The Best Places to Nest

How to approach this guide

  • The intention of this guide is to give a rough idea of the main areas in and around Helsinki where you might consider settling down. By “rough idea” we mean some sense of the vibe and profile of each neighbourhood, and what the commute and the rent are probably going to be like.
  • Commute lists the most obvious choices for commuting to HQ, ie. bus, bike, car, metro, train, walk. Of course, there are hardcore cyclists who will pedal to work from anywhere, so take these icons as indicative.
  • Rent indicates average rent, on a 1-5 (€-€€€€€) scale. You’ll find overpriced or suspiciously cheap options, too, so check with someone in the know before signing a lease.
  • Ask a local shows you the names of budding Supercellians who live in said neighbourhood and are happy to tell you more about the area where they live.
  • We’ve added the Swedish names and nicknames for each neighbourhood, because a) online maps sometimes show a mix of Finnish and Swedish place names void of consistency, and b) people actually use the nicknames quite liberally.

 

General notes about apartments in Helsinki

  • Rent is affected predominantly by the following factors: location, size (square metres), condition of flat, balcony.
  • Balconies are very rare in any buildings built before the 1960s. They didn’t become commonplace until the 1970s, but that’s not to say all newer buildings have them. If having a balcony is important to you, aim for one that’s windowed — you’ll have much more use for it in this chilly climate.
  • Demand for rental apartments is very high, especially in the inner city. When apartment hunting, you need to move fast and go to viewings in person. Always call a landlord rather than emailing them.

 

HELSINKI – THE INNER CITY


Ruoholahti & Jätkäsaari
Swedish names: Gräsviken & Busholmen
Nickname: Gresis (for Ruoholahti)

If a super short commute is top priority, consider Ruoholahti (where HQ is now) or Jätkäsaari (where HQ is scheduled to move in 2020).

Originally an industrial port and built largely on reclaimed land, this neighbourhood has been transforming into commercial and residential zones since the 1990s. Especially Jätkäsaari sports a modern and polished atmosphere, and what the neighbourhood lacks in historical oomph it more than makes up for with conveniently designed apartments, many of which have a windowed balcony. You’ll find a lot of Supercellians who live here, so it’s easy to hook up with colleagues outside of work.

Much of Jäktäsaari is still a construction yard and nobody really knows how it’ll shape up, but it’s poised to become one of the most desirable locations in town and isn’t cheap.

Commute: walk or bicycle
Rent: €€€€-€€€€€
Ask a local: Jaakko H., Wesley, Darian, Ryan, Jumpei


Kamppi
Swedish name: Kampen
Nickname: N/A

The official centre of Helsinki may be Stockmann’s department store, but many consider Kamppi the de facto core of the city. What used to be nothing but a huge, open-air bus station as late as the 1990s is now home to Kamppi Shopping Centre and an underground bus terminal. Rents are very high, but in all honesty that’s to be expected when practically all top services, bars, nightclubs and restaurants are within easy walking distance, and you’ll never be a long walk from the Supercell office, either.

As sweet as this all may sound, do note that certain streets in Kamppi, especially Eerikinkatu, Annankatu and Fredrikinkatu (commonly known as ‘Freda’), can get rather lively at night, especially during weekends. If that’s your cup of mojito, you’ll fit right in.

Commute: walk or bicycle
Rent: €€€€€
Ask a local: Mel, Jonathan, Marika, Manuel, Sami T, Jonas C, Drew


Punavuori
Swedish name: Rödbergen
Nickname: Rööperi

The abundance of bistros, art galleries and progressive coffee shops speaks for itself: Punavuori is the gentrified hipster community in Helsinki. It’s hard to believe it used to be where sailors went to pick up prostitutes, because nowadays it’s got “urban upper middle class” written all over it. There’s not much in the way of parks, but the proximity of the coast makes up for a shortage in greenery.

Although, to be frank, that’s not what attracts trendy urbanites to this part of town – what attracts them the quaint shops, the artisanal offerings, the hip bars and the utterly compelling ambiance that says “Punavuori is the place to be” — and of course it comes at a rather steep price.

Commute: Bicycle, bus + metro, tram
Rent: €€€€€
Ask a local: Nicke


Eira and Ullanlinna
Swedish name: Eira and Ulrikasborg
Nickname: N/A

Nestled on the southernmost cape of Helsinki, Eira and Ullanlinna are popular postcodes particularly among affluent families, high-income professionals and tycoons, and they host a large number of embassies. This all factors into the most expensive real estate you’ll find in all of Finland. Eira is a top choice if beautiful, downright majestic buildings combined with a gorgeous urban coastline are top priorities to you. Cosy cafeterias and dainty boutiques abound but don’t expect to be spoilt for choice of supermarkets.

Commute: Bus + metro, tram, bicycle
Rent: €€€€€
Ask a local: Maria


Kallio
Swedish name: Berghäll
Nickname: N/A

Originally very much a blue collar part of town with a large population of single males, Kallio used to be a reflection of its working class populace. In the 2000s, Kallio began to evolve from a somewhat run-down neighbourhood known for its cheap watering holes and erotic boutiques into a vibrant community for alternative and artistically minded people. Since then, the area has gentrified and is associated with young and environmentally-minded urbanites, or, as some would put it, “Kallio was invaded by hipsters”. Real estate prices and rents have risen sharply over the past decade, but Kallio still sports a unique combination of offerings: vegan cafeterias, sex shops and record stores juxtaposed in complete harmony.

If the concept of Kallio sounds good but you can’t find a suitable pad, consider Alppila. It’s slightly less convenient in terms of location, but more affordable and, many would say, more “real” than Kallio.

Commute: metro (Hakaniemi and Sörnäinen), tram, or bicycle
Rent: €€€-€€€€
Ask a local: Simon


Hakaniemi
Swedish name: Hagnäs
Nickname: Hakis

Nestled to the east of Kallio and just north of Kruununhaka lies a small neighbourhood called Hakaniemi. The consensus is that Merihaka’s coastline was ruined by Merihaka, a soviet-style residential megablock that emerged in the 1980s and broadly considered an eyesore. Residents of Merihaka often assert that quality of life there is actually very good.

Hakaniemi is within walking distance to the city centre, and has its own metro station. It’s also popular for its market hall, market place and plentiful supply of Oriental supermarkets.

Commute: bicycle, metro
Rent: €€€€
Ask a local: Frida, Riku


Töölö
Swedish name: Tölö
Nickname: Tölikkä

Divided into Etu-Töölö and Taka-Töölö, Töölö has a long track record of being the go-to residential area for academics, politicians and the broader middle-class. Considered quiet but dignified, its offering of bars and restaurants certainly doesn’t compete with Punavuori or Kamppi, but it’s got some of the cosiest cafeterias in town (most notably Café Regatta), along with coastline promenades, sports venues and parks.

Going north from Töölö, you’ll enter Meilahti, Laakso and Ruskeasuo, which are by many considered greener, sleepier extensions of Töölö.

Commute: bus/tram + metro, tram, bicycle, walk
Rent: €€€€-€€€€€
Ask a local: Allu, Linda, Henna, Timo, Yuri


Katajanokka
Swedish name: Skatudden
Nickname: Skatta

Pretty but pretty expensive, and somewhat inconveniently located on a small peninsula, Katajanokka is home to a port for ferries and the headquarters of the Ministry for (yes, ‘for’) Foreign Affairs of Finland. Charming old buildings aside, the main issue with Katajanokka is the port: travellers to and from the ferries clog the narrow bridges that connect Katajanokka with the mainland on a daily basis.

Commute: tram, bicycle
Rent: €€€€-€€€€€
Ask a local: be the first one! But Kristian can give tips


Kruununhaka
Swedish name: Kronohagen
Nickname: Krunikka

Google “pictures of Helsinki” and you’ll be bombarded with shots of  a big white church perched high up in the middle of town. That’s Helsinki Cathedral, and if you face the church and look right, you’ll see the edge of one of Finland’s oldest surviving residential areas: Kruununhaka. It’s known mainly for its vintage shops and quaint streets, and a number of dignitaries have chosen to live there.

For the high price, you’re not getting particularly easy access to any services, but you’re never a very long walk from the city centre or the metro station (Helsinki University), and you’re literally in the historical core of the city.

Commute: tram, metro, bicycle
Rent: €€€€€
Ask a local: Bangs


Vallila, Käpylä and Kumpula
Swedish names: Vallgård, Kottby and Gumtäkt
Nickname: N/A

Off the radar for many expats but definitely on the map for Helsinkians are two neighbourhoods north of Kallio: the cosy and at times even picturesque Vallila and Käpylä. Parts of these neighbourhoods were built to house athletes during the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki. Other zones consist of two or three-storey wooden houses that people live in to this day. Particularly popular among students, Vallila, Käpylä and Kumpula offer an authentic Helsinki vibe at a lower cost than more central locations. Cafeterias and sushi bars are replacing the seedy pubs of old, and with both indoor and outdoor swimming pools at Mäkelänrinne and Kumpula this area is ideal for swimmers.

Commute: bus + metro
Rent: €€€
Ask a local: be the first one! But Kristian can give tips

Toukola, Arabianranta and Viikki
Swedish names: Majstad, Arabiastranden and Vik
Nickname: N/A

Collectively known as Vanhakaupunki (together with Käpylä and Kumpula), meaning “the old town”, this northeastern corner of central Helsinki gets its name from the fact that Helsinki was originally founded in this neighbourhood, along the Vantaa River. The city centre was moved south in the 17th century for easier access to sea lanes, and the population around Vanhakaupunki started to dwindle. Nowadays, it’s a popular choice among students and young families, mainly due to the reasonable rents, the abundance of parks, and the adjacent University of Helsinki Viikki campus.

The breezy river, the rugged but delightful buildings, the old hydroelectric power plant and the wonderful outdoor paths make for a cosy place to live, if you’re willing to spend a little extra time on your commute.

Commute: Bus + metro
Rent: €€€
Ask a local: Anna, Kim


Pasila
Swedish name: Böle
Nickname: N/A

Touted as the upcoming “downtown of Northern Helsinki”, Pasila is the first train station to the north from Helsinki Railway Station, and it’s currently one humongous construction site. Pasila is divided into Itä-Pasila (East Pasila) and Länsi-Pasila (West Pasila), on either side of a wide railway lane. That lane will over the coming years be straddled by a massive building complex comprised of a shopping centre, offices and apartment blocks, scheduled to open in phases from 2019 to 2022.

In spite of its convenient location, Pasila used to be affordable, mainly due to its shortage in services and to many its less-than-desirable 70s style architecture. Pasila is undergoing a fundamental facelift, however, and rents are rising steeply. Nestled right next to Helsinki’s massive central park, Pasila’s got potential to hit a sweet spot between outdoors opportunities, services, and proximity to downtown Helsinki.

Commute: train + metro, bicycle
Rent: €€€-€€€€
Ask a local: be the first one! But Kristian can give tips

WEST HELSINKI


Lauttasaari
Swedish name: Drumsö
Nickname: Laru

Head west from Supercell HQ and cross the long bridge, and you’ll find yourself on a sizeable island called Lauttasaari, which separates downtown Helsinki from Espoo. In fact, some people refer to Lauttasaari as a hybrid between Helsinki-style city life and the suburban vibe of Espoo. You’re only two or three metro stops from the heart of the city, but you can easily find yourself lost on a footpath by the sea where you all but forget how close you are to a big city.

Due to the size of the island, ease of access to buses, metros and supermarkets depends heavily on where you would choose to settle down.

Commute: Walk, bicycle, metro, bus
Rent: €€€€
Ask a local: Malla, Mikael, Daniel I., Frank, Jonatas, Douglas, Marcus, Janne Sa., Mats, Jonas, Kristian

 

Munkkiniemi
Swedish name: Munksnäs
Nickname: Munkka

In spite of its somewhat isolated location, Munkkiniemi is an old, well-established and a rather affluent neighbourhood with some gorgeous coastline, beautiful architecture and solid architecture. It’s home to one of Finland’s most famous hotels, Hotel Kalastajatorppa, which has hosted world leaders like the Dalai Lama, Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev and Yasser Arafat. Kalastajatorppa also organised Finlands very first disco, back in 1966.

Munkkiniemi is very quiet, but people who live there seem reluctant to move. Apparently it’s a place that really grows on you. Munkkiniemi has its own “satellite” neighbourhood to the north called Munkkivuori, which is almost

Commute: Tram + metro
Rent: €€€-€€€€
Ask a local: be the first one! But Kristian can give tips


Kulosaari
Swedish name: Brändö
Nickname: Kulis

Kulosaari is a quiet, tidy neighbourhood on an island, popular among the elderly and families, and considered the gateway to East Helsinki. It’s also home to a number of embassies.

Services are in short supply on Kulosaari, but the metro station offers easy access to other parts of town. For anyone interested in a peaceful and coastal neighbourhood, Kulosaari is an oft-overlooked but attractive option. It’s connected by bridge to the delightful green area of Mustikkamaa, which is in turn connected to Helsinki Zoo.

Commute: Metro
Rent: €€€
Ask a local: be the first!

 

EAST HELSINKI

Until late 2017, when the Western extension of the Metro line was opened, the Metro’s main purpose was in fact to connect Helsinki’s eastern stretches to the inner city.

Since our office is located near a Metro station, you can easily commute from anywhere along the Metro line, including the eastern stretches of town. While all areas in Helsinki are safe by any international standards, before signing a long-term lease for a flat in the east please consider the following:

  • East Helsinki has some of the most beautiful natural environments you can find in Helsinki, but it also has some of the least inspiring and hastily built residential blocks around. If you’re considering a flat in the east, make absolutely sure that you’re investing in a solid construction that was built to last — especially if the price seems too good to be true.
  • Many people in Helsinki are prejudiced towards the eastern neighbourhoods, and some of it is warranted, but don’t take all opinions at face value. There are lots of charming areas east of Kulosaari. As always, check with a local before signing anything.
  • Unemployment is comparatively high in East Helsinki, which is the main reason to a higher rate of loitering and, in some areas, substance abuse.
  • The demographic to the east is more international than in other parts of town, which has an impact on the types of stores, restaurants and services you’ll find there.

Commute: Metro, bus + metro
Rent: €-€€€
Ask a local: Erol, Hanna-Mari

 

BEYOND THE BORDERS: THE PROPER SUBURBS

If living in a flat isn’t for you and you’d rather get a spacious house (detached, semi-detached or terraces), you’ll want to look further afield and perhaps beyond the city borders of Helsinki: specifically, towards Espoo in the west or Vantaa in the north.

Before submitting to the call of suburbia, consider the following practical aspects:

  • What will your commute look like? Parts of Espoo are within direct and easy reach by train or metro, but some neighbourhoods are way off the main traffic lanes. Parts of Vantaa are connected by train and others by bus, but no mode of public transport will take you to HQ without a transfer.
  • Can you access services like supermarkets, sports facilities, cosy cafeterias or whatever else is important to you? Many (most) people opt to buy a car for this very reason.
  • Suburban living has benefits like additional real estate, gardens and sometimes a stronger communal spirit, but it suits DIY types best: you have to be ready for maintenance duties, most notably clearing snow in wintertime.

 

Espoo

If you travel west of Lauttasaari, you enter territory that’s in fact already Espoo, a separate municipality. Welcome to the home of the rich and not-so-famous! Well, that’s the common joke: many corporate executives opt to live in south-eastern Espoo.

It’s somewhat confusing to think of Espoo as a city, because it’s almost twice as big as Helsinki but with less than half the population. Rather, Espoo is the moniker for a geographical area that consists of a network of residential “hubs”. These hubs are separated by miles of sparsely populated land.

Most of Espoo’s biggest hubs are lined along the jagged coastline in the south: Tapiola, Haukilahti, Niittykumpu, Olari, Matinkylä, Espoonlahti and Kivenlahti. These are, or will over the next few years, be connected by Metro. Further up north, the two main hubs are Leppävaara and Espoon keskus, connected to Helsinki Railway Station by local train. Other parts of Espoo are connected more or less regularly by buses.

Rent varies significantly. A pristine flat next to the metro that’ll take you to downtown Helsinki in 20 minutes can match equivalent rent in Helsinki proper. Off the beaten path alongside one of the wiry roads in northern Espoo, rent’s as cheap as it’s going to get in the Greater Helsinki area. None of the hubs in Espoo are the sort of picturesque places that Claude Monet would’ve wanted to paint, as they were designed predominantly by pragmatists. On the other hand, in most parts of Espoo you’re never very far from the coast or a forest, where it’s very easy relieve stress.

Commute: metro, bus + metro, train + metro, car
Rent: €-€€€
Ask a local: Tristan, Lauri M
Vantaa

When you cross the northern borders of Helsinki, you enter a suburban municipality called Vantaa. Most of the things you can say of Espoo is true of Vantaa as well, although Espoo is more affluent and considered the more posh out of the two. Vantaa trumps on easier access to the airport and affordability, whereas Espoo offers mostly better access to the Supercell office.

If having your own house is non-negotiable, you don’t insist on living next to the sea and Espoo’s offerings don’t fit the bill, Vantaa is probably your best bet.

Commute: Bus or train + metro, car
Rent: €-€€€
Ask a local: Tiina, Tomi,  Stefan H., Antti M., Mikko L.