Finns and Vacation Rentals By Aki Uola
Finland has the largest number of vacation houses and vacation rentals in the world when compared to the population size; almost a half-a-million second homes in a country of just over five million people. (http://www.stat.fi/index_en.html). Traditionally, the Finnish vacation has consisted of spending the entire vacation at your own vacation house (“cottage”) near a lake or in the archipelago.
Since the beginning of the 1980’s, the Finish vacation traditions have been in transition as people look to get more out of their time off. A vacation in a foreign country has become more and more common and available to a large portion of the population. Currently, the vacation rental business has been in steady growth and gained popularity year after year. Not only are Finns renting vacation houses in Finland, but also around the world. Therefore, Finns are accustomed to vacation rentals and vacation housing.
As for right now, Finns travel most to Sweden, Estonia and France. During the past summer, there were almost half-a-million overnight trips to these countries, which is a 25% increase to previous summers. However, domestic travel has suffered a 6% decrease to previous years.
Typically a Finnish summer vacation lasts for 3-4 weeks. Among the Finns, the amount of money spent on vacations has a strong correlation with age; the older the person, the more one spends on vacation. Among the age group of 18-25, the average vacation budget is around $1,450, which increases to $2,600 by the age of 45. A vacationer, who is over 45 and vacations abroad, spends on average over $4,000 on the vacation.
Despite the distance and expensive air-fares, vacation rentals in the US have gained popularity among the Finns since the mid 1990’s. Usually, the vacation rentals in the US are for a longer period of time, lasting from several weeks to several months. Short vacation rentals of one or two weeks are quite uncommon.
The main reason behind this growth in US vacations is the excellent exchange rate between the US dollar and the Euro. Also, renting a vacation home is often more economical and convenient than living in a hotel, especially when travelling with a larger group of people. Another key factor is the increase in the number of economically stable and wealthy retirees who are looking for a vacation rental for the winter months, mainly in different parts of Florida. Currently, there are over 20,000 Finnish retirees living in the Lake Worth area, making it the world’s second-largest Finnish expatriate community.