Slovakia, or the Slovak Republic, is a landlocked country in the very centre of Europe and bordered by Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Austria and Czech Republic. The country boasts picturesque, mountainous landscapes, particularly in the north where the breathtaking Carpathian Mountains stand guard, while lush forests make up a good portion of the topography too. But expats aren't just lured here by the country's staggering scenery; Slovakia is also one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union.
Although a former communist state it has, since gaining independence, transformed into an almost completely privatised, market-driven economy. Slovakia's relatively low cost of living and low taxes combined with a great range of outdoor pursuits and natural splendour have made it an attractive choice for expats.
The services sector is the largest contributor to its GDP, and car manufacturing is also key, both of which provide plenty of jobs for qualified expats.
Slovakia is still trying to shake off socio-economic problems that accompanied independence, such as corruption and cronyism. Nevertheless, Slovakia still ranked at 45 out of 190 countries on The World Bank's Ease of Doing Business ranking for 2020.
The country has a lot to offer expats. Although not a traditional tourist destination, it's increasingly making its mark. Unspoilt natural attractions such as the Tatra and Carpathian mountain ranges, dense forests, and UNESCO-listed caves and rock formations are sure to keep hikers, skiers and nature-lovers occupied. Those with an interest in history will be able to delve into the region’s rich past as Slovakia has the highest number of castles and ruins per capita. In addition, there are world-famous spas built around the country's natural thermal springs.
More than 80 percent of the population are native Slovaks and Slovak is the official language. Although English is increasingly accepted and understood in business and tourism, German is still a little more common due to Slovakia's proximity with and former occupation by Germany.
Expats moving to Slovakia with a family should investigate schools thoroughly. Although free Slovak-language public education is provided, there are also a number of other options in the cities for Spanish, Hungarian, French or German speakers, as well as a handful of international-curriculum English-speaking schools.
Renting or buying a home in Slovakia is comparatively cheap, and it's not uncommon to find expats who live in Slovakia but commute to nearby cities such as Vienna. There are no restrictions on buying property for foreigners and Slovak property is considered a safe investment.
The climate is continental, with a marked difference between the four seasons, especially the freezing winters and warm summers.
Ultimately, Slovakia may still be seen as something of a left-field choice for expats, but it is slowly increasing in popularity not only for tourists and adventurers, but for foreigners who decide to build a home here long term.
Population: 5.5 million
Major religions: Catholicism and Christianity
Capital city: Bratislava (and largest city)
Legal system: Parliamentary republic
Main languages: Slovak, Hungarian, Roma
Time: GMT+1 (GMT+2 from late March to late October)
Electricity: 230V, 50 Hz.
Currency: Euro (EUR)
International dialling code: +421
Emergency numbers: 158 (police), 150 (fire), 155 (ambulance)
Internet domain: .sk
Drives on the: Right