Pros and Cons of Moving to Czech Republic

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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 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 Czech Republic means being at the centre of a rich and diverse culture with museums and historical places easily accessible, this is good 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. Expats using a real estate agent will find that they normally charge a fee equivalent to one month’s rent. So in the first month expats should expect to pay three times the rent: a portion for the real estate agent, a portion for the security deposit and a portion for the first month’s rent.
 

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 type, 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 time, there is cross-country or downhill skiing.

 CON: Far from the sea

Since Czech is in Central Europe, it is far away from the ocean. Although there are a lot of rivers and lakes, one would need to travel quite a long way to get to the sea.
 

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, expats are advised to be mindful of their valuables.
 

Working in Czech Republic


 PRO: Great salary and benefits packages for expats

Most expats who relocate to the Czech Republic are in senior positions. Compared to locals, expats are generally very well paid. Oftentimes, the company pays for accommodation and other expenses during that person’s stay in the country.   

 CON: Bureaucracy in government departments

In the Czech Republic, the Ministry of the Interior handles immigration. Assuming that all the necessary paperwork has been put through and approved for employment, expats must then report to the Foreign Police once in the country. It is ironic that expats may need a translator when going there because it’s possible that the person at the counter won't speak English. The 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 if you 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, you can purchase a one-month pass which can be used for any kind of public transport (tram, subway, bus). Schedules are strictly followed so passengers can rest assured that knowing 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 may take you for “a ride”

When flagging down a taxi on the street you run the risk of getting into an unregulated taxi that may charge you a highly inflated rate. What’s more, you may be taken for a ride around the city when your destination is actually only a few blocks away. This is especially likely to happen if you seem foreign or uncertain of your surroundings.
 

 CON: Difficult to get a driving licence

If you have an International Driving Permit, you can legally drive in the Czech Republic for three months after you arrive there. If you intend to stay longer, you will have to secure a Czech driving licence – this can be quite a 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 expats no 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. This can make it easier to adjust to the country.

 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 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 are very reasonably priced in the Czech Republic. Staples like bread, potatoes and meat are of good quality and 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 with any European country, petrol is more expensive than in other Western countries.
 

Healthcare in Czech Republic


 PRO: Healthcare system is good and inexpensive

The healthcare system in the Czech Republic is generally good. As long as you have an insurance card, you are eligible for nationalised healthcare. There are doctors in each district but you are free to choose your personal doctor and the hospital you would like to go to. However, if you have only a basic insurance plan, it may not cover you in private clinics.  
 
The approach to medicine is westernised and it is relatively inexpensive compared to other Western states. There is a minimal fee paid every time you visit a doctor, but everything else is 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 grumpy and you may have to wait in long queues to get attended to. Although most doctors speak English, most nurses and medical staff don’t. Make sure to call your desired clinic ahead of time and ask if the staff there speak English.
 
Doctors are a little bit curt and may appear to be unsympathetic. This is just the norm – expats from a country where the doctor always takes time to discuss matters and answer questions should be prepared that this is not generally how things work in the Czech Republic.
 

Education in Czech Republic


 PRO: Good value for money

Whether you are interested in finishing a degree, pursuing higher studies, or taking up a new course of study, 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 good 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 (200 to 2,000 CZK) 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 or receiving money. When it comes to transferring money to a foreign account, every bank charges a commission on foreign transfers.

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Our Czech Republic Expert

Grace Bantol's picture
Philippines. Czech Republic
I was born and raised in Bukidnon, a province in the Southern part of the Philippines. Driven by ambition and my relentless... more

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