Latvia has a good, reasonably priced, rail service. There is an even wider bus network, mostly with modern buses; comfortable seating and air conditioning. Tickets can be bought at the time or on line. This causes the fact that driving in Latvia will not be your preffered way of getting around.
Taxis come in different colours. From Riga International Airport, the green taxis are said to be cheaper, and for general honesty the red taxis have a good reputation. Just be sure you choose a metered taxi so there can be less overcharging.
Apart from the only major Latvian airport, Riga offers travel by bus, tram and trolleybus. You can buy your tickets on boarding or buy a monthly pass. Buses run through most of the night. (more…)
You will need to contact the VOAVA (State Agency for Compulsory Health Insurance and the body that takes ‘runs’ the health care in Latvia). You can find a list of doctors on the VOAVA website. There is a standard fee for seeing a doctor.
If you receive a UK state retirement pension or long-term incapacity benefit, you may be entitled to state-funded healthcare paid for by the UK. You’ll need to apply for form S1 from the International Pension Centre (tel: 0191 218 7777). You need to register your S1 with the Latvian VOAVA. This entitles you to an EHIC issued by the UK. Wich allows access to medical care in other EEA countries – including Britain. (more…)
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: (more…)
Latvian or Lettish is the official language, but English is also understood in Riga and other tourist locations. Russian and German are also spoken, and at times Russian may appear to be predominant. If you intend to live in a rural area, you should try to learn a little Latvian at least as it will definitely help you with establishing a social life in Latvia. The great thing is that children seem able to absorb languages easily, and unless your Latvian is very good, they will soon be translating for you. Many expats send their children to an international school in Riga.
Social Life in Latvia
A small yet beautiful country, Latvia has powerful neighbours and their culture has been a way of retaining their national identity. They are particularly strong on folk music – they say there is a different song for every Latvian. Every four years there is a great national folk festival of songs and dances. Only 60% of the population are ethnic Latvians with over a quarter being of Russian origin. (more…)
A British citizen holding a British passport does not require a visa when relocating to Latvia from the UK. But you do need to register with the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (OCMA), unless you are studying in Latvia, when you can stay in the country for up to a year without registering. You also need to register your place of residence. There is a complicated list of documents required to register which you will find at this website.
The list seems to depend upon your reason for wanting to live in Latvia, but basically you need proof of your ability to support yourself, your ID and family status, application form, photographs, proof of residence – and more depending upon your reason for applying. The process takes around a month to complete, so leave plenty of time. Pensioners can also apply, provided they can prove they can support themselves and pay state duty. (more…)
At 312 metres (1,024’), Gaizinkalns is the highest point in Latvia. Not high enough – look at neighbouring Estonia. Their highest point is Suur Munamagi at 318 metres (1,043.47’), a whole 6 metres (20’) higher. So the Latvians started to build a tower so that they could be higher, but it never got finished and is now closed as unsafe. However, its Freedom Statue is 43 metres high (141’), one of the highest monuments in Europe. If you are moving to Latvia from UK you might be pleased to know that Latvia regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. It joined the EU in 2004 and has been a member of the Schengen area since 2007. The capital city is Riga and the currency has been the euro since January 2014. Ethnically, the population is 59% Latvian and 29% Russian, and more than a third live in the capital, Riga. (more…)