Relocating to another country to pursue studies often brings a lot of hassle and unknowns. Depending on the country, students have different housing options when choosing their future home. Whether it is private housing, students housing or dormitories, it is always nice to know how to prepare beforehand. Therefore, I would like to share a few tips with those who are preparing to move to Finland on where to turn to when furnishing their apartment in Turku.
Starting with the basics
While in some countries partially or fully furnished apartments and rooms might be the standard, when moving to Finland, the situation is a bit different. If you’re planning to move as an exchange or full-time student, you are most likely get a recommendation to apply for one of the student housings. In Turku, you can do this through the Student Village Foundation of Turku (commonly known as ‘TYS’). Most commonly, students receive offers for unfurnished apartments, although a number of rooms might come furnished already. Such rooms are usually reserved for exchange students, who plan to stay in Finland for one or two semesters only. Exchange students can also borrow a starting packages containing essential household items.
However, getting an unfurnished apartment can be scary. Is it a completely empty room with only a floor, walls and a ceiling? Or do rooms have some basic furniture? As ‘unfurnished’ can mean different things in different countries, let’s look at what to expect once students accept their housing offer.
In Finland, many unfurnished rooms will actually not be completely empty. Especially in the TYS apartments, students will find a wardrobe or cupboard and a refrigerator with a small freezer as the basic equipment. Rooms with their own kitchen have an electric stove and in some locations they have an oven as well. Apartments which come without their own kitchen will usually have a shared kitchen on the same floor. Unless stated otherwise, most rooms have their own bathroom too.
What is NOT included as basic equipment? Unfurnished rooms will not have a bed, tables, chairs and the main ceiling lamp. There will also not be any electronic household items such as a kettle or microwave oven. These are items that students will have to acquire themselves. The entrance part of the room will most likely have a ceiling lamp and in-room kitchens will have under counter lights, so there is some source of light at least. These, however, will not be able to illuminate the entire apartment well enough.
Some places to keep in mind when “hunting” for furniture
Obviously, this will depend on the students’ individual preferences. Some might want to buy entirely new furniture, while others might be inclined more towards reusing and recycling. Fortunately, there are several options for either group planning to furnish their apartment.
The most common choices for buying new furniture are the good old IKEA, its “cousin” JYSK or local furniture shops such as Masku. All of these have the option to buy furniture online. With a bit of planning, the items can be delivered to your new place before or when you arrive. The websites are in Finnish or Swedish, but Google translate does a good-enough job to help understand and complete purchases. What is good about these stores is that they offer various price ranges, which means that you can buy furniture according to your own budget and needs.
For those who want to buy used furniture and save some money, there also several options, however these might be a bit trickier to obtain. Finland has many recycling centers selling used furniture for great prices. However, these usually don’t have the option to shop online or it is slightly lacking. Therefore it is often necessary to visit the shop to see what exactly they have currently on offer.
The most common choice for used furniture is Turun Ekotori. There are two locations, with the Ekotori located on Rautakatu 12 in Itäharju being closer to the Student Village. Most items sold are of very reasonable prices, but there can be more pricey pieces as well. SPR Kontti, or the second-hand services of the Finnish Red Cross, is another choice where used furniture can be given another home.
Flea markets, giveaways and other options
Other very popular options to buy used furniture is to follow one of the flea market groups on Facebook. At the moment the most active ones aimed at English-speakers are Fleamarket Turku English language, Turku Fleamarket (friendly) and Turku Giving Away. If you have a Facebook account, I definitely recommend checking these out. I myself have found some great pieces for very cheap over there. If you can already speak and write in Finnish, Tori.fi is another place to check. Flea market Hassinen can have some nice deals but it is also a heaven for collectors of antiquities. These are, let’s be honest, not the cheapest options out there, but they are an option nonetheless.
If you want to know where to find smaller kitchen necessities, then one of the most convenient and cheapest places is Tokmanni. As there are several locations, I recommend doing a quick online search to find the most convenient one. Large supermarkets such as K-Citymarkets will also have a nice collection of household items of varying price ranges.
There are definitely more options, so this list is not a definitive guide on furnishing an apartment. However, I hope I was able to give an overview of the most common places students can turn to, when searching for items to make their newly acquired apartment or room feel more like home. At the very least I hope that this blog post will make it easier to plan the big move. If you are unsure about the housing you’ve received, you can check out this blog post about TYS housing options. Please also remember you can find the blueprint of the TYS apartments on their website. This can make the furnishing part a bit easier, as you get an idea of the room’s layout.