Differences between Life in the Czech Republic and USA

I have spent the last month of holidays back home in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. It’s a very small town 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Pittsburgh. It’s hard to determine which continent I enjoy spending time more, Europe or America..they both have so much to offer, although overall, life and people are the same. 🙂

Of course there are obvious differences between the two, such as language and measurement systems, time, and weather measurements, but there are also some not-so-obvious differences I have observed that I thought I would share with you.

Dining and Drinking

The most general difference is the how often Americans eat out compared to Czechs. Although you will find students eating in pubs, and restaurants here in Brno, it is more common in the U.S. that you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner out with your family and friends. Americans love having breakfast out in restaurants and diners, and to really captures our “can-eat” spirit, we love breakfast buffets. Though it seems much less common in Czech for families to eat dinner out, let alone breakfast.

In the U.S. service is also different.  Waiters and waitresses are working for their tips, as they are only paid maybe 2-3$ per hour, and the rest of their income comes from tips, provided they do a great job they will see a 20-25% tip, typically tips are not lower than 15%. Here in Czech it seems common to round up, and that is the “tip” given.

Now, drinking is also done a little differently in Slippery Rock than in Brno. We often times drink in our family homes, this is mainly due to the fact that not many of us have apartments, bars have “last call” at 1 a.m. and we live driving distances from the bars, so drinking in a house where we can drink all night, and not drive (and its much cheaper) is usually the more appealing option, but that’s not to say we are not at the bars a few nights a week.

Here in Brno, people drink in pubs, and less often in flats/family homes. Also, in the U.S. we love card games, drinking games, board games, etc. while we are drinking. In Brno it seems just sitting around having beers and maybe an occasional shot in pubs is more common for a night of drinking. Our Foreigners #MeetUps probably consitute an exception 😉

Local Brewery in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania

Everyday Life

Czechs/Europeans and Americans differ in some aspects of general everyday life. This can be found in basic mentality, as Czechs (Europeans) are more relaxed and calm in work, breaks, and life, you may find often Americans are more “go-go-go” of course this is generally speaking, and not for all Americans or all Czechs.. 🙂

Of course, it is commonly stereotyped Americans love gas-guzzlers, and drive everywhere, and well, this is not far from the truth. We really do drive big trucks, SUVs, etc. and we drive everywhere, and we drive for fun. While here in Brno, public transport, and walking are the general mode of transportation, and I don’t think anybody would drive just a few kilometers away. Of course this is also because basic infrastructure is different. In the U.S. not many sidewalks are provided outside of the town center, distances are further apart, and we lack the great public transportation here in Europe unless you are in a big city. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a good driving school in Czechia, don’t miss our competitive offer.

Highway in USA

Our general sense of humor can differ. As Czechs are less sensitive and are often said to have “black humor”, Americans have often come to be sensitive to issues someone might take offense too, and after living in the Czech Republic, it was hard for me to be so “sensitive” again. 🙂

Cafes/Coffees are another big difference from my life in Slippery Rock, P.A. to Brno. In Slippery Rock there is not even one café in the town. My friends and I don’t sit around drinking teas and coffees like you may often do here in Europe/Brno. Often, coffee is ordered to go, in large cups (though I love the size of American coffee :D) and they drink on the go in the car, while walking, etc. Although, I really enjoy the culture of sitting down for a good conversation over coffees and teas here, it’s a great way to spend warm or cold days.

Friends enjoy drinks and each other at Cafe Podnebi, (Údolní 5. Brno – great cafe)

You may find in the Czech Republic, more general cultural awareness. When situated in Europe, you find people know what is unique to their culture, and what is unique to their neighbors culture, but in the U.S. although there are differences between regions and states, we customarily just know what is daily life – and not what is going on in the cultures across the oceans. This is not an insult to the American culture, simply they know what they see, and what is around them.

Prices, Money, Banking

In the U.S. things are seemingly cheaper. Electronics, clothing, gas, and even food and bills are cheaper. Although for food, drinks, etc. the numerical price may be higher, relative to wages and cost of living, it is overall cheaper in the U.S. (of course, I am speaking Pennsylvania prices not NYC or LA)

In Pennsylvania we have no sales tax on “necessities” of life. This includes food (not prepared food), water, clothing, shoes, while here in Czech Republic those items have a 15% VAT. On goods and services in my county of Pennsylvania we have a 6% VAT, while in Czech Republic that tax is 21%.

Europe VAT

These prices also probably reflect the frequency of items bought in the U.S. vs. Czech Republic. While in the U.S. consumerism and competition is the driving factor of economy, jobs, and life – it results in lower prices. Furthermore, sales are all the time and everywhere in the U.S., and not just 100 CZK discount like you might see in H&M here in Brno, they are “50% & buy one get one free pair of shoes with additional 10% off” sales, and as a shopper you think “how can I pass that good of a deal up?”

Banking and spending is also done differently. Here in the Czech Republic you will often use cash, banking is done ‘paperless’ (online wire transfers) while in the U.S. banking is done with paper, and payments are done with credit card. It is not uncommon to pay for your 1.25$ tea with a credit/debit card in the U.S, while banking (bill payments) may be done with checks or the debit card, while online wire transfers will run you a $40 fee. If you’re willing to open your own bank account in the Czech Republic, get some help with us!

USA and Czech Republic
USA and Czech Republic

These are just a few general differences in the U.S. and Czech Republic. I’m not claiming one is better, or worse, just that there are differences that make up culture and everyday life. Some things fit the stereotypes, while others may not. I enjoy the Czech Republic and the U.S. and love things about both lifestyles and cultures. I’m sure many of these things you may have heard already, maybe from movies, friends, or assumptions, this is just my point-of-view. 🙂

So, how is your home country different from the Czech Republic/U.S.A… and what are the similarities? Is there a way-of-life you prefer? Do you find it hard to adjust to the Czech Republic, or when you return back home? Let us know! 🙂

Check out my favorite places to visit in Brno and all the high-quality services Foreigners offer to expats and locals 🙂


47 thoughts on “Differences between Life in the Czech Republic and USA

  1. Interesting blog, although I DO use a car to drive a few kilometres in Brno because as an English teacher who works all over Brno, the public transports, as good as it is, takes too long.

    1. How much do you make teaching? I taught esl for 6 months in a small village in the Czech Republic. I would love to go back

      1. daughter just got an offer to teach english at school moravia in Hodonin. I’m wondering whether the 8000 crown / month is reasonable/doable over the long term.

        Your thoughts and experiences?

        1. Well, it is a minimal salary stablished by law (no employer is allowed to go lower than that for a full time job). It is doable, but with GREAT restraints on buying things…

        2. Approximately 25 csk = $1.00. If you do that math you will see it is $320 per month.

        3. 8000 crowns per month? youre kidding right? The minimal month wage is now about 12 000 crowns. If youre from the US, 8000 crown are 340 dollars. Per month!

    1. Thanks for your kind words Foreigner in USA I bet you notice cultural and societal differences everyday while living in the U.S.. It would be interesting to hear the perspective from the other side too Thanks again!

  2. Hello,
    I lived in US and in Czech Rep.. You are right and I like your comment. Anyway it still is a small gap if I compare it – us with non European countries. Good luck there.

    1. Lindsey, Thanks for your comment!
      I am sure you will love the Czech Republic and summer is definitely the right time to take a trip. Enjoy!

  3. Hi Chelsea,

    I’m from Brazil, and I received one opportunity to work in Brno, I have wife and daughter (4 years old). I would like to ask something: How is the school in Brno? It’s a good city to my family? Here in my city it’s very, very dangerous, how is in Brno? How is the cost to live in Brno? I know, it’s difficult to measure it, but I like to know average cost of household spending. Thanks a lot! cheers from brazil.

      1. Oh! And Brno is very safe 🙂 I hope I’m not too late on my reply, I wasn’t notified of the comment. If you are considering Brno over Brazil, I do recommend the opportunity. Brno is a great city, especially for a young family. And its pretty cheap, depending on your wage of course. I posted the cost of living blog I did a few months back to help you get a better idea. Best Regards

    1. Hi Fellipe, I have 2 great tips for you. At first, on this site http://numbeo.com you can compare your country with our (I’m from czech republic too). The statistics are relative exact, so you can compare f.e. food, public transport, crime etc. (really good for first imagine about czech republic) and the second tip is http://ulovdomov.cz where you can find home for your family (there are so many offers and it’s so intuitive). You can see also average tenant in particular district (f.e. tenant in Brno, Prague, Ostrava etc. and many more.). If you have any question, just leave your comment. I hope, that you will love Brno 🙂

      1. What are you doing admin, are you sleeping? :).

        Your comment is awaiting moderation. ?? Too long.

      2. Hey petrik, i would lime to send my daughter for masters degree & would like to know her chances to seetled down in czech republic with safe & handsome individual income… how can i proceed?

  4. Prague is now the 19th most visited city in the world for international travellers. 1st city in the region.

  5. Prague is now the 19th most visited city in the world for international travellers. 1st city in the region.

  6. Hello! I am a high school student in California, USA, and I am considering going to a university in Prague after college. How do you think I will do? ALso, what should I look out for, be prepared for, etc.? I realize I am about 2 years late, but I was thinking you might still be able to help me. Thank you!

  7. I am looking for an affordable place to retire to, as I had a atroke 3 years ago and I live,on $1500.00 us per month how would this sum do for me here?


    1. Vinod,

      I live in the USA. We just returned from a couple weeks in Brno.

      I think you can live for less in the Czech Republic but you will earn less too. So your money will not go as far.

      The quality of schools in the US are in decline. Health care is very expensive. On the other hand I’ve rarely seen people in CZ who are not white Europeans. I don’t know if that is an issue or not.

      Hope this helps.

  9. An fascinating discussion is worth comment. I think that you must write extra on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but generally persons are not enough to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  10. I am Czech/American, currently living in the US seriously considering living back in CZ.I am wondering about taxes and health insurance. Am I going to be paying just in Czech. I’ve heard I’d still need to pay taxes in the US as well as health insurance. How does that work? Thanks, Dagmar

    1. I don’t know how old is this comment but the answer is Yes. If you are American and already payed taxes in USA you need to keep paying taxes from your income and savings even if you are abroad. I believe is the only country with this taxes rules.

    2. You won’t pay any tax to U.S., unless you make over $90.000 in Czech, which is very unlikely.
      However, you will still have to file you income tax form.

  11. if you want people to like your website, then don’t put an emoji in between every space. this shows that you aren’t very capable of doing this sort of thing.

  12. I enjoyed this post very much. I used to visit the Czech Republic almost every year: I’d take a course in orchestral conducting in Zlin or Kromeriz or Hradec Kralove, and then have a short vacaation in Prague. For a variety of reasons, I’ve not visited in over ten years, nor will I be traveling to Europe at all in the near future. I regularly “visit” via Google Maps, Google Street View, Czech Radio online (Vltava particularly), and such.

    Lately, I’ve realized that I’ve gradually lost touch with the Czech culture — clearly still a “foreign” culture, but one with which I’d become very comfortable. Your post reminded me of some of those “familiar differences”!

    Also, I wish resources like this had been available when I first came over, in ’95. At that time, few of us even had computers (I did) or e-mail (I didn’t); nor were there numerous blogs and other sites offering this sort of information and insight. Cheers!

  13. What’s up,I check your blogs named “Differences between Life in Czech Republic and USA | Foreigners.cz Blog” regularly.Your humoristic style is awesome, keep it up! And you can look our website about free anonymous proxies.

  14. Hi there, I see this post is a bit old but wondering if someone could tell me about Mnichovice on the outskirts of Prague. I got a job offer for 21,000 CZ net + room & board included, is this a good opportunity? – and I will need to buy a vehicle for sure, how much for second hand Honda CR-V 2001 for example? – or I can find cheaper vehicles in Spain? – otherways I am considering going back to the US. – Thanks in advance.

  15. Note: 21,000 cz net per year, about 800 EUR p/m at current rate exchange.
    Plus I do have a kid middle school age that will go to school, included in the offer.
    But the low wage and just having a room with a bathroom for us does not fully make me happy for a long-term commitment. Thanks

    1. Anywhere else in Czech I would say you would do just fine with the offer. Prague is more expensive so It depends on your spending habits and needs. Good luck with whatever you decide

  16. I am in Monaca, PA and am looking at hosting a foreign exchange student from the Czech. Given that you’ve literally been in both places, is there advice you might give on how to make her feel comfortable and less homesick? I want to take her to experience so much, but I also recognize that it might be beneficial to have some familiarity to her too, to help with the transition. I’ll take any wisdom I can get.

    1. Hi Monaca, My first piece of advice would be to talk to her about her culture, life, and interests but also to ask if she has any questions for you because being able to openly communicate is very important in my opinion. You could show her your favorite places in the area she’ll be at most often like cafes, parks, stores, etc. I would also show her around the supermarket the first few times especially if she’s never been in the US. Once you learn more about her I would suggest giving some her some personal space to learn about her surroundings and make the area her own. She’ll need to find her favorite places and once she does she’ll likely feel more comfortable in the area. You can also encourage her to join clubs, activities, etc. so she can form connections with students her own age. Since I was in a program there were events planned each day that I could choose to attend. In your case you could plan 1 or 2 events each week and give her the choice of going. In cases of homesickness, you could ask her questions about her home and ask if she’s checked in with her family/friends recently. Typically when I feel homesick it’s because I haven’t checked in with my family. However, the most important thing is to take it slow and really get to know the foreign exchange student. If you have any more questions I’d be happy to answer them and I hope this helps!

      If she is interested in nature I would show her some of the local scenery or take her on hikes.

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