Updated: Nov 8
Author: Rosa Palacios
Date of Publication: 17/10/2022
The first time I came to the Czech Republic was for studying and nothing more. However, I never imagined that one day I would have the opportunity to work and live in Prague. You know, apart from enjoying its charm, at the same time you face the changes of moving to an unknown country. Anyway, life takes many turns and here I’m sharing some tips that could help you get used to living in Prague in case you have plans to do so.
The quality of life in the Czech Republic:
It is no coincidence that more and more foreigners are deciding to move to Prague. The Czech Republic has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe and is always at the top of the ranking for raising a family.
It sounds quite attractive if we also take into account the attractiveness and security of the country. However, there are pros and cons that you should consider before deciding to live in Prague. Below I will tell you the ones that, based on my 5-year experience living here, seem to me to be the most important...
1. Learn the Czech language
One of the main challenges faced by an immigrant in the Czech Republic is to learn the Czech language. There aren’t a few foreigners who complain about how difficult it is to learn and it is true. It isn’t an easy language, but willingness is a strong power. I know many people who have managed to develop fluent Czech. This of course happened after a couple of years living in Prague and after taking a few courses. In my case, I was able to study and focus on the language for almost a year. That’s if I don’t feel that I speak it perfectly but I defend myself with what is necessary.
There are those who use the pretext of how difficult Czech is to justify their laziness in learning it. In big cities like Prague or Brno, you can live without problems if you have a good command of English, because there are many multicultural companies where the communication is bilingual.
Although this is not to say that speaking Czech is not useful when living in Prague, of course it is! Especially when you have to do paperwork in government offices where normally they will only speak to you in Czech. In addition, knowing the language will increase your employment options.
2. Get a job living in Prague
In recent years, the Czech Republic has become a magnet for many IT and technology companies. Therefore, among the best paid jobs and with the most labor demand are all those in IT, and in general everything that has to do with the use of digital tools. If you meet any of these profiles, you have a better chance of getting a job quickly.
There is also a high demand for bilingual staff for customer service, both online and by phone. This is where many foreigners find their first job opportunity in Prague, as proficiency in English and another European language is usually required. Among the most required languages are Spanish, German, French, Italian and Portuguese. The best thing is that most companies offer paid training before you start working. So far everything seems to be going well. However there is a big "but" to get a job: your immigration status and work permit.
3. The difficulty of living in Prague without a work permit as a non-European citizen
Some are lucky enough to get to live in Prague with a contract in hand, as in the case of IT experts or some project managers. In that case, the recruiting company is in charge of doing all the necessary paperwork before the immigration and tax authorities. However, most of us have not had that luck and that is when the ordeal begins to find a way to make a living here.
The Czech Republic is one of the European countries that controls and limits immigration the most. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult for non-European citizens to regularize or extend the limit of their visas. If you arrive in the Czech Republic with a tourist visa looking for a company to hire you, it is very likely that it will never happen. Most employers look for candidates who already have valid work permits or residence visas. Unless you have a highly qualified or specialized profession, it will be difficult for a company to agree to help you in the immigration regularization process.
The situation improves if you have a student or entrepreneur visa, or if you have the possibility of applying for a temporary stay visa. In situations like this you will have options to access the Czech labor market. Take a look at the types of visas you can apply for.
4. How the Czechs are
Some consider the Czechs as cold and not very expressive. However, in my experience I have met very friendly and warm people, but also reserved and uncommunicative people. Perhaps it is a contrast that as a Latino you notice much more, but the truth is that there are personalities of all kinds, especially in Prague. Among the traits that characterize the Czechs is discipline in their day to day, respect and punctuality. They have everything planned in advance, so last minute changes or putting things off until tomorrow is not in the Czech culture.
Maybe at first it's hard for you to make friends with a Czech man or woman, but it's normal. They don't usually open up so quickly to people they've just met. If you find your personality brimming with friendliness, it's best to tone it down a bit in the Czech Republic. In the voice of the Czechs themselves, when someone is too friendly they come to suspect that there is a hidden interest.
5. Get out of your comfort zone
It is normal that being in a country with a culture as different as the Czech one, we seek to make connections with what is most familiar or close to us. By this I mean looking for places where you can meet other Spanish speakers to share the experience of living in Prague and not feel so alone. Although being in contact with culturally close people helps to cope with the adaptation process, in other cases it isolates you. Especially when you limit yourself to interacting with people of the same nationality. By blocking yourself in this way you only stop your integration into this country. So, you may never stop feeling like a foreigner in the city where you have decided to live.