Are you planning to relocate to the Czech Republic? Are you bringing your family with you? Perhaps you are already here and are feeling overwhelmed by everything new? No worries, you’ve got this. I’ve prepared a list of 5 things that will make your move and transition as smooth as can be. Are you sitting comfy with some hot tea or coffee already? Great, let’s get started.
Tip 1: Stick to your routine when living in Prague
“I don’t have a routine! I don’t know where to start.” I get you. We all call these things differently. Simply take a notebook and a pen and write down all the things you do regularly. Go over your family’s calendar and ask these questions:
What are the things you need to do each month?
What do you do each week?
What do your children do regularly? Any classes or play dates?
What are the recurring payments you have set up for your bank account?
What services do you use regularly?
Ready? Great! Now that you are noticing what you do regularly, don’t let any detail escape without being written down. I like to either record them as voice memos right away or write down on my phone or a physical notebook that I always have with me. Don’t underestimate this, no matter how odd this might be at the beginning, it will pay off immensely. One of the best strategies is to take it one day at a time.
What are the items you use each day?
What are the necessities that you carry in your purse?
What are the things that you indulge in?
What is it that makes the place you live your home? Are we talking comfy pillows and candles or the cool Bose speaker that allows you to listen to your favorite podcasts when you do the laundry?
To help you start out, I’ve made a list of common things to focus on:
Online grocery shopping in Prague
A lot of us are used to having food delivered each week. Useful links to order food online when in Prague include
A useful tip for you – save a ton of time by saving your regular shopping list and reusing it on your next order.
Farmers’ markets in Prague
Do you crave locally produced fruits and veggies, cheese, meat, bread, or even flowers? Who isn’t, right? Then I’m sure farmer’s markets are your thing. Check out these:
A useful tip for you – if you are a foodie, check out Zuzi and Jan from the Taste of Prague.
Children’s playgrounds in Prague
Relocating to Prague with kids? Lucky you, you’ve ended up in a playground paradise. Here you can find a map with most of the Prague-based playgrounds. A useful tip for you – when on Facebook, check out the group Dětské koutky, herničky a baby-friendly místa v Praze: baby-friendly restaurants and playrooms recommended by locals.
Babysitting in Prague
You might already know that with your work schedule and no relatives nearby, you cannot make it without help. Although you want to choose your babysitter in person, you should start looking for one well in advance. Especially if some alone time for work or any other reasons is a must for you. Yes, it takes time to find someone trustworthy, someone who will click with The reliable companies include:
Try your luck also on Facebook; these groups will especially come handy:
- Kids, babies, and tots in Prague
- Expat women in Prague
If you choose an alternative, don’t forget to ask the sitter for a background check confirming no criminal record, and check their references. Also, try asking the teachers in your kids’ school or at the kids’ room in the restaurant you like to go to.
Churches in Prague
Although Prague is nicknamed, “The City of a Hundred Spires”, Czechs are one of the most secular nations in the world. However, you will have plenty of churches to choose from:
You just love your Oreos or Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream from Ben & Jerry’s and you wish someone had told you to bring them in bulk? Well, at least the Oreos, ice cream can get a little tricky. What about your kids’ favorite comfort food? Especially the moms of picky eaters surely hear me. Check these shopping sites out:
- Sapa and the local Vietnamese grocery shops (večerky)
- Marks & Spencer – some food also available online on Rohlik
- Candy Store – brands like Linda McCartney’s, Betty Crocker, Ella’s kitchen, Bear, Cadbury, Tetley, Harney and Sons, etc.
- Chezamis offering a wide selection of oriental food
Gadgets you use every day
Be it your phone, tablet, or camera, there are just a few things less convenient than having to search for a power adapter in a new city. Czechs use type E power plugs and sockets, like most of Europe. Go to this source and you will have a clearer picture.
Tip 2: Home sweet home – the world of renting in Prague
You will want to have your own safe and comfortable place even though your home country is far away. Before you start looking, you need to know what you are looking for. Or what you are not looking – sometimes this works too!
Step 1: Consider these questions
What sort of place do I live in now and am I happy here?
What daily commute to work and kids’ school is ok for me?
Do I want to be close to shopping, services, and cool nightlife, or something quieter like parks and forests?
What is my budget?
What are my family’s common weekend activities and what new ones do I want to develop?
Step 2: Ten Prague districts The Prague City consists of 10 districts – which one will be your home? Make sure you check the connection to your future work or your kids’ school – use Google Maps for matching the address with nearby public transportation. Concrete public transport connections can be found here.
Step 3: To get a realtor or not? If you are relocating for work, will your company help you look? Will they even help you with a housing allowance? What restrictions do they have? If the house hunt is all up to you, you have two options: a) getting a realtor or b) diving into the real estate market all by yourself.
The fact that you will pay a deposit (usually the amount of three month’s rent), not all landlords speak English well and the contract will be in Czech, tends to favor the realtor option. Two companies a lot of expats speak very highly of are:
The funkier option is to search for a flat without the agency, which could save you some money. Check out these two options and you might get lucky:
With these, you communicate directly with the owner and don’t pay any fee to the realtor. Even if you choose this option, I highly recommend using the help of a legal professional who can help you negotiate with the landlord and prepare all the necessary paperwork.
A useful tip for you: Consider where you will park your car before moving in. Check out Prague parking for more information.
Tip 3: Begin with the end in mind
You got it; we are more than halfway there. Take a break, stretch, get some water, and now, are you ready to ask yourself some thought-provoking questions? Here you go:
If you could develop one new skill during your relocation, which one would it be?
Do you focus your energy on what matters most?
How is what you are doing right now compatible with your personal mission?
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I know, finding the answers might take some time. Don’t rush through this. You may be asking what the heck a personal mission is. You can call it a goal or a realistic dream. I like how Petr Ludwig approaches this phenomenon in his book,The End of Procrastination. Some people like to refer to Stephen Covey. Moving abroad will certainly put you through some dark times. I bet you will doubt yourself; you’ll feel frustrated and helpless many times. These are all very natural feelings. The moment when your thoughts start to run around like crazy, when it is so damn hard to feel at home, focus on what matters most.
“Begin with the end in mind.” Stephen Covey
Step 1: Get a beautiful journal that will spark joy (hi there, Marie Kondo!)
Step 2: Write down your mission. This can be for the time abroad, for a year, or simply for a longer undefined period.
Step 3: break your abstract goal into more reachable, realistic steps.
Step 4: One month, one priority, one little step. Take it one step at a time. Keep asking yourself: “How is what I’m doing right now moving me towards my goal?” If it isn’t, simply drop it. Your time is a priceless commodity. And it is limited.
Step 5: Make sure you log your progress – anyway you like.
Step 6: In your darkest hour, read your journal. You will be amazed by how far you’ve come! Your accomplishments will also get you back on track towards your personal mission.
A useful tip: Use a scale each month to assess the progress you have made towards your goal. And remember, moving just a fraction is forward progress too.
Tip 3: Learn Czech online
Understanding and being understood when starting from scratch in a new country is something many expats I know wish for. On top of that, they want it now and preferably on a native level. But let’s take it one step at a time.
How will it feel to be in Prague and understand what the shop assistants are saying to you?
Will it make you feel any calmer to know that if you lost your wallet or documents, you can go to the local police station knowing that you can communicate what you need?
Will you be proud of yourself when you don’t need to ask for an English menu?
Will it bring you joy when you read a Czech fairy tale to your little one and you are confident to read it out loud?
I bet the answer to at least one of these questions is “yes”. I don’t blame you. It is a well-established fact that language is vital for smooth assimilation and your general well-being in a new country. And it’s a great idea to start learning the language before you relocate! Don’t worry, you don’t need to dive into a heavy grammar–dense course right away. Not at all. Language learning can be so much fun when built on your personal preferences and respecting your natural learning style. It is crucial to visualize your objectives. Ask yourself:
“What is the one thing or situation you want to use Czech for?”
For some, this might be grocery shopping, basic communication with the sitter, or reading the Czech newspaper. It is also all right not to know just yet. If you don’t, dive into brainstorming or mind mapping and you will know the answer very soon. If you are like the vast majority of cases, then you are relocating for a reason– your job, spouse, or to just see the world. The situation you will need to use Czech in goes hand in hand with the purpose of your relocation. Once you have the answer, you know what to do. Yes, you start building your vocabulary in that field, you create concrete sentences and start practicing them. If you are completely new to the language, you will appreciate some guidance. The resources I find helpful include:
- Slow Czech – Eliška publishes various blog posts and also adds the tapescript – brilliant! Posts are of various levels, all in Czech, mostly focusing on one grammar aspect.
- Tady Gavin on YouTube channel – Gavin is an American who started learning Czech in November 2016 and I must say, his language learning journey is quite incredible!
- Dream Prague – Jen is an American living in Prague documenting her expat journey with such great humor. And her Czech is spectacular!
- Because Czech is cool
- Jitka Pourová – Jitka shares quick tips, phrases, commonly misused words, and also the work of her students on her Facebook page.
- Lucie Kidlesová – yes, I cannot leave myself out and humbly put my name into this great society as well. I will happily work with you through online lessons concerning your personal learning styles and your objectives.
A useful tip for you: learn the new words in a context. Get little paper cards (the ones used for business cards will be perfect) and write the word on one side and then a sentence using the word on the other side.
Tip 5: Have the school for your children figured out – schooling in the Czech Republic
Children and relocation would make for a nice fat book. Carole Hallett Mobbs from Expat Child actually wrote one, with the characteristic name, Expat Education. An unhappy child, hidden fees, or approach one don’t feel comfortable with – that’s what no mother wants. So, don’t underestimate your research, and start the school hunt well in advance. Also, one hour in the class will tell you so much more than the marketing brochures and exchanged emails with the administrators, do your best to arrange the observation in the class beforehand.
4 important facts about Czech schools to get you started:
- Nurseries – jesle (0-3 years of age) – the vast majority are private. However, for example, Prague 4 establishes a state nursery in which the school fee is minimal.
- Preschools – mateřské školy / školky (3-6) – private schools can even register kids from the age of 2. Up to the age of 5, attendance is voluntary, from 5 to 6 it is obligatory.
- Elementary schools / základní školy (6-15) – some children switch to a 6-year or 8-year long grammar school programmes. The core of the curriculum is regulated by the state but each school can – based on their specialization – choose their supplementary subjects (foreign language, sports, etc.).
- The Czech school year is from September 1st to June 30th and it is divided into two terms. During the summer holidays (July + August) schools are closed. Make sure you plan summer camps as early as January to ensure your child has a place.
The official information on the Czech education system can be found on the Czech Ministry of Education website. Numerous groups of foreigners choose private schools, but as both public and private schools are subject to the same School law, you shouldn’t really go wrong with any of them. You just need to choose wisely and ask a lot of the right questions.
Many aspects differentiate the private and public schools. The main two I see are
a) the number of students in the class (much lower in private schools)
b) the school fees (the public schools are free of charge, whereas at private schools have monthly fees that start at around 5,000CZK).
The goal of this article isn’t to navigate you through the entire process of choosing a school or to give you a lecture on the Czech education system, so I won’t go into much detail. However, if you feel like you need more advice or some concrete tips, let’s get in touch.
What Czech school is the best for my child?
Step 1: Consider these questions:
How long am I going to stay in the Czech Republic?
Am I looking for a specific, alternative approach?
What is my budget? Will my employer help me fund the schooling?
When can my child start school?
What afterschool activities am I looking for?
Step 2: Do your research with your friend, Google. Consider your future address and the commute time. Step 3: Contact several schools of your choice and ask them directly about the things that matter to you most. Step 4: Arrange a meeting or a Skype call with the schools that replied favourably and satisfied your questions.
Private or state Czech schools?
The process described above mainly applies to private schools. The staff at these institutions must speak great English and their customer service should be one of high qualities. (yes, even in education when we talk private sector, children’s parents = customers). As the number of international schools continues to rise, the good news is, you have a lot of options to choose from. Unfortunately, not every private school can be recommended.
As far as the public schools are concerned, every school has a designated catchment area from which they must enroll those pupils preferentially. Only if the school doesn’t reach capacity, can they accept pupils residing in other areas. Check the web site of your home Prague district (Prague 1 – 10) for detailed information.
A useful tip: Check out the latest global test of 15-year-olds in Math, Science, and Reading to see how the Czech Republic ranked in the 2019 Pisa.
If you managed to follow me all the way through, congrats – you’ve already started your research. And thank you so much for your time, I know it’s been long, but hopefully worth it. If you are already located in Prague, will you share your own tips too?