Homes & Flats

A beginner's guide to finding a place to live in Prague

The average Czech wage is still quite low but often so are rents. Housing was virtually a guarantee under Communism and nearly everyone still has a family flat in the city as well as a country house or cottage (chata). Since the fall of Communism, a complex system of rent-controlled state flats and free-market flats has developed, meaning that one family could pay nearly nothing for their flat, while their neighbors pay nine times more. These government-controlled rents, along with relatively inexpensive purchase prices for prefabricated (panel) apartments (paneláky) and newly introduced mortgage rates keep most Czechs from having to give over a huge portion of their wage in rent -- hence the ability to live on a low wage… You, however, are not so lucky. You will have to rent a flat -- but don't worry, it's not so tough to do, and sometimes not even that expensive.





RENTING



Rental of flats and homes is surprisingly uncomplicated, regardless of whether you have a visa or permission to live here. There are quite a few outlets for finding rental properties and usually there are any number of foreigners looking for roommates or flatmates. Average rents can range from around 8,000 CZK to 30,000 CZK, depending on where and how you want to live. Anything below that low mark is a good price, especially to live alone. Flats come furnished and unfurnished, newly built, renovated and reconstructed. Some un-refurbished flats will have a lot of "character" about them meaning that they will hold the kind of quirky old fixtures that were common from the Communist era and before. This means everything from the bed, bath and beyond could have an unmistakably gross Socialist styling that you may not have lived with before.



In advertisements, Czechs frequently use a code to refer to the size of an apartment. The first number listed corresponds to the number of "livable" rooms in the house or flat. That number is followed by a plus (+) sign and the kitchen code, which is either a number one (1) for a full-sized kitchen, or the initials "kk" for a corner kitchen or kitchenette. Thus a 2+1 for rent means that a two-room flat with a full kitchen is available. A 1+kk will be a small flat with a small kitchen. Again, room numbers actually indicate the number of "livable" or "habitable" rooms (rooms where people could sleep but not necessarily bedrooms) in the flat, so again, a two-room flat could mean that there are two bedrooms (probably with a small living space) or one bedroom and one living room area. You will have to ask to be sure.



1+kk = one room + kitchenette

1+1 = one room + full kitchen

2+kk = two rooms + kitchenette

2+1 = two rooms + full kitchen





RENTAL SERVICES/RESOURCES



The following links can help you find a place to live. Agenices take a commission, but it can be worth it to have someone else look for a place based on your requirements, especially when you come to town not knowing anyone.



List of real estate agencies
• Browse property listings on Prague TV






PURCHASING



Naturally, ownership is the ideal and purchasing should really be for those with strong Czech ties who are going to settle here somewhat permanently. The drag is that investors from richer countries often buy flats here only as an investment and don't even live or work in the country. This continued and growing "foreign invasion" is a concern for Czechs who generally can't afford property in their own country. Prices in Prague are steadily rising but you can find some bargains, particularly outside of the center.



You don't have to be a Czech citizen to own property but it's difficult for most foreigners outside of the EU states to purchase real estate. EU citizens can buy property without problems but for those from outside of the union, the easiest solution is to buy property through a company. The law has always allowed companies to hold property in the ČR. The most common business for doing this is a limited liability company -- společnosti s ručením omezeným (s.r.o.).



Naturally there are plenty of real estate agencies to help you find the right home or apartment but other options include buying at auction, going directly through individual owners or buying from the builder (for new flats).





• For more detailed information see the Prague TV Real Estate section

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