Retno Ika move to Estonia in 2021

We Move to Estonia in 2021, A Completely New and Challenging Place

We were able to move to Estonia in 2021. So, how’s life for the past 4½ months?

For the latest 4 years, we’ve always imagined being able to move to Estonia with our cats, building our business(es) there, or getting into school again. But we never imagined we were able to do that in 2021, amidst the global pandemic that has no sign of stopping.

Maybe, this is what is called “Manifesting Goals” by The Law of Attraction. Truth is, I never know what is the Law of Attraction and how it works. I never heard of it before, and yet, I actually implement most of the habits that lead me to the realisation of our goal: to move to Estonia.

Where did it start?

Sunset in Kuta Beach, November 2020

It was at the end of 2019 when my husband told me about a strange virus attack in China. I remember vaguely, but I thought, “Oh, it’s in China. It wouldn’t spread to Indonesia, would it?” and then I just never thought about the news anymore.

Oh boy, I was wrong.

The next development of the virus is so alarming, that in February 2020, the virus has been spread to Europe, the US and so many countries in the world. But the Indonesian government is so in denial about it. Typical 🙄.

At the latest March 2020, we had to move to another house, since the contract of our rented house is up. Luckily, we found one that is suitable for us and our budget. So then we moved in a hurry before Bali get the lockdown.

Fast forward to the end of 2020, our business, Tanibox, was really not in a good shape. We lost clients, and we were trapped in freelance work once again. But a friend reach out to us and ask us to build a design company, and we agreed to that.

What can we do? Refuse it? No.

Built Pixeltroops Through Our Estonian Company

The new business was called Pixeltroops, where we were doing design and animation services. We registered the company in Estonia with the name All Trades Digital OÜ, hired 3 people, and so on. We tried to make a business from home, in the chaos of the pandemic.

And after 6 months, the business was not working well. It was so hard, and I silently blame myself so much for it. Told myself that I was not good in sales and marketing, and so on and so forth.

I was devastated. I don’t know what to do.

I fell into depression mode once again, but I never told my husband, because I don’t want to burden him.

The Early of 2021

Things got worst, and we barely made enough money to sustain ourselves. So my husband decided to get into the jobs market once again. He tried to apply to about 90-ish companies and most of them in the Europe area.

He only got 4 interview calls, and one of them is from Jobbatical, his current company. He started work there in June 2021. Our life is getting much better. He is paid very handsomely, and we live in Bali where life is very affordable. I think we only spend ¼ of his salary on our lifestyle. We were very frugal, you know… 😂

To make the story short and less gloomy, he is on a job again, our life quality is getting better, and he’s still doing side businesses with me! 🥳

During his first month working there, he asked about the relocation programme from the company. Yes, they have one, and in fact, they’re able to cover all of the relocation costs including the pets!

I cannot describe to you how happy I was to hear that, and I’m still amazed until now.

September, We Left Bali for Good

After 3,5 years living in Bali, leaving it is surprisingly not a hard thing to do. I guess partly because we are also used to the nomadic lifestyle, and the rest is because we realise that we have a different set of values from Indonesians.

So yeah, we packed our bags. We sent most of our stuff to our family. We prepare our cats to relocate once again. And now, we’re all here together again in Tallinn, Estonia.

The Real Challenges of Living in Estonia


For someone like me who came from a super warm country (Indonesia), adjusting myself to the Estonian climate is a bit of a challenge. Not that I dislike it, I just had to find a way to befriend it.

Estonia is located in the Northwestern part of East Europe. The west and north area meets the ocean, giving this country humid maritime air. And all I can say for the past 5 months I’ve been living here, Estonia has two types of cold:

  1. Cute cold—about 8℃ to -5℃; and
  2. Freaking cold—below -5℃.

Even the summer is cold—for someone who had been living in an equatorial country for the past 33 years of their life. 😂

And the truth is, a new mindset I adopt recently helped me to successfully adjust myself to the coldness.

I’ll tell you later about this mindset that helps me a lot.


Asian and European have a pretty striking difference in terms of culture. For example, collectivism is the highlight of the Asian ways of thinking, but Europeans tend to be more individualistic.

And that goes in line with Estonian people, who are very direct towards other people. I myself is not a direct person, but somehow, after a while, I can understand why they do this. I’m someone who doesn’t like small talk at all. But sometimes, I found it hard to be very direct with other people too.

I’m still learning, though, but I enjoy it a lot. Partially because small talks and indirectness tire me, and I think there’s a better thing to be doing than hearing/doing small talks.

I hate small talk, especially if it’s in the form of a question in the personal realm, or gossiping about other people.

That’s why I like it here better than in Indonesia. 🤭


The main language in daily conversations of Estonians are Eesti keele (Estonian language) and Russian; but you don’t have to worry, many people in public service and retails can speak English pretty well.

Oh, I have several funny experiences about communication in Estonia. One day, I went to Rimi (one of the biggest supermarket chains near my home) and stop at Strawberry station. They look very pretty, fresh and delicious. When I was choosing which one to buy, an old lady started to talk to me in Estonian. She didn’t realise that I’m a foreigner at all. She talks in a very friendly and warm voice. Oh boy, I really want to hear it once more ☺️. Other times, several shopkeepers mistakenly thought that I speak Estonian fluently, just because of my ‘tere‘ (greetings like ‘Hi!’ in Estonian) is a bit deceiving for them. 😂 Someone told me that I have a certain accent to it.

That makes me want to learn the language more. 🤣

I intend to learn Eesti this year, but I haven’t made the time for that. Ugh. Not that I don’t know where to start, but I haven’t made it my current priority. Maybe in the summer 🤞.

So, What Are You Doing Nowadays?

I don’t do much, actually. I enjoy slowing down, and doing things I like:

  • Reading books;
  • Walking outside in the cold;
  • Meet up with my friends;
  • R&D-ing my next business(es);
  • Knitting (oh yes, I started to knit again after 4 years hiatus 🤭)!
  • Making content at 59° North Family and this blog.

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One response to “We Move to Estonia in 2021, A Completely New and Challenging Place”

  1. […] moved to Estonia in October 2021, and I wrote about it too. But in my first year here, I felt that I need to slow down a little bit and adapt myself to […]

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