Nainen ja lapset istuvat ruokapöydän äärellä piirtämässä.

Living is so affor­dable that you can’t help but smi­le

Joensuu has everything what a family with children needs

When Tea Tör­mä­nen, who retur­ned to Ham­mas­lah­ti after living abroad, saw what she owed the hairdres­ser after get­ting her hair done, she burst out laug­hing. “For the price of an apart­ment in Espoo, you can get a big detac­hed house here,” says Tea.

Tea Tör­mä­nen, 40, who grew up in Ham­mas­lah­ti, got to see the world alrea­dy at the age of 15. Tea, who was admit­ted to the English-spea­king upper secon­da­ry school in Kuo­pio, did not return to her home town for years, as her path after upper secon­da­ry school took her to Lap­peen­ran­ta to stu­dy as a phy­siot­he­ra­pist.

“The work of a phy­siot­he­ra­pist didn’t seem like a career I could see myself doing for the rest of my life, so I applied to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oulu to stu­dy bio­lo­gy.”

After comple­ting her Bachelor’s degree, the road cal­led to her once again. Tea’s path led her to a master’s degree pro­gram­me in England, whe­re she gra­dua­ted with a Master’s degree in Etho­lo­gy in 2015. At the time, the 32-year-old Tea alrea­dy had a life part­ner, Iiro Ran­ta­hal­va­ri, and a one-year-old daugh­ter, San­dra.

“I had played Ame­rican foot­ball befo­re, but you couldn’t real­ly play it in England, so I switc­hed to rug­by for a whi­le. Howe­ver, I wan­ted to con­ti­nue playing foot­ball, so we moved back to Fin­land, to Espoo.”

Tea star­ted playing Ame­rican foot­ball in Roos­ters in Hel­sin­ki. The power player didn’t lose a step in Fin­land, as she set her eye on a doc­to­ral pro­gram­me at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hel­sin­ki.

“Howe­ver, I didn’t comple­te the degree because I ended up in a mana­ge­ment posi­tion at a new inter­na­tio­nal envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­sa­tion. I came to rea­li­se that it wouldn’t be pos­sible to pre­pa­re a dis­ser­ta­tion whi­le also having a deman­ding job at the same time.”

Once upon a time, the­re was a COVID-19 pan­de­mic

Tea is still wor­king in the same posi­tion. In the ear­ly spring of 2020, when the COVID-19 pan­de­mic hit Fin­land, Tea was visi­ting her child­hood home in Ham­mas­lah­ti with her fami­ly.

“It was a snow­less win­ter in the capi­tal region. We were living in a small flat in Espoo.”

Tea and Iiro had had their second child, Enja, in 2018. The COVID-19 pan­de­mic hit Fin­land hard in the ear­ly spring of 2020. Tea was left cut off with her children in Ham­mas­lah­ti. It took a glo­bal pan­de­mic for Tea to unders­tand what real­ly mat­te­red in life.

All the signs star­ted poin­ting towards the fact that it might be time to return home. Tea’s parents were living in Tea’s lar­ge child­hood home but had alrea­dy been con­si­de­ring sel­ling their house for a whi­le.

“My grand­mot­her died a few years ago, and my parents wan­ted to move in with my grand­fat­her in Ran­ta­ky­lä so that he wouldn’t have to move into a home for the elder­ly.”

“I cal­led my hus­band and said that I didn’t want to lea­ve here.”

The idea of retur­ning to a cram­ped apart­ment buil­ding distres­sed Tea, as she had alrea­dy got used to the space and natu­re she could enjoy in Ham­mas­lah­ti.

“I cal­led my hus­band and said that I didn’t want to lea­ve here.”

“By then, we had moved qui­te a few times, and he agreed to the move on the con­di­tion that he would never have to move again,” says Tea with a laugh.

Tea had always wan­ted to live in the count­ry­si­de, but the right time had not pre­sen­ted itself. But now it had final­ly arri­ved.

Nainen seisoo syksyisessä metsässä
Tea Tör­mä­nen retur­ned back home to the child­hood landsca­pes of Ham­mas­lah­ti. “I’ve always been rest­less, but now that´s over,” she says.

No more inter­nal unrest

Tea could work exclusi­ve­ly remo­te­ly, but Iiro’s cur­rent work didn’t allow for telewor­king.

“Iiro is from Kemi­jär­vi, and he doesn’t know any­one in Ham­mas­lah­ti, but he still wan­ted to move here,” says Tea. Tea has moved eve­ry two or three years throug­hout her life, but now she says she has found a home whe­re she wants to stay until the end of her days.

“I’ve always felt rest­less, but now that’s over. I’m plan­ning on living out the rest of my days here,” says Tea.

Tea and Iiro ended up buying Tea’s child­hood home.

“Housing in Ham­mas­lah­ti is so affor­dable that you couldn’t get any apart­ment in the capi­tal region for the same price.”

Tea and Iiro’s detac­hed house has a month­ly mort­ga­ge pay­ment of EUR 500.

“In Espoo, we were paying 1,300 euros per month for a small flat,” says Tea.

Tea was so surpri­sed by the affor­da­bi­li­ty of living that she burst out laug­hing when she heard what she owed the local hairdres­ser for get­ting her hair done.

“For long hair, dying and cut­ting cost 80 euros,” says Tea.

In the capi­tal region, the price is almost triple. Hob­bies are also more affor­dable and, accor­ding to Tea, you can easi­ly get eve­ryw­he­re by elect­ric car, so you don’t need to pay for pet­rol eit­her.

Iiro also got a job in cus­to­mer ser­vice at Osuus­pank­ki. Iiro can now do his work remo­te­ly, so the couple some­ti­mes telework toget­her from their Ham­mas­lah­ti home.

Since Tea has her roots in Ham­mas­lah­ti, get­ting accus­to­med was easy. Iiro has also made friends the­re, as Tea says that it can be mind-boggling how friend­ly the North Kare­lians are.

Nainen ja lapset seisovat tiellä
The new living envi­ron­ment offers also many hob­bies for the fami­ly’s children, San­dra and Enja.

“I’ve lived in so many dif­fe­rent places that I have mul­tiple points of com­pa­ri­son. People here are unbe­lie­vably recep­ti­ve and friend­ly, in cus­to­mer ser­vice and otherwi­se,” says Tea

In Ham­mas­lah­ti, it’s nice to live in peace and qui­et, but you also get to spend time with a diver­se circle of friends and acquain­tances.

Eve­ryt­hing a fami­ly with children needs

With res­pect to Ham­mas­lah­ti, Tea prai­ses the affor­da­bi­li­ty of living and the offe­ring of ser­vices, which are more than enough for a fami­ly with children.

“A health cent­re, a phar­macy, a libra­ry and affor­dable hob­bies,” says Tea, lis­ting the pros of Ham­mas­lah­ti.

Ham­mas­lah­ti also recent­ly recei­ved a fibre-optic network, which gives you a high-speed inter­net con­nec­tion that makes for smooth telewor­king days.

You would think that the walls would start caving in on you when living in a rural region whi­le also wor­king indoors. Howe­ver, Tea ensu­res that this is not the case, as her traveller’s spi­rit no lon­ger bec­kons her to seek a chan­ge of sce­ne­ry; ins­tead, busi­ness trips and hob­bies out­si­de the home keep her busy.

“I have regu­lar busi­ness trips. I’m just on my way to Dubai for a busi­ness trip at a cli­ma­te con­fe­rence. Iiro and I both enjoy the count­ry­si­de, not crow­ded cities.”

“In Ham­mas­lah­ti, it’s nice to live in peace and qui­et, but you also get to spend time with a diver­se circle of friends and acquain­tances.”

Tea has found a nice vol­ley­ball team in her home town as well, and the children also have a lot of hob­bies.

“My fami­ly and siblings live here. We have a sup­port network here that we didn’t have in Espoo. There’s plen­ty to do in Joen­suu if you want to stay acti­ve,” says Tea.

When you move here, you need to be able to apprecia­te the peace and qui­et.

Luxu­ry of time and win­ter sports

People have asked Tea why she wan­ted to move to a place “with not­hing to do”.

“I beg to dif­fer. For me, the capi­tal region doesn’t have the things I want to do. The oppor­tu­ni­ties for win­ter sports are much bet­ter here,” says Tea.

“The qua­li­ty of life is so much bet­ter here, as it doesn’t take so much time and money to run your eve­ry­day life. We can enjoy the luxu­ry of time here. There’s time to read a book on the sofa and just relax,” says Tea.

Howe­ver, what is clear is that moving to a rural area is not sui­table for eve­ry­one.

“When you move here, you need to be able to apprecia­te the peace and qui­et. In North Kare­lia, you can choo­se whet­her you want to live in the city of Joen­suu or here in the count­ry­si­de,” says Tea.

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