Bratislava, Slovakia Report of what it's like to live there - 08/26/17

Personal Experiences from Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava, Slovakia 08/26/17

Background:

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

Hamilton and Rome.

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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?

DC, direct 8.5 hours.

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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.)?

Spouse of a US embassy employee.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Fantastic housing. Plenty of room. Everything new or updated after early 1990's. Because it is not a large city all commutes are reasonable. Wide range of apartments and houses. Some have amazing views.

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

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

You can find everything.

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

Several downtown - Thai, Slovak, Sushi, Italian. Great pizza place in the neighborhood.

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

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Daily Life:

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

Sometimes mail is slow, but in general it is fine.

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

Readily available, affordable.

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

Plenty of affordable gym options.

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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?

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

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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?

I try to use 10-15 expressions. Slovaks are easy to deal with--transactional and polite.

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

Yes -- but no more difficulty than living in Rome. People are helpful, but not all facilities are accessible.

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Transportation:

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

Super affordable. Bus is easy.

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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?

Small SUV works well --Toyota RAV, Honda CRV, Subaru CrossTrek. Much bigger becomes challenging, but people do have mini-vans.

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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?

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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?

Most use local providers. Not 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?

Excellent vet care. Affordable. Great post for dogs. No quarantine.

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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?

Some telework to US, many work at Embassy. Not much on local market.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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

Sometimes dressy, but casual is OK outside of work functions.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not that I am aware of.

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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?

Good physical therapy. Have not had any other experience.

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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?

Food is well-marked in restaurants

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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)?

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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?

Nice seasons...winter can have extended days of fog, but overall not too cold. Summers are lovely!

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

Everyone with young kids seems to find workable options. Very family friendly post

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

Definitely.

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Expat Life:

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

High morale, medium size community.

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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?

Most socializing seems to be structured around kids, kid activities. If you don't have kids, there are still opportunities arranged by CLO. Lots of day trips. Great theater opportunities.

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

Good for all types, but it is not a large post, so it is important to make a few friends.

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

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

It is a traditional country,

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

It is a lovely, liveable city. People are content. Travel everywhere in Europe is 1-2 hours by plane or a day's drive. Easy place to host visitors (we have had 30+).

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

Hiking, biking, dining out....

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

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

See highlights. It is an easy, lovely place. Virtually no traffic. Ryan Air has cheap flights out of Bratislava airport and Vienna airport is 40 minutes away.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How awesome it was going to be.

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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:

Stress.

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4. But don't forget your:

Love of the outdoors.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

Enjoy it!

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