Monthly Archives: March, 2015

Crunching the numbers.

Very recently I was discussing Prague and teaching and immigration with someone who is moving here, and the question of costs came up.  How much are things?  What does it cost to live here in Prague?

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There are many good resources on the internet including the Expats cost of living report.  I won’t be converting all these numbers to Canadian or American dollars or even Euros because, as I’ve mentioned before, you’ll be heartbroken if you keep thinking in anything other than Czech Crowns (Koruna, or Kč).  As of this writing it was about 19.5Kc to a Canadian dollar, 25Kc to a US dollar and 27Kc to a Euro.

Anything I put here is based on my personal, real life experience here in Prague – your results may vary.  So, what are some numbers to consider?

A home

During my time in Prague I have lived in two places.  The first, a tiny little studio in Holešovice, with easy access to metros and trams:

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This was a partly furnished suite and with all utilities came to about 9,400Kc per month.  My internet was included in this and was about 400Kc per month.  My very simple furnishings, some new and some used from a local Nabytek, cost about 6,000Kc.  As I rented direct from the owner there was no reality fee, just one months security deposit.  If using an agent expect to pay the equivalent of one month rent as a fee.

On returning to Prague I decided to try shared accommodation.  This time around  I have a fantastic view and am a two minute walk from Vyšehrad.

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The downside is I share a flat with four other people.  And I have a tiny, tiny room.

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On the other hand it is only 7,500Kc per month, minimal deposit, no long term lease and no furniture to buy.  There are definitely cheaper rooms to be had – check out the flatshare in Prague page on Facebook – but this is a two level suite with huge kitchen and 3.5 bathrooms between us.  A good compromise.

For housing ideas check out Home Sweet Home, Bezreality or Sreality.  If you will be teaching like I do, I’d recommend making sure you have good transit connections.

Health insurance

There is a lot of information available on this topic.  Be sure to get a plan that covers the visa requirements, most companies offer one tailor made for this.  The first go around I used Slavia and was satisfied (although I only ever needed it once) but this time I tried Uniqa though an English speaking broker – Czech Insure.  Good news, Slavia was nearly 10,000Kc for one year before, my new policy is only 7,500.  That is only 625Kc per month – 1/2 what I paid in Canada.

Transit

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Prague has a fantastic and very economical transit system.  You can find all the fees on the DPP website, but a monthly pass on an open card (transit pass with your photo on it) is only 550Kc (less if you buy more than one month at a time) while a transferable pass can had for 670Kc per month.

Social service tax

If you are self employed on a zivnostenky list (trade license) you will be paying your social service tax monthly – be prepared to part with 1943Kc per month no matter if you work or not.  My understanding is that if you work for a company and also have a zivnostensky list you will be able to reduce this by half, but I have never done it.

Other things?

My experience has been that many things like clothing and food are cheaper here, particularly if they aren’t imported, but since you make less on average it isn’t really any different.

A nice masala tea at a tea room?  80Kc

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Dinner out for two at a nice restaurant?  Maybe a movie after?  Budget 1,000kc if you intend to have drinks and dessert….

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How does it all add up?

If you are working full time as a teacher you will survive quite comfortably on what you make, not luxuriously, but well enough.  Booking 20-25 classes per week and allowing for early cancellations I am usually in the 22,000-30,000Kc per month range. If you intend to travel, especially to Euro based countries, things will get a little tight quite quickly.  Go east, or south into the Balkans and you can still have great trips.

Angloville, a volunteer experience…

At some point I stumbled upon the Angloville website and liked the idea of a week in the country with a group of native English volunteers and Polish participants.  After contacting them I signed up for a session in Zabuze, east of Warsaw, from April 1st to the 6th.  It was a really great experience!

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You don’t:

  • need to be a teacher.
  • need experience.
  • need a lot of money.
  • need to worry too much!

But you do:

  • need to be a native English speaker.
  • need to be interested in other people.
  • need some patience.
  • want to share your life very closely for an entire week.

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Think of Angloville as a mini-immersion process – they create an English environment within the host country.  During the week we spend all day, every day, speaking English both in the sessions and during meals or social time.  The participants pay for the event and as a result are quite motivated.  Participants were professionals from a variety of fields, all of them with interesting backgrounds and stories.  The English speaking volunteers were also amazing, all of us from different countries and different backgrounds.

Days consisted of many one to one or two to two sessions…..

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…as well as many group activities, games and socializing.

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There were two organizers with us, so all the logistics were looked after.  Just show up at the meeting point and go from there. The venue was amazing: beautiful countryside, nice rooms and meeting spaces, and good food three times per day (even for a vegetarian like me).

For an interesting, fun, challenging and economical experience, I highly recommend Angloville for your next trip to Poland! I’ll be heading to Wroclaw in May for another great week!

The quick and easy visa process, part one.

If you have been following me, you know I already had a visa and residence permit once and am back to do it all again.  If you are new here and stumbled upon my blog while looking for Živnostenský list or Czech immigration information, I recommend you start at the beginning. Even though I had a visa before, because I let my residence permit expire I need to start from scratch.

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This post will cover from the start of the process to waiting for the visa appointment and I will post more once things move ahead.  This process is for someone here on a trade license (Živnostenský list).  I’ve included actual dates so you can see the real timeline here in 2015.  If things have changed from 2013 I will make an effort to update the original postings to reflect this.  As I arrived in the Schengen Zone on February 19th, I am on a bit of a timeline to pull this off by May 20th.

Useful information:  The Ministry of the Interior website.

Documents needed:

Canadian criminal record check:  I applied at the Embassy in Prague on March 9th, it was ready for pickup on March 10th.  You can get this in Canada before you come, but it is no faster, no cheaper and won’t be in Czech so you will need to pay to get it translated.  Note that they are only open from 9:00 until 12:00 but you can make an appointment for afternoon if necessary.  Cost: 1,000kc.

The criminal record check needs to be super-notarized by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Minsterstvo zahranicnich veci) located at #5 Toskansky Palac, very close to the castle.  It is often busy and I arrived at 13:00 to be the first in line when they opened at 13:30 – I was in and out in five minutes.  Cost:  600kc (note, you will need to pay this by “kolek” which are financial payment stamps available at the post office – they won’t accept cash).

We aren’t done!  Take your super-notarized Canadian criminal record check to a notary (there are Czech Points all over Prague) and have an official notarized copy made – you will need this copy for your Živnostenský list.  Cost:  60kc.

Czech criminal record check: Because I lived here for two years, I needed to get a Czech criminal record check (rejstřík trestů) as well.  There is a good explanation of this process on Prague.tv.  The article says the wait will be long but I was in and out in five minutes and was able to pay the fee in cash, they didn’t need koleks.  Cost:  100kc (not the 50kc stated in the article).

Housing document:  You will need some proof of housing, a lease or doklad ubytovani.  This document must be signed by the registered owners of the flat and notarized – they will check it to make sure they are the registered owners.  It must be good for at least the duration of your visa plus the waiting period, so try to get one that is either open ended or at least good for one year. Cost:  60kc?  Or zero if your landlord is nice like mine is.

Proof of funds:  You need a document to prove you have at least 110,000kc available to you.  I had my Canadian bank provide this proof of funds before I left Canada but note it can’t be more than three months old.  You will need a card that can access this account.  You will also need a certified translation, I had mine done at Grabmuller, if took three days. Cost: $20 (from my bank in Canada) plus 400kc for the translation.

Passport photos:  Available at most photo shops or even photo booths in the metro.  Cost:  100kc

Živnostenský approval letter:  I won’t go into detail on this, please look at my previous postings for the how and why of the trade licence.  Or, stop by the office in Prague 7, room 203, and get details about what you will need.  They do speak English and are vey helpful.  Cost:  1,000kc.


The initial visa appointment:  Now, before, during or after this you will need to have made an appointment at a Czech Embassy somewhere.  From Prague the most common are:

Berlin.  I emailed them on March 16th, they replied to my email but asked me to call the embassy, and they could have fit me in as early as March 25th.

Bratislava. When I managed to get through to someone on March 17th they were booking appointments for the middle of June!

Vienna.  This is where I have my appointment, I finally managed to contact them by phone on March 17th and was able to get an appointment for Aril 7th.  This is the same embassy I used last time.  Note:  they wanted me to email them all of my documents including my zivnostensky list BEFORE they would give my an appointment, but I managed to convince them to make the appointment and then scanned and emailed things as I got them.

This is the end of part one, watch for an update after my visa appointment on April 7th.

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