If you’re trying to figure out the best places to live in Estonia, keep reading!
Estonia may not be the first country that comes to mind when considering relocating to Europe. The Baltic city is tucked away in the continent’s north, bordering Latvia and Russia.
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However, while it’s not the most famous European country, Estonia has a long and exciting history and a surprising amount on offer for expats.
Estonia boasts low living costs, top-class medical care, excellent transportation, the best air quality worldwide, and breathtaking scenery. Moreover, as one of Europe’s most spacious countries, even the capital city never feels crowded!
To help you consider if this Baltic state is for you, here are the five best places to live in Estonia, along with their pros and cons.
The capital of Estonia, Tallinn, is the country’s most significant cultural and commercial hub. It is a historic yet modern city with a distinctive medieval look in the old town and a small cluster of modern highrises in the business district.
The city also has several observation towers giving splendid views of the stunning architecture around the city, like the majestic medieval fortress. There are also many hidden gems here that reveal more about the ancient city’s past, such as the 17th-century labyrinth of tunnels located below the old town.
Out of the population of 450,000, around 40% are Russians, along with a smaller percentage of other nationalities. Moreover, being the capital city, Tallinn has a high tourism level, meaning many locals speak at least basic English.
Many large companies in Tallinn frequently hire foreigners speaking languages other than Estonian and Russian. Thus, there are many job opportunities in customer service, finance, engineering, tech, media, and more.
Expats also choose Tallinn for living and working in Estonia because of free public transport and the regularity of cultural and sports events.
The average net income in Tallinn is around 1200 euros, though highly-skilled expats can earn more. Renting a one-bedroom apartment here typically costs $500 to $650, and a 3-bedroom house can cost up to $1200.
Thanks to its vibrant atmosphere and lively nightlife, Tartu is undoubtedly one of the best places to live in Estonia. The city has a population of over 100,000 with a large student community due to being home to the country’s oldest university.
This gives the ancient city a youthful spirit, making it one of the best Estonian cities for young expats and digital nomads.
There are tons of things to do in your free time in Tartu. You’ll find endless cafes, restaurants, and bars, especially in and around Town Hall Square.
The city also has plenty of theaters and museums, including a modern science center with hands-on exhibits and a 4D cinema.
As Tartu has a rich history, some magnificent architecture can be found here, such as the ruins of Tartu Cathedral. There is also plenty of greenery throughout the city and lovely hills and lakes surrounding it.
Aside from being a cultural and sports hub, Tartu is known as Estonia’s most prominent research center, offering various job opportunities in the science, technology, and education sectors. Furthermore, the large town’s youthful and innovative vibe has made it a hub for start-ups and entrepreneurs.
The cost of living is much lower here compared to the capital city. For example, renting a one-bedroom apartment costs between $350 and $450, and you can find a 3-bedroom house for less than $800.
Along with being an affordable place to live, the efficient public transport system, clean air, and top-class medical institutions make life in Tartu highly comfortable.
Parnu is easily one of the best cities to live in Estonia for anyone who likes to be by the sea. Parnu is a gorgeous and luxurious tourist destination located on the southwest coast and an ideal place to create a base for beach-loving expats and digital nomads.
The sandy beaches and picturesque parks provide an air of tranquility to this part of Estonia. Moreover, the 19th-century timber villas dotted around and the Pärnu River that runs through the city center make Parnu even more visually appealing.
Because of its popularity with international visitors, Parnu has become one of the most modern cities in Estonia, with high-quality amenities like spas and cocktail bars. However, Parnu retains its historical side and is famed for its mud bath houses that date back to the 18th century.
Job opportunities here are limited compared to Tallinn and Tartu. Still, the tourism industry is thriving, and resorts and tour companies regularly look for English speakers.
Of course, you won’t earn as much as in the capital, but the low living costs and the laid-back lifestyle compensate for that.
For this reason, Parnu is a top choice for remote workers working for companies in the US or UK.
You can rent a one-bedroom apartment for around $300 or a larger house for $500. Thus, if you work remotely, you can build your savings here.
A surprising fact about this Baltic country is that it has over 1500 islands. Hiiumaa is the second largest island, part of the West Estonian archipelago, and one of the best places to live in Estonia.
Located off the west coast, Hiiumaa is adored by locals and expats alike for its stunning scenery, historical buildings, and peaceful ambiance.
The island is home to several ancient lighthouses, one of which dates back to the 16th century and is one of the oldest worldwide. In addition, there are endless beaches, excellent local eateries, and numerous biking and hiking trails.
There are only around 10,000 residents on the island, so foreign job opportunities are naturally limited. However, its laid-back way of life and natural beauty makes it a top spot for remote workers and digital nomads.
Aside from the lack of jobs, another downside of Hiiumaa is its lack of accessibility. Although it’s only 13.7 mi (22 km) off the coast, it still takes a few hours to reach the capital city.
Still, the ferry is not your only option as the main town, Kärdla, has a regional airport with flights to Tallinn and most of the other best cities in Estonia.
Haapsalu is the nearest mainland city to Hiiumaa and an equally beautiful place to live and work. It’s a serene seaside resort and a popular summer destination with plenty of historical sites like a castle and an old town.
Haapsalu has an interesting history; for years, it has been a favored spot for its healing seawater and mud bath houses. This has created a relaxing spa culture, so it is an excellent choice for anyone looking to prioritize their well-being and create a better work/life balance.
Like Hiiumaa, Haapsalu has a small population of around 10,000 people. However, some expats opt for this town over the island as it has better connection links and does not feel so secluded.
Even so, like Hiiumaa, this may not be the best place to live if you want to climb the career ladder (unless you work remotely, of course).
Haapsalu is a very affordable place to live, with rental prices at least half the price as in the capital city. Still, as pretty and as cheap as Haapsalu is, you won’t find as many English speakers here.
Final Thoughts On Best Places To Live In Estonia
Estonia offers a low-cost and highly comfortable lifestyle to expats from all over the world.
The larger cities like Tallinn and Tartu have diverse job and business opportunities, ideal for anyone looking to advance in their career. But, conversely, the towns and islands offer a more laid-back lifestyle for those who desire a peaceful life close to beautiful nature.
Not sure if Estonia is the right place for you? Read one of the following guides: