Tallinn, Estonia Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia 06/16/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes, it was my first time living abroad.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

I am from Brazil. The trip lasts about one day, departing from Brasilia to Rio or São Paulo, then to either Frankfurt, Amsterdam or Paris and then to Tallinn.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

5 and a half years, from 2011 to 2017.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

My house is quite nice. Tallinn houses and apartments are affordable, and it is possible to rent a 100 sq meter apartment in the city center for less than a thousand euros per month. The websites city24.ee and kv.ee are the main place to look for housing.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Grocery variety is a bit limited, household supplies are easy to find. There are plenty of supermarkets spread through the town.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Guava and other fruits.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Local food relies heavily on fish, pork and cabbage. There are a variety of international restaurants, and there are delivery services such as Wolt. The variety has been increasing, and vegetarian options are starting to become available.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through the local post. They are adequate, but packages need to be recovered from a post office, not delivered to the door.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

It is possible to have a cleaning person or a babysitter for about 10 euros per hour or less.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are many gyms in Tallinn, and they are not expensive. They can be paid per visit or monthly.

View All Answers


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?

Debit cards are more common, but I don't think credit card would be a problem. ATMs exist everywhere in Tallinn. Yes they are safe to use.

View All Answers


5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Taxi drivers and doctors don't speak English; everybody else does - the waiters, hairdressers, tailors, shop assistants, all speak English, plus everybody you meet around, given they are not taxi drivers or doctors. The Estonian language is very complicated, with some 15 variations for each word depending on the preposition that matches with the nouns and adjectives. Tutors are available and affordable, in case you decide to give it a try, but no one expects a foreign to really speak it beyond "good morning".

View All Answers


6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Maybe, as many building date from Soviet times and don't have an elevator.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. Public transportation is free for residents in Tallinn, and of good quality. Trams and buses are available, but there is no metro. Taxis are easy, safe and available, but usually a bit old and there maybe a communication problem if you don't speak Estonian or Russian.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

It is very much available, even at the beach. Actually, Estonia declared internet access a human right, and there is good quality service everywhere. I have lived in two different houses in Tallinn, and both had it already installed when I moved in.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I use a local provider. I never had a problem with mobile phones, and my bills are around 6 euros per month. :)

View All Answers


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?

Local salaries tend to be low compared to other cities in Europe (tops for a young person with a college degree would be around 1500 euros) and local jobs require Estonian or Russian languages--except for IT, where English is the norm.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

It is not formal, but people are well-dressed.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Not at all. Tallinn is a very safe city.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is of good quality, especially in the public hospitals.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Yes, it has a positive impact. The air quality is one of the purest in the world.

View All Answers


4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Winter blues is a possibility, indeed, as the winter lasts about 6 months, with very long nights.

View All Answers


5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

During winter it can get as low as -30 C during the night. There is a lot of snow, but skiing is not very doable, as the country is flat. Temperatures go below zero from November to May.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I don't know any of them, but I know this list here:

- International School of Estonia (ISE) http://www.ise.edu.ee.



- Tallin English College www.tik.edu.ee.


- Audentes Private School http://www.audentes.ee/ib/school-house.


- Tallinn European School. http://www.est.edu.ee/en.


- Tallinn German Gymnasium http://www.saksa.tln.edu.ee/.


- International Preschool of Estonia http://www.ise.edu.ee.


- International Kindergarten http://www.kindergarten.ee/.

View All Answers


2. 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?

Preschools are available, but as the paid parental leave in Estonia lasts for one and a half years, day cares don't take kids under that age, usually.

View All Answers


3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

There is a big expatriate community, and they generally enjoy living here.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There are several expatriate groups that connect through Facebook, such as "Foreigners living in Tallinn," and they have occasional meetings. Tallinn has a great night and cultural life, so it is not hard to meet either expatriates or locals.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is a good city for anyone, except, perhaps, gay people (see next question).

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Well, I had a colleague that left the city earlier because he felt it was not gay-friendly, but, unfortunately, that is all I know on the topic.

View All Answers


5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

View All Answers


6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Great nightlife in Tallinn, great anytime in Tallinn's gorgeous Old Town, trips to Saaremaa.

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Tallin's Old Town. It is not hidden, but it is very vibrant, with many interesting performances, concerts and shows going around, at any time, surrounded by the medieval looks. Amazing place.

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

The country is one of the cheapest in Europe, so people usually feel astonished by how low the prices are.

View All Answers


9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Well-educated people, safety, low prices, beautiful nature.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How happy I would be living in Tallinn. It was better than I expected.

View All Answers


2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

View All Answers


3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Fear of bureaucracy. Things tend to get solved quite fast at public institutions.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Umbrella. It rains quite often.

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

"My Estonia," by Justin Petrone

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

The only real problem here is the cold, the rest is either excellent, good or manageable. Well, actually, the cold is manageable too.

View All Answers


Tallinn, Estonia 09/07/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. We have lived in Bishkek, Accra, and Hanoi.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

U.S. It is about 8 hours from the US East Coast to Frankfurt or Amsterdam, and then 2 hours to Tallinn.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I am the spouse of the US Foreign Service Officer.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Like many posts, there are apartments in the city and houses in the suburbs. I have not heard one person complain about housing -- the apartments are big, most with balconies and views of the city and/or the Baltic Sea. All are walking distance from the great parts of downtown and old town Tallinn. Houses (which we live in) are excellent, with big yards, new construction, generous garages and modern appliances. Most US Embassy families live in Pirita, the suburb just on the edge of Tallinn along the sea -- a 20 minute commute to work.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Excellent -- Europe standards. No complaints.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Really nothing, although we do order a few small things through the Commissary in Helsinki.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Very standard restaurants: pizza, burgers, Italian, Estonia/Scandinavian etc. Can get decent sushi. McDonalds and Subway are here, of that's your thing. Some very good, high-end places too.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None. Had heard concern about mosquito and finally saw my first one this past weekend while mushroom picking deep in the forest.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I think they are -- we use the US Embassy mail system. I have received FedEx and DHL too.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We pay 50 euros a week for a once-a-week house cleaner, and 1100 euros a month for a full time nanny/house manager. Both are excellent.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Many -- like the States. Lots of tennis, golf, sailing, hiking etc., as well.

View All Answers


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?

I can't remember the last time I paid cash for something -- even a pack of gum. Ubiquitous and safe.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

We do not attend church but many Embassy families do at Focus Church and/or a Catholic service.

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Almost none. I speak English almost everywhere and use my Russian when/where I can't. Estonian is simply a hard language and people here might appreciate the gesture, but their English will always be much better. Maybe not on par with Scandinavia but very, very good. Keep in mind, 40% or more of Tallinn are also Russian speakers.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes and yes. My wife takes the bus to work and then Uber or standard taxi home. I uber all around.

View All Answers


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?

Nothing special -- small SUVs abound, but normal sedans or wagons fine too.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Some of the best in the world. Installation is seamless. I have high-speed internet and a generous cable package for 50 euros a month.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Telia. 25 GBs for 20 euros a month.

View All Answers


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?

Pretty standard -- Embassy EFM jobs, school teachers, one or two lawyers on the local market, and several full time teleworkers (such as me) to jobs back in the US.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Normal European. A formalish country, but nothing over the top.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

No health concerns. Not sure about the medical care, but I think it is good.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Some of the best in the world. A totally green, clean country.

View All Answers


4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

SAD can be an issue with the dark winters, but I find the generalized concern about this to be over blown. It is darker for perhaps 2 hours more per day here that the midwest of the US and then quickly lightens back up to very long, well-lit days. If anything, you might struggle more with the long, light filled days.

View All Answers


5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Like the midwest of the U.S. Cold-ish in the winter with some snow (never colder than 0F). Cool/warm in the summer (never warmer than 75F).

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

We had heard concern about ISE -- but problems seem to have been turned around. We have two children there (2 and KG this year) and have had an excellent experience. Good teachers, well equipped school, adequate class sizes (7-12 students), and excellent director. There is also an European school which some families choose, though I have heard more mixed reviews about its management style.

View All Answers


2. 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?

Yes, but maybe not in English.

View All Answers


3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, many -- but again language can be an issue. ISE overs class/sports five days a week after school with some good variety (coding, soccer, ballet, pottery, etc...).

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Mid-size -- mostly diplomats, some business folks. Very high morale.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Dinner parties, hiking excursions.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Great for families, and I assume good for singles. Lots of museums, parks, Old Town, forests, sea, safe roads etc.

View All Answers


4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I hear some issues with racism and anti-immigration.

View All Answers


5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Bog walks, Old Town, forest hikes, trips to the islands and the beach.

View All Answers


6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Bog walks, Old Town, forest hikes, trips to the islands and the beach.

View All Answers


7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not really -- but certainly good buys in Old Town. Nothing crazy special though.

View All Answers


8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Cleanness, safety, well-functioning, eco-friendly.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That it is relatively cheap for Europe.

View All Answers


2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, by all means.

View All Answers


3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Smiles for passerby. It is a publicly private country.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

European travel guide.

View All Answers


Tallinn, Estonia 01/28/13

Background:

1. Your reason for living this city (e.g. corporate, government, military, student, educator, retiree, etc.):

View All Answers


2. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

View All Answers


3. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Tennessee, USA. I usually connect through Amsterdam and Atlanta - it takes about 19 -22 hours.

View All Answers


4. How long have you lived here?

(The contributor is affiliated with the U.S. Consulate and has been living in Toronto for 18 months, a fourth expat experience.)

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Tallinn is a small city. Traffic backs up on occasion, but you can get most places in less than 20 minutes.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are widely available. Selection improves frequently.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Seems that one can get almost whatever one needs in the shops here or on the Internet.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's is here, as well as the Finnish equivalent, Hesburger. Prices are similar to the U.S.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitos in the summer.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Eesti Post is very efficient.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Widely available and not too expensive.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Many paid gyms are all over town. They all open late, though (after 7:00 a.m.).

View All Answers


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?

ATMs are no problem. If you are living here, it is best to get a local bank account. Everything is done electronically here - it is actually much easier.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, but don't know the denominations.

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Baltic Times is weekly newspaper. There are several online Estonian news sources in English. Most TV shows are in the original language with Estonian subtitles. There are lots of American shows on TV here.

View All Answers


7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Almost none. Most people speak English.

View All Answers


8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

The city is not very accessible, but it gets better every day. Every new building is made to EU standards. It's much better than it was years ago.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

All are very safe and very affordable. Residents of Tallinn get public transport for free!

View All Answers


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?

Front-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle. With snow tires, the winters are no problem. Parts and accessories are easily available. I personally think it is better to buy a car here than ship one, due to EU regulations.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Easily available and cheap (and fast).

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get account locally. I recommend EMT.

View All Answers


Pets:

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?

No.

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes.

View All Answers


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?

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Estonians dress well.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care, in my experience, has been excellent.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Excellent.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Summers are cool. Spring and fall are beautiful. The winter is cold and dark.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There is only one international school in Tallinn, the International School of Estonia (ISE). Previous posts were correct in that the facilities are a bit old, but they are constantly improving. I am not sure what the previous posters' problems were, but my son has been in the elementary school for 3 years. He will have the second-grade teacher next year, and I'm looking forward to it. The elementary school in general has a great program and a very caring staff. The program is rigorous and challenging to the students. I have talked to other Americans that have returned to the U.S. after being at ISE, and their children are thriving (and missing ISE). I've heard horror stories about English College - first graders in rows doing nothing but worksheets, everyone speaking Estonian, and no playground! ISE is the only option in my opinion.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

ISE has a special needs program. The school is small and each child gets what they need.

View All Answers


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?

Preschools are widely available. ISE has a good preschool program (my son went through it). It is more academic than most.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Lots available, but mainly in Russian and/or Estonian. I have known lots of Englis- speakers that do it, though. Someone always speaks English.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Small.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Very good. Americans from the embassy are very insular.

View All Answers


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 possibilities.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is a good city for all of them.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It's not bad from what I hear. The gay community is active.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Some problems with Estonian-Russian relations, but that is all I have ever seen.

View All Answers


7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Visiting the islands and exploring the natural wonders (there are many).

View All Answers


8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

View All Answers


9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Linens, woodwork, ironwork, and sweaters. Art is good here too.

View All Answers


10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Estonia is quite culturally unique. Weather is not bad, but the winter is a reason NOT to live in Estonia.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

This depends on your fiscal behavior.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Definitely!

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

View All Answers


Tallinn, Estonia 10/28/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington DC. Travel time is 14-18 hours depending on connections, usually connecting through Munich or Amsterdam.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

The contributor is affiliated with the US goverment, has been in Tallinn more than a year, a second expat experience.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We are in a house in Pirita (suburbs). It is old and the layout is unusual. Our kitchen is small, with minimal storage and tiny appliances. We have a small fenced yard and a garage. The apartments in Old Town are newer and I think they are a better choice unless you need a yard for kids or pets. The commute is 20-30 minutes driving from where we live.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are slightly cheaper overall, however the produce is seasonal. It can take a couple trips to different stores to find what you want. I think you can find almost everything here, just not all the time.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Refried beans, vanilla extract, and cake mixes, if you use them.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

A meal at McDonalds costs about 6 Euro. There are definitely lots of decent restaurants available, though fewer with ethnic cuisine like Mexican or Asian. Steakhouses are expensive and pizza isn't great, but it is available. Restaurants are more expensive closer to Old Town.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

There is about a month in May/June when there are a lot of mosquitoes. One nedds to use repellent or stay inside. No other insect issues.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO or pouch.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

I believe it costs 50-100 Euro per day for housekeeping, depending on how big a house you have. I don't know about nannies.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes.

View All Answers


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?

We have a local bank card that works everywhere. Most places in Tallinn take credit cards.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Not a lot. There are a couple of non-denominational services.

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Cable is inexpensive here and there are a few English channels. I think we pay 50 Euro a month for internet, phone, and cable with extra channels.

View All Answers


7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None, but it is nice to know some and try. When I try to speak Estonian I usually get a smile and the speaker switches to English right away.

View All Answers


8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

There are some pretty uneven roads, but some public transport has wheelchair access. Smaller restaurants and stores are not accessible.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Local buses and trams are great! Taxis are affordable and safe. Tallinn has a zero tolerance law for drinking and driving, so taxis are always around downtown. I don't know about the trains.

View All Answers


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?

A four-wheel-drive vehicle is a good idea for the winter and out of town trips. Snow or studded tires are mandatory in the winter. Toyota and Honda have dealerships here and we get our car serviced there without difficulty. I haven't heard of any carjackings.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

You can get any kind you want here, iphones or pay as you go, most are reasonably priced with good service.

View All Answers


Pets:

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?

No.

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Our dog has gone to a kennel twice and it seems good. We haven't needed a vet, but there are a few available that seem good.

View All Answers


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 really. You need to look hard for something.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual. Women wear skirts in the winter, but kids are bundled in snowsuits from September to April. For grocery shopping most people are dressed casually.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Tick-borne encephalitis is a recommended vaccine. Health care is adequate, but anything complicated gets medi-vaced. There are some interesting cures recommended here -- goose grease for a cough, vodka for a lot of other things.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good, except in the fall when there is burning going on and the smell isn't pretty.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Winter starts around the end of Oct. It is mostly cold, wet, and dark until April/May. The summers are cool and drier. It can rain for a couple hours then be sunny with a blue sky. Always carry a raincoat and sunglasses.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

ISE. It needs a lot of work and I would not recommend coming here if you have school-aged children. The curriculum is vague and seems to be about a year behind the US schools. Staff does not communicate well with parents or students. Our kids had a lot of difficulty with the slow pace and lack of instruction. Their schedule was half academics and half fine arts. The academics are mostly group work or silent reading, with no encouragement to do a good job or take any pride in learning. The music teacher was excellent and did great things. Other options here are homeschooling or the English College, but it only has a few of the lower grades. Both English College and ISE are IB schools.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

View All Answers


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?

Estonian preschool is quite good from what I hear.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes. Swimming, soccer, tennis are a few I know of.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Small.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Good, unless they don't like winter and darkness.

View All Answers


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?

Restaurants mostly. There is some entertaining at home, but mostly with other embassy families.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes to all.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No.

View All Answers


7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The White Nights and lots of snow in the winter. Tallinn is a small city and I enjoy that.

View All Answers


8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Winter sports like cross-country skiing, museums, restaurants, concerts, mushroom picking, clubs, exploring castles, some underground caves, sailing in the summer, movies, bowling and probably some more things too.

View All Answers


9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Estonian crafts -- knitting. Juniper wood items.

View All Answers


10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

You can experience the White Nights in the summer. Tallinn is a UNESCO heritage site with lots of great old buildings to see.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

Not really. We spent a lot flying out for warmer weather.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

I would come back, but not until my kids are done with school.

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Large kitchen appliances and dishes.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Winter clothing.

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

My Estonia by Justin Petrone and John Bickerson Bolling

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

This is an easy post unless you cannot handle the long dark winters. Plan to take a sunny vacation in Feb. or March and don't bring your school aged kids unless you plan on homeschooling.

View All Answers


Tallinn, Estonia 10/06/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

(The contributor is affiliated with the U.S. Embassy and has been living in Tallinn for ten months, a first expat experience.)

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

In-town apartments (easy commuting), duplexes a bit further from town, and single-family homes in the suburbs (30 minute commute in rush hour).

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Availability is great and the cost is similar to the US.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing, really.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Fast food is not prevalent, but the ones that do exist are very affordable. Other restaurants are prolific and delicious, and there are some that aren't too expensive.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes in June and July.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Via the Embassy, although other Americans here use Fed Ex and UPS mostly.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

A little cheaper than in the US (about the equivalent of $70 per 8 hour day).

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes

View All Answers


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?

Credit cards are hard to use here, as they're not used to having people sign receipts. Almost everything is done by debit card (with PIN code) and via electronic funds transfer.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, Non-Denominational, Lutheran, Catholic.

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

No English-language newspapers.

View All Answers


7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Very little, as most people speak English. But knowing grocery items is helpful in the grocery stores.

View All Answers


8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

A lot of difficulty. Ramps are few and far between, as are handicap-equippedrestrooms.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes.

View All Answers


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?

A 4-wheel drive vehicle is best for icy and snowy winters, but people have managed with minivans and smaller cars as long as they have studded tires.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, and it's rather inexpensive.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Use EMT as a service provider. They sell phones here, or bring an "unlocked" version from the US.

View All Answers


Pets:

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?

No.

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes.

View All Answers


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 really. You'd have to learn Estonian to get a job here, unless you teach English as a second language or substitute teach at one of the English-instruction schools.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Professional and classy.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Acceptable. And, Helsinki is a 2-hour ferry ride away.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Very clean.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Four seasons, but very cold and dark in the winter. Summer is light-filled and gorgeous.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

International School of Estonia should be avoided if you have elementary-school children. The second-grade teacher should be avoided at all costs. The curriculum is slow and up to US standards. Of the families currently here, most people are homeschooling due to ISE's inadequacies. There is another option called English College (and the Estonian Public Schools). They instruct in English in grades 1 and 2 (as of 2012/2013 school year), and each year they'll ramp it up to the next grade. So, within a few years, they'll have English instruction for all elementary-school levels. There, your children will get a great education, although it doesn't have a playground.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

There are none, which is a big problem.

View All Answers


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?

There are several Russian-speaking and Estonian-speaking preschoosl / daycares. ISE (International School of Estonia) has English-speaking classes for these age groups, but it's extremely expensive and a bit chaotic.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Not in English, but if they're willing to try Estonian or Russian, there are several.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Moderate to small.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Great.

View All Answers


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 to do culturally!

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Not really.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, somewhat.

View All Answers


7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Touring, sight-seeing, Baltic Sea, nice people, the summers.

View All Answers


8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Old Town and the Islands.

View All Answers


9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Wool and Linen items, wood handicrafts, ironwork.

View All Answers


10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Estonia is a beautiful country with four seasons, it is clean and safe, not too big, great for touring, and not too expensive.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

Maybe.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, but only if I had children the right age to avoid the International School of Estonia for elementary school.

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Winter gear.

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

View All Answers


Tallinn, Estonia 09/08/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

4th.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington, DC. Travel time varies, average 9-10 hours from DC to first connection in Europe.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

2 years with one more to go.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Embassy.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

The housing pool has large comfortable homes in Pirita, townhouses in Kristiine, and apartments near Old Town, some nicer than others. None with pools. All commutes depend on traffic and weather. Yards vary in size, most with nice trees in or around them. The few houses I've seen have closets, but I can't say that's the norm. Kitchens are hit and miss style wise, but for the most part they are nicer than average. Your oven will be tiny. Don't bother bringing that 14" baking pan or large cookie sheet.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

For the most part you'll be able to find everything you need here. Use the DPO for those specialty must haves or specific brands. Cost is a bit higher than in the States.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Pure Vanilla Extract. Although, you could probably get that through Helsinki commissary orders.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are many nice restaurants around Old Town and beyond. Grab a guidebook. There are also cafes and less formal places to grab a bite. If you find yourself in Pärnu, a nice beach town 2 hours south of Tallinn, do NOT go to the Mexican restaurant on the main road to the beach. You'll know you're in the right (wrong) place if they have a kids play zone (complete with luring ball pit and slide!) and you had to park across the street.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

We've had problems with mosquitoes. Apparently ticks can be an issue. We were vaccinated at the embassy just in case.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO and pouch. We used the local mail once to send a post card back to the States. It took 4 weeks to arrive at its destination.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Some folks have housekeepers, but it's not common. It's not cheap.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, many--from modest and reasonable to amazing and pricey.

View All Answers


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?

It's safe to use cards and ATM's. You'll probably open a local account while here. The one we have issues a debit card which is accepted everywhere. On a shopping side note: Kids shoes and clothes are expensive here, but toys even more so.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes.

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Sure.

View All Answers


7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None (hey the question says daily living). Learn the niceties and be diplomatic. For the most part the younger generation speaks English, and for the older crowd if you know even a little Russian that would help too. If you are an accompanying family member do not be afraid to go out and do things. People are cordial, but smiling is not common. Don't take it the wrong way if your server is not bubbly or falling all over her/himself for a tip.

View All Answers


8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

They might get their wheelchair stuck in a pot hole or in cobblestones in Old Town. I don't think the embassy has complied with wheelchair accessibility, now that I think about it...

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Public transportation is safe, clean, reliable, and inexpensive. Crowding is common. They stop at every stop.

View All Answers


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?

Whatever you drive, be sure to have all-weather or winter tires as well as a good spare. I haven't heard of anyone having a problem with carjackings. There is a lot of slush and snow piled up on the side of the road during the winter.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, it's fantastic. Elion's Local/EuroTV-Phone-internet package is about $50.00. (note:It will take about 2 weeks for the guy at the Elion office to hit "enter" on his computer to start your service). The internet speed is good enough for uninterrupted slingbox and streaming.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

The embassy provides a phone upon arrival. It's not usually the best phone. Buy a compatible phone of your choice to use with the provided sim card. Return ugly phone (with card) at end of tour. Family members are not assigned embassy phones, but there are reliable local plans to choose from.

View All Answers


Pets:

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?

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

View All Answers


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?

Depends on what you do, and it's been done, but generally no.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

suit and tie at work, sharp/clean casual in public.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Use common sense when hitting the town at night. Watch out for falling icicles-people have been killed by falling icicles.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The medical care here is pretty good. Friends have their babies here. The water quality is good and safe. The embassy nurse is efficient and attentive.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

I think it's good. Our neighbors tend to burn questionable things in their yards once in a while, but for the most part we haven't had any health problems due to pollution. Litter on the streets is not a problem here.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Cold, dark, long winters. You should, at a minimum, like snow and all it entails. Spring and fall are cool and gray, but summers will not disappoint.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The International School of Estonia is the only option right now. You either love it or hate it. What it lacks in wow factor it makes up for in heart--at least that's been our experience in the lower grades. It's a small school with a small student body (one graduate last year!), so if your kids are looking for a teacher's undivided attention this is the place for them. After school activities are limited, but if you really want your child to do something, you can find it locally.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

View All Answers


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?

I've heard good things about preschool here. There is an international daycare that comes highly recommended, but if you want to expose your little one to a different setting, there is a Russian school/daycare option.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, but you'll have to search them out.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Medium large.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Depends who you ask, and in what sense. Work and winters can tip the scale to the dark side.

View All Answers


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?

There is a good cultural scene here. Occasionally you'll get a big name artist come to town (Madonna, Sting). There are good US style movie theaters, with movies in English. Bars and clubs for every taste. Places for kids--indoor play, birthday party friendly. There's a nice zoo, although the hyena makes me sad. At some point before we leave we'll have to take the ferry over to Helsinki, or the overnight to Stockholm.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think it has something for everyone. This is not a huge city. After you see Old Town, it's up to you to explore and make the best of it for yourself. There are many indoor play places for kids. There's bowling. There are parks and running trails.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I've heard of isolated rudeness, but nothing violent.

View All Answers


7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Playing in the snow, Old Town, taking summer day trips, touring castles and manor houses, hanging out in the yard with the kids.

View All Answers


8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Visiting old castles and manor houses. Going to the beach. Although the water is shallow, flat and not very warm (even in summer), beaches are local, and for a day on the sand they satisfy. It's a mellow place, or maybe we're mellow and haven't been out to explore everything Tallinn has to offer.

View All Answers


9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Wool and iron goods.

View All Answers


10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Estonia is a beautiful country with rich culture and history. You might not save too much money here, and the weather will be hard during the winter, but pollution and crime are non-issues. Housing is not glamorous, but comfortable, nature abundant, and the Gulf of Finland is a nice body of water to gaze upon.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

Not really.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes. This is a great place.

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

SCUBA gear and honey products.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

quilting fabrics and craft supplies.

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

This is our 4th post, but the first one I'm really going to miss when we leave.

View All Answers


Tallinn, Estonia 08/09/09

Background:

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.

View All Answers


2. How long have you lived here?

I have been here for one year.

View All Answers


3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

State Department.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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..

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Some mosquito problems. Also, ticks in the forest.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO, pouch, Estonian postal service.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, Catholic, Lutheran and various evangelical.

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Cable has CNN, BBC, etc.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Even the "bicycle paths" have curbs, so some difficulty.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, yes, yes. Affordable and convenient. Tallinn public transportation is wonderful.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Quite good service.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Service is good.

View All Answers


Pets:

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?

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Moderately formal.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good.

View All Answers


2. What immunizations are required each year?

Get the tick-borne encephalitis vaccine (available through Embassy medical unit).

View All Answers


3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Almost none. Some light crime.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

International School of Estonia.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

View All Answers


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?

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Moderate

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Good (especially in the summer).

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, yes, yes.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes, tolerant.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

View All Answers


9. Can you save money?

Yes.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes!

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Documentary "The Singing Revolution."

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

View All Answers


New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More