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Relocation to Slovakia
We all understand that when we relocate, the feeling is very different from that of being a tourist in a certain place. For example, if you enjoyed lively nightlife in a certain area as a tourist, you may be much less excited if you live in that area, need to wake up early for work, put a baby to sleep, etc., and there are dozens of noisy pubs around until midnight. Therefore, even if you have visited Slovakia, you certainly have many questions regarding the quality of life of the average resident. How will they treat me at work? Are the schools good? How much does it cost to get to work? And many more questions. Therefore, in this article, we have summarized answers to some of the questions that our customers often ask regarding the decision to relocate to Slovakia.
Is Slovakia really as calm and peaceful as it seems?
Indeed, Slovakia is a calm and peaceful country with very little crime, violence, theft, and the like, and the sense of security is very high. This is related to the European mentality, the calm and light national character, the relatively homogeneous and cohesive society, and on the other hand, there are no major social gaps. The standard of living here is slightly lower than in the wealthy countries of Europe, but on the other hand, a reasonable standard of living can be relatively easily achieved here. Thanks to the relatively generous welfare policy, the fact that there is a relatively high unemployment rate in Slovakia does not lead to poverty and crime. Also, the number of traffic accidents here is very low because most drivers behave responsibly and follow the rules. This is definitely one of the good reasons to consider moving to Slovakia.
Here are a few more Slovak laws that contribute to the feeling of calm and tranquility: It is forbidden to make noise in apartments after 9:00 PM, and it is forbidden to barbecue in places that are not intended for it. Yes, we know it’s a bit hard for Israelis to accept, but there are places designated for barbecuing and it is only allowed to do it “on the fire” there.
How is education in Slovakia, including kindergartens, schools, and higher education institutions?
Young families relocating to Slovakia are primarily interested in the quality of kindergartens and schools, as well as the registration process. Let’s break it down according to the children’s age groups: like many other countries, including Israel, children under the age of 3 can be registered for nursery schools, while children aged 3 to 6 can attend private or municipal kindergartens. Private kindergartens cost at least €400 per month (depending on the location), while municipal kindergartens charge between €10 and €20 per month. However, some claim that private kindergartens offer better education and higher preparation for primary school, with foreign language classes, sports, dance, art, and more. In fact, due to the influx of immigrants from various countries and the IT industry, many private kindergartens offer English-language education and some also offer additional languages like Spanish and Japanese, without teaching Slovakian. However, schools and universities offer education in both Slovakian and English, and children still learn Slovakian as they interact and play with local children.
Nevertheless, all kindergartens pay sufficient attention to each child, and many parents are satisfied with municipal kindergartens. Children also go out to parks for some time, and there are cultural events such as shows and museums. Physically, municipal kindergartens are beautiful and well-equipped. There are also kindergartens that parallel communication and special education kindergartens.
The main issue with kindergartens is that registration begins in March, and if you come to register in July, for example, there may simply be no space in the kindergarten you have chosen, unless it is a private kindergarten where everything is based on availability, and it is possible to start in the middle of the year. This is something to consider when planning to relocate to Slovakia. We at TOGETTHERE can assist with registering children for educational institutions, as part of our customer support for adjusting to a new location.
Regarding schools, unlike Israel, they are divided into three levels: elementary school from age 6 to 10, and then middle school from age 10 to 15, and high school from age 15.
At age 15, one can choose to enter a gymnasium for preparation for higher education or stay in a regular school. Gymnasium is a high school with a focus on academic preparation and has several profiles such as technology, science, humanities, etc. Some gymnasiums require entrance exams. Studies there last for four years, and students take final exams at the end of their studies.
Another alternative to elementary education is vocational schools, which are also four-year institutions. Don’t confuse these with vocational education in Israel! After completing studies in such schools, the student receives a high school diploma, a profession, and the opportunity to continue their education. Education in Slovakia is free of charge, both in high schools and in higher education institutions, which is not the case in every European country.
Is there hatred towards foreigners in Slovakia?
Slovaks have a reputation for being polite, courteous, and friendly. Discrimination or rudeness is not part of everyday life in Slovakia. Most young people speak English, so there is no problem communicating in English until you learn the language. From our experience, there is very little xenophobia in Slovakia, and they treat immigrants, Jews, Israelis, and foreigners in general with enthusiasm. They are thrilled about our expertise and as a country with a strong tech industry, the economy relies on foreigners who have expertise. Therefore, there is no narrative that locals believe that “foreigners are taking their jobs”. Another nice thing about Slovaks is that they love sports. Participating in team games on weekends is highly accepted, so if you are a sports enthusiast, you will easily find locals to join.
What is the state of transportation in Slovakia?
Like in most European cities, public transportation in Slovakian cities is well organized, although they do not have a subway system, not even in the capital city of Bratislava. However, there are plenty of buses, trams, electric buses, and the schedules are usually very precise. There is a wide range of tickets available, from single rides of up to a quarter of an hour to monthly passes, at a relatively low cost. Most buses are new, and the older ones are well maintained, and the electric buses of the new model are quiet, comfortable, and beautiful.
Urban and even intercity transportation is very convenient, mostly by trains, and there are very fast ones, like the Inter City. Another interesting fact is that it is possible to shuttle to places like Vienna or Budapest on a ferry across the Danube river. In 2021, a new central station, Mlynské Nivy, was opened, integrated with a giant, modern, and beautiful shopping center, even waiting for the bus becomes something enjoyable. A project that Slovaks are very proud of, it is a place that can be reached by bus 24 hours a day not only to all parts of Slovakia but also abroad.
In a big city in Slovakia, it is entirely possible to get by without a car, but you may want to rent a car to travel at times. The roads in Slovakia are good, and the other drivers are careful, so you shouldn’t have any problem driving there.
For car rental, it is recommended to have an international driver’s license, a passport, an Israeli driver’s license, and a credit card (as a deposit guarantee). There is also an insurance supplement for rental (for cases of theft or accident).
Another important detail: throughout Slovakia, there is a network of bike paths, like in most European countries, so if you prefer a healthier and greener mode of transportation and want to ride to work, it is entirely possible. Everywhere there are bike and scooter rental stations, just download the app, scan the QR code, and go.
How much money will we spend per month as a family?
In Slovakia, you can expect to spend between 100 and 1400 euros per month as an average expenditure for a family of 3-4 people (including food, clothing, public school/kindergarten expenses, bills, public transportation, entertainment, etc.). Additionally, 750-1200 euros for monthly bills and internet is the cost of renting a 3-room apartment (not in the center of Bratislava). This is a sum that can definitely be earned: the minimum wage in Slovakia is over 650 euros and the average salary is 1400 euros. There are also national insurance payments for young children.
The biggest expense is for utilities – electricity and gas. Additionally, in Slovakia, it is common for private maintenance companies to take care of multi-story buildings. The residents of the building choose a company and employ it together, so that it takes full care of all the building’s maintenance: repairs, renovations, garbage disposal mechanism, gardening if applicable, and other building operation issues.
Also, every foreigner is required to purchase health insurance upon receipt of a residence permit. The health insurance system in Slovakia is a bit complex, and it is important to check it before the move. The type of insurance you can purchase also depends on your status. For example, if you have a work permit, you will be entitled to national health insurance. However, this is not true for every residence permit. You can always purchase commercial health insurance in Slovakia, from one of the companies that specialize in such insurance.
Is Slovak a difficult language?
The Slovak language belongs to the Slavic language group. If you speak or at least understand one of these languages – Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, even Polish – it will be easy for you to learn Slovak. If not, it’s a bit more difficult, but still possible. It’s not an especially difficult language, although it does have unique features like any language. Moreover, it is a rapidly developing language because until the 18th century there was no Slovak literature at all. However, as mentioned, most Slovaks, especially the young ones, speak English, so until you learn the basics, you won’t have trouble communicating with them.
However, all documents are, of course, in Slovak – and here you will need the help of a company that specializes in Slovak bureaucracy. We at TOGETTHERE will certainly help you with all the bureaucratic and legal issues with the authorities.
How does the social system work in Slovakia, including national insurance and other benefits?
Slovakia has a highly developed social system, partly as a legacy from its socialist past and also as part of the European Union. There are contributions made towards income security, unemployment, disability, aging, and parenthood, among others. Regarding income security, the Slovakian employment service offers free health insurance and subsidized medical care.
In terms of parental rights, the national insurance in Slovakia pays a birth grant of €800 and a monthly payment of €200 for families with a baby up to the age of three. There is also a monthly caregiver allowance of €230 for working mothers and other social benefits.
Slovakia is a country that is welcoming to its residents, and it is recommended for relocation. If you have any more questions regarding living in the country, we at TOGETTHERE will do our best to answer them in detail.
Relocation is a serious decision that should be made after obtaining all relevant information. We wish you success in whatever you choose.