Relocating from Russia to Estonia — meet Senior Software Engineer Alexey Efimov

March 08, 2022

Life at Bolt

Alexey Efimov is a Senior Software Engineer who relocated from Russia to Estonia with his family in 2020. 

Why did Alexey decide to relocate? How’s he finding life in Tallinn? And what was his experience of moving countries to join Bolt?

We’ll first hear about Alexey’s role at Bolt before moving on to the process of relocating. 

Here’s Alexey’s story…

Moving job and country

Before Bolt, Alexey spent 12 years at Yandex, followed by a stint at the fintech startup Joom in Moscow. 

But in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and the birth of his son made Alexey re-evaluate his and his family’s next chapter. 

He ultimately decided it was time to change job, country, climate and environment – and move to Tallinn!

A programmer’s paradise

Alexey joined Bolt in December 2020 — first remotely and then working at Bolt’s HQ office in Tallinn by summer 2021.

As a Senior Software Engineer in the Payments team, he’s responsible for fixing and improving Bolt’s payment system so that customers can pay seamlessly. The team also deploys features (or, as Alexey calls it, ‘magic’) to help improve the customer experience. 

So far, it’s the people and the tech which Alexey has enjoyed the most.

“The best thing about Bolt is its people, who, though from different cultures and countries, are all fantastic! I’m thrilled to be working in such a cool place where you can meet wonderful people. 

And from a tech perspective, Bolt’s flexible infrastructure just works — you don’t need to waste time deploying or building. It’s a programmer’s paradise!” says Alexey.

Helping millions of customers every day

By improving the payment method section on the Bolt app, Alexey’s team directly impacts how customers experience the app. 

And internally, too, Alexey enjoys code refactoring, which positively impacts the business.

From a personal perspective, Alexey feels that he has the chance to grow at Bolt.

“I feel I’m constantly learning. For example, when I joined Bolt, I knew nothing about Typescript and was wary of the language. But at Bolt, we use Typescript everywhere, so I learnt it and realised that it’s possible to adapt to a new programming language”, says Alexey.

A fresh start in Estonia

The main inspiration behind relocating to Estonia was giving his children the opportunity to learn in a new environment and not think about politics every day. 

The move was delayed a little as there was still hope that positive change could occur at home. 

But following the birth of his second child, Alexey realised it was the last chance to make a move abroad. 

“It wasn’t easy, but we were strongly motivated to move immediately because our country had embarked on a path that we didn’t like at all”, says Alexey.

Alexey and his family (including the cat) travelled to Estonia with their small but beloved car. They bought a roof rack, packed it with their belongings, and waved everyone off as they made the car journey to Estonia in half a day.

Leaving parents and siblings

After accepting Bolt’s offer and deciding to move, Alexey didn’t have any major worries. He started a checklist of what needed to be done and just worked through it! 

Alexey had some concerns about how his parents might perceive the move but dispelled any fears they had.

Leaving behind parents and siblings has undoubtedly been one of the biggest challenges of moving to a new country. 

Video calls have made this more manageable, but lately, there have been reports that they could be isolated from their families for a long time to come. 

“We hope for the best, but I can’t predict the actions of our country’s government. I just really hope that there won’t be any isolation, that COVID will end, and that we’ll live in peace. We just want to be able to travel freely across borders, without restrictions and stereotypes”, says Alexey.

The support of Bolt’s Relocation team

One of the first things to do was to arrange schooling in Estonia. Following contact with a Tallinn school, it was agreed that Alexey’s child should finish 9th grade at a Moscow school before moving.

In the meantime, Alexey worked remotely while preparing to move to Tallinn. During this time, he could apply for a residence permit directly from Moscow. 

As a result, when the family arrived, they had ID cards to use for opening bank accounts and starting internet and mobile phone contracts. 

“Bolt has an excellent Relocation team that help you throughout the entire process until you rent a permanent home and have a family doctor. You’re fully supported to solve all problems — without this, relocating would have been more difficult”, says Alexey.

Estonian relocation surprises

Here’s what surprised Alexey the most about making the move to Estonia:

  1. “In Estonia, people respond to emails and even speak to me in Russian or English. You can email the police or the embassy and get a readable response. It’s incredibly convenient.

  2. I opened a bank account, got a mobile contract and found an Internet provider entirely remotely, using only an ID card. It’s magic. Estonia is genuinely an electronic country!

  3. The drivers here are polite. It’s a nice feeling knowing that no one beeps, cuts you off, or overtakes”, says Alexey.

And one other thing Alexey’s noticed compared to Moscow is how easy it is to bump into famous people!

“We met Anett Kontaveit (Estonia’s most famous tennis player) at a public tennis court in an ordinary neighbourhood. And at a playground, we met a lady who turned out to be the wife of a journalist who once worked with Sergei Dovlatov. 

What seems unbelievable in Moscow is a usual thing in Tallinn”, says Alexey.

Exploring Tallinn’s attractions and playgrounds

Away from work, Alexey admits that his baby son is his greatest hobby, though he does get out to play volleyball once a week.

The family lives in a suburb with pine trees and a beach, so they spend a lot of time walking and enjoying the scenery.

Elsewhere in Tallinn, Alexey is a big fan of Kadriorg Park, the Old Town (especially at Christmas), Noblessner and the Rotermann quarter — where Tarkovsky’s Stalker was filmed. Next up, the family want to travel further afield and visit Estonia’s largest island Saaremaa.

But with a young child, many days are spent visiting different children’s playgrounds. 

“In Tallinn, the playgrounds are amazing, and as a rule, they all have toys left by other children, which, I must admit, is very cute”, says Alexey.

Top tips for relocating to Estonia

If you’re thinking about relocating to Tallinn, then here are some tips from someone who’s been there and done that!

  1. “Read ‘Compromise’ by Sergei Dovlatov.

  2. Don’t be afraid of difficulties — they make you better. 

  3. Don’t wait for the right moment — act right now. The sooner you do, the easier everything will be.

  4. Do your research on Estonia’s startup scene — you’ll be surprised. It’s Europe’s new Silicon Valley that you can get involved with right now. You’re not too late!” says Alexey.

Interested in joining us on our mission to make urban mobility more affordable, safe, and sustainable?

Visit our Careers Page to see all open Bolt vacancies.

And if you’re worried about the practicalities of moving, remember that our Relocation team is here to make your move as smooth as possible.


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