"I don't buy things, I buy plane tickets"
The key to any successful move is planning, and planning your budget is probably the most important step. A financial cushion will alleviate stress later on, when you're dealing with other unknowns. Moving to Prague a couple months later, but having an extra $1000 in your bank account, might be worth it to you.
There are several things to consider when budgeting for an international move to any country. Questions we'll answer in this lesson:
- What are the upfront costs of the move? One-time upfront costs vary depending on where you're coming from (traveling from Austria or Australia? There's a bit of a price difference).
- How much can you expect to earn in Prague? What are the salaries for jobs in your field?
- What's the monthly cost of living? In what ways can you scrimp & save on those monthly expenses while you're waiting to get on your feet?
- How long will it take you to earn a full-time salary? Because you'll probably start out with part-time work, it could take you anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months to start earning a full-time income on the Czech economy, depending on your field and some other factors. Are you a digital nomad with online income who can start earning money right when you arrive, or will you enroll in a TEFL course here in Prague to start an English teaching career?
Answers to these questions will help you figure out your personal Move-To-Prague budget. First let's look at the upfront, one-time costs.
TRANPORT TO PRAGUE:
This will vary a lot depending on the time of year you come, and if you're traveling from inside or outside Europe. Summer flights to Europe are the most expensive; January and February are the cheapest. Departing in cheaper months could save you hundreds of dollars right off the bat. We recommend SkyScanner to find the cheapest times for air travel from your location. (Details on using SkyScanner in the next lesson)
Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a fantastic way to start a career that allows you to live anywhere in the world, and Prague is the perfect place to take a TEFL program. We’ll get more into the topic in the TEFL MODULE, but there are a couple options that vary in price and convenience.
An online course that you can do before you arrive costs a few hundred dollars, while an in-person course costs up to $2000. There are pros and cons to both, and we’ll go over the differences in our TEFL MODULE.
There are many advantages to starting life in Prague with a TEFL program:
1) It's an easy and proven path to a career abroad—thousands have gone before you and thousands will come after.
2) You'll get job assistance and hugely valuable connections in the local job market, and join a network of alums working around the world.
3) You'll be part of a community of expats in Prague - really helpful (and fun!) when starting a new international life in a foreign place.
4) You'll be investing in a skill set you can fall back on wherever you live in the world, even if you don't end up teaching English full time or if you decide to switch fields later.
INITIAL HOUSEHOLD GOODS
This could mean replacing 110V electronics like a hair dryer with a 220V version, buying a duvet cover, oven mitts or a spatula. Moving into an already furnished flat (or a flat share with already established roommates) can help you offset a lot of these start-up costs, but you’ll have to factor in personal items like towels and pillow cases which aren’t worth the shipping costs to send from home.
In general the deposit on a flat is one month’s rent. We’ll go over this and oodles more in our HOUSING MODULE.
Realtors in Prague generally charge one month's rent as a fee. You can get around this fee by finding a flat directly from the owner or from potential flatmates, and we’ll show you how to do that in the HOUSING MODULE.
If you’re a non-EU citizen, you’ll need to get a visa and trade license to live and work in the Czech Republic. In general visa-related fees run about $400-700. Hiring a visa consultant could run you an additional $250-500, or you could save that $250-500 with a little help from us — details in the VISA / TRADE LICENSE MODULE.
If you are an EU citizen, you’ll only need a trade license. The cost of that runs about 150 Euros if you employ a consultant, or about 70 Euros if you’re good at following our directions. More details in our VISA / TRADE LICENSE MODULE.
PUBLIC TRANSIT PASS
A Litačka Card (Prague Public Transport Pass) is considerably cheaper if you buy a year upfront. This will cover all your travel needs within the city (Metros / Trams / Buses), and it's one of Europe's best transit systems (and cheapest!)
Over age 26, it will cost you 3650 Kč ($160 USD) per year. Ages 18 - 26 pay less. Or if you prefer to buy shorter intervals, it's 550 Kč per month. We’ll give you all the details and show you how to get your Litačka in our START-UP MODULE.
MONTHLY LIVING EXPENSES
It will take a few weeks to a few months in Prague to start earning a full-time income. If you’re taking a TEFL course in the Czech Republic, you’ll be a student for the first month, and not earning income.
If you’re non-EU, your visa will take 30 - 90 days to process AFTER you apply, and until you get that visa (and the accompanying trade license) you are not legal to work. Many people do work under the table before they are legal allowed to, but you can’t count on it, as the government really discourages companies from paying you this way. Once you are legal, they can back-pay you, but you’ll need enough money to live on until your visa and trade license are approved.
RENT / UTILITIES
The average rent in a flatshare room runs about 9000-14000, and in a private apartment...13000 to 17000, with utilities included in the price. We’ll go into the specifics, in the HOUSING MODULE.
PHONE / INTERNET
There are phone plans available in the Czech Republic just like in your home country, but people use their phones differently here to save money. We often put money each month on our phones (300-400Kč) and then primarily use internet chat apps to communicate with each other, thereby saving money on phone calls. A SIM card with a Czech provider will cost a couple hundred Czech Crowns ($10-20 USD).
FOOD & BEV
Definitely your cheapest expenditure. A half-liter of beer in a pub will cost you $2.
You be the judge of what you can't live without. One person’s NETFLIX subscrption is another person's nightly chocolate truffle habit. (Okay, both mine.) And yes, we have both in Prague.
A BALLPARK ESTIMATE, PLEASE!
Here’s the basic guideline: When non-EU citizens apply for a year-long visa to live and work in the Czech Republic, the Czech government requires that you have proof that you have the equivalent of 120,000 Czech Koruna (about $5500 USD) in a bank account that you can access with an ATM card if need be. (In fact, if you are a non-EU citizen, you must bring this bank document with you to Prague, so be sure to check out our VISA / TRADE LICENSE MODULE for the details).
This 120,000 Kc is a safe number and we recommend it too. This does not include the costs of your initial travel to Prague, or the cost of a TEFL or other educational program.
It's always a good idea to have some money at your disposal for last minute jaunts to the beaches of Croatia, hiking in the Dolomites or beer tasting in Munich. Because hey, you're moving to the center of Europe for the adventure, right?
THE BEST WAY TO BULK UP YOUR BUDGET
The best way to add to your discretionary income is to chisel away at your expenses before you even move to Prague. Can you move in with a supportive family member in the months before the move? Can you take on some side-hustle gigs? Sell your PlayStation? Get rid of your expensive phone plan or HBO subscription? Every cent will count, so think about your future life. How can you make the move easier, by sacrificing a little more in the preparation phase? Your future world-traveling self thanks you.
- Create a goal — how much would you like in your bank account when you set foot in Prague? How long will it take you to save that amount? Mark it on your calendar.
See you in the next lesson!