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Moving to Estonia

Famous for its lush landscapes and medieval architecture, Estonia is the centre of old-world Northern Europe. While Estonia is not the most typical of expat destinations, the country has much to offer those who choose to explore it. Though small, an expat community does exist in Estonia, mostly in the capital city of Tallinn.

Living in Estonia as an expat

Since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Estonia’s economy has developed rapidly. The country now boasts booming timber and shipping industries, and Tallinn is quickly becoming a commercial hub. Estonia is also beginning to receive more interest from foreigners looking to invest in property.

While Estonian is the official language, Russian is widely spoken throughout the country. Estonians also tend to speak good English, so expats shouldn’t have too much difficulty communicating. It is worth learning a few key Estonian phrases to help break the ice with the locals, though.

Cost of living in Estonia

The cost of living in Estonia is low, particularly when it comes to accommodation, transport and food. Expats living in Tallinn or other Estonian cities will find that public transport is efficient and economical, and therefore will have little need for a car.

Expat families and children

Families living in Estonia are spoilt for choice when it comes to outdoor activities. Recommended pastimes in summer include picnicking, hiking, cycling and sailing, while winter is a great time to go sledding or skiing. This Baltic country also has a wealth of historical heritage that can be explored by those that enjoy cultural activities. Estonia boasts a significant number of medieval churches, castles and palaces. 

There are a number of good international schools in Estonia, particularly in Tallinn. Most expats opt not to send their children to local public schools due to the language barrier.

Expats moving to Estonia should ensure that they have adequate health insurance. While the standards of healthcare in Estonia are improving, the facilities usually fall short of the standards expected in Western Europe or North America.

Climate in Estonia

Estonia has four distinct seasons. Summers are mild and moderately rainy, but winters can be very chilly. From November to March, snowfall is common. May through November is the most pleasant time of year.

Though Estonia is not yet a popular expat destination, foreigners have begun to see the potential of this Baltic state on the brink of expansion and development. Those adventurous enough to give expat life in Estonia a chance will be rewarded with a low cost of living and good entrepreneurial opportunities as well as a host of sporting and cultural activities.

Fast facts

Population: About 1.3 million

Capital city: Tallinn

Neighbouring countries: Estonia is bordered by Latvia to the south and Russia to the east.

Geography: Nearly half of Estonia’s flat landscape is covered in forest. The rest is farming land, meadows and grazing plains, with over 1,000 lakes scattered across the country. In addition, there are two main islands in the Baltic Sea, Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, which are favourite local holiday spots. 

Political system: Unitary parliamentary republic

Major religions: Christianity

Main languages: Estonian

Money: Estonia uses the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents.

Tipping: Tipping is accepted but not expected. A 10-percent tip on a restaurant bill is polite but not required, and excellent service can be rewarded at the client’s discretion. Taxi drivers do not expect tips, but rounding up the fare to the nearest euro is accepted practice. 

Time: GMT+2. Between March and October, the time zone changes to GMT+3.

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are used.

Internet domain: .ee

International dialling code: +372

Emergency contacts: 112

Transport and driving: Vehicles in Estonia drive on the right-hand side of the road. The country boasts an impressive and extensive public transport system, with buses operating within and between all major urban centres.

Weather in Estonia

Estonia's weather is far more moderate than other countries at this latitude. The seasons in Estonia are distinct and are nearly equal in length, and it rains or snows for approximately a third of the year.

Spring is a mild and dry season lasting from April to May. May is favoured for its warm, mild and dry weather, made especially pleasant by the abundance of flora and wildlife emerging from the forests and plains. Summer lasts from late May until mid-September and is typically around 70°F (20°C), although it may occasionally reach over 85°F (30°C). Thunderstorms are common and many evenings end with rain.

Autumn’s wet and windy days are in full force by October and, apart from being the wettest month, November also ushers in the winter snowfall. Temperatures remain under 50°F (10°C) and drop below 32°F (0°C) by November.  

Winter temperatures may occasionally plummet to 0°F (-18°C) or lower, but generally sit around 32°F (0°C) with frequent snow. This is a popular month for snow sports and activities.

Embassy contacts for Estonia

Estonian embassies

Embassy of Estonia, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 588 0101

Embassy of Estonia, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7838 5388

Embassy of Estonia, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 789 4222

Embassy of Estonia, Canberra, Australia : +61 2 6100 7717

Estonian Honorary Consulate, Cape Town, South Africa: +27 21 913 3850

Estonian Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 478 8888

Foreign embassies in Estonia

United States Embassy, Tallinn, Estonia: +372 668 8100

British Embassy, Tallinn, Estonia: +372 667 4700

Canadian Embassy, Tallinn, Estonia: +372 627 3311

Australian Consulate, Tallinn, Estonia: +372 650 9308

Irish Embassy, Tallinn, Estonia: +372 681 1870

Public Holidays in Estonia




New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Independence Day

24 February

24 February

Good Friday

7 April

29 March

Easter Sunday

9 April

31 March

Labour Day

1 May

1 May


28 May

19 May

Victory Day

23 June

23 June

Midsummer Day

24 June

24 June

Independence Restoration Day

20 August

20 August

Christmas Eve

24 December

24 December

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Boxing Day

26 December

26 December