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Only 6 percent of summer cottage owners are under 40

The humble Finnish summer cabin, or 'mökki', is a beloved feature of the Finnish countryside and the country boasts over half a million of them, one for every five residents. A generational change is soon in store, however, as over 80 percent of the holiday homes are now owned by someone over 50 years of age. Legal experts are urging Finland’s older generation to sell or gift their property soon, before the infrequently-used cottages become worn down and lose their value.

Laituri kesämökin rannassa.
Image: Elina Jämsen / Yle

Finland’s forests and shorelines are home to over half a million summer cabins, most of which are owned by baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964.

According to Statistics Finland, the average age of cottage owners is currently 61 and most fall into the 60-to-69 age group. Figures show that 80 percent of owners are over 50, and perhaps even more surprisingly, owners over 80 years old outnumber those who are under 40, who only own six percent of the total.

Summer cottage owners in Finland have as a rule amassed considerable wealth; half of them report earnings that place them in the country’s top income bracket. Many of them earn a decent living and also own a detached or semi-detached residential home of their own.

The current generation of cabin deed holders are more often than not the very same people that erected their simple holiday home after the war as part of Finland’s post-war cottage-building boom.

Sell or gift your cabin before it’s too late

Surveys suggest that Finns still think of their beloved mökki with affection, but statistics show that the younger generation isn’t very eager to take over the responsibility for a second home, no matter how bare-bones it might be.

Urho Kangas, a professor of private law at the University of Helsinki says times have changed.

“Back when the current owners built their cabins, they built a modest roof and four walls with no amenities; some didn’t even have a well for fresh water. They might be located in a beautiful spot, but the building materials weren’t the best and hardly appropriate for year-round use. Today’s middle-age Finns don’t necessarily want to live in conditions like that all summer voluntarily,” he says.  

In addition, if the cottage is in a remote location, just getting there might be a prohibitive expense for many.

“Summer cabin owners would be wise to sell their property as soon as they are unable to spend time there and use the money as they see fit,” says Kangas, who strongly encourages a sale before the roof starts leaking and mice scurry around on the countertops.  

Kangas says it is far better to sell an unused cabin than let it become a nuisance for whomever stands to inherit it. As a specialist in inheritance law, he says he has seen far too many instances of siblings quarrelling over the upkeep of their parents’ property.

He also encourages the younger generation not to wait too much longer to buy a holiday home, as soon they too will be too old to enjoy it.

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