Pros and Cons of Moving to Czech Republic
As with any country, there are positives and negatives to living in the Czech Republic. Below is one expat's account of the pros and cons.
Accommodation in Czech Republic
+ PRO: Good value for money
Since the Czech Republic joined the EU, the real estate market has been booming, thanks to the influx of foreigners, strong growth of its middle class and the strength of the Czech koruna. Despite high demand, apartments in Prague are still cheaper compared to other major European capital cities. Considering that living in the here means being at the centre of a rich and diverse culture with easily accessible museums and historical sites, living in the Czech Republic is excellent value for money.
- CON: Apartments for foreigners are often more expensive than those for locals
Most apartments available to foreigners are non-rent-controlled apartments, so they may be more expensive than those for locals. Bargains can be found, but many of the websites that advertise these bargains are only in Czech.
Lifestyle in Czech Republic
+ PRO: Thriving social scene and lots of outdoor activities
Due to the influx of tourists and expats, the social scene in Czech Republic is diverse. In Prague, there is a wide variety of restaurants, bars and clubs to choose from. For the more outdoorsy types, the Czech Republic is bordered by mountains and its forests are very well-preserved. One can cycle around the countryside or hike during the summer. In winter, there is cross-country or downhill skiing.
Safety in Czech Republic
+ PRO: Low crime rate
The Czech Republic is a relatively safe country. Crime rates are low, and an emergency telephone number (112) is available for foreigners who don’t speak the local language.
- CON: Increasing rate of pickpockets
More and more opportunistic pickpockets are beginning to operate in the Czech Republic. Whenever in a crowded place, foreigners are advised to be mindful of their valuables.
Working in Czech Republic
+ PRO: Great salary and benefits packages for expats
- CON: Bureaucracy in government departments
In the Czech Republic, the Ministry of the Interior handles immigration and this institution is highly bureaucratic. Assuming that all of the necessary paperwork has been put through and approved for employment, expats must then report to the Foreign Police once they arrive in the country. This process in itself is also redundant, often requiring the submission of documents that were already submitted to the Ministry of the Interior for the initial work permit application.
Doing business in Czech Republic
+ PRO: Relative ease of running a business in the Czech Republic
There are two ways to conduct business in the Czech Republic: first as a limited liability company (referred to as S.R.O), and secondly, by working independently on a trade license (“zivnostensky list”). The S.R.O may need a lot of capital, but the owner is then free from liabilities that may arise from the business. On the other hand, getting a trade licence only requires a minimal fee, but owners are then liable for any complaints that may be brought upon the business.
- CON: Getting business licences can be tricky for those who don’t speak Czech
When applying for a business permit, all the application papers and contracts are in Czech. Enlisting the help of a Czech-speaking agent is ideal. Bureaucracy may also exist in some local offices, so it would be wise to employ someone who is familiar with the system.
Transport in Czech Republic
+ PRO: Public transport is cheap, efficient, easy to use, safe and clean
The Czech Republic’s public transport system is well managed. In Prague, where most foreigners live, one-month passes can be purchased which can be used for any kind of public transport (tram, subway or bus). Schedules are strictly followed so passengers can rest assured that they will get to their appointments on time. Information on travel times and connections is easily accessible online and regular schedules are posted at the stops.
- CON: Local taxis often scam foreigners
Czech taxi drivers are notorious for charging highly inflated rates and taking unnecessary detours in order to guarantee higher fares.
- CON: Difficult to get a driving licence
Those with an International Driving Permit can legally drive in the Czech Republic for three months after arrival. Those staying longer will need to secure a Czech driving licence – this can be an arduous process. Expats will need to go to a driving school and take written and practical exams prior to being issued with a licence. Not all driving schools offer English instruction and all driving tests are in Czech, so those not fluent in the language will need to employ a court-appointed translator when finally taking the tests.
Culture shock in Czech Republic
+ PRO: Plenty of expat organisations
There are a number of expat organisations in the Czech Republic. Most of these cater to a wide range of interests. They also have a very strong online presence, which makes them easy to find. Expats find it easier to make friends in the Czech Republic once they attend one of the many events organised by expat groups.
- CON: Poor customer service
Perhaps a legacy of communism, customer service in the Czech Republic is not very good. In a grocery store, even if there is enough manpower to open another cash register, customers often still wait patiently in line, not bothering to complain to the store manager about opening another register. In some auto shops, an oil change can take the whole day with customers being at the mercy of the mechanic assigned to do the job. Somehow, it is accepted as a norm and nobody seems to complain.
Cost of living in Czech Republic
+ PRO: Affordable goods and services
Everything from real estate to food, utilities and healthcare is very reasonably priced in the Czech Republic. Staples like bread, potatoes and meat are of good quality and are inexpensive. Household goods, furniture and electronics from familiar Western brands are easily accessible in malls and specialty stores. Furniture is also very reasonably priced since there are a lot of highly skilled craftsmen in the country.
- CON: Petrol is expensive
As is commonly the case in Europe, petrol in the Czech Republic is more expensive than in many other countries.
Healthcare in Czech Republic
+ PRO: Healthcare system is good and inexpensive
The healthcare system in the Czech Republic is generally good. Those with an insurance card are eligible for nationalised healthcare. There are doctors in each district but new arrivals are free to choose their personal doctor..
The approach to medicine is Westernised and it is relatively inexpensive compared to other Western states. Patients often pay a minimal fee for consultations, but many other services are free, including lab tests. Most doctors also speak English, even in cities outside of Prague.
- CON: Impersonal approach
During a visit to a doctor, the medical staff may come off as grumpy and waiting times at hospitals are long. Although most doctors speak English, most nurses and medical staff do not.
Doctors can be curt and may appear to be unsympathetic, but this is a normal element of Czech medical culture. Those from a country in which doctors always takes time to discuss matters and answer questions should note that this is generally not how things work in the Czech Republic.
Education in Czech Republic
+ PRO: Good value for money
Whether expats are interested in finishing a degree, pursuing higher studies, or taking up a new course of study, then the Czech Republic is a good place to start. There are a number of universities and colleges offering various programmes that are sure to serve anyone's scholastic ambitions. Compared to countries like the US or UK, the school fees are relatively low. Combine that with a lower cost of living, and education in the Czech Republic is fantastic value for money.
- CON: Not all programmes are offered in English
Most of the popular degrees like business, finance, theatre and the arts are offered in English. However, specialised programmes, especially in the sciences or engineering, may only be offered in Czech.
Banking in Czech Republic
+ PRO: It is easy to open a bank account in the Czech Republic
Most of the big banks in the Czech Republic have a foreigner’s desk with agents that speak English. For a minimal amount, expats can open a bank account. Accounts and financial transactions can be accessed online.
- CON: Fees are charged for every transaction
Almost all of the banks charge a fee for every transaction, be it closing an account, using the ATM, or sending and receiving money. When it comes to transferring money to a foreign account, every bank charges a commission on foreign transfers.