While many Brits migrate south in search of warmer climes in which to retire, their counterparts in Finland have every reason to stay put, despite temperatures reaching well below zero in the colder months.
While the cost of living in Finland can be expensive and tax rates are high, many Finns choose to stay put once they stop working, enjoying benefits unparalleled by many other countries.
In 2013 the Financial Post ranked Finland ninth in its list of the 21 best places in the world to retire, rating it above countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands in terms of quality of life.
An article released by Statistics Finland this month supports this claim, highlighting a raft of surveys where Finland has been ranked highest, or close to it, in the world in areas such as health and security.
»As well as being the most stable and safe country, Finland is the most socially-just EU country after Sweden and rates highest for wellbeing, with the third lowest mortality from cancer in OECD countries.«
– Statistics Finland –
As well as being the most stable and safe country, Finland is the most socially-just EU country after Sweden and rates highest for wellbeing, with the third lowest mortality from cancer in OECD countries. Finland also has the best record for protecting human rights after Denmark, and Finns’ trust in other people is the second highest in Europe.
Which makes it unsurprising that many Finns choose to stay put upon retirement, despite long winters where the sun only rises for a few hours per day. In fact, Finns are rated the fifth happiest people in the world and the second most satisfied with their life among Europeans, despite the winter gloom.
Part of this may be attributed to a guaranteed pension, with workers and employers making compulsory contributions towards retirement and the state topping up those on a low income to reach the minimum level required for living.
Finns are also supported in daily life with people encouraged to live at home for as long as possible. Renovation work is made available to support this where necessary and each municipality provides services to support independent living, such as cleaning, gardening and personal help.
Municipalities also organise daytime activities at service centres for pensioners, with the aim to reduce social exclusion and loneliness. As well as access to computers and internet, the centres are often equipped with a gym, laundry room and café offering discounted meals. They also come with a well-stocked library, which is not surprising given that Finland is the most literate country in the world and Finns are the second biggest library users in Europe.
On-site staff provide case management and counselling and visiting specialists can assist with physiotherapy, heart and blood pressure monitoring and other health services. In terms of social activities there are pool tables, dance classes and field trips to be enjoyed.
For those who prefer to live a quiet life however, Finland has the most forests in Europe and the third most space per person. Interestingly Finns also drink the most coffee in the world, hinting at more time to relax and ponder life as winter approaches.
Words: Melanie Dower