Living in Lapland and Finnish Culture

On this page we have provided some information about living in Rovaniemi and Lapland, as well as helpful links to guidebooks and Internet services. The Welcome to Finland- and Living in FInland -guidebooks (on the right) has been created to give practical information on Finnish everyday life from health, work and family to local Finnish traditions and Finnish culture.

Many students are drawn to the University of Lapland because of Lapland itself. Located in the northernmost reaches of Europe, Lapland is considered to be ’Europe’s last wildnerness frontier’. The University of Lapland is conveniently situated in the capital of Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi, which offers students a very unique study environment. The following information and links are intended to help students learn more about Rovaniemi, Lapland and Finnish culture.

Living expences in Rovaniemi
Finnish Culture


Rovaniemi, the centre of administration and commerce in Lapland, lies close to the Arctic Circle. It is situated between the hills of Ounasvaara and Korkalovaara, at the confluence of the Kemijoki River and its tributary, the Ounasjoki River. Rovaniemi is the biggest town in Lapland with population of 60,000 inhabitants. It is a multifaceted city: in 15 minutes you can go from the urban and lively city to a peaceful forest or riverside. Because of the unspoilt nature and numerous recreational opportunities, tourism is an important industry in Rovaniemi. In the wintertime the city is filled with tourists from all over the world who travel all the way to the Arctic Circle to visit Santa himself at Santa’s Village (located 10km from Rovaniemi).

Rovaniemi has also got world-wide recognition as a travel destination. Lonely Planet ranked Rovaniemi the best European winter destination ( ) and the second best family destination in Europe ( ) in 2012. In addition to that, CNN ranked Rovaniemi the best Christmas destination in the world and one of the world’s  five best winter destinations ( in 2012.

The city has a number of good hotels and restaurants located both in the centre and on the outskirts of town. As the Center of Lapland, Rovaniemi has a wide selection of shopping possibilities which attract both the inhabitants of Lapland and foreign, especially Russian, tourists. Sports facilities are easily accessible to local citizens and visitors in both summer and winter. There are jogging, cross-country and downhill ski tracks, two indoor swimming pools and the gymnasium at the Santa Claus Sports Institute.

Rovaniemi is also a significant centre of administration and education. As the capital of the Province of Lapland , it has the offices of many government institutions. It is said that out of 60, 000 inhabitants, about 10, 000 are students. Rovaniemi is home to not only the University but also the Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences, which comprises institutes of business, health and social care, culinary studies, forestry, rural studies and sports. For more information visit

Living Expenses in Rovaniemi

In Finland, the general cost of living is relatively high, but still approximately the same as in other EU countries. In the north of Finland the living expenses are usually lower than in the southern Finland. Living expenses in Rovaniemi for a student are in an average 600–900 € per month. Doctoral level students living expenses are higher (about 12001500 € per month), because they are not entitled to same benefits as degree students.

Following is an estimate of a degree student’s monthly budget

Rent 140–450 €
Food 250 €
Transportation 50 €
Leisure, other expenses 130 €
Total 570880 €

Please note that it is difficult to find a part-time job in Lapland and in Finland especially if you do not speak any Finnish. Because students can not be guaranteed to find employment during their studies, you should not plan your finances on the basis of a mere possibility of finding employment. In other words, it is recommended that you plan the financing of your studies so that you can get by without any income from Finland.


Lapland is the northernmost province of Finland and the European Union. It represents about one third of the area of the entire country (about 9, 000 km2). It is also very sparsely populated area with only 2.1 people/ km2. Lapland ’s natural characteristics are known for its treeless fells and wildlife. The most famous fells are Saariselkä, Levi, Ylläs, Pyhätunturi and Luosto (ski centers), Korvatunturi (the original home of Santa Claus) and Halti, the highest fell in Finland. In southern Lapland the forests of the pine and spruce trees are endless. Further north the trees become more rare. In Northern Lapland, up in the fells, there are no trees at all.

The seasons are very pronounced in Lapland . During the winter of six months there is a lot of snow and sometimes the temperature can drop to –40°C. The spring, when the days get longer, is very short. Summers can be very warm with daylight 24 hours a day.

The characteristic of autumn is the famous autumn colours. People who have not experienced a Nordic winter before may have a lot of questions in mind. To help you come to terms with the winter season, it might help you to not think of it as a long, monotonous period of darkness, cold and snow, but as a sequence of several distinct phases, each of which has an atmosphere of its own. By accepting it as it comes, you will find the winter in Rovaniemi a richly rewarding experience.

At the first sign of winter, the trees occasionally get filled with slush, but eventually everything gets covered up with real snow. The months from December to February are a time of stillness. The sun hardly rises above the horizon in Rovaniemi and the light hours are not many during midwinter. As for the temperature, a typical midwinter reading in Rovaniemi would be something between -5°C and -25°C, but sometimes it gets colder, even down to -40°C. Fortunately, Finnish houses (including student flats) are equipped with triple glassed windows and central heating.

After the winter solstice in December, the amount of light steadily – although slowly – increases again. However, you need to wait until the end of March until the day once more outlasts the night (spring equinox). The day becomes longer and longer and although it still might snow a little occasionally, the snow gradually melts away. Spring is slowly but surely on the way again and soon it is the time of the light nights of the Nordic summer.

More information on Lapland can be found here.

Finnish culture

The Finnish culture might be different from what you are used to, but it is definitely worth experiencing.

Finns tend to be shy and somewhat reserved at first, but once you get to know us, we are quite warm and friendly, so don't be alarmed if you don't feel an instant connection. Once you have become friends with a Finn, that friendship is going to last!

As you may know, Finnish people drink coffee a lot. The average coffee consumption per year per capita is about 12kg which is almost three times more than in the United States! (International Coffee Organization) Finns drink their rather strongly brewed coffee everywhere and almost all the time – it’s not only a drink but almost a way of life. Maybe coffee is also one way of surviving the cold winters in Finland.

And, of course, one thing Finnish people are keen to highlight is the sauna. The sauna is not only a hot room, it is an institution and an essential part of Finnish culture. Consider that there are only 5 million Finns and more than 2 million saunas in Finland . The sauna is a place for relaxing with friends and family, a place for physical and spiritual relaxation. Many people also connect some kind of sacredness to it. Student housing at the University of Lapland offer sauna times, so experiencing this part of Finnishness is really easy!

Please consult the "Living in Finland" and "Welcome to Lapland" guides (links on the right-hand side) for more information on Finnish culture, history and traditional customs as well as procedures and rules related to society and working life. One of the best ways to create connections with the Finnish culture and people is to take part in Finnish Friend Program (link on the right hand side)!