Tallinn view from Pirita

The most hated thing about Estonia

The most hated thing about Estonia

yes, we are really going there

After speaking with 43 different internationals living in Estonia – there are some common threads, that my ear has picked up. Namely, I often ask them what do you like about Estonia – as an Estonian it’s always a sweet reminder to hear what is working well in your home country. Answers are mostly similar – not much bureaucracy, you can do almost everything online, the ease of dealing with official things in general, Estonian dairy products, and of course the nature! 

But what happens if I ask the same people about their dislikes? What are things that people hate about Estonia?

What is the most disliked thing about Estonia?

Let’s dive in, the majority of podcast Found in Estonia guests have mentioned over and over again, how much they wish they could change the weather in Estonia. It’s either too cold or too hot or too dark or too bright.. 

Frustrated about Estonia
Frustrated about Estonia

Is Estonian weather really that bad?

I noticed that people, who have moved to Estonia from warmer countries, like Latin America or Asia fall into two categories – they were either excited to get away from the heatwave and the sweat or the chilly weather really makes them homesick and nostalgic. So it totally depends on who you are listening to.

Streets of Tallinn during winter
City center druing winter

Can you love Estonian weather?

Now let’s jump over to folks, who are used to living in windy and rainy places. Chris, who moved here from Seattle, said he just LOVES Estonian weather, the cold, the snow, everything. Olla, who grew up in Saudi Arabia and Sudan and moved to Estonia from Malaysia, said snowy weather is one of her favorite things in Estonia! 

What to do with lack of sunlight during winter?

Estonian is incredibly balanced – during the summer months, it stays light outside until midnight. And to keep it balanced out – during November and December on the other hand, prepare to barely catch sunlight during the daytime. It is common to wake up in the dark, go to work when it’s still dark outside, then to see the sky turning bright behind your desk, yet walk home from work when it’s already dimmed down again. For that catching sunlight during the weekend is extremely sought after. 

It is true, that podcast guests often recommend stacking up on D-vitamin and some have gotten daylight mimicking light at home. Among locals, there’s a special term: “sun vacation” when people refer to taking a holiday at that time. 

How to survive the Estonian winter?

Here are some tips on how to survive Estonian winter. First, buy yourself decent winter clothes – put focus on feeling warm instead of looking stylish – trust me, during the coldest minus degrees, ain’t no one got time to check out how the pockets or your scarf looks like outside. Everyone is rushing somewhere and avoiding staying outside for too long. 

Second tip – winter boots are a must if you don’t want to catch a running nose or be caught.

The third tip – if you are brave enough try experimenting with cold showers or winter swimming. It truly boosts your ability towards sensing the cold. When I first started taking cold showers I noticed already within a few weeks that I don’t get chilly staying outside that fast anymore.

The fourth tip – Team up with your Estonian colleagues and try all the local winter sports. Skiing, Sledging, ice skating, sled dog rides, winter swamp tours, etc. If you are wondering, how to find locals to do it with, check out this article What’s the deal with finding friends in Estonia?

Sleding in Estonia
Winter swimming in Estonia

The fifth tip – Stack up on tea, honey, and candles and enjoy staying inside. It’s a great time to catch up with scrapbooking, or learn knitting and crocheting that are both also very popular hobbies at that time.

Write in the comments what is your most disliked thing about Estonia and how you survive the Estonian winter!

Found in Estonia podcast