Prague, Czech Republic Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic 12/10/15

Background:

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

5th expat assignment.

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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 is home base. You can connect easily from Prague via the major hubs including Frankfurt, Munich or London, and New York between spring and fall.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2+ years.

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

Foreign service.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Single family homes near the International School of Prague (ISP); apartments closer to the main city. Residences typically do not have a lot of extra storage, attic or basement. Plan accordingly.

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

There are several chains of stores throughout the city, including Albert, Tesco, Kaufland, Marks & Spencer, to name a few. U.S. products can be hard to find, but similar products under foreign labels can be found - the grocery stores offer quite a selection.

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

Certain items can be hard to find here. I would suggest including in your shipment dryer sheets, ziplock baggies, your favorite peanut butter, extra bottles/tabs of kids' cold medicine, pepto, sunscreen.

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

Most of what the U.S. is known for exporting - McD's, KFC, TGIF, Starbucks, can be found here, and within a "normal" cost range.

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

I am told that tick-borne encephalitis is an issue local to the Czech Republic, which could affect those who are not immunized, if bitten. I have no first-hand knowledge of anyone experiencing this. Otherwise, the usual insect problems exist - ants, mosquitoes, etc.

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Daily Life:

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

Embassy mail system.

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

Yes, but I am not a member of one.

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

I have not had any problems.

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

I believe all denominations can be found here.

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

For daily living in Prague, not much of the local language is needed, but it is nice to know some basic phrases and pleasantries. When traveling outside of the city, it could come in handy.

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Transportation:

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

Yes. Also the public transportation here (metro, trams, buses) are excellent, and are interconnected, allowing them to be utilized with the same pass/ticket.

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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?

Parking spaces in some areas can be small, and gas prices are high (about US$6-7/gallon), so something on the small side with great gas mileage would work in your favor.

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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. I think about US$50-70/month, depending on the package you purchase.

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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?

Vodafone and O2 are the most popular cellphone companies; the monthly rates are reasonable.

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Health & Safety:

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

So far, violent crime here has not been an issue, but stealthy pickpockets abound - protect your wallets, phones and IDs!

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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?

For "routine" things, I think the medical and dental care is quite good. You may want to look at options in London or back home for anything planned or major.

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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?

I'd say the air good to moderate. My youngest child had respiratory problems before we moved here, but in the time that we have been here (and he has aged), we have had no issues.

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

Four seasons, pretty much on par with DC. Prague has not seen much snow in the last couple of winters, but skiing in nearby mountains has been pretty decent.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are several schools in Prague, many of which are taught in English. Some schools based in other foreign languages (French) also exist, if that is desired.

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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?

Yes, they are all over Prague.

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

Yes.

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Expat Life:

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

It is a good size, and the morale overall is very good.

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

All of the above.

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

Yes.

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

Exploring everything mentioned above, and being close enough to neighboring countries to explore those, as well.

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

There are SO many. Castles, churches, breweries, concerts and opera, to name a few.

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

Czech crystal, Bohemian garnets, art.

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

The cultural options are endless! Fantastic beer, incredible history and architecture, slightly lower cost of living compared to countries using the Euro.

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8. Can you save money?

Yes, if you do not have the travel bug.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely.

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

Residential space can be limited, leave behind what you think you will not need in the time you are here.

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

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0062030345/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0062030345&linkCode=as2&tag=talesmagcom-20&linkId=I6RUY7E2AE3VZUD5

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Prague, Czech Republic 08/03/11

Background:

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

6th

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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 8 hours

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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

Foreign Service

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

For the embassy community, housing is either large family homes by the international school or smaller inner-city apartments. Keep in mind that European housing has limited closets and storage. Don't bring more than you actually need.

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

If you search you can find anything you want, perhaps with a foreign name, but the same actual product. Go to Makro and it will cost about the same as US prices. Most people shop in the small neighborhood markets, which have limited choices and higher prices but are more convenient. Go to Tesco, Alberts, Bili and pay less. If you can buy/store in bulk, Makro is a wonderland.

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

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

McDonald's, KFC, Starbucks, TGI Fridays, Hooters, Baskin Robbins and on and on. Prices in Prague are less than Western Europe, but on average higher than the US.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

All are available but you will pay for it.

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

Never even saw an ant, although they must exist!

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Daily Life:

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

The Czech system is reliable and cost effective for local or international mail if you don't have US govt mail access.

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

It is available, but getting someone who is fluent in English can be a problem if that is a need.

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

Many.

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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?

Use them freely. No problems. But do limit it to bank ATMs, as there are independent ATMs around that charge higher fees.

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

Yes.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, but English TV channels are limited, even on cable. Most people combine TV, internet and phone through O2 service for about $100.

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

Quite a bit. While central Prague is littered with English speakers, just getting one block off the beaten path will lead to non-English speakers. Czech is a tough language, but learning key words, smiling, and using hand signals can save lots of grief.

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

It is not friendly to wheelchairs or crutches. Cobblestones are hard even for people without physical disabilities to maneuver. All older sections of the city, which is the area we all like to be in, have steps, stairs and problematic w/c access. This segment of the population will find Prague quite unfriendly.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, yes, yes and yes.

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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?

You can bring any type, but parking is scarce, and some streets are tight -- so small is good.

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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, and reliable.~$70 per 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?

Everyone has one.

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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?

No, but there are qualifications. Be sure to check.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes, very good.

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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?

Not unless you are a fluent Czech speaker.

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

Czech ladies like to dress up, but you will see a wide variety at any office or event.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not really. Pickpockets on the Charles Bridge but rare violent crime.

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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?

Excellent medical care on the local economy. Most physicians speak good English, most support staff do not.

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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?

The air quality is moderate, but deep winter causes a smog to hang over the city, and this can cause sinus, allergy and asthma problems.

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

August-October is jacket and raincoat weather but with sunny days. November - April is just plain cold with the possiblity of snow and ice and very little sun. May and June vary between beautiful and sunny and rainy and cool. July is summer. In spite of the less than desireable weather, Prague is a delight.

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Schools & Children:

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

The international school is huge, modern, well staffed and well equipped and uniformly acknowledged to be excellent k-12.

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

The international school has accomodations for access. There are speech and occupational therapists available locally who speak English.

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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?

Loads, some bilingual and many in English. The U.S. Embassy employee association sponsors a preschool that has a good reputation but is thought to be expensive.

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

Yes.

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Expat Life:

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

Very large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Very good.

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

The possibilities are endless and the local cultural events are great. Ballet and Opera (English subtitiles available), are inexpensive. Movie theaters show the original English version with Czech subs, except for children's movies, which are dubbed.

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

I can't think of any group that would not do well in Prague. There is something for everyone.

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

Oh, yes.

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

There are some biases against the Roma, but expats will probably never have direct contact with this.

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

I loved the feel of living in an old village even though Prague is a modern, busy city with all modern technologies and excellent public transportation available.

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

Visit an endless supply of microbreweries. Don't miss the Vyseharad cemetery, the final resting place of Czech notables, memoralized with beautiful mosiacs and artistic monuments. Follow the tourists to the castle, astronomical clock, and the many outdoor markets.

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

Crystal, glass, art.

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

Prague is a beautiful city with true old world charm and since it is located in central Europe travel possibilites are tremendous.

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11. Can you save money?

Maybe, but you won't want too.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

In a heartbeat!

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

desire for warm weather.

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3. But don't forget your:

winter clothing, including snow boots.

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

"The Unbearable Lightness of Being" is an excellent novel about the 'Prague Spring' when Russia invaded Czechoslovakia and the political changes that follow.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

If you have the opportunity to live in Prague, you are a truly fortunate person.

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Prague, Czech Republic 01/01/08

Background:

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

Previous expat experiences include Yaounde, Dakar, Tegucigalpa, Sofia, Islamabad, and Tashkent.

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2. How long have you lived here?

The author has been in Prague for 4 years.

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

The author is affiliated with the U.S. Embassy.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

It is best to fly into Frankfurt (Germany) and then take a short connecting flight to Prague.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

All kinds of housing is available. I had a great 2-story house (3 stories including the full basement) with a large garden in Mala Sarka about 100 meters from the International School of Prague.

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

Widely available, there is a Tesco, Carrefour, and several other large supermarkets. Prices are rising, especially if you get paid in US dollars.

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

Electronics or clothing.

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

McDonalds and KFC - take your pick. There are many great Italian and pizza restaurants as well as a handful of Chinese restaurants. There are more than you can count but beware of price increases as you move towards the Old Town Square.

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Daily Life:

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

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

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

I used my credit card and had no problems. There is a fee for US-based cards.

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

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

The Prague Post is an English newspaper widely available, and satellite TV is easy enough to get. Channels are generally CNN, BBC, Eurosport, Discovery, etc.

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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?

Many Czechs, especially in downtown Prague, speak English, but Czechs will be friendlier if you try and speak Czech.

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

There are few, if any accommodations.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right, like the U.S.

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

Yes, very. Don't get caught without a ticket though, as fines can be as high as US$40.

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3. 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?

Roads are relatively well-maintained during the summer and salted during the winter. Travel around Prague is easy without a vehicle, trams and buses are cheap and timely. Once you get into downtown Prague, 90% of everything is within walking distance.

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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, cable internet, if you are in the right area. It is cheap (US$40 a month) and extremely reliable.

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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?

Everyone has a cellphone. They are moderately priced.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Skype or Vonage can be used.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Everyone has dogs, so pet care is available. Kennels are not though, but there are many Czech homes that will keep your dog while you are away for a small fee.

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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?

Maybe, if you speak Czech.

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

None.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Pollution is generally good during the summer but can be worse in the winters due to coal burning.

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

Prague is incredibly safe. However, pickpockets who target tourists is common (although I had no direct experience). Use common sense: Be aware of your valuables on crowded tram and don't flash wads of cash around.

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

Do not get seriously injured! Motel, the local hospital, was built by Hitler, it is that old. If you do, you should go to London. Some people say don't drink the tap water. I did for 4 years and didn't get sick once.

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

Typical central European climate: long, cold winters and mild, warm summers.

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Schools & Children:

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

I attended The International School of Prague (ISP) for my 4 years of high school and can attest that it is one of the best, if not the best, school in Central Europe.

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

ISP has resources although I'm unfamiliar with them.

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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?

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Expat Life:

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

Large and diverse.

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2. Morale among expats:

High.

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

The Prague nightlife is the best in Central Europe. Bars and clubs are everywhere. Get used to the excellent and cheap beer! I recommend Gambrinus or Staropramen.

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

Everyone will have a great time in Prague!

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

Yes it is.

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

Many Czechs dislike Roma/Gypsies because they are stereotyped as thieves and pickpockets. Other than that, there are no problems.

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

Cinemas, clubs, bars, socializing. Prague has a vibrant nightlife and social atmosphere. Day or weekend trips to Karlovy Vary, Cesky Krumlov, and Spindle for the spas or skiing are always great. Plus you have Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy only a few hours away! We actually drove from Prague to Sicily and Spain a few times!

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

Crystal, beer, spa treatments (get a doctor's note and it can be enjoyed for free!)

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9. Can you save money?

Yes, depending on how much you drink!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

YES!

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

Anything 110 voltage, unless you have transformers and your big SUV.

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3. But don't forget your:

Beer appetite.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Cinemas are cheaper than in the States, and are in English with Czech subtitles.

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