All you need to know before moving to Czech Republic

Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe previously known as “Bohemia.” The capital city, Prague, continues to draw a huge number of tourists every year. Who wouldn’t be mesmerized by the colossal Prague Castle and Old Town Square? Czech Republic also poses as an ideal place for expats looking to start a new life in a foreign land.

Did you know that the word ‘bohemian’ originated from a great modern expat destination? Home to approximately 431,215 expatriates, the Czech Republic is known in history as the land of Bohemia before it became Czechoslovakia in 1918.

With its beautiful architecture and mountainous topography, the Czech Republic is a country that comes with its undeniable charm. Possessing a GDP that has been increasing at an average of 6% annually, foreign nationals are attracted to the stable economy and high income that the Czech Republic offers.

Considerable portions of earnings come from exports to the European nations through foreign investments. The country also adopted the Schengen Agreement, which opened its borders to its European neighbors and other countries who are part of the Agreement. With an employment rate of 60%, expats looking for work in the Czech Republic will find that the country’s main job industries are located in the motor vehicles, metallurgy, machinery and equipment, glass and armaments sectors. The average salary earned in the Czech Republic is 46,600 Kč.

As it is a landlocked country, most of the tourist sights are historical landmarks and scenic parks. The Czech Republic has 12 UNESCO Heritage sights, an impressive number to be found in a single country. One of these 12 is the capital city of Prague, which is a breathtaking labyrinth of amazing architecture where you can find the Hradčany and Prague Castle, Malá Strana, the Old Town including Charles Bridge and Josefov, the New Town and Vyšehrad. The country has a continental climate, which translates to cold, snowy winters, and hot summers with a bit of precipitation.

The Czech Republic contains 10, 777, 000 inhabitants, with the largest group of foreigners being composed primarily of Ukrainians who make up 131,965 of the expat population. Other nationalities that call the Czech Republic home include Slovaks, which amount to 76,034 and Vietnamese at 60,258. The country is unorthodox when it comes to religion. A remarkable 59% of the population is agnostic, atheist, or a non-believer. Roman Catholics only comprise 26.8% of the population, while Protestants make up an even smaller percentage at 2.5%

The Czech Republic has a lot to be proud of, as the country features a rich cultural heritage, with breathtaking castles and landscapes as the backdrop of inspiring stories - accounts of its journey from communism to democracy. Among award-winning contemporary authors who were inspired by the Czech Republic are Frank Kafka and Milan Kundera.  

Getting in and moving to the Czech Republic is easy for the country’s European neighbors, as the Czech Republic opened its borders through the Schengen Agreement. European (EEA) member countries may live and work in the country without a visa or work permit. Citizens of European Union member states and the countries of Switzerland, Norway and Lichtenstein also share this privilege.

Non-EU Nationals must apply for a work permit or a Czech Republic Working Holiday Visa. Working visas are also available for asylum seekers, students engaged in full-time studies and individuals who finished high school or university studies in the Czech Republic. Foreigners who have a permanent residence permit in the Czech Republic can also acquire working visas. Citizens of countries who do not fall in either of these categories must at least have a valid passport and travel visa, which allows them to stay in the country for 90 days. To stay longer or obtain permanent residency requires both a residency and work permit.

Applications for a long-term residency permit may be applied for if you have stayed in the Czech Republic for at least 90 days or on any Czech diplomatic mission. The decision for approval is largely dependent on the purpose of the request for long-term or permanent residency. If it is due to study or scientific research, a decision will be made within 60 days from the date of submission. The longest waiting time is 270 days for requests relating to family reunification. In general, the basic costs to obtain a residence permit amounts to around 500 CZK (Czech Koruna) or US$27.71.

For more information, expats are advised to visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic website.

Whether you are seeking out greener pastures or simply just to have a fresh start in a developed country, moving to the Czech Republic is one decision you certainly won’t regret.

 

Essential relocation information

 

After officially joining the European Union in 2004, Czech Republic has fastly become one of the most popular expat destination in Central Europe. You will find a great career and financially opportunity here since many foreign and domestic businesses are operating all over the country. Aside from its stable economy and healthy financial system, you will be mesmerised by its Renaissance-era inspired architecture and beautifully preserved 19th-century castles.

Preparations

You will find many real estate advertisements in the Czech Republic through online portals and newspaper listings. But the best ways to find one is to ask a local realtor who is more familiar with the country or you take a walk around the city to see the actual units. Some advertisements will say that the apartment/house is newly renovated but in actual, it might be not. So make sure to check it in person.

Do not expect that the anything is included in the rental cost, unless the landlord states specifically. Most are unfurnished, and you have to shoulder the payment for basic utilities. The average monthly cost of essential services (water, electricity, gas) in the city centre is €145. Your internet connection with a speed of 10mbps with unlimited data is around €20 per month while a local mobile prepaid call is billed €0.15 per minute.

House and Apartment Hunting

The Czech Republic has several types of housing: Panelaks or apartment blocks, houses for rent and neighbourhoods. Depending on the length of time you are planning to stay, you can choose between a short term or long term rental agreement. Also, you have to be familiar with the way apartments/houses are advertised in Czech. Here are some of the descriptions that you will encounter:

  • 1 + 1 – A unit with one bedroom and another room which is usually the kitchen. A bathroom is not necessarily included in this type of unit.
  • 1 + kk – Another one bedroom flat. KK stands for a small kitchen that has a hotplate and a sink.
  • 1 + 0 – A term used for a one bedroom unit with no bathroom or kitchen
  • 2 + 1 (3 + 1, 4 + 1 and so on) – Apartments with 2, 3 or 4 rooms with a kitchen and bathroom.

Prague is the capital of the Czech and where you will find a high percentage of expats living. It is conveniently located where the business centre, restaurants, shopping malls and major supermarkets are. Perfect for expats who love to the nightlife and fast paced city life. The average monthly rent here for a one bedroom apartment is €500 while a three bedroom apartment is €900.

Another neighbourhood that you can consider is Kladno, which is located closely to Prague and the largest district in the Central Bohemian region. It is popular to expats with children because of its clean environment and numerous vast park areas. You will find it a safe place for your family since the Metropolitan police implement a strict monitoring system across the city. A one bedroom apartment in Kladno is around €300 while a three bedroom unit is €400.

International and Local Schools

The Czech Republic prides itself on giving great importance when it comes to education. The government provides free education for primary, secondary and depending on its capacity, even for university level. Some of the state-funded local schools that you can consider are the Charles University, Prague and the Masaryk Univerity, Brno .

There are also international schools that can attend to your children’s needs as an expat like the International School of Prague and the Parklane International School.

Moving of Your Belongings

Several companies offer shipping and removal services to Czech. Your packages will be picked up from your home, shipped and delivered to your new address. The price is based on the quantity and weight of your parcel. Average shipping time is from the 2-7 business day, depending on the country of origin. All containers going arrive in the Port of Hamburg, Germany where Czech Customs will inspect the cargos. After clearance, packages will then be delivered by road to the Czech Republic.

A microchip should identify all animals being imported to Czech. After it has been implanted, a rabies vaccination should be given not more than 21 days before its arrival. Dogs, cats and ferrets entering the country from EU countries should have an updated Pet Passport. If your pet is from a non-EU state, you need to have a licensed veterinarian complete the Annex IV from for the Czech Republic within ten days of entry.

If you are thinking about bringing your vehicle with you, make sure that it will meet the road readiness standards of Czech customs or else, it will not be cleared for entry. One of these is the emission standard. Also, they will check if your vehicle’s specifications like the brakes, bumpers, engine, tires, and other parts are up to code. Here are the other documents that you must prepare for your car’s import to the country:

  • Proof of Purchase
  • Company/Personal Declaration
  • Certificate of Title
  • Copy of housing contract
  • Copy of passport, long term visa and work permit

Given its mixture of British and Bohemian influences, you will find yourself experiencing diverse culture, history as well as tradition once you have relocated in the Czech Republic. Its central location in Europe also gives you great convenience if you want to check out its equally beautiful sister countries.

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How to live like a local

A landlocked nation situated in Central Europe, the Czech Republic is one of the two independent states that emerged from the 1993 separation of the former Czechoslovakia. The Czech Republic now houses over 10.5 million people, and aside from being a top tourist destination, it also became a magnet for expats because of its dynamic economy and high quality of life.

Most expats live in Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic. The city’s economic structure has changed from industrial to service-oriented, which attracts expats looking for employment. Fields of finance, IT, pharmaceuticals, printing, food manufacturing, and business development are the common work of the expats in Prague. Because it is a small city, it is considered as comfortable for the expatriates living there whereas the standards of life are similar to the Western countries. Aside from possessing a successful economy, the Czech Republic also boasts over 2,000 castles, a plethora of historical landmarks and acres of natural beauty that no expat can resist.

Explore Czech’s Vast Outdoors

Embracing this country is a series of majestic mountain ranges that seem to possess an eternal beauty that remained untarnished despite the ever-changing years. Expats, whether moving alone or with their families will be glad to know that in a world dominated by gadgets and technology, it is still possible to have fun in the Czech Republic the ‘old school’ way. This country has a total of four national parks that are equally beautiful and attractive. On top of the must-see list is the Krkonoše National Park which is also listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve site. Another favourite outdoor destination in this country is the Šumava National Park, home to picturesque mountains, fields and glacial lakes.

Hiking is also a popular hobby for the locals, and the Czech Republic boasts an excellent system for trail blazing. When it comes to swimming, this country is also the place to be and expats who love to take a dip will find plenty of koupaliště (public swimming areas). Keep in mind though that Czechs are quite fond of Nudism/Naturalism or topless sunbathing and they rarely bat an eye whenever someone is taking a bath on the beach or the lake without any clothes.

Czech Republic Driving 101

Though the Czech Republic has an extensive and highly reliable public transport system expats bound here can also consider everyday driving. First and foremost, everyone must know that driving in this country is on the right-hand side of the road. Those coming from European Union member states can keep their existing licenses, but citizens of other countries should obtain a Czech driving license. Other relevant documents and items that every driver must carry at all times are:

  • Proof of Insurance or Green Card
  • Proof of identification (Visa or Passport)
  • First aid kit
  • Warning Triangle
  • Hi-Vis Vest (for drivers)

Buckling up is also a mandatory requirement in the Czech Republic particularly for the driver and the rear seat passenger. Speed limits are 80 kilometres per hour on expressways and 90 kilometres per hour on other roads. Expats should also know that parking is quite scarce especially in Prague and though this country is famed for its beer, don’t ever try to drink and drive because it is illegal.

Overcoming Language Barrier

Except those living or working in major tourist destinations such as Prague, a huge number of locals especially the older generations do not speak English. The people of the Czech Republic still prefer to use their official language which is Czech and expats who can not speak it or don’t know anyone who can translate for them will find language barrier a huge hurdle. Being able to speak this country's mother tongue is also a significant advantage for applicants and may even be a requirement for some local employers. Foreign nationals bound here should start learning even a few Czech words before flying in.

  • Hello - Dobrý den
  • My name is.. -  Jmenuju se..
  • Good Morning - Dobré ráno
  • Good Evening - Dobrý večer
  • Goodbye – Nashledanou
  • Have a nice day! - Hezký den!
  • I don’t understand - Nerozumím Vím
  • Yes – Ano
  • No – Ne
  • Please – Prosím
  • Sorry - Pardon!
  • Thank You - Mockrát dĕkuji
  • How much is this? - Kolik je to?

 

Cost of Living in Czech Republic

 

An expat’s choice to leave his home country is often about getting better value for money. With this in mind, it's no wonder expats troop to this country in their thousands, even with the slight increase in the cost of living in the Czech Republic.

Food and housing

Over and above other needs, food always figures largely in an expat's budget. Obviously, the cost of cooking at home is still lighter on the pocket than opting to eat out on a daily basis. The cost of groceries in Czech Republic ranks 193 of 276 expat destinations; definitely a plus factor for an expat who wants to get the most out of his monthly salary.

Basic food stuff like milk costs 16 CZK (Czech Koruna) or about US$0.81, a loaf of French bread is 24 CZK or US$1.22, while a pack of six eggs costs about 18 CZK or US$0.91. Beverages are also considerably cheap, a 1.5-liter of water amounts to around 15 CZK or US$0.76 while a half-liter bottle of domestic beer costs about 12 CZK or US$0.61.

Eating out, on the other hand, is relatively more expensive in comparison to other expat destinations. For example, a solo dinner in an inexpensive restaurant already costs about 140 CZK or US$7.13. Make that a dinner for two and the price goes as high as 1,576 Kč. 1 Daily menu in business district costs 109 Kč while 1 Big Mac Meal costs 119 - 140  Kč. The Czech Republic ranks 71 out of 276 in this category.

Renting remains the best option for those who plan to stay long-term on a restricted budget. The monthly cost of a room in a shared apartment in Prague is about 7500 CZK or US$382.17. Rent prices are less outside of the capital - for the same accommodation; expect to pay a thousand Koruna less if you leave the capital. Renting bigger spaces such as a one-bedroom apartment costs about 17,988.85CZK, the equivalent of around US$1000. Monthly rent for 1 bedroom flat with an attached bathroom costs 112238.06 Kč to 4888.23 Kč, while monthly rent for a 2 bedrooms furnished apartment costs 185588.77 - Kč to 6827.13 Kč. The cost to rent a 3-bedroom apartment per month costs 134849.52 Kč to 43912.12 Kč.

Purchasing a house or real estate is also a good investment. In Prague, you can buy a decent family house for about 5,400,000 CZK or US$300,186. Real estate prices are definitely cheaper in towns outside of Prague at about 775,795.11 CZK or US$43,126.45 for a small residential house (including renovation costs).

Household utilities and transportation

The cost of household utilities in the Czech Republic is a bit more expensive than other expat destinations, ranking 14th of 276.

The monthly costs for gas and electricity figure around 2700 CZK or US$137.26. Communication is important for expatriates; the Czech Republic has the most number of Wi-Fi subscribers and three major mobile phone companies in the country offer mobile internet. The cost of internet connection per month is about 300 to 500 Kč.

Transportation in Czech Republic is mainly concentrated on road transport. If you would be using road transport regularly, a monthly pass costs about 724 Kč. Railway travel can also be used for longer distances. A 30-minute train ticket costs around 18 CZK or US$0.91, while that for a 75-minute ride costs 26 CZK or US$1.32. One inner city bus ticket costs 18 to 30  Kč while 1 liter (1/4 gallon) of gas costs 31 - 37 Kč.

Clothing and recreation

Clothing in the Czech Republic tends to be conservative. Given that the weather for most of the year is on the cold side, knitwear accounts for about 36% of total clothing sales. Because of the need for better quality garments, prices tend to be higher. Clothing costs in Czech Republic rank 26th out of 276 countries considered to be expat destinations.

Now, when work is over, it's time for some recreation. In the Czech Republic, there are numerous ways to chill out and relax, but leisure costs will vary depending on your preferences. Those who prefer sharing a good conversation over a bottle of good Czech wine will need around 120 CZK or US$6.11. Enjoying a cup of coffee and a slice of cake while appreciating Prague's architecture will set you back 110 CZK or US$5.60.

Theatre tickets cost 800 Kč while tickets to the movies cost 334 Kč. Appreciating Czech art is also a must-do. You can visit museums and galleries for an average expense of about 100 to 150 CZK (US$5.56 to US$8.34). 1 month of gym in business district costs 659 Kč.

 

Working in Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, the population is at 10,548,058 with expats making up roughly 6% of the population. With opportunities piling up due to increased foreign investments, everyone, including expats, has a fighting chance at obtaining a job in the Czech Republic. 

Czech Republic’s membership in the European Union in 2014 opened its door to numerous international companies that helped bring more employment opportunities to locals and expats alike. Today, several gigantic multinational businesses especially those in the fields of banking and management have set up their European headquarters in Prague, the capital. Czech Republic is a nation known across the world not just for its excellent living standards and rich history but also for its high income economy that generated an estimated Gross Domestic Product (nominal) of USD 189.982 billion in 2016. 

Employment Opportunities 

The largest share of employment is in the services sector, at 56.2%, followed by the industry sector at 40.2%, and the agriculture sector at 3.6%. Any of the three sectors has a potential pool of jobs for interested expatriates. 

Job openings in the Czech Republic are available through an information system called EURES (European Employment Service) that lists vacancies across Europe. This portal categorises available jobs depending on education level. Currently, most vacancies are in the field of production and operation which includes jobs for engineers, technicians, and electricians. There are also plenty of vacancies in the commerce and tourism sector, although the country’s main job industries involve motor vehicles, metallurgy, machinery and equipment, glass and armaments. 

Vacancy listings can also be verified at Job Centres spread all over the Czech Republic, totalling 77 offices in the different regions. 

"Right now, EU residents do not need a visa or a work permit to travel or stay in the CR. Before the CR joined the EU, the bureaucracy was very difficult and time consuming. Americans and Canadians have to go through a fairly strict procedure for both visas and work permits which, the Czechs say, is a reciprocity for what the Czechs have to do to visit or work in the US or Canada."- Jo Weaver, Expat in Czech Republic 

Average Salary and Work Hours

The minimum statutory wage in the Czech Republic as of January 2016 was CZK 9,900 or USD 390 per month while the current average monthly salary is at CZK 45,878 or USD 1,800. Like with most countries abroad, an expatriate’s salary can still vary depending on his job and qualifications. Below are some of the job categories in the Czech Republic along with their corresponding average monthly wage

Food/Hospitality/Tourism

CZK 15,000 or USD 590

Construction/Building

CZK 19,000 or USD 750

Teaching/Education

CZK 24,000 or USD 950

Real Estate

CZK 25,000 or USD 990

Customer Service/Call Centre

CZK 29,000 or USD 1,150

Architecture

CZK 34,400 or USD 1.350

Factory and Manufacturing

CZK 39,500 or USD 1,600

Oil/Gas/Energy

CZK 45,000 or USD 1,800

Automotive

CZK 49,000 or USD 1,950

In Czech Republic, the average working time is usually 39 hours per week without overtime. This country has a total of 20 standard holidays per year and expats working in autonomous public bodies and public administrations are granted five weeks of leave while those working as academic staff or teachers get eight weeks off. Generally speaking, employees who have worked for the company for at least two months or 60 days are allowed to take holidays whereas the schedule can be determined by their employer. 

Work Environment in the Czech Republic 

Part of the adjustment that an expat goes through is adapting to the work and business environment of their country of choice. In the Czech Republic, arrangements for appointments and meetings must be made in advance and if possible, not requested on a Friday afternoon, as Czechs tend to visit their country homes for an extended weekend. Punctuality is also of prime importance, and you are not expected to be more than five minutes late. 

Czechs also have high regard for a good quality of life and public holidays. Thus they start and end work earlier than other European countries. The people of this country are also reserved and tend to be on the conservative side, preferring to keep their business life separate from their private or family affairs. Networking or business through personal affiliations is also not common in the Czech Republic. However, with the country opening its doors to more Western influences, this aspect of their culture is bound to loosen up. 

A positive adjustment for an expat is enjoying a good salary with a lower cost of living. With all this considered, Czech Republic offers a bright spark of hope for expats whose major concern is employment. 

 

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