Big life announcement: We’re moving to Prague!
Colin, Ellie (yes, our dog is coming!) and I are packing up and moving to Prague for a year of adventure and travel all around Europe. If you’ve been reading this blog, or chatting with us in real life, you might know that we’ve been kicking around the idea of moving to Europe for a while. But now it’s all real and we’re actually doing it. We are actually moving to Prague!
You might have some questions, such as: How is this happening? When? How do we get to bring Ellie? What’s happening with Colin’s job? What happened to the UK? Why Prague?
Let me fill you in on all the details of our upcoming Prague move!
How are you moving to Prague?
We are moving to Prague on a Youth Mobility Visa (also known as a Working Holiday Visa) through an agreement that Canada has with the Czech Republic. Through this visa, we’re able to work and live in the Czech Republic for one year. If you haven’t heard of these visas before, they’re an amazing opportunity for young people to live and work abroad. Canada actually has agreements with over 30 countries so if you’re 18 to 30/35 years old and want to live abroad temporarily, apply for one of these!
I’m going to do a full post later on the application process for the Czech YMV – so stay tuned for that.
While in Prague, I’ll continue working remotely as a freelancer. More on Colin’s job later. We’re planning to rent out our apartment in Surrey while we’re gone.
When are you moving?
Very soon! Our flights are booked for June 1st, which is just over two months away! We fly direct to Paris and then will be taking the train from there to Prague. Our plan is to spend a couple of days in Paris when we land and then a couple of days in Munich en route to Prague.
Why are we leaving so soon? Well, we had a few scheduling parameters we needed to keep in mind. We needed to be in town for weddings in May and June. And we had read that September/October was a bad time to move to Prague as that is when school starts so finding an apartment would be more competitive. And I had no desire to move in the cold months of November or December. So we were looking at July and August, but flights were cheaper in July.
We originally booked our flight for mid-July, so we could attend Colin’s annual family getaway to Pender Harbour. But we then found out that the June 2019 wedding we were supposed to attend got pushed back to June 2020. We wanted to make sure we could have a full year in Prague (and we didn’t want to get stuck paying for a year lease on an apartment and then leave a month or two early). So we moved up our flight to June 1st!
How do you get to bring Ellie?
We are so excited that we get to bring our sweet Ellie pup with us. More on why we’re now bringing her later but the process for how I will outline briefly. Ellie is small enough to fly in-cabin so we’ll be flying her over with us on June 1st. We’re very lucky that she can fly in-cabin because flying dogs in the hold or as cargo is very expensive. The reason we opted for the more expensive direct flight to Paris is so Ellie doesn’t have to endure a layover, and because some popular layover countries between Canada and Europe (e.g. Iceland, England), don’t allow dogs to enter in-cabin.
Pre-flight, Ellie had to get a micro-chip and new rabies vaccination. There is also a lot of paperwork and some registering that we’ll have to do in Prague. It’s a bit of a process, but not as bad as if we were trying to bring her to somewhere like the UK or Australia. I’m planning to write another blog post about how to bring a pet to Europe – so stay tuned for that one too!
What’s happening with Colin’s job?
Currently, Colin works in Vancouver as an x-ray technologist at a hospital downtown. He’s not going to be able to do this in Prague as his qualifications likely won’t transfer over and, more importantly, he doesn’t speak Czech. While it’s unfortunate that Colin can’t do this same work, it’s actually a cool opportunity for him to take a career break and try something else for a year. And his job in Vancouver will be waiting for him when we get back!
So the plan is for Colin to find a job when we land in Prague. It’s a little bit terrifying to move to a new country without a job lined up (or a place to live!) but I’m confident Colin will be able to find something fairly quickly. One of the reasons we picked Prague (more on that below) is because of the large English-speaking community and English jobs available.
Wait, I thought you were moving to the UK. What happened to that?
Yes, that was the original plan. We were planning to move to the UK. Unfortunately, we ran into a few road blocks. We were planning to work with a company that would find Colin a job as an x-ray tech in the UK, but were running into difficulties with his school in Vancouver and getting them to send over the correct paperwork. This company would also only be able to place us a few weeks in advance, so we’d likely arrive in the UK with no clue where we would end up. We could wind up someplace really expensive or really remote.
And while Colin would have been able to make good money working in x-ray in the UK, he may be tied to full-time hours which would make travelling very hard. The main reason we want to move to Europe is to see more of Europe, so ability to travel is really important.
Another big reason why we decided against the UK is because we were not planning to bring Ellie. Bringing dogs into the UK is much more complicated than most of the rest of Europe. You can’t fly them directly in-cabin, so we would need to fly to mainland Europe and take one of the limited approved trains or ferries to the UK. Rental housing in the UK is not very dog-friendly, so finding a place to live would be a struggle. And travelling outside of the UK would be very hard. If we took Ellie, we couldn’t fly and would also need to bring her to a vet for an additional shot every time she re-entered the UK. And if we left her behind, we’d need to find pet-sitters.
So since bringing Ellie was sounding almost impossible for the UK, we had thought we might be able to leave her in Vancouver for the year. This was going to be very tough for us, to be away from her, and very tough for whoever we left her with, to take care of a dog for a year. We explored a few options but ultimately, it didn’t look like we had anyone who would be able to watch her.
Since we were now going to take Ellie with us, and with the issues we were having with Colin’s potential job, the UK was starting to look like a less attractive option.
So how did you decide on moving to Prague?
As we were discussing not going to the UK (from our hotel room in Bangkok), we began to explore other options. We knew we still wanted to be in Europe. Here was our criteria for the perfect place:
- dog-friendly city with dog-friendly rental housing
- expat and/or English-speaking community
- affordable cost of living
- busy community with lots of shops/restaurants/things going on
- close to major transportation (airport/train) to see the rest of Europe
- mild climate (not too hot or too cold please!)
- good public transit, no car needed
- availability of offline jobs for an English speaker
We went through the list of European countries that Canada has working holiday agreements with and narrowed down our choices. Our top four countries were Portugal, Spain, France and Germany. The Czech Republic was not even on our radar! It wasn’t until I posted our list of criteria in a digital nomad group on Facebook and a few people suggested Prague that we even considered it.
Neither Colin nor I have ever been to Prague or the Czech Republic. We don’t speak Czech. But it totally fit the bill. The Czech Republic is central in Europe – bordered by Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Austria – so it’s easy to travel almost anywhere. It’s a very dog-friendly city (at least, according to Travelnuity, the bible on travelling with a dog). Prague is a big city with lots going on and is home to many English speakers, expats and English companies – which will make finding friends and a job for Colin much easier. While Prague is more expensive than it used to be, it’s still much cheaper than other big cities like Paris or Amsterdam. Prague is well-known for great, and affordable, public transportation. And it’s beautiful! Prague survived both world wars untouched so has tons of beautiful historic architecture.
One thing about Prague is that it is kind of our only option in the Czech Republic. I’m sure other Czech cities are awesome too. But Prague is the big city in the Czech Republic and the best for English-speaking opportunities. This was a pro and a con. The pro being we didn’t have to try to narrow down which city would be best, like we would in Germany or France. But a con, because if we don’t like Prague, we are kind of SOL.
So we were a little nervous about choosing Prague. As I said, we’ve never been before and we don’t speak the language. But we were finding issues with the other countries. Portugal was too far west; it would be hard to travel around Europe by train with Ellie if we’re on the western most tip. We were also concerned about the heat in southern Portugal and southern Spain. In the big cities of Portugal and Spain, like Lisbon, Barcelona and Madrid, we were worried about rising costs. We found the same issue in France and Germany. The big cities, where we would likely be able to find English-speaking jobs and communities, were too expensive to live in. But the smaller cities that are more affordable aren’t as English-friendly.
The more we thought about it, the more that Prague was coming out as the clear winner. I started to learn more about Prague by watching Youtube videos, screening House Hunters International episodes, joining Prague Facebook groups and following Prague accounts on Instagram. So basically everything I know about Prague, I learned on social media!
We are super excited about moving to Prague!
Before we go, we have so much to do. We actually have a to-do list with over 50 items! I’m pretty nervous about getting our place rented out, packing up everything, fitting our lives into four suitcases, getting Ellie’s paperwork together and saying goodbye to everyone – let alone everything we’ll need to do in Prague like finding an apartment, registering our visas, getting phones, finding a job, etc. It’s a little overwhelming!
But it’s also a crazy cool adventure. Back when I studied abroad in Amsterdam, I always planned to move to Europe one day. I actually thought I’d end up living in London. But after settling in Vancouver with a partner, a dog and a mortgage, I wasn’t sure a Europe move was in the cards. So I’m incredibly glad that Colin (and Ellie!) are wanting to go on this adventure with me.
Ah, I can’t believe we’re actually moving to Prague!
If you have ever been to Prague or lived there, give us all the tips. And come visit!
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