Episode 7

Settling into Finland: Furniture, Groceries and Other Necessities

When adapting to life in a new country, everyday tasks like grocery shopping and recycling can feel strange and challenging. To help you feel more prepared, Petra and Jean share their experiences figuring out daily tasks in Finland. Be sure to give episode seven a listen for more of their helpful hints.

Upon arriving in Finland, you will likely want to have a furnished place to stay. Unless you are renting a pre-furnished student apartment, you will need to get the basics right away. Petra was lucky to have a friend in Finland looking to sell secondhand furniture. Jean began with a mattress from the grocery store, and later went to second hand shops for the rest of her furniture. We recommend buying second hand if you can, because it is cost effective and good for the environment; we've linked some options down below! IKEA is a good option for those who need your furniture delivered. Just keep in mind that many student housing options lack service elevators!

After furnishing your apartment, you will likely be hungry— especially if you had to haul a mattress up eight flights of a spiral staircase (yes, that really happened). Now would be a good time to familiarise yourself with Finland's grocery stores:

  1. K-group and S-group : these are the most common grocery markets in Finland, and you will likely have one nearby. S-group is cheaper than K-group, but less common.
  2. Lidl: is a German supermarket, and your cheapest option. Jean once scored two weeks of groceries here for €34. Yes, you read that right.
  3. Alko: As you can probably guess by its name, alcohol is the sole product sold at this specialty store. In fact, Alko is the only place you can purchase alcohol above 5.6%, and you will need to visit Monday through Saturday.

Most stores in Finland close early on Saturday, so be sure to plan accordingly. Nevertheless, you will be able to find plenty of healthy options to accomodate any dietary restriction. Even student meals come in vegan options— usually for the same cost as the non-vegan alternative! 

Once you've gotten your groceries home, you will need to figure out how to sort the waste. In Finland, you are responsible for pre-sorting your own garbage. This means separating metal, cardboard, glass, bio waste, all trash, and plastics. You can benefit from Finland's ultra-green waste collection system, too, by returning bottles to the grocery store for a small profit.

Another important aspect of many of our lives is self-care. In terms of cosmetics, Finland may not have many options, but Finnish brands like Lumen e- know how to help your skin survive the harsh winter.

Hopefully, Petra and Jean's tips will help you have a smooth transition to daily life in Finland. As always, we are glad to have you, and look forward to sharing more important information next week. Be sure to check the links below, as we mentioned plenty of important resources in this week’s episode.


Jysk (furniture store)

Ikea (furniture store)

Second-hand shops Kirpputori (Kirppis) = a Finnish name for a flea market/second-hand shop Sovatek (furniture and other items) UFF (mostly clothes)

Student restaurants (Jyväskylä)

Student restaurants (Helsinki)





Organic Shop Ruohonjuuri

Ekolo Kauppa

Waste Guide