How to rent an apartment in Tallinn for dummies

Intro

Why do I even write about this? Is that difficult to find a flat here in Tallinn? Well, in case if you want to find some affordable place for a long stay with a good location where you’ll need to register yourself in order to get the residence permit — it can be hard (especially if you are a young human who has never been abroad). And even harder if you want to find your place fast so you wouldn’t spend a lot of money on your temporary apartment.

You see, Tallinn is popular but yet a small city, so it’s obvious that it doesn’t have lots of options. Also, keep in mind that tourists come here every month, even in winter, which makes your goal less achievable because a lot of good apartments are rented for a short stay and it’s very profitable for landlords. Can you feel the struggle now? Also, let me put the cherry on top by saying that most of landlords don’t want you to be registered in their apartments, because in this case they will be obliged to pay 20% taxes.

But don’t panic. You can try to follow my step-by-step guide in order to rent a flat fast and easy. I hope my experience will help somebody.

Step 1

Move to Tallinn. Don’t try look at the apartments while you are not actually here, it’s just pointless. Most of the flats that you’ll be looking at will disappear in one or two days. The rest of them are ghosts.

I arrived 7 days before my first day at work and found the apartment on the 5th one. So I got 2 days to buy some things like duvet, pleed, pillows and so on. This is not easy for a guy like me, because it’s even hard to make a list of what you need to buy, the only way to figure this out is just to live there for several days and buy everything. Also don’t forget that you need to clean it up (floors, bath and etc.).

My point is — don’t overestimate yourself and come here at least 7 days before your first day at work. This way you’ll not be in a total rush and most probably will have some time to explore the city and chill.

For these “hunting” days you need to rent some temporary apartment and spend some money on transport and food.

Step 2

When you arrive here, grab some food and go to your temporary apartment, don’t spend time anywhere else. You see, everyone who comes here makes the same exact mistake, people just want to relax after a flight. I did the same thing, I was just looking around the first day and didn’t do anything.

After you come home, just open your browser, visit kv.ee or city24.ee and start hunting.

While searching you would probably have some questions which I try to answer.

What district to choose? This depends on you. For example as I read in the Internet, Pohja-Tallinn and Lasnamae have more Russian speaking inhabitants. One of the subdistricts of Pohja-Tallinn — Kalamaja is very cool and if your friends call you a hipster, you better rent smth here because it’s a very cozy neighbourhood near the “Hipster” center of Tallinn — Telliskivi. Lasnamae and Mustamae have a lot of 5 store buildings from the Soviet era which is not cozy, but cheap and good. Nomme, Haabersti and Pirita are imo far from the city center. The best options in the general case would be: Kristiine, Kesklinn or the subdistrict Kalamaja. If you are not afraid of the Soviet architecture, Mustamae is the right choice with cheap prices and a lot of parks.

What price range to choose? If we are talking about 1-room apartment, then from 350 to 450 euros is the reasonable price range.

Click the search button and browse.

Step 3

Before calling create a new contact on your phone with name “Street District Price”. So if, for example, your street is Lille 666 and it’s located in Kristiine district and its price is 350, your contact will have the name “Lille 666 Kristiine 350”.

Why do you need to do so? Imagine that you make a call and nobody answers for some reason. Time goes and after couple of hours you’ll get a call from some strange number and how your dialog will look like? It happened to me once and it was super hard for me to remember the photos of that apartment and all the details. After that I decided to create a new contact for every flat and guess what? It happened at least couple of times again but I was ready for that.

Step 4

Call. Well, it seems to be easy but imagine that you called and went to look at the flat. After that you’ll be asked what kind of visa you have and if you actually have a residence permit. If you don’t have one, the broker might say that the owner doesn’t rent to people without residence permit. I didn’t really think about that earlier, but after that I understood that I need to ask about this when I call.

The next thing that happened to me is that I found a decent flat and asked for the contract. And do you know what? The contract had ~10 pages of Estonian words that I didn’t understand at all. When I asked about the English or Russian option, the broker said that he doesn’t have other options.

Let me to be clear on this topic. Estonia has perfect laws about rent and you don’t need to worry that someone tries to scam you or something. If you are not that paranoid as I am — feel free to sign it, nothing bad can happen.

As for me, I don’t usually sign the papers that I don’t understand at least ~10 pages of them, also I know for sure that in Estonia the renting contract can be of any language you want (correct me if I’m wrong), so why would I risk.

Brokers usually say that you actually need these papers in Estonian because you’ll be showing them to the government guys in order to register yourself in your new place and they often speak only Estonian and don’t understand English or Russian. But you know it’s not actually true, they don’t need to look at the whole contract, they just need to see that this contract states that you rent the apartment, they don’t need any details, and couple of english words will not frighten them.

Don’t ask about the language of the contract when calling, first of all go look at the apartment, and only then discuss this. If the contract has ~3 pages you can sign it right away.

If you liked the flat — sign the papers. Don’t say that you’ll think about it and call back.

Reminder

  1. Most of the flats on the Internet are either ghosts or bad
  2. Not all owners want to pay taxes
  3. Not all brokers want to translate the contract for you
  4. To rent an apartment in winter is also hard.

Money

How much money do you need on the relocation? Well, if you are alone and a simple human, it will be enough for you to have 400 euros for food, home and transport for the first days and to rent a flat you need to pay initially for the first month in advance + deposit + broker’s fee. Deposit and broker’s fee are usually the same as the monthly price of the flat.

But keep in mind that you need to buy some home stuff, some food for the next week, and in some cases you might probably need to wait a certain amount of time for your salary or relocation bonus. Ideally, I’d recommend you to have around 2500 euros. It would be quite enough for everyone I think.

Outro

That’s it. If you are thinking about moving to Estonia, visit workinestonia.com and make your dream come true. I hope you’ll find a good flat in couple of days, good luck.