Living in the Czech Republic?
Expat Info for the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a modern country with high living standards, extensive social security, and an accessible healthcare system, as well as very good educational opportunities. Below is a short overview of accommodation, healthcare, and education for expats in the Czech Republic.
Healthcare: A Strong System
There are no particular health risks for expats in the Czech Republic. If you do get ill, however, there is no need to worry, as healthcare facilities generally provide very high standards of treatment and care. The Czech Republic has a good infrastructure of public and private hospitals and doctor’s practices, and everybody who is employed in the country automatically becomes a member of the general health insurance system. Some big international companies may offer you a private health insurance plan instead of, or in addition to, general health insurance.
Patients can choose their doctors, although in non-emergency cases, they may be refused if the doctor's workload is too big to be able to provide adequate care. You do not need a referral to consult specialists. The most important thing to remember before picking your doctor is that you can only register with one who has a contract with your insurance company. Please see our article on working in the Czech Republic for more information on the general health insurance system.
From the Pharmacy to A&E
In case you need emergency treatment, you can go to your nearest hospital with an A&E department. If you do not live near a hospital, there will most likely be an on-call doctor serving a certain area or working in a special doctor’s office. Dial 155 to call an ambulance or alternatively dial the general EU emergency number, 112 (with guaranteed English-speaking operators), to be connected with the police, fire department, or emergency medical service.
Doctor’s prescriptions should be taken to a pharmacy within one week of being issued, otherwise they become invalid. Prescriptions from emergency services are valid for one day only; prescriptions for antibiotics can be picked up within three days.
The ABC of Education in the Czech Republic
The Czech education system ranks 29th out of all OECD countries when it comes to the quality of teaching, according to the PISA rankings. School attendance is compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 15; foreigners must present their residency permit upon enrollment. Since classes at state schools are generally taught in Czech, expats usually prefer to send their children to one of the many international schools.
Having said this, foreigners can request free Czech language tutoring for their children, which, if they are young enough, might well enable them to take part in Czech primary education. Foreign language lessons start in year four; the languages most commonly taught at Czech schools are English, German, French, and Russian.
While state education is free for everyone who can follow classes in Czech, international schools charge admission and tuition fees. Most international schools can be found in or around Prague. Please see our article on living in Prague for a list of some of the well-established international schools in Prague.
What to Expect from a Czech House Hunt
Expats in the Czech Republic tend to rent rather than buy property. This is mainly because non-EU citizens without a resident permit for the Czech Republic (or another EU country) are excluded from purchasing property.
Even when it comes to renting apartments, there are some restrictions for foreign nationals. While Czech people have the option of renting from municipalities, which offer controlled rents, expats usually have to look for privately owned flats (Czech abbreviation: OV). Rental prices there are not controlled and can vary considerably according to location. On the bright side, these apartments are usually well kept and offer their tenants all kinds of modern conveniences.
Looking for and securing an apartment follows the same steps as in most other countries. You can consult or post ads on notice boards, in local newspapers or on relevant websites. Using a real estate agent can simplify this process, but will also make it more expensive; the standard mediation fee of at least one month’s rent usually includes some form of legal advice and help preparing the lease.
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