I have been living in Estonia for the past 6 years, In this post, I want to talk about a few things that can help you make an informed decision if you want to move to Estonia.
In my experience there are 4 different reasons why anyone would consider moving to Estonia:
I found a job in Estonia
I want to study in Estonia
I want to start a business in Estonia (or I want to move my business to Estonia)
I want to move because I found a partner in Estonia.
lets look at each option:
1. I found a job in Estonia:
Estonia is known for its IT solutions, so it is a strong possibility that you are moving to Estonia because you got a job in IT. In this case, rejoice because the Estonian IT sector has nearly twice the average salary as compared to the national average. But bear in mind that Estonia is not a cheap country, e.g. When compared to the salary the prices for groceries are very high. ( A bottle of Heinz ketchup costs more in Tallinn than in Stockholm, don’t ask how I know). The price of clothing, shoes, and other items is above the European average. The rent has also gone steadily up in the last few years.
So if you are in IT then you might be green but for any other sector, you should reconsider your expenses as compared to your salary. As I said, Estonia is not a cheap baltic country to live in anymore.
2. I want to study in Estonia
Recently a lot of students have come to Estonia for studies. The quality of education in Estonia varies. According to the Times Higher Education rankings, the University of Tartu ranks at 231 in the world whereas the Tallinn University of Technology ranks at 801.
The quality of education also varies from program to program. For example, I am a graduate of the Design and Technology Futures program, (Formerly Design and Engineering). Initially I wasn’t satisfied with the quality of the program but then I suggested improvements to the chairman, and those improvements were implemented. This is just to say that while sometimes the program might not be up to your expectations it is always a good idea to be open about what can be approved. This is one of the best things I love about Estonia. There is a collective mindset to make things better.
That said, here is the bottom line: if you are coming to Estonia with a long-term objective to settle, then studying is a good option regardless of which program you get into. However, if you are only coming here because you want to excel academically then I would highly recommend making sure that your program is well-respected and competitive. It is always a good idea to get some information about the program from its alumni, you can easily find them from the program website.
3. I want to start a business in Estonia
According to World Bank ranking, Estonia ranks 14 in the world for ease of doing business.
In my opinion, this is one of the best options to move to Estonia. The full benefit of its digital infrastructure is utilized when you have a business. You can setup a company in a matter of hours. The taxation is straight forward. The tax return can be filed in a matter of minutes. There is a special focus on entrepreneurship, so much so that you can often feel like an alien if you are not in IT or within the startup community ( like I often feel)
Estonia is also the first country in the world to start an E-residency program where you can become a virtual resident of the country. You can form a business, open a bank account and start operating without ever coming to Estonia.
To summarize, I think this is the best possible option if you are considering moving to Estonia. Either bring your business, or start your business here.
4. I want to move because I found a partner in Estonia.
You were abroad, you found a pretty girl, a bit reserved, a bit aloof, but she spoke perfect English with an accent. She was curious about your country and your culture. You asked her about her country. She told you about forests and lakes, she told you about her childhood spent picking mushroom and swimming in bogs. You fell in love and now you are relocating to Estonia.
This story is fictional but it could be true for so many couples (including men). But before you move to Estonia for love, consider these few things:
Firstly, settling in a country such as Estonia can be quite a daunting task, so it is very good that you have someone local who can help you navigate the culture and the language. That said, it is also important to know that merely the love of a person can not compensate for such a big change. You need to also fall in love with the country if you want to make it your home. Ideally transition to either of the first 3 options. Find a job, a business or a study program that you enjoy, this way you will not be left hanging if your relationship does not survive the Estonian Summer.
That said, if you do decide to start a family, then Estonia has some of the best benefits for parents. Maternity leave is 20 weeks in and a mother may begin taking this leave between 70 and 30 days before the expected due date of the child. Health insurance pays the maternity allowance which is paid at a rate of 100%. When a child is born, an allowance of 320 EUR is granted. If triplets are conceived, the amount is 1,000 EUR per child.