A lot of expats and digital workers have put Estonia at the top of their list of countries they are considering moving to for business reasons, or simply a change in lifestyle. If that includes you, keep reading to get the latest information about the pros and cons of living in or starting a business in Estonia.
In sharing the pros and cons of living in Estonia, we’ll cover the following question you might have:
- How can I move to Estonia?
- Which long term visa is the best for living in Estonia?
- How to apply for a digital nomad visa in Estonia?
- What is Estonian E-residency? What are the costs, benefits, and pros vs. cons of E-residency?
- Is Estonia good for opening a business? How to set up a business with e-residency?
- What is the cost of living in Estonia? Is Estonia a cheap place to live?
- How cold does it get in Estonia in the winter?
- Is Estonia a good country to live in?
- Is Estonia a safe country?
- What are the best cities to live in Estonia?
- Do they speak English in Estonia?
What are the Pros and Cons of Moving to Estonia?
As one of the richest countries in the Baltic region due to a more free economy, Estonia is an attractive destination for many. Since it is a part of the European Union, European Economic Area (EEA) and the Schengen zone, passport holders from member countries of those groups do not need a visa to stay in Estonia for up to 90 days.
Citizens from countries that aren’t members of the above groups will however need a Schengen visa to enter and stay in Estonia for 90 days. The countries that need the Schengen visa are listed here.
If you plan to stay in Estonia for longer than 90 days, a tourist visa will not cover you. Luckily, there are many options to choose from in efforts to obtain a long term visa, just as long as you’re careful and select the one option out of many that is most suitable for your needs.
With 90% of Estonia’s bureaucratic tasks being processed online, obtaining a long term visa, or e-residency, is very straightforward, making Estonia one of the easiest countries to relocate to.
Which types of long term visas are available in Estonia?
The two main categories are type C visas, also known as short term visas, and type D visas, which are valid for longer periods of time. Your duration of stay will depend on the type of C or D visa you select in the process of applying.
Pros of Estonia’s Digital Nomad Visa and How to Apply
One of the most exciting visas for sure is the digital nomad visa. The Estonian government introduced this game-changing visa on August 1st of 2020, which allows its holder to live and work in the country for up to a year. The digital nomad visa can be both type C or type D, and the difference is in the cost of obtaining them. To apply, you must fulfill the following requirements:
- Proof that you have a business that is location independent and can be done from anywhere.
- Your clients and income come from outside of the country.
- An income (prior to taxation) of $3,504 USD per month for the past six months.
- Fill in the application online.
- Make a one-time payment of $80 USD for the type C visa, or $100 USD for the type D, long term visa.
- Go to the nearest Estonian embassy consulate with copies of required documents.
- Wait for a response of approval, which will arrive within 30 days.
Obtaining the digital nomad visa allows you to live in Estonia for up to a year. After that, you can prolong your stay or choose a different type of visa. This is a huge pro for obtaining the visa and moving to Estonia. But what are the negative sides?
Cons of the Digital Nomad Visa for Estonia: One word… Taxes
Contrary to the simplicity of applying for Estonia’s digital nomad visa, the taxation process is much more complicated. The general rule is that there is no taxation for individuals who spend less than 183 days in Estonia within a consecutive 12 months period. After that time, an individual would become a tax resident and is required to pay state taxes. However, there is a workaround for this requirement. To “reset” the clock on your duration of stay, all you need to do is leave the country before the 183 days have expired and come back again–a practice known as a “border run” in expat communities.
If you feel like that would be too much of a hassle, consider paying the flat tax rate of 20%, which is for foreign income of companies and individuals. This rate can be reduced to 10% in some cases using some tax treaties. The taxes are complicated, but paying them is really straightforward. It takes very little time and is done fully online.
Old town Tallinn, Estonia at night
But you should know that for the digital nomad visa, there is no right of citizenship or permanent residence within Estonia or other EU countries. The popular way of staying long-term is with an e-residency.
The Pros, Cons, Costs and Benefits of Estonian residency and e-residency
Contrary to popular belief, Estonian e-residency does not grant you the right to physically stay in Estonia! It’s not the best option to go with if you plan to actually move to the country. However, registering for the Estonian e-residency is of great assistance because it makes your registered business location independent, and this is needed for obtaining the long term, digital nomad visa. Not that it is necessary, but it can sure help.
Estonian E-residency – Who is it for?
E-residency is for people who are looking to do business in Estonia and the EU without needing to enter the country physically. E-residency lasts for three to five years, after which it has to be renewed.
E-residency allows non-EU and non-Estonian residents to:
- Become a virtual resident
- Have a virtual ID-card
- Open bank accounts
- Sign documents
- Register a location-independent business and more
E-residency does not grant the individual:
- The right of citizenship
- Crossing the border of Estonia or other EU countries
- Traveling within Estonia or other EU countries
To make your business location independent, you will need the E-residency and an ID document to register your business as location independent. This does not however permit you to physically enter Estonia.
Other benefits of e-residency can be read about here.
Getting a job that supports your nomadic lifestyle
If you are looking for a job that will allow you to travel and still work in a supportive and stable environment, that also provides the opportunity for progress and long-term employment, look no further than Support Adventure! We are an expat-run company, operating fully online, and we are aware of all the pros and cons of remote working.
We are looking for creative and talented IT help desk engineers and service desk coordinators to work with one of our 50 clients around the world.
Apply here and make your dream of living in Estonia come true!
How to Get Estonian Residency – Pros and Cons
If you want to live and work in Estonia, and you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you will need a visa to be eligible to apply for the Estonian residency permit. You must register as a citizen within three months of arriving.
The first residency permit that is issued is valid for six months. Eligibility for permanent residency takes effect after five years of temporary residency.
To qualify, you will need the following:
- A statement of income
- Health insurance
- A demonstration of high proficiency in the Estonian language
With this, you get all the benefits of living as an Estonian. That includes a great business environment, low taxes, access to innovation in technology and one of the healthiest countries in the world! The major con however, is the time and determination needed to obtain permanent residency.
Business Visa Pros and Cons – Is Estonia good for opening a business?
In addition to the already mentioned digital nomad visa, an individual can also apply for the following long-term visas:
- Estonian Business visa (Startup Visa)
- Youth Mobility visa (Working Holiday)
- Family visa
Estonia has the highest number of startups in Europe! Now technically, you can run a location independent business in Estonia using the digital nomad visa. Nevertheless, the Startup visa might be a better option for some.
With different benefits and costs, the main requirement to get your startup running in Estonia is that it must significantly contribute to the financial landscape of the country. Whether or not your company can be registered as a startup is decided by a panel of experts in this matter.
In obtaining the Estonian Startup visa, there are major benefits, such as acquiring both the visa and residence permit in a more simplified way. However, please note that this is designed for people with startups, and as such, this type of visa is not for other purposes.
E-residency might be easier and cheaper for business operations, making investments, and buying and selling goods within Estonia. Just remember that the major con is not being able to physically enter the country.
If you think this is for you, learn more about doing business in Estonia here.
The Pros and Cons of the Cost of Living in Estonia – Is Estonia Affordable?
The cost of living in Estonia and quality of life are important factors in deciding to live there. So what is the cost for value like in Estonia? Is it cheap to rent? How much do monthly expenses cost?
We can say that Estonia has a good balance for costs and value. Per the information from Numbeo, the monthly expenses for a single person, without rent, amount to 670 euros.
The price of rent depends on an accommodation’s location, whether or not it’s in a good state and its size. In Tallin, the capital, one month’s rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost an average of 480 euros, and 360 euros outside of the center.
Pros of the cost of living in Estonia
Estonia is one of the cheapest countries in Europe. The cost of living is 26% lower than in the US on average. Rent is 63% lower than the US on average.
Most expenses go towards buying food and goods in the market (around 29%), monthly rent with utilities (21%), restaurants (17%) and transportation (12%). The rest often go towards clothes, social activities and events. With the total amount coming to around 1200 euros in order to live a decent life in Estonia, we can say that this is a pretty big pro!
Pros and Cons of the Best Cities to Live in Estonia
Tallinn, the capital, is the largest city in the country. A hub of medieval architecture, and very well-connected, its population is around 440,000 people.
Parnu is the fourth largest city. It’s located some 100km south of Tallinn, and is listed in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 lesser-known beach cities to visit.
Tartu is the second largest city in Estonia. It is the financial and political capital, and best known as the intellectual center of Estonia.
Pros and Cons of Living in Estonia – Is it a good place to live?
With 50% forests covering its territory, amazing business opportunities and the highest rate of startups in Europe, Estonia has a lot to offer.
|Pros of living in Estonia||Cons of living in Estonia|
|Long term Digital nomad and Startup Visas are easy to obtain||You need to pay 20% taxes or do border runs after six months|
|Tallinn is one of the healthiest cities in the world to live in||Cold weather with harsh winters… almost no night time in summers|
|Almost everyone speaks English, and they are friendly||Estonian language is hard to learn, and locals are initially shy|
|E-citizenship allows you to register and run businesses in Estonia and Europe||E-citizenship doesn’t grant you the right to enter or travel to Estonia, or the rest of Europe|
Hopefully, this guide to the pros and cons of living in Estonia helped you to decide whether or not this country is the perfect digital nomad base for you!