Moving to Lithuania
Expats moving to Lithuania – the first former Soviet state to declare independence from the USSR – will discover a comparably safe beer- and sport-loving nation. While efficient infrastructure beautiful countryside vistas, Lithuanian society is a mix of conservative Catholic viewpoints and a quirky, bohemian youth culture.
The Baltic country is a Schengen state with a population of just under 3 million. Lithuania adopted the euro in 2015 and had the fastest-growing economy in Europe before the 2008 financial crisis, when it saw a dramatic decline in GDP and skyrocketing unemployment. The economy and unemployment levels are slowly improving as Lithuania shifts to a knowledge-based economy.
What football is to the English or rugby is to the Australians, basketball is to Lithuanians. It's the national sport and an extremely popular pastime with several world-champion players calling Lithuania home. Outdoor sports are also common, and sport-loving expats will have no problem finding friends and clubs to join in Lithuania.
Most accommodation in Lithuania's cities consists of Soviet-era apartment blocks, while detached houses can be found further away from city centres. Lithuania has a comparatively low cost of living compared to other West European countries. Any EU national can work and live in Lithuania. However, residence permits must be obtained and employers must prove a lack of competent workers in Lithuania for the job, which can be difficult.
English is not widely spoken – Lithuanian law dictates that all business must be conducted in the local language – and expats will find they’ll need to learn at least basic Lithuanian to get by conversationally. The language is notoriously difficult to learn, and locals are often charmed by attempts to use it. Lithuanians have a reputation as a somewhat depressed and unfriendly nation, but in many cases, expats will find this stereotype to be untrue.
The country has a long and distinguished history in education and a range of options are available, including a choice between cathedral, vocational, public and private schools and homeschooling. There are also a number of international schools in the country and their popularity is on the rise.
State healthcare is free to residents and citizens. Although Lithuania's medical staff are highly qualified, the healthcare system is still recovering from Soviet mismanagement, and it may not meet some expat's standards. Private clinics are also available in most cities.