Prague is one of the most enchanting cities in Europe. However, architecture, picturesque nooks, and breathtaking panoramas are far from being everything that the city has to offer. More and more people from all over the world are coming to the city for culture or due to study or work obligations, for example.
Relocating to another country is not a simple matter and the clash with a new environment often induces culture shock. However, you can substantially simplify the entire process if you prepare for it in advance. How is life in Prague, what are expats’ most common complaints and what should you definitely prepare for before you move to Prague?
Eight things to prepare for before moving to Prague
Prague isn’t called the “City of a Hundred Spires” for nothing. The city boasts numerous architectural monuments, the most prominent of which is Prague Castle. This symbol of the city is entered in the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest historical castle and today serves as the seat of the head of state, the president of the Czech Republic. But what is Prague really like?
Housing is probably one of the first issues that you will probably need to resolve when moving to Prague or anywhere abroad. How much does housing cost in Prague and where are the best places to live? First, think about whether you want to rent on your own or if you prefer to share a place. The monthly price of a room in Prague ranges from approximately CZK 6,000 to CZK 15,000 (€230-€600, $260-$660). For a smaller apartment, the price ranges from CZK 12,000 to CZK 25,000 (€480-€1,000, $530-$1,110) per month. However, that depends to a great extent on the size and location. If you desire to live at the centre of events and having everything nearby, prepare to spend more money. More outlying parts of Prague are cheaper and quieter, but you will spend more time commuting.
You will probably get more favourable prices if you arrange temporary housing with a friend, at a hotel or through Airbnb and start your search for a place to rent after your arrival. Get advice from locals on which websites are good for finding housing and ask around in your area if someone is seeking a roommate. If you are worried about where to store your belongings until you find a place to live, contact a moving company, which will store your things for an agreed period of time.
2. Crime rate
Prague is a relatively safe city in which you needn’t be afraid even after dark. The only problem that is prevalent in Prague is pickpockets, who mainly gather in the most visited tourist areas. Therefore, always keep an eye on your things, especially if you are going sightseeing.
The currency of the Czech Republic is the Czech koruna, abbreviated as Kč. In Prague, particularly the city centre, there are many dubious exchange offices that attempt to profit from tourists’ ignorance. Before you go anywhere to exchange money, find out the current exchange rates. It is better to find the exchange office with the best rate online or to exchange money at your bank.
Practically everywhere in Prague, you can use a payment card or pay with your mobile telephone, which is a very widespread option here. Czechs are relatively advanced in this area, so you almost don’t even need cash.
From the beginning, expats and tourists most frequently complain that Czechs do not smile on the streets and appear to be rather unapproachable and cold. As soon as you talk to them, however, you will find friendly people under the tough exterior. But be aware that they are very direct and not afraid to express their opinion. Therefore, the Czech proverb “what’s in the heart is on the tongue” is very accurate. Prepare yourself for the fact that Czechs will not open themselves up to you. But once you get to know them, they will reward you with a long and strong friendship.
Such beginnings can be difficult. Look around at what’s happening in your area and take part in events organized by your school, employer or the nearest pub. Prague also has a large expat community that regularly holds various events at which you can get a number of tips and contacts.
5. Transportation in Prague
Prague has a very good transport infrastructure. You can get practically everywhere by underground, tram or bus, both day and night. Download any of the applications with transport schedules to your telephone and you will always know when and from where the next connection goes. The most advantageous option is the yearly ticket, which is valid for the entire municipal mass transit system in Prague and cost CZK 3,600 (€144; $159).
6. Food and tipping
Czech cuisine is very specific. If it doesn’t suit you, you can choose from a broad spectrum of restaurants, from Italian to Vietnamese, as well as restaurants and specialty grocery stores for vegetarians, vegans, and celiacs.
When visiting a restaurant, it is common to leave a tip in the amount of 10% of the bill or more, though that is not a condition. If you are not satisfied, don’t be afraid to leave anything.
Prague residents are fond of many different customs with which you should comply if you do not want to offend them. For example:
- If someone invites you to visit, it is appropriate to bring a small gift, such as a bottle of wine, chocolate or a homemade cake.
- Take your shoes off before entering your host’s home. You will get slippers when you come inside.
- Is you greet someone with “Ahoj, jak se máš?” (“Hi, how are you?”), you can expect them to give you a sincere answer and they will expect the same from you.
- If a Czech invites you “na jedno“ (“for a beer”), you can be sure that you will not stop with one beer.
As soon as you decide that Prague is the right place for you, it is time to plan your departure. Be sure not to leave your packing until the last moment. Arrange your transport on time and make sure that all of your things arrive with you in good order. Especially if you’re moving fragile, large or heavy items, preferably entrust them to professionals.
A moving company such as Stěhování Praha will ensure international relocation without major worries. It will arrange for your insurance and communication with the customs authority, and provide certified packing materials for transport. Everything will be planned, packed, transported, cleared through customs and reassembled for you at your destination, saving you a lot of effort, stress, and paperwork when moving. In addition, the entire team speaks fluent English, so they can communicate with you and officials abroad without any problems.