Fortunately working week is over, it was a little bit bad (mostly due to people, not the work itself) and as I thought that it might be time to change the job (fast, but it was my thought), I realized I am here for 4 months already. Yes! 4 months. When I was moving here, to Tallinn, I was supported by my employer. They did everything to ensure that my moving here will be smooth as silk. It was not fully successful though as I met quite a lot of obstacles which (fortunately) I was able to beat quite fast. This post would be very useful if you are thinking to move to Tallinn in the near future (and I am pretty sure it will apply also to other Estonian cities).
Obstacle no. 1 – Apartments come and go pretty fast
My job search was done solely via Internet, the job interview went through Skype, so it’s obvious that I have not been doing my flat search at place. Instead, as suggested by my employer, I was sending the offers I found online to my boss and she was checking if they are still valid. Yes, that is the first obstacle: even the offer that is published 1 hour ago can be already invalid if it’s good. Imagine the apartment in the center that has 30m2 and costs 350 euro. That’s an excellent offer (unless the condition of the flat is horrible). Such offer would go instantly! And yes, the real estate agent would be unable to mark it as “rented” as the time goes too fast. Quoting my boss:
Yes Adam, this is how it works in Estonia!
In Tallinn a lot of people rent the apartment – that is why the best offers might be unavailable the same day. On the other hand – usually people stay long in the rented apartments as they do not really find it uncomfortable to live for longer in one place.
For apartment search there are 2 main websites btw:
On both you can find similar or the same offers.
Obstacle no. 2 – Almost impossible to rent “on distance”
Ok, this might be a common thing in many countries, but it’s quite impossible to find the apartment being far away. You might end up booking a few days in the hotel and those few days would be used to find your place. The best solution is to find a company that would do it for you or (the best option) to make your employer help you with that.
Obstacle no. 3 – Utility costs might surprise you
In Poland, there is a rent payment that is additional to the rent you pay to an owner. Let’s say it’s 300 PLN – in these 300 PLN you would get some partial payment for gas, water, electricity, trash, elevator, cleaning etc. + some payment for maintenance to the building owner. If you get the readings from your electric or water meters, you pay the difference or get some money back. In Tallinn this type of rent is actually… called the utility bill. It is not included in your rent to the owner (in Poland it is included in majority of rent offers) so your bills might be quite shocking for you.
Example: I am paying 230 euro of rent for my tiny flat (It’s just 16m2). Last month I received the electricity bill that cost me 41 euro after my partial payments were corrected. My total utilities from the month was nearly 100 euro. That’s quite a lot I would say for such a little space (no, I don’t complain, I am just used to Polish standards :D).
Obstacle no. 4 – Impression of very low rent costs might fool you
It’s kind of connected with the previous one, but still.
Guess what is my dream thing about apartment? It’s having a full sized kitchen and a balcony. It sounds weird that I don’t have both, but this is why you might be fooled with low rent costs.
When I checked the offers on the websites I mentioned earlier I was super happy. Whaaat? Whole apartment? For 250 euro? That’s magic! Yeah, but I did not know one thing: all those flats are in Lasnamäe. Lasnamäe is the district of Tallinn that is definitely the most populated (nearly 120 000 people live there), but it’s mostly because of… old blocks. Yes, if you’d like to see some communism leftovers, go to Lasnamäe ;)
Part of Lasnamäe – picture by Estonian Public Broadcaster – ERR
The picture above definitely gives you the feeling what is Lasnamäe – and quite honestly I could see myself living there (in Poland, my block is just similar). There is just one thing: safety. Lasnamäe is considered to be the least safe place of Tallinn, but it’s not a weird thing – always, when many people live in one area, weird things can happen. On the other hand – I know some people in Lasnamäe and they are OK. Still…does that look convincing? ;)
I was browsing flat offers one day and it’s one of the pictures – I suppose the tiger makes the value go way, waaay up :) The guy on TV seems to be shocked with that. Yes, it’s Lasnamäe – by kv.ee
If you’d like to live in some better place, the prices would be unfortunately higher. And if not – the flats will be small, without a full kitchen and a balcony. At least my place has a very good connection to the center by public transport.
And yes, the price of 250 euro is without the utilities :)
Obstacle no. 5 – do you want a registration? You need to be mentioned in contract
This was one of the weirdest situations I came across here. When I lived in Bulgaria, I only had to declare my place of living and the officials registered me there (of course, you can lie, but if you lie – you will surely get into troubles). In Tallinn I was requested to bring the contract for rent. There was just one “tiny” problem: it was signed between my employer and the owner of the flat. I was not mentioned there anyhow.
What was the solution? My company contacted the owner who signed additional papers saying that I live here. Easy? Easy :)
Obstacle no. 6 (and last for now) – don’t buy an umbrella ;)
Weather in Tallinn is… well… at least now it is definitely changing. Today, between 12.12 and 12.28 there was: snow, hailstorm and snowstorm. And in the evening, while temperature fell to -4, we had a public ice-skating rink. It was funny coming back from work at 21.00 ;)
Anyways, sometimes we have the sun, more or less – this amount:
The sun is on the top right (the lighter part of the sky ;) )
Fortunately, following months would be much more sunny if everything goes the way it should.
One more advise – even if it rains, buying umbrella is NOT an option. Tallinn is windy, really windy, wind break umbrellas (don’t be like Adam, don’t buy umbrella that will be “alive” for 3 days ;) ). Ok, there are some “tough” umbrellas on the market, but hoodie or rain protective jacket are always better :)
Did those obstacles look tragic? I don’t think so. So just keep calm, move here and enjoy your life in Estonia :)