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Not everything is cheaper in Tallinn: Which products cost less in Helsinki?

Shopping is not always cheaper in Estonia than Finland.

Tuotteita liukuhihnalla. Helsingissä halvempia kuin Tallinnassa ovat: D-vitamiini -21%, ibumax särkylääke -2% ja Pampers vaipat -30%. Tallinnassa halvempia ovat puolen litran coca cola pullo -59%, porkkanat -61% ja kanafile -52%.
Prices in Helsinki can sometimes be significantly lower than in Tallinn. Image: Petteri Juuti / Yle

Estonia has long been a destination for Finns in search of a bargain, but new analysis from the Estonian Institute for Economic research shows that some products are now actually cheaper to acquire in Helsinki than Tallinn.

The figures show that it’s not worth crossing the Gulf of Finland to buy disposable nappies, vitamin D supplements, coffee, tea or chocolate.

Ordinary painkillers are also slightly dearer in Tallinn.

Nappies are 30 percent cheaper, with a 68-pack of Pampers coming to 9.28 euros in Helsinki and 13.32 euros in Tallinn during the week the comparison was made.

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Cheaper in Helsinki than Tallin
Image: Petteri Juuti / Yle

The majority of purchases made during the comparison, however, were cheaper in Tallinn. Government policy has also had an impact on that.

"The government reduced alcohol taxes in July," said Marje Josing of the institute. "That showed in prices straight away. Especially in the price of beer."

Alcohol has historically been the number one attraction for Finns heading south, with some specialist Finnish websites closely following price movements at Tallinn’s large alcohol retailers.

Finnish breweries have even demanded tax changes to mitigate the moves made by Estonia’s government.

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Cheaper in Tallin than Helsinki
Image: Petteri Juuti / Yle

Alcohol is not, however, where the biggest savings can be made. Coca-Cola, carrots, chicken and public transport are all much cheaper in Estonia’s capital.

For example one kilogram of carrots in Tallinn costs 54 cents, whereas in Helsinki the orange root vegetable would set you back 1.38 euros per kilogram.

Cheaper labour reduces prices

Estonian prices have in recent years risen closer to Finnish levels, but there is still a hefty gap. The country’s retail prices are around 80 percent of the regional average, whereas Finland’s prices are on average 122 percent of the European average.

The differences are felt pretty keenly in services as well as retail products. Lower wages in Estonia mean that services are cheaper to provide, and the price for customers is lower.

The biggest differences are to be found in dentistry, but also hairdressing, taxi trips, eating out and nights in hotels are cheaper in Estonia.

The Institute compares prices in Helsinki and Tallinn every quarter. The comparison includes products and services that are available in both countries.

Discount campaigns are also included, if they apply during the week comparison purchases are made.

It’s only cheap to those on Finnish wages

Prices might be cheap, but only to those on Finnish wages. If prices are compared to salaries, many numbers in Estonia are much bigger.

For example if someone earning an Finnish average salary of around 3,400 euros paid as much for petrol as someone on the Estonian average wage, they would be shelling out 3.40 euros per litre.

A 500 gram pack of coffee would come to 12 euros and a 200-gram bar of chocolate would be seven euros. A night in a hotel, meanwhile, would come to a whopping 330 euros.

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