16 Pros and Cons of Living in Estonia

Updated On October 9, 2023

Estonia has quite a history.

To begin with, the country was part of what is now Russia until a century ago.

At that point, they were so ready to be out on their own that it evoked a war.

The Estonian War of Independence was hard fought, especially considering who they were up against.

In February 1918, Estonia declared itself an entity.

It would be 70 years after the war before Russia was willing to accept and recognize Estonia as an independent nation.

A lot has gone on in between, and since, that makes the country an interesting place to call home.

To get a better perspective, we’re going to go through all the pros and cons of living in Estonia. 


Pros of Living in Estonia

1. Cost of Living

Estonia is one of the cheapest places to live in all of Europe.

That includes Tallinn.

Having scenic views, culture, and cheap prices is something that locals and ex-pats alike can enjoy.

Some of the more popular cities across Europe are staggeringly high so Estonia is a welcome change.

These good prices include rent as well as utilities, food, transportation, and shopping. 

2. Things to Do

Estonia borders Russia and Latvia.

Estonia’s capital city, Tallinn, is a short ride over the Baltic Sea to Finland‘s capital, Helsinki.

So, when it comes to vacation time, citizens are super close to new adventures just beyond the borders.

Internally, the country is full of exciting things to do.

From historical sites to modern-day museums, there’s a little bit of culture and fun everywhere.

Not to mention all the beach access. 

3. Welcoming

Many who have experienced Estonia view it as a friendly country.

This is such a popular opinion that Latvia decided to do an entire research study on the topic.

The study included a list of a variety of countries around the world.

In the end, Estonia was the winner.

Tourists often report being welcomed by locals.

Being offered a meal at their home or meaningful items is a way locals will connect with new people in the area.

4. Tech Friendly

Estonia has been voted the most digital country in the world.

That’s because citizens can do almost anything online.

Long lines?

That’s a thing of the past.

In fact, 99% of government interaction and services can be conveniently done from a smart device.

The digital aspect extends into medicine, where almost every prescription is given online.

Everyone also has an electronic ID that is used to link all of these services.

Having to be comfortable with technology has paid off.

Estonia is number five of all countries in Europe for its tech-savvy population.

5. Remote Working

Working anywhere you want is a huge benefit of the digital age.

Estonia wanted to capitalize on that desire by creating a digital nomad visa.

The rest of the world has been a bit slow-moving when it comes to creating these unique visas.

They haven’t really caught on to the fact that people can work from anywhere, so many of the visa programs are limited.

However, the visa in Estonia extends well beyond the typical 90-day visa and allows workers an entire year in the country. 

6. Air Quality

There are some places you visit and the air is just different.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to put a finger on it but you just want to bag it up.

There’s a really good reason for that in Estonia.

The World Health Organization ranked air quality as number two over almost 200 countries around the globe.

In a digital age where factory production is high and pollution is on the rise, Estonia is a breath of fresh air. 

7. Healthcare

When it comes to life expectancy, Estonia is above average.

Aside from taking in a lung full of clean air, the healthcare system might contribute to that longevity.

Each citizen is part of the nationwide insurance plan.

That enables anyone to go to the doctor at any time for free.

They don’t have to pay additional fees for specialists, nor do they need referrals. 

8. Higher Education

For a country that is only about as big as New Hampshire and Vermont combined, Estonia has invested a lot in education.

There are 25 higher education institutions that offer almost anything you can think of as a major.

Well over 100 programs are offered in English and there are some available in Russian.

So, it’s possible for an ex-pat to continue their education in Estonia at a fraction of the cost of American schools. 


Cons of Living in Estonia

1. Place to Live

Finding a great place to live might be tougher than you think.

While rent can be very affordable, it might take a long time to find a vacancy.

Many Estonians require an agent to help them locate homes for rent as well as to buy.

A broker can be as expensive as a whole month of rent, as are security deposits. 

2. Economic Disparity

Employment levels are high in Estonia, so most people who want a job have one.

However, there is a very obvious divide between those who are higher on the totem pole at their jobs and those who aren’t.

The top quarter of the population makes six times the salary of the bottom quarter.

Fortunately, those with less benefit from not having to spend on things like healthcare.

3. Finding Work

Unlike some countries west of here, workers in Estonia are more likely to keep a job for many years.

Job hopping for better pay is frowned upon by some.

A potential employer may even look negatively at a resume that shows such movement.

When it comes to finding work as an ex-pat, things might be even more tenuous.

The reality is, to find a job in the country, it’s expected for you to speak Estonian.

So, if you’re thinking of moving there, it might be best to be a digital nomad. 

4. Diversity

The ethnic makeup of Estonia is limited.

A majority, 95%, of Estonians were born there or are of Russian descent.

So, unlike the US, there’s not a hub of international culture to be exposed to.

 If you don’t look anything like the locals, it’s possible that you will experience a touch of racism.

That’s less of a problem in bigger cities.

5. Language

The official language of Estonia is, fittingly, Estonian.

If you were born here, this makes sense and is no problem at all.

If you’re not from here, this is a tough language to learn.

The real downside of learning it is that this is really the only place in the world where it’s spoken.

So, unless you plan to stay indefinitely, classes may not be the best use of your time.

6. Solitude

Native Estonians may enjoy seeing tourists come along, but aren’t necessarily thrilled if they decide to stay.

Not that they will be overtly negative, but they also won’t bring over a pie to introduce themselves.

Finding friends is one of the top complaints of newbies to the northern European country.

There’s a higher chance of befriending other nomads than there is of becoming BFFs with a local. 

7. Weather

Moving from a place like England might make for an easier transition than moving from Florida.

The reason is the skies are often overcast.

In the winter, Estonia is humid and, again, very cloudy.

It definitely will take getting used to if this isn’t the norm where you’re from.

However, it might make people appreciate blue skies even more than they ever had before.

It’s also a good excuse to travel during darker times of the year. 

8. Taxes

This is more for ex-pats than citizens.

Income tax for those taking advantage of the digital nomad visa might be the reason you reconsider taking advantage.

The tax rate is 20% of all foreign income.

While it’s really easy to get them paid online, it is quite a chunk of money for anyone.

In order to avoid this hefty fee, many nomads leave before the 183-day resident tax requirement to reset the clock. 

Pros and Cons of Living in Estonia –  Summary Table

Pros of Living in EstoniaCons of Living in Estonia
1. Cost of Living1. Place to Live
2. Things to Do2. Economic Disparity
3. Welcoming3. Finding Work
4. Tech Friendly4. Diversity
5. Remote Working5. Language
6. Air Quality6. Solitude
7. Healthcare7. Weather
8. Higher Education8. Taxes

Estonia Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Estonia Safety Review

Safety Index:

Frequently Asked Questions

Is English widely spoken in Estonia?

English is one of the most common languages spoken outside of the national language, Estonian.

With Finland across the ocean and Russia next door, other languages you can find as often as English are Finnish and Russian.

To be fair, it’s not unlikely for you to come across French, German, and Swedish, too.

Is Estonia considered a tax haven?

Technically, yes.

The low tax opportunities are enticing, especially for foreigners.

Since Estonia won independence in the early 90s, the country has exploded financially.

Thanks to the newly established freedom, this eastern European nation was able to create these favorable terms.

What are the most popular things to do in Estonia?

There are a wide range of things to do and reasons to visit Estonia.

Full of forests to walk around in, castles to tour, and beaches to sunbathe in, Estonia has a little bit of fun for everyone.

Oh, let’s not forget the innumerable places of historical significance.

You can essentially get lost in the past.

What are some of the most well-known Estonian dishes?

Considering that much of the country shares a border with the Baltic Sea, it shouldn’t be surprising that many of the local favorites are seafood.

One of the top national dishes is the Baltic dwarf herring with sprats.

Other sea creatures you’ll find in homes are eel, crayfish, crab, flounder, perch, crab, and shrimp.

When it comes to the locals, what do they do for work?

The biggest industries in Estonia are electronics, textiles, technology, wood, engineering, and telecommunication.

However, if none of these categories strike your fancy, it’s really easy to start a business.

In fact, the country is rated in the top 20 nations for ease of doing business.

4 Comments on 16 Pros and Cons of Living in Estonia


  2. N
    Nigel G says:

    I have lived here 5 years and agree, as in all EU countries I have lived that making friends is hard but sport is a great leveler if you play any. I employ, and employment taxes are 33% so that is hard on me but my taxes aren’t a negative ( 20% isn’t high – try Germany, France, Sweden etc ). I have Ukrainian team and they work hard. I don’t agree that transport risk is HIGH. Buses and trams are safe even with the odd drunk – they have all night buses that may have lady drivers. I avoid Forus Takso taxi with a risk of being cheated by the typically Russian driver on rate, but BOLT is secure and you know the price when you book it on line and the driver can’t change that.

  3. C
    Cave Montgomery-Young says:

    I haven’t been in Estonia but I do know two people who have visited the country but maybe I should not divulge their names because they do cherish their privacy. May I just tease you by saying that their initials (not including the extra initial of the one who has a middle name) are VT and RL? Perhaps you met them when they were there. I fear I am not permitted to give their opinions on the country which they feel are their business and their business alone. I tend to agree with that view for I fear there is far too much self-expression and people issuing their opinions on everything from prices to governments to dentists and pets and exotic foodstuffs from countries with funny names.

  4. M
    Mr J Green retired. says:

    I agree with the report on Estonia and i have to say transport, everything is very good clean and cheap, Having lived here as a retired pensioner i have had little to complain about , Regarding the comment on grey skies perhaps anyone coming from the UK should remember the ones in the UK ,plus the rain floods and wind. Yes here we have lots of snow and very cold days but you can wrap up and go for lovely walks and breath the freshest air no more choking on car fumes. There is an uncrowded beach near Narva where the sea temperature in Jul and August often reaches 23c that is something that never happens in the UK. Healthcare is much quicker than the UK and very good service.

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