You’ve submitted your application to an Estonian university and received a positive response. Firstly, congrats! ;) Your next thoughts will probably be: “I need to find a place to stay!” and “Wait, what’s the weather like there?”
The weather can indeed be slightly colder and greyer than in other countries, but nothing that a warm cozy sweater, gloves and hat can’t fix. Also, once you see the snow and the lights during Christmas time, it will all be worth it.
Tallinn Christmas Market. Photo: Sergei Zjuganov
Finding accommodation can be a slightly trickier task to tackle, however. This is why we put together this blog post, to give you some useful tips and tricks on what accommodation types are available, how much they usually cost, and how to go about finding them.
Most Estonian universities offer student housing, but the rooms are limited and not everyone can be guaranteed a spot. In most cases the rooms are given out on a first come-first served basis, which means you should ask about student housing immediately after getting your acceptance letter.
EUAS student hostel room. Photo: EUAS
The price for student housing can range from approximately 100-250EUR per month, depending on the city, the university, and the type of room you prefer. There will also be a deposit fee, which usually is higher than one month’s rent, but this amount will be returned to you after you move out and haven’t caused any damages to the room. In addition to the monthly room rent, you might also be charged separately for the utilities – water, electricity, heating.
In student housing, ask to be placed among Estonian students. That way you find more local friends and learning Estonian will come naturally!
Rooms in dormitories are usually equipped with all basic furniture items –beds, desks, chairs, shelves/cupboards. The kitchens are equipped with a stove, refrigerator and basic kitchen furniture. Some universities also provide laundry (bed linen, pillows, blankets), but others do not. So certain items are left to the students to organize. If you are sharing a room/apartment, it makes sense to first meet your roommates and get an overview of what items you already have and then collaborate on buying the rest.
Have a look at some of the dormitory options in Estonian universities:
- TalTech Student Campus
- Tartu Residence Halls
- Estonian University of Life Sciences Student Accommodation
- Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences Student Hostel
- Tallinn University Dormitorium
- Joint dormitory of Estonian Art Academy and Academy of Music and Theatre
Renting an apartment
If you like more independence and want to immerse yourself in everyday life in Estonia then you can also rent an apartment (or a room in an apartment) somewhere in the city. Many international students choose this option, especially if they already have friends or acquaintances with whom they can share an apartment, as renting on your own might be too costly.
Sharing an apartment. Photo: Pexels
The prices for renting an apartment vary depending on the district and even the city. Rent prices are slightly lower in Tartu than they are in Tallinn, for example. Likewise, living in the city center and nearby areas will cost more than living on the edge of the city. In any case, renting an apartment will mean you have more responsibility as often you need to sign your own internet or cable contract.
Where to find a suitable apartment?
Helpful places to find listings are widely used real estate portals such as City24 or KV.ee. Many owners put up the listings in English also, so finding information is quite easy. Facebook groups are also often used to share information about accommodation options.
Always ask to see the apartment/room in person before transferring any money or signing a contract.
Always ask to see the apartment/room in person before transferring any money or signing a contract. There have been cases where international students have paid money for an apartment that doesn’t really exist and upon arriving find out that they were scammed. Luckily, cases like this aren’t very common, but being cautious is important. If you can’t go to see the apartment yourself (as you may not be in Estonia yet) then perhaps you can ask a friend or a schoolmate who could make sure the listing is legitimate. If you don’t have anyone to help you out, then we recommend booking temporary accommodation for the first days of your stay in Estonia, while you look for a more permanent living situation.
What are the costs involved?
When you find the perfect apartment, definitely ask for a rental agreement, which would clearly state how much you have to pay and for what. That agreement is also the basis of having your address registered in the Population Register (mandatory for international students who arrive in Estonia with a temporary residence permit for studying).
The first payment for the apartment will most likely also include a deposit, which is usually one month’s rent. This sum will be returned to you once you end the rental agreement and return the apartment to the owner without any damages. In addition, if you found the apartment via a real estate agent, then there will also be an agent’s fee (usually also one month’s rent). This means that if you are renting an apartment for 400 EUR per month, then the owner may ask you for an initial payment of 1200 EUR (a month’s rent in advance, agent’s fee + deposit).
Check out what our Student Ambassadors had to say about their experience with finding accommodation in Estonia:
Fletima, Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences
“I stayed at the university’s hostel when I first arrived. It’s a nice way to get to know other students and Tallinn and not having to deal with the newness alone! I found my apartment on KV.ee (directly from the owner - I filtered out these options as first preference). It’s quite common to get a negative or no response, so reaching out to several potential places will increase your chances. The Facebook group, Üürikorterid (ilma maaklerita) (translates to “renting without brokers”) is also good! I’d recommend sharing an apartment with a friend or co-student as you get a bigger living space and much needed company on those long winter nights!"
Anirudh, Tallinn University of Technology
"When I first came to Estonia, I stayed at the university's student dorm closer to the city centre. It was a space shared by three other guys. True to the phrase “the more the merrier”, there was never a dull moment and weekends were memories never forgotten. Pretty soon, I had to move into a newer room inside the campus and that’s where I reside now. So, those looking for good and affordable accommodation, the student dorms are your best choice! Fun is guaranteed and you’ll always have a helping hand in times of need.”
If you have more questions about different ways of finding accommodation in Estonia, then don't hesitate to reach out to our Ambassadors by writing to them: email@example.com.
Bare in mind that they are not able to directly help you find accommodation.