There are many more than 10 reasons to live in Prague, but I’ll need to write an entire book to get them all so bear with me for the condensed version. I didn’t realize how lucky I was to grow up in the city of one thousand spires until I left it. After 20 years of taking this city for granted, I was dying to leave. Countless goodbye parties were thrown where I swore I wouldn’t miss it. I could not have been more wrong!
1. Standard of Living: Globally Ranked #15
Depending on how you count them, there are 195 countries in the world today. Turns out that the Czech Republic ranked 15th on the list in 2018 for standard of living. Norway took first place, Australia 9th, the UK was 21st and the USA was 23rd. The factors to determine the ranking included 15 areas spread across three categories:
- Growth and Development
- GDP, Labor Productivity
- Life Expectancy
- Median Household Income
- Poverty Rate
- Income Gini
- Wealth Gini
- Intergenerational Equity and Sustainability
- Adjusted Life Savings
- Public Debt
- Dependency Ratio
- Carbon Intensity of GDP
2. Best Beer in the World
I may be starting lots of fights saying this, but Czechs are known for their beer! They literally invented Pilsner beer in Plzen. I have been there twice for the annual beer festival and it is simply unbeatable. Plus, it is legal to drink in public in most places in the Czech Republic – whether it’s on a train or in the park. It is great because beer tastes even better outside. Street vendors sell it in all the tourist spots on tap.
“Pilsner (also pilsener or simply pils) is a type of pale lager. It takes its name from the Czech city of Pilsen, where it was first produced in 1842 by Bavarian brewer Josef Groll. The world’s first blond lager, the original Pilsner Urquell, is still produced there today.”Wikipedia
Beer ATM – 10 Reasons to Live in Prague
Beer is such a national drink that it’s normal to have on at lunch, especially with your boss. Any time the Czech president meets with anyone, there’s plenty to drink. Unfortunately for non-drinkers, there is a lot of pressure and confusion, not to mention offence, if one refuses a beer. That is definitely an area where Czechs need some work.
Czechs love beer so much that they drink more of it than anyone else in the world. They wouldn’t be guzzling this much beer if it wasn’t delicious, hence proving my point that the beer is delicious. It also costs $1-2 per pint which is why Prague is a common destination for Brits for their bachelor parties.
“The Czech Republic consumes more beer per capita than any other country in the world. Beating out Germany, Ireland and Belgium, the country drinks on average about 161 liters of beer per person each year, according to figures from The Economist.”BBC
3. Nature and Outdoor Activities
Czechs are obsessed with being outside and doing fun activities in their many forests, lakes and mountains. Two popular Czech pastimes mushroom pickings (which requires a 4 am wake-up) or a weekend rafting trip in the countryside. As I mentioned before, public beer drinking is not discouraged so people will tie beers to the back of their kayak/raft/boat to keep them cool. If you run out, most common rafting areas will have pubs alongside the river to provide beer and fried cheese (a national Czech dish.)
4. Easy (& Cheap) Travel Anywhere in Europe
There is one big downside to living in the Czech Republic: it is landlocked. That may be one reason that Czechs are always traveling. Their go-to countries are Croatia and Egypt. Going to Egypt isn’t that easy these days but going to Croatia is totally doable even for just a weekend. You can drive to Croatia, and basically anywhere in a matter of hours. Now that I live in the USA and spent six hours in a car going from New York City to Niagara Falls (in the same state) I understand just how wonderfully small Europe is.
The most popular day trips from Prague are Dresden, Germany and Vienna, Austria. I have driven to both for just the day as well as taken a bus. Most expats living n Prague are English teachers like my husband, Isaac. If you have weeks off at a time, it’s a great idea to get a rail pass. These rail passes let you travel all over the place at a cheap cost. A Global Pass can get you to 33 countries and over 40,000 destinations for as little as $200.
I never had the luxury of more than a week or two off at once (although Czechs do get 20+ days in holidays annually), I did most of my traveling on weekends. One time I spent $100 to spend 12 hours on a bus, just to enjoy 12 hours in Venice and then hop back on for a 12 hour journey back. Another time I spent $60 on a similarly long bus ride to Bibione just to spend a few hours on the beach, eat authentic Italian pizza and drink some Aperol Spritz. #worthit
Of course, there are also many cities and natural hot-spots to see within the country. It’s a small country so you can easily rent a car, or take advantage of the great public transportation, to travel affordably. Speaking of which, let’s get on to our next point.
5. One of the Best Public Transportation Systems in the World
Sorry Americans, but Prague is not built for cars. More and more places in the center are turning parking lots into parks and there is a city-wide movement to have fewercars on the streets. They have good reasons for doing this other than just traffic and environmental pollution. This city is OLD. As in it was built with horses and carriages in mind, not millions of tourists and drivers trying to parallel park on the narrow streets.
That is why the public transportation system in Prague is AMAZING. Sure, some of the trams and buses are older and they have been making major progress in this area since I left. But everything is timely, accessible, affordable and very well managed. Plus it’s not like New York where you have to walk for 15 minutes to get to a subway or bus stop. They are on every corner! It’s not just because the city is smaller. The city invested a lot in making transportation a priority and it has paid off for sure.
Prague actually has the 5th best transportation system in the world. The study ranks public transportation in 100 major cities around the world by three main factors and how they impact different concerns:
- Social (People)
- Environmental (Planet)
- Economic (Profit)
6. Historic City With Much to Do and See
Prague is a really old city with beautiful architecture all over the place. My husband told me a story of how he was walking aimlessly in the city after a class and literally ran into a castle. This is not hard to do in a compact city with more history than you could ever memorize.
“The city bloomed in the 14th century under the Luxembourg dynasty during the reign of Charles IV, as Prague became one of Europe’s largest and wealthiest cities. During this period, Hradčany was established around 1320 and in 1338 the Old Town hall was established.”Prague.com
I’m not here to teach you the history but it is pretty fascinating with lots of violent murders including two famous Defenestrations (throwing people out of windows.) But there are also famous peaceful protests as well as the only peaceful split of two countries in the history of the world. For such a small country it has gone through a LOT.
Despite all the history, there are modern updates where they are needed. You can enter a super old building and find the newest tech, a crazy steampunk bar or a preserved piece of history. Another anecdote, Isaac and his friend discovered a place that embraces the medieval. They thought it was cool how realistic everything looked. Turns out, it had been a bar since the 14th century.
7. Great Food: National and International
Okay fine, Czech food is not known around the world. Their beer and wine may be famous but their grilled cheese and pickled sausages are quite obscure. You can find a great Czech beer-garden in NYC and several cities in Vietnam. But the best place to eat Czech food is, not surprisingly, the Czech Republic. They love their meats and potatoes, as is expected for a central European country. I could tell you all about it, but it may be better to show you:
If none of these foods make your taste buds water, fear not. You can find food from all over the world in Prague. It’s a tiny yet cosmopolitan city and they even have an a place that is basically a mini-Vietnam. Despite being landlocked, you can get good seafood here too. Good or cheap that is, you can get all you can eat running sushi for $10.
8. Living Costs – 10 Reasons to Live in Prague
Living in Prague is great because housing costs are relatively low compared to salaries. There is also affordable healthcare, transportation, food and entertainment options. That being said, an average Czech salary can give you a comfortable life in the Czech Republic. Take a three hour bus to Germany and you’ll have trouble affording beer, not to mention a flight abroad. This website can help you figure out specific costs and even compare cities.
9. Best Behaved Dogs
No, I’m not running out of things to say about Prague. The dogs really are VERY GOOD boys and girls. Czech dogs are often seen walking off leash and waiting in front of stores for their owners without restraint. Czechs are also lax about where dogs are allowed. You can bring them along to various bars and restaurants.
Fun fact: Czech establishments HATE to give out free water. Even though they are legally supposed to, they will fight you tooth and nail. But if you have a dog, they will bring it a bowl no questions asked. Also, water costs more than beer in many places, but that’s a different story.
10. Czech People Are Awesome
I swear I am not saying this just to avoid getting my butt kicked by my Czech friends. Czech people were scarred by their communist years, so they are not running around smiling and starting up conversations with strangers. This makes them seem cold and closed off. Czech people are like onions. Peel off a few layers and you’ve got friends for life.
Czech people are also super polite. I’ve accidentally bumped into them and had THEM say sorry to ME. They also say hello in elevators and sometimes randomly on the street. They will also say “good health” if you sneeze in public. At least they did pre-COVID 19. Speaking of which, they managed the virus so well and celebrated the country re-opening in a grand and obnoxious way.
They are also incredibly modest. When you ask them if they speak English, most Czechs will say ‘a little.’ Then they will proceed to speak semi-fluent English while you stare at them slack-jawed. Unfortunately, they are not great at understanding broken Czech. This can make learning the language discouraging.
Bonus: Great Wine Too
Wine? But Czechs are known for their beer, right? Czechs are the jack-of-all-trades of alcohol. Their beer is legendary, their wine (Moravia is a large Czech region known for wine) and they make their own liquor (slivovice) that will burn your nose-hairs off. In a great way of course! By the way, they even have beer and wine spas where you BATHE in the alcohol while drinking it. Oh, and absinthe is legal.
There are more than just 10 reasons to live in Prague! But these are a few that came to mind. I have lived in Europe, Asia and now the USA and Prague is still my favorite city in the world. In fact, I fell in love with it so much more after I left. We always want what we can’t have right?
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