As one of the most developed and industrialised economies in Central Europe, expats moving to the Czech Republic will find that the country is not only a popular tourist destination, but also a growing expat destination. A small and safe landlocked country, the Czech Republic is the western part of the former Czech and Slovak Federal Republic (Czechoslovakia), which split to form two separate states in 1993.
Tourists flock to the country’s commercial, social and cultural capital, Prague, to marvel at its historical buildings and natural beauty, the central focus of which is the city’s imposing castle. Outside of the capital, there are more historical landmarks to be seen; the country has countless castles, keeps and ruins, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The majority of the Czech Republic’s population is Czech; other ethnic groups include Slovaks, Ukrainians, Germans, Vietnamese and Poles. The main language is Czech, which can present an element of culture shock for new arrivals. Although many of the younger Czech population are able to speak English as it is taught in most schools, older generations may be unable to converse in English, especially outside the larger cities. German is also a common second language in the Czech Republic. Expats should make at least some attempt to learn Czech if they want to converse with the local population.
Most new arrivals will find themselves living in Prague, which is the site of the European headquarters of many international companies. Recently, the city’s economic structure has become less industrial and more service-oriented. Strong sectors include machinery, manufacturing, tourism and finance. All of these industries are ideal for expats looking for opportunities to work in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic has a developed transport system, with Prague having an established network of trains, buses, trams and a metro. Expats living in Prague may get by without owning a car, but those living outside of the city will likely need a vehicle for getting around.
Healthcare in the Czech Republic is of a high standard, with most large medical facilities centred in Prague. Many doctors and dentists are able to speak English. Healthcare is free to all citizens and is provided through compulsory contributions to a state-approved insurance fund. Most expats working in the country will qualify for Czech public healthcare, depending on their residency status. The Czech Republic also has reciprocal health agreements with some countries, so expats should explore their options in this regard.
Those with children need not worry about their children’s education when relocating to the Czech Republic. There are a number of international schools in Prague, all catering to different nationalities.
Prague has ranked highly in numerous international liveability surveys and the country generally offers expats a high standard of living. Despite an increase in accommodation costs, the general cost of living is affordable relative to West European standards and foreigners are generally able to maintain active and enriching lifestyles in the country.
As Czechs are known to be some of the heaviest beer drinkers in the world, it goes without saying that there is a thriving social scene, with many pubs and restaurants offering expats a good night out. Due to its central location in Europe, there are also many opportunities for travel outside of the Czech Republic for a weekend break or extended holiday.
Population: 10.7 million
Capital city: Prague (also the largest city)
Neighbouring countries: The Czech Republic is bordered by Germany to the west, Poland to the north, Slovakia to the southeast and Austria to the south.
Geography: The country is landlocked and can be divided into two main areas geographically; Bohemia to the west and Moravia in the east. Bohemia is ringed by low mountains and its landscape is defined by hills, plains and plateaus. Moravia is defined by rolling hills and valleys.
Political system: Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
Main languages: Czech is the official language, but German and English are also spoken.
Major religions: Predominantly non-religious with a Roman Catholic minority
Money: The currency is the Czech koruna (CZK), sometimes called the Czech crown in English.
Tipping: Tipping is not mandatory but foreigners may be expected to tip more than their local counterparts. In most cases, expats can tip by rounding up to the nearest 5 or 10 korunas or, if in a restaurant, adding 5 to 10 percent of the total to the bill.
Time: GMT+1 (GMT+2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)
Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. 'Type-C' and 'Type-E' European-style plugs with two round pins are used.
International dialling code: +420
Internet domain: .cz
Emergency contacts: 112 (general emergencies), 158 (police), 155 (ambulance), 150 (fire)
Transport: The country is well-conntected in terms of public transport, especially Prague. Driving is on the right-hand side of the road.