Harri and Veronika have opened Oysters Vintage, a vintage clothing store. Migue Fernández
Living in Malaga and now famous in Estonia

Living in Malaga and now famous in Estonia

Harri and Veronika left their native country to embark on a new adventure 1,000s of kms away with every step followed on an Estonian TV channel

Juan Soto

Friday, 23 June 2023, 12:56

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Harri Tiidus and his wife Veronika Vallimäe-Tiidus are TV personalities in their native Estonia. Natives of Tallinn, just a year ago they decided to emigrate to Spain. This radical change in their lives was an almost overnight decision. Equally surprising is that they have become lead characters in their own reality show.

Despite having a comfortable life, they decided to seek a safer place for their sons Artur, 15, and Karlo, ten. Now settled in Malaga city, they tell us that they decided to leave their country because of the war in Ukraine (Estonia borders onto Russia), the extreme climate and the high cost of living there (Estonia has one of the highest inflation rates in Europe).

"We experienced real fear for the first time and I realised I never want my children to witness or experience war. It was a very strong impulse," explained Veronika.

Memories in back of the car

Harri ran a classic car restoration business and Veronika, a ballet dancer by profession, ran a vintage clothing store. In just a few weeks they decided to sell their home and fit their memories into the boot of the car to start a trip that has brought them to Malaga. Once here, they settled in the outskirts of the city, taking the first house shown to them by a local estate agent. "We live up on the hill and it actually feels like we live in a village. From our terrace we have incredible views and the feeling of holding Malaga in the palm of our hand," said Harri.

To fully fit in with city life, some six weeks ago ago they opened Oysters Vintage, a secondhand clothing store at Calle Ollerías 22. They offer fashion items from the 1960s to the 2000s selected by Veronika herself. They have also started supporting local artists by displaying their artwork on the walls.

Legion of fans

As if the story of this Estonian family wasn't already pretty unique, the most striking of all is that Harri and Veronika have a legion of fans in their home country. Why? They are the lead characters in a reality show being broadcast in Estonia that has been documenting their adventure ever since they packed their bags.

'Eluga Hispaaniasse', which best translates as 'Moving to Spain', beamed this family's journey from last summer to this spring into Estonian homes.

"The show is about our crazy idea to move to Spain. It documents the entire process, from selling all of our stuff, packing up our belongings and driving across Europe to Malaga, where we'd never set foot before.

An inspiring show

Their story and the television programme seem to have inspired many people in their home country.

"We're now receiving lots of messages from Estonians who are considering doing something similar. Since the city of Malaga has become very popular with tourists, we receive quite a few surprise visits from Estonians who stop by the store to say hello," admitted Harri.

When asked about the future, they don't know what that will bring, but their smile gives us a glimpse of their inner peace at having found a new home.

"We consider ourselves very lucky. We feel that Malaga as a city has it all, culture, history, an international population, good weather and vibrant energy," explained Harri. "We feel at home. The only challenge is that we need to learn the language fast," he said.

Cheaper lifestyle

Now that they are settled, they mention they have found life here to be much cheaper than in their birthplace. "In our country, the daily food shop would cost around 40-50 euros. Just the basic, everyday food. Here I can feed my family on 100 euros a week," said Veronika.

"Many people return from a trip to a warmer country with the feeling that it would be nice to live there for a while. Run with that feeling, just do it, or at least try. Otherwise, you will feel ashamed for not having made the effort," said Harri encouragingly, an Estonian who's become a fully-blown 'malagueño' because of a war.

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