I moved to Latvia from the UK (Scotland specifically) a few months ago, and I felt a few points in the process were worth noting for people who are thinking about doing the same.
This guide should help those who feel they would like to relocate to Latvia. It’s not a post to convince you that Latvia is the right or wrong choice for you and your situation, it’s just an aid, that should help you organise your situation more comfortably.
- Have you visited already? Might be worth doing that a few times before you commit.
- Have you found employment? To register as living in Latvia, you need to have an income of at least 200 Lats a month (at time of writing). This is the lower limit as dictated by the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (OCMA) or PMLP in Latvian.
- Can you speak the language? If you don’t speak Latvian, then you should at least have English or Russian language skills, otherwise you’ll need to be incredibly skilled with pointing and gestures, and you’re unlikely to get very far with paperwork.
- Do you have accommodation sorted out? In the short term you may want to try using Air BnB or a similar service which are popular in Latvia. Once here, you should check rental websites such as ss.lv, reklama.lv or rentinriga.lv. Remember: Ask for examples of monthly bills (in winter as well as summer). Winter heating bills can be extortionate and can often be a deal-breaker for rental properties. Bear in mind, it’s rare to find apartments with their own central heating system rather than the central one which is controlled by the heating provider, Rīgas Siltums. This is activated after 3 days of average temperatures hitting lower than 8°C at the start of winter and turned back off when there are three consecutive days of temperatures higher than 8°C at the end of winter.
- Have you considered your shipping options? There are a range of shipping companies, from “man with a van” type solutions, to larger commercial type shipping companies.
Once You’re In Latvia
After arriving, collecting your stuff, getting to your accommodation and exploring the local supermarket you’re left with a few things to tie up.
You’ll likely want to set up a phone contract, register as living in Latvia, get a bank account and register your business or sort your employment out. These are all blog posts in themselves, so I won’t go in to too much detail, but here’s a few things you may find you need to do.
- Get your residence permit from the OCMA (you have 90 days from arrival to do this)
- Register your official residence with the OCMA (part of the permit process and needs to be done within 30 days of receiving the permit)
- Register your business/self-employment or sort your employment situation
- Get a personal bank account (you need a work agreement to get a personal account so you may need to register your business or self-employment first)
Living as an Ex-pat in Latvia
There are many strands to living somewhere new, which we will hopefully grow to cover on the blog here, including things like learning to drive, learning the language, joining the gym or a club, buying furniture, eating out, socialising, travelling around the country or meeting other ex-pats. In time we should be able to cover all of these (especially as I intend to do most of them myself).