With ample, uncrowded green spaces and over 2,000 islands (albeit not the tropical ones you might be thinking of), Estonia is a dream destination for many travellers. But it’s also a wonderful place to call home. What some of the travel guides won’t tell you is that Estonia was the first country in the world to enable its citizens to vote online in 2005, and it is also renowned for being one of the most digitally advanced societies in the world. If you’re thinking of heading over to Estonia, whether to study or to make a permanent move, it’s well worth considering that the capital, Tallinn, is comparatively cheaper than London. In fact, sources put it at 51% cheaper than the UK’s capital. However, while this might seem appealing at first, consider the fact that it’s 10% more expensive than Vilnius in Lithuania and a rather steep 29% more expensive than Russia’s St. Petersburg. As for average monthly salaries after tax, you’ll get in the region of 1,104.47 EUR while the minimum wage in the country is 600 EUR per month. This represents a 6.5% increase in salaries in 2016.
With all this being said, this post is for you if you are:
- Planning a trip to Estonia
- Wishing to study abroad there and want to calculate your expenses, or
- You’re considering making a permanent move there.
Table of Contents
Opening a bank account in Estonia
In order to open a bank account in Estonia, you need to keep in mind the fact that most banks will ask you for a minimum deposit. You will also need to provide photo identification as well as proof of address and employment.
Estonia adopted the euro in January 2011, making it particularly attractive and easy for those going there from the Euro area. Since the country is so digitally advanced, you’ll be able to pay with a credit or debit card in most places, including at kiosks and on trains.
The country’s main banks are Swedbank, SEB and Sampo Bank, the latter whose new name is Danske bank. They are considered the most accessible for foreigners due to the fact that they make it a policy to serve tourists and usually require less paperwork in order to open a bank account.
Accommodation costs in Estonia
As is customary around the entire world, the cost of accommodation will depend on a variety of different factors, including the city you choose to live in, the location, size of your accommodation, whether or not it’s furnished and others. However, to give you an estimate of the typical accommodation costs you might have in Estonia, here is a breakdown of the most common ones:
|Type of Property
|85 sq/m furnished accommodation in an expensive area
|85 sq/m furnished accommodation in a regular area
|45 sq/m furnished studio in an expensive area
|45 sq/m furnished studio in a regular area
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
If you’re thinking of purchasing a property in Estonia, however, these prices might shed some light on the amounts you’ll be expected to pay:
- Price per square meter to purchase an apartment in the city centre: 2,440.43 EUR
- Price per square meter to purchase an apartment outside the city centre: 1,683.61 EUR
The average annual mortgage interest rate for 20 years fixed rate is 2.53%
Cost of utility bills in Estonia
Utility bills are a given anywhere you go in the world, and in Estonia, it’s no different. This is why your utility costs will range from around 80 EUR/month in the summer to around 110 EUR/month in the winter. It’s also important to note that unless you live in a private house or your apartment block has its own boiler room, your heating will be turned on during winter, while it will be completely switched off during the summer months.
As for a breakdown of your monthly utilities of around 110 EUR per month, you’ll be spending on heating, electricity and gas as well as garbage removal for one person in a 45 sq/m studio. Meanwhile, this figure will rise to about 165 EUR per month for an 85 sq/m flat.
Internet of 8 Mbps for one month will cost you in the region of 19 EUR. One minute of prepaid mobile tariff (local) with no discounts or plans is about 0.04 EUR. Internet at 60 Mbps or more, unlimited data, as well as cable/ADSL will be in the region of 23.51 EUR per month. The most affordable and cost effective mobile phone deal available is 10 EUR per month.
Purchasing a 40” flat screen TV will set you back approximately 336 EUR, while a 800/900 watt Bosch, Panasonic, LG, Sharp or equivalent brand of microwaves will cost you 78 EUR.
Laundry detergent at 3 litres costs approximately 10 EUR and the hourly rate for cleaning help is 8 EUR.
Transportation expenses in Estonia
When in Estonia, you will, of course, want to see some sights and explore the country. While travel costs are generally cheaper than in western Europe, you’ll be expected to pay prices at Scandinavian levels, especially in Tallinn’s Old Town.
If you’d like to go outside to the main towns, transportation there is relatively cheap, especially if you take advantage of the local buses. On the other hand, some rural areas are not too well connected to a public transport system and you may need to rent a car. Car rentals are affordable and you will have a range of options to choose from.
Here is a breakdown of some of the transportation costs you might encounter while in Estonia:
|Means of Transportation
|A monthly ticket for public transport
|Taxi start (normal tariff)
|Taxi 1 km (normal tariff)
|Taxi 1 hour waiting (normal tariff)
|Petrol costs (per litre)
|Diesel costs (per litre)
|Gas (1 litre)
|VW Golf or equivalent
*Public transport for local residents in Tallinn is free
Cost of necessities
Food and necessities are a normal expense in life and you should be prepared for their associated costs.
Food costs in Estonia
In Estonia, food prices vary, depending on where you purchase them, what brands you buy and where you live. However, on average, here are some of the costs you will encounter:
|Type of Product
|Milk (regular, 1 l)
|Loaf of fresh white bread (500g)
|White rice (1 kg)
|Regular eggs (one dozen)
|Local cheese (1 kg)
|Chicken fillets (1 kg)
|Beef round (1 kg)
|Apples (1 kg)
|Bananas (1 kg)
|Oranges (1 kg)
|Tomatoes (1 kg)
|Potatoes (1 kg)
|Onions (1 kg)
|Lettuce (1 head)
|Meal (inexpensive restaurant)
|Meal for two people (mid-range restaurant, three course)
|McMeal at McDonald’s
|Domestic beer (0.5 l draught)
|Imported beer (0.5 l draught)
|Coke/Pepsi (0.33 l bottle)
|Water (0.33 l bottle)
|Bottle of wine (mid-range)
Attire and personal care
As for attire and personal care, here are some of the anticipated costs:
|Type of Product
|1 pair of jeans (Levis 501 or similar)
|1 summer dress in a chain store
|1 pair of NIke running shoes (mid-range)
|1 pair of men’s leather business shoes
If you want to look your best and need a hairdresser, a standard men’s haircut in an expat area of the city will set you back 10 EUR. Meanwhile, a tube of toothpaste is around 6 EUR, while 4 rolls of toilet paper will go for around 1.70 EUR. A 2-in-1 shampoo (400 ml) will be in the region of 11 EUR while roll-on deodorant (50 ml) will cost you about 4.36 EUR.
For your entertainment and health, a monthly fee for one adult at a fitness club will cost approximately 42.39 EUR, while renting a tennis court for one hour on the weekend will be around 23.84 EUR. One seat at a cinema for an international release will cost about 7 EUR.
Estonia is a beautiful country with lots to see and do while there. However, while it is relatively cheaper when it comes to comparing it with countries in western Europe, you will need to consider your costs prior to your move. Some things to keep in mind when you do so include:
- The cost of renting or purchasing a property will depend on your location
- Opening a bank account for a tourist or an expat is relatively easy
- Utilities will add up, and their cost will depend on the season
- Transportation in Tallinn is free for local residents but will cost you around 18 EUR/month
- Food and personal expenses are relatively affordable but will depend on where you purchase them and what brands you opt for.