The cost of living is moderate in the Czech Republic, and you’ll be able to live very comfortably on an average teacher’s salary; particularly if your TEFL employer provides you with somewhere to live*.
Below you can find a list of average costs: Milk = 70p/$1.10 for 1 litre, Apples = 80p/$1.20 for 1kg, Local beer in a restaurant = 60p/$1, Gym membership = £25/$40 per month
*The exception to this is in Prague where accommodation costs are very high. In Prague, you can expect to pay around £320 per month for a studio apartment. If you do have to finance this yourself you can expect it to make a real dent in your monthly salary so it’s worth negotiating a lower hourly wage with included accommodation if you want to teach in the Czech capital.
Like most Eastern European cuisine, traditional Czech food consists of lots of meat and potatoes. The national dish is dumplings (‘knedliky’), made from potato flour and boiled in water; along with another traditional Czech delicacy of ‘Svičková’ and ‘Rajská’, which consists of meat in sauce, topped with whipped cream.
Drinks-wise, it’s no secret that the Czechs are beer lovers – in fact, 160 litres of beer is consumed per person per year there! Pilsner is probably the most well-known brand; although there are over 70 Czech beer brands in total, which are celebrated every year at the popular beer festivals. So much is their love of beer, most restaurants have dedicated sections in their menu for ‘Proti velké Žízeni’ (‘against great thirst and hunger’), which basically describes the food that goes best with beer.
As a land-locked country, the Czech Republic is lucky in that it experiences four distinct seasons. In the summer, temperatures can reach 25 degrees Celsius, with summer evenings spent sipping beer in the outdoor bars after a day of teaching; whereas in winter, it can get down to as low as -3 degrees. It snows a lot in winter, which is perfect when the Christmas markets are set-up: the atmosphere is amazing, and the Old Town – with twinkling lights, and a dusting of snow – is beautiful.
The majority of TEFL employers will provide you with accommodation free of charge, close to your place of work with another English teacher. The standard of housing is in line to that of Western Europe and is generally slightly larger than that in other European cities. If you decide to find your own accommodation, on an average teaching salary you will be able to afford a flat in the city centres, with the exception of Prague, where rental rates are much higher: the best option in this case would be renting in the suburbs and taking the metro to work.
The top three TEFL destinations in the Czech Republic are Prague, Brno and Ostrava, as the populations are larger, resulting in a higher concentration of schools and international businesses, so English teachers are in demand here.
If you enjoy living in a big city, then Prague is the best choice for you. Although it’s by no means large (with a population of 1.3 million, it’s considered a ‘cosy capital’), it offers the most variation in terms of shopping, nightlife and architecture. Prague is home to luxury boutiques and international brands; and the nightlife offers something for everyone, with casual pubs, cheap clubs and classy bars – a perfect way to spend your weekend after a week of teaching English!
If you prefer a more relaxed pace, then Brno is the perfect city. Situated close to the vineyards of South Moravia, it’s best described as ‘charming’, and is seeped in thousands of years of history. Amongst the locals are many English-speaking expats working for international businesses, in addition to the masses of students attending the Brno University of Technology. As it’s relatively undiscovered by tourists, prices are much cheaper than in Prague, with relatively cheap nightlife (thank the students for that!); and is a good option to live if you’d like to teach English at a University.
The third largest city of Ostrava has a skyline dominated by industrial buildings, as it produced a lot of iron in the 19th century, and had a huge mining industry. Located close to both the Polish and Slovakian border, it’s a great base to start travelling, and despite being small, Ostrava boasts a good nightlife centred around Stodolní Street – referred to by the locals as “the street that never sleeps” due to the selection of bars, restaurants and clubs.
In the larger cities of Prague, Brno and Ostrava, there are frequent tram and bus services. With one way tickets costing just 70p/$1.10, serving the city centre and the outskirts, you can travel to work easily and cheaply.
The Czech Republic’s city centres are compact, so you won’t often need a taxi. However, if you do decide to use one, call ahead and book rather than hailing one in the street, as they are notorious for petty scams – mainly taking longer routes and charging higher fares. Alternatively, if you’re travelling with your Czech TEFL colleagues, they’ll be able to ensure that the drivers don’t try anything sneaky!
An average TEFL teacher works 25 hours a week (30 if teaching English in a private language school, as adults will study after work) with weekends free. In addition to this, you can expect all of July and August off as holiday, meaning you’ll have plenty of time to explore the Czech Republic and nearby destinations!
If you want to see what the Czech Republic has to offer, you’re in luck: the train system is extensive and cheap, with routes all across the country – a one-way ticket from Prague to Brno takes 3.5 hours and costs just £9/$14.70.
As a land-locked country, travelling to neighbouring countries also couldn’t be easier, with trains continuing on to cities including Bratislava, Slovakia, taking 4 hours and costing £20/$32 for a one-way ticket. From here, you can also catch connecting trains to Russia.
To behave like a true Czech, whilst it’s polite for men to open doors for women, men enter restaurants and bars first (mainly to check there are no fights and that it’s safe for the woman to go in!)
If you want to live in an area popular with other TEFL teachers in Prague, search for accommodation in the Vinohrady area – close to the city centre with easy access to public transport; it also has its own selection of restaurants, shops and parks, and is very safe!
The Czechs are naturally shy and polite, and try to avoid saying the word ‘no’ whenever possible, which means it can be difficult when finding out if your students understand what you’re teaching them. Look out for discreet motions: if a student is lowering their eyes and staying silent, then it’s unlikely that they’re following what you’re teaching.
If you're keen to find out more about teaching in the Czech Republic then you'll want to check out the i-to-i TEFL free guide. You'll find out loads more useful information on finding your first job, where you can teach and how to negotiate the best salary package.
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