You’ve arrived in Prague, unpacked your rucksack or suitcase(s) and you’re looking for a place to base yourself. So where are you going to live? Well the good news is that there’s plenty of choice, and plenty to suit all budgets. Let’s assume you’re not in the position to buy quite yet.( If you are lucky enough to be in this position, then take a look at last week’s post by Guiri Guide’s guest writer) and like most people first aim to rent. Property pundits always use the maxim, ‘Location, Location, Location’ to describe the most important factor when selecting a new home. This it to some extent true, but is probably truer for larger European cities like Paris, London or Berlin, where the size of the cities mean you really need to choose your area carefully or possibly face being marooned in the suburbs. In Prague, this is somewhat less important. Prague is a pocket-sized city and has excellent public transport which means most places are in reach of the city centre.
If you want a home at the heart of the city then Vinohrady and Letna could be for you. The former is full of classy apartments in the city centre, this comes at a premium and apartments can be costly. The latter is a pleasant area close to the city centre and the expansive park. However, in my opinion it seems a little bit sad to move to a new country only to go and live in a ‘ghetto’ of expats. Other areas which are my personal favourite are Barrandov, for its access to the forest and open countryside, and Brevnov, an upmarket area, where you have access to Ladronka, where you can sit, chat, run and roller-blade to your heart’s content. There are many other areas, to choose from and as I’ve only been here three months I’m not qualified to comment.
As you’re going to be shelling out a large portion of your hard-earned money, it’s important to make sure you’re happy with the place you live. Finding flats or apartments via a friend or work colleague is usually the best way to find a place. There are also a plethora of websites where you can find places. One of the best is www.expatz.cz.
It’s always best to take a look at the place you’re going to live as well, don’t just take a couple of pics sent via email (just think how estate agents always manage to avoid the motorway flyover or electricity pylon in their pictures!) Also don’t necessarily jump into the first place that you like a little bit or because it’s a bargain. There’s nothing wrong for waiting for the right place to come along. An interim place where you live in a shared apartment can be a cheaper short-term solution while you check areas out. (this is what I did) There are many landlords who will rent you rooms or apartments on a monthly basis. – Just make sure you get the terms and conditions in writing. If it’s an informal arrangement, you might find it difficult get your deposit back when the ‘rules’ change!
When working out if you can afford your apartment, just remember to consider the possible extras on top of the ground rent. Most apartments have some kind of service charge. Check what is and isn’t included in the monthly rent. That incredibly low rent suddenly takes on a new meaning when you add all the bits and pieces. Additional services like broadband/internet may also not be included, so just ensure you are getting what you want and paying accordingly. Likewise with the deposit, which is usually required by most landlords check just where it is being held and what the rules regarding its return or the conditions where it can be withheld. Ideally it should be in a third party bank account or at least a separate account where both you and the landlords know it is held away from other money.
Happy house (apartment) hunting!