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An Expat's Guide to Living in Prague

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Imagine living in a place as beautiful as a fairy tale. A city everybody knows from pictures and movies that are on half the world's bucket list. That's what living in Prague feels like! A little decadent, a little surreal – every day, when you walk past the people visiting for just a few days, you have to pinch yourself and think: I really live here!

Or at least that is how I felt, calling the Czech capital home. I lived in Prague for over a year and truly enjoyed my time here. Prague offers an excellent quality of life – as a single person, you will meet a lot of other expats to mingle with; for a family, it's very safe and still affordable compared to Western and Central European capitals. But I know that moving to a new place can be daunting, so here are the most important things you need to know about living in Prague.

Getting to Know Prague

Photo by Matteus Silva

Prague is the capital city of the Czech Republic (or: Czechia), a landlocked country in Central Europe bordering Germany, Austria, Poland, and Slovakia. Even though the Czech Republic is often overlooked in favor of its "more exciting" neighbors, it has a rich history, beautiful architecture, delicious food, and plenty of stunning places to visit. In addition, if you ask me, Prague is more beautiful than many other capital cities in Europe too, if not the most beautiful I ever visited.

It has a great central location in Europe and excellent public transportation. Moreover, with just over a million inhabitants, it's neither too big nor too small. Many expats chose Prague for those exact reasons.

The city is located on the Vltava River and has many parks and outdoor areas – Czechs like to be active. Prague is divided into different boroughs, a bit like Paris or Vienna. The lower the number of the borough, the more central it is, so Prague 2 is more centrally located than Prague 10.

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Finding a Place to Live

Like in all big cities, the housing market in Prague can be competitive. Especially if you don't speak Czech, finding a flat can be a challenge. Your best bet is landlords letting out to expats a lot or getting help from your future employer.

A few great websites to check for flats and houses are:

  • Bezrealitky.cz: You pay a small signup fee, but no commission for flats
  • UlovDomov.cz: No commission, but in Czech
  • Expats.cz: Designed for expats, apartments might be more pricey

When checking the ads, you will find descriptions like 1+kk or 1+1 for a one-bedroom flat. The first one means an open kitchen, the +1 signals the kitchen is a separate room. The same goes for bigger flats with 2 or 3 rooms. This article really helps make sense of their unique terminology.

Flats often come furnished, and often, utilities are included in the rent. If not, they are stated exactly and come on top of the rent. At the end of the year you will get some money back if you used less than calculated for the year, if you used more, you pay the difference.

Most expats live in Prague 2, Vinohrady, a central neighborhood close to several parks and lovely bars and restaurants. Prague 6 is another expat hub, where you'll find many embassies and international schools, and it's more green and quiet, so it's more suitable for families.

Everyday Life in Prague

Photo by Christine Sandu

Expat life in Prague is easy and comfortable – whether you are just starting your life abroad journey or are a seasoned traveler. The Czech capital offers a lot of amenities, history, culture, food, events, and a big expat community – while being affordable compared to other European capitals.

If you're new to the city and have loads of questions, Prague is one of the few places I've lived that have a website for the city created specifically for expats. I highly recommend bookmarking expats.cz if you're living in Prague.

Prague Public Transport

Good news: You will not need a car when you are living in Prague or anywhere else in Czech Republic in fact. Like many European cities, Prague has excellent public transportation.

If you are staying long-term, it definitely pays out to buy a yearly transportation pass for 3,600 CZK, which is less than $200. Make sure to also get the transportation app, so you always have your ticket with you – ticket controls are pretty frequent in Prague's metro.

Big cities of the Czech Republic are well-connected via train, so it will be easy for you to get around and explore your new home country.

Language

Here's the hard truth: If you want to live in the Czech Republic, you need to know at least a bit of Czech. In many shops, and even in immigration, Czechs don't necessarily speak English.

And yes, the Czech language is difficult to understand – no less than 7 cases and 9 special characters that are impossible to pronounce are waiting for you! But learning basic Czech will get you a long way, and any Czech person you meet will appreciate your effort.

I used the app Mondly to learn essential words and easy small talk conversations – for example, for doctors, supermarkets, etc. However, for more difficult meetings, such as the immigration office, I strongly suggest you get a translator to help you – maybe a Czech friend or colleague.

Restaurants in Prague & Czech Food

A bite of Czech goulash

I am one of those people who travel for food – and if I had traveled to the Czech Republic before moving to Prague, the food would've lured me into staying! The Czech cuisine is quite heavy but delicious – many dumplings, creamy sauces, and hearty stews. And then there are the different beers – almost every Czech town has its own local brewery, and their beer is excellent.

Living in Prague, though, you will not miss international cuisine either. From Vietnamese food to Indian and Mexican restaurants, you will find everything here.

When living in the Czech Republic, you will soon become familiar with the term denní menu: This is a daily menu offered at almost every restaurant during lunchtime. It's fantastic value for money, typically consisting of two or sometimes even three courses and a drink. When living in Prague, I always used it and visited different restaurants around the city.

Another fun fact about restaurants in Prague: You will often find that you cannot order tap water, they waiters will sell you bottled water instead – which, in many places, is more expensive than just ordering a mug of beer!

Places to Work from in Prague

There are many cute cafés to work from in Prague, and most have a decent internet connection. Sometimes, you need more focus or quiet, your own desk, or just the feeling of co-workers around you, though. If you feel like working from a co-working space a few times a week, you might want to check out those three:

  • Paper Hub
  • Lampárna Co-working
  • Opero

Making Friends

Photo by Alice

Living in Prague, you will meet many fellow expats and travelers – the city is a bustling hub of internationals working for big corporations here in the capital, students, diplomats, or digital nomads. According to the big expat portal expats.cz, the expat community in the country is roughly 700,000 people strong.

So how do you make new friends? Facebook groups and events worked best for me. There is always something happening in Prague – concerts, exhibitions, and meet-ups for different topics. So I definitely recommend joining some of those groups. The app Meetup is another great option to meet people – my husband found a group of friends to play football with on it.

If you want to meet Czech people, it's a bit more complicated. I don't want to generalize, but I had the experience that Czechs living in Prague are not as open to meeting new people. This might just be because it's a big city and many locals already have their own group of friends. Many people in Prague are also a bit tired of foreigners – especially people that don't bother learning about the Czech customs or language (and British stag parties, of course – those ruined English speakers' reputation in Prague thoroughly!) If you work with Czech people, however, you have a good chance to make friends and get to know more about Czech culture and traditions.

Visa Options for Living in Prague

Czechia is part of the Schengen, and many non-Schengen nationalities can stay visa-free in Prague for 90 days. However, you will need a visa if you want to live in Prague long-term. Even though the country is not one of the Europe countries with a digital nomad visa, they offer the long-term residence for up to one year for freelancers, the Zivnostenske opravneniIf you are an EU citizen, you have the freedom of movement and can live and work in the Czech Republic; you just need to register.

It's also possible to live and work in Prague as an English teacher. Some English teachers actually use the freelance visa mentioned above but if you're a Canadian citizen, the process is made even easier with the Youth Mobility Visa.

Things to Do in and Around Prague

Photo by Alice

I speak from experience when I tell you: Prague is such a beautiful city you don't want to leave once you've moved there! This city has so much to offer – from the obvious sights such as the famous Charles Bridge, the Old Town Square, Prague Castle, or Wenceslas Square to delicious restaurants and hidden backyard bars. You can walk the streets of this city a hundred times and discover something new every single time.

If you want to learn more about Prague, places of the beaten path and tourist traps to avoid, I can really recommend the YouTube channel Honest Guide, made by two Czech guys. We watched their videos religiously after moving to Prague!

Summer, when Prague life happens outside, is definitely the best time to be there! People gather in the beer gardens, parks, or by the river bank to drink beers with friends, chat, enjoy open-air concerts, play outdoor sports, or just enjoy the sun. But you'll find plenty of things to do in winter too, like concerts and galleries or the beautiful Christmas markets in the old town.

Here are some places off the beaten path you might want to visit when you live in Prague:

  • Žluté lázně: Outdoor sports area with kayak and paddle board rental
  • Altán Grebovka: A vineyard in the middle of the city
  • Letná beer garden: The perfect place for an afterwork beer
  • Riegrovy sady: Bring a beer and watch the sunset with friends
  • Vrtbovská zahrada: Stunning baroque garden in old town barely any tourists knows about

For more things to do and see in Prague, you might want to check out one of these guided tours.

While the city is great to stay and explore for a while, there is much to see in the Czech Republic too. Many of those you can comfortably reach by train or rental car. A few European cities you can visit on weekend trips are Vienna, Munich, Nuremberg, Dresden, Berlin, and Bratislava.

In addition, cheap flights from Prague airport can help you explore the whole of Europe!

Making Prague Your Home Abroad

Whether you come to Prague as a student, employee or freelancer – it's a beautiful city to live in and you won't regret making the move here! You'll be rewarded by waking up in one of the most beautiful cities in the world everyday and you have the whole of Europe just a short train ride or flight away too. So if you are thinking of making the Czech capital your home – just do it!

Hero photo by Martin Krchnacek.

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