Bratislava, Slovakia Report of what it's like to live there

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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Bratislava, Slovakia 06/22/17

Background:

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

Yes this was my first overseas experience.

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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?

Originally from New York. Very easy travel between Vienna and New York- direct flights on Austrian Air. Vienna is the closest international airport with access to US. Its about 45 minutes away from Bratislava.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years total. Already moved to next post and miss Bratislava.

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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 scattered throughout the city. We lived in a very modern and comfortable apartment. We have a larger park around the corner perfect for our dog and son.

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

Most things are relatively cheap despite being on the Euro. Food costs were low and eating out was generally cheap.

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

Garbage bags and toilet paper are terrible in Slovakia so we ordered from Amazon frequently. Also Cheerios. They only sell honey nut in Europe, so we ordered for our son.

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

Not too much delivery of dinner, but groceries get delivered through Tesco and was so convenient. Lots of great restaurants throughout the city of all types of cuisines.

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

We had a lot of mosquitoes our first summer but it wasnt too much of an issue in the following summers.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and diplomatic pouch are available.

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

Babysitters can be found through on-line services, Facebook, or word of mouth and generally are 5-7 Euros per hour. We found someone amazing for 5.

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

There are several gyms around. Most are relatively on par or cheaper than US. I went to Little Bit Fit where they have personal trainers for you every time you go as part of the membership and this was a bit more expensive.

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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, no problems.

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

Everything seems to be available except mosques. I dont think Slovaks are very trusting of Muslims. Lots of different churches around. Chabad is small but very nice and has a preschool.

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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 learned a little Slovak when I first go to post and it was helpful when out shopping or in restaurants. Generally in Bratislava you will find people who speak English. Outside of the city, in the villages you wont have as much English.

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

Possible. The streets are still cobblestone in the Old City so walking with my sons stroller was sometimes a bit tough so I can imagine that someone with a wheelchair might find it to be quite difficult. However, the buses and trams were mostly accessible.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis with apps are cheap and easy. Buses and trams are cheap and on schedule. Walking around town is easy too. All safe.

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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?

I think anything is good but roads and parking spaces can be narrow. Most Americans drove SUVs anyway. Toyota was probably the most popular because there is a Toyota dealer who can provide maintenance. We brought a Prius to post and had no problems.

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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, good service and cheap. About $20 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?

Bring an unlocked phone and service is about $20 per month- super cheap!

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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?

We used a Pet hotel out of town that had kennels which our dog needs. Others use a house where the dogs roam free but is not good for our dog.
Vet service is good. We used this guy: www.vetambulancia.sk.

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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 spouses worked at the embassy, others had virtual positions, and others did not work. Teaching jobs can be found the most easily I think. Local salary will be less than US but cost of living is less too.

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

There isnt really a dress code but Slovak women tend to always be dressed to be seen with high high heels even in the snow. But I never felt judged or looked down on for dressing more casual. Generally Slovaks are very nice and friendly.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not that I felt. In high tourist season you just have to watch your bags/wallets/phones. I know there were two families who had bikes stolen.

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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?

Medical care isnt the best but there are good options nearby. Medissimo is a private facility in Bratislava, Heinburg Hospital is about 15-20 minutes drive in Austria, and many doctors in Vienna. There was a good English-speaking dentist in Bratislava who was reasonably priced and knew how to complete the government insurance forms.

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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?

No issues.

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

There are gluten free shops around. All menus have allergens labeled.

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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?

Four seasons. Summer can be really hot and humid and there are still a lot of places that don't have air conditioning, but overall its not too bad. Winter can be cold and grey and wet. We got snow but not too much.

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Schools & Children:

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

Several options, main ones used are QSI and British International.

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

The British International School had supports for kids with learning disabilities. Parents are also able to bring in their own specialists, including for autism services. I think QSI does too, but I am not sure.

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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?

Preschools are available either with international schools or "local" schools. No experience with them.

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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 felt fairly large. I made friends with people from other countries and also Americans not with the embassy.

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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 people go out to restaurants or other people's homes. The two main squares downtown often have events which are a lot of fun and draw crowds. In the summer there are outdoor concerts frequently and you can sit outside at the restaurants and bars and listen or grab a gelato and listen from a bench. The malls are also really nice and have great activities for kids so they are a great meeting place for parents and kids.

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

Yes, Yes, Yes. Bratislava has something for everyone! A great nightlife for singles and couples, as well as so many amazing family friendly places... you cant go wrong!

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

Slovaks are very tolerant. I never felt there were issues for any groups.

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

Old Town is fantastic, but the villages are also really nice to check out. Also Devin and The Red Stone Castle. We also loved going to Schloss Hoff in Austria- about 35 minutes drive. The palace has a nice petting zoo and playground and if you go a couple times a year, its worth getting the season pass.

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

There are a lot of wine festivals in the neighboring villages which are fantastic. Despite being alcohol related, they are actually very family friendly and fun! Live music, street food, handicrafts, and rides for kids.

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

There is pottery in Modra. Theres a nice handicraft festival in the fall which has a lot of great handmade items.

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

Proximity to ALL OF EUROPE! I wish I could say we traveled as much as I would have liked but it is really close to everything and RyanAir hub is at Bratislava airport so you could fly, drive, or train all over Europe. Vienna and Budapest are so close that we spent a lot of time in those cities.

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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:

Stress. Life in Bratislava can be very chill.

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3. But don't forget your:

Car. Public transportation is good for the inner city but there were a lot of places I would shop that were better accessed by driving.

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

"Letters from Slovakia" https://www.amazon.com/Letters-Slovakia-Humorous-Englishman-Republic/dp/1470190230

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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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Bratislava, Slovakia 09/19/16

Background:

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

No. We've lived in Bologna, Italy; Guadalajara, Mexico; and Bucharest, Romania.

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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?

Boston. There's no direct flight, so we end up transferring through Amsterdam or Paris. It's about 13 hours total with a 1-1/2 to 2 hour connection. There are direct flights from DC and NYC.

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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.)?

U.S. 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?

We live in a big two-story house in a nice part of town -- walkable to two parks (one of which is huge, with playgrounds, bike and hiking trails, a chair lift), a grocery store and the zoo. The houses are all nice and close to public transportation. We are one of the furthest from the old town area and it takes about 7 minutes by car and 12 by bus. Some people (mostly singles and couples without kids) live in an apartment building walkable to the downtown (takes about 20 minutes). Some of the houses are closer to old town than the apartment building.

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

Price of groceries varies depending on which store you choose -- though it's significantly cheaper overall than in major U.S. cities. Most things are available but you often have to go to multiple stores to get everything on your list.

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

Liquid items like real maple syrup and real vanilla (they only sell imitation vanilla here). Brown sugar for baking.

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

There's not much available take-out-wise. There's sushi and pizza (Mr. Pizza tends to be the favorite). There's a lot of good Slovak food but other types of food tends to be so-so. There are a couple Asian fusion restaurants and a Mexican place. There's also a new Wagamama. There is a chain of restaurants here that have play areas for kids -- the Italian version has a pizza-making station where kids can cut shapes out of dough and have them cooked.

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

We had a major problem with ants, but it was taken care of quickly. We know other people who had ant issues as well.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO. I've heard mixed things about the local PO.

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

Very few families here have full-time nannies or household help. Slovakia has a generous maternity leave policy -- moms can take three years off to stay home with a baby. This means there's not really a nanny culture here. When moms go back to work, they tend to put kids in pre-school or have grandparents help out. Many people have someone come to clean once a week, which is around 8 euros an hour. Babysitters charge 5-6 euros an hour.

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

There are many gyms -- they range in price. New yoga studios have popped up in the part two years.

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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 -- widely accepted and safe to use. We used ATMs frequently and have never heard of anyone having an issue.

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

There is a Catholic service in English on Sundays. There's also a non-denominational church with a Sunday service.

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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?

It's helpful to have some Slovak. Often people working in grocery stores (or other shops) and restaurants don't speak any English.

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

There many be issues with wheelchair access in some places but, overall, I think it would be fine. There are elevators in many places, ramps, etc. Lots of handicapped parking.

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Transportation:

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

Yes. Cheap, convenient and safe.

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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?

Any car here is fine -- though would recommend against a very big SUV. Parking spaces are extremely tight.

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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. We were lucky enough to have ours installed before we arrived. There are a couple different providers, depending on where you live. Our internet is mostly fine, though it does randomly drop out often.

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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 provider. We have Orange.

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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 work at the embassy. Others telecommute. I don't know of anyone working on the local economy.

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

Business casual. Women tend to dress up here more than in other places I've lived.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not that I know 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?

No special health concerns. Many people go to Vienna for routine medical care.

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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?

Air quality is good.

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

Everywhere in Bratislava there is a list of potential allergens on the menus -- each has a designated number. The number of the allergens in each dish is listed next to the name of the dish. It's helpful to people with allergies (though if someone has a nut allergy, be aware that pine nuts are not considered nuts here -- so you would need to specifically ask about that one!)

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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)?

No. Though the winter months tend to bring many gray days.

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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?

It's hot in July and August and cold in the main winter months. But there are four seasons and it doesn't seem to get extremely cold. Climate is a bit like DC but less humid in the summer.

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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 international schools -- many expat kids go to the British International School, QSI or the Cambridge School. Each of the three English schools has pluses and minuses. They are expensive, so they tend to draw wealthy locals. Some expats also attend the French International School. QSI is the only school with an American curriculum but the facilities are not as nice as those at the other schools and the classes tend to be very small. All of the schools have extra-curricular activities. The sports associated with the international schools tend to be more like club sports -- Slovak and expats kids often go outside the schools for more serious sports instruction.

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

QSI has allowed aides to assist kids in the classroom. I'm not sure about how it works with other schools.

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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?

All of the international schools provide after school care until 5 or 6pm and all have preschools. There are many pre-schools here, usually starting at age 2, including Montessori schools. I believe there is one (maybe two) that teach in English.

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

All of the schools have extra-curricular activities. The sports associated with the international schools tend to be more like club sports -- Slovak and expats kids often go outside the schools for more serious sports instruction. There's a painting class in English for kids, martial arts, skiing, skating, swimming.

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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 high. There are some expat groups in Bratislava. We have found, though, that there's so much to do -- places close by to travel to, etc. -- that the community here isn't as close as in other places we've been.

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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?

Going out to restaurants and bars in old town, parties at homes. There's a Facebook group Bratislava & Me that is helpful. There's also an international women's group and Internations here. There's a group for moms of babies and toddlers on Facebook, too.

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

Good for all. There's so much to do here for adults and kids and Vienna is only an hour away -- the options are endless.

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

It's not known to be extremely welcoming but I think it would be fine.

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

Slovakia is very nationalistic -- so there are biases against anyone who does not look like they "fit in." There have been protests against refugees and the Roma are discriminated against.

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

Slovakia has a lot to offer. We've been lucky enough to have a chance to travel most of the country. Bratislava is in a prime spot -- 4-1/2 hours to Italy, 3 1/2 hours to Prague, 2 hours to Budapest, 1 hour to Vienna (35 minutes to Vienna airport). There are so many small towns in Slovakia, Czech and Hungary that are amazing that we would otherwise never have explored. Slovenia is beautiful and close. Zagreb and Krakow are 4 hours away. Flights to to other parts of Europe are quick and cheap. We loved exploring the Tatra mountains, castles including Orava, Spis and Stara Lubovna, the wooden churches along the Polish border in Eastern Slovakia.

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

See above!

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

There is pottery in Modra and beautiful crystal.

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

It's a very easy life here. Everything you need or want to do is available.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That it can be gray for long stretches of time in fall and winter. But, often, if you jump in the car (or on a train) and drive for an hour the clouds stay behind ...

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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:

Desire to stay home. There is too much drawing you out!

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4. But don't forget your:

Desire to explore.

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Bratislava, Slovakia 06/23/15

Background:

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

No, I have also lived in London, Tashkent, Guangzhou, and Kabul.

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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. Most people prefer to fly direct from Washington to Vienna via Austrian Air/United and then drive about 40 minutes from the Vienna airport to Bratislava. Bratislava has a small international airport, but there are no direct flights to the U.S.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year

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

Affiliated with U.S. 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?

Many people live in apartments, although there are also nice single family homes that are fairly centrally located. I have a 25-minute walk to the Embassy, which is located on a beautiful central square in Bratislava's old town. There is also good public transport that consists of buses and trams, and taxis are fairly affordable, with many rides only costing about 5 Euros.

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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 almost anything here that you would want, although produce is more seasonal than in the U.S. and the quality of produce is a bit lower than in neighboring Austria. Prices seem reasonable and roughly comparable to the U.S. for many items. Anything that is not available here is availabe in Austria, just a 20-30 minute drive away.

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

Nothing.

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

There is a fairly nice range of restaurants and they are affordable. We typically spend about 10 Euros/person on a main at dinner, and beer is cheap, at 2 to 3 Euros for a half liter. There are not a ton of exotic restaurants, but things like Italian, Indian, Chinese, sushi, and Thai food are all available.

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

Some mosquitoes in summer but nothing too bad.

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Daily Life:

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

Via the State Departments Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) and Diplomatic Pouch. I do know that some colleagues have also had Amazon ship directly from their UK or German websites via local mail.

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

Private childcare costs 5-6 Euros and hour and people pay housecleaners about 8 Euros/hour, so most people do not have full-time help employed here.

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

Yes, many, and they are pretty affordable. I think some people joined gyms for 20 Euros a month.

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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?

Both are widely accepted/available. In fact, it seems like we can use credit cards in more places here than we can in Austria.

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

Not sure.

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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?

You can get by pretty well with almost no knowledge of Slovak. It's nice to know it and sometimes helps if a waiter forgets to bring an English language menu, but in most places people in service jobs speak at least some English. Many people here also speak German.

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

I think someone with physical disabilities would have some difficulties living here, as it is not very wheelchair accessible. I realize this now that I often travel with a stroller.

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Transportation:

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

Yes to all.

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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?

Nothing too big as, like most of Europe, some roads are narrow, and parking spaces and garages are tight. We have a RAV4 and think that is a perfect compromise to fit our growing family and luggage or groceries, but still let us just fit in tight spaces.

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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, about 30 or 40 Euros/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?

The Embassy can arrange a contract for personal use with Orange that only costs us about 10 Euros per month and includes a lot of data usage.

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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 to quarantine. I haven't used a vet or kennel for our two cats yet.

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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?

I don't know as both my husband and I work at the Embassy. I do not know too many accompanying spouses who work on the local economy, though.

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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?

Similar to in the U.S. Young people dress casually in jeans and sneakers. I wear a suit or dress to work and blend in with Slovaks.

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Health & Safety:

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

No, it's pretty safe here, although I hear pickpocketing is a concern during the summer tourist season and we did have bikes stolen out of our shared apartment garage.

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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?

No particular concerns. Medical care in Slovakia is a bit post-communist, but world class medical care is available just across the border in Austria, either in Hainburg for routine care or Vienna one hour away for any type of care. I medevaced to Vienna to have my son last year.

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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, some of the cleanest air I've had overseas.

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

No one complains of allergies too much that I know.

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

Winters are similar to Washington, DC, not too cold, but days are short in the winter and long in the summer. Spring and autumn are a bit cool.

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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 two international schools - a QSI American curriculum school and the British International School of Bratislava (BISB). My child is only 10 months old, so I have no experience with either, but it seems like more Embassy kids go to BISB.

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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?

Preschool and daycare is available but not plentiful. Childcare for young children is actually hard to come by, as Slovak women are entitled to up to 3 years of paid maternity leave. I hired a full-time Filipina nanny who is willing to work the hours that my Foreign Service Officer husband and I both needed. From what I have heard anecdotally, the preschool is good but requires one parent to drive a child to and from it every day, so I'm not sure what my husband and I would do if our child were older.

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

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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 good morale. People really like it here, as life is affordable, the local people are friendly, and there is so much great traveling both in Slovakia and to neighboring countries. My 10-month old son has already visited 10 countries in Europe.

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

Yes, for all. There are many restaurants and cafes and also museums and some theaters. There are also numerous opportunities for outdoor activities - great bike trails, hiking, running, nearby skiing. Everyone here really enjoys life at this post.

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

I have no personal knowledge, but I would guess it is not great, as Slovakia is a fairly strongly Catholic country, and public opinion polls find that there are many with negative feelings about issues such as same-sex marriage.

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

Slovakia is fairly homogenous, so there is some opposition to immigration from countries outside Europe, but my impression is that people from other countries/cultures are not unhappy here.

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

Visiting castles, bike rides in Slovakia and to neighboring countries.

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

crystal, ceramics

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

Bratislava is incredibly centrally located in Europe - just 1 hour from Vienna, 2 hours from Budapest, 4 hours from Prague, and 6 hours from Venice. We LOVE the travel opportunities, and being in Slovakia is also fun. We are really enjoying all the bike trails nearby. Life in Bratislava is also really easy to navigate, as the city is compact, so we find we can walk many places we want to go, including work, and only get in our car every few weeks.

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8. Can you save money?

Yes if you don't travel too much to other more expensive Western European countries.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Nothing - I felt pretty well informed.

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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:

Worries about security and pollution - it's safe and clean here.

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4. But don't forget your:

European travel dreams - as I mentioned, Bratislava is an awesome home base for trips all over Europe.

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Bratislava, Slovakia 12/25/09

Background:

1. 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?

Virtually all connections are through Vienna's airport, which is only about forty minutes away by car or bus. DC to Vienna takes 8.5 hours.

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

I am affiliated with the U.S. Embassy and have lived in Bratislava for three years, a third expat experience.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most U.S. Embassy families choose apartments or houses within a 15-minute drive from the center of town. Many singles and couples live within a 10-minute walk from city center.

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

British, French and German hypermarkets have brought in an abundance of choices. Many American brands and ingredients remain hard (or impossible) to find. Average prices are on par with most of Western Europe, noticeably higher than what most Americans are used to paying.

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

The list is getting shorter all the time. Mostly old-favorite snack items. We always buy shoes and clothes on trips back home.

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

U.S. brands are mostly McDonald's, Pizza Hut and KFC. Prices are close to those in the US. There are lots of good (and reasonably priced) Italian and Chinese restaurants, but very few Mexican or Latin American places. High-end continental restaurants are everywhere, but you will use them only for special occasions.

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

Very few. It gets cold enough in the winter to discourage them.

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Daily Life:

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

Through the embassy for incoming. The local post office is okay for sending things out to places other than the States.

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

We have a great housekeeper who comes one day a week for $210 a month.

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

Several, but they are expensive.

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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?

Most establishments will take credit cards. ATMs are everywhere.

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

Yes, at least Roman Catholic and Protestant.

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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?

English is getting to be pretty common in Bratislava, especially among the younger people. Most servers in restaurants speak english because tour groups are so common. Some Slovak skills would be helpful on trips around the country.

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

Only the newer shopping malls have wheelchair ramps. High curbs and cobblestone streets would be difficult for many.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, but beware of pickpockets on trams and buses. Affordable? About a dollar for a bus ride in town. You can take a taxi to almost anywhere in town for under five dollars.

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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?

Whatever fits your situation will work here. Roads are very good. Service is good through major dealerships. Snow tires are required in the winter, even of there is no snow. People who live in (or close to) Old Town can survive just fine without a car.

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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?

Cable or DSL for $40 a month. Fast and 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?

Everything is here. Skype and Vonage are best for international calling.

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Pets:

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

Yes.

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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?

Most diplomatic spouses that I know who want to work do.

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

A bit more dressy than in most of the U.S.

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Health & Safety:

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

Pickpockets.

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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?

No special health concerns. Emergency care is probably adequate. Routine procedures should be handled in Vienna or on home leave.

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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?

Air pollution is not a problem.

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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?

Winter low temperatures lately have usually hovered in the twenties (F), occasionally a bit colder. Very little snow. Midsummer days can be in the nineties. Air conditioning is a definite plus.

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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 for a country of only 5 million people. There are many American and European business people living here.

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2. Morale among expats:

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?

There are many bars, nightclubs and restaurants, so there is something for everyone. Many people entertain at home.

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

Yes, for all.

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

There are some active gay social groups.

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

Unfortunately, yes. Many Slovaks have yet to outgrow their traditional intolerance of people of any color other than white, despite the fact that Catholicism dominates the religious scene.

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

There are several good museums and art galleries in town. Local and national theaters are very active, as are the orchestra and the ballet. Vienna is less than an hour away by car, bus or train. Nice wineries are within a 20-minute drive, as are small lakes for swimming and boating. Danube River cruises are popular. Nearby castle ruins make good day trips.

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

Folk art, local watercolors, traditional musical instruments.

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

The weather is not too bad, most people are nice, and it is a great base for exploring the rest of europe and scandinavia.

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10. Can you save money?

Only if you can avoid the expensive restaurants. Slovakia has been using the Euro for a year now, and despite government assurances to the contrary, prices have risen considerably. Restaurants were prohibited from raising the price on any given item, so they gradually dropped all of those old items and introduced "new" items at new prices.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, it can be a charming little town.

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2. Do you have any other comments?

Vienna is a short drive away, so most air travel goes through there.

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Bratislava, Slovakia 04/07/10

Background:

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

Have lived in 13 other countries over the last 20 years.

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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?

From Dulles it is no more than a 12-14 hour trip departing from Vienna.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years, departed, 1 year ago.

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

Affiliated with U.S. 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?

Houses and apartments many are very old but generally well maintained. Best place to live is in old town if you don't have children; if you do go for a house.

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

U.S. prices - and anything you want or need.

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

Nothing I can think of - everything is readily available.

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

Anything in the States is also here. But why would you? The food is fantastic and reasonably priced.

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

none that I saw.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO - Local post is OK if a bit slow.

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

Rare and very expensive - $45.00 for a maid.

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

Plenty but they are a bit expensive - $100.00 is a good price can be much more. The embassy does not have anything.

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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?

No problem; most use them.

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

Yes. Plenty.

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

Sling Box - or AFN. AFN is marginal - find a friend and go Sling Box.

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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?

None - most speak English at a very good level.

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

No problem at all.

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Transportation:

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

All - very affordable and excellent.

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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?

Any kind - just be mindful of the cost of gas.

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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, about $60.00 / month. Pretty good; occasionally down but not often.

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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?

Mine was provided by the embassy, so I am not sure. But I never heard any horror stories about cost or poor service.

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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.

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

No problem at; all many dogs and vets are better than doctors here. You can also go to Austria.

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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?

Yes many; but pay is not up to U.S. standards. And then you do need the local language.

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

Slovaks dress well no matter when they are out. At work - depends on where that might be?

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, there is the occasional break in. Use your alarm and generally common sense in your night-time activities.

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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?

Great medical care is available, but it's not in Bratislava. They can handle minor issues and broken bones, but that is as far as I would trust them. Just about everyone goes to Vienna or one of the fine Austrian Clinics just across the border. Generally no more than ½ hour to 45 min.

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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 to moderate (in the winter).

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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?

Climate is very like Washington area - winters are pretty mild - summers not to hot.

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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 don't have children, but I did not hear many complaints.

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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?

Yes and not to expensive.

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

Many.

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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:

Excellent away from work - most of the time - of course you have to factor in work; there are good bosses and there are bad. A good GSO helps.

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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?

More to do than you can ever do.

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

Great for all - plenty to do no matter if you are married, single or a couple. Single guys really enjoy it.

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

Very large gay community, many bars and events just for gays, no issues at all. However, there is a conservative element that does not mind speaking their opposition to it.

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

Religious: no problem, gender: it is a man’s world. Race is an entirely different issue. This is the one downside of this post. If you are black or almost any other non-white I would not recommend going to Bratislava. There are skinheads and every form of racist you can think of. Generally they mind their own business and never seem to bother anyone that is not a minority, and you will see police walking behind them when there is a group. But they are there and they will attack a lone person if the opportunity presents itself; it did happen while I was there on several occasions.

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

Very beautiful old city, cultural events all the time 12 months a year, great shopping, excellent hunting and fishing – did I mention fantastic travel opportunities? If you are bored here it is totally your fault.

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

Too many to list - as above and you can add anything you would ever want to do out side. Biking is big - boating (all types) camping etc.

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

To many to list - this is East Europe, and there is a mixture of cultures and great things to see and buy.

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

Bratislava is really a fantastic place. There is no shortage of anything, and you can get just about any place from there very reasonably. For example, if you drive Italy is only 4 hours – Vienna is 45 min by train or driving.

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11. Can you save money?

Definitely not - just to much to do.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

For sure.

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

idea that this is old Eastern Block - it is just excellent if you are not a minority.

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3. But don't forget your:

That if you sit in your house and complain it is no one's fault but yours if you are bored.

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

None right now - just good travel guides of the country and region

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Hostel - supposed to be about Bratislava - there are lots of hostels there and they are great and well used

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Nope. Just enjoy unless you are a minority, then avoid like the plague.

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