…And explanations on how you (yes, you!) can overcome them!
For the longest time, I thought I had an improbable dream of traveling around the world and living in a foreign country. I thought I’d have to land some corporate job, which after years and years of climbing the ladder, would eventually give me the opportunity to travel. Well, I’m not the most patient person in the world and I knew there had to be an easier, quicker way.
From the time I officially made the decision to make my dream a reality to my dog and I boarding the plane was about six months. Six months to overcome fears and anxieties. Six months to go from not being able to afford groceries living in the DC suburbs to walking around Old Town Square with a full belly and a smile on my face. Six months to go from “I don’t think I can” to “Holy shit! I did it!”
Now, I’m a millennial from New York, I could give you excuses ALL DAY on the reasons NOT to move to Prague. But this laid-back European lifestyle has wiped away some of that cynicism (Thank goodness), and I’m here to tell you “Yeah dude, you’ve totally got this!”
The Top Eight Reasons You Shouldn’t Move to Prague:
1. You don’t speak the language!
“All of those years you spent learning Spanish and now you’re moving to a country that speaks Czech? Good luck with that!” -everyone, probably.
Yes, Czech can be a scary language, especially when it comes to grammar. All of those declensions, conjugating nouns, verbs, and adjectives, and that dreaded Ř! But like most things, if you are completely immersed in the language and the culture, it’s amazing how quickly you pick up on things. A language that I spent .001 seconds researching before moving to Prague and I can now confidently order at pubs and ask for directions! Plus, most people in the city center speak English to some degree, so you won’t be stranded if you can’t speak any Czech. Czechs take pride in the fact that their language is difficult to master, so even if your pronunciation is terrible, you’ll still get a smile from native speakers for trying! Nothing warms my heart more than hearing “Dobrý den!” when you walk into the coffee shop or pub and “Na shledanou!” when you leave.
2. All of your friends and family are back in your home country!
Now, this is a tough one, I know! There are definitely times where I am homesick for my friends and family, and no amount of pivo or trdelník will make it go away. Fortunately, there is a huge expat community in Prague, with plenty of events and restaurants to give you a little taste of home. In addition, I was lucky enough to make a tight-knit group of friends (who are now my family) through my TEFL course at The Language House. With an extensive group of alumni all over the world, the Prague TLH alums immediately welcome you into the city and take you under their wing! Who doesn’t love an instant group of friends who know exactly what it’s like to move halfway across the world and start anew? There are so many events, meet up groups, and festivals that you’ll be making friends (local Czechs and Expats) all over the place! Plus, now you are the “cool friend who lives in Prague” that all of your friends get to visit! It’s a pretty great feeling when you get to bust out your Czech phrases at the pub to your friend’s astonishment!
3. You won’t be able to find work or make money!
Now this a legitimate concern, because you have to make a living somehow! Fortunately for you, you have one of the most sought after skill sets in the world that you take for granted every single day—You speak English! Fluently! (Cue heavenly chorus!)
It’s true! Without even realizing it, you’ve been preparing for this potential career path your entire life! I honestly never thought that I would be a teacher, but English speakers are in such high demand in Prague that there are teaching jobs for native English speakers EVERYWHERE! Remember that extensive Language House alumni network I mentioned before? Yeah, fellow teachers recommend schools and students ALL OF THE TIME! (Like, I had to turn off FB notifications on my phone because there are so many!)
Maybe you don’t want to be a full-time teacher or you realize teaching isn’t for you? No sweat! There’s no shortage of jobs in the tourism industry for native English speakers! Tour guides (which is a great way to learn about the history of Prague and the Czech Republic), hostel concierge, serving/bartending, social media, sales jobs, etc! Wouldn’t you rather be a server in an amazing beautiful city, meeting international travelers every day, rather than in your old hometown? Yeah, me too!
4. You have so much debt/so many bills that you couldn’t possibly move to Europe!
Okay, real talk here for a moment… I will be the first to admit that I am not the most financially responsible person in the world. I racked up quite a bit of student loan debt, put a few too many things on my credit card to “pay later”, and saving money is not always my forte. I totally get it!
The most expensive part of moving to Prague is the flight. Nowadays, with apps like Skyscanner and Kayak, it’s way easier to find cheaper flights on reputable airlines, especially if you’re like me and don’t mind a longer layover to save a few dollars. My tuition at The Language House and some of my “living expenses” money during the summer came from Uncle Sam and my tax return. I was able to save some money by picking up a second job driving for Uber (which I totally recommend for anyone who wants a super flexible part-time job!) and cutting back on eating out/packing lunches/brewing coffee at home/etc.
But what happens once you’re in Prague? Well, you take public transportation everywhere, so no car payments, car insurance, or monthly gas bills. You get to pay rent in Czech Koruna (24 CZK = 1 USD), which means that your rent payments are way less expensive than what you’re paying now. And, since you’re not making USD, you can see if you can negotiate deferment or forbearance with your student loans!
5. There’s no ocean!
Prague is literally the perfect location—centrally located in Europe, easy to get just about anywhere with train stations, bus terminals, airports, etc.—except that it is absolutely landlocked. Don’t let that stop you! Not only have people created “beaches” on the banks of the Vltava, which flows right through Prague and most of Bohemia, but there are so many big ponds and lakes in the surrounding areas, that you can definitely get your water fix! I’ve heard the Czech people being referred to as “Landlocked pirates” on multiple occasions. If that’s not enough for you, Croatia is a hop and a skip away from The Czech Republic, which allows you to get your ocean fix for not a lot of money!
6. Everything is old!
As someone who has lived in NYC and DC, I understand not wanting to live in a run-down apartment with the mice and the roaches. Luckily, that has not been my experience (or the experience of my friends) here in Prague. Thanks to the economic boost in Prague since the end of the Communism almost 30 years ago, most buildings have been renovated on the inside, while still keeping their old-world facade. It’s not uncommon for elaborate architecture and statues to adorn a typical apartment building. Because of this, the streets of Prague are beautiful to look at! The amount of history that is held in this little city is incredible!
7. You are a free spirit and don’t want to be stuck in one place!
I get it! The world is your oyster and you’ve been stuck in your hometown for far too long! You are dying for adventure! Remember I mentioned how accessible Prague is? It’s not uncommon for people to spend their weekends traveling around Europe, with tons of major European cities just a few hours away by bus or train. Even intercontinental flights aren’t breaking the bank! It’s amazing that once you’re in Europe, it’s must less expensive to travel around Europe. I’ve also found that having a home base in an amazing place like Prague gives me the thrill and convenience of living in a major city, with the benefits of escaping to the countryside whenever I want. Another upside? There’s so much to explore within The Czech Republic! Talk about castles and vineyards galore!
8. Are you out of excuses yet?
Dobře! Now get your butts over to Prague and let’s have some fun! 😀