Lithuania is the biggest and most populated of the three Baltic states in northeastern Europe. Bordering Latvia, Belarus, Poland, Russia and the Baltic Sea, Lithuania is the largest country in the world whose highlands sit below 300 metres.
It is a Schengen state and was the first former Soviet state to declare independence from the USSR. Lithuania 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.
Living in Lithuania as an expat
Expats moving to Lithuania will discover a beer-and-sport-loving nation that boasts efficient infrastructure and beautiful countryside vistas. Lithuanian society is a mix of conservative Catholic viewpoints and a quirky, bohemian youth culture.
English is not widely spoken, and Lithuanian law dictates that all business must be conducted in the local language. Expats will therefore find they’ll need to learn at least basic Lithuanian to get by conversationally. The language is also notoriously difficult to learn, but locals are often charmed by attempts from foreigners to use it.
What football is to the English and what rugby is to Australians, is what basketball is to Lithuanians. It's the national sport, and an extremely popular pastime with several world champions calling Lithuania home. Outdoor sports are also common, and sport-loving expats will therefore have no problem finding friends and clubs to join in Lithuania.
Cost of living in Lithuania
Lithuania has a comparatively low cost of living compared to other Western European countries. While most accommodation in Lithuania's cities consists of Soviet-era apartment blocks, detached houses can be found further away from city centres and are very affordable. Any non-EU citizen can work and live in Lithuania, but a work permit and visa must be obtained.
Healthcare in Lithuania
Although Lithuania's medical staff are highly qualified, the healthcare system is still recovering from Soviet mismanagement and it therefore may not meet some expats' standards. That said, state healthcare is free to residents and citizens. Private clinics are also available in most cities.
Expat families and children
When it comes to the standard of education, Lithuania has a long and distinguished history, and public schooling is free for all citizens and residents. There are a wide range of options available, including 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.
Known for its stunning landscapes, lakes and seaside beaches, Lithuania has plenty of beautiful spots to visit and outdoor activities to keep expats busy. If the low cost of living and the free healthcare and education aren't enough, the beautiful scenery will surely attract many expats.
Population: Around 2.7 million
Capital city: Vilnius
Neighbouring countries: Lithuania is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south and the Russian exclave Kaliningrad Oblast to the southwest.
Geography: Lithuania experiences both a maritime and a continental climate. It is characterised by flat lowland areas separated by hills and highlands, as well as a scattering of lakes and swamps. The Baltic Sea stretches along Lithuania's western coast.
Political system: Parliamentary democracy
Major religions: Roman Catholicism
Main languages: Lithuanian
Currency: The Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents.
Tipping: 10 percent if the service charge is not included.
Time: GMT+2 (GMT+3 from the last Sunday in March till the last Sunday in October).
Electricity: 230 volts, 50 Hz. Round two-pin plugs, type C, are most common.
Internet domain: .lt
International dialling code: +370
Emergency numbers: 112 (general emergency number)
"...the cost of living was very affordable, making it a great city for a young couple to save money. The healthcare is also excellent, and the city is rapidly changing to become more international, open, and creative while holding onto Lithuania’s unique culture." American expat Elizabeth shares her experiences of life in Vilnius.
Are you an expat living in Lithuania?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Lithuania. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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