Whether you know it as Czechia or the Czech Republic, many Expats love this beautiful European country. Living in the Czech Republic offers many benefits, from accessible healthcare to appealing career opportunities. Rich with cultural history, Czechia serves as a home to many multicultural communities. In many recent surveys of Expat satisfaction, the Czech Republic ranks highly ahead of better know destinations. Sound tempting? In this article, we cover everything you need to know about living in Czechia.
- Czechia vs. the Czech Republic vs. Czechoslovakia
- Why Live in Czechia?
- Living in the Czech Republic
- Cost of Living
- Local Transport
- Is Living in the Czech Republic Safe?
- Entertainment and Leisure
- Working in the Czech Republic
- Studying in Czechia
- Best Places to Live in the Czech Republic
- Retiring in Czechia
- Are Expats welcomed?
- Your next step to live in the Czech Republic
Czechia vs. the Czech Republic vs. Czechoslovakia
First off, we need to start with the name of this beautiful country. Is it Czechia or the Czech Republic? Or is it Czechoslovakia? Here’s a quick explainer.
The Czech Republic is a country formed when Czechoslovakia was partitioned. It was separated into its two components on 1 January 1993, known as the ‘velvet divorce.’ The dissolution of Czechoslovakia gave birth to two new states in Central Europe: the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Over the years, some people found the formal name a handful (not the least on football shirts). In addition, people used different abbreviations, including Czech, Czech Rep, Rep. Czech, and many other variations. In 2016, the country’s government responded to the confusion by introducing the official short geographic name for the country: Czechia.
In short, you can refer to the country by its formal name; the Czech Republic. However, if that’s too long for you, you can refer to it by the shortened title, Czechia.
Why Live in Czechia?
Since its establishment and inclusion in the EU, Czechia has been experiencing steady economic growth. This, together with other benefits listed below, made the country a great place for Expats to move to.
Accessible Healthcare System
The Czech Republic’s healthcare system has admirable infrastructure and skills. It provides high standards of treatment in a universal health care system. So, if you are resident in Czechia society, you’re automatically a member of the general health insurance system.
Many international companies also provide private health insurance plans to access the excellent private system.
Appealing Career Opportunities
A recent influx of international companies has created a buzz in Czechia. Much of this was driven by the Czech Republic’s 2014 membership of the European Union. Consequently, the employment rate and investment opportunities have also increased in the country over time. Expats relocating to the Czech Republic can often find work in the IT, finance, pharmaceuticals, and food manufacturing fields.
Since joining the EU, Czechia has experienced strong economic growth, and with that, expanded employment opportunities. Czechia had a declining unemployment rate, from 5.1% in 2015 down to 2.0% in 2019. It ranks 14th among the forty-five European countries in terms of economic freedom.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the country experienced a severe recession. However, experts predict that it will bounce back in the second half of 2021.
Expats in Prague
Prague has a thriving Expat community, and it’s no wonder. No matter what you’re into, there’s something for everyone in this country.
- Sports fans can cheer on the Sparta Prague soccer team at Letná Stadium or the Sparta Prague hockey team at O2 Arena in Prague.
- History enthusiasts will be overwhelmed by Czechia’s rich past, including The Velvet Revolution and the collapse of the Communist regime that happened in 1989.
- With over 2000 castles, Czechia can transport you back to medieval times, making exploring the country a unique cultural experience.
- Nature lovers are spoiled in Czechia. There are endless trails just outside of Prague and further afield for both beginner and experienced hikers. Rešov Waterfalls is a worthy visit for picturesque scenery. If you love an aquatic outdoor adventure or are missing the ocean in this landlocked country, don’t panic. The Vltava River in Prague is a great spot to rent a canoe or a paddleboard.
- Beer connoisseurs will appreciate the many beer festivals hosted every year. You’ll also be able to try an authentic Pilsner-style brew, which originated in Plzeň in 1842. You can even visit one of several Beer Spas.
Living in the Czech Republic
- Country name: Czech Republic, Ceska Republika (short form: Czechia, Cesko)
- Location: Central Europe
- Area: 78,867 km² (slightly smaller than the US state of South Carolina)
- Government type: Parliamentary Republic
- Capital: Prague
- Currency: Czech Koruna, known as the Czech crown (CZK or Kč)
- Language: Czech (official), Slovak
- Religion: Roman Catholic, Protestant
- Timezone: Central European Time (CET), UTC +1h
- Emergency number: 112
- Calling code: +420
The Czech Republic’s official language is Czech which shares roots with other Baltic and Slavic languages. English is common spoken in larger centers and tourist areas.
There’s a wide variety of summer schools and private institutions that offer language courses to foreigners living in the Czech Republic. The majority of Czech civilians have a basic knowledge of the English language, especially in the cities. However, It’s helpful to know a few key phrases in Czech. Greetings and common phrases such as Dobrý den (Hello) or Jak se máte? (How are you?) are a good start.
Because of its location, Czechia has a temperate oceanic climate, with mild summers and cold winters. The presence of mountain ranges heavily affects its climate, as well as its temperate latitudes.
The geography of the country means that the climate varies in different regions. However, in general, summer in the Czech Republic is warm, with frequent rainfalls in the afternoon. On the other hand, winters are cold and snowy, with snowfall in the mountains and light snowfall in the lowlands.
The average annual rainfall ranges from 381 mm (15 inches) to 508 mm (20 inches).
Cost of Living
The cost of living in the Czech Republic is very affordable, ranking 42% more affordable than the US. However, if you plan to live in Prague or any other major town, you can expect a higher cost of living than the rest of the country.
How you live will define how much money you need to live in Czechia. However, as a rough guide, you can live well on Kč 7600-16200, or around USD $350-750 per month. This amount covers public transport, accommodation, everyday meals, and other recreational activities.
Real estate prices can be relatively high compared to other countries, and the prices continue to climb. Check out this site for house and apartment rental prices.
The Czech Republic has universal health care. Indeed, in 2018, it rated 14th in the Euro Health Consumer Index, two positions in front of the United Kingdom. Globally, Czech ranks 8th in the World Index of Healthcare Innovation.
With easy access to doctors and health care practitioners, Czechia is a strong leader in the world of health. However, long wait times are typical, causing some people to leave for the private system.
In Czechia, there is public (free) healthcare and private healthcare. Free healthcare is funded through taxes and compulsory health insurance mandates.
If you’re a permanent resident working under a Czech company, you and your employer both make contributions to this system. In addition, as a holder of a permanent resident visa, you are entitled to free medical care.
Private healthcare is available for locals and Expats alike, but you’ll pay for it. It is, however, seen as one of the best in Europe. Moreover, you can buy private health insurance at a very reasonable cost compared to the USA.
As an Expat, there are many considerations for your health abroad. For more information on International Health Insurance, see our full guide to cost and cover.
Locals living in Prague and other cities often travel by public transport. There are tram, trolleybus, and subway services; all are cheap and reliable for day-to-day use. You can purchase a long-term traveling pass if you plan on using the service frequently. You can also purchase subway tickets online, by text, and at ticket machines at local stops.
If you plan to drive your own vehicle, you’ll need an international or European driving license. You will also need to carry your passport, an identity card, and proof of insurance. Alternatively, there is a service to exchange your foreign driver’s license for a local one. The speed limits for vehicles are as follows;
- Urban Centers: 50 km/h.
- National Roads: 90 km/h.
- Highways: 130 km/h.
Cycling as a means of transportation is pretty common in parts of Czechia, particularly in South Bohemia.
Is Living in the Czech Republic Safe?
Yes, the Czech Republic is among the safest destinations in the world for both locals and tourists. The crime rate is comparatively low across the country. That said, as with anywhere in Europe, you need to be aware of local con artists or pickpockets, especially in the larger cities.
Happily, the Czech Republic has experienced a recent decline in road accidents due to its strict no-tolerance policy for drink-driving.
In case of emergency, you can use the general EU emergency number, 112, to contact the fire and police departments. The operator usually communicates in English. For health-related emergencies, dial 155.
Entertainment and Leisure
Czechia offers an abundance of leisure and entertainment spaces, from its beautiful châteaux, energetic festivals, and Bohemian hot springs. There are many popular tourist spots all over the country, among them are the following:
- The Gothic Kost Castle.
- The Cesky Sternberk Castle outside Prague.
- Charles IV’s Karchâteauxastle.
Prague is fantastic for experiencing local culture. Music is at the heart of much of what happens here. Many people come to enjoy jazz, contemporary, and classical music concerts and festivals.
Among the Czech Republic’s most exciting cultural events is the Prague Spring International Music Festival.
The Frantz Kafka Museum also exhibits a wide range of works inspired by the modern existentialist movement.
Czech cuisine is heaven on earth for meat-eaters. The diet is very protein-focused, often with a tasty gravy. Traditional food is very hearty; potatoes, pork, tomatoes, and garlic are common. Some of the most famous traditional delicacies include:
Czechs are often very friendly and like to recommend their favorite authentic places to eat. Lunch or dinner at a good restaurant can cost you Kč 190 for an excellent meal.
Meanwhile, you can grab a hearty bowl of hot soup alongside a pretty great lunch for Kč 100 or less. Even so, eating out is much more expensive than cooking something on your own. Basic food staples such as meat, milk, bread, and eggs are very affordable.
Quite apart from the food, Czechia’s beer is highly regarded around the globe. Czechia locals are among the top consumers of beer per capita. You can take a tour around Prague’s eclectic Beer Museum to learn more about its history.
Working in the Czech Republic
Working for a Czech Employer
Because of Czechia’s continuously growing economy, more and more jobs are becoming available. These jobs aren’t exclusive to locals only; many are open to foreigners with work permits. If you speak a foreign language, especially English, it can be an advantage.
The statutory minimum wage is currently Kč 15,600 per month. As for work hours, the country’s labor regulations specify that a standard work week should not exceed forty hours.
There are twenty standard holidays each year. Locals working in public bodies and the academic sector get up to five weeks and eight weeks of leave, respectively.
Remember that you must secure a work visa with a corresponding residence permit to work under a Czech employer in Czechia. Please read our Moving to the Czech Republic article for everything you need to know.
In general, you can carry out remote work for a foreign company from the Czech Republic. This is because the immigration laws allow Expats to live and work from Czechia through the Zivno visa. This visa is valid for one year, after which you can apply to extend it.
Remote work is only possible if you have a reliable Internet connection. Czechia has a reliably fast Internet connection, ranking 52nd globally for internet connectivity. Brno reported the fastest mobile download speed among the country’s most populous cities, followed by Pilsen and Prague.
Studying in Czechia
If you plan on living in the Czech Republic with your children, you can enroll your children in a local school. The compulsory stages of Czechia’s educational system are free of charge, but parents provide their child’s stationery. The system consists of the following steps.
- Pre-primary education: for children aged 2 to 6. The last year in pre-primary school is compulsory.
- Primary and lower secondary education: under a single-structured system and lasts for nine years. This stage is compulsory.
- Upper secondary education: for students aged 15 to 18 years. There are general and vocational schools that offer courses at this level. On finishing this stage, you will receive a Maturita or a VET certificate.
- Tertiary education: three-year degree and diploma programs.
There are also many quality private schools in a range of languages to choose from.
There are public and private universities in Czechia, as well as police and military training schools. Public universities are state-funded, as long as the course is in Czech.
However, access to free education and health care is only available while you are under 26.
International students are also welcome in Czechia. They can choose whether to enjoy free education in Czech or a paid course in English.
The Czech Republic is the ideal destination for students planning on studying abroad. That’s because living in the Czech Republic is much more affordable than in many European countries. Most universities provide accommodation to international students in the form of shared dormitory rooms and private rooms.
You may be eligible for an international student identity card. The card gets you discounts for public transport, concerts, art exhibitions, restaurants, and cinemas.
The price of shared dormitory rooms is usually around Kč 2,500 per month. You can expect to pay around Kč 5,200 for a private room. These rates can vary depending upon where in the country you live.
Best Places to Live in the Czech Republic
As an Expat living in Czechia, remember that English is not an official language. Living in an area where English is more common might be a priority for you.
- Prague: The Czech Republic’s capital, this picturesque city is home to 1.3 million people. Prague has the best opportunities for those seeking employment, promoting a desirable work-life balance (five weeks vacation is normal). Although Prague is the most expensive city to live in Czechia, there are fifteen neighborhoods to choose from, each offering its perks. For example, if you love the nightlife and want to be close to a range of pubs and bars, consider Prague 3 district (Žižkov).
- Brno: If you want something off the beaten path, explore the possibility of Brno. This small, vibrant and cultural center is home to music festivals, museums, public art and offers an engaging and fun nightlife. It is situated two and a half hours away from the capital, on the edge of Czechia’s beautiful countryside. Brno is an excellent option for Expats looking for a more relaxed atmosphere.
- Olomouc: Olomouc has the same architectural beauty found in Prague, with a lower cost of living. The Holy Trinity Column, sitting at the heart of the Old Town, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. While history buffs will be content in this town, there is something for everyone. The town offers great food, cheap beer, and mountain biking at the nearby Jeseník mountain.
Retiring in Czechia
The average age for retirement in Czechia is 63 years of age for both men and women. The pension program and planning are under the authority of the Czech Republic’s Social Security Administration. In Czechia, old-age pensions consist of two components:
- The basic amount (usually Kč 2,700)
- The percentage amount (varies; average around Kč 800)
To claim a state pension while living in the Czech Republic, you need to have made the necessary contributions to the system. You must also be over the retirement age. There are additional requirements if you want to access your pension early, and this usually results in a lower monthly payment.
Individuals who cannot work due to health-related difficulties can also apply for an invalid pension, starting from Kč 2,700.
Best Places to Retire to In Czechia
If you’re looking at living in the Czech Republic in your retirement, consider one of these locations.
- Prague: One of Europe’s most beautiful, the country’s capital isn’t just a good place for your working years. For many, it is a great place to retire as well. If you’re looking for a quieter area with a large Expat community, consider a home in Prague 7 district (Letná and Holešovice).
- Řičany: Named “Best Place to Live in The Czech Republic,” this town is a half-hour train ride from Prague’s city center. The city boasts the best quality of life of all Czechia, offering a cheaper and quieter lifestyle within easy reach of the hustle-and-bustle.
- Hustopeče: If you’re looking for a rural retirement, this small town near the forests of southeast Czechia could be a great choice. Surrounded by orchards and vineyards, the town is steeped in history and offers a cheap cost of living and a slow pace.
Are Expats welcomed?
Czechia itself is already a melting pot of different cultures and nationalities. Around 64% of Czech residents are Czech, with a third of the population made up of immigrants. While many of the major economies are represented in this population, you’ll also meet people from around the world. This includes Expat communities from Ukraine, Slovakia, and Vietnam.
Your next step to live in the Czech Republic
There are plenty of advantages of living in the Czech Republic, and Expat life in Czechia is an appealing option for many. If you want to talk through the specifics of your situation, we suggest you talk to an immigration partner. Or, check out our detailed Moving to the Czech Republic article for all the information you need to get going today!