Living in Latvia

As a British person relocating you might notice that the cost of living in Latvia is relatively low. Rents and apartment prices are nearly ten times lower than in UK.

Buying a house

If you are moving to Latvia from UK there are no restrictions on buying a house in Latvia. However, if you wish to buy land you need the permission of the local municipality, although you may lease land for up to 99 years without restriction. You will require the services of a translator unless your lawyer speaks good English, or your Latvian is excellent. Do not sign anything unless you really understand it. These are the usual steps to take:

  1. Choose a property
  2. You and the seller both sign a preliminary contract; you pay a deposit of 10%. This can be held in escrow by a lawyer or notary.
  3. The necessary searches for title and any other issues are held. Once these are satisfactory, your solicitor draws up a contract of purchase, to be signed by you and the seller in the presence of a notary in Latvia (or in the Latvian embassy if in Britain).
  4. All immovable property must be registered in the Land Book. Until this is done, you cannot transfer the property.
  5. It takes around 18 days to register the property.
  6. Transaction costs are around 4-7% of the purchase price. It usually costs more than you expect to buy a property, so check your finances carefully.

Jobs

The European Free Movement of Workers agreement means you can live and work in Latvia without a visa or work permit. But you must have registered your presence and your residence with the appropriate authority – and how you have to do this depends to some extent on your proposals regarding work.

Your ability to find work depends upon your language skills. English is a bonus, but it helps to be fairly fluent in Lettish if you want to make a living in Latvia. If you are moving for employment, the administrative details may be handled by the employer. It is wise to get a written contract if possible. A verbal contract gives little protection.

Your employer has to apply to the State Revenue Service for your unique tax code. If you already have a personal code in Latvia this will be used for your tax purposes. Your employer is responsible for deducting income tax and social security payments from your income.

If you are self-employed, then you need to register with the tax authorities yourself. You also have to calculate and pay your tax and social security contributions, but this can be complex, and you may wish to hire a tax consultant to do this, especially since you may be eligible for tax concessions.

Articles about living in Latvia

  • Registering essentials and customs
  • Expat locations and moving tips
  • Driving and public transportation
  • Health care and pensions
  • Social life and language
  • Prices of removals to Latvia

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