Moving to Europe

Discussion in 'Expat Life' started by geauxboy, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. geauxboy

    geauxboy Well-Known Member

    I'm sure this subject has been approached, but I haven't seen anything on an American moving to Europe. If this IS a repeat topic, just point me in the right direction.

    My girlfriend and I would LOVE to move to Europe. We both have been all around Europe and just feel so much more at home there rather than here in the States.

    My girlfriend hasn't been to Prague, but I am taking her this July. During our visit, we would like to inquire about jobs/salary/housing. This site is very informative and has provided much information, but I wonder about how the hiring practices are. I know Holland has pretty strict laws concerning their hiring practice. They interview Dutch citizens first, then they will interview other Europeans, then they will go outside of Europe. How is the Czech Rep when it comes to this situation? Is it easier for an outsider to get a job in the Czech Rep than in Holland?

    I thought about going to Ireland first because they are deperate for workers. If I could get a Visa in Ireland, that's an open invite to the rest of Europe, right?

    I see that salaries aren't great, or atleast comparable to what I make now. I currently live in NYC and the pay is usually greater than the majority of the US. If the salary isn't that great, even though the cost of living seems to be pretty darn good, I have wondered about the taxes. I don't mind paying a lot in taxes as long as I see that the tax money is being used for what it is supposed to be used for. From what I've seen of Prague, the streets are clean, no potholes, clean and newer police cars etc. AND FREE HEALTH CARE. I know it's not all it's cracked up to be, but it's still better than here IMO. I've heard that some surgeries can take weeks or months to schedule even though it is a serious situation. Is that a by product of free health care? Is this even the right assumption?

    I know that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, but I feel that we would be much better off living somewhre in Europe. The conscious level seems to be WAY higher than the majority of Americans that are fast asleep. I know, there's good and bad everywhere.

    Anyway, Prague is second on my list of places to move to. Munich is first, but I don't know about the salaries too much and they are mighty pricey there. That's for another day though. I have looked for sites that advertise job listings, but most are in Czech. Can anyone direct me to an English optional site that I can go to? I have found a few, but maybe someone local can turn me to a better site.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Ceit

    Ceit Well-Known Member

    Well, there are at least two other threads in the Expat Life forum...but for a couple of your specific questions:

    Nope. A visa for Ireland is a visa for Ireland. You can travel all you want, but only EU citizens can freely work in all the EU, in fact there might even be some restrictions on that still with the newer members, I'm not sure.

    It's a product of government-provided health care. Bureaucracy gums everything up. And, instead of paying when you go for treatment, you "pre-pay" with the taxes they chop out of your paycheck every month. Take it from an expat geauxboy, it's a different kind of grass, but it's the same shade of green.

    I wonder when CU will come down like the Hammer of God on this post? He always has some choice words for people who see a rosy aura around the Czech Republic. Actually, his last post was much more rational than the earlier ones, so maybe he's realized the value of not being antagonistic with his side of truth.
  3. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    I'm glad to hear that you're taking your girlfriend to see Prague before making a decision. Moving to another country, particularly where they speak an unfamiliar language, is not a decision that should be made lightly, as there are likely to be many things from your country that you or your girlfriend unconsciously take for granted which may not be available to you in other countries. Plus cultural differences can make for a difficult adjustment.

    If you are seriously debating moving to Prague permanently, I would definitely recommend you try living there for at least a month (somewhere away from the touristy and American expat locales) and try to make an effort to live the way the Czechs do. It will help your understanding of what you'd be getting yourself into, before you commit to any move. Also, try to learn at least the basics of the language, preferably starting before you go over there. Czech is a difficult language to learn.
  4. Dana

    Dana Well-Known Member

    Hi geauxboy,

    You may have seen the threads that Ceit linked to and they may have given you some interesting info (although one of the threads got a bit out of hand).

    My first piece of advice is that you "try things out" first. I recommend that both you and your girlfriend move to Prague for a couple of months and see how daily life really is. That's what my husband and I did when we were deciding whether or not we should move back to Prague after having left in 1997 and living in the U.S. for seven years. We felt that we needed to do that even though my American husband had lived in Prague for four years in the 1990s and even though I am Czech - because so many things changed while we were gone. We weren't going into the unknown by any means, but still considered our two "test" months very important and helpful in making a decision.

    I am not sure how easy it would be for you to get jobs here. You may need to be able to offer something that many Czechs can't offer. You may also need to speak at least a communicative level of Czech to get a job here. The minimum salary in the Czech Republic is 8,000 CZK/month and the average salary is about 20,000 CZK/month. Salaries are generally higher in Prague than elsewhere in the country. Your salary would of course depend on your profession and your level at the company. I'm sure your NYC salary cannot be compared to what you'd be making here, but as you pointed out, your living expenses should also be much lower here.

    Health care is not free in the Czech Republic although it is much cheaper than in the U.S. You are required to pay monthly health insurance in order to benefit from free or heavily discounted medical services. The minimum amount is 1080 CZK/month if you're unemployed. If you work, the amount goes up based on your salary. This insurance gives you a lot of free services provided that you use doctors who have contracts with health insurance companies. Not all of them do. Some private practices will charge you for doctor visits (500 CZK/visit seems to be a common charge at specialist practices and 200-300 CZK may be charged by a private GP). The same goes for private dental offices where you may be charged 1200 CZK for a checkup, 1600 CZK for cleaning and 1800 CZK per filling. These amounts are still much lower than what you're charged in the U.S. Of course you don't have to use private doctors but I have a feeling it would be your preference because they often provide a better quality of service and an overall better experience that's comparable to what you're used to from your country. Unlike the U.S., Czech health insurance typically fully covers specialized medical procedures and lab work, such as blood work, X-rays, ultrasound, etc.

    I've been living in Prague for two and a half years now and I'm happy here. Which doesn't mean that it's all good. I get frustrated at how inconvenient it is to shop for things that are constantly and readily available in the U.S., how bad customer service still is at many places, how some things simply don't work or don't exist here... Like you said, there's good and bad everywhere. You just need to weigh the negatives against the positives and choose which of the bad things you'd rather live with. My choice was and still is Prague/Czech Republic/Europe.

  5. geauxboy

    geauxboy Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all the replies. I expected some good and bad. That's what I was looking for. Locals, or former locals, giving me the real scoop.

    Usually when I travel, I do my best to stay away from the tourist spots. I've lived in New Orleans and NYC and both are overrun with tourists. While in Prague, I did do quite a few touristy type things only because I've never been there and even the most touristy places in Europe are much different than tourist spots in the States. Every city/town in America is exactly the same except for New Orleans and NYC.

    We have planned on doing a few out of Prague trips to give us a better understanding of the people and the culture. There is a Czech beer garden about a block away from me and I have befriended quite a few of the workers there. More seem to be Slovak than Czech, not that it's that important. Or is it? They have given me some good insight to the good and bad.

    I am extremely curious as to how I can get a job for a few months. To give up your job, move to another country, then come back seems very fragile to me to say the least. I'll leave that for another day after more investigation.

    Anyway, I can understand the frustration from inconvenience and the lack of supplies you are used to having readily available elsewhere. You give up one thing to get another. I'm just tired of living in the States and I am ready to deal with some of the negatives. I already live with some negatives and positives, what would really be the difference where I experience them at? I am seeing that a move to somewhere in Europe weighing more as a positive than all the negatives. I feel it's time for a complete change of scenery and that feeling is MUCH stronger than staying here. I'm going to move, it's just more of a question where.

    As far as the language is concerned, I am getting personal lessons from a few of the workers at the beer garden while I drink a nice Krusovice light OR dark on tap FOR $5. Prague, or anywhere in the Czech Rep is not my written in stone, but it is high on my list.

    I appreciate everyone who offered their suggestions.

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