The number of real estate properties purchased by Russians in Finland is increasing at an accelerating rate, despite the war in Ukraine and the extensive economic sanctions imposed against Russia.
Regional newspaper Etelä-Saimaa reported (in Finnish) that Russian citizens have made a total of 212 real estate transactions in Finland between January and July 2022.
In 2021, by comparison, Russians bought 222 properties in Finland throughout the entire year.
The newspaper further noted that the highest number of transactions this year have been made in the South Karelia region, close to Finland's border with Russia. The city of Imatra has been the most popular destination for Russians looking to buy property in the region.
Despite the increase, the amount is still far short of the record year of 2011, when a total of 624 properties in Finland were purchased by Russian buyers.
Economic sanctions make trade difficult
The pace of real estate purchases by Russians is especially surprising as economic sanctions mean that Russians' bank cards do not work in Finland, and money cannot be transferred from Russia to Finland.
In addition, restrictions on travel from Russia to Finland was only loosened this summer after the lifting of Covid measures. During the pandemic, Russians could only enter Finland if they had a compelling reason, such as family ties.
Non-EU citizens need to apply for a permit from the Finnish Ministry of Defence in order to buy a property in Finland.
Yle reported in March, a month after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, that Russian citizens were still applying for these property permits at the same level as before.