Estonia is one of three Baltic States. It borders Latvia and Russia with a coastline on the Baltic Sea and is often one of those countries that travellers visit after they have visited Central Europe. If you’re thinking about traveling and working abroad, Estonia is a place you should consider. With its incredible nature and innovative cities where English is widely spoken, Estonia is popular among digital nomads and creative expats. To discover the country while making an income, apply for a Working Holiday Visa. With one of these you will be able to immerse yourself in this interesting country. Read on and find out how you can live, work and play in Estonia.
Why Choose Estonia As a Working Holiday Destination?
There are many perks to staying in Estonia as a foreigner. This country, unknown to many, is a true Nordic gem.
Locals are open-minded
There is an impression that Estonians are shy and keep to themselves. As it’s not completely a lie, the locals can be some of the most loyal friends you’ll ever have once you get to know them.
Imagine working in an environment where everybody’s creative and encouraging, and where new, perhaps crazy ideas are welcomed with open arms. As co-workers, Estonians are the perfect ones!
The fact that Estonia has only 1,3 million people, might seem a disadvantage at first. In reality, especially in the work field, it is a huge plus. Making connections and finding new business partners doesn’t require effort and hustle. Since everybody knows everybody, Estonia is just like a huge family.
Public transport is outstanding
In Estonia, especially the capital Tallinn, public transport is fast and efficient! In most cases, there’s a separate lane for buses and taxis, which allows the transport to arrive on time even during the traffic hours. Since the capital is so small and everything’s close, getting from point A to point B only takes a blink of an eye. Public transportation in Tallinn is free for all residents of the city.
Cost of living is low
Unlike many other European countries, Estonia won’t break your piggy bank when you buy real estate. There are various budget grocery stores, and even eating out won’t cost you a fortune!
Estonians do everything online. If you need something to be done, you’ll surely find a website or an app for it. From voting to digital prescriptions to online banking, almost all your daily tasks can be completed through your laptop or smartphone stress-free.
Nature is everywhere
Since half of Estonia’s surface is covered with forests, it is one of the most calming places to work in. Numerous parks can be found throughout the cities and towns, which invite you to take a peaceful break in your busy day. Estonians care about the environment and make an effort to keep it clean at all times. That also results in clean and organic veggies and fruits.
Great Base to Explore Europe
Estonia belongs to the Schengen Visa area which allows you to travel in Schengen area for up to 90 days. Estonia is well placed that Scandinavia is only a ferry ride away, Russia is on your doorstep as is the rest of Europe.
As you have read, there are many positives to a working holiday in Estonia.
Credit Canva: Tallinn Skyline
Visas to live, work and play in Estonia
The best way to extend your time in Estonia is to apply for one of the visas that allows you to. These include the Working Holiday Visa and the Digital Nomad Visa.
Estonia Working Holiday Visa?
An Estonian Working Visa, also known as a long-stay or D-visa, is meant for travellers aged between 18 and 30 years (35 years for Canadians) who wish to work or study in Estonia for up to one year. A long-stay visa will not only allow you to stay and work in the country but will permit you to travel to the other Schengen Member States as well. With an Estonian Working Holiday Visa, you can stay in other Schengen countries for up to 90 days in 6 months.
Currently, Estonia has made Working Holiday visa agreements with Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. With the visa you can
- Live in Estonia for up to one year
- Work in any industry for up to 3 months for one employer
- Study for up to three months
- Participate in a training course for up to 3 months
- Travel to other EU countries
- Re-enter Estonia after travelling to other EU countries
To apply for a working holiday visa contact your nearest Estonian Embassy. It can take 2-3 weeks to process and current costs 80 EUR.
EU citizens visa options for Estonia
Citizens of the EU, the EEA (Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein), or Switzerland can enter Estonia without a visa. You are allowed to work in Estonia for up to 3 months, but if you wish to be employed for a longer period, you’ll need to register as an Estonian resident during the first 3 months of your visit. For more details visit the official European Union website.
Digital Nomad Visa
Estonia was the first country to introduce a specific digital nomad visa. To be eligible, you need to prove your status as a remote worker, it is as simple as that. The main requirements for the Digital Nomad Visa are that your work can be done online and does not depend on your location. However, other qualifications must be met, too:
- You have an active contract with a non-Estonian company/ you work for your own company that isn’t registered in Estonia/ you work as a freelancer for mostly non-Estonian clients.
- You made a minimum of 3504€ (gross salary) during the 6 months prior to your application, and you can provide proof of that.
To apply for the Estonia digital nomad visa fill and sign the application form.
Things To Do On Arrival in Estonia
When working in another country, the topic of taxes might seem complicated. In Estonia, taxes are taken from your salary by your employer. So if your employer is an Estonian registered company, then you will need to apply for a TIN (Tax Identification Number). A personal identity number will be 11 digits, while if you are setting up a company, it will be 8 digits. Tax in Estonia is a flat rate of 20 per cent. At the beginning of every year, the personal income tax return is filed to state the income of your previous year. This can be done online and takes only a few minutes.
For those working for companies based in other countries or digital nomads, taxes are another matter for you. Check out the Republic of Estonia Tax and Customs Board for details. It will depend on your company structure and where they are based.
Another thing to do when you arrive in Estonia is to open a bank account. Estonia is among Europe’s most expat-friendly countries when it comes to opening a bank account. Therefore, if you are 18 or older, have a valid passport and can prove you have a connection to the country, ie. visa, you can likely open a bank account. Banks include Bigbank, Coop Pack, Holm Bank, Inbank, LHV Park and Luminor Bank to name a few.
The only other things you really need to do are find somewhere to live and a job.
Where to live in Estonia
When you arrive in Estonia you will need somewhere to stay. I usually recommend to book short-term accommodation in a hostel, hotel, b&b for at least 1-2 weeks for your initial stay. This is because you may have jet lag or a time difference to get over and you will need time to find somewhere longer to live and a job. Some short-term accommodation can be found all over the country, however, most who come to Estonia on a working holiday start in the capital of Tallinn. For short-term accommodation check out the hostels Tallinn Backpackers and Old Town All Hostel. More hostel options, their pricing and booking details can be found at HostelWorld. For a budget hotel check out Citybox Tallinn Hotel and the Hotel Meltza Apartments. For other options check out the map.
What jobs are available in Estonia
As a digital country, Estonia values people with knowledge of the IT field. After Israel, Estonia has the second most start-ups per capita in the world. Taxify, Skype, and Transferwise (now Wise) are probably the best-known ones. Since new start-ups continue to rise, interesting job opportunities awaken. In addition to the IT industry, many companies in the finance field and administration sector are also on the lookout for English-speaking people to join them. To find a job check out the Work in Estonia official website, CV keskus, CV.ee and the official European Union website.
Estonia is probably one of the best places for digital nomads since it was the first country in the world to introduce a Digital Nomad Visa. The country gives a warm welcome to all remote workers who wish to legally live in Estonia, yet continue working for their company abroad while getting out and about and enjoying living in Estonia. Read our digital nomad guide here.
If you are not so digitally inclined consider teaching English. Most of the teaching jobs in Estonia are available in the three biggest cities of Tallinn, Tartu and Narva. If you love the hustle and bustle of a city, then the capital of Tallinn is ideal. At the other end of the spectrum is Narva. It is right on the Russian border and is a sleepy town. The basic monthly salary for full-time teaching English positions is likely to be in the region of €800 – €1,000. You are required to have a 120-hour TEFL qualification with some employers wanting a university degree as well. The school year runs from September to June with schools looking for teachers over the summer period to start the school year, though some schools do hire throughout the year – it depends on when they need a teacher. To find a job contact the English language schools directly or check out on-line job boards such as TeflJobsAbroad and Dave’s EslCafe.
Playing and Travelling in Estonia
Being a tourist while on your working holiday in Estonia is always the best part – well in my opinion it is. Although Estonia is only 45,339km2 and you drive from one side to the other in 2.5 hours there is plenty to see and do.
The capital Tallinn is beautiful with its charming old town. Be sure to visit the exclusive Hotel Viru for a KGB tour. During the 1970s, foreigners often stayed here while the KGB spied on them from the secret 13th floor. You can book your tour here. Or simply enjoy the shopping in the adjacent mall Viru Keskus. Perhaps you want to while your day away at the beach, then only 20 minutes by bus or so away is the beautiful sandy beach at Pirita that looks back onto a forest. And speaking of forests fifty percent of Estonia is covered in forest so there are plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal on a trek.
Other towns to visit include Tartu, known as the University city. Here you can learn more about the Soviet times at the Museum Dungeons of the KGB. Oh that KGB again! Or head to Narva and go to the top of Herman Fortress for unobstructed views of Russia. There is plenty more to see in Estonia as it it such a small country you can drive one side to the other in around 2 hours so exploring is easy. Check out the tours following.
Final Words on a Working Holiday in Estonia
Since Estonia is one of the most digitally advanced places in the world, exploring the country is something worth considering. The Working Holiday Visa and the Digital Nomad Visa bring you many opportunities from studying to working to traveling Europe. If you have lived, worked or played in Estonia I would love to hear in the comments following.
Sharyn McCullum has travelled all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She loves travelling to different countries to immerse herself in the culture and in particular, enjoy the food. She currently calls Melbourne, Australia home.