Work in Estonia | What you need to know
This inconspicuous country in the north of Europe with a priority on development and expansion might not be your first thought after making a decision about working abroad. But the fact that Estonia offers a high standard of living while keeping costs low, and how fast they grow economically makes this place a really good start to a new, exciting life.
Even though Estonia is not as famous expat destination as other European countries, there are people who decided that this is the best place for them to start living and working abroad. If you already know all the advantages this unique country gives to internationals, check out our Job offer in Tallinn. If you would like to find out more, go ahead and read the article.
The Republic of Estonia is a country in Northern Europe, bordered by Latvia and Russia. In the area of 45,338 km² lives about 1.3 million people with Estonian as their national language. The currency has been the euro (€) since 2011. You can experience four distinct seasons, summers are mild and winters are chill. The most pleasant time of the year is November. In a country of forests and extremely clean air, the expat community is relatively small but vibrant.
5 Curiosities about Estonia
- It is mandatory to have safety reflectors when you walk or bike at night. Otherwise, you can get a fine even up to € 400.
- You probably didn’t know that Estonia is the motherland for Skype. It’s for sure a technologically advanced nation.
- Earth in Estonia is considered to be one of the cleanest in the entire world! Maybe one of the reasons might be that around 50% of the territory is covered by forests.
- In the capital city – Tallinn – public transportation is free. Admittedly for residents, you have to admit it’s a great idea to reduce pollution emission.
- Suur Munamägi is the highest point in Estonia. It has 318 meters, so you can assume the entire country is pretty flat.
Nurtured Culture in Estonia
Estonia for thousands of years has had its own, distinct culture. Folk songs and dance, handcraft, it all has a strong reference to modern traditions. There are many events organised in Estonia during the year where the main topics are national customs.
Family is the central focus of social life, similarly, an important role plays hierarchy. Age, experience and position matter.
Estonians tend to be quiet and reserved. They don’t like to draw attention to themselves, but it’s just a matter of time when your relations with nationals will warm up. Remember that titles like Mr or Mrs are very important. Use the first names once you are invited to do so. Also important is being on time, punctuality is appreciated, same for keeping the word. They respect being rational. All of this might seem a little bit strict, but don’t be afraid. It’s easier to apply into your real life than you think.
Extraordinary Cuisine in Estonia
National cuisine in Estonia is closely connected to the seasons. Their key ingredients are potatoes, pork, rye bread, in the coastal areas – fish. They love dairy products as well. Traditionally Estonians seasoned dishes only with salt and pepper, that’s why nowadays Estonian cuisine is not spicy nor well seasoned. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a lot of delicious and unique meals you should try being there. Even though it might seem special at first, give it a chance and let yourself be surprised by nationals!
Here you can take a look at some of the popular Estonian dishes:
- Kohuke – sweet snack
- Kohupiimakreem – crud cheese with vanilla sugar and ice cream
- Kiluvõileib – open faced sandwich with a sprat filet
- Hernesupp Suitsulihaga – pea soup with smoked pork hock
- Sült – meat jelly
Work in Estonia
For those who love straightforward communication and solving everything on the internet, then you should know that this is the common work style in Estonia. This country has 99% of public services online, everything can be done digitally and they are very open-minded about young people leading teams or even companies, if you’re young and looking for your special career, this country will give you the opportunity to do so and raise in that field.
Working abroad in Estonia is not very common for young people, but this is because not many know about their work benefits including pension, paid leaves, Employment insurance and dental health, also in there are supplementary benefits like health insurance by the government and in some cases, companies even include benefits like paid Gym, awesome right? And this with an average salary in Estonia is €2618 with working hours of 8hours per day, 5 days a week and 28 days of vacation.
Work in Tallinn
Tallinn is the financial and business capital of Estonia, with an increasing economy Tallinn has over half of the GDP of the country. The economic sector is led by information technology, logistics and tourism with their harbour on the Baltic coast. It has a growing expat community and even when job offers are advertised to nationals first, there are so many that everyone has the opportunity to find a job.
Tallinn is recognized as one of the top digital and smart urban cities in the world, it’s extremely well connected so this improves the work-life balance with minimum times for commuting. It’s a cosmopolitan city but also has its historical side, and actually, Tallinn’s old town is an UNESCO recognized World Heritage Site, so you can appreciate both worlds, the most technologically advanced and the medieval one, in just one place.
Taxes in Estonia
In Estonia your personal ID is enough for taxation purposes, the first thing you need to do once here is to request your personal ID code when you only need your passport as an EU citizen, you can verify more information about this with the city of Tallinn website, after this you’re ready to start your job journey and your salary is registered to pay at the end of the fiscal year a flat rate of 20%.
Renting in Estonia
Finding accommodation in Estonia is not so difficult, and the prices vary depending on the location even inside the city, living in the city centre of Tallinn may cost more than in the edges of the city, and living in Tartu is in general cheaper. However, the prices all together are not that high, you can find flatshares and apartment renting for reasonable prices.
The best websites to find accommodation in Estonia are city24, kv.ee, kuldnebors.ee and 1home.eu. The city of Tallinn is very well communicated, so the times for commuting are very low no matter where you choose to live. There’s particular tips you should know before renting in Estonia listed below:
- Ask if the building has an active apartment cooperative.
- Ask the neighbors how it is to live there.
- Take into account the winter expenses, you can ask for the previous winter bill.
Living cost in Estonia
Costs of living in Estonia are low compared to other countries in Europe, however, it’s higher than in its Baltic neighbours. Earnings are proportional to expenses and the standard of living is quite high. For this reason, you can afford a nice life as an expat. Of course, expenses vary depending on how close to the city centre you live in or what season it is since in winter you will have to pay more for heating. Here you can take a look at a few examples of basic everyday living costs, to have an overview of what you should be prepared:
|Description||Cost in Euro|
|Public transport (single ticket)||1.50|
|Mobile rate (per minute)||0.4|
|Fitness club pass||43|
|Pint of beer||4|
* Prices can vary depending on the neighbourhood, the number of people living in the apartment and facilities.
**Depends greatly on your diet and which shops you buy food and drinks from.
Expats in Estonia
Even though the expat society in Estonia isn’t too big, you can still find plenty of groups in the social media of expats living there. Especially in the capital city. Look at their comments about the country, tips and adverts. Maybe someone is currently looking for somebody to meet for coffee and make friends with. Pay attention to events organized in your neighbourhood. Maybe something will catch your eye. The more you will socialize the faster you will feel at home in a new place.
Make friends at work! After all, that is why you came here. It’s always good to have contact with colleagues. No matter if they will be nationals or expats just like you, everybody will have something interesting to say. Don’t be afraid to meet people, ask and share your experience too.
Where to Learn Estonian
Official language is Estonian, however, Russian is also widely used among the society. Even when the majority of people speak Spanish, it will be useful if you know the basics of the language to communicate and understand some things. If you’re thinking about staying longer in Estonia to build your career here, considering their work culture prompt to have young people in high positions, then you need to learn more than the basics of the language. To do so, you have for free the welcoming program which gives courses to all foreigners established in Estonia for less than 5 years (Level A1). Also, you have some apps like Lingvist or Speakly.
To reach a higher level you could try online courses with Keeleklikk or Keeletee, and also there are facebook groups where you can arrange meetings to practice the language with other people, and you can use this to make new friends, so it’s a win-win.
Estonia is a well thriving country with a market opened for “fresh blood”. High standards of living, relatively low costs and work opportunities with a lot of perks make this place worth considering while making a decision about working abroad.
If you feel like this digitally developed country is a place for you, you are welcome to check our Job offers in Tallinn. When the time for leaving home will come, our guidance about how to prepare beforehand might be helpful for you. You can access it by clicking HERE.