Vilnius, Lithuania Report of what it's like to live there - 10/03/19

Personal Experiences from Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius, Lithuania 10/03/19

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, I have lived in several other cities.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington, DC.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is good. Families 4 and under will get apartments. Larger families live in town homes. Very large families will live in stand alone homes a bit further from the Embassy. The housing is all very nice.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can get anything you want here. Overall, groceries are cheaper than the US. Use Barbora...it's a lifesaver, they deliver all groceries to your house for 1 Euro.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Hot sauce.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

You can get most cuisines in Vilnius. Mexican food is lacking, but you can go out for great meals and great prices. Wolt is also awesome, they deliver for 1-3 Euros.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO, fast.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Domestic help is surprisingly expensive when compared to local wages. Think 10 Euros an hour and up.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Impuls Gym is very good. Cost is about 60 Euros a month. Gym has everything you'd like and multiple locations.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes, we use them for everything.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Can't say.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Downtown, no English is needed. At the grocery store, outside of Vilnius, medical appointments require some Lithuanian, Polish, or Russian.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. There are plenty of uneven roads and sidewalks.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. Uber and Bolt are great and super cheap.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Smaller cars are good, but large SUVs and minivans are ok too. VW, BMW, and Audi are very popular. No issues with burglary. Lot's of potholes and uneven streets.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, super fast, $35/month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Local phone plans are about $35/month with unlimited data. Be careful when leaving the EU or calling outside the EU, the cost is expensive.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes, they are very good and cheaper than the US.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There are EFM jobs at the Embassy. I do not know any EFM that works on the local market.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Orphanages, Women's Groups, churches, etc.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

This is a very safe city if you use common sense. Do not leave valuables or drinks unattended.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

There are some trees here that we do not have in the US which causes some allergy issues for Americans. Quality of local medical care can be good if you're willing to front the money before insurance pays some back.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Amazing.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Tree allergens. Nicer restaurants are good about listing ingredients on their menus.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

SAD does happen here. Long, cold, and dark winters (5 months). Lithuania has a high suicide rate and I think this has a lot to do with the climate.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Winters = long and cold
Springs = gorgeous
Summers = mild and nice
Fall = chilly and beautiful

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

AISV is a good school, especially PK-8. I would think twice about coming here with a high school aged child as options for IEDs and advanced courses are limited compared to the US or larger cities. They do have an IB program.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Limited, but possible.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

This is surprisingly expensive for kids under 3 (about $1200-$1500/month) for a nanny at home. After 3, local nurseries are reasonable ($300/mo).

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, basketball, soccer, martial arts.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Small, but very happy.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Dinner, movies, constant events in town. Lots to see and do.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This place is great for anyone, except people of color can experience racism.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

So/so. People are tolerant, but could progress. No PDAs for the LGBTA community.

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5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

With expats yes, with locals it takes time. People of color have experienced issues here.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

See above.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Natural beauty, Old Town, hikes, food, drinks, Zalgiris, Palanga and the other beaches, festivals.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Try all the restaurants, haven't had a bad meal in two years.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not really.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Safe, charming, and beautiful.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Nothing really.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

YES!!!

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Sunscreen.

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4. But don't forget your:

Winter coats, boots, and sleds.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Armageddon Averted, Forest of the Gods, Hour of the Wold.

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