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Growing gaps in cost of detached-home living

Real estate taxes and utility costs can vary by as much as 1500 euros a year depending where in Finland you live.

Omakotitaloja talvella.
Traditional wooden houses in Tampere's Viinikka neighbourhood. Image: Tuula Nyberg / Yle

The annual costs of living in a private house – besides possible rent – vary significantly from one municipality to another in Finland. The difference between the priciest and cheapest municipalities has risen to 1500 euros for an average older house.

The biggest differentiating factors are heating, water and electricity transfer fees, according to a survey released on Tuesday by the Home Owners' Association.

Lowest rates in Kempele

Among the 100 municipalities surveyed, the cheapest place to have a house is in Kempele, near Oulu, while the most expensive is in Kimitoön (Kemiönsaari in Finnish), a mainly Swedish-speaking maritime municipality in the southwest.

The study indicates that regional variations in the costs of living in single-family homes have increased. The gap between the lowest and highest-cost municipalities was only around 1,000 euros last year but has now widened by half. The national average yearly expenditure for a typical modest-sized house is now nearly 4,000 euros, the group says.

Included in the comparison were real estate taxes, electricity, water and waste disposal fees.

Forking out the most each year are residents of Kimitoön, who pay an average of more than 4,700 euros each year. Meanwhile those in Kempele get by with paying around 3,200 euros. High water fees particularly push up the cost of living in Kimitoön. Second most expensive is the neighbouring municipality of Pargas (Parainen), followed by nearby Raisio and then Järvenpää, just north of Helsinki.

The second-lowest cost is in another Swedish-speaking coastal town, Jakobstad (Pietarsaari), followed by Keminmaan in Lapland and Seinäjoki in Ostrobothnia, all in western parts of the country.

Heating biggest cost

For comparison purposes, the study uses a typical detached wooden house of 120 square metres, electrically heated and built about 30 years ago on a 1,000-square-metre plot. Heating was estimated to use up 14,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

The largest cost is heating, which also accounts for the biggest cost gaps between municipalities. The differences are mainly due to variations in electricity transfer fees. Regardless of one's electricity provider, these fixed fees are costliest in Kajaani, eastern Finland, at nearly 915 euros a year. In Rovaniemi, Lapland, these fees only add up to an average 391 euros annually.

Both the transfer fees and market prices for electricity rose significantly throughout the country. Included in the survey were 100 municipalities, accounting for 83 percent of Finland's population.

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