In Estonia, IT is engrained in the actual culture of the country, so you can talk about tech with almost anyone. In BBC Travel "Living in / Five countries on the frontline of tech", Estonia ranked #1.
Let's start with 2000 – it was back then that the parking payment with SMS was invented in Estonia. The same year, the law of digital signature became effective, giving it equal legal power compared to the handwritten signature.
In 2001, X-road secure data exchange solution was created that made the basis for the future national e-services. The digital signature was implemented in 2002 when ID-cards with microchips became available for the citizens. Thanks to X-road and national ID-cards in smart card format, Estonia was the first country to implement e-voting in 2005.
In 2005, Skype became the first unicorn from Estonia. Then, in 2007, blockchain was invented in Estonia. In 2008, NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence was established in Tallinn, the capital. The CCDCOE organizes the Locked Shields, a unique international cyber defence exercise offering the most complex technical live-fire challenge in the world.
In 2010, the use of electronic medical prescriptions started in Estonia.
In 2011, the European Parliament and European Council decided to establish the EU-LISA in Tallinn. It is European large-scale information systems agency in the area of freedom, security and justice.
Barack Obama said in 2014: "I should have called Estonians when we were setting up our healthcare website."
In 2015, in Wired, Ben Hammersley called Estonia as "The most advanced digital society in the world".
Estonia is also the first country to offer national e-services to foreigners thanks to the e-residency program. Estonia can also be proud of being the first EU country to legalise testing of self-driving vehicles on public roads (with a human guard in the vehicle).
Estonia has 99% of state services online which contribute to the image of the low bureaucracy country.
On the website of the World Economic Forum, Estonia has been listed as the most entrepreneurial hotspot in Europe.
According to the survey by Funderbeam, the amount of startups per capita in Estonia was 6 times higher than European average. This means Estonia has one of the most exciting startup scenes in the world. This again is supported by the government - with the Startup Visa and the Startup Estonia governmental initiatives aimed to supercharge the enriching and diverse multicultural international teams of Estonian startup ecosystem.
In the internet age, five companies - Skype, Playtech, Wise (TransferWise), Bolt (Taxify) and Pipedrive - have been built in Estonia that have been valued at over $1.000.000.000 without opening themselves to the stock market. This means Estonia has the biggest number of unicorns per capita in the world. In addition, UK-based unicorn Zego has an Estonian co-founder CEO and US-based ID.me has an Estonian co-founder CTO.
Estonia is one of the safest countries, placing 11th in the world and 2nd in EU thanks its to very low crime rate (World Population Review).
Tech people in Estonia are very friendly as they see themselves more as collaborators than rivals. Even the business owners speak openly, for others to learn from them. When the profits and incomes are good and crime rates are low, people become more pleasant and good-natured, more humane. This also means it is easy to apply for a work as the interviews are friendly. Just be honest.
In EU, leaders place their workers before profits, and that's the fundamental principle for wellbeing. Employers understand the importance of employee's life outside of work. In Estonia workers get at least 28 days of paid vacation a year.
Because of the geographical location, there is no danger of natural disasters in Estonia. The country is known for quietness, clean nature and clean cities. The World Health Organization has ranked Estonia among the best in urban air quality.
The healthcare is free for every worker, except for dental services which are free for minors only. The city transport is free in capital Tallinn.
In Estonia developers find an affordable lifestyle compared to other tech hubs. Lonely Planet has named Tallinn among the top 10 best value destinations in the world.
Ultimately, it’s not about how much you make, it’s about how much you can keep.
Estonia has very good schools for kids. According to PISA, the results of reading, math and science of Estonian 15-year-olds are the best in Europe and in absolute top worldwide after China (incl. Macao, Hong Kong) and Singapore. What's even better - most of the schools in Estonia are free.
Estonia's highest density of tech companies are located next to Tallinn airport, so many tech people have the comfort of walking from office to the airport in just 10 minutes. The city center is also very close, just 4 km from the airport. In the center there is the UNESCO-approved Tallinn Old Town which is rich of medieval history. It is a really nice place for eating or for countless walks and wondering.
Estonian weather is optimized for work performance - the not so warm climate helps to stay focused and to achieve. The hottest period is the last week of July with historical average daily high of 25 °C (77 °F) and historical peak at 35 °C (95 °F). During the 2 coldest months, the average daily high stays below freezing - in January and February don't expect the daily high better than -1.5 °C (29 °F). It should be mentioned that the ambient temperatures in Estonia in winter are higher than for example in the Mediterranean countries where there are no central heating in the buildings.
Estonia is one of the best places for a dev life!