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Higher-income under 35 year-olds head to satellite towns

Four out of five new residents of towns surrounding the capital region are young, well-educated professionals.

Junia Helsingin rautatieasemalla.
Good rail connections are important for many young professionals when choosing where to live. Image: Hanna Lumme / Yle

It's being called the "Järvenpää phenomenon" after the small town of Järvenpää, just 40km up the highway from Helsinki. It's one of close to a dozen satellite commuter towns spread out around the capital region that are seeing a influx of new residents.

A decade and a half ago, growth communities surrounding the capital tended to attract people seeking a more rural, small town lifestyle. Today, young, well-educated and well-paid commuters are showing a preference for more densely built up areas, well away from the city, but with good rail connections.

The favoured locations

There are ten towns in the capital region that have been drawing in new residents over the past two decades or so: Hyvinkää, Järvenpää, Kerava, Kirkkonummi, Mäntsälä, Nurmijärvi, Pornainen, Sipoo, Tuusula and Vihti.

The total population of the ten is around 320,000. Between 2000 – 2016 the population in these locations rose by 58,300.

"These municipalities have been successful in offering what younger people want. They built more dense areas, built higher and built a variety of types of housing," says Timo Aro, a political scientist who has researched population movements.

Changing values

Growth in these communities is a part of a larger movement of population in the province of Uusimaa that often sees people first moving to Helsinki, Espoo or Vantaa and then out to outlying grown areas.

Timo Aro points out that young adults are no longer drawn to quiet suburban areas off the beaten track. Instead, they are flocking to more distant, but still urban-style communities right beside the rails. He notes that places such as Hyvinkää, Järvenpää, Kirkkonummi, and Sipoo to some extent have managed to provide what this demographic is looking for.

In contrast, for example, Mäntsälä, that was once a significant growth centre, has started losing population.

"The latest population movement analysis shows that for the first time there is a strong diversification among these municipalities. Some have been able to meet the hopes of young people, and some have not," says Timo Aro.

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