In Finland it has traditionally paid off to own a home

According to Economist Juho Kostiainen from Nordea, home ownership has been more financially viable than renting a home in the long run even though the monthly expenses are usually a little higher. “The costs of owning your home – the interest expenses and the maintenance charge – have mostly been lower than the rent for a similarly sized home. The homeowner is building their wealth by paying off their loan and expecting their home to increase in value,” Kostiainen says.

You should consider buying your first home when you have a regular income and the necessary amount of savings for applying for a home loan and buying a home.

When you live in your own home, you pay ‘rent’ to yourself. Furthermore, you can benefit from any increase in the value of your home, depending on its condition, the development of the residential area and the housing market situation.

High interest rates have been a challenge to home ownership

Sometimes renting a home is the only option if you don’t have enough savings for applying for a home loan. You may have to move to another locality because of your studies or job, and when you rent a home you can take your time to get to know the area.

In recent years, the changing interest rates have also challenged home ownership, as the housing costs have increased. Many things, including your loan amount, loan period and reference rate, will affect your monthly loan payment. If your home loan doesn’t have an interest rate hedge, your monthly loan payment may have increased several hundreds of euros.

“Renting a home has become more attractive due to the rapid rise in interest rates and moderate rise in rents over the past two years. If the home has been entirely financed with debt, the monthly cost – the maintenance charge and interest expenses – is higher than the rent for a similarly sized home in the Greater Helsinki area,” Kostiainen says.

Furthermore, the drop in house prices has hit homeowners over the past two years. Selling times have become longer, so changing homes may take more time than before.

Learn how to change homes without a hassle.

Did you know this?

Adjust your monthly loan payment as needed with FlexiPayment

Most home loans with Nordea include a free FlexiPayment feature that adds flexibility to your loan repayments.

If you have FlexiPayment in your loan, you can reduce your monthly payment when you need to without asking us first. 

If you’re struggling with your loan repayments, you shouldn’t brood on it on your own, but instead contact us.

Read more about FlexiPayment.

Renting or buying – which makes more sense?

Juho Kostiainen says that the drop in house prices is expected to end this year and the interest rates are forecast to fall, so the costs of owning your home are expected to decrease from the present level and homeowners should continue to build up wealth. “When the housing market regains balance, home ownership will again become more financially viable than renting.”

The long-term observations also favour homeowners. Juho Kostiainen has drafted a calculation of costs of renting and owning a typical one-bedroom flat in the Greater Helsinki area in 2006–2023. 

The calculation indicates that the total rent for the 17 years was 178,896 euros. This is 1,268 euros less than the homeowner’s loan repayments, interest expenses and maintenance charges in total. 

The homeowner’s wealth had grown to 181,152 euros when taking into account the value appreciation of the flat. The tenant didn’t build up any wealth.

A calculation of costs and benefits of renting and owning a one-bedroom flat in the Greater Helsinki area in 2006–2023

Rent 2006–2023Ownership 2006–2023
Maintenance charge42,640
Interest expenses43,084
Cash flow178,896180,164
Value appreciation86,713
Wealth (value appreciation + repayments)0181,152

Most Finns still prefer to own their home

According to a survey* commissioned by Nordea in early 2024, Finns still strongly believe that owning a home is the best option. Around a third of the respondents felt that owning a home offers them stability even though it’s not an end in itself for them. Almost one in five respondents found it desirable to own a home and considered it a good way to build wealth.

Only one in ten respondents preferred renting a home, as they found it an easy and flexible option. Slightly more respondents (12%) felt that renting a home would not pay off in the long run but would be a good temporary solution.

*The survey, which was commissioned by Nordea and conducted by Kantar Finland from 9 to 14 February 2024, interviewed 1,007 Finns aged 18–79 using an online panel. A 95% margin of error in an interview of 1,000 respondents is ±1.5–3% depending on the answer.

Learn more about the survey commissioned by Nordea.Opens new window (in Finnish)

Various forms of housing

Read more about the differences of various forms of housing

Apartment in a housing company
Single-family home
Right-of-occupancy home
Rental home

Apartment in a housing company

If you buy an apartment in a housing company, you buy the shares that entitle you to occupy a home usually in a block of flats, a terraced house or a semi-detached house. When buying shares in a housing company, you also have to pay asset transfer tax.

You will pay a charge for common expenses each month which may consist of a maintenance charge and a charge for financial costs. The housing company’s expenses are covered with the maintenance charge. With the charge for financial costs, you will pay your share of the housing company loan taken for renovation. In the case of new residential buildings, the repayment of your share of the charge for financial costs may begin only after a few years.

In addition, you may need to pay for water, a parking space and the building sauna and a plot rent.

You can also carry out small refurbishments, such as putting up wallpapers or painting the flat. You’ll need the housing company’s permission, and possibly a building permit, for larger renovations. On the other hand, the housing company is responsible for the condition of the buildings and flats.

Single-family home

Buying a single-family home means that you buy a property consisting of an area of land and buildings. The house can also be located on leased land. When you buy a single-family home, you have to pay asset transfer tax in addition to the purchase price.

Living in a single-family home means that you pay for the maintenance, repairs and renovations of your home. In addition, you pay for heating and waste management in addition to property tax and a plot rent, if applicable.

As an owner of a single-family home, you are responsible for keeping your home in a good condition and carrying out the necessary repairs. You are also responsible for maintaining and renovating your property as well as financing these expenditures.

Right-of-occupancy home

Right-of-occupancy is a form of housing in-between a rental flat and a home of your own to which you own the right of occupancy as the resident.

You will have to pay a charge on the right of occupancy which will be refunded, revised with the construction cost index, after you move away. When you live in a right-of-occupancy home, you pay a monthly maintenance charge. In addition, you may need to pay for water, a parking space and the building sauna.

The owner is usually responsible for the maintenance of the home, but you can carry out maintenance work and repairs. However, you’ll need the owner’s permission for any alteration work.

Rental home

When you rent a home, you can live in the home either for a fixed period or until further notice according to the rental contract. A fixed-term rental contract binds both the landlord and the tenant for the agreed period, whereas an ongoing rental contract can be terminated by the tenant with a notice period of one month.

When you are moving to a rental home, you usually pay a rental security deposit that equals one to three months’ rent. The rental security deposit will be refunded to you after the expiry of the rental contract if the home is in a good shape. In addition to the monthly rent, you may need to pay for water, electricity, a parking space and the building sauna.

The financial risk related to renting a home is often smaller, as you are not liable for renovations made by the housing company, for example. The landlord is responsible for the general tasks related to the maintenance of the home. For example, if your stove or fridge breaks down, your landlord is responsible for getting you a new one.

On the other hand, if you want to carry out small refurbishments, such as painting the walls, you’ll need to obtain the consent of the landlord.