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Demand for summer cottages skyrockets during crisis

About 100,000 people in Finland search for rental cottages every week, according to online marketplace Tori.fi.

kesämökki Asikkalassa
A summer cottage in Asikkala, southern Finland. Image: Juha-Petri Koponen / Yle

The demand for summer cottage rentals in Finland has escalated as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Uncertainty over when travel restrictions and will ease and curbs on large gatherings are prompting people in Finland to seek refuge at rental cabins.

Sari Tuomaala's lakeside home at Pielinen in eastern Finland will become a seasonal rental as soon as the teacher's summer holiday begins. Tuomaala made a practical decision when she purchased the summer cottage-like property in Nurmes as her winter home.

When she heads off to her second home in Leppävirta, also in the east, she will rent her home in Nurmes as a summer home to people who don't have a summer retreat of their own. Tuomaala said that she has noticed that the coronavirus crisis has increased demand for the rental.

"Many don't have the chance or can't go to a relative's for a summer vacation as we did in the past. On the other hand, pensioners long for a place of refuge and a change from isolation," she added.

Tuomaala said that she takes Covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, seriously, but noted that she intends to travel domestically during her annual holiday.

"I will visit remote small places where I don't need to be in contact with a lot of people," she explained.

The teacher said that she will deep clean her home before new guests arrive. "I believe that there is a lower risk of getting coronavirus here than in [other] kinds of accommodation, where you would be exposed to contact with many people," she declared.

Young people rediscovering cottage rentals

Tuomaala noted that young people are increasingly switching on to summer cottage rentals. "Groups of under-30-year-old friends want to spend time with each other and because there are no places to hang out [now], they rent a cottage," Sebastian Lagerlöf of online cottage rental service Nettimökki.com said.

Nettimökki is part of a cluster owned by publisher Otava, which also maintains other online portals for boat, caravan and vehicle rentals. Traffic on the other sites has also picked up, but the demand for cottages is in a class of its own -- searches have soared by 111 percent compared to one year ago.

Online marketplace Tori.fi, which is owned by Schibsted Media Group, has also reported a similar trend, said marketing head Laura Kuusela.

"About 100,000 people in Finland search for rental cottages every week. Demand usually peaks at the beginning of June," she added.

Demand causes price surge

A cottage rental from Nettimökki costs on average 800 euros for a week, about 13 percent more than last year. Prices are not determined so much by location as they are by amenities provided.

Although the sealing off of the Uusimaa region during spring hiked demand in the area, many residents are prepared to look further afield for longer summer holiday stays. On top of that, the closure of many hotels and inns has contributed to the spike in demand for summer cottages.

Tori.fi currently has more then 6,500 adverts for summer cottage rentals. The number of notices posted by private renters has especially increased and have risen more than 50 percent compared to last year. Meanwhile the overall number of notices has doubled from last year.

"Usually searches peak at the beginning of June, but this year people have been searching more than during the high period last year," Kuusela noted.

She added that some of the most-searched-for locations in Finland have been Kuusamo, Savonlinna, Mikkeli, Lieksa, Rovaniemi, Kuopio, Kitee and Inari.

Nettikökki's Lagerlöf said that he doesn't believe that large numbers of people begin renting their cottages, despite the lure of additional income.

"People want their own cottages right now. Many have already spent more time there this year than they have in years. The business benefits are relative," he commented.

Nowadays, people are on the lookout for all kinds of cottages. Some want a place that is close to a sports field or boating facility, while others just want a peaceful spot in the wilderness. According to Tori.fi others are happy to find a place on dry land or in an allotment garden.

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