Comparing Germany to Finland: Differences and Similarities

Would you like to explore Europe even at the comfort of your home? Let’s find out some general, basic country info and then delve deeper into some interesting things about both countries!


Looking at the map below, Finland’s location is on the side of Northern Europe, whereas, Germany is situated at the Western – central Europe. Additionally, Germany shares borders with nine other countries.

Map showing Finland and Germany

Screen capture from The True Size

Intriguingly, Finland’s size is approximately the same as Germany’s size and it is the eighth-largest country in Europe after Russia, France, Ukraine, Spain, Sweden, Norway and Germany.

Even though it seems that both countries have nearly the same size, Germany has the second-largest inhabitants in Europe, around 81.4 million. Meanwhile, the population of Finland is still over 5.5 million people in 2019. Berlin – the head capital and largest metropolis of Deutschland – has incredibly over 3.5 million inhabitants.

World Map

Screen capture from My Life Elsewhere

From our recent blog post “Comparing the Netherlands to Finland” we know the name “Low Dutch” is referred to Netherlands people from the Flatlands, while the phrase “High Dutch” is known as people from the Mountainous area of what is now “Southern Germany.” Northern Germany is highlighted with flat and lowland terrain, where is also dissected by numerous rivers and streams, is mostly used as farmland.


Three ladies smiling at beach

Everyone knows that Finland is again standing on the highest top for the world’s happiest country. Despite having a long, dark and cold winter, Finns and foreign migrants feel equitable, happy, and content in a strong and big society. Besides, people live here feel a sense of trust and have a sense of belonging and safety. Therefore, they can surely stay focus on doing their own business and enjoy life as much as possible. This is when happiness is created naturally!

On the other hand, looking at the World Happy Index of Germany in 2019, there was a slight decrease when Germany was ranked just 17th, down 2 scores from the last year.

Index table with data


Tourists in Germany, showing flag

There is a myth about German people being rude?! No, they’re honest, not rude! Germans are straightforward, truthful and simply don’t like small talk. Likewise, Finns aren’t big small talkers, but they are humble, hospitable and sincere.

Both Germans and Finns are considered to be highly punctual and efficient in uses of their time. They plan things ahead or follow timetables in advance. This includes both business and social occasions, for instance, at work, or any kinds of appointment (school, doctor, office meetings and so on.)

Moving to names and titles, Finns will normally say their first name followed by their last name when introducing themselves. In converse, German customs place much emphasis on the correct form of address and a person’s title. Peculiarly, if you communicate with businessmen, the elderly and other people who you have never met before, just make sure to use the polite way of addressing – Miss, Mr, Mrs, Ms, Sir, Madam, Lady or Dr as appropriate.


Deutschland ranks 6th for the European countries with the greenest forest coverage (2019), whereas Finland places higher on 2nd, about 72% of forest cover. Needless to say, both countries have many theme parks and are surrounded by much natural beauties and creatures.

On top of that, Finland forests are still untouched, meaning having crystal clear waters and colorful wild natures. Truly a peaceful, tranquility place for all nature lovers coming and desiring a unique experience. 


A girl is breathing and feeling refresh

According to WHO’s research in 2018, Finland has the world’s cleanest air. Truthfully, having strong environmental regulations and laws, the Finnish government also invests in renewable energy, protects lakes and forests, and promotes the environmentally friendly public transportation for all citizens. For example, city bikes are quite popular among local people and tourists.

Yellow city bikes in Finland

On the contrary, the Germany government has struggled to deal with addressing air pollutants. Especially, Berlin city is infamous for dirty air. Furthermore, Germany and five other EU countries were fined for breaking the European Union’s law on air pollution.


Bread (1 loaf)1.78€ 1.29€
Local cheese (500 grams)2.82€ 4.40€
Milk (1 litre)0.90€ 0.70€
Eggs (1 dozen)1.77€ 1.80€
Boneless chicken breast (1kg)9.12€ 7.26€
Apples (1 kg)1.84€ 2.14€
Bananas (1kg)1.50€ 1.54€
Oranges (1 kg)1.66€ 2.07€
Tomatoes (1 kg)2.51€ 2.44€
Potatoes (1 kg)0.89€ 0.96€
Onions (1 kg)1.21€ 1.10€
Internet connection (50 mbps or faster)21.91€ 28.98€
1-bedroom apartment in the downtown area628.86€ 590.85€
1-bedroom apartment outside the city centre497.19€ 448.29€
Utilities for two (65m² apartment including electricity, gas, water, heating)78.49€ 155.82€

Data collected from My Life Elsewhere

All in all, the cost of living on both countries is quite the same. However, as a student, you can receive many benefits in transports, housings, food meals and so on.


Raw ground pork with fresh onions

Well, frying up minced pork and making some burgers to eat seem so normal. Instead, German people will eat it by their one-of-a-kind style, which is eating it raw with some slices of onion. Additionally, this strange food is served on special occasions such as birthdays throughout Germany. They also like sculpting Mett into all sorts of different shapes.


Bread with cheese and onions

Its German name sounds so weird! When translating its name into English, it means “hand-cheese with music.” or when you try to Google translate it’s “Get Mit Music.” Is music as a food to eat? No, this’s a Hessian specialty. Moreover, Handkäse is handmade and caused flatulence when eating with raw onions. Also, Germans traditionally drink apple wine along with it.

Finnish rice pudding dessert

Pudding cake, in general, is a popular dessert for everyone. Nonetheless, there is a unique Finnish dessert, called rice pudding or riisipuuro. Moreover, it’s a traditional Scandinavian holiday dessert. It has a creamy texture, served with cinnamon sugar. The way it’s cooked is truly Finns cooking style, using riisipuuro rice.


Hunting for reindeer, bear and moose has been a long tradition and history of Finland. Can you believe that reindeer can be made for many dishes? Well, listing here, we have thick reindeer steaks, cold smoked reindeer, even canned reindeer. Especially, the street-food menu has reindeer kebab!


Students are studying together with books in background

Almost everywhere in Europe and the globe, public universities charge tuition fees for foreigners who come to that country for their studies. Nevertheless, Germany is one of the few in European countries where you can completely study for free, even if you are from Asia, Africa or elsewhere.

In addition, the only “administrative fees” or “semester fees” are required to pay, which cost around 300 to 400 EUR/year. This reasonably covers student services, bus tickets to the university, student cafeterias, and more. Starting from Autumn 2017 with new education policies, however, non-EU/EEA students who wish to study in a university in the Baden-Würrtemberg region will have to pay tuition fees.


Before there was a new educational rule in 2017, Finland’s education was totally free of charge, too. From autumn 2017 onwards for English-taught Bachelor’s or Master’s programs, non-EU/EEA students must pay tuition fees. Regardless of a student’s nationality, only Doctoral program studies will remain free of tuition fees. However, Finnish higher education institutions, in return, offer cheap tuition fees with outstanding education and highly scholarship options for non-EU/EEA students. It is still considered lowering the overall cost for international students.


Many students gathering in campus

The living standards in Germany are high even when compared to most European countries. However, students can enjoy the well-built infrastructure and facilities, and the well-planned and almost always punctual transportation. Furthermore, Germans like to party a lot, so if you like to party then you are in the right place. While there is definitely a party culture, there is no organised student drinking to get drunk. Sorry.

What’s more, there are many student associations, clubs and active students who set up all events – from movie evenings or sports events to sightseeing tours and trips. The aim of these events is to help diverse students integrate to the new living community, to socialize and make more friends.

3 Students were happy and jumping high

Student services in Finland are great! As a student, you can always apply for affordable student housing. Also, students have their own quality health-care service, inexpensive sports activities, cheap and delicious food on canteen and discounts on public transport. In addition, you are also permitted to work during your studies (how much depends on your nationality and/or residence).

Student associations have also many small to big events for all of the students. For example, fun karaoke night after school welcomes all students to relax, show their singing talents and make strong friendship’s connection. Additionally, Erasmus Student Network (ESN) traditionally organizes the Beer Olympic Games in order to provide opportunities for cultural knowledge and student’s self-development. Well, there are plenty of choices for all student’s interests here!


Players swimming and playing in pool

Underwater hockey is an unusual and more challenging sports game in Germany. It’s much like ice-hockey rules, but players will play it in the water and have more challenges when they can’t call out their team members or need to come up for air.

Reindeers and winter season

Reindeer are one of the symbols of Finland. Thus, it’s plausible that there is a reindeer race for them competing. Also, reindeer races have been taken place in Finland from 1932. It works much the same as carriage racing, which is another popular sport Finns love. However, instead of a carriage, drivers jump on skis and ride behind their reindeer.


Kaljakellunta – Beer Floating Festival

It is an annual outdoor festival deriving from the Uusimaa province of Finland since 1997. At the event, thousands of participants normally use small rubber crafts with a paddle, float down from the Kerava/Vantaa to the riverside beach in Helsinki. All participants will enjoy the sun while getting drunk on a load of beer. Besides, this floating festival is also taken place in Oulu, where participants float on the Oulu River.

People at lake, gathering with beers in floating pools


It’s the world’s largest beer festival with the long history of over 200 years, happening in Munich, Bavaria’s capital. Furthermore, the festival timetable is running from mid or late September to the first weekend in October, warmly welcoming more than 6 million people worldwide attending annually. More interestingly, beer is officially considered a food in Bavaria.

Man holding loads of beer


There is Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Lapland’s province, where visitors can meet the real Father of Christmas and experience the magical Northern Lights. Moreover, reindeer’s are the symbolic animals of both Santa Claus and Lapland. Hence, tourists can visit reindeer farms all year round and go on sleigh rides pulled by reindeer in the winter.


Horned half-demon looking creature holding wood sticks and babies in knapsack

In contrast with Santa Claus, who has a white beard with big, kindly smile and rewards presents to well-obeyed children, this is Krampus. This legendary figure is derived from Germanic pagan traditions, who has a devil look with bearing horns, dark hair and fangs. Also, he comes with a chain and bells along with a bundle of birch sticks to swat naughty and undisciplined children.

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