Tallinn, Estonia Report of what it's like to live there - 08/09/09
Personal Experiences from Tallinn, Estonia
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No. Have lived in various cities outside the U.S.
2. How long have you lived here?
I have been here for one year.
3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:
About 12-13 hours, via Copenhagen or Frankfurt. Flight choices have diminished with the recent economic problems.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Lovely apartments in the center of the city, and nice houses in outlying neighborhoods. Commutes range from a 6-minute walk to a 30-minute drive.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Prices are generally about the same as the USA, except for a few items that are more expensive. However, food is generally cheaper.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
A few random food and toiletry items that I cannot find here, but obtainable from NetGrocer, drugstore.com, etc..
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Some mosquito problems. Also, ticks in the forest.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
APO, pouch, Estonian postal service.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Somewhat available, but ridiculously expensive. One visit could set you back $50 or more.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Quite good gyms, including one with a 50-meter swimming pool.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Safe and easy to use everywhere.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Yes, Catholic, Lutheran and various evangelical.
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
Cable has CNN, BBC, etc.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
I speak the local language, so I'm not a good judge. English is widely spoken in Tallinn.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Even the "bicycle paths" have curbs, so some difficulty.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Yes, yes, yes. Affordable and convenient. Tallinn public transportation is wonderful.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Any kind, but not needed if living in the center of town.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Quite good service.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Service is good.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
Not particularly. The economy is suffering right now, so job market is poor.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Health & Safety:
1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?
2. What immunizations are required each year?
Get the tick-borne encephalitis vaccine (available through Embassy medical unit).
3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Almost none. Some light crime.
4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Good health care, although particularly serious issues would be handled in Helsinki or London.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Long, dark winter, although not terribly cold (hovering around freezing, but quite damp).Stunning summers.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
International School of Estonia.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. Morale among expats:
Good (especially in the summer).
3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Lots of options. Great restaurants, cinema, classical music, concerts.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Yes, yes, yes.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
This is a very white country, and some people of color have been made to feel quite uncomfortable from time to time, although violence is rare.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Beautiful sightseeing in Tallinn, and a wonderful and easy country to explore.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
9. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
3. But don't forget your:
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
Documentary "The Singing Revolution."