Ten tips on how to save money as a student in Estonia



Photo credit: Mangus Heinmets, EAS

If you enjoy cultural events - music showcases, film festivals, concert series, conferences, etc - then it’s always a good idea to volunteer for these. Volunteering gives you access to the event and, as a bonus, lots of new acquaintances. Volunteering can also grow into something more - employers appreciate the fact that their employees love what they do and don’t work for money alone, so you may find yourself with a prospective job offer.


Photo credit: Mart Vares, EAS

Museum visit without a ticket - if you are a student in Tartu, there’s the chance of visiting those museums that belong to the University of Tartu for free. You can visit the Natural History Museum, the Botanical Gardens, the Art Museum, or the Old Observatory without paying an entrance fee. And if you enjoy museums, once a year a free event called ‘Muuseumiöö‘ (‘Night of Museums’) takes place, during which Estonian museums will open their doors to visitors for a night of special events and exhibitions.


Photo credit: Magnus Heinmets, EAS

In both Tartu and Tallinn there are places that are more convenient for a student’s budget. Naturally there are the usual cafeterias on the university campus itself, but if you tire of these and want to try out something different, you should take a look at Telemaja kohvik (‘Television House Café’, the cafeteria of the Estonian national broadcaster, ERR, which is situated on Gonsiori Street) - in addition to tasty cut-price food you can also get the chance to meet local TV celebrities. There are also very good prices for lunches at the Tallinn University Academic Library. In Tartu, you can visit Kohvipaus for cut-price wraps and coffee, Entri for simple low-cost lunches, and Krempel for lunch at reasonable prices and food that is a little more varied. You should note that there are places with hanging coffee or food such as, for example, Ülikooli kohvik in Tartu (people who are willing to pay more can leave their coffee ‘hanging’, and if someone comes along and asks for a hanging coffee, they can get it for free.). It’s also wise to get hold of supermarket client cards, such as those from Säästu, Comarket, Selver, or Rimi. Certain products can be purchased cheaper with these. You can also collect points and participate in various campaigns.


Photo credit: Kaspar Orasmäe, EAS

Get ISIC and ESN cards.  They will guarantee you cheaper entrance fees and discounts in bars, clubs, and cafes, as well as on tickets for international bus routes.


Photo credit: Magnus Heinmets, EAS

Introductory classes in sport clubs - if you want to work out, but don’t want to spend a lot on sport clubs, there is always an opportunity to visit introductory classes in different sport clubs - the first lesson is usually free. There are also a good many opportunities for training in the fresh air - public ping-pong tables, volleyball courts on the beaches, and basketball courts in the city (both in Tallinn and Tartu). In Tartu, you can also take out a membership card for the University Sports Club and visit the running facilities for free every day between 7:00am and 1:00pm.


Photo credit: Marek Metslaid, EAS

Free concerts - if you are a fan of jazz music then you have two venues that offer weekly free concerts. On Tuesdays try listening to the young musicians of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, playing jazz in a venue called Philly Joe's. On Wednesdays the musicians of Georg Ots Music School have jamming sessions in Kelm - a bar and culture club in Tallinn’s Old Town. There is also free live music for rather more mainstream music fans at Clazz and Chicago - these places have expensive menus, but there is live music almost every day and there is no entrance fee! Most of the events in Tartu are designed and organised for and by the students. Most of them are often free. The schedule of events can be found here, along with event descriptions.


Photo credit: Mart Vares, EAS

Sharing transport is becoming more and more popular in Estonia. There are special social media groups for this, and it is usually cheaper than going by bus or train (for example, there is a Facebook page for travellers between Tallinn and Tartu and drivers usually ask for about five euros for a drive from one city to another). Hitchhiking is legal and is also quite common in Estonia, but you should be careful when getting into a stranger’s car. If you ‘hitchhike’ through social media, you can check out the driver beforehand. You can also search here for options to carpool from Tartu to Riga and back.


Photo credit: Kristjan Lust, EAS

RMK or the State Forest Management Centre is an organisation which... well,  it manages Estonia’s state forests. RMK has a network of nature centres, forest huts and houses, recreational areas, hiking trails, etc, all over Estonia. Most of them are free of charge; for example you can stay in a hut for free, but you have to pay if you want to stay in a house. You have to pre-register for overnight stays to make sure the place is vacant at the time. RMK leads you to various locations across Estonia so that you can enjoy being out in all that nature, and you can use their app to easily find a place for you to visit.


Photo credit: Kaarel Mikkin, EAS

Buy beauty services from students! If you choose a student who is studying at beauty school instead of a professional who is already working in a beauty salon, you probably pay at least 50% less. Students practice under the watchful eye of the instructor, so you can safely entrust your face to their hands and pay less for the services you may need. There are so-called school parlours both in Tallinn and in Tartu.


Photo credit: Mart Vares, EAS

In addition to caring for your environment, recycling is also a wallet-friendly way of living. There are quite few ways in which you can recycle and save money. For example, buying clothes from a second-hand shop or a recycling centre - and there are a lot of those in all Estonian towns. You can also take your empty bottles to the nearest collection point (there are reverse vending machines that retailers can use for collecting packaging that is subjected to a deposit from consumers - you get one eurocent for each bottle you return). There are collection points near the larger food stores, and a list of collection points is given on the Eesti Pandipakend website. You should also reuse some of the stuff you buy often - don’t buy new plastic bags, carry your own bag for groceries or carry your own coffee cup - some coffee shops sell coffee at a cheaper price for customers with their own cup.

Authors: Greta Roosaar and Merili Reismann, Study in Estonia