Living in Bratislava: Did you know that Slovakia is considered one of the cheapest countries to live in Europe? If you want to know if this is true, keep reading below the interview.
A Nicaraguan girl living in Bratislava
- Basic information: my name is Katia and I’m 33 years old. My occupation is difficult to define: in these times I do a little bit of everything, I collaborate in a digital marketing agency, I teach Spanish and work in a multinational company in Slovakia.
- Where are you from? I was born in Zwenkau, Germany, but my passport is Nicaraguan.
- Where do you actually live and why did you choose this country to live in? ? I currently live in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia. We came to live here because of my partner’s job and because we wanted to travel to nearby countries like Poland, Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary. Sadly, due to the pandemic, we haven’t been able to travel as much as we had planned.
- How long have you been living in Bratislava? In June, it’ll be two years living here.
Procedures for working and living in Bratislava, Slovakia
You need a work permit to be able to work here. Before Covid there were companies that were in charge of managing the work permit, but now they don’t do it anymore.
I realized all the procedures to obtain my visa and work permit with the support of my partner who is Spanish and works here.
The process of renting an apartment is not complicated. You have to pay a deposit of one or two months, plus the month of rent and with that you can sign the contract for one year.
What is it like to live in Bratislava? What are the Slovaks like?
People are very cold and serious. In Latin America, people are very warm, hugging you or kissing you on the cheek even if they barely know you. People here are very distant.
In the almost two years I have been living in this country I only have 4 Slovak friends, the rest are foreigners.
What is the weather like in Bratislava, Slovakia?
Slovakia has very marked seasons. It took me long to acclimatize to the cold. Sometimes the sun doesn’t come up for weeks and the days are gray. Spring and summer are my favorite seasons. Especially spring, I love it. It’s nice to see when the trees fill with flowers, it’s neither too cold nor too hot. People even change of mood and get less distant.
Is English enough to work and live in Slovakia?
Slovak is a very difficult language, I have learned a few words but I communicate in English. Young people and young adults speak a perfect English. However older people don’t speak it, so I often use my phone’s translator to communicate with people.
You don’t need to learn Slovak to work and live in Slovakia. I currently work in a multinational company where I am only asked to speak English and Spanish, of course, is an added value. There are many multinational company looking for people who speak English, Spanish, French, Italian and German.
What I do recommend is that if you come to live in Slovakia because your partner is Slovak, I think it would be nice to learn the language to communicate better with your partner’s family.
In my case, my partner is Spanish and we plan to stay a few years and then go live somewhere else, so learning a few words in Slovak is enough for me.
Culture and life in Slovakia
What do you miss the most about your country? Did you have a hard time getting used to the local gastronomy? How do you think your life has improved since you lived there?
Uffff, food is what I miss the most. Sometimes I dream of my country’s food and sometimes when I’m super craving, the smells of Nicaraguan food come to my mind. I better not keep thinking about it because it makes me hungry.
Well I barely eat Slovakian food. Here there are a lot of Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Italian, Nepali, Mexican, Peruvian, etc. restaurants. So, I order food at home some weekend. And at home, on a normal day, we eat very healthy, my partner prepares grilled and baked dishes, soups and salads.
In these times affected by the pandemic, sometimes I miss my country very much. I don’t think my life has improved, nor has it gotten worse. I am grateful that I have a job, we live in a comfortable apartment downtown and that we are in health.
What is the work like in Slovakia?
Here they do up to 3 interviews to hire you and ask if you are European or if you have a work visa before giving you the opportunity to have an interview.
When you are already working in the company, they give you a debit card and deposit you every month between 60 to 80 euros as a food bonus.
24% of your salary is taken away from you for taxes and health insurance.
At the moment I’m working from home and communication is by chat or video calls.
Where to look for a job in Slovakia?
In these times the job search in Slovakia is complicated due to lockdown, but sometimes there are some vacancies available in multinational companies.
It is better to apply online. I recommend Profesia and LinkedIn.
What’s the minimum wage in Slovakia?
The minimum wage in Slovakia in 2021 is 623.00€ according to Countryeconomy.
Living in Bratislava, Slovakia: rentals
In Bratislava all depends on the neighborhood. I live in Stare Mesto which is the center and is one of the best areas. Here the rents start from 500€ if you are looking for a flat or a studio for you and your partner. If you are looking for a room, prices are between 300€ and 450€.
Then there are other nice areas such as Ruzinov, Nove Mesto, Petrzalka and Dubravka.
Where to search for apartments for rent in Bratislava?
Advantages of living in Bratislava, Slovakia
Bratislava is a safe city. You can go out at any time and there’s no danger of being assaulted.
There are very nice parks for walking, picnicking and yoga and biking trails.
The center of the city is full of cafés and restaurants.
The cost of living is not expensive. My partner and I spend about 40-50€ at the supermarket for the entire week. There are expensive supermarkets like Tesco or Yeme here, but there are also cheaper ones like Kaufland, Billa and Lidl.
Bus, tram and train are cheap. Price 0.70€ for a 15-minutes ticket.
The best thing is that it is a country that is not so expensive to live, so you can save some money every month.
Disadvantages of living in Bratislava
There are not many Latin restaurants, there are only one Peruvian restaurant and two Mexican restaurants. Here they don’t sell many Latin American products in supermarkets to cook at home.
In winter it is very cold and in autumn it rains a lot.
And for now, I think the worst thing about living in Slovakia is the lockdown. We have been locked up at home for many months, we only go out to the supermarket, pharmacy, post office or medical consultation, because almost everything is closed. And every week there are more restrictions. Cases of infections are increasing right now. In the summer of last year everything was under control but by the end of the year cases increased and they have failed to control the situation.
Tips for living in Bratislava, Slovakia
- Do you plan to live there for a long period?
I’m not going to stay in Slovakia all my life, but for now I don’t know how long I’m going to stay here.
Maybe at the end of the year or the beginning of next year we’ll get crazy and go to another country. For now, the pandemic is stopping us.
- Would you recommend this country to live? And Bratislava? Yes, I would. Bratislava and Kosice are the largest cities and there are job opportunities in multinational companies.
- Any advice for those who want to move to Bratislava? Come with a job offer. Finding a job here takes time. You have to speak English and if you speak another language, better. Seek information on the different types of visas. Stare Mesto and Ruzinov are good areas to live in and, as finding a flat or a room can be pretty difficult, I recommend that you already have some appointments with apartment owners before you arrive and also have the money to pay the deposit of one or two months plus the rent.
I lived in the Philippines for almost 3 years, I wouldn’t mind living in some Asian country again. I wouldn’t mind living in another country in Europe, either. The truth is that for now I’m in Bratislava, but we don’t know if we’re going to be here next year.
You can follow me on my social networks: lanicaviajera
In short, if you are looking to save some money so that you can continue traveling, then write down this country and specifically Bratislava on your list of countries to spend a season in.
Interview conducted in March 2021 with @lanicaviajera
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