It’s true. Finland exceeded all of my wildest dreams and expections. 

When we were confirmed for the housesit (that replaced a canceled Scotland one) I was just so excited that we got an entire month in one location. A location that was super cheap to fly to and from London. But we soon realized just how magically Finland is during our 4 weeks there. Here’s what left a lasting impression on us.

1. The People

We got connected and grew to know three very special families while we were staying in Espoo, Finland. One was our homeowners who we were housesitting for and we wished we were able to spend more time with. The second was the family above that I connected to via a photographer friend. They were absolutely lovely and invited us on many excursions, showed us their beautiful culture and food, and give many recommendations during our stay.

They also invited us to their summer cottage which is a rite of passage of its own and we were SO thankful for the experience. We did come to realize that as a stranger, people don’t typically say “Hi!” or smile at you as you walk passed. But as soon as you break that barrier past small talk, the people are just so delightful!

2. The Summer Cottage Experience

Almost every Finnish family has at least one summer cottage within their family line. These are passed down through many generations and the history is very rich. Every summer, Finland goes on holiday for about 4 weeks. And everyone heads to their summer cottage. 

The cottage experience is amazing. Most are close to the water and hiking. They include compost toliets and saunas. And a camp fire and night caps. We swam, picked wild berries, ate delicious food, went into the sauna, hiked, and enjoyed the company of our new friends. 

Absolutely refreshing, restful, and beautiful.

3. The Forest Hiking

We regularly went on 5k hikes while in Finland. In fact, we spent so much time outdoors that it began to feel strange going to mall centers and grocery stores. We were that deep into nature that regularly. 

The kids loved following the circle markers throughout our hiking trials and we visited multiple national forests during our stay. In fact, we only once set foot into Helsinki outside of airport trips.

This also meant we did AMAZINGLY well for our budget this month. Since we housesat for ‘free’ and were also allowed to use their car, we only paid for food and gas. This certainly helped after our time in New Zealand had pushed our budget so far. I have so many images of the kids waking through magically forests with trees towering over us. So much beauty!

4. The Urban Development


Now, we didn’t do too much as far as urban sight-seeing goes. In fact, we hardly explored the major city of Helsinski. But we did appreciate the cute city of Porvoo. The buildings were all painted in pastels and lots of tourists and locals about.

We also loved how many of the areas, Espoo included, had such great planning to include awesome parks nearby. Nearly everywhere we went, we could find a park for the kids as walkable distance away. This was true for Sweden too. Welcome to the Nordic countries, I suppose. 🙂 


I have to be honest, we didn’t really know what to expect and before we landed I was a bit turned off because I had only heard how expensive everything was in this region of Europe. But we were delightfully wrong and blown away at just how lovely our experience was!

About the Author

Jess Swenson

Homeschooler Mama by day. Professional photographer, content creator, and marketing director of a homeschool quarterly by night. Jess is the one with the crazy ideas and is happy to hear William's analytics about these plans before jumping head first into them! She's also great to connecting with new people and loves to share all that she's learned along this wild journey. 

Follow JESSICA on Instagram: @j_swenson