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A mini guide to finding a community in Estonia as a foreign family

A mini guide to finding a community in Estonia as a foreign family - image

Having your own community is central to a fulfilling life. It offers support, a sense of belonging, and opportunities for development. Even if people think they can do it on their own, it’s a well-known fact that people who belong to a community are happier, healthier, and more active.

Community picnic of MoveMyTalent with foreign talents and their families Sept 2023
Photo: Rasmus Pitkänen

Starting Anew in Estonia

Whether arriving from a new country or returning as an Estonian, relocation involves building a life from scratch, including creating a social network. Adapting is always more challenging in an unfamiliar environment, making it crucial to establish connections to avoid feeling disconnected. Often, a lack of community can make people simply leave because there’s nothing “keeping” them here.

MoveMyTalent’s Commitment

At MoveMyTalent we specialize in relocating foreign talents to Estonia, dominantly in ICT and start-up sectors but also in other critical roles. Global talent is crucial not only for the employers but also for our country’s economy and we definitely want them to stay here for long.

We truly understand the importance of not only supporting professionals but also ensuring their families adapt well in Estonia. This is why, alongside our core business of immigration and relocation services, we are committed to going the extra mile and providing support to talent’s families.

Since 2019, MoveMyTalent has been carrying out Work In Estonia‘s program “Re-invent yourself in Estonia” which aims to assist the integration of expat spouses into professional life.

Our annual traditions also include community picnics, Reinvent Yourself alumni meet-ups and other networking events to bridge the gap between people to help them find a sense of belonging.

MoveMyTalent Community picnic with global and local talents interacting during a fun trivia session, September 2023
Photo: Rasmus Pitkänen

Understanding Estonian Culture

For non-Estonians, getting familiar with Estonian history and culture is key to adaptation. Estonians are generally reserved, so please bear in mind that building trust may take time.

Keeping a distance doesn’t necessarily imply xenophobia or rudeness; it’s often about not knowing how to react or minding their own business. A little effort from your end could easily break the hard shell and you’ll find a sincere friend for life.

Best Ways To Find Your Community in Estonia

In this article, our primary focus will be on families where one partner assumes the role of caring for the children. The sense of community and belonging that we’ll explore here is a result of various interconnected elements.

Embrace Estonian Education

Consider sending your children to Estonian-speaking kindergartens or schools. Initially, it will be challenging, but it provides an excellent opportunity for children to integrate better into society, and make local friends. Parents can also get to know other parents at joint events and birthday parties. Plus, since English is well-taught and spoken in Estonia, your children won’t miss out if they choose to learn Estonian.

Many Estonian cities have playgroups and baby schools for families with small children.

Pursue Hobbies and Sports

Continuing to engage in your favourite hobbies or sports in Estonia is an excellent way to meet locals. Building relationships often requires recurring get-togethers, so joining a group that meets regularly, such as a choir, pottery class, surfing or hiking club, is ideal. Keep an eye on social media groups for relevant interests, as Facebook is quite popular in Estonia.

Learn the Language

While you can easily get by with English in bigger cities such as Tallinn or Tartu, learning the language, even at a basic level, helps with integration. Consider taking Estonian language courses or learning it by yourself using digital tools such as Keeleklikk. The International House of Estonia hosts a language café twice a week for those who’ve passed the A1 level and wish to practice a bit more.

Language Exchange

Consider participating in language exchange programs to connect with locals interested in learning a foreign language.

Participate in Local Events

Attending local events, like street festivals, fairs, and children’s activities, provides insights into Estonian culture and offers opportunities for communication. Joining in on local celebrations and holidays, such as Estonian Independence Day or Christmas markets, can be culturally enriching.

Join Expat Communities

Expat communities are great for connecting with others in similar situations. Facebook groups such as “Expats in Tallinn,” “International Women’s Club of Tallinn,” or specific groups like “Latinos in Tallinn”, “Indians in Tallinn” and “Asians in Tallinn.”

Additionally, websites like InterNations also provide a community for expats living in different countries.

Family Events at Spouse’s Workplace

Family events at your spouse’s workplace, such as Christmas and summer days, offer chances to meet new people or reconnect with old ones.

Explore Local Parks and Playgrounds

As a simple and enjoyable way to meet other families, consider taking your children to local parks and playgrounds. Strolling with a stroller in the neighbourhood can be fun, especially when you strike up interesting conversations with fellow parents, including those from abroad. It’s a great way to learn about their culture and language while helping them adapt to life here.

To make this connection easier, we recommend trying the Willuwalk mobile app. It’s designed to help you find like-minded companions for outdoor activities and build new friendships.

Building Your Community Takes Time

Remember, building a community takes time. Be patient, proactive, and maintain a positive mindset. Estonia is home to warm, sincere, and friendly people. Once you find your way into the community, you’ll feel right at home.