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 it's also growing as an expat destination. A small and safe land-locked 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 over 2,000 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, Germans, Romanis, 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 industrial sectors include electronics, pharmaceuticals, iron and steel production, machinery manufacturing, and chemical production. Thriving service-based sectors include financial services, commercial services, tourism and teaching. 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 adequate and has improved in recent years, 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 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.