My husband once said that he does not mind paying taxes in Finland, because here he can see where the money goes. Here are a few of the things Helsinki uses tax money on:
1. The City of Helsinki offers free meals for all children under 16 years in a number of playgrounds during the summer holidays. Here is the menu in Finnish
2. Playgrounds have a lot of free activities, e.g. music sessions for babies/ toddlers, family cafés and other events to bring families together. Some of them also offer Finnish courses for mothers while their kids are playing. They also have toys such as bikes, toy trucks and buckets during open hours (often approximately between 9am and 4pm). Obviously you can still play outside after the open hours, you just won’t have the toys. And every suburb has at least one such playground! Please find them all here
3. Ice skating – in the winter time most suburbs have a field that you can use for free. If the ice is thick enough, there are also two tracks cleared on Baltic Sea for the ice skaters. Obviously some indoor halls or rinks cost some but mostly only a few euros to use.
4. Libraries have great services beyond lending books. Often you can also borrow CD’s, magazines and puzzles, some even have sports gear to lend. Further, Vuosaari library offered at least a while ago still story telling for children in Finnish, Swedish, English, Russian and Spanish. Maunula has a casual Finnish chat group on Wednesdays starting at 5pm that anyone can go to in order to rehearse their spoken Finnish skills when they feel like it. Rikhardinkatu library is the main library for Swedish speakers with e.g. baby rhymes.
5. Cultural centres such as Annantalo (various art opportunities for children and youth), Malmitalo and Vuotalo (cultural events and activities for all age groups). Most of their courses, plays, workshops, babykinos etc are free or almost free. Too bad they do not have all the information in English! Annantalo houses also Childrens book café, which is a nice stop when you want a quiet cuppa when down town.
In addition, it is easy to get around in Helsinki as the public transport is fairly good. Also, one adult can travel for free on public transport if they have a stroller or pram (same applies for somebody accompanying a wheel chair).