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I'm back in Europe for the first time in eight years, and starting in a country I've never visited before, Estonia.

My budget is low but it's off season. I've found the cheapest hostel. But I'm having trouble finding the cheapest food.

Usually when I'm in Europe I buy most of my food and supplies from the budget supermarket chains such as Aldi, Lidl, and, in Finland, Alepa. But I don't think any of these chains operate in Estonia. I can find full-priced supermarkets and convenience stores of course.

Does Estonia have their own local discount supermarket chain, or some other international one I'm not familiar with?

I'm in the historic centre and it's cold so I haven't yet explored very far and wide. I'm Googling but without much success.

  • 1
    Might be tricky to find, but also Grossi can have some cheaper products than Maxima has. – kiradotee Nov 21 at 14:39
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    Anything in the old town = prepare your wallet. The only time you might see locals there is when they work there, or enjoying time with friends, or decided to visit McDonald's on the border of the old town. 🙂 – kiradotee Nov 21 at 14:48
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    @kiradotee: Google Maps says there are two Grossis each about 20 minutes walk from here. Will give them a try. Thanks! – hippietrail Nov 21 at 15:22
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    Lidl is building nine stores in Estonia right now - slated to open in 2020... – J... Nov 21 at 21:14
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    There is some shopping information for students here, published by Tallinn University: tutstudentambassadors.wordpress.com/2016/09/01/…. Use at your own risk - I have no way to check it, so I'm not posting it as an answer. – alephzero Nov 21 at 21:26
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Food is taxed arguably high in Estonia at 20% (law reference in Estonian) compared to the EU average of 5-6% (source in Estonian). This means it's a recurring discussion both politically and in news coverage.

This coverage (in Estonian) from September 2019 gives the following lineup for a sample purchase of ~50 items (shown at the bottom of the article):

Graph of summed purchase prices (All rights reserved to the source, Delfi.)

The prices in brackets are with the given shop's loyalty card.
Given the above, your current best option would be on average: Grossi, followed by Coop with loyalty, followed by Maxima.

Since you're located in the historic centre, you might have to default to Rimi as the cheaper shops don't usually operate too close to the centre due to high rents.

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    I'm happy to walk to Grossi now that I know what to search for on the map so I can go directly rather than wandering and freezing (-: – hippietrail Nov 22 at 4:15
  • Worth noting: a 20% tax on food is not "high" when income tax is relatively low ;) – vikingsteve Nov 22 at 11:53
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    Grossi was indeed just like a Lidl or Aldi. It was quite small and the prices were lower than the shops closer to my hostel. They didn't have fresh baked goods like at Alepa and I failed to find pelmeni. So not as good as the options in Germany, but the best so far. – hippietrail Nov 22 at 16:44
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Rimi is a Norwegian budget supermarket with branches in Estonia, but I am not sure how the prices compare to other grocery stores.

There are at least three Rimi stores in Tallinn's old town, so they may be worth looking into.

  • Thanks. This was the first I found so far. A couple of things there are fairly cheap but here in the old town it still seems fancy. I've been told their locations outside the historic centre are cheaper but haven't tried yet. – hippietrail Nov 21 at 12:03
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    If the market situation in Estonia is similar to Norway, the budget chains are not significantly cheaper than most other grocery stores anyway. In Norway, you may get cheaper basic groceries (bread, fruit, vegetables) if you go to immigrant shops run by Turks or Arabs instead. That might be worth a try in Estonia as well. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Nov 21 at 19:27

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