Moving to Latvia: the land of medieval castles and a mysterious 267-year-old herbal balsam; handwoven linen fabrics and honey-like amber; unique baroque style wooden buildings and one-of-a-kind desserts.
There are many travel options for people relocating to Latvia from the UK. You can get there by car, ferry, train, bus, and of course by air.
There are several airlines offering direct cheap flights to Riga from the UK (from London, Leeds, EMA, Manchester, Glasgow): Ryanair, WizzAir, Scandinavian Airlines and Air Baltic, most of which operate in almost every European country.
Riga International Airport is the biggest one in Latvia. Getting from the airport to the city centre by taxi or by bus might take you about 30 minutes.
The public transport system in Riga might seem a little confusing, with no maps at the stops, but the buses, trams and trolley-buses are neat and tidy, and usually arrive on schedule. They are also recently modernised: with the introduction of E-ticket system, purchasing tickets for public transport became really easy, making moving from point A to point B within Latvia’s capital a breeze.
Single trip paper tickets are more expensive (2 Eur) and you can buy these from the driver paying only by cash, while e-tickets, for two or multiple trips, are cheaper (about 1.15 Eur per trip), and can be bought in kiosks and automatic vending machines.
When driving in Latvia, you have to be prepared for anything. You might encounter speeding and reckless driving, and the roads outside residential areas are not always in good condition.
In Latvia, it is mandatory to use winter tyres from December 1st until March 1st on all vehicles with gross weight below 3500 kg, with the minimum tread depth of 4 mm. Studded tires can be used under certain restrictions from October 1st to April 30th, but are not allowed from May 1st to October 1st.
Driving speed within residential areas should not exceed 50 km per hour, and in rural areas up to 90 km/h. However, on certain highways, the speed limit reaches 100 km/h (including the Riga-Jūrmala highway).
You have to make sure that safety belts are always used by driver and all the passengers. Using a mobile phone while driving is prohibited, unless you have a hands-free kit.
The permitted blood alcohol content level in Latvia is up to 0.5 per ml for experienced drivers, but only up to 0.2 per ml for those who have held their driver’s licence for less than 2 years.
In Latvia, all the roads are toll-free, but from April 1 to September 30 all drivers (except those of electric cars) must pay an entrance fee of 2 Eur for entering the resort city of Jūrmala.
While obtaining Latvian citizenship might be confusing and very demanding, obtaining residency is much less complicated – and acquiring a property is practically obstacle-free, not to mention being relatively affordable in comparison to what people moving to Latvia from the UK might be accustomed to.
Real estate agents’ commissions are usually about 2-5%, and the formal part of the whole transaction process can take as little as 10 days. A public notary dealing with the formal part of real estate transactions is also entitled to act as an Escrow agent, with a special account dedicated to the transaction funds.
Real property prices in Latvia are much more pocket-friendly than those in the UK, and a foreign citizen can buy a house or an apartment without any restrictions.
The buy-to-let approach can bring you a yearly profit of up to 9-10% if you are planning a long-term rental, and even more in case of short vacation rentals.
To someone relocating from abroad, the Latvian cuisine might seem simple at first sight, but it does turn out to be much more sophisticated, versatile and delicious once you get to know it better.
Certain unique dishes – like the colorful, light and fluffy “Buberts” dessert, or the famous airy “Vecrīga” cake – you can taste exclusively in Latvia.
The Laima chocolate factory products are well-known outside Latvia for their diversity and excellent taste, and can induce a festive mood by the sight of the wrappings alone.
There’s a huge choice of Laima chocolate bars and boxes, with numerous gourmet selections – including ones with Riga Black Balsam, and the unique and delicious Serenade line; most of these products are available in Latvian stores and malls.
The famous 267 year old Riga Black Balsam is made of a secret blend of 24 herbs, berries and spices, and is believed to have mythical healing properties. It was declared the best brand in Latvia in 2010.
When you decide on moving to Latvia to have a taste of Riga Black Balsam at its source, be sure to visit this page to learn more about the prices and technicalities of the removals process to this lovely Baltic country.
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