Moving to Slovakia
Slovakia, or the Slovak Republic, is a landlocked country in the very centre of Europe and is one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union. Although a former communist state, it has transformed since its independence into an almost completely privatised, market-driven economy. Slovakia's relatively low cost of living and low taxes combined with a great range of outdoor pursuits and natural splendour has made Slovakia an attractive choice for expats.
Slovakia didn’t escape completely from the global downturn in the late 2000s. The services sector is the largest contributor to its GDP, and car manufacturing is also key, both of which took a knock at the end of the last decade. As of April 2017, the unemployment rate hovered at 7.7 percent. Slovakia is still trying to shake off socio-economic problems that accompanied independence, such as corruption and cronyism. Nevertheless, Slovakia still scored a decent 33 out of 190 countries on The World Bank's Ease of Doing Business ranking for 2017.
The country has a lot to offer expats. Although not a traditional tourist destination, it's increasingly making its mark. Unspoilt natural attractions such as the Tatra and Carpathian mountain ranges, dense forests, and UNESCO-listed caves and rock formations are sure to keep hikers, skiers and nature-lovers occupied. Those with an interest in history will be able to delve into the region’s rich past as Slovakia has the highest number of castles and ruins per capita. In addition, there are world-famous spas built around the country's natural thermal springs.
More than 80 percent of the population are native Slovaks and Slovak is the official language. Although English is increasingly accepted and understood in business and tourism, German is still a little more common due to Slovakia's proximity with and former occupation by Germany. Business is usually conducted successfully after the establishment of good personal relationships.
Expats moving to Slovakia with a family should investigate schools thoroughly. Although free Slovak-language public education is provided, there are also a number of other options in the cities for Spanish, Hungarian, French or German-speakers, as well as a handful of international-curriculum English-speaking schools. Renting or buying a home in Slovakia is comparatively cheap, and it's not uncommon to find expats who live in Slovakia but commute to nearby cities such as Vienna. There are no restrictions on buying property for foreigners and Slovak property is considered a safe investment.
The climate is continental, with a marked difference between the four seasons, especially the freezing winters and warm summers.