Bratislava, Slovakia Report of what it's like to live there - 02/11/17

Personal Experiences from Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava, Slovakia 02/11/17

Background:

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

Fourth expatriate experience. Europe, Western Balkans, Latin America.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Two and a half years.

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

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, though expensive. Don't reccomend a house up the hill in Koliba or H.Park. Snow can be a problem. The best option is a flat in Old Town. Everything is walking distance in Old Town (Stara Mesto).

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

Much cheaper here.

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

Coffee, milk powder, specialties from home.

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

Slovak food. Restaurants are cheap but not great. There is Wagamama in Eurovea, recommend it. Service is unfriendly as a rule.

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

Never see insects here!

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Daily Life:

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

Good postal service.

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

Not to easy to get. 400 to 800 Euro monthly. Ukrainians, Hungarians. Filipinos are more expensive.

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

Very good and very cheap. Fit inn costs only 19.90 a month. Super clean and best machines.

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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?

ATMs are safe and so are credit cards.

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

English. Catholic.

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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?

If you dont speak Slovak, try English or German.

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

In the Old Town it is difficult.

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Transportation:

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

Bus, tram and trains are very safe and cheap. But never take a taxi in the street. He will rip you off. Taxi drivers are unfriendly and make scams. Uber is very good and the drivers treat you well for a small price.

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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?

Buy locally.

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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, increadibly cheap. I pay only 9.90 a month and have great wifi internet.

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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?

Orange. There are special offers to diplomatic missions.

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Health & Safety:

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

No concerns. Unless you are a black or Arab looking person. A lot of racism in the air. But rarely it comes to violence.

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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?

If you get seriously ill better take an ambulance to Vienna.

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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?

Good.

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

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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)?

I get winter blues. Difficult to wake up. Take some days off and fly to tropical place if you can afford it.

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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?

Cold winters, great summers. Continental European. Does not rain so much, so that's good.

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Schools & Children:

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

Many. American, British, German, French...

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2. 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?

Many available.

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

Yes. Lots of music schools too.

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Expat Life:

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

Morale is fair, but not great.

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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?

It will be easier if you speak Slovak and are white, hetero and young. People are not very fond of foreigners. Arabs may have a very hard time here.

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

For both it is good.

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

Is is tolerated, but lots of homophobia in the society. Same-sex couples cannot get married or register a partnership. LGBT movement is active though. There is a Film Festival and also the march once a year.

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

Women are in many traditionally male professions, due to socialist equality past. Slovaks are scared of Islam or anything too different than Catholicism.

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

Trips to Austria.

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

Thermal Baths. Dunaska Streda, Velky Meder...

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

No but shopping malls are great and open Sundays. Eurovea and Au Park are the best. Also Central. Avion, Bory Mall, you name it.

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

Very safe and very cheap. Easy to fly either from Bratislava or from Vienna. You can get to Vienna Airport with a 5 Euro bus in 45 minutes. They run every 20 minutes. Ryanair flies from Bratislava. By car great highways to Austria or Hungary.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

People are so unfriendly with foreigners.

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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:

Expectations of a rainbow multiethnic society.

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4. But don't forget your:

Winter sport gear.

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

Eva Nova. Great film with best Slovak actress.

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