Considering a move to the Czech republic? You wouldn't be the first or last person tempted by baroque architecture and plentiful cheap beer. But instead of following the selfie stick masses to Prague it may be worthwhile to consider the Czech's second biggest city, Brno.
Located in South Moravia at the confluence of the Svitava and Svratka rivers, Brno has about 800,000 inhabitants. It's been said to be a better place to live than New York, and while that may be a bit hyperbolic, it does have many redeeming qualities.
The following is a short compilation of why this little known city is the best place to live in the Czech Republic.
- Size: with less than a million people this city perfectly strikes the balance between providing variety and maintaining intimacy. Walking in the city center feels as if one is in a quaint Czech village. Yet this doesn't come at the price of boredom, with the city boasting professional sports, an exhibition center, thriving nightlife, a world UNESCO heritage site, thriving cafe culture, a motorcycle grand prix, and wide range of parks/attractions.
- Location: It is difficult to find a more central point in the whole of Europe than South Moravia. One can travel to Prague, Budapest, or Vienna within a matter of hours, and cities such as Berlin or Milan in slightly longer. Transit within the city is also exceptionally good, with a streetcar and bus system that makes getting around the city a breeze. Not having a car here is more convenient than most cities in the world.
- Culture: Brno is a college town more or less, but doesn't let its high student population override its identity completely. Between Masaryk University, Mendel University and VUT, the city is home to an average of 100,000 students which give it a nice youthful energy. Coupled with that is a burgeoning tech industry and a strong middle class ethic that gives a feel of vibrancy but not excess. Again variability is key. Want to go to the opera or an art museum? Check. Eat good Indian food? No problem. Get drunk at hockey match? Done!
This is simply scratching the surface of what this town has to offer. In terms of nature the city is home to a couple large parks, an arboretum, and the Moravian Karsts are not more than a short drive from town. Cost of living (by European standards) is quite low, and spending power is relatively high. Comparatively ignored by tourists Brno has a sense of being undiscovered... but it's certainly worth a look.
- Colin is a freelance writer living in Brno. You can read more of his works at www.colinmadams.com