How to rent an apartment in Tallinn. A complete guide.
Why do I even write about this? Is that difficult to find a flat here in Tallinn? Well, in case you want some affordable place for a long stay with a good location where you need to register yourself legally (in order to get a residence permit) — it can be hard (especially if you have zero experience in being abroad). And even harder if you want it fast so you won’t spend a fortune 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 places are rented out for a short stay. This way it’s more 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.
Move to Tallinn. Don’t try looking for an apartment while you are not here, it’s just pointless. Most of the places are getting rented out in 1 or 2 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. 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 won’t be in a 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.
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 wondering around for the first day and hadn’t done a thing.
After you come home, just open your browser, visit kv.ee or city24.ee and start hunting.
I don’t recommend trying to search for your first place through Facebook groups because most of the posts are sketchy and it’s harder to find a decent option in a reasonable amount of time. I, myself, tried to find my 3rd place there thinking that I’m a local dude now and shouldn’t pay for a broker’s fee, but damn, I gave up in 2 months and just found a perfect place by my standards on one of the web services mentioned above.
While searching you would probably have some questions which I’ll try to answer.
What district to choose? As I read on the Internet, Põhja-Tallinn and Lasnamäe have more Russian speaking inhabitants than other areas. It may seem like if you want to be closer to Russian culture, you should stay there and if not — choose a different district, but on the other hand, one of the subdistricts of Põhja-Tallinn — Kalamaja is a very hip and diverse place. Mustamäe have a lot of 5 store buildings from the Soviet era, but it’s cheap and close to a city center. Nõmme, Haabersti, Lasnamäe and Pirita are generally too far from the city center. It’s worth to mention though, that between Kesklinn and Lasnamäe there is this small district Kadriorg, which is praised by locals. In general, the best options would be: Kristiine, Kesklinn or Kalamaja. If you have a bigger budget, then take a look at Kadriorg. If you are not afraid of the Soviet architecture and your budget is tight — Mustamäe is the right choice.
What price range to choose? If we are talking about 1-room apartment, then 400 to 450 euros is the reasonable price range.
Click the search button and browse.
Before making your first call, please create a new contact on your phone with a name “Street District Price”.
Why do you need to do so? Imagine that you make a call and nobody answers for some reason. Time goes by and after couple of hours you get a call from a stranger, now you see where I’m going? It happened to me once and it was super awkward. I desperately tried to recall the photos of that place and all the details while maintaining a dialog which in the end made me look like an idiot.
Call. Well, it seems to be easy but in order to get things done with no surprises, you should tell the broker that you are not local and are willing to register yourself. Otherwise you’ll just waste some of your time later by going there in person.
The next thing that happened to me is that I found a decent flat and asked for the contract. And you know what? The contract had ~10 pages of Estonian words that mean absolutely nothing to me. When I asked about the English or Russian option, the broker politely said that there was no option like that.
Let me be clear on this topic. Estonia has good 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 to be honest.
As for me, I don’t usually sign the papers I don’t understand, 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 will try to convince you that those papers should be in Estonian because you’ll be showing them to the government guys in order to register yourself as a residence and they often speak only Estonian. It’s totally not 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.
If you like the flat — sign the papers. Don’t postpone it.
- Most of the flats on the Internet are either ghosts or bad
- Not all owners want to pay taxes
- Not all brokers want to translate the contract for you
- To rent an apartment in winter is also hard.
How much money do you need to relocate yourself? Well, if you are alone and a simple human being like me, it will be enough for you to have 400 euros for food, transportation and a temporary place. Then in order to rent a permanent 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.
Keep in mind that you need to buy some stuff for home, some food for the next week, and in some cases you might probably need to wait a certain period of time for your first salary or relocation bonus to . Ideally, I’d recommend you to have not less than 2500 euros.
- Try to find friends that work in big startup companies beforehand and ask them if they have colleagues who are renting apartments out.
- Don’t be cheap, this is the place where you should feel inspired and motivated, don’t rent a place with “I’m gonna just sleep there anyway” attitude
- Don’t be shy to ask for all the bills they have to see how much money you will pay for a bills
- Try to find a place in a more or less fresh building
- Cheap stuff for home could be found in “Jysk”, cooler stuff — in Zara Home or H&M Home
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. Cheers.