Finland is a great place to enjoy a holiday. There are almost as many holiday homes as ordinary homes scattered around the country. This has always been the case in such a large country – the sixth largest in Europe measured in square kilometres, just a small population 5.6 million and forest and lakes everywhere.
Basically everybody has access to a holiday house either you own one directly, or one of your family members or a friend has one you can use or you can rent one for a week or month! The bold and beautiful can spend a fortune on a posh version but ordinary folk can normally afford one after the first years of marriage when the little ones come along!
The cost of a normal place is around €50 000 to €70 000 for a modest place – this is a small “cottage” from Honka one of the biggest producers of fine log homes:
… and €350 000 can buy a small jewel – another le comfortable Honka holiday home…:
Both have all of your normal main home comforts (electricity, hot and cold water, washing machine, dishwasher, fast internet, great heating, etc) and, naturally, a nice sauna…
… and you are surrounded by forests, lakes and birds and bees..,and if you look after it they will retain their value.
Most people want to be on the mainland near lakes or the sea but there are plenty of holiday homes on islands at sea or in a lake. You only need a boat and rudimentary sea legs!
Buying a holiday home is easy, like buying an ordinary home – you do not need a lawyer, and it is just the seller who normally uses a broker to write the sale documents and the advertisement details and photos. You can do it yourself but broker costs are reasonable (1% to 2%) and they can be useful since they have to be registered! Every sale has to be registered and this is done on the national electronic data system for tax purposes. The government wants to take their cut too!
The dreaded virus has been a big fillip for the holiday home market. Since you can’t go abroad the only alternative is to spend it in your holiday home, and those that wanted to buy have found rest and peace, at last.
Last year, the brokers were complaining that young people did not want to buy holiday homes anymore, and that older folk were dying off so quickly than there was an oversupply! The Russians had also started to sell their Finnish holiday homes because sanctions were biting hard into the economy across the border.
Now things have changed and the younger folk are happily buying up holiday homes. Prices are going up again after last years’ falls, and now there are far fewer places up for sale.
Many people are also working from their holiday homes now – it is a great alternative and change of scene for a short time.
Your correspondent has been here on an island 5 km out in the sea one hour’s drive from Helsinki to avoid infection with brief forays into town to pick up the post and stock up on supplies. Like many Finns we have been working long days with Teams, Meet and Zoom, writing reports and emails, and being envied by those of you stuck in small bedrooms and cellars in dusty town houses in other countries.
Distance working for us has had a whole new meaning which is not at all bad! We can go swimming, fishing, cut down a few trees for firewood, grow tomatoes, pick berries and mushrooms. We are surrounded by forests and the sea, and not too many people, but with lots of animals and birds. Last winter was mild and many ducks and swans survived. There were some 52 swans in the bay below our windows in May and June. Sea eagles and falcons fly high in the sky with gulls screaming below them, while ducks are quacking on the water and small birds twittering like Trump in the trees.
But after all this time one can only say that this is not so productive. Many companies think that they can save money by renting or owning less space with working folk distance working. The possibility for cost saving is relished by some and reported in the media as the new normal! But like all fads, this is a fallacy because you cannot work with colleagues and clients you never meet. Stripping away office space will not bring in great returns and probably lead to future losses – distance working has the following weaknesses:
- Staff end up not knowing one another and start to miss out on what the company is really doing. Informal networks at the office, what you see and hear next to the coffee machine, are the richest source of news – good and bad. Without them people lose touch and that is bad for bosses and co-workers… and bad for business over time.
- Individuals at the office learn from others and develop – that stops like a crushed body that has fallen from the top of a building… Many members of staff need guidance and support that a good boss or kind colleague will see in the office. That too stops happening with distance working…
- Extroverts shine on videos, and push out introverts… “diversity of the talkative” becomes the norm – and we all know where that ends up…
- How can a home become an office? It doesn’t… for some it becomes more like house arrest without parole…
- Who wants to be stuck staring at a screen for the next four decades?
The conclusion is that we will be freed in a few months time… and that is probably creates enough hope for most workers… The great challenge is that our dear politicians and leaders have not been that effective in managing this pandemic. Finns have been fortunate to have a smart government but Sweden and Russia, just across the borders, are seeing something altogether different, something they would ever have dreamed possible last year…