Estonians and Russians want plenty of light and open spaces, whereas Czechs and Lithuanians value a garden - the range of living solutions is extensive around Europe

YIT CORPORATION Press release May 11, 2021, at 09:00 a.m.

Vilna Liettua
Vilna Liettua

According to the Sustainable urban environments barometer, new apartments are little more sought-after than old apartments

New and old apartments are a polarising question, as people have different hopes and dreams. As there are many forms of ideal housing, the range of living solutions is extensive in Finland and in other YIT countries.

According to the Sustainable urban environments barometer*, commissioned by YIT in the autumn of 2020, new apartments are only a little more sought-after than old apartments; among respondents, 45% preferred a new apartment, whereas 39% preferred an apartment that was old, renovated or even in its original condition.

Old apartments were as popular as new ones especially in Helsinki, Turku and Tampere and in city centres; in other words, exactly where the buildings reflecting the urban life of the past are located. This could also be seen in people’s answers about their favourite city districts: if there were no practical obstacles, such as money or location, the most popular districts and neighbourhoods for the second year running were Eira, Kaivopuisto and Ullanlinna, the centre of Helsinki, Kamppi and Punavuori.

According to architect Esa Ruskeepää, the allure of old buildings may be explained by the subconscious. People look at buildings to find a sense of stability or belonging, which is becoming harder and harder these days. 

In Riga, the capital of Latvia, old, historical buildings have also been very popular for a long time. However, according to Renāte Vandere from YIT Latvia, the situation has changed. The city centre of Riga is no longer as vibrant and attractive as it used to be, and the demand for old apartments has decreased. 

“Part of the decrease in the demand can be explained by the fact that the apartments have not been renovated to meet modern needs in terms of data connections, for example, and the buildings do not have lifts or parking spaces. Despite their aesthetics, old apartments are also expensive to maintain, which is why many Latvians end up looking for a new, modern apartment,” says Vandere. 

New homes popular in many YIT countries

New apartments are certainly popular, even in Finland. According to the Sustainable urban environments barometer, the age of the apartment matters the most to generation Y, in other words, those aged 18–35. The majority  (55%) want to live in a new home and only one in three (32%) prefer an older home. 

According to Marko Oinas, interim Executive Vice President, Housing Finland and CEE segment at YIT, people often take the benefits of a new apartment, such as good soundproofing, efficient energy solutions and a functional layout, for granted. He mentions a glazed and spacious balcony, a favourite feature of many Finns, as an example of this. 

“Art nouveau buildings don’t usually have balconies, and a protrusion balcony would certainly be impossible,” says Oinas.

According to Oinas, better functionality and more efficiently used floor area are some of the most important qualities in a new apartment; a new apartment that is 5–10 square metres smaller may offer the same functionality as an older apartment.

The features and functionalities of a new home are also considered important in other YIT countries. Margus Põim from YIT Estonia explains that many Estonians dream of natural light and open spaces. A balcony or a terrace are also at the top of their wish list. New apartments are likelier to meet these requirements. 

Spacious apartments and large windows are also popular in Russia, as are great views.  

“Russians often want to live in the upper floors so that they can enjoy the view as well as the silence,” says Eleonora Dubinina from YIT Russia.

Close to nature and services

When selecting a home, people also consider external factors, such as nature, local services and traffic connections. According to the barometer, city dwellers prefer to live in a district or neighbourhood that is close to nature and services and offers excellent traffic connections.

The same trend can also be seen in other YIT countries. In Latvia, the Czech Republic and Estonia, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the popularity of balconies, terraces and gardens. 

“Up to two thirds of Czechs say that their dream home has a garden or is located close to nature. Many dream of a single-family house with 3–4 rooms and a kitchen, located in a peaceful neighbourhood but close to services,” says Veronika Vanišová from YIT Czech Republic.

Known as a home-owning people, Lithuanians dream of owning a piece of land near their home on the outskirts of a city centre or in the suburbs. Also, one of the best choices would be a spacious and comfortable apartment in the city center with a terrace and a view over the city.

“These days, small holiday homes and cottages are also particularly popular. People buy them to live out their dream of owning a house and a garden,” says Akvilė Varanauskienė from YIT Lithuania.

*Sustainable Urban Environments barometer 2020
The Sustainable Urban Environments barometer was conducted for the third time. The survey is targeted at the residents of eight cities: Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Jyväskylä and Kuopio. The data was collected by an online panel administered by CINT Ab during September 23–28, 2020. There were 1,003 respondents. The sample is representative of the 18–75-year-old population of the participating cities in terms of the respondents’ age and gender as well as the size of each city.

For further information, please contact:
Johanna Savolainen, Communications Manager, YIT Corporation, tel. +358 (0)44 305 4594, 

YIT is the largest Finnish and a significant North European urban developer and construction company. We create more sustainable, functional and attractive cities and living environments. We develop and build apartments, business premises and entire areas. We also specialise in demanding infrastructure construction. We own properties together with our partners, which supports the implementation of our significant development projects. We also provide our customers with services that increase the value of properties. We employ about 7,400 professionals in 10 countries: Finland, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. In 2020, our revenue amounted to approximately EUR 3.1 billion. YIT Corporation's share is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki Oy.