Navigating Housing on your Journey to UTU! - UTU Masters
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Navigating Housing on your Journey to UTU!

One of the biggest stressors I encountered when I decided to move to Finland was finding a place to live. Luckily, UTU has the Student Village Foundation, TYS, that gives students easy access to hundreds of apartments near and even some apartments farther for those students with a need to distance themselves from the university in their time away from studying. TYS also offers cheaper rates than private rental companies, since the apartments are catered towards university students. For international students, TYS has been a lifesaver in my opinion since students are able to have an apartment lined up, furnished or otherwise, before they even set foot in the country! Read on to learn about my experience with TYS and about some of the accommodations I have had a chance to visit, though there are many properties within TYS that I have no knowledge of, other than that they are just as fantastic!

I have always been extra particular about the location and affordability of my rental housing choices, since in my undergrad in Lincoln, NE, I paid nearly 900€ per month for room and board, which I couldn’t even use during holidays or when the university wasn’t in session!. As such, getting the best possible option for me was the most important, and I wanted to be first in line for a newly renovated apartment at the Student Houses, YO-Talo, though any apartment from TYS would make an excellent option for students of all backgrounds. Luckily, the housing offered for students in Turku are year round contracts, making them different from traditional student housing options internationals might be used to, where you live in a small 10m2 room with another person and a common bathroom shared with the whole floor, much like my own experience living in a dorm provided by the university in my undergrad at UNL.

YO-Talo is strategically placed for students like myself who’d like to milk every minute of sleep in the morning as possible if given the chance (I tend to wake up 10 to 15 minutes before class, hurriedly put on clothes and run to class just in time for the course to begin, especially the 8:30am courses…which I would not suggest for everyone). Located near TYY (the Student Union office), Assarin Ullakko (a student restaurant with student lunches costing only 2,60€ like at other student restaurants!), a swimming hall, local student pub Proffa with wonderful happy hour prices, and the Turku School of Economics, as well as a nice 5 minute from Educarium and Publicum where I’d spend most of my days studying, YO-Talo was the best option with Student Village East and West a close second. Student Village is on the other side of the motorway and has cheaper options for those students who’d like cheap, community like living, while still being within 5 minute’s walking distance from the university and other amenities for offer, like shopping and restaurants, which in my case would have worked out perfectly as well since most of my friends live there or Halinen just beyond Student Village.

Finding the place for you depends on the circumstances. Halinen and Räntämäki are excellent locations for those who like to live with roommates or have significant others living with them, since the housing dimensions are bigger than certain areas of Student Village East and the Student Houses, but the apartments tend to be bigger, meaning the price is also a bit greater than the small dorm-like accommodations available elsewhere. The Halinen apartments are also recently renovated, making them an ideal option for those who love living in more modern accommodations, and many of the apartments have their own dishwasher (I’m so envious of this fact!), which is missing in many of the other locations. 

Apartments farther away from the university are perfect for those who prefer to be on the move with public transportation and find commuting in the morning to courses relaxing. Getting to the university takes anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes with no transfers, just a bit of walking from the Hämeentie bus stop. Monthly bus cards are only 33€ for students, giving access to Kaarina, Lieto, Naantali, Varissuo and other small cities in the Turku Proper. Hämeentie also has shops, restaurants, and even an Iittala outlet, with buses running frequently for easy access to most parts of the region, particularly to the city center and areas with student housing locations.

Starting the application process 3 months before arriving in Finland is essential. Moving-in in August requires the application to be submitted in May and September move in submitted in June. For me, I was planning to move in mid August, so applying for an apartment in May was the best option. Since Lincoln is 8 hours behind Finland, I was able to apply at 4pm CST or midnight Finnish time to get my application in as soon as the portal opened. The application did not take too long and asked for enrollment and personal information, much like any application. In the application though I was able to select my first choice apartment and have an option to add multiple locations as second and third options. The TYS office sends information packets to students upon their acceptance into their chosen programs, which should have already arrived in early April. This packet was of high importance for me when I chose where to live and gives handy information for those who have never visited Turku or UTU prior to actually moving there. 

Usually the offer for an apartment comes the month before move in. I received my offer to YO-Talo on the first week of July with a week or so time to accept or ask for a new option. During this time the deposit of approximately 300€ is also due. Discussions with my tutor helped me decide that the Student House apartment was perfect for me, though a bit more expensive than I would have cared for, but in the end I decided to accept it and have never regretted my decision because of the ease of access to everything Turku and UTU have to offer. But anywhere within TYS would have worked out perfectly as well, since everything is relatively near. 

Please check out tys.fi for more information, and for more about TYS housing options, click here! Images in the gallery are courtesy of TYS and display some of the housing options available through TYS! Feel free to drop a comment or send me an email with any questions you may have about finding accommodation on your journey to UTU!

Milla Heikkinen
mimarh@utu.fi

Milla is a 2nd year master's student at the Centre for East Asian Studies in Turku. After immigrating to Nebraska, USA in 2002 from Finland at the ripe age of 7, Milla has spent innumerable years learning about her Finnish heritage and being inspired by the world through learning about cultures and societies. As an undergrad at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she spent a year studying on exchange in Helsinki and after graduating with a BA in Global Studies, moved to Turku in 2017 to pursue her dreams of achieving a Master's in Social Sciences at the University of Turku. In her spare time, she likes to watch Netflix, bake innumerable sweets for her friends and colleagues, and drink an occasional glass, or bottle, of wine with friends over board games.

3 Comments
  • Pl
    Posted at 08:30h, 28 April Reply

    Wonderful guide thanks

  • SB
    Posted at 18:27h, 06 May Reply

    Hi Milla! Thanks for this post! I’ll also be coming from the USA to start my Masters this fall and was wondering how rental payments are made. Does TYS accept credit card or cash payments? Or is it best to open a Finnish bank account or has it been easy just paying the rent with your US bank account?

    • Milla Heikkinen
      Posted at 18:42h, 06 May Reply

      Thanks for reaching out and welcome! Rental payments are generally made via bank transfer here in Finland, but I’m sure they will take other forms of payment as well. I already had a Finnish bank account from my time as an exchange student in 2015 in Helsinki, so I simply transferred money through paypal from my credit union in Nebraska to my Finnish account to pay for the rental deposit and first month’s rent, and then there after I paid monthly via my Finnish account. I would recommend opening a Finnish account since it makes everything so much easier, but I don’t think you are able to open an account in Finland before moving here. They (international coordinators) will explain more of that at the International Student Orientation in the end of August, and many of the banks will have reps available during the orientation days to help student’s get accounts set up. I do have a friend from Georgia who pays with his American credit cards, but I am honestly not sure how that works, since I’ve only ever used my Finnish account. I’d recommend contacting TYS via email, because they will for sure be able to answer any further questions you may have! Sorry I couldn’t be of much more help! Shoot me an email at mimarh@utu.fi if you would like any other assistance; I’d be more than happy to help!

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