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Tartu, Estonia

Pros and Cons of Living in Tartu

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Jun 25, 2023

Summary: The pros of living in Tartu, Estonia include its vibrant culture, excellent educational opportunities, and its close proximity to nature. Tartu is a university town, so there are plenty of cultural activities and events to enjoy. The city also has a great selection of universities and other educational institutions, making it an ideal place to study. Additionally, Tartu is surrounded by forests and lakes, making it a great place to explore the outdoors. The cons of living in Tartu include its cold climate, the lack of job opportunities, and the language barrier. The winters in Tartu can be quite harsh, and the summers are short. Additionally, the job market in Tartu is quite limited, so finding employment can be difficult. Finally, the majority of the population speaks Estonian, so those who don't speak the language may find it difficult to communicate.

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What are the pros and cons of living in Tartu?

Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in Tartu responded:

"I lived in Tartu for several years, married my Ex Estonian wife here in the US, where we had two daughters then moved to Tartu. My work schedule on TV 7-8 hours ahead meant being up at 2-3am, and 4 satellite hops, which were expensive. A lot of what has been said is true. Tartu is really nice and quaint, changing rapidly. I remember when the first Mcdonald's went in, and it's been invaded since then with all the junk food you can imagine. I spoke extremely little Estonian, which at times was difficult. My daughters and ex are fluent in English and Estonian, so I often had a translator. I grew up in Mn and Chicago, so Estonia is cold in Winter, but I have been colder. DARK, though, is absolutely pitch black. It can be depressing. There are indoor spas and things, but the darkness can take a toll. The opposite is true in summer when it's constantly light. I mean, at midnight, the sun is up, 2 am. It bothered me more than the dark. The good news and bad news is Tartu is small. With 120k people or so and the second biggest city in Estonia, well, anyone who dislikes small-town life, it's not for you. In fact, the entire country may not be, except for a visit. I remember when Estonia joined the EU and NATO. I remember when they didn't use the Euro, it all happened pretty fast. The Estonian economy changed rapidly. Prices came in line with Western Europe. Wages didn't meet the needs. And still don't for many people. In Tartu, employment can be hard to find. Anyway, I have mixed emotions about Tartu, little too small for me, but nice," said one member in Tartu.

"Expats and digital nomads generally like living in Tartu, for several reasons. They appreciate the city's rich history and beautiful architecture, which create a charming atmosphere. The cost of living is relatively low, making it an affordable option for those looking to live and work abroad. Tartu is also known for its strong educational institutions, particularly the University of Tartu, which attracts a diverse and international community. The city has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous events, festivals, and museums to explore. Additionally, Tartu has a well-developed infrastructure, including reliable public transportation and good internet connectivity, which is essential for digital nomads. On the other hand, there are some aspects of living in Tartu that expats and digital nomads may dislike. The weather can be quite cold and dark during the winter months, which may be challenging for those accustomed to warmer climates. The language barrier can also be an issue, as Estonian is a difficult language to learn, and not everyone speaks English fluently. Some expats may find the job market to be limited, particularly for those who do not speak Estonian. Finally, while Tartu is a charming city, it is relatively small, and some may find the social and entertainment options to be limited compared to larger cities," remarked one expat in Tartu.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Tartu, Estonia

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