2021 Shortlist

Expensive Helsinki, cheap countryside?

Country/area: Finland

Organisation: Helsingin Sanomat HS.fi

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 22 May 2020

Credit: Päivi Ala-Risku, Elisa Bestetti, Anu-Elina Ervasti, Reijo Hietanen, Uolevi Holmberg, Kaisa Rautaheimo

Project description:

Expensive Helsinki, cheap countryside? Our story let the reader explore how much it would cost for them to live somewhere than where they currently live. It’s true that housing prices are high in the capital, Helsinki, but e.g. taxes and the cost of a car vs public transportation can be much higher in a small countryside municipality. Our story takes these and much more into account and calculates exactly the amount of money they’d have at their disposal if they moved to another town or municipality in Finland. 

Impact reached:

For an individual, the decision on where they live is a crucial one. Cost of living varies hugely around Finland. However, comparing different places is easier said than done. Housing prices, housing taxes, community taxes, transportation fees, fees for visiting doctor and e.g. the need to own a car varies hugely from municipality to municipality. Furthermore, the average salaries differ from place to place. White collar workers earn more in Helsinki than elsewhere but for nurses or factory workers the difference is not so big.  

Our ground-breaking story took all these and more into account. The reader was asked to fill basic information about themselves and then our story calculated where in Finland they would have the most and the least money left after compulsory expenses. 

Our story helped 175000 of our readers to evaluate where they would make most out of their money. 

Techniques/technologies used:

All this was made possible with the unique concept of changing story designed by Helsingin Sanomat. The story changes with the selection that reader makes, in this case by filling in information about their current home town, salary, house size, transportation preferencies etc. The story was coded with the javascript framework Vue.js. 

For the story we acquired many different data sets, eg about housing prices, public transportation, doctor visits and taxes with different income levels in different municipalities. 

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part was to make the big picture and standardise costs: so many things affect on the cost of living. It was also hard was to get enough data for each municipality. We needed to do a lot of adjustments and manual work for small municipalities

What can others learn from this project?

It’s often very fruitful to combine the personal and general level in one story. Along to the reader specific data in the story there was general information on society level and the interviews of two persons living in different parts of Finland. Through them we were able to explain on general level how living in different parts of the country can really affect the cost of living. 

Project links: