Latvia is one of the three Baltic Countries (along with neighbouring Estonia and Lithuania). Located in north-eastern Europe, it charms its visitors with its natural beauty and interesting architecture: a mix of ancient and modern buildings; and affordability. If you're taking a bigger step than just visiting the country, and planning a move to Latvia, this guide will give you useful information on the main aspects of settling into your new home.
The most spoken languages in Latvia
The official language is Latvian. It dates back to the 9th century and belongs to the group of Indo-European languages. Latvian is one of the oldest European languages. Today it is spoken by nearly one and a half million people. It is defined as the closest to Lithuanian - a fact related to the location of the country. Despite the relatively low prevalence of the language, there are many dialects. In fact, Latvian is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn - an exciting challenge for all polyglots and foreign language lovers.
If you are considering moving to Latvia, opportunities to learn Latvian are available through private language courses - either individually or in a group. You can also start learning the language before your actual move by signing up for online lessons. The Latvian Language Agency offers free electronic materials to help you with independent language learning.
Other common languages in the country are Russian and English. Russian is spoken by nearly 40% of the population of Latvia - ethnic groups of Russians, Jews and Belarusians. The widespread use of the language is linked to Latvia and Russia's shared historical past. English is preferred among the younger part of the population. It became more popular after Latvia became independent in 1991. Many tourist attractions have signs in English.
New home after relocating to Latvia
We're sure that for any expat, creating comfort is key when moving to a new place. Choosing the right accommodation that suits your needs and abilities would facilitate your overall adjustment after moving to Latvia, making you feel truly welcome. A lot of properties are available for rent in the country.
Prices for monthly apartment rentals vary in an extremely wide range. Determinants in forming the final price of the apartment are its location, its type, floor, and size. The lowest monthly rents in Latvia amount to around EUR 500 - mostly one-bedroom apartments. At the upper end, rents reach up to EUR 3,000 per month. This price range usually includes properties in the central parts of major cities, in new buildings and with attractive furnishings.
Buying a home after moving to Latvia is possible with permission from the municipality. Housing prices have been increasing in recent years. They vary according to the location of the property. A two-bedroom apartment in the coastal resort town of Jurmala is estimated to cost EUR 2,5 million, while prices for three-bedroom apartments in the capital Riga vary between EUR 500 000 and 250 000, depending on their distance from the city centre.
The cost of living in the country is relatively low compared to other European countries. The prices of basic products and services in Latvia by 2021 are about a third lower than the European Union average.
Promising jobs after moving to Latvia
Despite the affordability of living in the country, finding a job after migrating to Latvia is among the first and foremost goals to ensure your financial peace of mind, development, and successful adaptation. The most promising sectors are services, trade, agriculture, forestry and fishing, finance, insurance, real estate, and construction.
The average gross salary in the country by 2022 by sector amounts to:
- Brokerage and real estate – EUR 1,112
- Agriculture, forestry and fishing - EUR 1,307
- Manufacturing - EUR 1,309
- Construction - EUR 1,313
- Professional, scientific, and technical activities - EUR 1,766
- Information and communication - EUR 2,287
- Finance and insurance - EUR 2,437
Latvia is also known for its fast internet, making it a promising destination for people working remotely. The country offers many positions suitable for expats, mainly in customer service, IT, sales, and travel services. Latvians are open and friendly to foreigners in the workplace.
Moving to Latvia with kids
One of the most important parts of moving with children is to make sure that the country you choose offers the right opportunities for them to develop and get used to their new environment. As far as Latvia is concerned, education is free and compulsory for children up to the age of 15. To access it, you must have a residence permit and make sure you have paid the necessary social security fees. After completing compulsory primary education, students in Latvia can continue their studies or start working. The country is known for its increased focus on extracurricular activities related to students' interests and covering areas such as art, sport, and technology. In fact, more than 70% of learners engage in these types of activities.
There are also international schools in the country (International School of Latvia and International School of Riga), where teaching is in English, and qualifications are recognised in other parts of the world. Schools where students can enrol for higher education include:
- Riga Technical University
- University of Latvia
- Latvia University of Agriculture
- Daugavpils University
Moving to Latvia with a pet
The basic documents required for travelling with a pet include:
- Document of microchip (used to identify the animal)
- Rabies vaccination certificate
- EU Health Certificate issued by a veterinarian
Before moving to Latvia with a pet, make sure the animal is microchipped. The microchip must match ISO Standard 11784, or Annex A to ISO standard 11785.
Another mandatory condition is that the pet is vaccinated against rabies and has a certificate of vaccination signed by a veterinarian. The rabies vaccine must have been administered at least 3 weeks before the examination. Animals may also travel with a one-year (core) vaccine, as well as a 3-year one, provided it has been administered less than a year ago (otherwise a booster dose is required).
Required vaccines for dogs also include Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus (DHLPP), and Bordetella, and for cats - Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP).
Possession of an EU health certificate is also a mandatory condition for the animal to enter the country. The certificate is valid for 10 days after it has been issued and signed by a veterinarian. It is recommended that the animals travel with their owners. Exceptionally, you can authorise another person to be responsible for transporting the pet. Animals should arrive in Latvia no later than 5 days after their owner.
Driving in Latvia
An important requirement if you plan to move to Latvia for longer than a year is to replace your driving licence with a Latvian one. The exception to this rule is for holders of a driving document issued in an EU, European Free Trade Association, or UK member state.
Drivers with a licence issued in an EU, European Free Trade Association, or UK member state can use the document until the original expiry date. If they decide to replace their licence with a Latvian one, they must be permanently resident in the country. Driving documents issued outside the countries already listed are valid for up to one year after the original date of arrival in Latvia. After that, their replacement is necessary. This is done by passing a driving test.
Some of the must-haves that every driver should carry with them after moving to Latvia are:
- Headlamp converters (in case the headlight cannot be adjusted)
- Fire extinguisher
- First aid kit
- Reflective vest
- Warning triangle (in case of emergency)
Public transport in Latvia is ground-based. Ticket prices are relatively affordable, with a ticket valid for 90 minutes costing one and a half euros in Riga. The cost of a monthly card is 30 euros. Passengers can also buy tickets online.
Healthcare when moving to Latvia
Expats who have migrated to Latvia have access to the public health insurance system. To do so, they must work in the country and pay the required health insurance fee. Another option to feel at ease when it comes to your health is private insurance. In fact, it would guarantee you less waiting time before an examination. International health insurance is also available to cover some of the costs in case of an accident. Pharmacies in the country are mostly located in the larger towns. An important tip if you have a specific illness, is to make sure that the necessary medicines are available in the Latvian pharmacy network.
Nature and climate in Latvia
Cool summers and mild winters are typical for Latvia. The country's climate is maritime, strongly influenced by the Baltic Sea. The average temperature in July (the warmest month) is 17 °C and in January (the coldest) -5 °C. Latvia is one of the "greenest" countries in Europe - almost half of its territory is covered by forests.
Among the more famous sights are:
- Venta Waterfall (the widest in Europe)
- The Gauja National Park
- The Old Town of Riga
- Freedom Monument
Popular leisure activities include skiing, walking along the coast, kayaking, walking in a nature park, visiting various amusement attractions (escape rooms, mazes, bungee jumping, etc.).
If moving to Latvia, the home of jeans and the first decorated Christmas tree, is your next goal but you still have questions about it, don't hesitate to contact us - the Movega Removals team. Reach us through the available online contact form or chatbot feature and trust our expertise in transportation services.