Expats moving to Lithuania will discover a comparably safe beer- and sport-loving nation. It was the first former Soviet state to declare independence from the USSR. The country boasts efficient infrastructure and beautiful countryside vistas. Lithuanian society is a mix of conservative Catholic viewpoints and a quirky, bohemian youth culture.
The Baltic country is a Schengen state with a population of just under 3 million. Lithuania adopted the euro in 2015. It also had the fastest-growing economy in Europe before the 2008 financial crisis, when it saw a dramatic decline in GDP and skyrocketing unemployment. The economy and unemployment levels are slowly improving as Lithuania shifts to a knowledge-based economy.
What football is to the English or rugby is to the Australians, basketball is to Lithuanians. It's the national sport and an extremely popular pastime with several world-champion players calling Lithuania home. Outdoor sports are also common. Sport-loving expats will have no problem finding friends and clubs to join in Lithuania.
Most accommodation in Lithuania's cities consists of Soviet-era apartment blocks. Though detached houses can be found further away from city centres. Lithuania has a comparatively low cost of living compared to other West European countries. Any EU national can work and live in Lithuania. However, residence permits must be obtained. Employers must also prove a lack of competent workers in Lithuania for the job, which can be difficult.
English is not widely spoken. Lithuanian law dictates that all business must be conducted in the local language. Expats will therefore find they’ll need to learn at least basic Lithuanian to get by conversationally. The language is notoriously difficult to learn, but locals are often charmed by attempts to use it. Lithuanians have a reputation as a somewhat depressed and unfriendly nation. However, in many cases, expats will find this stereotype to be untrue.
The country has a long and distinguished history in education. There is a wide range of options available, including cathedral, vocational, public and private schools, and homeschooling. There are also a number of international schools in the country and their popularity is on the rise.
State healthcare is free to residents and citizens. Although Lithuania's medical staff are highly qualified, the healthcare system is still recovering from Soviet mismanagement. It may not meet some expat's standards. Private clinics are also available in most cities.
Population: About 2.8 million
Capital city: Vilnius
Neighbouring countries: Lithuania is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south and the Russian exclave Kaliningrad Oblast to the southwest.
Geography: Lithuania experiences both a maritime and a continental climate. It is characterised by flat lowland areas separated by hills and highlands, as well as a scattering of lakes and swamps. The Baltic Sea stretches along Lithuania's western coast.
Political system: Parliamentary and constitutional democracy
Major religions: Roman Catholicism
Main languages: Lithuanian
Currency: The Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents.
Tipping: 10 percent if the service charge is not included.
Time: GMT+2 (GMT+3 from the last Sunday in March till the last Sunday in October).
Electricity: 230 volts, 50 Hz. Round two-pin plugs are most common.
Internet domain: .lt
International dialling code: +370
Emergency numbers: 112 (general emergency number)
"...the cost of living was very affordable, making it a great city for a young couple to save money. The healthcare is also excellent, and the city is rapidly changing to become more international, open, and creative while holding onto Lithuania’s unique culture." American expat Elizabeth shares her experiences of life in Vilnius.
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