For many foreigners who spend any amount of time here, Prague IS the Czech Republic. Its beauty, excitement, and mystique make us proud to call this city home, yet the traffic, crowds, and high living costs don’t always appeal to people looking to settle down.
I surveyed a group of expatriates who live in other Czech towns and villages to find out more about life outside of the big city.
The majority of respondents used to live in Prague but moved away. Many have relocated to towns near Prague, and continue to work in the city while residing in a more peaceful setting. Of those who never lived in Prague, many settled down close to their Czech spouse’s family. A few are simply country folk at heart.
Not all respondents live in smaller towns and villages. Liberec is a lively city with a small but close-knit expat community. And The Brno Expat Center was kind enough to put me in touch with a few local expats, including one who has been living in the Czech Republic since 1969!
Read on for excerpts from our discussion:
Where do you live?
“For me it’s a very small village, but locals say it’s quite big.” – Sani, (Brazil) Poříčí nad Sázavou
“I live in Liberec. It’s a city but doesn’t feel like it.” – Sue, (UK) Liberec
“It’s a really small village with about 50 people and a big oak.” – Chris, (US) Zhůř
“Brno is a city of surprises. Given its size and not-so-beautiful architecture, there’s so much going on. Probably unappreciated by the tourists, but loved by its foreign residents.” – Giorgios, (Greece) Brno
Why did you choose to settle down there?
“I met my husband in Prague, but he was born in Krnov. I fell in love with Krnov the first day I visited it. It reminded me of my childhood home, and I remember thinking to myself that I could live here and make it my home.” – Andrea, (US) Krnov
“We knew we intended to stay here so decided renting was dead money and we ought to buy our own place.” – Andrew, (UK) Úhonice
“I was getting fed up with the utter isolation of people in Prague, the conviction so many people have that nothing interesting happens anywhere in the country outside Prague. As if there were two worlds – that of sophisticated Prague, and that of the hicks everywhere else.” – Don, (Canada) Brno, on one of several reasons he left Prague
“My goal is to have the A2 [Czech language certificate] by the end of this year. So living around here I have to practice with what little I have. That’s the main reason I moved out here, a chance to be around Czech people, real people.” – Brian, (US) Seč
What do you like most about where you live?
“The best thing about the village is the peace and quiet, no tourists and no light pollution so I can enjoy the starry nights from my terrace.” – Marco, (Belgium) Ptice
“I like being in a small, close knit-community in the countryside and still having good access (35 min by train) to the city.” – Christi, (US) Lysá nad Labem
“I love the size. Its small and cozy. Best of all, they know that. As a New Yorker, I don’t like cities that think they are big and cosmopolitan when they are really just bigger villages (e.g. Prague).” – Michael, (US) Brno
“How quiet it is but how close it is to all of the conveniences of a city.” – Raymond, (US) Dobrá Voda u Českých Budějovic
“The people. Native and foreign alike. I was told that Czechs were a bit cold and unfriendly but neither myself or my foreign friends have found this to be true.” – Sue, (UK) Liberec
How do you get along with the locals?
“When I meet new people in town, they usually think I’m from the UK. When I tell them I’m actually American and from Florida, they always look at me like I’m crazy and why would anyone in their right mind move to Krnov and live here.”
– Andrea, (US) Krnov
“We feel more like we’re a part of the community because people at the shops and restaurants remember you, so you spend more time talking to them and as a result, you get to know each other.” – Katie and Derek, (US) Černošice
“What people are mostly surprised to learn is that I came here after the Soviet invasion, and stayed during the period of “normalization”. But I never felt any antagonism to my being here even back then – I always felt welcome here.”
– Don, (Canada) Brno
“By and large, people are very surprised that I chose Brno. For some reason, locals don’t have such a high opinion of it.” – Michael, (US) Brno
What is the most surprising thing you’ve experienced while living in your town?
“The cinema requires a minimum of eight people to screen a film (or better said they have to sell a minimum of eight tickets).” – Ryan, (Australia) Benešov
“I guess if I had to choose something, it would be meeting people who already seem to know who I am.” – Christi, (US) Lysá nad Labem
“The death announcement over the village PA. Also, the oompah music on special days!” – Trevor, (UK) Úholičky
Tell us your stories of life outside of Prague.