Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

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Duality
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:14 pm

Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

Post by Duality » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:00 am

Hello all,
I'm from Austria and would like to move to Helsinki to do a PhD here. I am currently trying to figure out how the standard of living in Helsinki would be for me and was hoping you could give me some advice. :)
I have learned that the average starting salary is roughly 2200 euros/m gross, but I couldn't figure out how much net salary that would be (my guess is something around 1700/m?) Is it possible with this salary to live a "decent" life in Helsinki? I'd like to live in a flat that's at least 35-40m2 big (no shared flats), preferrably somewhere in or near the center or with good public transportation; I guess that would be around at least 800-900 euros/month? I don't have any expensive hobbies and am not a person who goes out that often, but I'd like to afford going to cafes or having lunch somewhere every now and then without having to worry about my bank account. In my memory the prices for groceries in the supermarkets are rather expensive, I read that it's about 100 euros/week, is that realistic for a single person? Also, I don't really know about the finnish insurance system. Do I have to pay extra for that or is that usually covered by the employer?
As for living, Töölö area would be my dream (yes I know it's very expensive and unrealistic) but I'd also be interested in experiences from any other parts of Helsinki, especially Kallio, Vuosaari or the area around Itäkeskus.
I'd be very grateful if you could give me some advice. Thanks in advance :)

Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

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inkku
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Re: Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

Post by inkku » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:11 pm

As a student you can get quite many benefits.
Student lunches are subsidied by e2/lunch, thus lunch will cost you for e5-6 in the Uni cafe.
There are quite many housing options, in addition HOAS there are also various buildings for post graduates, student unions and student guilds have own accommodation, that is your best bet. In general, studios are cheaper than e1200, I would say around e900 as you stated is right. That is unfurnished which is the standard but unfurnished usually have fridge, stove etc... The problem is the supply, there is a tough competition for the smaller flats closer to the centre. You might find yourself among 30-40 other candidates, so chances are slight.
Would be worth considering something in places like Haaga, Oulunkyla, Kapyla, quite good connections. Do not think about moving to Espoo or Vantaa if you study in Helsinki,that will kill you. However, my advice would be also to consider shared flats in the beginning until you get a suitable deal.
I cannot remember how much is one month Helsinki bus ticket, but it is ok. You can get a student discount as well. You can also use bike or even walk, depending on the distance.
Life gets cheaper when you learn where and where to get bargains (Seasonal foods, adapting to items which are less expensive in Finland and forget the expensive ones)
I would say your estimation for food e400 is about right.
The only insurance that you should take imo is the home insurance.


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wolf80
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Location: Helsinki

Re: Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

Post by wolf80 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:18 pm

roger_roger wrote:
100e/week for groceries would do for families of 3/4 or sometimes 5. surely it depends upon what you eat, Fishes are expensive and are Beef/Reindeer, etc. Pork, chicken are comparable to Austria and fresh veggies are bit expensive. 200e might be more than enough for single person's groceries for month.
Pork and chicken are much more expensive than in Austria. 100 Euro a week is not realistic for a whole family if you want to eat good food. If you live alone and cook yourself I would say 250-300 Euro a month is realistic.

inkku wrote:As a student you can get quite many benefits.
Student lunches are subsidied by e2/lunch, thus lunch will cost you for e5-6 in the Uni cafe.
As a Phd student you have to pay normal prices for the lunch as you are considered an employee and not a student.


Duality
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:14 pm

Re: Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

Post by Duality » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:59 pm

Thanks to all of you for your helpful replies!
inkku wrote:Do not think about moving to Espoo or Vantaa if you study in Helsinki,that will kill you.
Do you mean because of the commuting every day? I currently need approx. 45 minutes to get to my university, so anything around that time would be okay for me. The campus is in Viikki, so I guess Vantaa should be feasible? Or are the connections (especially in the evenings) not that good?
As far as I know the tickets for public transport within the city zone 1 should be 50 euros per month which is okay for me, but I'd most probably get a bike anyway.
inkku wrote:You might find yourself among 30-40 other candidates, so chances are slight.
Oh, I didn't know about that. I've heard of other countries that landlords want a whole portfolio with all your information on who you are, how much you earn, how much money you have in general etc. Is it the same in Finland?


inkku
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Re: Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

Post by inkku » Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:43 pm

Duality wrote:Thanks to all of you for your helpful replies!
inkku wrote:Do not think about moving to Espoo or Vantaa if you study in Helsinki,that will kill you.
Do you mean because of the commuting every day? I currently need approx. 45 minutes to get to my university, so anything around that time would be okay for me. The campus is in Viikki, so I guess Vantaa should be feasible? Or are the connections (especially in the evenings) not that good?
As far as I know the tickets for public transport within the city zone 1 should be 50 euros per month which is okay for me, but I'd most probably get a bike anyway.
inkku wrote:You might find yourself among 30-40 other candidates, so chances are slight.
Oh, I didn't know about that. I've heard of other countries that landlords want a whole portfolio with all your information on who you are, how much you earn, how much money you have in general etc. Is it the same in Finland?
I really don't know what docs the landlords want but they want to minimise risks. But if you look for a flat in Eastern Helsinki that will be much easier.

Vantaa will just make you feel you are dead, bad connections , bus tickets are more expensive. Also for socializing better not to go too far. I am sure you can find very decent places somewhere on Helsinki side.


leisl
Posts: 422
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Re: Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

Post by leisl » Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:11 am

Wow some numbers in here are right and some are out of touch with reality.

40 square metres in Töölö will almost always be 2 rooms, and about 800-900 is correct (1000 in August; maybe 800 right now).

100e is totally unrealistic to feed a family of four in a week. Do you only eat potatoes, and rice cooked in milk? OP stated she would like to have lunch out etc. OP, you can eat "well" on about 70 to 100 a week as a normal single person buying not just the cheapest brands. Others should remember that when you're single you can't buy all the cheapest stuff because hello, you can't eat six servings of chicken on your own so you have to go for smaller, more expensive packages, or go crazy portioning and freezing absolutely every item you buy. And so on.

Landlords do not "expect" a portfolio from you, but you should approach it like a job interview, dress corporate and come armed with proof how long you are staying, proof of your income and so on. Be very chatty, you'll notice that the Finns viewing the place do ZERO small talk, this is to your advantage, because the owner/agent wants to know what kind of person you are so say nice things about the apartment and about Finland and how you plan to stay in Finland and build a life here. SIgn a one year minimum lease, pretend you're staying longer even if you won't stay that long, as you can by rights break it later if you need to leave because of work / study (yes, I'm saying that even though it's morally mean, and I am a landlord myself and would find it annoying... but you have a big disadvantage just being foreign, so you do what you can to get somewhere to live).

Others are right don't bother going out of Helsinki thinking it will be cheaper, for a studio you won't save any real rent money compared with the jump in ticket price.

And Eastern Helsinki especially Itäkeskus to Vuosaari, a lot of foreigners and foreign owners, so sort of easier to be trusted. Metro is fast and convenient too.


Duality
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:14 pm

Re: Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

Post by Duality » Tue Jan 10, 2017 1:03 pm

Thank you very much for your response and information!
I've got one more question about the housing: I understood that it is common to pay the water bill additionally to the rent, does the same go for heating and electricity? I read that heating may be provided through a central district heating system, does that mean that the cost will be included in the rent?


anonfinn
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Re: Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

Post by anonfinn » Tue Jan 10, 2017 1:32 pm

Duality wrote:Hello all,
I'm from Austria and would like to move to Helsinki to do a PhD here. I am currently trying to figure out how the standard of living in Helsinki would be for me and was hoping you could give me some advice. :)
I have learned that the average starting salary is roughly 2200 euros/m gross, but I couldn't figure out how much net salary that would be (my guess is something around 1700/m?) Is it possible with this salary to live a "decent" life in Helsinki? I'd like to live in a flat that's at least 35-40m2 big (no shared flats), preferrably somewhere in or near the center or with good public transportation; I guess that would be around at least 800-900 euros/month? I don't have any expensive hobbies and am not a person who goes out that often, but I'd like to afford going to cafes or having lunch somewhere every now and then without having to worry about my bank account. In my memory the prices for groceries in the supermarkets are rather expensive, I read that it's about 100 euros/week, is that realistic for a single person? Also, I don't really know about the finnish insurance system. Do I have to pay extra for that or is that usually covered by the employer?
As for living, Töölö area would be my dream (yes I know it's very expensive and unrealistic) but I'd also be interested in experiences from any other parts of Helsinki, especially Kallio, Vuosaari or the area around Itäkeskus.
I'd be very grateful if you could give me some advice. Thanks in advance :)
I think people on here have just taken a wild guess, but I know for a fact that as a post-grad, you are likely to be only offered a flat by HOAS in Vantaa/Espoo - undergrads have first pick and will get the flats in Kamppi, Töölö, etc. Also, those flats will be around 600 euros per month for a 2-bedroom flat (not shared) and include wifi, electricity, etc. They'll offer you a place, which you can reject, but they won't make you a third offer if you reject the second one. You'll have a much better chance of getting a flat before the end-summer /early autumn rush. Transport in the Helsinki area is really good, so even if you are in the middle of nowhere in Espoo or Vantaa, chances are your commute is 30mins or less by train or bus. You have to just check what bus/train routes are available for you when you are offered a place. The question is if you want to live in a pretty suburban/residential area as a student though...

It's not clear if you are going to be a student or in work?? Health insurance isn't available for post-grads, only undergrads, I think, so you will have to get your own insurance. If you are working then you'll be part of the social security system so don't have to get your own.


anonfinn
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2016 11:21 pm

Re: Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

Post by anonfinn » Tue Jan 10, 2017 1:38 pm

Duality wrote:Hello all,
I'm from Austria and would like to move to Helsinki to do a PhD here. I am currently trying to figure out how the standard of living in Helsinki would be for me and was hoping you could give me some advice. :)
I have learned that the average starting salary is roughly 2200 euros/m gross, but I couldn't figure out how much net salary that would be (my guess is something around 1700/m?) Is it possible with this salary to live a "decent" life in Helsinki? I'd like to live in a flat that's at least 35-40m2 big (no shared flats), preferrably somewhere in or near the center or with good public transportation; I guess that would be around at least 800-900 euros/month? I don't have any expensive hobbies and am not a person who goes out that often, but I'd like to afford going to cafes or having lunch somewhere every now and then without having to worry about my bank account. In my memory the prices for groceries in the supermarkets are rather expensive, I read that it's about 100 euros/week, is that realistic for a single person? Also, I don't really know about the finnish insurance system. Do I have to pay extra for that or is that usually covered by the employer?
As for living, Töölö area would be my dream (yes I know it's very expensive and unrealistic) but I'd also be interested in experiences from any other parts of Helsinki, especially Kallio, Vuosaari or the area around Itäkeskus.
I'd be very grateful if you could give me some advice. Thanks in advance :)

Another factual inaccuracy given to you on this forum (by inkku) is that you'd get a discount on public transport. That's available to undergrads only, not post-grads. PhDs are generally considered more as staff than as students. That has positives but also some negatives (i.e. reduced subsidies - lunch is 5.75 instead of 2 euros, zero subsidy on transport).


inkku
Posts: 603
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 8:26 pm

Re: Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

Post by inkku » Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:23 pm

anonfinn wrote: Another factual inaccuracy given to you on this forum (by inkku) is that you'd get a discount on public transport. That's available to undergrads only, not post-grads. PhDs are generally considered more as staff than as students. That has positives but also some negatives (i.e. reduced subsidies - lunch is 5.75 instead of 2 euros, zero subsidy on transport).
True, I stand corrected, I read the pages carelessly.

As I said earlier, OP should check first with the department/student unions/guilds their housing offers, they can be better than HOAS.
There is one German PhD student here on finland forum, I hope here jumps onboard and gives some current advice.


Rosamunda
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Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2004 12:07 am

Re: Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

Post by Rosamunda » Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:39 pm

Check bilateral tax agreements between Austria and Finland. In some cases researchers have tax exemptions eg the French. Not sure about Austria.


Ninja
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Re: Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

Post by Ninja » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:16 am

For the size of apartment you are looking for it's not going to be cheap in Helsinki, but a great recommendation is definitely the student housing HOAS, that would be the first place I would go as they can provide the cheapest housing, but keep in mind you have a lot of competition as well, as Helsinki is fairly popular but not like impossible to get a place, most people live around it on the outskirts for larger apartments and more affordable housing. The apartments in the center can be quite costly and quite small, some of them not even having a shower, it gets pretty ridiculous there.

Otherwise, you will be applying for apartments against other people, mostly Finns, you will have a much more difficult time because they are likely working and have a credit history there, and in general they are "known" or more trusted to the renters than foreigner. However, if you are willing to pay a 2 months security deposit, that would increase your chances as some places require that.

It's simple to apply for an apartment, you fill out a simple form with your information that's given by the renter or filled out before hand, and then they consider you among other people whether you are selected on not based on their preferences after you look at the apartment

Cost of living wise, you'll be fine, you don't need a student lunch discount to survive, you just wouldn't want to eat out excessively. Things are more expensive here but you can go to places like Lidl and live moderately off little bit of food, you won't have to struggle or starve on 1700e a month.

Extra expenses will be housing insurance, electricity, transportation fees, perhaps internet, water is included in the rent or not, it depends on the place.

I wish I knew more about living in Helsinki, but I'll be moving about 45 minutes outside of it and taking transportation into it's core, and we'll see how that goes.


leisl
Posts: 422
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:26 pm

Re: Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

Post by leisl » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:07 am

roger_roger wrote:
leisl wrote:Wow some numbers in here are right and some are out of touch with reality.
amm hmm...
leisl wrote:40 square metres in Töölö will almost always be 2 rooms, and about 800-900 is correct (1000 in August; maybe 800 right now).
yeah yeah
http://www.vuokraovi.com/rental-apartme ... 1708212562
http://www.vuokraovi.com/rental-apartme ... 1708212562
http://www.vuokraovi.com/rental-apartme ... 1708212562
http://www.vuokraovi.com/rental-apartme ... 1708212562
http://www.vuokraovi.com/rental-apartme ... 1708212562
Yes yes, anyone can cherry pick and select the most expensive ones so that it suits their wrong argument. How about a result that doesn't just pluck a couple of dumb and expensive ones out, a result that has ALL rentals? OH LOOK, THE PLACES ARE FOR THE PRICE I SAID. FUNNY THAT.
http://bit.ly/2jwQBOB
roger_roger wrote:
leisl wrote:100e is totally unrealistic to feed a family of four in a week. Do you only eat potatoes, and rice cooked in milk?
when people are out of home whole day, have breakfast coffee out, have lunch out, what do they buy on groceries to cost sky high? Eating food 3 times a day is normal, and normal busy people just have light dinner during night. It might be different for the ones who doesn't have job for real and stay home whole day and cook and eat everytime they please.

I couldn't help myself bashing but think before you take other's perspective out of equation, we might have different lifestyles, eating habits, etc.
Yes... yours doesn't seem to match reality. Normal people cook dinner and have an actual meal in the evenings.


irnbru
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Re: Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

Post by irnbru » Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:11 am

roger_roger wrote:
leisl wrote:100e is totally unrealistic to feed a family of four in a week. Do you only eat potatoes, and rice cooked in milk?
when people are out of home whole day, have breakfast coffee out, have lunch out, what do they buy on groceries to cost sky high? Eating food 3 times a day is normal, and normal busy people just have light dinner during night. It might be different for the ones who doesn't have job for real and stay home whole day and cook and eat everytime they please.

I couldn't help myself bashing but think before you take other's perspective out of equation, we might have different lifestyles, eating habits, etc.
I have 2 kids and easily spend 200€ a week on groceries sometimes 250€. The supermarkets here are why the economy is dire IMO.


Duality
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:14 pm

Re: Cost of living in Helsinki as PhD student

Post by Duality » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:24 pm

Thanks again everybody for answering, it's helping me a lot.
Are there any places in Helsinki which you can absolutely not recommend to live in because of poor public transportation or other circumtances?
Do the district in the north/northwest like Kaarela etc. have decent connections to the other parts of the city?


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