Many of us, when we plan our exchange, the first thing that we consider after the celebration of being accepted in the university we were applying to is start thinking… Now where I am going to live? In my personal case, I came here as a degree student so my staying in this country and this city was a little bit longer than an exchange which normally is one or two semesters, thus, I was terrified that I don’t get a proper accommodation where I could happily install myself, feel comfortable and call home from now on until the end of my studies or so. I may have been in a slightly advantage situation than you guys, you may ask why...? I was already familiar with the country and the city of Oulu since I made a prior exchange to the Oulu University some years back, so, I knew where to go directly but we could always face some probabilities to find, or not, proper accommodation - I do know that by experience! But please, do not enter in panic mode by reading this! On the contrary, feel happy that I can somehow guide you and help you to have some information prior your arrival to Finland, and to Oulu, and plausibly find an accommodation near the location you are looking for.
As you may know, Finland is a country that have chosen to put education as a priority with higher levels and standards for all types of education from kindergarten to master’s levels and available to all its inhabitants. Finland, as many other Nordic countries, provides help or support to the students to reach the highest levels of education by providing free education and support means to the students under different programs which are linked to specific requirements and formalities - that I will explain in another post. In the case of housing or accommodation, it receives a certain level of support from the government that are available to most young adults and students coming to study in a higher-level education centers, including us the international students, as well. But let me explain you more about the housing options with the following list:
- PSOAS - Pohjois Suomen Opiskelija Asuntosäätio
Which is the Student Housing Foundation of Northern Finland that was created back in 1971 to handle the issues related to the student housing in Oulu. Is one of the biggest providers of accommodation for students in the region of Oulu and have many apartments available for renting in different areas of the city and nearby the study places. They provide affordable installations with common services as storage, bike holders, laundry/drying rooms, club rooms, shared saunas among many others that vary from the type of accommodation and size. Is good to noticed that some of the apartments (or rooms) are rented with basic furniture as bed, desk, chair, lamp and other basic items according to the type of housing you get but not all have this. The type of housing services you will find from them are:
- Shared apartment or single room accommodation (for girls only or boys only).
- Studio apartment
- Family apartment
The types of accommodation mentioned above are the ones offered in their webpage and can be booked in advance -as soon as you get your acceptance letter- according to the availability and the number of vacant apartments at the time of the booking. Studio apartments are slightly hard to get since normally there is a queue of students that have been living in shared apartments from Psoas. The family apartments are meant to be used by students -normally master’s or doctoral students- that comes along with the family. The number of vacant apartments vary according to the seasons and the demand/supply of them beside the number of incoming students in the semester -September tend to have a larger number of students than January. If you have your acceptance letter from any of the universities in Oulu contact them with time. More information about the apartments and Psoas check here: https://www.psoas.fi/en/
Since the number of apartments vary from time to time not always Psoas will be able to provide you with accommodation in the short term (they can put you in the waiting list) and for that reason you will have to check apartments in the public market. Not everything is bad about that -to be honest- and sometimes you can find better deals if you know where to check or have patience and persistence, so, do not panic yet! Here you can find some sources of apartments available in the market:
This webpage offers several types of apartments nationwide, thus, you will find several options in the Oulu area and near by the university or your preferable area for living. They provide a friendly webpage that shows clearly the vacant apartments, price per month, the realty agency and everything you need to know about the selected apartment. You can find from studio apartments (one room) to larger apartments with more rooms perfect for a bigger group or a family. Check what apartments are available and what they offer here: http://www.vuokraovi.com/?locale=en
One realtor or landlord with presence in many cities in the country offers a wide variety of vacant apartments to rent to anyone. The types of apartments vary on your search but you can find, in some cases, shared rooms. Easy and friendly webpage helps you to find great deals quite quickly. Downside is that contracts are made for longer periods of time than couple months so if you are looking for an apartment for a longer stay, this can be a good option. Check vacant apartments and more information here: https://www.sato.fi/en
Provides accommodation services and solutions with different options of rental housing to their clients nationwide. Really easy to use webpage that helps to find an apartment in the location of preference. They have plenty of apartments sizes to choose according to your needs. Check more about their available apartments and more here: https://lumo.fi/en/
They provide fully furnished apartments or accommodation for a short stay -up to 14 days as they mention in their webpage. The services are mostly like the ones provided by a hotel or other paid accommodation. Check more about the location of their accommodation services in Oulu and more about them here: http://www.kotimaailma.com/en/home
- OSNA – Oulunseudun Nuorisoasuntoyhdistys
This organization is nonprofit which aims to help young adults, which are under the age of 30 years, to find a home in their set of apartments in the city of Oulu. They are part of the NAL or nuorisoasuntoliitto which is a national organization that provides expertise and defends young people interests in housing matters -as they explained in their webpage with a very detailed list of information in English. Read more about OSNA and their available apartments in here: http://www.osna.fi/ and more about NAL which provides detailed information about housing in English here: http://www.nal.fi/?lang=en and the guidelines and other important information here: http://www.nal.fi/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Omaan-kotiin-2015-2016-EN.pdf
This familiar site will provide you with an emergency stay or little longer stay for your first days at your arrival or just for a short stay in the city if you come for a short study time. Airbnb is very easy to use -you may have try it before- and is easy to book a room according to your needs. You can always contact the owner for longer stays. Check more of the type of apartments and availability info here: https://www.airbnb.com/
There are many other realtors and agencies that provide same services than the ones mentioned above but they are mainly offering their services and search engines in Finnish which make the search a bit more challenging than it should but is worth a while.
There are some issues to take in consideration when you decided to rent an apartment in the private market, or from Psoas, like find the right place for the apartment that somehow is in an area nearby the study place you are attending and where you will feel comfortable along the different seasons Oulu face -check more about this in another post.
The conditions of the rental sites differ from one to another so please read carefully the instructions and fulfill all the requirements they ask you to have at the time you sign the agreement. The rental of any type of apartment always request you a warranty or deposit which equals to one or two months of rent payment in advance or a fixed amount that the company or realtor will let you know. Some of the apartments have separate electricity and water bill and other extra costs, that apply independently of the monthly payment, so be aware to ask all the information you need before you make the final decision.
Is important to be aware that mostly all types of apartments or rooms may be completely empty at the time of your arrival so take in consideration that you may need to buy some basic furniture like bed, desk, chairs and other items you may need in your stay in Oulu -especially if you are a degree student. Some realtors may provide basic items with an extra cost but it doesn’t apply in the private market unless is mentioned clearly.
If you know that you will rent a private apartment, try to find some other students (ask your Kummi and/or the international office) that will be interested to share the apartment with you since not all students find a place in the Psoas accommodation and, in this way, you will share costs and make friends. But at the end of the day…
Keep on searching until you find your perfect accommodation!