So, we’ve been in Tallinn for almost one week now. The city is our first stop on our new adventure as so-called ‘digital nomads’. But, while we’re buzzing about our new lifestyle, lots of our loved ones have been asking, ‘Why Tallinn?’
Well, the truth is, there isn’t one reason in particular why we chose to come to Tallinn. In fact, we conducted quite a bit of research before making the plunge to head to Estonia. And, after weighing up several factors, it just seemed like the ideal place to start our journey. So, in case you’re curious, here’s why we decided to make Tallinn our first stop on our travels.
1.It’s bloody gorgeous
You only need to Google Tallinn to discover it’s a beautiful place. With one of the best preserved medieval old towns in the whole of Europe, the city boasts a skyline of red turrets, imposing city walls and church spires.
At ground level, Tallinn is no less impressive. Winding cobbled streets hark back to a simpler time while, in the suburbs, wooden houses give a touch of the twee. Punctuated with handsome squares, it’s easy to see why Tallinn has a reputation as one of the prettiest cities in Europe
Furthermore, both the countryside and the sea are within easy reach of the Estonian capital. So, when the city streets become tiresome, it’s easy to escape to peace and tranquility.
2. It’s cheaper than Scandinavia
In an ideal world, we would have began our travels in Scandinavia. Both my boyfriend and I are committed Scandophiles and it’s a personal dream of mine to one day live in a Nordic city. However, the Scandinavian countries are notoriously expensive and one glance at AirBnb revealed our budget simply wouldn’t stretch to a month’s stay in Copenhagen or Stockholm.
So, we began to look for alternatives and up popped Tallinn. Located just a stone’s throw from Finland over the Baltic Sea, the city boasted some Scandinavian similarities with a more affordable price tag. Which, frankly, we thought was ideal.
3. It ticks the boxes on the boring stuff too
So Dan and I are now officially ‘Digital Nomads’ (pretentious I know). But, in a nutshell, this basically just means we work remotely in an online industry. As a graphic designer and freelance writer respectively, all we need is a laptop and we’re good to go. This in turn gives us the freedom to travel as we work.
However, this means that an internet connection has suddenly became, very, very important to us. Without a decent connection we’re unable to work and therefore fund our new, ridiculous, lifestyle.
So, we were happy to discover that Tallinn has some of the best internet in Europe. In fact, in 2012, a study found that Tallinn had the fastest upload speed in the world. Since breaking free from the USSR, Estonia has transformed itself into a leading hub for digital industries. Skype was invented here and Tallinn is also home to the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. So, it’s hardly surprising the WiFi is good.
And, happily, that’s not the only thing Tallinn excels in. According to Nomad List – a website that ranks cities according to how good they are to live and work in – the city also scores highly in the cost of living, English speaking and safety categories too.
4. It’s got loads of history for geeks like me
Placed in a strategic corner of Eastern Europe, Tallinn has enjoyed a fascinating, if not sometimes turbulent history. Over the years Estonia has been under Danish, Swedish, Russian and German rule. But no matter which foreign power was in charge, Estonians always maintained a strong cultural identity. That’s why, in the late 80s, with the Soviet Union weakening, the people saw an opportunity to be independent once more. So, alongside their neighbours Baltic neighbours, they embarked on their ‘Singing Revolution’.
In 1989, as a sign of protest against the USSR, more than two million people joined hands across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to form a human chain called the Baltic Way. And that wasn’t they only protest of the era. Many demonstrations took place at Tallinn Song Festival Grounds where thousands of people would gather to sing Estonian folk songs. This, as well as many other acts of defiance and protest, helped the Estonians win their independence in August 1991. And, not one ounce of blood was shed.
5. It’s pretty progressive
It’s incredible to think that Estonia only gained its re-independence in 1991 – just one year before I was born. In the last 25 years, the country has transformed into a progressive parliamentary republic whose citizens benefit from free health care and education. And, the country must be doing something right because, in 2015, the PISA test – which tests 15-year-olds around the world on their maths, science and reading – found Estonian students to be the third best in the world.
According to the Human Development Index, Estonia also ranks highly in measurements of economic freedom, freedom of the press and civil liberties. Furthermore, living in Estonia is actually good for you. That’s because, being largely covered by forests, the country enjoys the cleanest air in the entire world.
So, while at first glance Tallinn didn’t seem like the most obvious place to start, the more we read, the more excited we got about Estonia. And, although we’ve only been here a week, it’s safe to say the city is already exceeding our expectations.
I can’t wait to share more tales of our time here in the coming weeks.