If you are an EU citizen and work in a home office, Lithuania may become your new home. Is Lithuania a good alternative to live in? What is living and working in Lithuania like for internationals? Our author lived in Lithuania for almost five years until recently.
The Appeal of Lithuania for EU Citizens
Lithuania, a member of the European Union, presents a compelling option for those seeking a change of scenery. Its geographical location, just a short flight away from Berlin, and its accessibility by various means of transport make it an attractive destination. The country’s Baltic Sea coast, the affordability of land and housing compared to Germany, and the welcoming attitude towards Western internationals are among the factors that contribute to its appeal.
The country’s charm extends beyond its physical attributes. The freedom of movement within the EU has led many to consider Eastern Europe as a desirable place to live and work, and Lithuania is no exception. The cost of living is relatively low in many areas, and the country offers a sense of tranquility that is often hard to find in more regulated societies.
Lithuania’s landscape is predominantly flat and green, with a sparse population outside of its cities. This makes it an ideal location for those seeking a quieter lifestyle, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The country’s language is widely spoken, and English is commonly used, making it a comfortable place for internationals to settle.
However, the decision to move to a new country should not be taken lightly. It is important to gather as much information as possible about the living and working conditions in the prospective country. In the case of Lithuania, it is advisable to consider factors such as the cost of housing, the quality of healthcare, and the job market, particularly in sectors such as IT, which is a rapidly growing industry in the country.
The Pros and Cons of living and working in Lithuania
Living in Lithuania offers a unique blend of experiences that can be both rewarding and challenging. The country’s natural beauty, particularly during the summer months, is a major draw. The landscapes outside the cities offer a tranquil environment that is less regulated than in countries like Germany, providing a slower, more relaxed pace of life.
The social scene in Vilnius, the country’s capital, is vibrant and diverse, with a variety of restaurants and nightlife options. However, the quality of service can sometimes be inconsistent. The other major cities, Klaipeda and Kaunas, offer fewer options for dining and entertainment.
One of the appealing aspects of life in Lithuania is the ease with which one can establish social connections. Whether among the expatriate community or with locals, newcomers to Lithuania often find it easy to make friends and build networks.
However, life in Lithuania is not without its challenges. The prevalence of old diesel cars in cities and villages contributes to air pollution. Housing options can be limited, with a stark contrast between older Soviet-era buildings and high-quality new constructions, and little in between.
Online shopping from Germany can be complicated and expensive, and while daily necessities are readily available in local stores, finding specialized items can be difficult. Those expecting recreational amenities similar to those in Berlin may be disappointed, as Lithuania lacks extensive bike paths and family-friendly attractions.
The weather in Lithuania can also be a significant factor to consider. The country experiences long, dark, and harsh winters, and while summers can be warm, they can also be uncomfortably hot in the cities. The Baltic Sea, on which Lithuania is located, is one of the most polluted seas in the world, and the country’s coastline is short and crowded in the summer.
In terms of healthcare, the public health system in Lithuania leaves much to be desired. In many cases, it may be necessary to seek treatment in Germany or other countries. However, there are private health centers that offer better services, although these require insurance coverage.
Despite these challenges, Lithuania’s IT sector is thriving, with several large companies having offices in the country. This presents opportunities for those with the right skills and an international background. The country also offers incentives for those looking to start their own business. However, it’s worth noting that salaries in Lithuania, particularly in the IT sector, may not be as competitive as in countries like Germany, the UK, or Sweden.
Working in Lithuania’s IT Sector
Lithuania’s IT sector is a dynamic and rapidly evolving landscape, offering a range of opportunities for those with the right skills and qualifications. Despite its relatively small size, the country is home to several large companies with development and service centers, including the likes of Booking.com. This diversity in the IT landscape means that there are ample opportunities for individuals with an international background and proficiency in languages such as German and English.
For those considering starting their own business, Lithuania offers a supportive environment. The government provides several incentives to encourage entrepreneurship, and the costs associated with starting a business are relatively low. This, coupled with the country’s thriving startup scene, makes Lithuania an attractive destination for aspiring entrepreneurs.
However, it’s worth noting that while the IT sector in Lithuania is growing, salaries may not be as competitive as in other countries such as Germany, the UK, or Sweden. This has led some IT professionals to leave Lithuania in search of better-paying opportunities elsewhere. Despite this, the country’s IT sector continues to thrive, thanks in part to its membership in the European Union, which has opened up new opportunities and led to improvements in various aspects of life, including the IT sector.
Currently, about 20% of the Lithuanian workforce is employed by IT companies, and this number is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. The country has not only managed to establish its own robust IT sector but has also become an outsourcing destination for other countries. For instance, data centers from Germany and Sweden have already expanded into Lithuanian territory, and many other countries are planning to do the same soon.
In conclusion, while the IT sector in Lithuania may not offer the highest salaries compared to other countries, it does provide a range of opportunities for those with the right skills and qualifications. Whether you’re considering starting your own business or looking to work for an established company, Lithuania’s IT sector is worth considering.
Food, Groceries, Services, and Shopping in Lithuania
Lithuania offers a variety of options when it comes to food, groceries, services, and shopping. Whether you’re living in one of the bustling cities or in the tranquil countryside, you’ll find a range of choices to suit your lifestyle and preferences.
Food and Groceries
Lithuania’s culinary scene is a blend of traditional and modern influences. You’ll find a variety of restaurants serving local dishes, such as cepelinai (potato dumplings), kibinai (pastries filled with meat), and šaltibarščiai (cold beetroot soup). International cuisine is also widely available, particularly in the larger cities.
For groceries, there are several supermarket chains operating in Lithuania, including Maxima, Rimi, and Iki. These stores offer a wide range of products, from fresh produce and dairy products to household items. The German supermarket chain LIDL also has a presence in Lithuania, offering a good selection of fresh fish, fruits, vegetables, and bakery products.
Farmers’ markets are also popular in Lithuania. These markets offer locally grown fruits and vegetables, homemade cheese, and other artisanal products. Some of the most popular farmers’ markets are in Vilnius and Kaunas.
Lithuania offers a range of services to cater to the needs of its residents. These include healthcare services, banking and financial services, telecommunications, and transportation. The country has a mix of public and private healthcare facilities, and while the public health system can be a bit challenging to navigate, there are private health centers that offer better services.
Shopping in Lithuania can be a delightful experience. The country’s cities are home to a number of shopping centers and boutiques offering everything from high-end fashion to local handicrafts. Akropolis and Ozas are among the largest shopping centers in Vilnius, while Mega and Akropolis are popular choices in Kaunas.
For those who prefer online shopping, e-commerce is well-developed in Lithuania. However, it’s worth noting that online orders from international websites to Lithuania can sometimes be complicated and come with high shipping costs.
Weather in Lithuania
Really serious is the matter of the weather. There is a saying that there are only two seasons in Lithuania: White winter and brown winter. Yes, the summers can be nice and hot too. But then it becomes unbearable in the cities and there are few good beaches in the cities. For example, in Vilnius there are just two acceptable places for swimming. More importantly, winters here are particularly long, dark and dirty. It is better to spend the time between November and April exclusively in your own four walls.
Lithuania is located on the Baltic Sea, but you have to keep in mind that the Baltic Sea is one of the most polluted seas in the world – and even more so in the eastern Baltic Sea. Lithuania also has only a short coastline with the Baltic Sea: north and south of the port city of Klaipeda. It is crowded here in summer and almost deserted in winter. Also note that the Baltic Sea is really cold here as elsewhere. You can’t expect a Mediterranean feeling here.
Studying in Vilnius or Kaunas as an International Student
Lithuania, particularly its cities of Vilnius and Kaunas, offers a range of educational opportunities for international students. The country’s universities are known for their high-quality education, diverse study programs, and relatively affordable tuition fees. Here’s a closer look at what you can expect when studying in Vilnius or Kaunas.
Universities and Study Programs
Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is home to several universities that welcome international students. Vilnius University, the oldest and largest university in Lithuania, offers a wide range of study programs in English, including Business, International Relations, and Computer Science. Vilnius Gediminas Technical University is another popular choice, particularly for students interested in Engineering and Technology.
Kaunas, the second-largest city in Lithuania, is also a significant educational hub. Kaunas University of Technology, the largest technical university in the Baltic States, offers a variety of programs in English, including Civil Engineering, Informatics, and Business Management. Vytautas Magnus University is another institution in Kaunas that offers a diverse range of programs, from Musicology to Economics.
Tuition Fees and Living Costs
Compared to many Western European countries, tuition fees in Lithuania are relatively affordable. For most undergraduate programs, international students can expect to pay between 2,000 and 5,000 euros per year. Postgraduate programs can range from 3,000 to 10,000 euros per year, depending on the field of study.
Living costs in Lithuania are also lower than in many other European countries. On average, students can expect to spend between 300 and 500 euros per month on accommodation, food, transportation, and other expenses. Vilnius, being the capital, can be slightly more expensive than Kaunas, but the difference is not significant.
Quality of Education and Life
Lithuanian universities are known for their high-quality education. Many of them rank well in international university rankings and have partnerships with other universities around the world. The country’s higher education system is part of the Bologna Process, which ensures comparability in the standards and quality of higher education qualifications across Europe.
Life in Lithuania can be a rewarding experience for international students. Both Vilnius and Kaunas offer a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous events, festivals, and activities throughout the year. The cities are also known for their historical architecture, beautiful parks, and lively nightlife. English is widely spoken, particularly among younger people, making it easier for international students to communicate and socialize.
In conclusion, studying in Vilnius or Kaunas can be an enriching and affordable option for international students. With a range of study programs, high-quality education, and a vibrant cultural scene, these cities offer a unique blend of academic and life experiences.
Questions and answers on working in Lithuania
Is life in Lithuania cheap?
Compared to Germany, life in Lithuania can be much more affordable. While rental prices for good apartments can be relatively high, there are also cheaper alternatives. The cost of food is similar to Germany, but transportation, internet, taxes, and fees are significantly cheaper.
How do I find an apartment in Lithuania?
Initially, its advisable to rent via platforms like AirBnB or Booking.com and then look for permanent accommodation at your leisure. There are many affordable local and international brokers who can assist with the search.
Do you earn a lot in Lithuania?
The typical pre-tax salary in Lithuania is relatively low, ranging from 700 to 1,000 euros gross per month. If you work for an international company under local conditions, you may earn between 1,000 and 2,000 euros. Salaries above that are possible, but rare.
Is it easy to get to Lithuania?
There are several transportation options including airplanes and ferries. Flights can be very cheap if booked in advance, for example with AirBaltic and Ryanair. By ferry, you can travel from Kiel to Klaipeda. By car, you can reach Lithuania via Poland without leaving the EU.
Can I start a business in Lithuania?
Yes, you can start your own business in Lithuania. The steps to do this are quick, especially for EU citizens, and the costs are low. However, the countrys language police checks company names for Lithuanian correctness, which can be a hurdle for international traffic.
What schools are there in Lithuania?
There are state schools and some private schools in Lithuania. The language of instruction in state schools is Lithuanian.
Is it safe in Lithuania?
Yes, Lithuania has a high level of internal security. The police are reliable and not corrupt. Caution is advised with drunk people, as is the case everywhere.
How to find a suitable job in Lithuania?
You can use search engines, check the state employment service, access the EURES job portal, contact commercial employment agencies, or look directly on company websites. The IT industry in Lithuania is one of the most promising and rapidly growing sectors in the Baltic States, offering numerous opportunities.
Healthcare aspects during working in Lithuania
Navigating the healthcare system in a foreign country can be a challenging task. In Lithuania, the healthcare system is a mix of public and private providers, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Understanding these can help you make informed decisions about your healthcare while living in Lithuania.
Public Healthcare System in Lithuania
The public healthcare system in Lithuania is funded by the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund, which is financed through taxes. All residents of Lithuania are entitled to healthcare services under this system. However, the quality of care in public hospitals and clinics can vary significantly.
It’s worth noting that the public healthcare system in Lithuania has faced criticism for its quality of care and service. For instance, hospital meals are often basic, consisting of simple dishes like barley porridge with a Vienna sausage and a piece of dry bread. Furthermore, there have been instances where even simple diseases were not detected by specialists, necessitating travel to other countries, such as Germany, for treatment.
Private Healthcare System in Lithuania
In contrast to the public system, private healthcare in Lithuania offers a higher standard of care, albeit at a higher cost. Private clinics and hospitals are equipped with modern facilities and employ well-trained medical staff. They also tend to have shorter waiting times compared to public healthcare providers.
However, treatment in private healthcare facilities is not covered by the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund. Instead, patients must either pay out-of-pocket or have private health insurance. It’s important to note that while private health insurance can provide access to better healthcare services, it can also be quite expensive.
Health Insurance in Lithuania
Health insurance is a crucial aspect of accessing healthcare in Lithuania. While the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund covers most basic healthcare services, it does not cover treatment in private healthcare facilities. Therefore, if you plan to use private healthcare services, it’s advisable to have private health insurance.
In conclusion, while Lithuania’s healthcare system has its challenges, particularly in the public sector, there are options available for those seeking a higher standard of care. Private healthcare, although more expensive, offers better services and facilities. Regardless of the option you choose, it’s important to have appropriate health insurance coverage to ensure you can access the healthcare services you need.
Working in Lithuania: How to find a job in Lithuania
How to find a suitable job in Lithuania
Research in search engines.
First of all, you should probably use a search engine and search for the keywords “jobs in Lithuania” on Google or Bing, for example. Pay particular attention to the language requirements.
Check the state employment service
Access the EURES job portal
Another option is the European job portal EURES: Here you can find job offers for Lithuania and the whole of Europe. You can search by industry, profession and region. There is also the possibility to search for CVs, which employers can use to find job seekers.
Contact commercial employment agencies
You can also find a number of private employment agencies in Lithuania, especially online. Search for them on the web as well and see what they have to offer.
Look directly on company websites
Lithuania is not very big, so you can easily go to Bing Maps or Google Maps and click through the streets or search for keywords. You can also search for jobs in Lithuania in the listings on international company websites.
Working in Lithuania: Conclusion
Living in Lithuania is pleasant for many internationals for a certain period of time. Studying here for a semester or working here for one or two years can be interesting and pleasant.
Lithuania (in the countryside) can also be an option for people from developed countries who are consciously looking for a quiet lifestyle.
If you want to make a great career and/or earn a lot of money, Lithuania might not be the right place for you. There are too few well-paying jobs and too few international companies locally for that.
You can find out whether Lithuania appeals to you by taking a short vacation there. You can also use this to introduce yourself to some employers and to see what your market value is there and what conditions are offered to you. If this short vacation is in summer, don’t forget that in winter it looks quite different here.