A few months ago, Mirjam and I felt God tell us to move to Estonia. We don't fully know His reasons (yet), but here are some of the benefits for us moving overseas:
- We'll be with Mirjam's family for the birth of our first child. It's much easier for a woman to be surrounded by her own family when she's giving birth for the first time.
- We'll be living with Mirjam's parents to start with, and when the baby's born. They have a two-storey house, the whole second floor of which will be essentially ours.
- My business can be run from anywhere. I'll continue to run PackWeb from Estonia, and maybe even see it thrive with access to a European customer-base.
- Mirjam (and the baby) have access to a lot more financial and medical support in her home country. Australia's been great, but having only a temporary visa (for now) means she's been unable to access the full range of support that we offer.
- I will finally 'leave my father and mother'. Sure, Mirjam and I lived on our own for the first 6 months or so of marriage, but we still saw my parents every week and relied on them for certain things. This is something I have struggled with for a while, but I believe this will ultimately be a healthy development for me, and help to make me a better husband and father.
- We will be leaving the 25+ degree heat (and humidity!) of summer for the sub-zero cold temperatures of winter. Mirjam and I both prefer cold over heat. In the cold you can rug up. In the heat, you just sweat. And burn. And die.
It wasn't an easy decision by any means, but I trust God and know that He prepares the way for us.
For those who had never even heard of Estonia before I met Mirjam there, and who still don't really know where it is or much about it, here are some interesting facts and figures I've collected...
Estonia is located in Eastern Europe; bordering Russia (to the east), Latvia (to the south) and the Baltic Sea (to the west and north). Latitudinally, the south of Estonia is in line with the north of Denmark, the south of Alaska, and Inverness, Scotland. The north of Estonia is in line with Stockholm, Sweden, and the southern tip of Greenland.
Estonia is roughly 45,000km2, measuring around 270km across the mainland's widest point. The land is mostly flat, with the highest point reaching just over 300m above sea level. Over 2,000 islands in the Baltic Sea belong to Estonia.
The average annual temperature in Estonia is 5°C. Average temperatures for the coldest and warmest months of the year are -6°C (February) and 16°C (July) respectively.
Estonia's population is approximately 1.3 million. The population of the capital, Tallinn, is approximately 440,000. The top three languages spoken in Estonia are Estonian, Russian, and English (in that order).
Estonia is one of the least religious countries in the world, with only 14% of the population stating that religion is important to them. Of those who are religious, Christianity is the prevalent religion, with the two most prominent affiliations being Eastern Orthodox and Lutheranism.
Estonia is a member of the European Union and uses the Euro as it's sole currency.
Their very strong IT sector means Estonia is considered to be the most technologically-advanced country in Europe. One claim states that Estonia has the most start-ups per person in the world. Some of the well-known success stories from Estonia's IT sector include Skype and Transferwise.
Estonia has had a rough history, after being occupied and controlled by many countries, primarily Russia and Germany in the 20th century. Estonia declared independence in 1918, and remained independent for 22 years. They were then occupied by the USSR, Germany, and then the USSR again over a 50-year period. Estonia reclaimed its independence in 1991 (through singing!).
- Estonians drive on right side of the road.
- The population of Estonia is primarily female, with 84 men to every 100 females.
- Estonia was the first country in the world to adopt online voting (in 2005).
- 50% of the country is forest.
- Registered residents of Tallinn get free public transport.
- There's a law that states that you must wear safety reflectors while walking or biking in low-light. Fines apply if you don't.
I hope that's given you a better idea of the country that I'll soon be calling my home. I will miss a lot about Australia (my family, culture, food, mountains, beaches), but not everything (heat/humidity). I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my life (not least of which because it includes the birth of our first child!), and trust God to lead me where He will.