back to article Now that's a Finnish-ing move: Finland offers free 90-day tryout of Helsinki tech scene with childcare thrown in

In a bold headhunting effort, the Finnish capital city of Helsinki is offering a sabbatical in the Suomi state for Silicon Valleyites. The "90-Day Finn" program is funded by the Helsinki Business Hub and aimed specifically at "tech professionals" on America's West Coast. The hub will finance a "free 90-day relocation package …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Second thoughts

    Yes, Finland knows how to defend against an invasion. I have wondered how many of those tens of thousands of American wished they hadn't evacuated China. Search using "wuhan halloween slide show". *They* had a halloween.

    BTW: I don't suppose the Finns would want remote workers to show up?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Second thoughts

      "Finland knows how to defend against an invasion"

      A government minister once explained the Finnish national characteristic of "sisu". They had been invaded by Russia many times. He said they would still fight if Russia did that again - even though they would probably lose. In 1939 they had successfully kept the Russians at bay in the mountain passes - but eventually could not stop the tank onslaught across the plain from Leningrad.

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Second thoughts

        What helped Finland in the Winter Wars was a combination of inept Russian planning and some help with reading the Russian's mail from the British.

        Finland was part of Russia from the early 1800s up to the 1917 Revolution when it was granted independence by Lenin. It was an informal ally of Germany which must have been the catalyst for the Winter Wars since its territory was close to the main Russian naval base at Kronstadt. The Finns were one of the armies participating in the siege of Leningrad so its to be expected that when the siege was lifted that they'd face an onslaught from the Red Army (and not get any useful intelligence from the British). Its all history now; there's even a high speed rail service between Helsinki and St. Petersburg/

        (So where's this 'many times' come from? Reading the post sounds as if we're still in the Cold War.)

        1. Weylin

          Re: Second thoughts

          Finland was part of the Russian Empire, not part of Russia.

          Finland was not an ally of Germany prior to the invasion by the USSR. The USSR had a pact with Germany at the time it invaded Finland.

          The USSR invaded Finland two years before the siege of Leningrad.

  2. bazza Silver badge

    I’m tempted!

    I’ve visited Finland, and have it pegged as an excellent place to be. It’s definitely different, but it’s such a nice nation. You can glean something of their complex history visiting the museum of military history on an island near Helsinki: a mixture of Soviet and Western arms, and basically a story of being pushed around by all of the neighbouring countries at some point or other.

    One thing not listed as a plus point by the article is their driving tuition / test. You get taught how to drive like a rally driver - drifting, sliding, counter steering, etc, and that’s part of the test. Pass their driving test and you’re practically guaranteed a second career opportunity as a race driver.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: I’m tempted!

      If you ever drive in Finland during the winter you will realise how important that is :-)

    2. KBeee Bronze badge

      Re: I’m tempted!

      You don't even need to visit Finlands military museum to see how well they defend themselves. I believe there's a Soviet T34 tank in the Bovington Tank Museum lent to them by Finland (strangely with a swastika painted on it, which was a Finnish symbol before Nazi use of it)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I’m tempted!

      If I'm not mistaken they learn quite early on how to drive properly on uncertain terrain - they even have competitions.

      I must ask my Finnish friend - haven't talked to him in a while anyway. As for humour, they're OK, they even get on with my sense of humour - and yes, that IS dry.

      If I go there I know the first thing that's going to happen is that he'll drag me to Lapland to teach me how to ski properly..

  3. IGotOut Silver badge

    Finland in winter...

    at least the roads don't grind to a halt when 0.1mm of snow lands.

    1. First Light Silver badge

      Re: Finland in winter...

      Or rain . . . Californians can't drive in the rain and the roads always get backed up. It's just rain!

      1. Mike Lewis

        Re: Finland in winter...

        My friend who moved there says the Californians don't have a word for rain. He says they call it "sky water".

      2. Oh Matron!

        Re: Finland in winter...

        I've been in the South Bay when it's snowed. You think London is bad when the white stuff falls....

      3. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: Finland in winter...

        In South California many of the roads stand still rain or shine.

        1. RM Myers Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: Finland in winter...

          Yes, the 405 is the world's largest parking lot/car park during rush hour (which lasts much longer than an hour in southern California).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Finland in winter...

      I liked that about Switzerland too. It's only the bloody tourists that end up blocking a single lane route into the mountains because the idea of winter tyres, snow chains or 4 wheel drive is alien to them..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Finland in winter...

        "It's only the bloody tourists that end up blocking a single lane route into the mountains because the idea of winter tyres, snow chains or 4 wheel drive is alien to them"

        Working on a project in Stockholm in 1978 there was a sudden heavy snowfall at the end of November. My colleague and I were prepared for this - as we presumed it was normal for a Stockholm winter. He had bought snow tyres for his Saab - and I had a Range Rover. We arrived at the office to find it almost deserted. By about lunch time everyone had finally arrived.

        Apparently the problem was that such snow didn't normally arrive until January - and it had caught the locals by surprise. It took time to get their cars and snow clearance lorries into winter mode. To make matters worse the local train and underground services were suffering "frozen points".

  4. Chris Miller

    There are just 15 places available

    Wow! Must be the cheapest advertising campaign ever.

  5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Stephen Elop

    I presume that name is on a list of undesirables that they will reject without further consideration

    1. onemark03 Bronze badge


      The cold: check.

      The language: check.

      And then there's the more restrictive approach to the purchase of alcohol.

      Just saying.

      1. Beeblebrox

        Re: Finland

        "restrictive approach to the purchase of alcohol"

        Distil at home works quite well.

        1. Danny 2 Silver badge

          Re: Finland

          Booze cruises to Estonian waters.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Finland

        The voracious midges: check

  6. John Robson Silver badge

    Worked in HKI for a while

    Lovely city, and brilliant people.

    Their winter snow clearance is to a quarry (or two) outside the city, and it takes until september or so to melt... usually finding a motorbike or two and a car in there...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Worked in HKI for a while

      In Stockholm - which is slightly further south - in 1979 they drove massive lorries onto the sea ice. They dumped the ploughed snow in mountainous piles to await the spring thaw.

  7. MacroRodent Silver badge

    The winter thing

    Sadly, in recent years the climate change has made Helsinki weather milder, last winter there was hardly any show. People called it "perpetual November". Most people here (I'm a native Helsinkian) agree that such "black" winters are worse than ones with snow and freezing temperatures. The short winter days feel much darker without the snow to reflect light. So far this winter looks like a replay of the last one. A record warm October just ended (day temperature hovered around +10C).

    1. First Light Silver badge

      Re: The winter thing

      Yes, I hear that snow-loving animals are getting very confused. And easy to prey on because their camouflage is made for a snowy environment.

  8. tapanit

    Just picking nits but the cold record is actually -60.7°F (-51.5°C).

  9. Danny 2 Silver badge

    "Fortunately most Finns speak English but even so."

    I escaped my vegan paramour to get myself a burger, but none of the staff spoke English so I pointed at a photograph of a burger on their menu. They looked at me dubiously before serving me a child's happy meal with a little plastic toy. I saw a Sami woman buying reindeer steaks from a supermarket - what, no relatives? All the old folk walk around with ski sticks even before the snow comes.

    Definitely under-reported are Finnish fascists/ ultra nationalists - they are effing huge, and think they won WWII by swapping sides at the last minute. And then there's the Commies, if you are into WWII/cold war memorabilia then their flea markets are a boon.

    During Covid lockdown English people can only buy booze until 10pm. Scottish folk only ever could buy booze 'til 10pm. Finnish folk can only buy booze from government stores 'til 5pm.

    Plus the language and the nudity. Don't wear clothes to a sauna. It's pronounced sow-na, not saw-na.

    I'm not trying to put anyone off, go for it. It's like being on a foreign planet from a different dimension in an alternative timezone.

    1. tapanit

      Re: "Fortunately most Finns speak English but even so."

      Actually most liquor stores in Finland are open until 9 pm during the week and until 6 pm on Saturdays. And you can get booze from restaurants even later.

      As for walking around with ski sticks, google "Nordic Walking".

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: "Fortunately most Finns speak English but even so."

      "I'm not trying to put anyone off, go for it. It's like being on a foreign planet from a different dimension in an alternative timezone."

      I see that as a bonus. It's so depressing to go to a different country and it's exactly the same as the place you left.

  10. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Pleasant enough place

    Isn't Swedish also an official language? Not that most of us Over Here speak Swedish, but it seems more approachable, far more so if one knows a bit of German.

    As for alcohol, I don't remember any difficulty in being served at dinner time. Later than that, I can't say. But yes, we did see the crowds piling onto the ferry, purchasing a cardboard six- or twelve-pack, and stepping off in Tallin with a good hole in pack.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pleasant enough place

      The country is officially bilingual. IIRC only about 6% of the population have Swedish as their mother tongue. My Finnish friends speak Swedish, Finnish, and English fluently. They learned Finnish as that is the standard language used by most Finns - most of whom don't learn Swedish. With the population imbalance many Swedish speakers marry Finnish speakers - so the Swedish speaking population is probably declining.

      Swedish is not that different from English. Three extra letters in the alphabet and a few tricky sounds - like the "whistle k" in "kanske". There is the breathy number "8" - for which you can cheat by using the "female" pronunciation. Letter combinations can often have an unexpected pronunciation - you have to remember the group sound and not try to do it by letter phonetics.

      A Northern English background is a great help as Swedish has both long and short vowels. People with Southern English pronunciation often struggle with the latter.

      I learned it in three months by living in a small village in the 1970s and buying lots of "Asterix the Gaul" books. However I do not have an ear for languages. Unfortunately people would often assume I was fluent when I asked about something - and my favourite phrase was "slowly please". My colleagues in the Stockholm office said I spoke it like a native - of Gothenburg. Apparently that is the equivalent of Scouse English.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pleasant enough place

        " There is the breathy number "8" [...]"

        Oops! Should be "There is the breathy number "7". The "sju" sound is an expelling of breath through an open mouth - almost sounds like a back of the throat gutteral.

        In the south of Sweden it is apparently pronounced as the easier sound "shu" - but in the Stockholm area this might still be a relic regarded as reserved for women's speech.

        Languages change gradually over time - but the Scandinavian ones were simplified relatively quickly from the mid-20th century.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pleasant enough place

      "But yes, we did see the crowds piling onto the ferry, purchasing a cardboard six- or twelve-pack, and stepping off in Tallin with a good hole in pack."

      In 1979 we were having dinner in a restaurant in Stockholm that overlooks the berth of the ferry from Finland. When the gangplank was lowered to the quay - the first few passengers collapsed before they reached the end. The Baltic booze cruises were a well-known social problem.

  11. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Helsinki vs Silly Valley

    The stupidity of the denizens of Silly Valley is shown by the fact Helsinki has to make such an offer.

  12. Charlie van Becelaere

    That's the country for me

    The Pythons had this figured out quite a while ago.


    (I give them bonus points for the gratuitous mention of Belgium in they lyrics.)

  13. G.Y.


    Make Finland great again!

  14. Imhotep Silver badge

    Finnish Them Off!

    I wonder if they'll be able to fill the 15 places. It just sounds really, really cold.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Finnish Them Off!

      Cold winters mean that the damp is quickly frozen out of the air. Snow just brushes off tou or your car as it has not turned to ice. In the UK the temperature hovering about freezing makes it feel colder than it is. Indoors is kept warm at T-shirt level - using insulation and heating. My Finnish friend worked as an au pair in England and complained about how cold the houses were. If I work outside in a English winter I wear my Tenson anorak - proved comfortable at -20C.

      My Finnish girlfriend said that in winter she didn't like to roll in the snow after a sauna - at -20C it is hard. She preferred to jump off the jetty into a hole cut in the sea ice. In the summer long school holidays (1970s) she was naked most of the time at their seaside cottage (stuga). Bareback horse riding took on an expanded meaning.

      In summer it can get really hot. The Baltic Sea warms up considerably. I was there for a week at the end of May and the temperature was heatwave levels with the long sunshine hours.

      A disadvantage that no one has mentioned is the midges. They love standing water and the shade of trees - Finland has an abundance of both. The further north you go - the bigger and more voracious they are. My girlfriend's family seaside stuga had white painted room walls - liberally spattered with the blood splashes of squashed midges. Only in late July do the midges die off.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Finnish Them Off!

      Pff. That's not "really cold". According to the climate info in Wikipedia, Helsinki compares favorably with Lansing, Michigan, which I rate as "moderately cold" in the winter. Lansing's generally more comfortable in the winter than some other places I've lived, including Boston, Massachusetts and Lincoln, Nebraska. (And winter nighttime lows here at the Mountain Fastness fall pretty damn low too, though the extremely low humidity means that you lose heat significantly slower, so you don't feel it as much. It might be -25 C but it feels like maybe -5.)

      Forget that cold record (which doesn't seem to be in the Wikipedia table, but whatever) and look at the normal lows. They're very reasonable.

      Personally, if I were single, I'd be very tempted to give this a try.

  15. tonique

    Lerwick vs. Helsinki

    With regard to the sun being above the horizon, Helsinki is at the same latitude as Lerwick in Shetland Islands. But, in Helsinki, you get half the precipitation and more sunlight hours! And also colder temperatures, especially when a suitable high pressure zone comes from the east.

  16. Earth Resident

    I've worked in Finland before

    I would live there in a minute. Sure, Finns are a bit reserved, but so are Belgians. However, get one of them a bit tipsy, and you've found your best friend and quite often they will tell you so. The architecture is amazing and the nature is breathtaking. Also, no slums. Normally when I stay in hotels for business, I save money by taking my laundry to the laundromat rather than using expensive hotel services. I couldn't find a laundromat in Vaanta (where I was staying) because everyone has a clothes washer.

    Driving from Helsinki to Vaasa one time I felt like I was in my home state of Maine -- pine forests and lakes galore. Another time, I flew to Vaasa and then drove to Seinäjoki for the watch then frown the national tango king and queen. I would love to visit Lapland one day.

    Too cold for you? Have your business meetings in the buff in the sauna (that's sow-na for the uninitiated). Finns are very free, open, efficient, and scrupulously honest.

    1. David Woodhead

      Re: I've worked in Finland before

      Too cold for you? Have your business meetings in the buff in the sauna (that's sow-na for the uninitiated).

      Is that sow as in distribute seeds, or sow as in a female pig?

  17. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Wait until summer

    If winters are really really cold, they will do better recruiting from California during the hottest part of summer when Finland is probably much cooler than Silicon Valley.

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