We are Nathan and Niki Brown.
In 2007 our son Matias was born and in 2009, Elliot. Both of our children were born in Brno.
My wife and I were recently married at that time and thought that if we were going to live in another country, it should be before we had children. We moved to Brno, Czech Republic in March of 2004. Why did we chose Brno? My wife and I engage in volunteer educational activity and there was an opportunity for us in Brno.What challenges did you face during the move?
It was very difficult to find suitable accommodation (i.e. clean and modern apartment close to the center) when we came. We were in a short-term rental for almost four months before we found what we were looking for.
Another problem which is constant in being an expat is navigating all the visa and residency requirements. Unfortunately there is a lot of information available on the internet but some of it is not reliable.
Not speaking the Czech language was also a big challenge when we first arrived. Fortunately we had some very gracious Czech friends who helped us in so many ways to get established.
How did you find somewhere to live?
In the end a Czech friend was friends with a real estate agent who owned the property we ended up renting. He (the Czech friend) has heard that the daughter of the real estate agent was moving out of the apartment and it would be vacant. It was a beautiful, recently refitted apartment close to the center. His help made the whole process so much easier.
In 2007 we bought a multi-apartment building where we renovated one apartment for personal use and a second apartment was used for the offices of our building. The whole process of the purchase and renovation would have been incredibly overwhelming if it was not that I worked in the business and have a great team who assisted with the whole process.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Yes, there are quite a few but not so many as in Prague.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
We have many good friends now and once the locals trust you, they are very friendly. However, communism left them with a real suspicion of strangers and little desire to get to know their neighbors. You need to be consistently friendly in order to get a response over time.
What do you like about life where you are?
The public transportation in Czech Republic is fantastic and very cheap. My wife and I did not own a car until we had our second child, preferring to rent the odd times we needed one. The rest of the time we used public transportation.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
The lack of friendliness and customer service is tiring after a while. My wife and I for a while had a almost a contest between us for who had the worst rude Czech experience of the day but we stopped this quickly because it made us focus on the negative aspects of where we lived.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Really put in the effort to learn the Czech language when you first arrive. If you don’t make the effort it will become a bigger and bigger barrier to you making it your home.
What are your plans for the future?
We own and run the business CZECH POINT 101 (www.czechpoint101.com) which we are currently expanding to Austria. We have been establishing a base there and so are learning German and learning the residency requirements in that country.