners around here who might have been in that situation. Betelgeuse might know or be able to track that info down.

Just thought I would helpfully be discouraging. I mean, let's face it, why would you advertise your blog here trying to get readers, you don't want we discouraging folk reading it anyway, surely ;) Or could it be another case of a Finn underestimating how life really is for a foreigner here, since they've never been one, and assuming we're being overly and unfairly doom 'n' gloom? I'll be candid, my partner (Finnish) certainly underestimated how difficult it would be for me, and I'm sure many others can back that up. After all, Finns don't generally have to tackle their first foreign language as an adult, don't usually have to fight the Kela minefield by virtue of being entitled by birth, and grow up in Finnish culture thus never have to learn to adapt to it. Understandable really.

But as to why so many people read what's written in these forums and then assume everyone must be wrong... well. Not sure if arrogance or just willful ignorance and an overdose of optimism. Maybe that's America's fault, teaching everyone they can have anything they want if they just believe.
Last edited by leisl on Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.


Rosamunda
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Re: Retire in Finland Blog

Post by Rosamunda » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:42 pm

Back to pensions...

Any pension received in the USA and sent to Finland will have to be converted to Euros (which not only has a cost (bank charges) but is also subject to volatility and risk). US citizens are taxed on their global income wherever they live, so no tax break by coming here.

It's a can of worms... If a US-based Finn returns to this country and is granted a state pension, can they then return to the US and continue to claim the pension?

I have no worries with Returning Finns being given a state pension, assuming that it all goes back into the Finnish economy. More of a worry is the drain on the national health service which active people (some of them not even citizens) are sustaining with their various contributions (deducted at source). It is already under extreme strain and further loading the age pyramid at the top won't help.

I remember when I first arrived in Finland there were quite a few 'Returning Finns' at my sons' school. Things weren't particularly easy for them. In a way, it's harder to be a Returning Finn than an immigrant (you're not an immigrant, but you're not quite Finnish either). As a Finn, you are expected to know how things work. With my UK passport I can still get away with :beamer: mumbling in Finglish when I go to the maistraatti or the bank, or the doctors etc but I would not feel comfortable doing that with a Finnish passport. I wonder if there is much resentment of Returning Finns among the Finnish population. Certainly in Budapest (I lived there for a couple of years) the Hungarians who returned in the late 90s were not greeted with open arms.

Just thinking aloud!


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