How Vantaa became my home


Vantaa is a rapidly developing part of the Capital Region, home for more than 237.200 residents. With more than 120 languages being spoken in the all the 7 areas of the city, no wonder Vantaa is considered an attractive and multicultural place by many internationals. With excellent transport connections and high-quality public services, Vantaa is widely considered an ideal place to start a business or a family.

Ukranian-born Lilly Erkkila decided to do both when she moved here in 2019.

Lilly Erkkila

Lilly Erkkila followed her heart to Vantaa.

"My story in Finland starts with love"

"I have moved to Vantaa almost 3 years ago after being introduced to my husband by some mutual friends. Everything happened really fast and spontaneous, so I’ve decided to close my business I had in Ukraine, pack my suitcases and follow my heart. So I moved to this beautiful country."

"Without the permit I couldn’t work nor study."

Being quite an active and ambitious person, Lilly was planning to start working straight after she moved. She has been running her successful real-estate agency in Ukraine for the last four and a half years, so it was instinctively for Lilly to take initiative and "make things happen". Little did she know that it would take 8 months to receive the residence permit.

"I didn’t expect to face such experience to be honest. Without the permit I couldn’t work nor study. It was such a hard time for me personally."

"He became my biggest support"

During this challenging time, her husband Timo was the only provider.  "While he was working very hard to make sure all the bills are paid on time, I was focused on taking care of the house and learn the language on my own. He became my biggest support. Looking back, I now consider that time to have been a test for us which we have successfully passed as a couple."

"Free advice available in my own native language, facilitated my integration."

While waiting for the permit decision to be made, she understood that learning the language and understanding how the Finnish system works, are essential parts of her integration process. From following online discussions about entrepreneurial help accessible in Finland, to free integration and language courses available, she was devoting her time reading. Some resources that are often considered by internationals living, working or studying in Vantaa would be Welcome to Vantaa website. There is also multilingual information about the city services available on Facebook.

And of course, the most comprehensive material with integration related information, The Newcomer’s Guide – Your ultimate source for information about moving to, living in, and enjoying life in the Helsinki region which can be found here.

 "I have benefited from all the free information available about Finland. Finding free advice available in my own native language, facilitated my integration; I have also joined most of the FB international groups in Vantaa, looking to gather information that could speed up my integration process" said Lilly.

"Finnish enrolment procedures worked great for us!"

As time went by, Lilly started to miss her parents and her 8-year-old son who remained in Ukraine to finish 4th grade. She considered his education extremely important and decided to wait for him to finish the year before moving to Finland. "I was terribly missing my family! My son moved over after a few more months. That conveniently happened right before he started the new school year. I was very pleasantly surprised that kids can go to school while the application is being processed. In this regard, the enrolment procedures worked great for us!" Lilly describes.

"Now I understand why Finnish education is excellent"

Finland is known worldwide for its’ education system which is ranked among the most advanced in the world. Lilly had the opportunity to firsthand experience the impact one devoted professional can make in someone’s life, confessing that "At his first school in Itä-Hakkila, my son was blessed to have an amazing teacher, Minna Minttu, who offered us the much-needed support. What I found really useful, was the adaptation period given to immigrants. Thanks to the preparatory education offered, my son started speaking Finnish so fast and now he is studying together with Finnish natives. Now I understand why Finnish education is excellent when all children are studying and receive a free meal at school!" said Lilly delighted.

"Having extensive work experience and high education [as a foreigner in Finland] is not enough."

When she was finally granted the positive decision and had the residence permit, Lilly registered as a job seeker with TeOffice. Besides the financial support offered by Kela, she could finally sign up for Finnish classes instead of watching language tutorials on Youtube. "TeOffice helped by offering language classes in Arffman school here in Vantaa. I was lucky to study in Maria’s class. Such an experienced teacher! She took me from total beginner lever to basic conversation skills in half a year." stated Lilly. Her integration path continued by attending Galimatias School in Helsinki as she was highly educated with an MA in Management. "Galimatias was not easy for me. Some of my colleagues had good Finnish skills and have been living in Finland longer than me. The vocabulary was more work life oriented, with a one month working practice at the end of the course."

With 10 years’ experience in banking, [ the last two as the General Manager of one of the most famous banks in Ukraine, PJSC CB PrivatBank ] Lilly ended up practicing her language skills in a billing company – Floy Oy ( "I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to work in Finland, this experience changed my life and gave me lots of answers to most of "my future-in-Finland" related questions", admitted Lilly. Even though she has passed the YKI test and later a hygiene passport test, her language skills weren’t fulfilling the expectations required by most employer. "Having extensive work experience and high education as a foreigner is not enough to find a job. You have to speak good Finish too."

"You should be ashamed of giving up!"

Since she was no stranger to the entrepreneurial path, after some research was made, Lilly registered as a "light entrepreneur" and started offering cleaning services under the” Crystal Clear Siivous” brand. She remembers her son’s first question:

"Mom, aren’t you ashamed to be ´just a cleaner´ after working as a Bank director?"

"No son, you should be ashamed for being lazy, doing something illegal or immoral. Or worse, giving up!"

That’s why you should be ashamed of: giving up!

"As a mother, I want to give a personal example to my son and prove that everything is possible in life. I strongly believe I can create my future. And if you think you can and you’re willing to do the hard work, anything becomes possible."

Having the humility, the strength, and the mentality of starting from scratch, as a cleaner, are Lilly´s assets. Her focus is on taking small steps towards big goals. "All big things usually start by being small at first! Then they grow. That’s exactly what I plan for my business. And besides, cleaning is very important and in demand service as people don’t want to or don’t know how to do it properly. Offering top quality services for my clients is part of my promise. "

If you want your home or office cleaned, you can find Lilly on her Instagram or drop her a message a

Inquire for available slots and get an answer today!