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Living in Estonia

Cost of living

Living in Estonia is cheaper than in other countries in the Nordic region.

According to the www.xpatulator.com database, Tallinn is in 285th place out of 780 cities: 296th in terms of the cost of groceries, 422nd in the cost of communication, 107th in the cost of clothing, 406th in the cost of education, 498th in household costs, 167th in the cost of recreation and culture, 223rd in restaurants and meals out and 416th in transport.

Copenhagen is ranked 25th, Helsinki 73rd, St Petersburg 105th, Stockholm 41st.

In the Mercer’s Cost of Living Ranking, Tallinn is in 131st place, compared to Copenhagen in 21st, Stockholm in 46th, Helsinki in 65th, and Riga in 97th.


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Health care services

All persons insured with the Health Insurance Fund have a family practitioner. A person not residing in Estonia may also visit a family practitioner. A person needs a referral from the family practitioner to visit a medical specialist. No referral is needed to visit a psychiatrist, gynecologist, dermatovenerologist, ophthalmologist, dentist, pulmonologist (for tuberculosis treatment), infection specialist (for HIV/AIDS treatment), surgeon or orthopedist (for traumatology).

In the case of emergency treatment, a person may always go to the emergency reception or call an ambulance. The attending physician decides whether the patient needs in-patient treatment.

The amount of the patient's financial participation in the following cases:

  • out-patient examination - a family practitioner can charge a visit fee of up to EUR 3.2, when making a home visit;

  • specialised medical care - a visit fee of up to EUR 3.2;

  • transportation by ambulance in the case of emergency - free of charge;

  • hospitalisation - an in-patient fee of up to EUR 1.6 per day and for up to 10 days per hospitalisation.

There is no in-patient fee:

  • for children below the age of 19;

  • in cases related to pregnancy and childbirth;

  • in the case of intensive care.


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Education system

Education is divided into general, vocational and hobby education. Education has the following levels: preschool, basic (first level of education), secondary (second level of education) and higher education (third level of education).

Children who turn seven years of age by 1 October of the current year are obliged to attend school.

Before starting school, children usually attend preschool child-care institutions. The compulsory schooling obligation applies to children until they acquire basic education or turn 17 years of age.


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There are six public  and one private university in Estonia. Five of those are in Tallinn and two in Tartu. The oldest and biggest university in Estonia is the University of Tartu with circa 17,200 students followed by Tallinn University of Technology with circa 13,900 students. Both of those universities have colleges also in other cities of Estonia.

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2012-2013 Global Competitiveness Index, Estonia was ranked 19th in the world and the highest in CEE for the quality of its math and science education.

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Family benefits

Estonia's family benefits are designed to partly cover the costs that families incur whilst caring for, raising and educating their children.

There are a number of ways in which families with children are supported, the two most common of which are family allowances and tax incentives.

There are 10 types of family benefits:

  • childbirth allowance;
  • child allowance;
  • child care allowance;
  • single parent's child allowance;
  • conscript's child allowance;
  • child's school allowance;
  • child allowance for a child under guardianship or foster care;
  • start in independent life allowance;
  • adoption allowance;
  • parent's allowance for families with seven or more children.

The state pays family benefits to all children until they reach the age of 16. Children enrolled in basic or secondary schools or vocational education institutions, operating on the basis of basic education, have the right to receive family benefits until the age of 19.

Tax incentives are offered to families with children in two different ways.

  • People living in Estonia can deduct the costs of educating their children or children in their care up to the age of 26 from their annual income (including interest on study loans).

  • One of the parents of a child (or a person providing for a child) can deduct additional tax-free income from income for the period of taxation for every child up to the age of 17, starting from the second child in the family.

As one of its measures promoting the national birth rate, the state partially annuls the study loans of graduates of vocational and higher education institutions who are raising small children.


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