Eero Soots is a Canadian born Estonian national currently operating his own legal consulting business for Estonian e-residency, as well as working on other projects. He currently resides with his two dogs, Bo and Elanor, in Pärnu, Estonia.
What originally brought you to Estonia, where are you from and how long have you lived here?
I was born in Toronto, Canada in 1981. My grandparents escaped Estonia during World War II and fled to Sweden as refugees, where my mother was subsequently born. Then to pursue more opportunities, they immigrated to Canada where I was born. Once I became an adult, I learned that I was able to obtain Estonian citizenship as a birth right, so I did the paper work and started visiting Estonia during my work vacations. I ended up meeting so many people and seeing so many opportunities to work and study that I made the decision to leave Toronto and come to live permanently in the country of my roots. I made the final move in 2010.
What were the reasons that made you want to relocate to Estonia?
Many people have asked me this as they do not understand what life can be like for many people in North America. In Toronto, there was a high cost of living, high rent, and long commutes on expensive public transport. The Estonian lifestyle is much simpler and more relaxing. Plus, we have the added bonus of the simple tax system, so if you want to run a small business, then Estonia is a great place for that.
Did you experience, or how much of a culture shock was it for you to move here?
As I grew up in an Estonian family in Canada, there was basically zero culture shock. When I first visited in 2007, I actually remarked on how everyone I was meeting seemed to be a lot like me in terms of personal disposition and overall mindset. It was very eye-opening for me. If anything, last time I went to visit Toronto in 2013, I experienced a culture shock over there!
What are some of your favourite spots in Tallinn?
As I am a concert goer, there are a few places that will host bands I enjoy. I like rock and heavy metal, so I usually keep my eye open for what bands are coming to Rock Cafe and Rockclub Tapper. There are also a few little gems outside the centre. If you want a nice quiet terrace in the summer, then Siili Pub on Sõpruse pst. in Mustamäe can be a great little place to meet up with friends. It’s also a nice little “slice of life” place in Estonia. I lived near there for years, and in the summers when we had some proper heat and sun, their terrace was excellent! The beer is also much cheaper than you would get in the Old Town! Having said that, as I currently live in Pärnu, I must say that you should come check out Õllepood Gambrinus No.II and our local craft beer bar Alibi (directly next to the bus station)! Excellent places!
How would you describe Estonia as a country, and Estonians?
Estonia is wet and miserable most of the time. The cost of living has been unfortunately rising, but that is true almost everywhere in the world. I live in Pärnu, which you could arguably say is more traditionally “Estonian” than Tallinn at this point. Estonia is a quiet place - rather peaceful. As an Estonian national myself, it is hard to say how I would describe Estonians; at times very austere with quite a sardonic sense of humor. If that appeals to you, then come on over!
How is it to live here and (does it feel like home now?)
I would answer that by quoting a joke from one of my clients that he told me in English; “Life can be s%, but car has to be Audi”. As for Estonia feeling like home? Well, as a Canadian/Estonian, I would say that it felt like home the very first time I came to visit my relatives in 2007. So yes, definitely.
What keeps you busy in Estonia?
I have a law degree from Tallinn University, but I have also been teaching English on the side. It has been a great experience, and I have really enjoyed it! Now, I am working with some partners to make online courses for general English, specialised English (business and legal), as well as online exam preparation for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), for which I have extensive experience as a certified examiner. My company is called Language Ignition OÜ, and the website will be going up in March (http://www.languageignition.com), so feel free to check it out and make inquiries if you need to take any entrance exams in English, if you are taking the IELTS, or if you just feel that you would like a challenging English course to develop your language skills.