While I was writing posts within one internet forum, I also had to mention, every now and then, that I live in Helsinki, Finland. Well, I am not boasting with this - it's a fact, I am an immigrant, at least at the moment. However, the reactions of other members were something like "ooh, Finland, I envy you, such a beautiful country" and "ooh, Helsinki, I envy you". Yet - are Helsinki really so great and the best city and all?
Newsweek magazine recently ranked Finland as the best country to live in - mainly because of very good educational system - but still. I surely do like living in Finland, it's clean and naturally beautiful country. The salary is in general good - but on the other hand, the taxes are high, and that hurts. Further more, there really is a big difference between Helsinki and, for instace, Jyväskylä where I first lived. Helsinki is, of course, much much bigger - here lives half a milion of the population, whereas in Jyväskylä it was less than 100 thousand. So, all the good shops are basically located in Helsinki, all the biggest bands come to Helsinki; the city is a capital and, as most probably elsewhere in the world, everything aims to the capital.
However, it also looks like that it is much easier to find a job in Helsinki. Thus, people have to move from other parts of Finland - and that causes a shortage of proper rental apartments. So, there is a big competition among tenants, which make rents very, very high. I mean, the difference between Jyväskylä and Helsinki is almost 60% regarding rental costs. For instance, one can easily pay even 900€ for a small one-room flat in Helsinki, whereas in Jyväskylä the rent could be 400€, or even less. Of course there are possibilities to get a municipal flat, where the rent is cheaper etc. - but for a young individual just starting to work and with no family, small flats on the rental market seem to be the only option. And thus, one has to take the situation as it is, and get over it.
As Helsinki is much bigger than other cities in Finland, I also sense some kind of metropolis-feeling. Sometimes, the city feels too crowded, and one cannot be alone. People squeeze on vacant seats of public trasport, and sometimes I get this feeling that they really don't care about others. There is much more rush and ignorance in general; quite hard to explain. Annoying and loud teenagers, people all the time talking on mobile-phones, no silence. Drunks, and lately beggars from Romania. All in all - Helsinki can be too big and too crowded place, where one can hardly maintain her or his own little personal space.
Anyway... I like Helsinki, and I like living in Helsinki. I like green suburbs, I like the sea, I like the fact that people have so many dogs here - and I also like the fact that I can get much more stuff here than in Jyväskylä, or even in Ljubljana. Helsinki is trendy and up-to-date; Helsinki is, afterall, very cool - but still no fairyland.