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Expat Exchange - 10 Things to Know Before Moving to Latvia
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10 Things to Know Before Moving to Latvia

By Joshua Wood, LPC

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Summary: If you're planning a move to Latvia, here are 10 things expats living there wish they had known before moving to Latvia.

Latvia, a small yet vibrant country nestled in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, is becoming an increasingly popular destination for expats. With its rich history, diverse culture, and stunning landscapes, it's no wonder why. However, before you pack your bags and head to this Baltic gem, there are a few things you should know. Here are the top 10 things to know before moving to Latvia.

1. Understanding the Latvian Language

Latvian is the official language of Latvia and it's quite unique. It's one of only two surviving Baltic languages, the other being Lithuanian. While many Latvians speak English, especially in the capital, Riga, it's beneficial to learn some basic Latvian phrases. Not only will it make your daily life easier, but it will also show respect for the local culture.

2. Embrace the Four Seasons

Latvia experiences all four seasons, each with its own charm. Summers are warm and perfect for exploring the country's beautiful beaches and forests. Winters, on the other hand, can be quite cold and snowy. Make sure to pack a variety of clothing to accommodate the changing weather.

3. The Importance of Sauna Culture

Saunas play a significant role in Latvian culture. They are seen as a place for relaxation, socializing, and even healing. Don't be surprised if you're invited to a sauna by your new Latvian friends. It's a great way to bond and immerse yourself in the local culture.

4. Latvia's Rich History

Latvia has a rich and complex history that has shaped its unique culture. From the ancient tribes to the Soviet occupation, each period has left its mark. Visit the many museums and historical sites to gain a deeper understanding of your new home.

5. The Latvian Cuisine

Latvian cuisine is hearty and diverse. Staples include rye bread, potatoes, and dairy products. Don't miss out on trying traditional dishes like "grey peas with bacon" and "r?pnieks". Also, be sure to try the local beer and the traditional Latvian liquor, Black Balsam.

6. The Cost of Living in Latvia

Compared to many Western European countries, the cost of living in Latvia is relatively low. However, it's always a good idea to research and plan your budget in advance. Keep in mind that costs can vary significantly between Riga and smaller towns.

7. Latvia's Natural Beauty

Latvia is home to stunning natural landscapes. From the pristine beaches of the Baltic Sea to the dense forests that cover almost half of the country, nature lovers will be in paradise. Latvia also has several national parks that offer hiking, bird watching, and other outdoor activities.

8. The Latvian Education System

If you're moving to Latvia with children, it's important to understand the local education system. Latvia offers a high standard of education, with a mix of public, private, and international schools. The academic year runs from September to June, with a summer break in July and August.

9. Public Transportation in Latvia

Latvia has a well-developed public transportation system. Buses, trams, and trolleybuses are the main modes of transport in cities, while trains are commonly used for longer distances. Tickets can be purchased from the driver or at kiosks and are usually quite affordable.

10. The Latvian People

Latvians are known for their reserved and introverted nature. However, once you get to know them, you'll find them to be warm, friendly, and hospitable. Don't be discouraged if people seem a bit distant at first, it's just part of the culture.

Moving to a new country is always a big step, but with these tips in mind, you'll be well-prepared for your new life in Latvia. Embrace the culture, learn the language, and enjoy everything this beautiful country has to offer.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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