Motivations for living part of the year here are as many as there are individuals who have that desire. Perhaps you wish to be closer to one's relatives. Maybe you are seeking new friends in Estonia, or want to travel around Estonia and Europe with greater ease. You might be a couple who are both over 60, in good health, and want to become more familiar with Eesti. Perhaps a daughter or son has moved to live or study in Eesti. The motivation may be one of those just listed; but no doubt, there are many more good reasons to spend part of the year in Eesti.
The Government of Canada has a web page for those thinking of going to go live outside of Canada. It is entitled A Canadian's guide to working, studying, volunteering or retiring in a foreign country. It raises very many relevant and perhaps less obvious issues to consider.
In preparing this article, I met some Canadian-Estonians who are over the age of 60 and spend part of the year in Eesti. Below is a discussion about some of the major issues raised.
Perhaps counter-intuitively, two major issues are tax residency and healthcare. Canada insists on its citizens and tax residents spending at least five months of the year in Canada. You would be a Canadian tax resident if you lived all or most of your life in Canada. The number was only recently changed, as it used to be at least six months of the year in Canada. This insures that your OHIP card and coverage remain valid.
The flip side of the situation is that, if you are also an Estonian citizen, then you have a right to stay or live in Eesti as long as you like. In other words, it is strongly recommended to apply for and obtain Estonian citizenship if one wishes to live in Eesti for part of the year. It makes life in Estonia easier in numerous ways.
If, however, one does not have Estonian citizenship or the citizenship of another European Union country (i.e. one has only Canadian or US citizenship), then one must apply for residency if one wishes to live here longer than 90 days within a 180-day period. In other words, if one stays in Estonia less than 90 days, one does not need any official documentation like a visa or residency permit. Having said that, to do anything official or semi-official in Estonia, one needs a personal identification number (“isikukood“). For example, an isikukood is needed to open up a bank account or visit a doctor. So, that may force one into applying for a visa or residency documentation, as would even working short-term or part-time in Estonia.
The other big issue is healthcare. The simple answer to this is to purchase health insurance in Canada before one comes to live in Estonia for a few months. A number of insurance companies offer health insurance for Canadians travelling or living abroad; among the most well-known companies is Ontario Blue Cross.
If one does not wish to purchase Canadian health insurance, but wishes to be covered by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (called “Haigekassa” in Estonian), then one can sign a “voluntary insurance contract” with them. The coverage one obtains is similar to OHIP coverage in Ontario. The voluntary agreement is for a minimum period of one year and a maximum period of five years. The cost in 2022 was 2,414 Euros for one year (this is due to rise in 2023) and the voluntary contract can be signed electronically or by visiting the office of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund in Tallinn.
In Estonia, the most common way to obtain healthcare coverage is by being employed in Estonia and the employer registering the employee for coverage under the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.
Topics such as where to live, how to rent or buy property, or how to rent a car will be covered in part two of this article series about part-time living in Estonia at 60+ years old.