- Download our Moving to the Czech Republic Guide (PDF)
Expats seeking accommodation in the Czech Republic will be pleased to know that the country has a variety of homes to suit all needs, tastes and budgets. In addition, there are few restrictions on foreigners when it comes to buying and renting property.
Single expats or young expat couples usually opt to rent accommodation in the Czech Republic rather than buy, particularly if they’re unsure of the length of their stay. In addition, many are put off by the extensive amount of paperwork, all of which is in Czech, required to purchase a property.
Types of accommodation in the Czech Republic
There is a wide variety of rental options for expats to choose from, and apartments and houses alike can be found in a variety of styles, from contemporary to baroque and beyond. There are also communist-era apartment buildings available, but these are best avoided as many are in a state of disrepair as a result of poor construction and maintenance.
Furnished vs unfurnished
Furnished, semi-furnished and unfurnished accommodation is available in the Czech Republic, with a variety of properties available in Prague especially. Furnished properties will usually include everything from appliances to linen, while semi-furnished rentals will likely come with big-ticket appliances only. Expats should note that furnished rentals are likely to be pricer than their semi-furnished and unfurnished counterparts. Many single expats choose to rent rooms in shared flats or houses, while couples and families often prefer to rent bigger apartments or houses for themselves.
With the proliferation of Airbnb, short lets have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Many expats initially choose short lets when they move to the Czech Republic. This is an affordable way to experience life like a local in a particular neighbourhood before committing to a long-term contract. It is also an ideal option for expats who will only be in the country for the short term and want to avoid costly hotels.
Finding accommodation in the Czech Republic
Accommodation can be found in newspapers, online, or through a local real estate agent, and should ideally be secured in person and in advance. If it’s not possible to travel to the country before moving there to secure accommodation, the next best option is to initially stay in short-term accommodation while looking for something suitable for the long term.
Websites aimed at the expat market will generally have listings posted at an extreme markup compared to what a local would pay. Those with a good grasp of Czech who can understand and navigate local websites will be able to find accommodation at cheaper prices. Another option for new arrivals to explore are expat discussion groups on social media.
- sreality.cz is one of the most popular rental property portals in the Czech Republic.
- Expats who are looking to forego agency fees and liaise directly with landlords can register a paid account on Bezrealitky.
Renting accommodation in the Czech Republic
The process for renting accommodation in the Czech Republic is fairly straightforward. Expats will need to first find a property they like and then contact the landlord or real estate agent to request a viewing. Once they are satisfied with the apartment, they will need to negotiate a lease agreement. For those who can’t speak Czech and will not be employing the services of an agent, it’s recommended to take a Czech-speaking friend with them.
Deposits and fees
When renting accommodation, a deposit equivalent to one or two months’ rent is usually required. Lessees who find an apartment through an agent will also have to pay a commission fee – usually one month’s rent – once they have found an apartment.
Leases can be for either an indefinite term or a fixed term, such as six months or one year. It’s essential for expats to differentiate between a lease (nájem) and a sublease (podnájem), as these leases have different legal meanings and requirements.
There are usually two versions of the lease: one in Czech with the other being an English translation, but in any legal matter, the lease in Czech will be prioritised. Expats should have a Czech-speaking friend or preferably a professional translator look over both contracts to ensure that the terms in both are the same.
While not impossible, it’s difficult to find a rental property that will allow pets, and even if expats can find one, the landlord will usually only accept small pets. Expats who find a property that will allow them to live with their furry friends should ensure they get written permission from the landlord to avoid any potential disputes at any stage.
Termination of the lease
Typically, both tenants and landlords must give each other at least three months’ notice before terminating the lease. This could differ depending on individual rental contracts, however. By law, after vacating a property, the deposit should be returned to the tenant in full within one month. This is provided it’s left in good condition; if anything is damaged or broken, costs for repair or replacement may be deducted. To avoid being accused of causing damage that was already there when moving in, expats should take date-stamped pictures of any areas of concern before the start of the lease.
Utilities are usually not included in the rental price and are to be paid by the tenant. Expats should keep this extra expense in mind when drawing up their budget. The lease should specify the various utilities to be paid to the landlord in addition to the cost of rent.
The electricity market in the Czech Republic is deregulated, and CEZ is the country’s largest supplier. Only expats with permanent residency will be allowed to register an electricity or gas account in their names. Otherwise, they will need a guarantor who is an EU citizen. For that reason, most tenants keep the bills in their landlord’s name and make advance payments.
The electricity supplier will typically estimate usage based on the number of people living on the property and charge tenants three months in advance. An inspector will come and evaluate the meter after the first three months, and if tenants paid for more than they used, they will be refunded.
The gas market in the country is also deregulated, so expats are free to choose a provider that supplies gas in their district. The Czech government sets gas prices, and customers pay a month in advance. Most suppliers will issue a bill annually, and similarly to electricity, the bill will be adjusted accordingly if expats have overpaid or underpaid.
Expats who’d like to register an account or transfer an existing account to their name will need to complete a gas consumption registration application and supply their rental agreement and written permission from their owner for service connection.
Unlike electricity and gas, water accounts cannot be transferred to a tenant’s name. Water bills are typically included in the monthly rental fee and are estimated based on the number of people living in the apartment. The actual water bill is sent annually, and expats will receive a refund if they use less water than they were initially charged, while they will have to pay the balance if they use more.
The Czech Republic is home to sophisticated and highly developed internet infrastructure. Wireless connections are the most common in the country, and expats will have plenty of options for cellphone, internet, landline and television services. Cellphone and internet contracts are typically signed for 24 months, but non-EU expats must have permanent residency to sign one of these.
Bins and recycling
Local municipalities are responsible for waste management in the Czech Republic. Statistics show that more than 70 percent of the Czech population sorts their waste, so expats moving to the country should be prepared to sort and recycle their waste. The most common way of recycling in the country is the colourful recycling bins that are placed at sorting hubs.
Different colour bins are reserved for specific types of materials. These bins will typically have stickers dictating what goes into each one. This may differ in different towns and villages, as different municipalities provide these bins. Generally, the blue bins are for paper, the yellow bins are for plastic, and the grey bins are reserved for metal waste. Glass bottles or products are placed in the white bins, but if a white bin is unavailable expats can place them in the green bins.
- For more on electricity connections and bill payments, visit CEZ.
- Expats looking to connect their gas lines can visit one of the country’s biggest suppliers, GasNet.
- See Keeping in Touch in the Czech Republic for more on internet service providers in the country.
- Accommodation in Prague provides region-specific housing information.
Buying property in Czech Republic
Most properties are advertised at 10 or 15 percent above their actual market value, and expats are advised to bid accordingly when making an offer to the owner. Properties for sale that are listed on English websites often have higher asking prices than those aimed at the local market.
As a general rule, property in popular historical districts in Prague tends to retain or increase in value. Expats looking to buy in newer suburbs should keep in mind the home's proximity to good hospitals and schools (especially international schools), the presence of green spaces and the accessibility to the city centre among other factors.
Some Czech banks are willing to provide loans to EU citizens without permanent residency, depending on the circumstances, while others will require proof of permanent residency. It's best to investigate mortgage options thoroughly in advance.
What do expats say about Czech housing standards?
"The standard of housing varies, as it does anywhere. However, the cost is uniformly high in relation to what you get, whether you rent or buy.
There are a number of agencies set up to help expats get housing and act as intermediaries between property owners and tenants. While many of these agencies are quite honest and have good reputations, there are others that overcharge significantly for their services." Read more about Kevan, a Canadian expat, and his experience living in Czech Republic.
►Moving with kids? Find out more about Education and Schools in the Czech Republic
►Read Healthcare in the Czech Republic for an overview of medical care in the country
Image credit: Prague Apartments by Andre Morales Kalamar from Unsplash.
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