Czechia among most difficult countries to start a new life as an expat

A large global study by InterNations found that language, housing, and bureaucracy were among the most challenging aspects of adapting to life in Czechia.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 24.03.2023 14:57:00 (updated on 19.04.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

Czechia ranks 45th out of 52 countries worldwide in a study revealing the easiest destinations for expats to start a life abroad. The language barrier is classed as being the biggest issue.

InterNations, a large network of expats spanning 420 cities, this week released its Expat Essentials Index showing where foreigners struggle the most with starting a new life away from home. The index is part of InterNations’s broader Expat Insider 2022 report, which evaluates various aspects of expat life globally.

FAST FINDINGS FROM THE REPORT

  • One in three expats living in Czechia agree that it is difficult to live there without speaking the local language.
  • Over 60 percent of expats in Czechia report having had difficulties with local administration, compared with 39 percent globally.
  • Czechia ranks 42nd out of 52 countries for its "ease of settling in."
  • Prague is ranked in the bottom half of countries for "health and wellbeing."
  • More positively, Czechia is ranked in seventh for "work and leisure" opportunities.
  • Czechia ranks in the top 20 countries for work culture and satisfaction.
  • The report ranked Czechia in 42nd place for how welcome it felt to expats.
  • Overall, the country is ranked the 20th best place for expats to live in.

Four main categories

The index evaluated four different factors in compiling the overall ranking. These were: digital life, housing, administrative issues, and language. 

Digital life assessed a country’s overall levels of digitalization and the accessibility of government services online. Housing took into account affordability and the ease of finding accommodation. Administrative issues included dealings with local bureaucracy and the ease of obtaining a visa. Finally, the language category included the simplicity of learning the local language.

Difficulties with Czech

One main reason for Czechia’s low overall ranking is its poor score in the language subcategory, in which it is placed second to last. According to the InterNations study, three in four expats in Czechia report that learning the local language is difficult – almost double the global average (38 percent). 

A 2021 study by Education First also found that Czechs are among the least likely in the whole of Europe to know a foreign language. That study showed that less than half (45 percent of people) said they could communicate in "some level of English." A separate report from last year revealed that Czech was the “most challenging” language in Europe to navigate.

Administration, housing, and digital life all below-average

In all other categories, Czechia ranked in the bottom half of the surveyed countries. It ranked 33rd in digital life, despite the government’s moves to digitalize state-public communication via data boxes.

In the housing subcategory, Czechia scored a disappointing 38th. This is undoubtedly linked with surging rent prices in the past 12 months – rising by between 20 and 25 percent year on year – and the high demand for housing in major cities such as Prague.

In administrative issues, Czechia ranked 31st. A lack of digitalization and English-language skills from Czech employees may also be the reason for this. 

In the previous year’s index, Czechia was ranked outside the bottom 10 – now it lies eighth-worst. This year’s report also found that Czechia was ranked third-last in “local friendliness.” Past years have all seen Czechia in the bottom quarter of indexes that rank countries’ “ease of settling in.” 

FEATURED EMPLOYERS

The top 10 places where expats struggle the most to start a new life

  • 1.Germany
  • 2.Japan
  • 3.China
  • 4.Kuwait
  • 5.Italy
  • 6.Greece
  • 7.Vietnam
  • 8.Czechia
  • 9.France
  • 10.Malta

Cause for optimism?

There is some good news, however. The 2022 Expat Insider report found that Prague was classed as the 15th-best city for quality of life in the world (out of 50). The city is also in the top 20 countries for working abroad, and has the second-best travel and transit options out of all cities assessed. The capital also ranks in the top half of InterNations’s “Best Cities for Expats” list.

Although a popular destination with well over half a million expats, crucial aspects detract from Czechia’s appeal to foreigners. Expats – present and future – will hope the government takes steps to make adaptation and integration into Czechia easier.

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