The family of Kyröläinen have so far built three homes in the city of Raahe, where everything necessary is near, and where inhabitants stay active ‘The longest distance to anywhere in Raahe is fifteen minutes’
Raahe has invested a great deal in recreational activities, hobbies and safe transport connections for people of all ages. The Kyröläinen family praises Raahe's small town idyll, where plenty of services and hobbies are close by, just like in a large city - sometimes even closer.
Tomi Kyröläinen plays ball together with his 8-year-old son Onni in the new Antinkangas community centre's gym, where Kyröläinen's house was completed only two weeks earlier.
Although the house in Pyhtilä is waiting for some final touches, the family has already been able to move in. This is the third house-building project in Raahe for Tomi and his wife Kirsi, who have never really even considered moving to another city.
‘Kirsi has sometimes considered whether we should move to Oulu, but the discussion has ended there. After all, there is peace, space and work here – everything you need is close by. You don’t get a feeling that you are missing out on anything’, Tomi continues when describing the best aspects of living in Raahe.
The couple have formed a strong bond with Raahe, where they both were born, and even brief visits to other cities hasn’t shaken their conviction. The fact that Raahe is large enough to provide sufficient services and activities, but small enough to bring them close to the city residents, is something that families have grown to truly appreciate.
‘It's a short distance from everywhere, such as shops and children's hobbies. When you have children, you particularly appreciate safe walking and cycling routes to the school and hobbies. We can rely on the roads being safe’, Tomi reiterates.
The peaceful Raahe attracts new and old inhabitants
The Kyröläinen's first house was completed a few kilometres from the current one in 2009. At that time, the couple ended up building their own house after they couldn’t find a suitable house on the market. After living in the house for six years, Kirsi was taken over by house fever.
‘It was a persistent itch. I stipulated that we’d try to sell the house, but if we didn’t manage to sell the house within six months for a certain price, we would have to give up on any dreams of a new house’, Tomi recounts.
Things started to happen soon, however. This was in 2018.
‘We managed to get a really very good price for the house within three days. We were suddenly in a hurry to start our plans for the new project’, he laughs.
Once more, the couple were able to start building another house within a few kilometres.
Moving into the current house, on the other hand, was precipitated by Tomi’s sudden urge to build ‘one more house’.
Kirsi and their friends and family were opposed to the idea of selling their brand new house and starting yet another building project, but when their second house was sold before the first viewing, everyone had to adjust to the idea of building another house. The third house was finished this spring, and it is located near the Antinkangas community centre.
They were lucky with their new plot of land, as they managed to get exactly the plot they were hoping to get in the city building plot lottery. The Kyröläinen couple were slightly puzzled by the fact that their previous houses sold so quickly, but they weren’t completely taken by surprise.
‘Pyhtilä and Raahe in general seem to be very desirable, even among people living currently in Oulu. The area provides all the services a family needs, but I think the affordability of living in Raahe is also a significant factor’, Kyröläinen muses, referring to Raahe’s property prices, which are among the country’s lowest.
Everything an active family needs
The Kyröläinen family is active, and therefore greatly values all the sports facilities offered in Raahe. Father Tomi plays ice hockey at the local ice hockey rink, while Onni, who is currently in second class, is eager to try various sports, but spends most of his free time playing ice hockey and Finnish baseball. The youngest of the family, the three-year-old Nooa will probably get his first skating experience next winter.
Raahe has invested a great deal in local sports facilities, of which community centres such as Antinkangas are a visible example. In addition to indoor game opportunities, there are plenty of playing fields, enthusiastic fellow enthusiasts and, in Tomi's words, ‘all kinds of gadgets and devices’ that the family eagerly utilises.
‘In Pyhtilä you live in the middle of everything, there’s even a frisbee golf course nearby. When I leave home to visit the city centre, I’m always amazed at how quickly I get there’, Tomi says.
‘Raahe activates everyone from babies to the elderly’
Toni Ojala, Head of Sports Services at the City of Raahe, is happy to hear how the city's investments in local sports opportunities have been successfully integrated as part of the lives of city residents.
‘Our goal is that everything in Raahe is 15 minutes away – that’s what local exercise is all about. In Raahe, we try to activate everyone from babies to the elderly’, Ojala opens up the city's vision.
In addition to multi-purpose facilities, the aim is to offer opportunities for local sports in the form of easily accessible nature trails and cycling and jogging trails. In the winter, the city residents are served by Raahe's own speciality: park ski trails, which enable them to join an extensive trail network from the city centre and ski all the way to the award-winning sea tracks and racing tracks located a little further aside.
In addition to the accessibility of sports services, their quality and diversity is crucial. Continuous development of supply is equally essential, of which Kuntokeidas Vesipekka is an excellent example.
‘Vesipekka is the pride of our city, and 200,000 people visit the Health Sports Centre every year. The centre is also a prime example of our city's one-stop shop principle, as it collects a wide range of various services and hobbies under the same roof from swimming to ball games and bowling’, Ojala explains.
Raahe is not shrink from ambitious development projects, and projects are under way to develop existing sports parks, but also a multi-purpose alliance project that serves competitive sports and event activities at national level.
Hobbies are supported: 100 recreational clubs activating schoolchildren
Sports in Raahe aims towards both exercise and competition. Target-oriented sports are represented by the city's Superpesis pride PattU and its junior activities, but junior activities in football and ice hockey also provide opportunities for advanced levels.
For example, Joonas Donskoi and Miikka Salomäki, who both started their ice hockey careers in Raahe, have made their home town known in international arenas.
Was physical activity goal-oriented or not, Raahe wants to take care primarily of the well-being of the city residents.
‘With a few exceptions, sports services and facilities in Raahe are free of charge for people under the age of 18. People's health starts with children, which is why we want to help young people lay a solid foundation for their well-being’, Ojala says.
For example, a child's first ice hockey school season in Raahe is free of charge, for which the Kyröläinen family also expresses its thanks to the city. However, the city also offers opportunities for hobbies outside of physical activities.
The wide range of courses offered by the Raahe Adult Education Centre is available to city residents of all ages, and extensive club activities encourage school pupils to engage in hobbies.
The recreational club activities to be launched in the autumn comprise as many as 100 different clubs, such as animal hobbies, wilderness activities and culture, and the clubs will be a natural continuation of the school day.
‘We integrate hobbies to children's school life and offer something meaningful to everyone. Participation, inclusion and activity create well-being for both schoolchildren and their families’, Ojala concludes.
The article has been originally published as a native content in Finnish at Kaleva.fi on May 2022.