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Trends in Turku and elsewhere

Turku is a city with 190,000 residents, six universities and 40,000 students. If you were walking down the streets of Turku, one out of five passers-by would be a student, and one out of five students would be living in an apartment of the Turku Student Village Foundation (TYS) – roughly estimated and depending on where you would be walking.

The population of Turku has been on a rather steady increase since 1885, although there have been some flat periods as well. The positive structural change in Southwest Finland, meaning an increase in industry and the need for labour force, is expected to continue until the mid-2020s, at the very least. Turku is forecasted to be a growth centre similar to the cities Helsinki and Tampere, even in the scenarios for the year 2040. If the growth continues on a steady upward trend, meaning an annual increase of 2,000 residents, Turku’s population will be over 210,000 in 2029 when the city celebrates its 800th anniversary.

The universities in Turku promote innovation and offer an increasing number of courses. One example of this is the Master of Science in Engineering of the University of Turku expanding in the fields of Mechanical Engineering and Material Technology. Another example is the start of Chinese language courses. It’s hard to imagine Turku, with its positive structural change and growth centre trends, without the valuable contribution of the universities in the city.

The percentage of people living in rental housing has increased in all the largest urban areas in Finland. Turku is now Finland’s leading city in the percentage of households living in rental housing, in the percentage of people living alone, and in the increase in rent levels for open-market rental housing.

According to the housing and land use policy being prepared by the City of Turku, the total volume of housing production should be at approximately 2,100 apartments per year so that the City’s population growth goals can be realised. In the draft for the policy, the City aims to set goals for securing the production of reasonably priced housing. These goals include an annual production goal of 140 apartments for TYS. Meeting this specific goal is entirely possible during TYS’ strategy term for 2018–2022.

TYS aims to be the students’ best partner for housing, offer inexpensive and high-quality rental apartments to students, and advance the successes of the universities, as well as Turku’s appeal as a student city. To provide safe, individual and comfortable student housing, TYS needs to be financially stable. TYS will need to work hard on this, but we have done great so far. We want to offer our heartfelt thanks to the wonderful staff, tenants, board members and partners of TYS.

However, the most current topic in Turku and elsewhere are the winter holidays. Turku is the official Christmas City of Finland and also the place where Christmas Peace is declared on Christmas Eve, December 24th. This tradition is believed to date back to the 13th century. In its current form, the Declaration of Christmas Peace reminds us that we should respect the holiday season and behave quietly and peacefully. At the end of the Declaration, the speaker wishes “a joyous Christmas feast to all inhabitants of the city”. Respect, silence, peace and joy – that’s what Finnish holiday celebrations are made of. We wish you joyous holidays!

Risto Sillos