Finland, they do it different here

I have a feeling this is going to be a regular feature. There are many things that are different here in Finland. Here are just a few that I’ve learned about in the past few weeks.

Speeding tickets are progressive, you pay more if you earn more. I was warned about someone who had a $1,000 speeding ticket and they were only slightly over the limit. How do the police know how much you make?

There is a government service that allows anyone to lookup another person’s salary. The idea is that if you know what your colleagues are making (and they know that you know) that everyone will cooperate better. Of course no one bothers to look up someone’s salary, just knowing that you can does the trick.

When you get here, you register with the local city hall and once they get your address, they let everyone know. This has the unsettling effect of you signing up for cable TV and the rep not even needing your address because (and they always wink when they say this) we know where you live. The flip side of this is that we’re in a temporary apartment right now but when we move, there’s only one place we need to tell our new address. No pesky change of address forms!

Like Britain and Japan, there is an annual fee for TV. It’s about $250/year for one set (you pay based on the number of TV sets) and if you’re busted cheating, you pay triple.

I can drive on my California driver’s license for the next year but if (or is it when?) I get my Finnish license, the driver’s test includes snow driving.

Most people pay with debit cards for everything and invoices are paid with a wire transfer. This extends to individuals. I can wire money to any account, free of charge. In the US, it costs $40 to do this from one bank to another. Fiscal Portability anyone?

The Finnish Posti is well aware of the impact of all this electronic billing on their revenues so they’ve gone ahead and offered a service which scans in any paper invoices headed your way and they will email you notification when a bill is ready. Login to your Posti account in time and you can look at a scanned copy of your invoice before it arrives.

Recently in Oulu, a development center for Nokia up north, one of my colleagues dialed me a taxi and all he did was grunt a few times, hung up and said a cab was on it’s way. The taxi service used caller ID to identify him, then pulled up the most popular destinations he’s made when he’s booked before, and asked him which of these he is (1) at right now and, (2) going to as a destination. Smart! Like a call log for taxi destinations!

9 Replies to “Finland, they do it different here”

  1. I know someone that went AWOL in Sweden. He loves it there, and I'm assuming that Finland and other countries in the area are all very progressive . People need to learn that the USA isn't the only end all or the only civilized place in the world. Nice of you to share some cool facts about Finland!

  2. checks? what are those? ;-)by the way, the finnish TV license is per household, not per TV set. So feel free to buy more TV sets if you need =)
    Finland plans to get rid of that in 2011 I believe and introduce a public information/news tax that will no longer be linked to whether you have a TV set or not at home. I guess the government have realized that people have an increasing number of alternatives to get access to content and they still need the money to run the publicly owned TV/radio/web information channels (Yle).

  3. I'm moving back to the USA soon and after living in Finland for 11 years–I feel like I'm moving back to the 'dark' ages. For example, in Finland mobile broadband usage is unlimited. Also, the banking industry has one ATM machine for most of the banks and we don't get charged to use it whereas in the USA, we get charged for using an ATM machine that is not attached to our bank…grrr…dark ages!

  4. checks? what are those? ;-)by the way, the finnish TV license is per household, not per TV set. So feel free to buy more TV sets if you need =)
    Finland plans to get rid of that in 2011 I believe and introduce a public information/news tax that will no longer be linked to whether you have a TV set or not at home. I guess the government have realized that people have an increasing number of alternatives to get access to content and they still need the money to run the publicly owned TV/radio/web information channels (Yle).

  5. I'm moving back to the USA soon and after living in Finland for 11 years–I feel like I'm moving back to the 'dark' ages. For example, in Finland mobile broadband usage is unlimited. Also, the banking industry has one ATM machine for most of the banks and we don't get charged to use it whereas in the USA, we get charged for using an ATM machine that is not attached to our bank…grrr…dark ages!

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