Ah Riga – the ‘Paris of the North’, the ‘Jewel of the Baltics’, and recently voted ‘Europe’s prettiest city’ in a survey by USA Today.
Right now, you’re sitting in your cosy pad in the US, the UK, or wherever, a little starry-eyed. You’ve seen Riga on travel programmes, you’ve read all the guide books and you’ve had your crazy Latvian girlfriend in your ear about it for months/years now. And yes, I am mainly talking to the guys out there because, in all honesty, very few women choose to move to (North)Eastern Europe solo.
I’ve also chosen to focus on ‘Riga’ and not ‘Latvia’ for a couple of reasons:
1. At the risk of offending the million or so people who live outside Riga, let’s face it, the rest of the country is basically forest.
2. With your probably non-existent to limited Latvian/Russian, you don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a job anywhere else. And if you’re going to keep your lady friend, her mum and her grandma in the leopard print to which they’ve become accustomed, you’re going to need a job.
So what are your options in the job market? The way I see it, you have three – set up your own company, teach English, or work for an international company. (I chose a combination of options 1 and 2.)
Working for an international company (Statoil, ATEA, etc.) you’ll probably take home between 800 – 1,500 lats a month, depending on what you do. Working as an English teacher for any of the schools in central Riga, you can expect to earn 7 to 10 lats an hour. If you’re prepared to work 35+ hours a week (not including planning, prepping and admin), you might just make it. If not, you’ll probably DIE.
If you do choose the TEFL route, lessons might be at the schools, at various businesses around central Riga, or out in the middle of nowhere – you’ll have to make your own way there and back, so you can factor in an extra 10+ hours a week walking/taking public transport.
At the end of the month, you’ll be faced with some tricky decisions. And no, I don’t mean your ‘first-world problems’ of ‘Should we go to Paris or Budapest for the weekend, dahling?’ I mean situations like, ‘Damn, we need bread, cheese AND milk, but we can only afford two out of three…’
OK, you’re thinking, I can do that – surely, it’s worth it to live in the prettiest city in Europe…
Let me stop you there. Yes, Riga’s Old Town is beautiful, but unless you’re willing to spend 3/4 of your meagre salary on rent, you probably won’t be living there. No, you’ll be living in what’s known as ‘the quiet centre’ or out in one of the suburbs. If you choose the latter, may god have mercy on your soul. (I haven’t mentioned the other option – living with her mum and grandma – because it’s just too terrifying. There’s a reason the men ran away…)
Me, I’m living in the ‘centre-ish’, around a 20-minute walk from Old Town. I pay 250 lats a month for a one-bedroom apartment, NOT INCLUDING utilities. Depending on how honest or dishonest your landlord/lady is, these vary wildly. In this flat, I’m paying 50 in summer and 90 in winter; plus an extra 20 for TV and internet and around 20 for electricity. In winter, you’ll be paying roughly a lat per square metre for heating so bear this in mind when choosing your pad. (You’ll likely have no control over this, so you’ll be stuck with paying for it for 5-7 months of the year.)
In an effort to give you a more realistic idea of what to expect if you move here, this afternoon I dragged myself out of my sick bed to take a few photos. So, come join me on a little tour of what could possibly be your new home. Please, watch your step because the pavements round here aren’t exactly even, and I don’t want to be responsible for you doing yourself a mischief.
First stop? The local bar/shop.
Here’s where you’ll find all the drunk Russians, standing around the doorway with their mongrels – and their dogs. Sasha, Pasha, Sasha, Pasha and Sasha will not move to get out of your way, so you’ll have to step out into the street to get around them. Once or twice a week, you’ll be treated to the free entertainment of their girlfriends/wives, sometimes with mini-Sashas and Pashas in tow, dragging them away from the bar, kicking and screaming. Having never actually ventured inside, I don’t know if there is a bathroom but mostly, the men seem to drain the lizard here:
Carrying on down the street, you’ve got to watch out for the crumbly buildings – I usually give this one a wide berth.
You’ll be spoiled for local stores.
As the people around here are sweet enough, there’s no need for a local bakery.
In case you’re getting a little tired, you can stop and have a sit down for a few minutes.
Rested? OK, let’s continue. Here’s a quick look at your local hairdresser’s, gym and church. And no, I’ve never set foot inside any of these either.
In case you’re still on the fence, I’ve compiled a little checklist to help you decide, once and for all, if Riga is for you. I was going to start with ‘Are you of sound mind?’ but if you’re dating a Latvian chick, I think we both know the answer to that one already. So, on with the quiz:
IS RIGA FOR ME?
1. Does the prospect of 5-7 months of snow excite you?
2. Are you prepared to have your name ‘Latvianised’?
3. Do you like dill?
4. Do you like lard?
5. Can you cope with people scowling at you/ignoring you/only saying ‘hello’ to you once a day (if you’re lucky)?
6. Are you ready to spend your weekends picking mushrooms or berries in the forest?
7. Are you quick enough on your feet to avoid snot rockets and unscooped poop?
8. Are you prepared to work your ass off for around 1/4 of what you’d make ‘at home’?
9. Do you understand the rules of ice-hockey?
10. Are you willing to accept that tea is the cure for every illness known to man?
If you answered ‘yes’ to five or more of these questions, then maybe Riga is for you.
If not, stay where you are puny Westerner because this place will eat you for (bland, lardy, dill-speckled) breakfast.
Edit – before you comment, read this:
I think you are being too hard on Latvia exposing only ugly sides of Latvia. Old shabby buildings, drunk people. Are things different in rich America? If you doubt then come to New York, or Baltimore , or Chicago to see real ugly world. I love Latvia, the country not the state of course.
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Hi there all Latvia lovers/haters
I’m a spaniard who has been living in Ireland for the past 10 years, great experience both on a personal and professional level, but considering now moving somewhere else.
I’ve been in Latvia twice, mainly in Riga and Daugavpils, and I like this country a lot,because it’s so different to anything I know, and I find latvian girls specially attractive.
The big problem seems to be the lack of jobs there, so “Expat-Eye”, I’d like to ask you for advice, what’s the best jobs website in Latvia? do recruitment agencies like Manpower or Adecco exist there? what do you personally recommend?
A call-center or office job would be good enough for me.
Thanks in advance for your advice.
Sigh, moving here because you think the women are attractive. I’ve never used a recruitment agency here but I haven’t heard of Manpower or Adecco here. Try some expat forums or join the expats in Riga facebook page – they usually have listings of jobs for foreigners. Or try contacting the language schools – you might be able to teach Spanish.
Hello Expat Eye, I was just in Riga for the first time for a few days and immediately liked it – who wouldnt with the great weather, beautiful city, people, etc. I started looking for work there, and stumbled accross your blog. A great/fun read. And may have “cured” my desire to move to Riga 😉
Ha ha, well, don’t go on everything I say 😉 Give it a go if you want to – they’ll be losing me soon so they’ll need a few more fun foreigners to replace me 😉 Thanks for reading and commenting! Linda.
Hi Linda, Yeah I’ll consider it – Im a danish Expat in Hamburg (not super exotic, I suppose) and have only been here for just over a year now, so I reckon it will be too soon to turn my back on Hamburg just yet. I was an expat in Englad before that, and I generally like living abroad and the little differences in culture, etc. I’ve started to ramble I see, so my point is: I should probably not make snap decisions on where to live – give it a day or two, so that my initial infatuation has worn off. Caught a few more entries in your blog. Really adored the female death stares and the name-game. My name luckily ends with an “s” so I’ll be okay with that 🙂
You won’t get the death stare – you’ll get the come to bed eyes 😉 I wonder if they’ll change the spelling of your name anyway – you might become Klaus 😉
I’m thinking of moving to Germany next – we can swap 😉
If you have any questions on Germany feel free to get in touch with me if you like to.
Great! Thank you! 🙂
Read this post a few days ago. Then, you know what it’s like when a melody, for whichever reason, just gets stuck in your mind and you just can’t get rid of it for the rest of the day, regardless of whether it’s a song you like or not, sort of musical hiccups as it were… Spent all day today with ”I’m talkin’ ’bout love between the sashas and the pashaaaaas… A-aaall over this la-a-aaand… oooo-oooo-ooo…” No relation whatsoever to the actual content of the post. The expression just seems to carry a rhythm of unsuspected poignancy. I wish you a pleasant weekend.
Ha ha! Fantastic! And now I’m going to have that in my head all night 🙂 Wish I had my harmonica here 🙂
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And as of drunk russian people… I see what you mean, but they are rarely aggressive. I’ve seen many more drunk people in the UK and very badly behaved. Drinking heavily is actually more accepted in the UK, than in Latvia, or Russia. I was quite surprised to find, that it is normal for brittish people to drink wine every day… even during the lunch hour at work! In Latvia this would be considered a pathology. But yes, they do look worse standing outside a shabby bar, than polished UK bankers getting hammered in the London city pub 🙂
They do 😉 And no, they’re rarely aggressive – certainly not towards passers-by anyway. They barely notice me most of the time!
Actually, if you did dare and move into suburbs, you would probably find living more affordable – the rent is cheaper and there are large supermarkets with more adequate prices. My husband is english and still alive, even going out shopping on his own!
Brave man haha! No, the next time I move, it will be permanent – and will involve a one-way plane ticket! This place will be fine for the next 6 months or so!
Hi! Yeah well. I guess this was written by a woman. Riga is a blast when going out. The girls look sexy, beautiful and are REALLY friendly. Also guys are friendly so you can really have fun here! I lived in many western Europe countries before and most of them are boring compared to Riga’s nightlife. If you a solo guy it is a paradise for you.
The girls can be REALLY friendly. Just not for the reasons you think!
hi friend i have doubt that i heard the Latvians don’t know English. Is it true? most of them know only local language.
Especially if you are colored like I am. I hit the jackpot and have been married for 4 years now with my Latvian queen and we have a beautiful daughter and more……..
hey m from INDIA. we are plaining to come RIGA for Higher studies. Can anyone guide us ,is Riga is perfect place for study and making money by doing part time work there .as we alloted 10 hours in week to work.and what kind of average expenses could be there in a month including rent of room breakfast,lunch and dinner and other miscellaneous charges.
Hi Harry, I suggest you try internations.org or expat-blog.com. They have forums and advice on moving to various countries. Personally I don’t have any experience of being a student here or working part-time.
Ok thanks for your advice. can u clear one doubt which I have in my mind, is there any communication gap between international people and local Latvian’s ..as i heard latvian’s don’t know English too much.Is it true?
Hi Harry, most people speak very good English, in particular, the younger generation.
By reading this post i couldn’t resist but to comment it. As a latvian myself born and raised-who has been living abroad for over a decade and travelled my share arround the World- I find your story very educational – and do agree with it- it is true taugh- some parts of Riga can show that not so prity side and as far as economical situation being tuff- and if someone is pissed that they dont hear what they wana hear- then they choose to live in denial and too bad for them- as latvians are not known to have a excellent sence of humor -as far as international one- they often can take it the wrong way- however- as you say- eather take it or leave it- i do sudgest to travel around Latvia and see a different scenario-Riga will only show u so much- try Latgale- the region south east corner in Latvia-it will give you a chance of experiencing a interesting adveture- Kurzeme – a different experience,Vidzeme and Zemgale- that way you can see more of what a little country can offer- and its a known fact that in Latvia you deffinetaly can not become rich over night- you are quite limited there even with a good experience and knowledge – but it realy shows a rich culture and traditions- especially out of Riga- check it out you will be surprised!
Hi S! Thanks for the comment! I have travelled around Latvia a little – Kuldiga has been my favourite place so far 🙂 There’s a post or two on it on the blog. I’ve also visited Cesis, Bauska, Rundales Pils, Liepaja, Pavilosta – and probably a few other places I can’t remember! I have a few more trips in mind for when the weather gets a bit warmer 🙂 Linda.
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I’m dying (the cracking up kind; not the imminent death kind). You take the bleak and make it very entertaining. I have to ask though: how have you lasted years there? What keeps you hanging on?
I guess I wanted to see who’d break first – me or Latvia. It looks like Latvia is starting to crack 😉
I love Latvia and observing the range of diversity in everything around me. It is the extremes of everyday experiences which makes the country so unique. If you want to enjoy some happiness, listen to great music, chill out with the locals, get in touch with what is important in life, then come back to Liepaja – even out of season! It is definitely the hippest place to be in the Baltics and far more interesting than Riga. People now greet you when you walk into a cafe/restaurant/shop these days as well. I am keeping score of the increase and it is growing very fast. Next there will be mystery shoppers taking scores on customer service delivery. Er, maybe not! Here are some pictures of happy people http://www.pinterest.com/theluxpod/happy-faces-in-liepaja/
Aw, I love that old lady! And the haystacks look like fun – reminds me of my childhood in Ireland 😉
I think, as I’ve been to Liepaja twice now, that I should visit Ventspils and Daugavpils – for comparison purposes! The only thing anyone seems to say about Ventspils is that it’s ‘clean’ though 😉 Still, figure I should give it a try!
Thanks for the comment – I might make it back to Liepaja some day! I still have to try brunch in Boulangerie 😉
I would definitely recommend visiting Daugavpils, I group up in the city and visited it last summer and can say that there is major improvements, they are currently constructing new roads across the city. Its a quiet place with nice people (from what i know anyway) I still enjoy going back there every year and it makes me happy that they are slowly improving life over there
I’m hoping to make it there next month – I was initially hoping to go this month but time has sort of got away from me 🙂 I want to visit the Rothko museum as well!
Overall your comments are poignant, but your generalisations are as far as generalisations go on the right track. But one thing stands out as glaringly incorrect and that is your description of Latvia being Riga and the rest as forest. I think you were maybe just half right and only half wrong. I agree that there only really two places in Latvia, of course being Liepaja and then everywhere else. So are not those who come from places Aluksne, Riga and Jurmala from the forest? Of course I understand that Riga is the city of national government and corruption, but surely Liepaja is the capital for other things such as music, arts, culture and of course intelligent open-minded thinking. If so, it makes sense that the forest is everywhere else.
Liepaja is fantastic in summer – I’m definitely going to go back this year. Riga is definitely the capital of corruption – sometimes I prefer trees 😉
Ok, for all those smartarses who have been zombed in the knowledge that the Baltics are Eastern Europe and everything goin’ on there must be attributed to that fact (some Americans claim graffiti is a sign of capitalism – what?Not vandalism?). I would certainly recommend to watch and learn from this video which explains some facts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcTOSxcv2_o
Of course, it is not the only supporting material on this issue. No one denies that some things in Latvia are adopted from the Slavic countries and that certain regions (Latgale), places, also some people are Eastern-Europeanized voluntarily or involuntarily. But in the very essence the term (if we’re looking at the post-Soviet block then we should shove East Germany, Kazakhstan and who knows what else in this box) does not make any sense and only increase tension and hate between nations.
Regarding to the post, it should be sent straight to the dear Mayor of Rīga Usakovs so he is enlightened and sees where his city is heading to. In any case, we need some action not words.
You either get love or hate from your visitors which really shows there are 2 sides to it.
Is the glass half full or half empty?
Not many things are white or black and I certainly not Latvia.
Just remember that after all, you could be Siberian which probably would still get you to be very attractive but much harder for your foreign boyfriend to move to 😉
Thankfully, I don’t have a boyfriend, foreign or otherwise, so I just move where I want to 😉
Enjoy it while it lasts…
Having said that, you will find that most girls do consider themselves lucky if they do have boyfriend who actually happens to love her.
Maybe you should give it a go at loving and being loved…perhaps that would help your glass to be half full rather than empty 😉
Thank you Dr. Phil 😉
That’s grand Paddy!
You’re right, Luis – things are more grey than white or black. But why don’t we focus on positive stuff to increase the overall level of happiness?
If you want to see Siberian “beauties” watch Werner Herzog’s doc about Taiga “Happy People” – those women looked like monstrosities, like Ghengis Khan or hunns was father of them all. And hat’s the real Siberian type!
I was just using Siberians as an analogy. As you know the grass is always greener on the other side and just because Latvia (or Riga) is not the nicest place in the world to live that doesn’t make it like Grozny or Kabul…let’s keep things in perspective i would say.
And in the end of the day, if someone moves to Latvia and realizes that it was a mistake, can always just take the same route back.
I can see your sarcasm here, Linda but in some ways you have gone a bit too far. I love British, more than that Irish humor, but some things just did not make any sense. Other million something outside Riga live in Latvia too and I am not surprised seeing many Rigaers moving out to country, small towns or suburbs (not Purvciems ghetto – suburbs you mention) where they can be “authentic” Latvians who have always been pagans living in hippy harmony with nature. Riga has never been a Latvian city – it has always been metropolis and port to Foreign Influences. And these Latvians out there in that “forest” will smile at you and surprise you with their wisdom and light-heartedness. After checking out Riga this year, I realized I’d rather spend all my life outside it anywhere else in Latvia – there are terrific places. Besides, Riga has changed.
All the cliches of high-heel, pretty girl thing – that can be seen in sooo many countries, especially in Great Britain. That flat pic reminds me of typical British council flat complex. Peeing on streets – France is famous for it, seen it with my own eyes. A guy weed right there in front of pedestrians and it was only midday. Oakland, California is full with graffiti, scary people and shady shops. And crime rates much higher than Riga.
Sure, we all know there are downsides of Riga – naturally! But why not let those unrealistic people come over and check it out? We see fancy pictures of New York, London and so many other places but these places have their incredibly nasty bits too. Why aren’t we writing blogs about them?
It would be fantastic if you could make a list about undiscovered great things or places of Latvia (we can leave Riga alone) or your favorite things here (without any sarcasm this time). That would certainly put some extremists at ease and raise your ratings. Besides, I think Latvian folks has deserved it too.
Hi Lottie, thanks for your comment. As to why I’m not writing blogs on London or New York, etc, I feel it would be slightly impractical for me – living in Riga and all. I’m sure a quick google search would produce hundreds of them though. I’ve written several posts on ‘places that aren’t Riga’ – have a look at some of the other entries. Linda.
I’ve only read two of your articles and I must say – great! I myself live now in Dubai (I write my own blog http://www.garso.lv but it’s in Latvian) and kinda try to discover also different place besides that glamour which everybody hears.
I like what you write basically because of 2 reasons:
1. You see things differently because you don’t have pink glasses on. I assume pics in this article are taken somewhere around Avotu street (I lived there too – on Stabu). And from daily life I used to see these things little lighter. I am not blind too, there’s pretty much of a mess there, I know.
2. I am always fan of jokes about ourselves, the only problem you don’t hear them much. These things are definitely something you shoul also be able to laugh about. That does not exclude the issue about solving the problems and caring about the sad things.
Anyway – it’s probably more important to reveal than to hide! And you’re doing that good!
Hey, thanks so much! 🙂 Hope Dubai is treating you well – one place I’ve never been to! I imagine it’s shiny 😉
Linda, would you have guts to write the same shit about Iran?
If I lived there, then probably yeah. I’m stupid like that 😉
Oh, you still can try. Perhaps such experience will make you appreciate Latvian tolerance.
Do you know what? Keep your ass outside of here then. I live in UK but grew up in Rig. For 23 years of ny life . Haven’t seen the shit you showed here like that ‘comfy’ chair you get to see in a gypsy quarter, them ‘local hairdressers and gym’ and other landmarks! don’t be an ashole, for God’s sake! I lived in suburbs I a private house,we shopped in supermarkets ( there are such every step of the way) we went all around Europe with my family of 4 and my parents wouldn’t even be counted as middle class! By the way the income was £1500 per family and we still had to pay bills and mortgage. Greasy breakfast? That’s something I want to argue! Look at your full English, look at your american burgers three times bigger than your head. And now switch your tiny brain on and count how many fat people do you see on the streets of Riga comparing to such ‘iconic’ western cities? Oh,they probably starving here….bullshit!
Moving to drunken Russians….when was the last time you saw drunken brits? Oh,I saw just last night, awesome! I must enlighten you,there is no difference!
Berries,mushrooms and stuff are obviously not as fun as drinking all weekend and having one night stand with blondes covered in tons of makeup and fake lashes, it’s much higher,contemporary and classy I guess.
Medication….that’s my week point! Every year my boyfriend ( he’s not from Latvia) and I travel to Riga to attend our dentist, I do my X-ray, get some useful prescriptions FOR F*CKING FREE!!! I’m supposed to get it all free in UK too, but it seems like my life should be under threat so I get my tooth done,otherwise,have paracetamol! That ‘p’ word is for everything and from anything! Headache,scoliosis,abortion,cancer,hemorrhoids, lazy eye etc. Lovely!
‘ignoring you or saying hello once a day if you lucky’… hmm…how low is your,self-esteem if you value other people fake smiles and “you ok?” like as if they really care if you ok? They call you ‘love’ and then hate you for nothing behind your back. Is that what you like? Ok,that’s your business. I saw so many examples in Latvia,Riga,where people get united and support each other like members if the family…recently when the supermarket roof collapsed and killed 54 people,they all,involved and uninvolved,stood there supporting each other! there is no need for a fake smile every day but there is a need in unity when it’s necessary!
You,westerners, will never get our mentality and way of live,we are different and don’t you dare to criticize something you don’t understand. I could keep on going but I’m sure you don’t care,so enjoy your coke and Xbox.
Jocīgs koments 🙂
I agree , especially about Paracetamol issue , cure for everything sure it is !!! Ridiculous !
Why do you live in the UK? Please come home.
Spell check! And for being so patriotic YOU should be living here, in “Rig.” :)))))))))
Exactly 😉 Thanks for the support against the troglogdytes with wifi!
Question to you Katherine!- Why did you leave Latvia and moved to UK if life there is so miserable for you as it sounds based on this comment?
I doubt she’ll be back – she’s back in her cave by now 😉
Well, we’ll see 😉 But it’s an old post – unless she gets email notifications (which I doubt) she probably won’t see it!
This nice story brought me an interest to the entire blog of yours 🙂 I wouldn’t say I’ve found prefect match to your point of view on subjects you’ve covered, but the fiction is great, no doubts!
I wish you to continue exploring our life and, who knows, maybe one day you will love a dill and will cure at least Saturday’s hangover with a tea 🙂
Ha, thanks Jurijs! 🙂 I do love tea – though before I generally took it black and with milk. Sacrilege, I know 😉 Linda.
+1. Does the prospect of 5-7 months of snow excite you?
More like 4-6, but yes, you have a point there.
+2. Are you prepared to have your name ‘Latvianised’?
True enough. Then again, Latvia is hardly unique in that respect.
3. Do you like dill?
I actually do, but the last time I ate it was only when I ticked “dill” on purpose when assembling my pizza online.
4. Do you like lard?
Not really, and as a local I don’t see why would one be forced to eat it, unless its their inclination.
+5. Can you cope with people scowling at you/ignoring you/only saying ‘hello’ to you once a day (if you’re lucky)?
That’s quite true, unfortunately. There are several reasons for this cultural peculiarity, but in general you are unlikely to see much goodwill from strangers on street. It MIGHT be changing a bit with every generation, but still, people can be quite rude to/ignore each other. It is what I consider one of the worst aspects of post-Soviet countries. And yes, I do think it is to do with Soviet times.
6. Are you ready to spend your weekends picking mushrooms or berries in the forest?
No, and I haven’t done it in years. I might understand it as an attempt of humour, but it is just not really particularly relevant. You don’t want to pick berries, you don’t do it. 🙂 On the other hand, it CAN be quite a pleasant activity, if you are into forest walks, and have good company.
+7. Are you quick enough on your feet to avoid snot rockets and unscooped poop?
True in most places about poop. The newer generations and educated middle-class and above are more aware of this and clean up after their dogs in Riga center parks, but still — everywhere where there are older or just-don’t-give-a-damn people walking their dogs, it does not even come to their minds that they should do it. Some public awareness campaign might be in order.
Dunno about snot – haven’t really ever had to avoid any. Seeing people do that seems to me to be rather limited to the semi-slum areas the type of which you describe and apparently currently live in.
8. Are you prepared to work your ass off for around 1/4 of what you’d make ‘at home’?
Yes and no. True about 1/4; working one’s ass off really depends on the particular profession and lifestyle. IT, finance sector, architects and similar generally earn quite enough to sustain a decent life. For many others, including, I believe, teachers, it is sometimes quite tough. If you follow the local politics, there is a movement to lower the income tax and raise the minimum wage. Unfortunately, there are lobbies, which are against this.
9. Do you understand the rules of ice-hockey?
No, and I am a middle-aged male Latvian. I couldn’t really care less about ice-hockey, soccer, basketball or any other spectator sports, unless I am participating myself. Has not really been a problem for me so far. 🙂
10. Are you willing to accept that tea is the cure for every illness known to man?
That’s English, surely?! 😀
All in all, 4 valid points in my opinion. ;P
Well, that’s all true, I love the way you wrote it 😀 On the other hand when I lived in UK, I hardly ever met a white person, only strange/dark-ish people wearing towels, kinf of scary :O Latvia has a natural anti-imigrant climate 😉
They’re still fearing a Chinese invasion though 😉
Hi Linda, like your blog a lot. Probably it takes for Latvian to leave Latvia to find it really funny. Keep up and do not listen to Latvian extremists :-))). BTW i have been struggling to find dill in my foreign travels :-))) and my foreign friends think I have a strange obsession with mushrooms (normal kind mushrooms :-)))
Hi Eva, thanks for the comment! I can send you some dill if you like 😉 We have plenty to spare!
I love the question No. 10 of the quiz. Tea IS certainly the best and the only cure for every illness I ever face. I drink tea regardless of problem: stomach-ache, head ache, flu, runny nose, caugh, cold, even bad mood… And the truth is – it really helps! Or maybe it helps because I am Latvian. Some sort of placebo effect 🙂
Ha maybe! Although ginger and honey tea worked for me too 😉
You can try to add some lemmon, cinnammon or cayenne pepper to it. That is how my family drinks it.
Need to buy some cinnamon!
Well, I think a blog was good, indeed showed your daily live. But I can add – for sure that blog is not such about country, but about you, your mood and way you look around. Basically this can be written about any other country, including Ireland as well. With localization differences. The truth is – everybody makes its own live, not matter geographically is it. You have got what you have chosen. You can get wonderful live in Latvia and Ireland and otherwise. It is only up to you.
Yup I think I’ve covered this one!
Yeah..You can live a wonderful life in Latvia…. ONLY if you are either emotionally retarded and are capable of ignoring absolutely everything happening around you or if you are so naive, disoriented and clueless that you simply do not get what is happening around you. Specifically, the deeply sick society with all the grim, drab people surrounding you who appear depressed and drained of any hope for future, It has nothing to do with how much money you make and how nice or bad is the apartment you live in and no, it is not the same in every country.
You can live is a luxury and drive a BMW with tinted windows but at some point you need to get out and face the reality which is not pretty.
Latvia is like a blind dressed up pig with bright and thick red lipstick. The red lipstick is the old town with all its beautiful architecture, churches etc, The blindness – the most retarded and infantile form of rogue nationalism you are unlikely to find anywhere else in the developed world that impedes the locals ability to see the world in a realistic and constructive way, which in turn is mandatory to build a modern and prosperous society.
Instead of facing the problems that threaten the very survival of the country and the well being of its citizens they keep debating whose fault was whatever happened 70 years ago. It is the Jews, the Russians, the EU – it is always somebody else’s fault. The result – a deeply divided society among the ethnic lines, idiot leaders and complete inability to tackle the real problems. Instead, in the age of Apple Store and Amazon Kindle they would waste money that they don’t have on Gaismas Pilis and engage in all kind of other useless vanity projects that make them feel good about themselves. The same could be said about all the useless re-immigration plans that the government has devised.instead of simply amending labor taxes and raising the non-taxable minimum wage to something that is at least distantly realistic. Then entrepreneurs like me might consider to create jobs and start hiring people in Latvia. In turn, many Latvians living elsewhere might be tempted by the availability of jobs to return home.
I am sorry to say this, but i fail to see one damn thing that Latvia might be proud of after 20+ years of independence. They cant even come up with an attractive national idea that could energize and consolidate people around it – something simple and universally appealing for everybody living in and outside this damn country without any regards to the persons nationality, like for example: “Reshaping Latvia into a place that everybody would actually want to live in”. Then there would be no need to waste money on useless re-immigration plans….
Hi, thanks very much for your comment. While (possibly?) a little harsh, you’ve made some excellent points. And I love the analogy 😉
Dainis is right. But Analyst is a sad cynic who is going to destroy himself from within. Thanks to likes of him Latvia might become like he describes. It’s really peculiar he isn’t offering any solutions, just carries out his libel campaign – all is black. If there is one problem in Latvia – it is a concept that it is better elsewhere and we are small, incapable of big things (while many Latvians have proved otherwise). Sorry, Analyst, many Latvians live a happy life and are so glad they’re not living anywhere else or in a really bad place. If you can’t accept it or tolerate it – then just leave it. Seems like your life is nothing but misery. I hope you will wise up one day.
I’m latvian, I’m from Riga and I’m thinking – this blog is so true! (And sorry if i made some mistakes at this text, my language isn’t well, i know that 🙂 )
Thank you Dace! Seems there are a growing number of people like you 😉
Nice story! Really:) Here in the UK it reminded me of true Latvia not that one of “success story” 🙂
I was going for gritty 😉 Glad you liked it! 😉
Omg, you’re sick.
OMG, no I’m feeling much better thanks to my trip to ARS. But thanks for your concern.
I am sure tea can cure it :-)))
Can You please tell us similar story about Dublin? 😀
I could probably summarise for you!
Crap weather but the people make up for it.
Higher wages but everything is more expensive.
Buy an umbrella.
Be prepared to answer lots of questions 😉
Get to like pubs.
Somebody else has written a 10-point retort to mine but I’ll have to go through a few messages to find it again 😉 I’ll get back to you 😉 Linda.
You dont know nothing about us or our beautiful country- Look this video maybe you will start to think before write something….
Beautiful. Thank you.
Yeah Inga, these cute cows prove beyond any doubt that Linda is definitely wrong.
Yes, there are stores like You have shown, which are just like stores in Greece, Spain or other South Europe countries, but You have forgotten we have also malls just as big as the ones in Germany.
You wrote: “you can expect to earn 7 to 10 lats an hour. If you’re prepared to work 35+ hours a week”. As I know, in all countries in Europe, there are 5 working days with 8 working hours each – that is 40 hours a week. And You are complaining for 35? As to salary – Yours is good one for Latvia (twice what I have 😀 ), so I can assure You, that Your salary is enough to live on Your own. If You have husband, who earns at least half of that, then You can live really normal and banks will agree to give You loan for beautiful family house in one of many Riga suburbs.
As for roads – YES, You have a point. None asphalt will remain multiple weather changes from -15 to + 15 during one winter (some flowers do grow and flower few times during winter).
And i would agree if You said that traffic in Riga is awful.
But if You know something about ecology, then You would appreciate mushrooms and wild berries. Reality is that You don’t recognize good and bad mushrooms – that is why You don’t like them. But You should have heard at school (history and geography lessons) that many years ago many people died from eating potatoes, because they didn’t know that You have to eat roots not leaves.
I have to add, that our pine forests is the best place where to cure asthma, especially if it’s a child with asthma – pines are better than medications, You have to agree.
OK. I agree 😉 I know 35 hours doesn’t sound like much but the standard TEFL week is around 26. That’s because you have to add on hours and hours for planning, photocopying, admin, travel time etc, none of which you get paid for. So 35 hours could be more like 50+.
I really don’t think traffic in Riga is awful! When you compare it to other cities, it’s a doddle – apart from maybe coming over Vansu Tilts in rush hour – that can take a bloody age. 🙂 Thanks for the comment! Linda.
Yes, I would be happy if someone paid for the 2,5 hours per day I spend just for driving to work and back 😉 That would be cool!
And the 10 hours a week I walk 😉 Life would be grand!
And these malls usually have bad roof.
OHHHH YOU ARE STUPID REALY STUPID !!!!! IF you dont like Latvija and Riga -get fuck offf and go to your home country. OUR capital city is very beautiful and what did you write it is bullshit. People- dont trust this crazy woman – her place is in psihiatric hospital …….
Yes, thank you doctor.
See? Keeping my sense of humour 😉
Where`s thats taken from, that salary in ATEA is 800 – 1,500 lats ? As I know, it`s starting from about 350Ls and if you`re at good position, then 700…900. And I don`t think Statoil is different.
It depends on the position I guess. I don’t work for either of them! But I know teachers working for international schools here who are on crazy money! 🙂
Don’t listen to these hypocritic commentators / angry mob. Your write-up is spot on, it’s funny and sarcastic and it’s true, yet kind of taken out of context. If you are a skilled person, you can get a high paying job and then you don’t have to reside in these dodgy neighbourhoods and deal with Sashas and Pashas. But, you know. This is an Eastern European country with all that comes with it, that’s a fact. For the sake of a balanced argument, you should have mentioned the cheap booze and the verry pretty women 🙂
Ha, I’ve mentioned those a-plenty in other posts! I’ve done whole posts about the women! 🙂 And booze features quite regularly also! I just wanted to live somewhere I could walk everywhere and this suited me fine! 🙂 Thanks for the comment and the compliments 😉 Linda.
I would totally disagree with the Baltics being thrown in with Eastern Europe (which is Stalin-Hitler’s division of Europe). In certain fields it has characteristics of E Europe and Sashas Pashas ghetto neighborhoods are full with Eastern Europeans (Slavs or people living like them). United Nations and many other respectable sources place Latvia in Northern Europe, the mentality, cuisine, culture etc. are very Northern European, and in general that is the course the country SHOULD take in order to improve every aspect of life. Walking around Helsinki, I felt like walking around Riga at times – so similar they were (minus graffiti which have popped up in last 5 years).
Nothing new (yawn) …
It’s Eastern Europe baby. That’s how we roll – everything you said is true, however I’ve gotten so used to it that I don’t see it as a bad thing anymore. Wen I spent a year in Helsinki, the difference wasnt too huge – yes the the streets are cleaner and people better dressed and meat and beer is more expensive, salaries are higher and life altogether is more European (rich), but in terms of living conditions it was quite the same thing… most of the salary goes into the rent and food, and your left with some to do what you like..
Yup, true for pretty much everywhere! The better the salary, the higher the cost of living 😉
Great post! Not many expats write about the down side of living in ‘paradise.’ I once did, and got bombarded with hate mail and nasty comments.
I hear ya on that one! Still ploughing through it all. Haven’t even started on twitter yet but I hate that so it can wait 😉
Thank for other side about my city. Sometimes i did not remember of dark sides in town!! But whatewer Riga are my childhood, first love, first experience of life on streets, and other elses things.!!! With best regards ARW From city streets .
Hi Arvid! Thanks for the comment and sorry for reminding you of the dark corners of Riga 😉 Linda.
Aah chill out Latvia. These are mere observations, made in jest and not to cause offence. I am an Irishman. I lived and worked in Riga for a year. I find Linda’s piece quite amusing because these are things we are not used to in our countries as Ex-pats. We’re not knocking you or your country; we just find amusement in certain things. I tell so many people about the great time I spent in Latvia. It is a beautiful and wonderful country but not without its own quirky ways. Without this, wouldn’t every country be very similar and boring?
– I can’t eat dill anymore; maybe I overdosed on dill flavoured crisps among everything else ‘dill-ified’!
– In the shops when you get your change, they always insist on putting the change in the tray. I tried to catch the change by putting my hand over the tray but the shopkeeper moved my hand and put the money on they tray anyway. That I find amusing because to us, its different.
– In the Galerija Centrs, in the Old Town, you could be there for a while holding the door open for the next person coming through because nobody takes the door in a pass it on manner. Try it sometime. Its great fun if you’re a people watcher as its the ideal perch for this activity.
– Names day. Brilliant. Two birthdays in a year. That’s doesn’t happen in Ireland or many other countries around the world. I tried getting my friends into this but they didn’t go for it!
I’ve been back to Riga twice since I left in 2008. I’m sure a lot has changed since then. I go back because I had a great experience when living there, made so many friends with whom I am still in touch with and loved strolling around your beautiful city. If I had more spare time in my life, I would be visiting Riga a lot more. Maybe I’ll go check out flights right now. See you again sometime Riga.
Hi John/Janis! Thanks for the comment! It’s funny all of the things that you mentioned – especially the door thing! I’ve felt like a doorman at times, trying to hand it off but nobody ever takes it – they just keep coming! 🙂 And yes, I do get in on the name day thing 😉 Linda – works in every country 😉 Glad you had such a nice time here and if you’re ever in town, drop me a line! Linda.
“- In the shops when you get your change, they always insist on putting the change in the tray. I tried to catch the change by putting my hand over the tray but the shopkeeper moved my hand and put the money on they tray anyway. That I find amusing because to us, its different.”
– that never happens in Latvia too. You got robbed is what it is.
No, it counts that the person can pass a bad luck to you/or take away your good one when taking or giving money exactly in your hand. Therefore we put it in the tray. Thats it 🙂
I just wanted to write some things. I’m 19 and till this year I lived at the countryside – in smallest cities and parish of Latvia. And as I started to study at university I moved to my universities’ dorm in Riga.
At the first time I thought that Riga is too big for me (to some of you it will seem funny but I’ve been in Riga just a few times before it), I just love old Riga, I really like the atmosphere there especially in summer.
Yes, in Riga everyone should be really closely because there are people who will try to take your mobile phone from your pocket and smth like that.. I’ve always been pretty cautious but now I’m a bit more so on the other hand this kind of really bad situations teaches you something..
And before moving to Latvia, to Riga, of course, this blog can show some realistic things but, for example, talking about costs. I agree that if you live in Latvia and you work here that you really should think of money you’re spending because most of people thinks that prices here are low but not when you are living and working here. Best way to have some like ‘; free” money which you can spend for clubs, bars and other “fun” stuffs, is just to learn some things and plan your expenses. For example, if you want to buy cheaper food, than don’t go to Rimi, but better – to Mego or SuperNetto, or Beta because prices there are lower. For vegetables, fruits go to center market because there you can buy some food even twice cheaper. And if you will really try to look for some apartments, you will find something good and that costs lower, so yes – in Latvia you really should warily look for and than you will find what you want and what you need. 🙂 That’s a bit sad that not even all Latvians knows that you should LOOK for something better..
Talking about people. Yes, when I moved to Riga, I wondered a lot why people seems so serious, so angry.. After a while I changed my mind. I’m also not smiling (and I’ve never been in such country where people smiles a lot so I don’t really know how it is to be there) while going somewhere or doing something but I really realised that people in Riga are helpful and they are kind. And there has been some situations when I even got inspiration of them. So I learned that if I want to have a help sometime than I need to be kind and help to others too so now I’m living with this thought.
Those smells in Riga. Weh, with that I agree.. and really old houses.. and too much graffitti somewhere.. Eh, but just remember that not all Latvians are so bad and not all is so bad.
If you would live into some small cities in Latvia than you would see a really different situations but of course Riga, as the capital, has more job opportunities so for english speakers it would be better to live there. And this time I won’t write about other cities where the situation is other and maybe for most of people – better 🙂
Keep going and keep writing and be cool! (rock)
Hi Elīna, thank you so much for your comment! Honest and practical 🙂 Keep smiling (inside) 🙂 Linda.
oh, loved this. why didn’t you try to snap a photo of sashas & pashas ? that seems to be missing 😉
i feel like i should help with posts like this, you didn’t get enough photos of crappy-looking places. if you go outside of riga, you could also get photos of abandoned factories, farms etc.
note – this is not sarcastic. i’m (mostly) riga-dwelling latvian, but i loved this post. it felt like lacking a bit… it is quite important to have a realistic view when moving to some place, and posts like this could help to get people that actually like the place they move to, despite all the drawbacks 🙂
take central station. guys in sportswear. somebody playing an accordion. belashes. too bad tunnels now look all shiny and nice. we should have a photo-tour together 😀
I’m a little afraid of the Sashas and Pashas 😉 It was incredibly difficult to take a shot of that place without anyone in front of it! 🙂
We should definitely do a photo tour though 😉
Have you seen this blog? http://therealriga.wordpress.com/
He’s been to some crappy places 😉 I accompanied him on a couple!