A visit to the Housing Fair

Those of you who follow my blog know that I visited the housing fair this year in Seinäjoki. Seinäjoki is quite out of the way for me but I was determined to see this year’s fair as we are moving soon and we need ideas for interior design. I wanted to share some of the photos I took and a few facts about Finnish housing. I think some of you will be surprised.

If you are wondering what a housing fair is, here’s an explanation. It’s a yearly event in Finland, always in a different location around the country. Houses are built and decorated both for this event and for specific families who will move into them after the fair is over. Well not right after, because usually some renovation is first needed after thousands of people have been in and out of your home all summer.

During the fair, any visitor can go inside the houses and look around. Housing developers, builders, interior designers and furnishing manufacturers are present. My parents used to take me to these fairs in the 80’s and I found going from house to house terribly boring. It’s a different story these days, LOL!


In Seinäjoki hubby and I stayed at Hotel Sorsanpesä. At first I was not very enthusiastic about the hotel as I thought it might be quite dated. Hubby had been there last year and he convinced me that the hotel had been refurbished and was very nice indeed. The hotel is located next to a river, outside the city center in the oldest part of Seinäjoki – Törnävä.


The rooms are stylish, comfortable and large for Finland. Usually hotel rooms are tiny over here! My only gripe would be the breakfast, as they did not have enough personnel to clean up the dirty dishes. It’s not very uplifting having to eat next to someone’s used cutlery and dirty plates.


One great thing about staying here was the free of charge VIP taxi service to the housing fair. The car ran every 10 minutes and once you were ready, you just had to call them and they’d come and pick you up. It worked out very well as we didn’t have to pay for expensive parking far away from the fair area.


First, let’s look at some facts about how Finns live. In 2014, the average size of a house was 80 square meters (861 sq feet)! For comparison, in the same year, the average size of a house in the US was 250 sq meters (2690 sq feet). We live in a 107 sq meter (1152 sq feet) apartment and this is considered big for a family of four living in the Helsinki metropolitan area.


Over 70 % of Finns live in owned houses. It does seem like the Finnish dream is to own a house. In my opinion housing is small and expensive. In 2014, for old housing in the Helsinki area, you would pay an average of 3530 euros/sq meter. Note that 1 sq meter is around 11 sq feet. The rest of the country was much cheaper at 1700 eur/sq meter. For new housing, the going prices were 4780 eur/sq meter and 3060 eur/sq meter respectively in the Helsinki area.


Now in addition to these high prices, there’s a thing called money transfer tax. It’s the most ridiculous tax ever. The tax is 2% of the price of an apartment or a detached house. For an independent house, it’s a crazy 4%! If you are going to bid on housing in Finland, make sure you remember that you need to have the money to cover this tax too – unless it’s the first house/apartment/etc you are buying. Also, if you buy an independent house on a plot of land, you will be taxed for the land yearly. The cost depends on where it is and how big the plot is.


Anyway, let’s get back to the fair. One reason I wanted to go to the fair was to see ideas for dining room chairs. Unfortunately the fair did not really have much to give in that aspect but I got confirmation on one thing.


Which is… I have to get black chairs for sure! What color chairs do you have?


This dining room table is very far from a typical Finnish one. The whole house was decorated in quite an opulent manner which is very different from the Nordic simplicity we are used to.


Look at the tiny crocheted covers on the chair legs below! A great idea for crocheting enthusiasts, this way the floor won’t scratch.


Now let’s move on to lounging areas.


As you can see, Finnish interior decoration is quite minimal.


I don’t necessarily want a black sofa but I love the living room below. Probably because I don’t like curtains – that large window with the forest as a backdrop is gorgeous.


I don’t think there can ever be too many pillows. These pillowcases are from Marimekko. I’m not usually a fan of yellow but it goes so well with black, don’t you agree?


Now this sofa table is my favourite. It’s from Pentik. There was a whole house decorated by Pentik at the fair.


I love Lexington’s pillows. Especially the one with the anchor on the right.


Earthy colors here.


Pink tones.


I am so loving black and white.


Greyish tones.


This again, very un-Finnish. Looks inviting though.


A teenage girl’s bedroom.


Apparently this was a boy’s room. I love those pillows but can’t see my son appreciating them. This is also from the Pentik house.


This here looks more like a boy’s room. As you can see, the rooms are all tiny! It’s difficult to find any house with what I consider normal sized rooms in Finland these days.


I love the slash of yellow here again.


A goalies room perhaps?


Any little princess would be happy with a room like this!


I’m not fond of black for a child’s room unfortunately.


This is a really cute room. I’m not so sure about having a balcony attached to a child’s room though.


What you might now know is that almost every Finn has a sauna in their house. Even apartments often have saunas! And if not, there will be a sauna in the building for the tenants to use. Actually I have never been to a house showing in Finland for a house without a sauna. I don’t think very many would be interested in purchacing such a house. There were many beautiful saunas at the fair but it was difficult to take photos of them because they were dark; there was a large window; or they were too small to get a good shot.


I snapped this photo below so you could see the green leafy thing hanging there. If you are not familiar with Finnish sauna you might not know what it is. It is a whisk made of bendy birch tree branches –  you may hear a Finn refer to it as a vihta. Are you wondering what to do with such at thing? Well – in the sauna, you dip it in water and then whip yourself or your companion with it!! It’s actually a great feeling and the scent it gives out is gorgeous.


After or in between your sauna, it’s nice to sit on a patio like this one and have a drink – usually a beer, for men at least!


I was facinated at looking at these little houses you could have in your yard and make summer even more enjoyable. We often call them “summer kitchens”.


A roof over your head is very handy for Finnish summers – you could still enjoy your bbqing even if it was raining cats and dogs in this little house.


This is just too pretty for words!


Many children in Finland spend their summers playing in little play houses. I used to have one at our summer cottage when I was little. My dad built it himself and inside was a table, chairs, a bed for a doll and cupboards. A carpet on the floor as well and curtains. This one is very modern and stylish compared to the red one I had! I guess having a big one like this is more verstile too, you can use it as a shed when the children grow up.


At Finnish fairs and amusement parks it’s always nice to buy some liquorice from a booth like this one. We have this thing called meter liquorice here – there are many different flavours and it’s so good. Usually we buy several to taste.


All in all the Seinäjoki housing fair was a very positive experience. There were many beautiful and interesting houses to see and even if I did not get a huge interior decoration inspiration, it was good fun touring the houses and getting some ideas for the future. Unfortunately the fair has just come to an end but no fear – there will be a new one next summer, in Mikkeli.


Have you ever visited a housing fair? If not, would you be interested in going? What would be your main interest there?


References: Housing in Finland (2016); AEIdeas (2015); Buying a Home, Verovirasto

23 thoughts on “A visit to the Housing Fair

  1. Another excellent post, Suvi. Your very informative and entertaining posts make for a wonderful Sunday reading experience. Love your writing, it’s like reading a real good magazine. 😊 Thank you for sharing the Seinäjoki housing fair; lots of great ideas as we’re house hunting at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so much for your kind words! Exciting to hear about the house hunt 👍 Our hunt is over but now we must get the house ready in order to move in 😅


  2. So much fun! The closest thing we have here in Singapore is Ikea (we are very short on space on our island). When the children were younger, we spent hours visiting the different rooms. It’s also something my husband & I like to do …. tickles the imagination!

    It’s so fabulous to have this village build every year just to host an event like this! And then, folks get to live there afterwards. What a wonderful idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As always, interesting post and thanks for showing me around my home country! 😊 By the way, I don’t know that many people who actually have saunas, even in their apartment buildings, maybe that applies outside Helsinki… Or maybe I just happen to know the only people who don’t have a sauna! Hahah. But I totally agree about the crazy costs and taxes! 🙂 I’ve actually never been to a housing fair, it looks and sounds very interesting! Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had so many fun even just looking at the photos, i love the insights into Finnish housing and deco that I didn’t know about 😍 I wish we have something like this in Singapore, (probably too small to build new houses for events 😂) this is like a real-life pinterest board! 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Iris! 💕 I must say it might be quite difficult to fit such a fair in S’pore unless it was a high rise building 😂


    1. Thanks Katy! 💕 Maybe one day you might visit a fair like this in Finland, who knows 😊 The last one I went to was two years ago and the deco was really industrial. Every year is different!


  5. Very comprehensive post about Finnish housing. Thank You. We have visited on many housing fairs. Many houses have been very impractical from our point of view. I just wonder that I did not see any bookshelves on your gorgeous photos. Are people lending books or have they stopped reading? For example, I have about 1500 books in French and my wife has also a lot of them, although she sold all her garden books when we moved to city apartment. She visits library frequently borrowing books, but I not, because those French books, which I read, are not available in Finland. I have read my French books thrice and now I have started the fourth tour. One tour to read my books takes about 10 years.

    The price of houses is determined by at which floor one buy his apartment. The price between two floors as about 1000€. Nowadays is it important to know to which energy class apartments has. Class A is the best. As You told that every apartment has own Sauna, yes it is true, but what about balconies. Open balconies are history, they must have glazed. Big balconies serve families during many months. In our second home, the size of balcony is 12 square meters. In the same house, others have even 22 square meters. Our future home in Helsinki has even own storage on balcony. Bike cellar is normal and also garage for cars. There is also one thing, which determinates the price of apartment, own building lot or rented building lot.

    Nowadays it is easy to buy an apartment. They are sold so that selling price is low, then during two years You pay only taxes from the final price. Final price can be paid in instalements during 30 years.

    My wife makes pillows by knitting. They are unique and cannot be bought anywhere. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for this enlightening comment Matti! Actually bookshelves are not popular anymore, many people use Kindle or other types of ebooks. At the charity shop they even said they won’t accept bookshelves any longer!!

      I love glazed balconies, imagine having a storage balcony, that I awesome 👏

      Your wife’s pillows sound really lovely and original! 💕


      1. Thank You Suvi. Sorry, but I do not totally share Your opinion about books, bookshelves and eBooks. Maybe this is matter of generation gap. If eBooks are so popular, then for example, I ask why Helsinki Central Library, which will be ready in 2018, will be built.

        You should read for example this article telling about the healty of papers book contra eBook:

        Paper books vs eBooks.

        There are many kind of bookshelves. The best one is Lundia. It will grow with the needs of family. We have Lundia. The young generation do not know Lundia.

        Thank You loving the idea of my wife. She make “everything” by using her hands, even while looking at television. Take a look at this:

        How to make a beaded bracelet?.

        Have a wonderful day!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, I do think it’s a generation gap thing about bookshelves but the truth is that they are not selling them like they used to! Also the libraries that we have in Helsinki like the National Archives or the National Library all have a lot of digital material these days. Times are a changing.. Have a great evening Matti!


          1. Well, I think that it is time to end our discussion, which are better eBooks or paper books. I have followed articles and discussions in Internet during many years and I still keep my opinion, so I knew that times have changed, but many articles say that… End of this discussion. It was a great joy to changes opinions and to show that I am not Yes-man without studying things. 🙂 Thank You.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. I love going to events like this and looking for ideas. I haven’t ever been to a housing fair but I have been to the Ideal Home Exhibition held in London and there you can look at furnished rooms but not complete houses. Incidentally, I love Pentik and my kitchen is filled with various items I’ve bought over the years!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh the Home Exhibition sounds really interesting, I’d love to visit that 😊 Maybe you can do the housing fair next year, it’s in Mikkeli! Great to hear you like Pentik, they have gorgeous items 💕 xx

      Liked by 1 person

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