When I was 11, I remember getting in to a fight with my Mom over some random rule we had at home that I didn’t like. I packed everything I owned into plastic bags and put them in a corner to have them wait another 7 years until I could finally move away. Most of my life I’ve planned to shut the door behind me on the morning of my 18th birthday and never turn back. “If someone wanted to visit me, they would have to hunt me down”, was my philosophy.
Then around 15 I planned to go attend school in Porvoo, my hometown and then leave for studies abroad straight after that, so in the spring of 2017. When I found out the education I wanted wasn’t available in Porvoo I got super confused, and started attending school in Helsinki instead. All along, the plan was to live in Porvoo and attend school in Helsinki and do a little bit of work in both cities. This worked alright for a year. Even 1,5 years. I never considered moving to my own place at 16 or 17 as an option.
Now it isn’t an option anymore. I just signed my first ever rent contract and I’m moving in within a couple of days.
Less than two weeks ago, I realised just how badly I wanted to move to Helsinki and live in my own apartment. It seemed unrealistic as a thought, but I started talking about it with my parents anyway. They were not exactly thrilled about it, but not for a second have they ever doubted me in my life, and that is something I’m eternally thankful. To them, it was an immediate decision. Well they knew it wasn’t really their decision, but they could have made it a lot harder for me.
I started hunting for apartments one week ago. ONE WEEK. Helsinki is crazy when it comes to renting. Prices are high, apartments are few and faulty, people searching are desperate. Last Friday morning I had never been to a single apartment viewing in my life and on Tuesday I had been to 15. I literally culled through anything the Internet had to offer, including private people on Facebook-groups and big renting firms webpages. I saved every link with a rent under 700 € a month. I have a private Pinterest-album called Apartments that is literally overflowing. I signed up for newsletters. And then I started contacting people and writing down addresses.
What was I supposed to ask about? What is an okay rent? What kind of landlord do I want? Do I need a washing machine, a shower or a fully equipped kitchen? How many square meters? Why should I care about when there had last been a pipe renovation and WHAT do they mean by me having my credit info alright?
These things are not thought in schools in the country with the world’s best school-system.
I have figured them out quite well in the last couple of days however. Masa was nice and joined me for the first viewing, a tiny apartment close to the city center and not too far from my school. The kitchen and bathroom were newly renovated and looked nice, and the view was okay, first floor but nice yard. The only problem was that you couldn’t fit a mattress on the floor anywhere, even in your wildest dreams. I figured this is going to be a place where I’ll live for at least another 1-1,5 years, so there’s gonna be a lot of people sleeping over.
I continued my apartment-hunt. In a week, I visited almost 20 apartments found on Facebook, vuokraturva.fi, vuokraovi.fi and oikotie.fi. I applied for like 12 of them, said a definite no to 5 and kept in touch with some.
There were small faults in like every apartment. WAAAY to small (really, I’m not big but 17 square meters for 670 € plus water and electricity IS quite pricey to me, no matter how good the location is), missing an oven or a stove or both (I mean I can buy one but not if the apartment itself is super expensive), no SHOWER (sorry I couldn’t live THAT long without a shower, it’s my only can’t-live-without-luxury), or just too dark or messy or something. My expectations weren’t high though, and I was optimistic enough to actually think I could live anywhere haha.
I probably would have. I got 8 (!!) of the apartments I looked at. And then stressed, rushed and halfway down the road of total panic I happened to turn them all thinking of The Perfect One, that I found a couple of days ago. I was a hundred percent sure tha apartment was mine, but decided to sleep on it before calling the landlord. The next morning, when I called, someone had taken the apartment already.
That sucked, kind of. But I never give up.
I looked at 3-4 apartments in the same area and decided to go to their viewings although the rent was a bit overprice for my budget. To be honest, for anyone looking for an apartment. You won’t find anything good under 650 € near Helsinki city center. I had my eyes on just under 700, and I had hoped to get the water included in that price.
Now the first of these apartments that I went to had a rent of 760 € per month plus water, electricity etc. I went there just to check it out, you know. There wasn’t anyone else looking at the apartment at that time since the contract would only last until July 2016. I told the viewer that I had had something a bit less expensive in mind, and because of the 7 month-situation he decided to lower the price a bit. I wasn’t thrilled but I promised to get back to him.
In the bus home I sent him an e-mail saying I couldn’t take it for just 7 months for that price (730). He then asked if I still was interested if we lowered it to 700. And with a beating heart I replied that it was taken.
Now moving to your own place at 17 is not as easy as I think it should be. You can not sign a rent contract without your parents signature, in my case on a different document saying that they will pretty much take responsibility if I fuck up. In addition, you need to get a paper from the Local Register Office saying that you are who you are and you’re alive and these are your parents and they’re also alive. This costs 8 €, plus 5 € if you’re in a hurry and need to get it by e-mail.
Then you can’t have the electricity contract on your own name because you’re not 18, doesn’t matter if you pay for it or not. The insurance must also be taken by your parents, even though you pay it yourself. The gas bill however is on my name, wihoo.
Anyway, I filled out all of this and there’s probably going to be a lot more bullshit like this in the upcoming 9 months of “childhood”. Isn’t it ironic, that I have the legal right to play, which is a right that I haven’t used for 8 years or so, but I don’t have the right to vote, which I have wanted the last 10 years?
Anyway. To pay rent, water, electricity, gas, Internet, insurance and what not, you need some money. Luckily, I’ve had this great extra job at the YLE Archive, where I’ve spent a couple of evenings and where I’ll probably spend the rest of this Christmas break. It’s not gonna get easier I guess, but fingers crossed it’ll be worth it.
And man couldn’t I stop smiling when I signed the contract today.