The Slovak Republic is known for its dramatic natural landscapes, historical castles and steadily growing economy. But like anywhere else, expats will find that there are pros and cons to life in Slovakia. Below are some of the ups and downs to expect when moving to this central European country.
Accommodation in Slovakia
+ PRO: Real estate is affordable
How much expats pay for housing will depend on where they would like to live.
The most expensive accommodation in Slovakia is in Bratislava – the capital – especially in the city centre around Bratislava Castle or Devin Castle.
Most Slovaks prefer to buy property, but expats usually rent at first. Either way, prices are relatively low.
Lifestyle in Slovakia
+ PRO: There are excellent shopping options
There are two types of people – those who spend their weekends browsing in shopping centres and hanging out in cafes, and those who disappear into nature after work on Fridays. Thankfully, Slovakia is not only an adventurer's paradise, but great for shopping too.
Almost every residential part of Bratislava has its own shopping centre. Since so many people work late hours, supermarkets and malls are often open in the evenings and on Sundays.
Slovak shopping centres usually provide shopping, entertainment (like movies), good restaurants and cafes, as well as banks and post offices. In winter a few of them have ice skating too.
Expats who live in Kosice Banska Bystrica in central Slovakia or Kosice in the east can easily get to shopping malls in the city centre by bus.
+ PRO: The cost of living in Slovakia is good
The cost of living in Slovakia is favourable for expats. Prices in Bratislava are higher than in the rest of the country, but its residents have greater purchasing power.
+ PRO: There's a lot to do
There are countless activities to keep expats occupied and amused in Slovakia. There’s a lot to see in every region, from hiking or relaxing in a spa, to visiting local cultural attractions and savouring local Slovak food.
Slovakia boasts beautiful historical castles dating back to the Habsburg Empire, as well as various UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Slovak countryside features mountains for hiking, mineral springs, caves, lakes and campgrounds for nature-loving expats. There are also many spas built around hot springs for those who prefer their relaxation indoors.
+ Pro: Warm people, once you get to know them
Expats are likely to feel welcome in Slovakia, especially if they decide to stick around for a while. Slovak people may seem stand-offish at first and can be stubborn, but once they open up, they're lovely, engaging people as well as honest, hardworking and always willing to help. Locals tend to love nature and are proud of their attractions, which they're often willing to show off to newcomers. Those expats who like sport are often able to make friends with the locals through a mutual love of hockey and football.
- CON: There is some crime in Slovakia
The country is generally quite safe, but expats will still need to take precautions against crime, like not leaving their bags unattended, or cars and homes unlocked, and being wary of strangers.
- CON: Hospitality in Slovakia
Unfortunately, Slovakia still has some way to go in terms of customer relations, and service in the hospitality industry could improve. Expats are also often charged for services that are considered added value or bonuses and that are usually free abroad.
Working in Slovakia
+ PRO: Open to new business
Slovakia is open to new business and the government is trying to attract new investors and entrepreneurs. Locals are open to fresh ideas, and expats with a good business plan and the right strategy usually find their business grows fast. Most opportunities can be found in Bratislava and cities such as Košice and Žilina, depending on the type of activity.
►Read more about expat life in the country by checking out the Moving to Slovakia page
Are you an expat living in Slovakia?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Slovakia. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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