Second Citizenship Is One of the Many Rewards of Expat Life
Every time the bell rings, an angel gets its residency permit in Prague.
That’s the thought I’m having as I sit in the Spartan waiting room of the Czech immigration ministry.
It’s a lively space. Standing room only. And it’s just now coming up on 9:15 a.m.
I’ve landed here because my Czech residency visa has expired. Time to get a new one, which will again give me another two years as a resident of one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. After this next visa expires, I can apply to become a permanent resident, which opens me up to obtaining a second passport, if I wish (and I do wish).
Once I get my second passport from the Czech Republic, I will have free reign to live and work anywhere across the European Union—and I kinda have my sights set on either the Algarve in southern Portugal, or somewhere in Greece.
Meanwhile, here at the ministry, all around me are Russians, Ukrainians, and a German couple arguing. Several Brits—probably fleeing Brexit. And Asians from Vietnam, Korea, and China. A real stew of humanity.
Every few seconds, a bell rings and a digital number counter rolls over to announce who’s next and what desk to approach.
As I wait for the bell to ring for me, I am thinking back across the last three-plus years of living in Prague. It’s interesting how easily the soul meshes with a new country. I feel rooted here, not at all like a transplant.
So much here feels like “this is home” for me now. So much so that I am not sure what to expect when I return to America in early February to speak at an International Living conference in Las Vegas, and then to catch up with my kids in Louisiana for a few days.
I haven’t been back to the States since 2019. And, frankly, last time I was there—after being away for more than a year at that point—I was disillusioned. People seemed disappointed, angry, rushed.
Prices were mind-blowing. I bought a Red Bull at a Walgreens pharmacy and it was nearly $4. My Red Bulls in Prague are a buck-sixty.
Traffic, meanwhile, was mind-numbing. Yet I couldn’t walk anywhere.
I felt like I was looking at my home country through a fishbowl, and I was sort of mesmerized by the insanity of it all.
Not sure what it will be like now after nearly 2.5 years away.
Which brings me back to the lobby of the Czech immigration ministry…
To be sure, life as an expat is not all cupcakes and frosting. There are annoyances and hassles, but mainly because I’ve not yet learned the language (so, so, so hard). That causes some lost-in-translation frustrations in certain instances.
And there are issues not being able to adequately communicate with, say, customer-service reps when the internet is fritzy and I’m on a deadline. Or dealing with medical receptionists, who rarely speak English (all the doctors do). And the ladies at the checkout lanes in the supermarkets don’t speak English well, which can be a hassle when they’re asking me questions I can’t answer. Some laugh and smile.
Some shake their head that this stupid foreigner has come to the Czech Republic and can’t tell them if he needs a plastic bag or not.
But really, I can get by in English in 90% of my endeavors in Prague.
Which makes it such a wonderful place to call home.
I told myself when I first moved overseas that I would never own another home, that I would remain a renter for the rest of my life, for the freedom to up and move wherever I want. But now, I am looking to buy an apartment here, maybe this year (once the crypto market rebounds strongly, which I know it will).
I want to be permanent here. I love the city. I love the culture. I love my ability to walk outside and hop on a tram and go anywhere I want to go. I love the parks I can walk to. I love that I can walk to Greek, Italian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Spanish, and American bodegas nearby and find all the foods and ingredients I want, and all are 100% authentic imports from those countries.
Heck, I love just strolling the streets of my neighborhood, admiring the architecture of this city. It’s like living in an Old Europe fairytale set in the 18th or 19th century.
In short, moving to Prague was the best move I’ve ever made. Never been more comfortable or relaxed in my life.
Which is really the message here at the end: If ever you’ve thought about living overseas, do it.
Just do it.
You will not be disappointed. And you will one day open yourself up to a second-passport opportunity, which then opens a whole new world of possibilities.
Sorry, the bell has just rung. I must go. An angel is about to get his residency permit to continue his life in Prague…