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Everything you need to know about living in Slovakia
Slovakia is known for its breathtaking landscapes and historical monuments but what you may not know is that they have a constantly growing market-driven economy. With low cost of accommodation and everyday expenses, Slovakia gives a good opportunity for career development accompanied by great and affordable social life.
To get an idea of what your experience as an expat in Slovakia can look like, keep reading.
Work in Slovakia
Slovakia is a country with a growing economy, which has emerged from the financial crisis and during Covid-19 pandemic. The tourism sector is leading the economy in Slovakia with almost 70% of locals and expats working in this sector. The main industries are electronic and vehicle manufacturing and agriculture. It’s a big part of the economy with 40% of the land designated to this activity.
The work-life balance is still developing in Slovakia, and some companies are not following the government legislation regarding working hours. This affects employees’ free time in order to provide for their families. On the other hand, there are companies adopting new work traditions in order to improve the work-life balance. The gross wage in Slovakia, depending on the type of job, is between €780 to €2100 monthly. Health insurance is available for everybody, locals and expats.
Work in Bratislava
Bratislava has the lowest unemployment rate in the country and a higher average wage. There are plenty of job vacancies since many industries are located here. You will find jobs in the IT, marketing, business, telecommunications, and administrative sectors, so don’t hesitate to add Bratislava to your list for a job abroad. This city is considered a hidden gem in Europe in the job market, because of its low cost of living, good salaries, and the many jobs available. It’s a leader in the market with many specialised jobs and opportunities. If you want to boost your career or own a startup, this is the starting point for you.
Taxes in Slovakia
Once you decide which city you’re going to live in, it’s important to register with the relevant tax authority (Daňový úrad Bratislava) for income tax purposes within 30 days. You can click HERE for further information. After this, you’re ready to start making contributions from your salary that is registered to pay at the end of the fiscal year between 19% and 25% depending on your income.
Popular cities in Slovakia
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Life in Slovakia
Slovakia has many festivals and events throughout the year. From traditional folk festivals to modern music events, there’s always something to enjoy. And no matter if you are a nature enthusiast, history buff, or seeking a welcoming community, Slovakia has it all.
Slovaks are also very open to foreigners, and they take it as a compliment that you want to visit their country. However, don’t expect huge smiles and long conversations since they are very straightforward, in a polite way. If you show them at least a basic knowledge of the language they will be more than happy to help you.
Basic facts about Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a country in the centre of Europe. It has 5.5 million inhabitants and an area of 49,034 km². The official language is Slovak and the currency has been the Euro (€) since 2009. With a capital city in Bratislava and a continental climate which includes four separate seasons with warm summers and very cold winters, Slovakia has a lot to offer for expats wanting to start living and working abroad.
6 fun facts about Slovakia
- About 80% of the whole country is at least 800 metres above sea level so Slovakia indeed has beautiful mountains with the highest mountain chain in the Carpathians.
- Borovička is their national drink similar to gin, flavoured with juniper berries.
- The slogan of Slovakia is “Travel in Slovakia – good idea”, simple but meaningful.
- It’s a great destination for those who like to ski! Because of its geographical location there are plenty of slopes available all around the country and prices are low.
- Slovakia has eight UNESCO world heritage sites, and one of them is a charming small town, being one of the 30 most beautiful towns in Europe!
- Slovakia has 180 castles and 425 châteaux making it the country with the world’s highest number of castles and châteaux
Culture in Slovakia
Slovakia has a rich, picturesque, and dynamic culture. There are festivals in each region with music, dances, art, and stories and myths still circulating. They have kept their roots and their traditions alive since before Christianism. The rich folklore of Slovakia has originated ages ago from the fear of the unknown, the climate changes and the bond with nature, but there are also references to birth and life. All of this is in order to ask for health, happiness and beauty. With the arrival of Christianity, new customs and traditions were born adding references to Jesus Christ, the 3 wise men, and easter.
If you want to enjoy the culture and lifestyle of Slovaks, make sure to attend their festivals, enjoy their thermal and balneo health resort, and their many UNESCO sights.
Cuisine in Slovakia
Slovak cuisine is very rich and it has been influenced by the Hungarian and Austrian cuisine. It has a unique taste, and typical dishes include something based on soups, stewed and boiled vegetables, stewed fruits, smoked meats (especially sausages), roasted meats, gruels, and dairy dishes; and each region has their special twist.
The main ingredients you can find in the slovaks dishes are pork, poultry, cabbage, wheat and potato flour, cheese from cows and sheep, potatoes, onions, and garlic. For companionship they use rice, soup or fruits like apples, plums, apricots, peaches, plums and cherries.
Between the traditional dishes in Slovakia there are:
- Bryndzove halushky – potato dumplings with sheep cheese (bryndza) and roasted bacon
- Zemiakové placky – potato pancakes fried in oil with garlic and flour
- Granadír – pasta with potato
- Fried cheese – cheese fried in bread crumbs
- Schnitzel – Wiener schnitzel
- Lokse – potato pancake.
Finding accommodation in Slovakia
Finding accommodation without having a chance to see the apartment or room might be a very stressful task. Remember that many people did it before you and it’s not impossible. First of all give yourself time, start your searching early, so you don’t have to rush decisions which can lead to many inconveniences. Analyse and compare prices and locations as well as the standard of the place you want to rent. You can always ask for more photos if you are not sure about something. Try websites like flatio, to look at different offers available. There are also Facebook groups where the main topic is rental in Slovakia or Bratislava. You can contact the landlord of the properties or make a post stating that you are looking for a place to stay.
Living close to your workplace will let you save both time and money on transport and since accommodation costs are relatively low you can consider this option even if your workplace is in the city centre. There are several apartments that are already furnished and ready to move into, which is a big advantage in order to save time and money.
Cost of living in Slovakia
The costs of living in Slovakia are low compared to other European countries, and the most expensive place to live is Bratislava – but even here expats can afford a good life without excessive strain on the budget. E.g. doing everyday grocery shopping you would pay €1.88 for 12 eggs, €0.74 for one litre of milk or €0.77 for one kilogram of potatoes. If you would like to move around the city by taxi, the entrance cost is €3 and then €1 for every kilometre.
Below you can see more examples of everyday expenses you may have while living and working in Slovakia:
Cost in Euro
350 – 600
8 – 15
Mobile rate (per one minute)
Public transport (single ticket)
Pint of beer
Fitness club pass
* Prices can vary depending on the neighbourhood, the number of people living in the apartment and facilities.
**Depends greatly on your diet and which shops you buy food and drinks from.
Expats in Slovakia
Although Slovakia is not a typical destination for tourists, expats can find many interesting perks here. Slovakia is open to foreigners both from a business and local point of view, and those wishing to work there will be warmly welcomed.
Your first new friends will probably be from work since you often have a lot in common – first of all you have both chosen to live and work here. Having a good relationship with your colleagues will make your work environment more casual and guarantee that you will go to work with a big smile every day.
You can also join social media groups for expats in Slovakia, and see what events are coming up. And if something seems like you’re vibe, don’t hesitate to join. The biggest expat communities can be found in Bratislava, but also in bigger cities like Košice or Žilina. We recommend that you socialise and exchange experiences.
Where to Learn Slovak
Slovak is the official language in Slovakia, and even though majority of the society speaks at least the basics of English and it is used in the business environment, it’s always good to know some basics like “please”, “thank you” and “have a nice day”.
You can find video courses and go through it on your own – there are a lot of videos available. You can also visit websites like slovake.eu, where the plan is already made and you just have to follow it. Most online courses are free, but if you prefer paid ones, there is also a possibility like this. Another option is to download apps on your phone and start learning from those.
If you would like to learn on-site, IOM Migration Information Centre in Bratislava and Košice offers free language courses for European foreigners. This course focuses more on the daily usage of Slovak with elements of culture. There are also courses organised by private teachers where a small group of foreigners is gathered, but this type of activity is paid and prices may vary depending on the institution.
No matter how you decide to learn Slovak, the key is to apply it every day. Speak to nationals while asking for directions, buying a cinema ticket or whatever option pops up.
Still not convinced about Slovakia?
Living in Slovakia offers a unique blend of cultural richness, picturesque landscapes, and affordable living. With its diverse history and architecture, the country has charming medieval towns, beautiful castles, and mountains that are perfect for outdoor activities.
The country also offers a strong education system, making it an attractive destination for families. Moreover, Slovakia’s healthcare system is of high standard, providing accessible and quality medical services.Their central location in Europe makes it an ideal base for exploring neighbouring countries and experiencing different cultures.
One of the biggest perks of living in Slovakia is the many different job opportunities. You can definitely boost your career in Slovakia. The people are very welcoming towards expats, so you will feel right at home. Additionally, you have beautiful mountainous landscapes and many castles and cities to explore during your stay. So a short visit won’t ever be enough. And finally, the low cost of living allows you to do that and more.
No, as an EU citizen, you generally do not need a work permit to work or live in Slovakia. You can read more about it here.
Slovak is an official language in Slovakia, and even though majority of the society speaks at least the basics of English and it is used in the business environment, it’s always good to be able to speak the language of the country you are in, even if it is just “please”, “thank you” and “have a nice day”.
Learning online you can start even before departure and there are two ways for doing that. You can find a video course and go through it on your own, there are a lot of videos available, you can also visit websites like this slovake.eu, where the learning plan was already made and you just have to follow it. Most online courses are free, but if you prefer paid ones, there is also a possibility like this.
If you would like to learn on-site, IOM Migration Information Centre in Bratislava and Košice offers free language courses for European foreigners and this course focuses more on the daily usage of Slovakian with elements of culture. There are also courses organised by private teachers where a small group of foreigners is gathered, but this type of activity is paid and prices may vary depending on the institution.
No matter how you decide to learn Slovak, the key is to apply it every day. Speak with nationals while asking for directions or buying a cinema ticket, every possibility is good!
Slovakia has a temperate continental climate with distinct seasons. In winter (December to February), temperatures can range from -5°C to -10°C in lowland areas and even colder in mountain regions. Spring (March to May) brings milder temperatures between 5°C to 15°C, while summer (June to August) sees averages of 20°C to 25°C. Autumn (September to November) brings cooling temperatures of 5°C to 15°C before the onset of winter.
Getting around in Slovakia is relatively easy, thanks to a well-developed transportation network. The country offers an extensive and efficient public transport system, including buses, trams, and trains, connecting major cities and towns. Taxis are readily available in urban areas, while rental cars provide flexibility for exploring rural regions. Slovakia’s picturesque landscapes make traveling by train or bus a scenic and enjoyable experience.
Healthcare in Slovakia is generally good, with a mix of public and private facilities. The public system is accessible and provides essential services to residents, while private options offer shorter waiting times and additional amenities. Slovakia has a mandatory health insurance system, ensuring coverage for most medical needs. However, the quality of care may vary between regions, and some specialized treatments may require seeking medical services abroad.