What do you need when moving to Prague?
Being a foreigner in Prague
Moving to a new country is a scary and exciting process! Many of us get caught up on planning the move, researching places to see and events to go to. But we forget to take care of the less exciting but necessary hardships of a new life abroad.
The obvious first steps are to find a place to live. Some people start off in a hotel while looking for their own apartment, but the illusion of the glamour associated with daily room service and a stranger making your bed quickly fades. A hotel room will never be ‘home’ and even a short-term rental can be a better option. Finding accommodation can be frustrating but once you do, you’re half way there!
Once you’re settled in and enjoying living in Prague, the next step is to make sure that you can actually stay. The dreaded process that you simply can’t avoid is immigration. But the actual process is a lot less painful than it seems. The main thing is to come in well-read and knowing what you need to bring. The process is slightly different for EU citizens than it is for non-EU citizens – who are all referred to as 3rd world citizens so try not to get too offended. A lot of foreigners don’t want to risk doing it themselves and get help from companies who specialize in immigration issues.
Other than proof of accommodation foreigners are also asked to bring a valid document showing that they have Czech health insurance. On the topic of insurance, you can never be too safe – insuring your flat is actually very cheap. For as little as several hundred CZK you can have all your belongings secured! Some rental contracts even mention that the tenant is obliged to get household insurance and is responsible for costs of repair if something unfortunate happens.
Then we get to all the little things that make life easier. Starting with the Opencard - a tram pass that will make your life so much easier because it can be topped up online (and it will save you from an 800czk fine!) Then you need a Czech phone number and bank account. If you’re overwhelmed with remembering to pay for rent and phone bill you can ask your bank to set up an automatic payment!
Once all the necessary things are taken care of there are a few extras that only some people need or want. Some students who want to study at Czech universities need to provide a nostrification of their studies or take an exam that proves that their high school education is equivalent to Czech high schools. If you want to work as a freelancer and teach English for example you need a trade license which is simple to get. The perks are that you don’t pay taxes if your yearly income is relatively low – however you need to pay for your own social and health insurance.
Finally there’s the issue of driving in Prague. Some people wouldn’t even dream of taking on the narrow streets full of temperamental drivers and jay walkers. But those who do experience a whole new challenge: Czech driving school! Even if you’ve been driving for more than 50 years, if you are not from a European country (including some post-communist countries but not Turkey or Albania) then you have to take 3 months of courses and the exam.
Moving to Prague is a great adventure full of excitement, fear and surprises. You will meet new people, experience new things and have the opportunity to start a whole new life. Just keep this list of things in mind to make your move to Prague or anywhere else, because life is full of possibilities!
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