Why Tallinn is Awesome, but Not for Digital Nomads

Hello friends in PJs! 
The second stop on my tour of the Baltics was Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. In the last couple of years Estonia has become well-known for it's startup scene and successful tech companies, after all, it is the home of Skype, Taxify, Toggl, Transverwise etc. Another thing Estonia has gained popularity for is it's E-Residency Program where the republic of Estonia strives to create a digital nation and provide individuals, mostly, people working remotely in the tech industry with digital residency in Estonia and, more importantly, European bank account. So, given that Estonia is so technologically advanced and has this pretty kickass program for digital nomads, it must be a digital nomad heaven, right? Wrong! Although, it's not a digital nomad heaven, it is a heaven of a different kind. 

Don't get me wrong, Estonia is a wonderful country, and Tallinn is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited, but it does not a digital nomad heaven make. Digital Nomad deal breaker number one, if you know anything about digital nomads, you know that they love to travel, a lot, often and everywhere. If you settle in Tallinn be prepared to take connecting flights and expensive ones at that. Quick search on Kiwi will revel the limited options. 

Deal breaker number two - expensive! People, Estonia is not cheap, unlike it's neighbours Russia and Latvia, for example, that offer great quality for very reasonable price, Tallinn is an expensive place. What to expect? Well, prices that are more common for the Scandinavian countries. You can expect to pay about 20, 25e per meal in a mid-range restaurant, about 4e for a coffee and an average grocery run would leave you 40e short (small bag). 

Deal breaker number three - weather, clearly, in Baltic area, Estonia doesn't have the best weather in the world, and we, digital nomads love us some sun and sand. Okay this is a joke, clearly we can't expect Estonia to have Thai weather, but still, the weather is not great. During my visit Estonia was under a heat wave, temperature was in mid 30ies. Not too hot? Well, just think that Estonian homes are built to hold heat. Funny story, the bathroom of the apartment I rented had heating from hot water pipes which you could not switch off. It was boiling in there! I find it funny now, but sweating right after a shower was not that amusing at the time. 

Next thing on my list - apartments. I travelled to many places in the past year, but nowhere had I such a problem to find an AirBnb as in Tallinn. The apartments were terribly overpriced, either old, small or too luxurious, finding something mid-range was almost impossible. In the end I got lucky with a lovely girl renting her nice apartment while on a holiday. Be prepared to pay around 80e for a decent looking AirBnb per day, and it won't be easy to find it in the first place. I hear the choice of hostels is not that great either. 

Finally, E-Residency is no residency at all. What?! Well, if you read carefully, you will learn that E-Residency actually gives you an EU bank account, a place to register your business and pay taxes, but, you're by no means a resident of Estonia or EU. You can't legally stay there without a residence permit. I think Estonian E-Residency program is a great solution for digital nomads coming from countries where taxes are high and banking complicated who travel most of the time.

After this post started on such a negative note what remains unsaid is that Tallinn is absolutely beautiful little city, only not a digital nomad heaven, but more of a touristy one. It's known for its old town which is truly lovely. I've seen a bunch of old towns in the past year, Athens, Tbilisi, Bratislava, Yafa, Rome and a couple more, but this one is by far my favourite. The main reason I enjoyed it so much is that Estonians did such a wonderful job at preserving the old town and not overpowering it with restaurants and shops, actually, I haven't seen one single brand shop in the old town. Mostly the shops that could be found in the old town were charming little artisan shops selling amber jewelry, woolen cozy sweaters and mittens, marzipan and chocolate stores, small charming cafes and lovely restaurants. Every little street in the old town offered a wonderful opportunity to explore and discover these gems while still being able to take in the little town without being overwhelmed with touristy and commercial attractions. Well done, Estonia! 

Except exploring the old town and checking out the Toompea castle, Vanalinn Hill that offers the best view of the town, Kadriorg Palace and other famous landmarks, take time to enjoy Estonian calm culture. Even though Estonia was a part of Soviet Union back in the day, it's bares little resemblance to its neighbour Russia. The culture in Estonia is very different and pretty Scandinavian, to my surprise. What you will notice instantly is that the quality of life in Estonia is just great. People seem to have very good work-life balance. They seem to be a kind, happy and outgoing bunch. If you're like me and seek balance and calm, you will definitely enjoy Estonia and its capital.  Another interesting thing about Estonia is the language. I personally, expected Estonian to at least resemble Russian, however, a quick search reveals that it is one of the Uralic languages which places it in a completely different language family than Slavic languages. So, language will make an interesting cultural experience, as well.

Bonus tips, if you're visiting and would like to enjoy a delicious and reasonably priced meal visit Kohvik Must Puudel, their steam and salmon with quinoa were just exquisite. Also, the staff is super kind, interior fantastic, ah yes, the cakes are amazing, too! Our lunch, that included, one appetizer, two main dishes, two glasses of wine, one carrot cake and two coffees total at about 50e, which for Tallinn is a bargin. Other places we ate at I can't really put my stamp of approval on, to be honest. Finally, devote two, maximum three days to visiting Tallinn, that will be just the perfect amount of time to enjoy, but also not to outstay your welcome.  

There you go friends in pjs, while I do appreciate the digital nation efforts, I wish Estonia had those key elements that digital nomads search for in their home away from home. I still had fun and think it's a lovely touristy destination. 

Till next one, work hard, play hard.     

Get 30e AirBnb voucher for your first trip, click here

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