With a skyline dominated by the ninth century Prague Castle and other relics of eras gone by, the Czech capital’s atmosphere is one of tradition and grandeur. Yet amidst the cobbled streets and Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture is a burgeoning, progressive freelance movement.
Until 1962, Prague was overlooked by the world’s largest monument of Joseph Stalin. Now, driven by the low living and operating costs and strong business opportunities, it is one of Europe’s most attractive cities for nomadic and freelance workers.
Analysing and comparing the cost of living, income tax, access to credit, average internet speed, transport networks, free Wi-Fi availability, the cost of a coffee and the ease of starting a business, Expert Market – a UK-based B2B comparison site – ranked the Czech Republic as the tenth best place in the world to be self-employed.
And, whether you’re a native or not, registering as self-employed in the Czech Republic is relatively easy: all you need to do is apply for a trade licence. Also known as a business licence – or živnostenský list to the locals – this is an official document that, once granted, allows its holder to work in the Czech Republic on a self-employed basis.
For EU and non-EU citizens who wish to become self-employed, a trade licence also legitimises the reason for living in the Czech Republic and is therefore a necessary document when completing a long-term visa or residence permit application.
To apply, you only need to be over 18 and prove that you don’t have a criminal record of a serious nature. Aside from certain fields, particularly within the construction trades, you don’t even have to prove you have any specific qualifications.
A trade licence costs 1,000 Czech Koruna (about £35) and is usually granted within 15 days. Once your trade licence has been approved and you’ve registered at the Social Security and local Tax Offices, you’re ready to go!
With 822,000 self-employed people (over 16% of the workforce) across the Czech Republic – many of whom reside in the capital – there is certainly no shortage of co-working spaces or ‘jellies’ (informal and free co-working network groups) to occupy them.
So, if you’re a budding entrepreneur or a long-term experienced self-employed professional, you’ll be in good company in the ‘city of a hundred spires’.
For freelance expatriates looking to integrate themselves in the Prague freelance community, the American-owned Locus is a good place to start. Located in Prague 3, Locus hosts freelancers, entrepreneurs and digital nomads from across the world in a collaborative community. The facilities are among the quirkiest in Prague and with round-the-clock access and regular events, the €95-per-month full package is very competitive.
Offering both permanent or occasional work space, workshops, networking events and a sweeping garden, K10 is another popular space from which to operate. At €150 per month, it’s a little pricier, though this is certainly offset by its renowned chill out zone – where you can wind down from a busy day of working or networking with a yoga lesson or a relax in the sauna!
Other popular co-working spaces include Co-working Krizovatka, In-spiro, Node5 TechSquare, Prague Start-Up Centre or Paper Hub. For those with a more flexible disposition, most cafés in Prague offer free and fast Wi-Fi.
Prague 'bucket list'
Away from work, Prague is one of Europe’s most exciting capital cities; a melting pot of old and new. Equally beautiful bathed in sunshine, blanketed in snow or shrouded in mist, the Czech capital is an enchanting city of bridges, cathedrals, gold-tipped towers and church domes – all hugging the banks of the swan-filled Vltava River.
With a population of 1.3 million and a vibrant nightlife, you’ll not be left searching for things to do in Prague – whether that’s before or after sunset.
For those with a cultural disposition, Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, St Vitus Cathedral and the Old Town Square should be marked down as a ‘must-see’. Whilst, in the space vacated following the demolition of the Stalin Monument, Prague Metronome boasts some of the best views of the city.
For the night owls, Prague boasts some of the best nightlife in Europe – and the tab is far kinder on your wallet than many of the city’s European counterparts!
Hemingway Bar, AghaRTA Jazz Centrum and Black Angel’s Bar are among the most popular for locals and tourists alike. But if you want to get off the beaten track and have a more ‘underground’ experience of the city, there are few places to rival Vzorkovna.
Getting around Prague is easy too, with a well-connected and cheap network of trams, buses and the metro. However, there are few better ways to get around and familiarise yourself with one of Europe’s most captivating cities than on foot.
If your stay in Prague is more than just a fleeting visit, you can expect to pay anywhere from €450 to €550 per month – which is considerably cheaper than most other capital cities on the continent.
So, with both the availability and volume of opportunities favourable, the cheap cost of living and the ease with which you can start and grow a business, there are few better places to attain an attractive and rewarding freelance work-life balance than Prague.