Moving to Prague
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What to know if you're moving to Prague
Moving to Prague, a gem of a city at the heart of Central Europe, has been popular with expats for a number of years. From residential areas and rents to visa types — our guide is full of information to help with your move.
All about the Czech Republic
Relocating to Prague
At a Glance:
- There are different visas depending on the length and purpose of your stay in the Czech Republic, as well as blue cards and employee cards which act as a work permit.
- It is necessary for all expats to register at their local Foreign Police Department within 30 days of arriving in the country.
- Prague’s relatively small size means that whichever district you decide to live in, you will never be far from the city center.
- The area in which you want to live in, and how long you plan to stay, will affect whether an apartment or a single-family home is more affordable for you.
Expats often work at the multinational businesses in the city; others work for Czech firms, especially in areas such as finance, IT and business development, and there are also a number of expats who work in the foreign embassies.
Most of those who have made the move to Prague consider the city a comfortable place for expats; despite being relatively small, it still provides goods, services, and living standards equal to its larger neighbors for comparatively lower prices.
Visas — Your Ticket to Prague
Czech immigration law differentiates between short-term visas and long-term visas. Short-term Schengen visas are valid for 90 days within a 180-day period are cover the entire Schengen area.
Long-term Schengen visas, or “type D” visas, are issued for students or family reunification, and are needed for a stay of over 90 days. An employee card replaces long-term visas when staying in the Czech Republic for employment purposes. The employee card acts as a work permit as well as a residence permit for the duration of your employment.
For citizens of EU and EFTA member states, the blue card — introduced in 2011 — serves the same purpose as an employee card does for third-country nationals. The blue card provides a simpler alternative to the regular work permit system for foreign nationals who fulfill certain requirements regarding professional qualifications and salary.
Expats moving to Prague to take up employment need to successfully apply for a work permit before a long-term employment visa can be issued. The job in question must be placed on the vacancy database compiled by the Czech government by the employer; there are different vacancies for the employee card and for the blue card. Foreigners can apply for a long-term residence permit if they plan on staying more than three months.
For more information on both blue and employee cards, please consult our article on moving to the Czech Republic.
Registration and Residency in Prague
Due to the free movement of workers within the European Union, citizens of other EU member states do not need a visa. The same is true for expats from Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. However, within 30 days of taking up residence in Prague, citizens of these countries must register with the Czech authorities. Non-EU citizens moving to Prague have to register at the Foreign Police Department or at an office of the Ministry of Interior within three working days of arrival.
Third-country nationals moving to Prague may need to apply for a long-term residence permit. After a stay of five years, a permanent residence permit may be requested. EU citizens relocating to Prague for a period of more than three months may request a temporary residence certificate if they wish, but their stay in the Czech Republic is not dependent on it. To be granted the certificate, expats need to prove that they have adequate health insurance and sufficient funds. Since 2009, non-EU applicants also have to pass a — relatively basic — Czech language test.
Living in Prague: A Commute Made Easy
With an area of 500 km2 and a population of around 2.2 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area, Prague can seem rather small and cozy. One benefit of this is that you will never live very far from the center. This, in combination with Prague’s excellent public transportation system, makes accessing most districts particularly easy, and eases the stress of a daily commute.
It also allows expats to take other factors into consideration when choosing where to live, such as the atmosphere of particular districts and the leisure opportunities. The form and quality of housing available may also differ depending on which neighborhood you decide to live in.
Residential Areas in Prague
Old Town or New Town?
With a historical atmosphere, all the major attractions right on your doorstep, and a vibrant nightlife — Prague’s center definitely has its advantages, but it tends to mainly attract younger expats, rather than families.
Rent in the center is higher than elsewhere in Prague. If you own a car, prepare yourself for tedious searches for a good parking spot. On weekends, your well-deserved sleep may be interrupted by rowdy tourists who have enjoyed a bit too much of the excellent Czech beer.
The historical center — Prague 1 — is made up of five different quarters. Hradčany and Malá Strana are located around Prague Castle. Staré Město (Old Town), Nové Město (New Town), and the old Jewish quarter Josefov are located on the opposite bank of the Vltava River.
The Top Three
Prague’s newer districts are grouped around the city center and are usually referred to by their old administrative law numbers.
Apart from the city center, one of the most popular districts with expats is Prague 2, especially the Vinohrady quarter. It is directly adjacent to the center, yet greener and a lot quieter. There are lots of spacious apartments in old-fashioned buildings with high, vaulted ceilings. The area also has a huge selection of shops, restaurants, and entertainment opportunities.
Prague 5 has also become increasingly popular among expats. It is huddled around the metro station Anděl, south of Petřín Hill. Many expats choose to live here because it is both very close to the center and a green and relatively quiet neighborhood. Prague 5 is also home to some international schools, including the German and French schools, so is ideal for expats with families.
Prague 3, neighboring district to the popular Vinohrady, this district includes some trendy areas popular with students and younger expats.
Expat Families in Search of a Home
Prague 4, 5, and 6 are the most popular districts for expats with families. All of them are quiet, residential areas with ample green spaces and a good selection of family housing and international schools in the vicinity.
Prague 4 is located south of the city center on the left bank of the Vltava River, just below Vyšehrad castle. It has plenty of modern apartment buildings and single-family homes. The Prague British School is located in southern part of the district. Conversely, Prague 4 also has some not-so-nice areas where you can find lots of large, Soviet-style residential blocks.
Prague 6, just northwest of Prague Castle, is popular for the large number of parks and nature reserves. Expats also value it for its large selection of high-standard single-family homes. A number of international schools, such as the International School of Prague and Park Lane International School, are located here as well. Many foreign embassies are located in Prague 6, and it is also the district closest to Prague Airport.
The Charms of the Prague Countryside
Unlike most capital cities, Prague’s countryside starts only ten kilometers from the center. Families with younger children often prefer to live in one of the small towns and villages surrounding the city; they can enjoy the beautiful countryside and a wide range of outdoor activities, but Prague remains easily accessible by public transportation. Many expats who have moved to the countryside also love the sense of community.
One of the most popular locations is the little town of Roztoky u Prahy. It has around 6,000 inhabitants and is located merely ten kilometers north of Prague. Others move to towns and villages in the Berounka valley, just southwest of the capital.
Finding Accommodation in Prague
Those who are unfamiliar with the city and language generally prefer to use an established real estate agency to help them find a suitable new home. There are various agencies in Prague with multilingual staff which receive expatriate customers on a regular basis.
The quality of service provided by Prague’s real estate agencies, however, can differ significantly. Consult fellow expats before choosing an agency and compare experiences to make to process of finding a home as smooth as possible.
Finding Your New Home Online
Searching for the right place to live without the help of an agency is also possible. For offers in English, you might want to check Prague TV Real Estate. Czech language websites usually have the most offers — and some of them even provide English versions. The following sites may come in handy:
A valuable resource, not only for your apartment search but for all areas of expat life in Prague, is the English-language newspaper The Prague Post. Articles cover local, national, and international news from across Central Europe as well as cultural stories of note from around Prague both as reviews and event listings.
Types of Accommodation
Prague has a wide selection of both apartments and homes for rent. In the city center as well as in other central areas such as Prague 2 and Prague 5, apartments are most common. In the suburbs, as well as the family-friendly districts described above, most expats live in single-family houses.
Apartments are available to rent both furnished and unfurnished, for short-term stays or long-term periods. Single-family houses, on the other hand, are usually not rented out for less than two years.
The quality of available housing can differ tremendously. Generally, the rental market in Prague is divided between low priced, non-Western style homes mainly aimed at Czech nationals, and more expensive, high-standard accommodation for the expat community.
As a result, rents vary widely, depending on their quality and location. For a standard one-bedroom apartment you can expect to pay around 12,000 CZK to 20,000 CZK a month. Homes in expat areas are much more expensive, with rents of up to 20,000 CZK to 50,000 CZK, depending on the district.
Utilities may or may not be included in the rental price. Make sure to check this prior to signing any agreement as utilities can add a significant amount to your monthly expenses: for apartments in the price range mentioned above, utilities usually cost between 3,000 CZK and 5,000 CZK. You also have to factor in the time needed to register and deal with all the utility companies yourself. Some apartments also have additional service charges.
The Ministry for Regional Development published a brochure in 2009, in English, on housing in the Czech Republic for foreign nationals which contains useful information on rental contracts, registering for gas and electricity, etc.