The word Europe conjures beauty and majesty. You start to visualize imposing castles, pristine lakes, dynamic cities, romantic al-fresco restaurants and cafes, and all that jazz. The continent has so much to offer that people from all over the planet consider it their ultimate travel destination. As for those more adventurous than the average traveler, Europe is a perfect site for an expat lifestyle.
If you’re an aspiring expat looking for a European Union country to host your exploits, try veering away from the usual destinations like Spain, France, or Italy. Why not explore something more intriguing, like Estonia?
A Baltic country, Estonia is located in northern Europe. While liberated only as recently as 1991, the country has made significant progress economy-wise. The country expertly fuses its tech-focused outlook with respect for nature and tradition. That means that digital nomads can get the best of both, if not multiple, worlds.
Here are reasons why you should consider being an expat in Estonia.
1. Reasonable cost of living
It cannot be said that everything’s cheaper in Estonia. However, compared to most European countries, especially the more popular destinations, including its Scandinavian neighbors, the country is relatively more affordable. That’s most true for major expenses like housing. If you’re coming from the United States, expect to pay rent up to 62% cheaper on average.
2. Digital society
Estonia is one of the world’s most advanced digital societies, with free Wi-Fi in most public places, especially in the capital, Tallinn. With its top-notch telecommunications infrastructure, the country is billed as Europe’s start-up nation, with the third most start-ups per capita. Whether or not you work in tech, that’s a significant advantage. You can maximize the lifestyle of a digital nomad to the fullest.
3. Language compatibility
Most Estonians speak multiple languages, including English. That would mean if you’re from an English-speaking country, you will be able to properly converse with the people you meet, whether for leisure or business purposes.
On top of English, most Estonians are also conversant in Ukrainian, Russian, Swedish, and Finnish. The country’s native language, aptly called Estonian, ranks as the world’s fifth most challenging language to learn. However, rest assured you won’t break a sweat mastering the basics like Tere (Hello), Aitäh (Thank you), and Nägemist (Bye).
4. Digital nomad visa
The country makes it easier for expat relocation thanks to the digital nomad visa, launched in 2020. Visa processing only takes 15-30 days, with successful applicants getting the privilege of living and working in the country for up to 12 months. You may inquire further about this visa via the Estonian Embassy in your home country.
Alternatively, you can apply for a D-visa. That suits those who don’t plan to stay in the country for more than six months. To get the D-visa, furnish your local Estonian embassy with relevant documents, such as the following.
- Travel documents or passport
- A 35x45mm color photo of yourself
- Health insurance policy
- A confirmation letter from your host
- Documents to prove you’ll have enough money to support your stay in the country, like a bank statement
5. Clean and safe environment
With all the talk about global warming, it’s easy to feel disheartened by where the world seems to be headed to. But not if you live in Estonia. It’s probably one of the most environmentally-conscious nations in the world, with forestry covering over half of the country.
That means clean and fresh air for everyone to share. Although, you won’t have a lot to share that pristine air with since the country’s population is pretty slim.
Recycling is embedded in Estonian culture, too. Since the government incentivizes the process, its people are more responsive to the cause. You’ll be at home in Estonia if you want to be amid a green-thinking populace.
6. Career boost
If you live in a country rife with nepotism and other toxic cultures that limit your career’s progress, come to Estonia. The country’s work culture favors ideas and skills over age, gender, race, and any other demographic identifier that might be holding you back in your home country career-wise. If you make the right choices and connections here, you can quickly work your way up that proverbial ladder.
That goes without saying that Estonians value work-life balance, too. In fact, short commutes and flexible working hours are customary among its labor force. You can use all the extra time you save to pursue hobbies that will feed your soul.
7. Livable average salary
Whether you’re moving to Estonia for social mobility or personal reasons, it’s comforting to know that the country’s average income is well above livable. The average gross monthly salary is €1,548 ($1,500). While that may seem a bit low compared to first-world standards, keep in mind that your expenses will be cheaper.
Also, Estonia tax rates are friendly to workers. The flat rate is 20%. However, if you earn less than €14,400 ($16,320) annually, the first €6,000 is tax-free. Standard rates apply to the remaining amount.
Estonia comprises 2,200 islands and enjoys four seasons. Expect a diverse landscape that has something for everyone, even the most jaded traveler.
The life of an expat is wonderful and exciting. That is if you end up in a location that suits you well. For instance, if you find yourself in a country where the cost of living exceeds your source of income, you’ll end up struggling. Similarly, if you land in a destination that’s missing the lifestyle perks you require, you’ll be in for a boring stretch.
Rest assured that those won’t be a problem if you choose Estonia as your next expat destination. The country offers authentic European vibes without you needing to spend an arm and a leg. More importantly, it has a diverse enough landscape to cater to when you want to be within the hustle and bustle of a city or the peace and quiet of a wilderness.
What are you waiting for? Book a one-way ticket because Estonia awaits.