Expats voices: Readers share the good, bad, and ugly of living in Prague

Hundreds of Expats.cz readers told us their thoughts on what makes Prague unique, and what it could do better.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 23.12.2021 16:00:00 (updated on 26.07.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

After Prague ranked as the seventh best city in the world for expats in this year’s edition of the annual Insiders study conducted by Internations, we asked Expats.cz readers to let us know their thoughts on what makes Prague a good place to live, as well as what could be improved about expat life in the city.

Before diving into the responses to our questions, it’s worth exploring one of the central criticisms leveled against Prague in the Internations survey. 32% of expats who took part in the Internations study cited the unfriendliness of locals as a drawback of living in the Czech capital.

11.7% of responses to our survey described locals as “very friendly,” 38.7% described them as “quite friendly,” 30.6% said they are “quite unfriendly” and 18.9% chose “very unfriendly.”

Interestingly, expats who only speak Czech when they have to made up only 15% of respondents who think Czechs are “very friendly.” Indeed, none of the respondents who said they never speak Czech think locals are very friendly. 64% of respondents who never speak Czech think locals are either quite unfriendly, or very unfriendly; suggesting some correlation between perceptions of welcoming attitudes and expats’ language ability.

What makes Prague a good place to live for expats?

The survey results made it clear that one of the most valued aspects of Prague for foreigners is its relative safety compared to other major capitals. Ephraim Goldin cited “the low level of violent crime. It’s safe to walk pretty much anywhere, anytime, day or night.” Christian Palme agreed, contrasting the safety of Prague’s streets with the worrying gang culture of his native Sweden, saying “sure, there’s everyday crime here… but there is nothing approaching the gang-related violent crime in Sweden.”

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Others noted the city’s high-quality infrastructure, especially its excellent public transport connections; Filip described Prague public transport as “affordable and amazing.” For many others, a general combination of positive factors was cited, including reasonable cost of living, interesting history and stunning architecture, a bustling social scene, and a great international location in the heart of Europe.

How would you describe working life in Prague?

Respondents generally evaluated working life in Prague favorably compared to other European cities. Paddy said working life in the Czech capital is “extremely well balanced and allows time for personal pursuits.”

Matthew Deyn said it “could be better from a general perspective (e.g. better salaries and less slow-moving bureaucracy). But there are promising IT opportunities and there’s a good work/life balance. There’s also good growth with never companies starting operations here too.”

Others, though, expressed concern about the cost of living growing faster than wages. Emily noted that “the pay hardly keeps up with the rising cost of living.” On the plus, though, many workers noted that working culture is more relaxed in Prague than in some western countries: Vili said that “work isn’t the main purpose of life (in Prague), like it is in North America.”

How would you describe Prague in terms of opportunities for cultural and social activities?

Opinions varied on the social and cultural opportunities open in Prague. There was a general consensus that Prague offers a wide and rich variety of cultural and social experiences, with Cameron even suggesting it is “maybe the best in Europe” in this regard.

On the other hand, some complained about the importance of drinking to local cultural activities. And many respondents noted that the cultural and social options can be limited for those who don’t speak Czech to a high level. Plamena said “talented artists from all over the world come to Prague to perform. The Czech language is sometimes a limitation for enjoying the cultural life fully, but the city offers English-friendly events too, even entire festivals.”

Has the pandemic changed your experience of Prague as an expat?

Some respondents felt the pandemic altered the city for the better. Phlis said the effects of the pandemic got rid of the “booze tourism” culture which the city had been hoping to minimize before the pandemic struck. Others noted that home officing made more personal time to enjoy the city; Vili cited “the opportunity to really experience the architecture and streets downtown without it feeling like the Disneyland it can seem at other times.”

What about Prague would you change if you could?

A number of respondents complained about unfriendliness on the part of locals; tying in with criticisms made in Internations’ survey. Some even cited racism and xenophobia as significant drawbacks; Kendra said that “I’m a white American and don’t face a lot of discrimination, but my Brown expat friends do.”

Others noted that real estate prices are becoming unreasonably high in the city. Peter Ščasný said there is an “extremely high cost for buying a new apartment, and for this reason alone I am thinking of leaving the city in the future.” Matt meanwhile said “the cost of real estate is astronomical.” Sam said he “would ban short-term rentals, and try to make it much more difficult for foreign investors and speculators to acquire property here.”

Other suggestions were the creation of more bike routes, and the reduction of bureaucracy; another common gripe with the Czech way of life. Disability access was also described as lacking by multiple respondents. Finally, concerns were also raised about problems with homelessness and drugs in the city, which some said “seem to get worse every year.”

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