Prague at a Glance
Living in Prague
Today in Prague you can still feel much of the city’s original charm and eventful history dating back 1,100 years or so. Walking through the old town with its cobblestones and narrow lanes seems to take you right back in time. Sights such as the Charles Bridge across the Vltava River and the famous Prague Castle have earned the city the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Although Prague is no longer as cheap as it once was, it is still a lot cheaper than many other expat destinations in Europe. If we look at the Mercer 2015 Cost of Living rankings, even though Prague is in the top five costliest cities in Central and Eastern Europe, it is still cheaper to live in than Moscow, Istanbul, Riga, and Bratislava. Numbeo indicates that the average rent in Prague is about 28% lower than in Berlin, 45% lower as compared to Brussels, and an incredible 58% lower than in Amsterdam.
Discovering Prague’s Highlights
If you are staying in Prague for the first time, there is probably enough sightseeing to do to keep you occupied for a year’s worth of weekends. In addition to the rich architectural heritage, there is an endless queue of museums, theaters, and galleries waiting to be discovered.
Popular recreational spots include Petřín Hill and Letná Hill on the bank of the Vltava River. On weekends, most families living in Prague temporarily escape the city to spend time at their chata — a countryside cottage outside the city.
Expats starting their life in Prague value the good expat infrastructure the city offers and the vibrant international community. A number of foreign cultural institutes such as the British Council or the German Goethe-Institut also offer a variety of services and contribute to the multifaceted cultural life in Prague.
Opting for Private or Public Healthcare
Healthcare available to expats in Prague is generally excellent. The city has a good infrastructure of both public and private clinics and hospitals. Medical standards are comparable to those in Western European countries, so you’ll be in good hands.
Most people in Prague are covered by the public healthcare system. Each doctor has a contract with a public healthcare provider and treats patients who are insured by that provider. Those eligible for public healthcare only have to pay some minor fees for visits to the doctor and prescriptions.
Some expats will prefer getting treated at one of the city’s private clinics or hospitals. As these can be very costly, private health insurance is essential.
Taking Out Health Insurance in Prague
Expats living in Prague are usually either covered by the public healthcare system or have private healthcare plans arranged by their employer. This depends on your employer as well as your residency status. EU nationals residing in Prague profit from some additional benefits.
If you have permanent residence status in Prague or if you work for an employer who has a registered business address in the Czech Republic, you are required to make monthly contributions to the public healthcare system: as of May 2014, 11% of the gross salary is paid by the employee and 34% is contributed by the employer.
EU citizens may keep their insurance from their home country if it complies with the EU law on public healthcare. The European Health Insurance Card will be recognized in all member states and provides its holders with the same basic healthcare as nationals. It is highly recommended that you apply for one with your local health authority.
You may choose to get additional coverage to be able to use Prague’s private healthcare institutions. Many multinationals employing expats offer private insurance plans as part of their standard remuneration package.
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