Thinking of moving to Riga?

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.

2013-10-05 16.46.06

Pretty

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 wonder why.

I wonder why

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…)

Make yourself at home

Make yourself at home

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.

Watch your step

Slow and steady

First stop? The local bar/shop.

Welcome

Welcome

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:

The Gents'

The Gents’

Carrying on down the street, you’ve got to watch out for the crumbly buildings – I usually give this one a wide berth.

Run

Run

You’ll be spoiled for local stores.

As the people around here are sweet enough, there’s no need for a local bakery.

No cakes today

No cakes today

In case you’re getting a little tired, you can stop and have a sit down for a few minutes.

Ah, that's better...

Ah, that’s better…

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: 

https://expateyeonlatvia.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/breaking-news-i-do-not-hate-latvia/

About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Expat, Humor, Humour, Latvian people, Moving to Riga, Riga, TEFL, Work and business and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

317 Responses to Thinking of moving to Riga?

  1. Utter brilliance! The negative responses you received are all part of what makes this good. No one ever likes to hear the downsides to where they call home. Geez, you’d have to write a book about your negative experiences in Aus. Well done on bringing about some serious emotion. Shit stirrer! (just kidding) 😉

  2. Pingback: Breaking News! I do not hate Latvia! | Expat Eye on Latvia

  3. Nice post lol. All those latvians that keep showing the anger in comments pretty much shows you are right about us. My home for first 20 years was on Jāņa Asara street close to church in your pics. Really exciting suburb you choose.

  4. Vilks says:

    Hey, you seem to have put yourself in the same shelf of arrogance as the Maxima did in the course of recent weeks re matters that relate to Latvian people and Latvia 😦 Congratulations, you’ve learned a very good lesson from them! YOU’RE JUST EXCELLENT!

    Yes, we Latvians are a no-good no-use people and our land is actually a empty wasteland of swamps and forests, indeed! Anyway, who knows and cares about Latvia?

    Me, I’m a Latvian living here all my life without any compulsing reason to move out of my country except for frequent vacation trips all over the world. I’ve lived in the USA for a while, been there, done that. Seen Europe, have travelled a lot, even seen the iles (which must be the muster countries for the rest of the world I suppose).

    My question is – if Latvia offers you the following benefits: the salary is sh**ty, heating costs are so high, people are so unwelcoming, and last but not the least – the whole country is covered by forests and MUSHROOMS (omg), then WTF are you still doing here?

    It’s a pitty Ryanair has long ago quit its flights to Dublin, that would serve you as a quick evacuation route out of your everyday miseries here. On the other hand, I thought that we, unwelcoming Latvians, could fundraise your comeback to Ireland by sponsoring your FR ticket via ziedot.lv? Just because you got slammed by the door by the evil Latvians…

    • Expat Eye says:

      Seriously. Get. A. Life.
      Clearly your internet trolling hasn’t brought you to Ryanair’s website in a while because they are still flying to Dublin. You’re getting them confused with Aer Lingus. But then it sounds like you’re confused about a lot of things. Like a blog writer and the people responsible for killing 54 Latvian people.
      And you think I bring shame on the country. I don’t even know where to start…

      • Vilks says:

        I do not usually apologize for my own thoughts, but I do apologize for my actions though.

        I do apologize because I wrote my comment in anger and nobody should neither write or say anything when being angry.

        You should apologize because you ridiculed the USA Today poll where Latvia was voted the best while having a permanent residence here.

        I think we’re in kind of an equal situation.

      • Vilks says:

        Again, sorry for error, it was Riga in USA Today poll, not Latvia…

  5. You just don't get it, do you? says:

    IS IRELAND FOR ME?

    1. Do bearded gingers everywhere excite you?

    2. Are you prepared to carry a gnome in green suit everywhere you go as your lucky talisman?

    3. Do you like gingers?

    4. Do you like ugly, fat people?

    5. Can you cope with people being stupid and not knowing even the basis of geography, math, biology or any other basic science?

    6. Are you ready to spend your days in the shadow of United Kingdom?

    7. Are you quick enough on your feet to avoid leprachauns?

    8. Are you prepared to cope with annoying, clingy people?

    9. Are you ready for gingers with no soul?

    10. Are you willing to drink to the point where it is not even funny anymore but simply disgusting?

    If you answered ‘yes’ to five or more of these questions, then maybe Ireland is for you. If not, then maybe you will finally realise, Linda, how simply stereotypical and offensive your blog is. Dill and lard? leopard? seriousley? tea as cure for everything? that’s even more stupid than dill and lard and leopard altogether. I’m a simple middle class person living in Riga. Nor there are leopard prints everywhere, nor everyone eats dill and lard, nor tea is cure for everything, nor I watch hockey (I don’t even know the rules), nor there are poops on street and no, every male is not called Jānis. And as far as I’m concerned , every person I know thinks the same as me. People smile at me and I smile back, we say hello and have small talks. So there are three options: judging by what you write I can simply assume (1) you’re poor and live in one of the dirty, poor districts, (2) you’ve met the stupidest individuals of our kind or (3) you’re stupid yourself. Maybe all three.

    • You just don't get it, do you? says:

      Oh, almost forgot, why do you even go to those disgusting bars and shops you put in those photographs. Why not go to the Old Riga? There are plenty of fancy clubs, bars, pubs and shops.

    • Hi says:

      Lighten up ‘you just don’t get it’. Have a little sense of humor. Latvians can take a joke as long as it is not aimed at us? I guess it has become a cultural thing – hearing for a half a century only positive propoganda, we can’t hear anything negative. It is awesome that Linda takes time to explore our country and is being honest and funny about it. I am tired of discriptions of Mother Latvia and Festival of Song and Dance. This is different and funny and not sure if you are all that bright if you do not have sense of humor.

  6. Proud Latvian says:

    If you don’t like our city and have no respect for people who live here, than GO AWAY!!!

  7. ES says:

    What is this? Cheap call for popularity?

  8. I am a Latvian, who lives in Turkey since 2009. I hear your pain regarding cultural differences. As well I experience many challenges in between 2 cultures, and there are many things I find weird, annoying or even wrong. And yes, I am a blogger, too, and I talk about those things constantly.

    However, I talk and write as well about the beauty of Istanbul, about beauty of Turkish culture and all the things, which makes me happy and which are the reason I prefer to live here not in other country or my hometown. Same as you I came here because of my job and by free will. If you feel that everything in Latvia and it’s culture sucks, might be it is time to move on? You are not a tree.

    Yes, definitely we have such ugly buildings out of city center, but do you know where they come from? Do you think people live there by their good will and enjoy the poorness? Or have you tried to find out, what is behind the “Latvians spend weekend in forest collecting mushrooms”? It is so deeply cultural thing, and once you understand, you see the beauty of it or at least accept it. Same as for teas – I am so proud we are a culture, who knows how to heal ourselves with a support of nature, instead taking antibiotics when having a virus infection.

    Anyhow, nothing is just black or white, it is ok to talk about this aspect of reality (and I admit that most of things you have mentioned here and in other articles are a fact ), but again – that is not the only one reality. And I am really sorry, that many of your international readers will create a picture of Latvia in their minds based only on the complaints of you. Same as they might think that Riga is all about hanging out in bars with cheap beer and having hangover in Tuesday mornings.

    Wish you to see as well the beauty of Latvia. If not, then don’t torture yourself, move on and be happy some where else.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hi Inuta, thanks for the comment – and for expressing yourself in a reasonable way! I don’t feel that everything here sucks and I do understand the culture – to the extent that any foreigner can anyway. I’m not saying that these are bad things – merely poking a bit of fun at them. Sure, some people don’t like that but then that’s the Irish sense of humour, which is just as unique as the Latvian one 😉 Linda.

  9. Vanessa says:

    I’ve found this thread really interesting – firstly because I enjoy Linda’s blog very much and always like to hear her thoughts on life, but other people’s comments have also got me thinking about what it is we perceive as beautiful and what we don’t….for me, maybe because I am weird, there was a certain beauty in the Maskavas area of Riga when I visited which was all mixed up with a sense of horror of what had gone on there previously. Maybe it’s because it is ‘different’ to what I am used to in the UK but I did find beauty in places where I wasn’t expecting to, or maybe it’s because I am often looking through the eyes of a writer, or maybe it’s because I know that my ancestors were born in Riga, but I like the contrasts in the city very much. Looking forward to return next year.

  10. Elita says:

    Now when youve finally got your experience, you maybe wanna move to where you initially wanted to go-Paris?im sure youll be better-off there. Or youd rather wait untill you run out of things to whine about?

  11. Ritvars says:

    The world is a great mirror. It reflects back to you what you are. If you are loving, if you are friendly, if you are helpful, the world will prove loving and friendly and helpful to you. The world is what you are.

  12. Tiamo says:

    I ‘ve read the story very carefully and I have only one question to you? Why are you still here if everything is so bad there ? Every place has it’s glory and sorrow- you wrote about “Maskačka” district. It will be like you are going to write about Pecham and say that you write about whole London. I live in Riga for last 8 years – have chosen not very bad district Jugla, bought 2-room flat, pay for it ( in winter) not more than 100 LS for public utilities, of course there must be added TV, i-net and home phone which makes about 25 Ls per month. Way to work takes about 20 minutes by tram. There are shops, caffees, gyms, hairdressers and etc in the district, so I have everything I need on the spot. About job- If you reallly want to work and have good sallary you can find it or do your own business. And yes you must work hard – but show me please the place where you needn’t work hard to get good results. I will not say that Riga is the best place on the world, but only asks you – if you write about my city , please be so kind and show it from both side not only the black one.

    Have a nice day and success in your ….

    Best regards,
    Tiamo

    P.S. There are a good song in Latvian , try to translate it to you :
    Everybody is good to me, if I am good to others,
    Everybody is my enemy , if I am the reason of anger.

    Sorry for my English I am just in the way of learning of it.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hey, I’ve shown Riga and Latvia from plenty of sides – everyone is just choosing to read and focus on this post! Linda.

      • Tiamo says:

        May be the reason is that everyone loves his/her city and country ? Maybe the reason is that you are the guest in this country and nobody loves that guest tell bad things about his home. Will you be happy if I ļl visit your home, your house and said – hmm yes pretty good but corner of your sitting room is terrible, messy, ramish and signs of bad taste? Oh, you have lessees here- oh my God they stinks, they do not respect your traditions etc. Would you like that? NO you wouldn’t. So we do. Of course, Riga is not the most beautiful place on the planet but it is the most beautiful for me. Its our city and we love it- love the hasty mornings and beautiful evenings, white snow and colorfull flowers in parks. And we try to make it better – it is not the work for one year after 50 years under USSR. Think about it and show the respect to country you live in. There are different things which do not make Riga beautifull but your storry above will not help to improve it. Have you tried to improve the situation or just tell how bad it is ?

        P.S> It is very bad that you do not eat dills and do not drink herbal tea:) My suggestion try to ask “mother google” about homeopathy – you will discover many new things.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Hi, I’ve written a response that I think covers pretty much everything in your comment – you can read it here: https://expateyeonlatvia.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/breaking-news-i-do-not-hate-latvia/
        If you don’t want to waste your time on me again, I wouldn’t care if people said shit about Ireland. I do it. I’m doing as much as anyone can to improve things – possibly more than some. And I’ve written plenty of nice posts about Riga/Latvia with pretty pictures so I’m not just showing the bad.
        And I like dill 😉 And I’ve been converted to ginger and honey tea 😉 Linda.

  13. Viesis says:

    Sorry for commenting while not reading all the comments.
    The place of the city you depict is indeed not the most desirable (I’ve studied there). Yet it has seen [somewhat] better times, and it may improve yet, – keep your fingers crossed and pray to reach old age.
    Job options – fair enough. I could not find much to my satisfaction, so you can meet me in Riga only in summertime.
    Cuisine, – now, what was that sound, is somebody is in pain? We can cook pork and some fish. Did I already mention pork? Whatever it is, it should be well done. VERY well done. And w/o “E” stuff (food additives). Generously garnish with potatoes, add gravy and two slices of rye bred. Flush with a generic lager (should be unfiltered & unpasteurised).
    Snow is great – as long as it lasts. Mud is omnipresent in Riga. One indeed CAN freeze to death (I witnessed one case). Countryside is colder yet. It is much more beautiful in winter though. Just stay in a cabin, enjoy the sight and wait for the spring when you’ll be able to use the roads again.
    Visbeidzot, runājot par valodu, es labprāt parunāju ar ārzemniekiem latviski, tomēr parasti viņi ļoti mokās, tādēļ, ja vien mani īpaši nelūdz runāt latviski, es pāreju uz angļu valodu. Vai krievu.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha, well if you switched to Russian, I really would be in pain! I only know about 4 words 😉 I can read Latvian quite well but my pronunciation is pretty bad – mainly because I don’t get that much chance to speak it and after 3 years, I guess I’m embarrassed that I’m still this terrible! 🙂 But I’ll persevere!

      Sounds like Latvian cooks follow my mother’s school of cuisine – if it’s not cremated, it’s not done 😉

      I’m hoping that this area is on the up! Already some money is going into some apartments so maybe in another 5-10 years, the place will be a nice little district! As it is, it suits me fine – I can walk everywhere and it’s not too expensive. I don’t need to be surrounded by amazing beauty while I’m sitting on my sofa or sleeping 😉 Or cooking pork – hasn’t happened yet but you never know… 🙂 Thanks for the comment! Linda.

      • Viesis says:

        I’m in Brusels for >8 years, and the less said about my French, the better.
        As for the area, let me put it this way: I hope that you are renting 😉

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha, I am, don’t worry! Hey, my French is actually quite decent – maybe we should swap?! 😉

  14. Anett says:

    Like minds attract one another, so russians and leopards … maybe accept your true wishes..
    And i wonder why u’r not living in Ireland anymore, that red headed temper did not deal with u with Latvian intelligent emphaty..( that was retorica question..) And emphaty is all i feel, seeing how ugly can be your perspectivized way of seeing things around u. Really feeling sorry for u.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Oh honey, I wouldn’t waste your time feeling sorry for me. I’m just fine. If you read my ‘about me’ page, you’d know why I’m not living in Ireland anymore. As it is, you jump in, read one post and attack me. Really nice.

      • Anett says:

        Feel offended?! ohh my…. Then stop attacking place what others call most beloved home, with all the damage 50 years or occupation did to this city and state in general, brutally apressing latvian culture and condemmig to death in Syberia all the lv intelligence what have lived here and tried to stand for somthing and didn’t run away to America. What do u stand for? – i see nothing, just shit, even without some intellectual concept under it.. Have a shame girl..

      • Expat Eye says:

        Wow, you are one angry lady. I’m not attacking anywhere. Merely pointing out things as I see them. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. It’s that simple.

        But maybe instead of wasting your anger on me, you should focus it instead on the powers that be instead of living in the past – wonder why more money isn’t going into rebuilding these ‘shitty’ neighbourhoods, or helping the old, or raising the minimum wage so people can actually live on it – instead of being poured into vanity projects like the national library?

        But what do I know? I’m just a shit with no intelligence, clearly. Are you this charming in person or do you save it for online discussions?

    • Lāsma says:

      Clearly, there really isn’t much of that intelligence left, Anett.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Some really great photos Ivars! I think I know the woman in the Lido photo – is her name Velga? 🙂 I love the old lady with the dog – so cute and smiley. And the miserable faces of that couple at the fanciest nightclub cracked me up! 🙂 Thanks again for that! Linda.

  15. Annie says:

    wait. what kind of mushrooms….

    • Expat Eye says:

      How on earth should I know! It’s not like I do it 😉

      • Elizabeta says:

        Then why on earth you write about it?
        you know what, I really feel offended, reading this. I love this country and every single square meter in this bloody city I grew up, it has it’s glory and sorrow, like every single place on earth. Have you ever been to London, New York, Beijing, Tel Aviv, dahlin? Or Berlin, or Rome, or Paris, or Madrid, or Moscow, or Stockholm or anywhere else? Are any of those places free of REAL danger/dirt/idiots? it’s crazy, how closeminded you are and I feel sorry, that you just showed to the whole world your stupidity.

      • Expat Eye says:

        There’s nothing close-minded about me, dahlin – and yes, I’ve been pretty much everywhere. I never said that there wasn’t dirt/poverty/idiots in other places – but I live here. So if I want to point out my local area, warts and all, then why shouldn’t I? If you’re so offended, I suggest you go and look at pretty pictures on tourist websites. This blog might be a bit too ‘real’ for you. And besides, I prefer my readers to have a slight sense of humour. And not offend me in their first comment. Bye bye, dahlin.

  16. rigaenglish says:

    There’s another joy that you forgot to mention, the chance to learn a language spoken by a million and a half people, which is only distantly related to a neighbouring language spoken by 3 million people. Added bonuses are that the locals will either sneer or laugh at your attempts to speak it or refuse to speak it to you. The roads are safe as houses too 🙂

    What are we doing here again?

    • Expat Eye says:

      When I remember I’ll tell you 😉

    • Lāsma says:

      Some people might find your a priori assumptions offensive. I don’t laugh or sneer when someone attempts to speak Latvian, in fact, I spent my free time in the UK teaching the language to a local person. I didn’t laugh, not even once. Also, given that you have some Latvian friends, you might show the language a little respect instead of writing it off as worthless because it isn’t spoken by ”enough people”.

      • rigaenglish says:

        Linda, I think to the above, you can add inability to get sarcasm to the list of wonders of being here.

      • rigaenglish says:

        Laasma, in my humble experience, you are the exception, not the rule. Virtually every expat I’ve spoken to here complains about locals’ failure to engage with them when they try to speak Latvian. I was with my friend last Saturday in the cafe and he had to speak five times in Latvian before she stopped speaking English to him. I had an identical experience in Riga bus station last month. Also, why be so prickly? I’m from Ireland, but I’ll never ever view Irish as anything other than virtually worthless in the grand scale of things.

      • Lāsma says:

        I’m not saying that this problem doesn’t exist. However, I’m Latvian, I don’t behave that way, and neither do my Latvian friends, so it does irritate me a little when I read comments like ”the locals do X and Y”.
        Oh, and I did get your sarcasm, hence my comment. It’s the language I use with my family and it does upset me when someone calls it worthless. How do you define a worth of a language? Might as well say one is stupid to learn Swedish because it’s more useful to learn Mandarin! I personally wouldn’t move to a foreign country if I had no intention to learn at least the very basics of the local language. I also think it’s horrible that foreigners living in the UK speak no English.

    • rigaenglish says:

      Ok, I was being facetious about Latvian to a certain extent. To answer your question about the worth of a language, I wouldn’t only count it in terms of number of speakers, I’d count it in terms of how related it is to other languages. In that context, Swedish is a massive help for understanding Danish or Norwegian and not that far away from German. Knowing Latvian only really helps if you want to learn Lithuanian, which it has significant differences from. Sure, there are some links with Slavic languages and Sanskrit, but they’re pretty far from being mutually intelligible. It’s interesting that you mention Swedish, because that was a real eye opener for me. When I went to Stockholm, I didn’t expect Swedes to engage with me in Swedish, especially since they have a very high level of English, but they did. My Russian friend here even says that she prefers to speak English in the centre now, as when she tries to speak Latvian, they automatically switch to Russian. I’ve been to 40 countries now and Latvia is the only one out of the lot of them where I’ve experienced that.

      • Lāsma says:

        I have heard that story. 🙂
        It’s interesting that you see things that way. I once tried to learn Danish because it was similar to Swedish. I decided to stop learning. While the written language is similar to Swedish, the pronunication differs a lot. I didn’t like the way Danish sounded and since I liked Swedish so much better, I always misspelled and mispronounced words. It was a disaster.
        I started learning both Swedish and German at the same time (I was 15). I can’t really say that German helped me learn Swedish and vice versa. While there are some similarities, it was a bit diffucult to have one English lesson and two German lessons followed by three Swedish lessons. We sometimes struggled to switch from one language to another, and it wasn’t even the case of them being similar!
        Associations did help me learn new words, though. So did false friends! It’s way easier to learn something new if you can tie it to something familiar. Even Latvian was useful when I was learning Swedish, there are words like ”panna” which differ meaning-wise but are written in the same way. I would never write off any language as useless. The more, the better!

      • snaipere says:

        I agree with Lāsma on this 100%. Linda has said many unpleasant things about Latvia and Latvians but has never offended our culture. Honestly, those things you said about our language…I find them very offensive and disrespectful. There are about 330 000 native speakers of Icelandic language, for example, but I would never say this kind of things about Icelandic or ANY other language or dialect.

        I worked at Riga Airport not long ago and during that time met many foreigners who tried to communicate with me in Latvian and it was always my pleasure to take part in that. I feel very sorry that you and your friends have met so little of responsive Latvians. And, talking of responsiveness, have you ever been to Finland? I remember a story about an Indian guy who tried to learn some Finnish. He attended classes and once they had to do this sort of exercise – make a call to the information center. Just to practice some simple phrases. Anyway, one lady picked the phone up and the Indian guy JUST said „Moi!” (which is hi) but she did not even gave that poor guy a chance and responded „Hello! How can I help you?” 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        Aww, I don’t think I’ve been that unpleasant! 🙂

        While I can’t agree with John on the ‘useless’ language thing, I do empathise. Every day I have 4 or 5 dealings with shop or cafe staff and I would say 80% of the time, they switch to English immediately after I say ‘Labdien’ or ask for what I want. Although today I was very proud of myself for managing to say that I’d forgotten my password for my internet banking account and needed a new one (probably in terrible Latvian) but she understood me and answered me in Latvian. I panicked a little as this is rare, but kept going and neither of us spoke a word of English the whole time! 🙂

      • Livonian says:

        rigaeng, it doesn’t matter how many people speak Latvian and how “useful” it is. If you intend to stay in a country for a prolonged period of time, you should learn the local language. Why do you expect us to speak English when we go to the UK or America? Yet you come to Latvia and will have no equal respect for the Latvian. I don’t care if you went to Faroe islands or where ever – the polite attitude is still to learn some. I can even assure you that, for instance, Scandinavians will expect foreigners to learn their languages. You might think they’re all open and what not, but if you want to stay there and not speak Swedish, they will isolate you.

    • Richlv says:

      never heard about locals sneering at somebody trying to speak latvian. if you find some, i;d like to tell them personally that they are retards…

      • rigaenglish says:

        Have a look in the comment made by “Tanya” in the most recent thread. Here it is: “As for the locals not speaking Latvian with foreigners, I dunno, but I find it kinda hard to understand foreigners even with very good Latvian, it’s simply a strain for me, so, yes, I often switch to English, unless the person insists on using Latvian. And then many of us look at it as a favour we’re doing our guests.” I’ve heard that said before. A couple of times in the last month I’ve gone to places and spoken Latvian to them and they’ve replied to me in English. I have had to say five sentences in Latvian before they finally switch to English. It’s not even because they don’t understand me either, they replied to my Latvian questions with English replies! When I told students that story, far from criticising it, a student even said to me “I’m not surprised, your Latvian is really bad, it’s painful to me to hear it.” Like…. wtf? I hate to break this news, but Latvians sound less than native when speaking English, but people still try. It almost seems to me that Latvians are pre-programmed not to respond to “foreigners” in Latvian. If everyone behaved that way, no one would learn foreign languages at all.

      • rigaenglish says:

        Livonian, that is exactly the point. I never expected to stay in Latvia for any prolonged period of time. It just happened that way because of my ex. Now that she is my ex, I hope to leave here within the next six months. I do speak enough basic Latvian and Russian to get round, buy food, order in restaurants, ask directions, buy bus tickets, ask when the next train is etc etc and I’m perfectly comfortable with that. Also, I don’t expect you to speak English when you go to the UK or the USA. What language you speak there is entirely up to you. If you can find a job there speaking only Latvian or Russian then good for you. Such jobs do exist and I had one student from Latvia tell me that his knowledge of English went down during the time he was in London, as based on his real estate experience, they put him in a company selling property to Russians. As I said above, I’m more than familiar with Scandinavia. I’ve learned as much Swedish in my time here as I have Latvian. The difference is that when I went to Stockholm, the locals actually engaged with me in Swedish, rather than switching to English. Not here. Same with Russian, a lot of the time I have to repeat things several times. Yes, my accent is crap but when I lived in Almaty, people either got it first time or I only had to repeat it once. That could be because the mountain air magically improved my pronunciation, but it could also be because the people down there actually try to speak the language with foreigners. I know which one I think is likely.

      • Richlv says:

        “Have a look in the comment made by “Tanya” in the most recent thread. Here it is: “As for the locals not speaking Latvian with foreigners, I dunno, but I find it kinda hard to understand foreigners even with very good Latvian, it’s simply a strain for me, so, yes, I often switch to English, unless the person insists on using Latvian. And then many of us look at it as a favour we’re doing our guests.””

        maybe she has not-that-good latvian herself 😉

  17. TRex says:

    As long as you have a large thirst you’ll get by here just fine. By drinking I mean. Until ones liver goes on holiday.

  18. Claire Duffy says:

    I actually answered yes to five, which is starting to make me think… but as it happens those five are fulfilled by Stockholm, so I think I’ll stay put!

  19. M.E. Evans says:

    HAHAHAHA. Hilarious! You’ve painted a lovely picture here. Just pray that the locals don’t find your blog. If they are anything like the Italians they’ll be furious that your entire blog isn’t about how superior they are as a group of people. I think that Riga is not for me. It sounded lovely (and a lot like Harlem) until you mentioned the snot rockets. I don’t do snot rockets.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha, then maybe it’s not the place for you! The Latvians have already found it unfortunately 😉 Well, unfortunately the ones without a sense of humour found it – the rest are fine 😉 As long as they agree with EVERY WORD I SAY, WE’LL BE JUST FINE 😉

  20. Panagiotis says:

    Great post. “Paris of…”, there are so many of those around the world “Paris of the Balkans,” “Paris of the Lower Swamplands.” Another favorite of mine has always been “the (tallest/largest/best/most expensive) (building/store/cake/etc) of the Baltics.”

    Keep Complaining! They are your best posts!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha, dammit, just when I said I was trying to be more positive 🙂 ‘Paris of the lower Swamplands’ – love it 😉 We do have the most expensive bridge in the world and the most expensive library in the world – god knows why!

  21. V says:

    I liked reading this post though I feel it is a little too “sarcastic”. I myself moved to Riga from Germany at the age of 15, which was 12 years ago and I must say I loved it here from the very first moment, so much that when faced with the decision of moving back to Germany I decided to stay here. I as well lived in the silent center all this time and this area is an area of beautiful Art Nouveau buildings and cute little cafes, whereas the area you took pictures of is frankly a little outside that radius of what is considered the silent center, even though when looking for apartments online much more and worse areas are sometimes still included under that description.
    As in any other “big” city it goes like this, the father you go from the center the more “ghetto” it gets. Riga is no exception there but then again its nothing surprising either.
    Living in Riga is great because it offers you everything you would expect from a “big” city, plus an opportunity of nice white sandy beach just 20 minutes away in the summer. The winter is cold but beautiful at the same time, especially if it snows a lot, then it all becomes like a picturesque christmas card.
    The only thing that makes one uncomfortable is the animosity between Latvians and Russians, which is even obvious in the comments of Latvian readers of this blog. The level of hatred (nationalism) is quite high and the Russians get blamed for a lot, which the Latvians are guilty of just as much. The cool Latvians and cool Russians however do not get into these things and get along famously.
    I feel that if a move will not be beneficial in one way or another (especially financially) then people should not move here, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. If the hot “latvian” (could be russian as well) girlfriend is part of the decision making then maybe those men should stay put where they are and invite their girlfriends to come live with them, that is if they make a better living where they are.
    Living abroad is a thing of positive thinking! The more positive you are the better it will be. If you hate on everything then things can only get worse.
    Now that I discovered this blog I am looking forward for more interesting posts!!!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Thanks very much for the comment V! I’m going to try to be more positive from now on 😉 I had some lovely lessons with some lovely people today and it’s put me in a good mood 😉 Let’s hope it lasts until tomorrow when I write the next one! Glad you like it here so much – I don’t know if many people would choose to live here over Germany so you must REALLY like it! 🙂 Yes, I do love the compactness of Riga – I walk absolutely everywhere. And there are so many great cafes and bars. Too many great bars which is why I’m hungover on a Tuesday 😉

      And I totally agree with you on the Latvian/Russian thing – it’s wearing listening to it all the time. And I’m kind of sick of the Latvians blaming the Russians for everything. If they actually worked together and got along, instead of in-fighting all the time, maybe they could make the country a better place 😉

      Thanks again for the comment!
      Linda.

      • glic an ear says:

        Well, don’t irish blame english people for everything as well? 😀 I have observation, that in british isles there is some wild and unpleasant sectarianism going on, than wasn’t in Latvia. In Riga you are safe, that there aren’t any restricted ghettos – there are some places, that should be avoided because people there are mugged even in daytime, but that doesn’t happen because of nationality.

        Problems with russians are easily solvable, if they use latvian in Latvia, especially if they have appropriate education – we don’t ask to use latvian in Russia… yet, and they have wider choices. Though, I haven’t been in Latvia for a while – some things must have changed, but really… you must be lucky, that you have mostly latvians around – russians blame everybody else as much and in my opinion much more and they are not restrained in this, even when latvian is in company…

      • Expat Eye says:

        🙂 Personally, I don’t blame England for everything – but maybe Latvia should. If English wasn’t my native language, I wouldn’t be here 😉 I have both Latvians and Russians around me – most of my students are Latvian at the moment though. And a great bunch of people. Though they may ditch me after all this shitty publicity!

  22. Lila says:

    snow is nothing compared to the frozen dirty slush in winter on russian streets. its solid as concrete and very slippery u basically have to skate your way to work. germany with almost no snow in winter feels like heaven compared to this. on the other hand christmas never feels real in germany just too warm

    • Expat Eye says:

      You should try Christmas in Australia – it’s bizarre! Lying around a pool in 35-40 degrees while the radio plays songs like ‘Snow is falling…’ 🙂

  23. Vanessa says:

    I’m quite scared that I agreed with seven! Then again, a) I do have Latvian blood and b) I’m a children’s author, which means I already earn bugger all in the UK.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha, nice to have you comment on the blog! Yeah, the salaries aren’t a patch on what they are at home! But c’est la vie I guess! But you could always base yourself here 😉 You need to agree with at least another 4 of the checklist before you do though 😉

  24. LOL, hope you do more research on your next move 😀 getting a flat in one of the worst blocks in the city… And yes, it is not Klusais Centrs, it is Grīziņkalns which is quite criminal place to live.

    Whole post is like moving to NYC with expectations of Manhattan, but getting a room in China Town, Brooklyn, Bronx or Queens and then moaning about how bad NYC actually is. Those are not comparable.

    It was somewhat fun but such post can be done on any city of the world. IMHO.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha that’s true! There are some right shitholes in Dublin too – maybe someone should warn the Latvians!

      I asked people before I took the flat – some said terrible area, some said ok. In the end I just went with my gut 😉 It’s not so pretty but my flat is nice, not too expensive and the junkies and hookers don’t bother me! There are plenty of other normal working people living around that area too!

  25. 1WriteWay says:

    I’d give a qualified ‘yes’ to number 1 because I grew up in the northeastern US and I actually miss snow (I get zip where I live now). But I have to qualify it because I do remember gazing out a window one May day, seeing a light snowfall, and thinking, “really, that’s a bit much.” As I write, my ‘yes’ is turning into a shrug 🙂 You’re definitely ready to move. Even thought you argue that you’re just being factual (not really complaining), you must find it depressing to have so much material for a post like this 😉 it’s time for you to go to warmer, more hospitable climes 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      I agree! I’ve noticed myself that the tone of the blog is getting more acidic than sarcastic and quite frankly, I’m starting to annoy myself! I’d never leave because I was annoying the Latvians, but myself? Yes. 😉 I used to laugh out loud when I was writing some of them – haven’t done that in a while! Pastures new are beckoning 😉

  26. Paula says:

    Linda, most of your posts are really funny and I enjoy reading them, but seriously.. being the happy, optimistic Irish person that you are – you seem to be complaining a whole lot. This is not right and that is completely insane.. I just can’t stop wondering what were the things (or people) that made you stay here for 3(!) years. Why torture yourself? And although I do agree on a lot of things about Riga and it’s residents (”Paris of the North” is a horrible overstatement), it makes me sad that you point out only the bad things, leaving out all that’s actually fine about this place. Sorry for the ramble, I just really wanted to say this. Wish you better luck elsewhere 😉

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hi Paula! I didn’t think that one was particularly complain-y – just factual 😉 I actually had an email from a man I know last night saying he wished he’d read something like this before he moved here, sunk all his money into an apartment and now can’t afford to move back to the UK. So you say pessimism, I say public service 😉

      But yes, you’re right. I think it’s obvious whatever appeal the place had for me is rapidly wearing off! I’ll be making a move next year 🙂 Maybe then I’ll be a happy little Expat Eye on somewhere else 😉 Linda

  27. Well crap, since 1, 3, 5, 6 and 10 are pretty much similar to Germany, Riga could be my future home. Lol or not! 🙂

  28. Aussa Lorens says:

    Oh my gosh, so many things here reminded me of living in China………. and you may have inspired a future blog post about how I attempted and failed to teach English (lasted about a day and then hid inside for a week). This is amazing, I love the tone of it all… And I love your use of “drain the lizard.” Charming…

    • Expat Eye says:

      I’m a charming kind of gal 😉 I would LOVE to have inspired a future blog post! And that would definitely make a good read! I can’t imagine you hiding from anything so it must have been really, really bad! 🙂

      • Aussa Lorens says:

        Oh lord, I have a few hiding stories… one involves a huge knife. That story comes later, haha….

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha your life just gets better! If that’s the right word! I nearly had my throat slit before – talked my way out of it 😉

      • Aussa Lorens says:

        FUTURE BLOG POST right there! A story that needs to be told and/or used in “5 truths and a lie” haha

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha! It was in France, not here 😉 A creepy dude tried to molest me on the train. I told him in French what he could go and do to his mother and her derriere 😉 It didn’t go down very well so he put a knife to my throat – had to pretend I didn’t really realise what I was saying 😉 Luckily I was a bit drunk so the fear didn’t really kick in. I just kept blabbering until he went away 😉

      • Aussa Lorens says:

        Oh my gosh! That’s taking things a little too far, wtf!

      • Expat Eye says:

        I thought so 😉 As I calmly and rationally (and drunkenly) pointed out to him 😉

  29. Annī says:

    I’m Latvian and I’ve been living in Riga 20 years – this part of the city is the second most criminal after Maskačka and the comment about prostitution is also true. I get that You are trying and in some parts succeeding to sound funny, but it’s sad that many readers will get the impression, that outside of the Old Town, Riga looks like in the photos.

    You live in the center (Bruņieku/Avotu/Čaka iela..), but it is nowhere near to what is called and written in the maps as Klusais centrs ( that is between Eksporta , Hanzas and Valdemāra street), which one is actually really beautiful, calm and safe, just like many other parts of the city, for example, Andrejsala and Pētersala near the river and Washington park, Mežaparks, Teika, Kalnciema kvartāls.

    No churches to suggest, as I’m not religious, but for gym – Veselības Fabrika, Infinity Fitness, Reaktors, City Fitness and many more (all outside of the center and old town) look and are really good, and almost all parts of Riga have Rimi , Sky or Maxima with more than one X.

    Half of this blog post should be called – Thinking of moving to the left side from Čaka street. But for the rest – You will stay here longer and will get the excitement about ice-hochey, that winter lasts 4 months, and obviously the places and parts you better should not even look at. 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hi, thanks for your comment! Of course, this isn’t the most attractive area, but it’s my area! There is a Rimi and an Atletika within a 15 minute or so walk but they’re not the closest shop or gym to me so it didn’t make much sense to go that far out of my way to make the place look pretty!

      I can’t speak for some of the areas you mention but Kalnciema kvartals, far from being stunning, is falling apart. Mezaparks is nice but very expensive. I think Teika is out towards Alfa? If so, I don’t see anything particularly attractive about that either. I used to live on Valdemara – but the other end – it was perfectly safe but looked like hell. As do a lot of areas in central Riga – and don’t even get me started on the suburbs!

      Hmm ‘Thinking of moving to the left side from Čaka street’ – catchy 😉

      • arnold schwarzenegger says:

        the beauty is in the eye of beholder 🙂

        i personally prefer those small privately owned shops to all these similar looking, sterile supermarkets. I find it rather disturbing that the world is being taken over by all those Rimi’s and Tesco’s and in near future most likely there won’t be any distinction between any city in the world. at least in terms of everyday experience. like there’s no real distinction between airports in any part of the world.

        speaking about the area you live. I used to live on Avotu street for a while and yes it can be grim and dangerous at night, but it’s fairly close to center and i found some of the things you mention here rather charming and beautiful. I also used to live in Tottenham, London and imho it was even more dangerous and grim, and the ever present whiff of marijuana and burned oil from chicken shops didn’t make it more cosy.

        and if we talk about commuting to work, I would really try to recommend London with its cheap and fantastic public trasnportation system 🙂 No, it’s not that in this city people spend good half of their lives trying to avoid being squeezed to death on a packed train 🙂

        and khmmm… if i was Irish (or English) i would think twice before saying something sarcastic about the cuisine of any other nation in the world. hehe there’s plenty potatos in Rimi, isn’t it? adding dill is optional anyway 😉

        I’ve been to quiet a few places in the world. and what I realized is that if you find right people and do something you love, the life can become quiet enjoyable even in places like Tottenham or Riga.

        that said I agree that Latvian climate is terrible.

        ps. interesting point was made about language

      • Expat Eye says:

        Personally, I really like Irish and English food! I think they get a bad rap 😉 England has some of the best restaurants in the world. Of course a lot of people choose to eat pre-prepared microwavable crap but that doesn’t mean that good food isn’t available!

        And yes, I agree with you on the beauty thing – I actually really like this area. I like that it’s a bit rough around the edges – like me 😉 I do most of my shopping in the local stores, and the staff actually greet me and say hello. Unlike in Rimi where you’re lucky to get a grunt 😉 Being able to walk everywhere is wonderful – although now that it’s started snowing, I may revise that statement in a few weeks 😉 Linda.

    • JC says:

      Looks like we were neighbors at some moment(I lived in the ‘bakery’ building). Now, exactly as Annī says, you could just think of moving to left side(or any side for that matter) of Čaka street. It takes some time to change apartment in Riga, but really, just get yourself a person fluent in Latvian and Russian, and boom, in radius of 1km you’ll find a place that won’t make you bitch about. I live in prettier house now, and district itself *should* be safer – well it isn’t.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Cau kaimins 😉 I lived on the other side of Caka for a while – on Stabu. I definitely preferred the location – closer to the supermarket, gym, centre etc. but I prefer this flat – and the bills are MUCH cheaper!

  30. I definitely believe that tea cures all ills, but dill is not a herb, in my world dill is pond weed… yuck!! So I suppose that means I definitely wouldn’t be able to hack it in Latvia!!

  31. nancytex2013 says:

    Linda, leave this place. Leave now!
    I’m cold and depressed just looking at your pictures. Of course I know it will be hard for you to leave behind all those super hot Janis’.

  32. Geoff says:

    I’d just like to point out (regarding rule no.1) that it’s not so much 7 months of snow, but seven months of greyness, and (normally) 4 months of snow. And also that Latvian tea drinkers know their stuff. (http://www.cookinglatvia.com/herbal-teas.html). Regarding number 5, I made it my daily mission to make a cashier in a supermarket smile. It was a challenge, but, once you’ve got a smile out of them, its worth the effort. I lived in Riga for three years, and have since moved into the ‘forest’ where the locals are a lot friendlier (makes the supermarket smile challenge that little bit more boring) 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hi Geoff! Yeah, I try to ‘break’ at least one person a day 😉 The ladies in Elvi now smile at me before I even smile at them so that was a success! The first year I was here I think it started snowing in October and was still snowing in late April – I thought it would never end. Although I guess that year was an exception – still, I like to mentally prepare myself for the worst! And the ginger tea is actually really, really nice! 🙂 Glad to hear the ‘forest’ is working out for you 😉 Linda.

  33. iotamanhattan says:

    Well, this post made me laugh, whatever else!

  34. iotamanhattan says:

    Well, the post made me laugh, whatever else!

  35. Hahaha this is hilarious. I don’t know about the 5-7 months of snow; 5-7 MINUTES of snowfall annually seems like way more than enough for me, as that’s approximately when I stop shrieking “It’s snowing! It’s SNOWING! This doesn’t happen in California!” and start realizing that it’s also COLD and I want to be as far away from the snow as possible.

    But tea is most definitely the cure for every ailment. They are right about that one.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha! I’m with you on the snow thing! A week between Xmas and New Year would be enough for me! Take some pretty pics with all the lights and then, STOP! Definitely best enjoyed from out your window 😉 Presume it doesn’t snow in Barcelona either?!

      • Well….if you ask me (a wimp from California), then it DOES snow, and it happens far too often.

        If you ask normal people, it does happen but is unusual. In my two winters here, a tiny bit of snow has fallen in the city center, but not enough to stick around. In the higher-altitude neighborhoods, a little snow does fall during the winter.

        But proper snows are unusual, I think.

      • Expat Eye says:

        If you do ever visit Riga, be sure to come between June and September 😉

  36. cantaloupe says:

    Tea is a cure for everything in the Middle East too. And they have sort of converted me, after my last bought of allergies that I suffered here. Ginger tea does wonders for coughs, for reasons I will never understand. And there’s this zataar tea (which is related to oregano, but wholly Middle Eastern) that is seriously magical. I don’t even know why, but I was un-sick after two days. And the woman who introduced me was like “Make sure you only have it once a day. It’s very powerful.” And she was so right.

    So I would never live in Riga. (Ew to being poor.) But what about visiting, is there a quiz I can take about visiting?

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha, it’s a lovely place to visit! 2-3 days you’ll have seen everything – perfectly compact and pretty 😉 Damn, I need to get me some of that zataar tea – that sounds like good shiiiiit 😉 I’m currently drinking tea with honey and lemon in it so I fear they may have broken me too 😉 Linda.

  37. Yakolo says:

    I hear there are ticks there, which scares me. Have you been bitten by them? How easy is it to pick them upon my clothes from public transport? Are they widespread enough to annoy you every time you go to a park in the city vs a forest?

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hey, yeah, supposedly there are ticks here, some of which can cause you to go blind. So the Latvians will tell you anyway. They all get vaccinated – and probably drink some kind of tick-repelling tea 😉 I’m not in the forest very often, but I’ve often lain on the grass in the parks and never had any problems. I’ve never heard of them being an issue on public transport either! Hope that helps! Linda.

  38. mikemajor9 says:

    “Paris of the North” is what they’re calling the place, eh? Soooo when exactly did Paris get so… nasty looking? Yikes. I’m scared for you Linda! Okay, we had go up into a bit of a dodgy neighbourhood when we lived in London to find anything decent we could afford – that’s also a bloody expensive city — but we liked to think the area had… erm… “character”. So, yeah, feel your pain at expense of the place. Hope the getting out and about for the picture taking was refreshing rather than exhausting 🙂

  39. So far I survived six years here, and I can only say yes to number 9. And in addition I am starting to be a bit tired of the 14% of hateful, bitter, angry and intolerant people here. The remaining 86% I kinda love.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha, yeah, I’m with you on the hateful, bitter, angry and intolerant thing – although I’d wager it’s higher than 14%. I think I just about got my head around the rules last year, then the season ended and I forgot all about it. Must go and see another game and refresh my memory! 🙂 Or move to a country where they can play football 😉

  40. Laura says:

    Dear Linda! I recently found your blog and I’m so glad I did. I’ve been laughing so hard reading all of your posts, you have such great sense of humour and sarcasm, and I’m saying this as a very patriotic-minded latvian woman!
    Thank you for taking your time writing your blog, it truly brightens up my day.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hi Laura! Thank you so much! 🙂 It means even more to me coming from a very patriotic Latvian! 🙂 I’m sure some people won’t like this one but I’m very happy you do! Linda.

  41. #3,4,6 & 10 I can do… you can jam #1 up the arse of that sofa thanks.

  42. Zane says:

    The description of quite center is totally wrong – it’s based near harbor and is famous by it’s historical houses and picturesque surroundings. The pictures you have, it’s Avotu street and the far end of Bruninieku, which is the criminal and prostitution are. It’s like moving to Brooklyn and then complaining – damn, it’s bad location.
    And none of normal Latvian women will wear leopard print daily – don’t confuse them with prostitutes (who usually gather by church in your picture) or Russians.
    It’s sad to read such a wrong depiction.

    • Expat Eye says:

      As far as I was aware, the quiet centre was anywhere from Elizabetes to Gertrudes/Stabu/Bruninieku etc. It’s still centre but not centre centre. And I’m not saying it’s a bad area though plenty of Latvians have told me so. I quite like living here. It’s central but quiet enough. I’m just attempting to show people the kind of area they will likely be living in if they move here – unless they’re earning a fortune. And I’m sort of sick of this ‘it’s the Russians’ blah blah, I’ve seen plenty of Latvian women wearing it. And worse.

      • Ieva says:

        Hi, I would like to add to this leopard print topic and mention some other stuff. I used to do my undergraduate degree in a UK university and I can say that upon arrival and starting to live there I was surprised to see how many girls and women were wearing leopard print and stiletto heels. I personally had never had any piece of clothing that was in leopard print (do not like high heels either, as I am quite tall). However, after graduation I bought myself a blue leopard print scarf to remind myself of the uni times 😀 So things are pretty relative – my guess is that you dislike so much about life in Latvia, because you miss your home and automatically try to tell yourself that at home things are better and grass is greener.
        During my undergraduate degree I was living in a seemingly nice English city (with a long history and nice city centre), but boy, how I compared everything to my home town Riga and boy, how things annoyed me there. I always used to notice how my uni city was dirty in comparison to Riga, thought about how much food was healthier in Latvia and how people were looking better/neater/fitter/healthier and not getting as drunk and having tattoos all over them in Riga (I am not talking about the chronic alcoholics and druggies, but normal people). And to be honest, I got so angry at people asking me how I was doing all the time and not waiting for a response. It seemed so artificial. I could go on and on and probably I would end up with a blog like yours here, but I will not do it as that will outrage many England lovers here 🙂 Anyway, now I am living in Riga already for some time and I feel very happy. By the way people are often smiling at me and being very kind, I very seldom feel like people are being rude. If someone is not talking to you or not starting the so called banter it may be simply because it is our Latvian mentality to be reserved (and it has nothing to do with soviet oppression – look how open/extrovert most Russians are in comparison to Latvians). Many just consider that they will appear too pushy if they will start talking with strangers on the street, for example.Also, Latvians consider it rude and funny to be artificially kind and Latvians will often wait until you start talking to them and then will open up and be really kind. And believe me, that when you will get friends, they are going to be genuine and last for a long time ;).So maybe if you will try to better understand the cultural difference you will feel much better in Riga and not feel angered or anything about people being abrupt or non-talkative.

        And the one last thing that I wanted to mention (maybe out of context) is that since I remember myself (even in the poor soviet times when I was a small child), I have had egg cups in my house, so it is not true that Latvians do not use egg cups. In fact, I believe every proper family has them. I guess the people whom you have met probably were busy young people that have not managed to settle down properly yet and so have not bought all the necessary things for the kitchen/dining..

        Oh and also, you are very courageous to live in Maskatshka – I would never live there as that place is truly scary 😀 Maybe you should move and life will get better for you. I wish you luck with your life and to focus more on the positive 😉 I read you blog properly now (I had had a brief look at it in the summer) and I do not believe that this is a realistic view of life in Riga. This, however funny, is more a negative view of life in Riga and sometimes I even got the impression this was not written about Riga, but some awful, depressive city somewhere far away 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha, maybe it is and I don’t really live in Riga at all 😉 As to the way some English people dress, I have to agree – I was there for 5 weeks this summer and have never seen so many bulges 😉 Ireland’s probably going the same way but I’m only ever home for a few days at a time and am so busy running around that I don’t really notice it! And the ‘hello’ all the time thing annoyed me a bit after a while as well – whereas before living here, it would have seemed perfectly normal and nice! My Latvian friends are lovely – it’s just the general demeanor and expression on the streets that gets to me a bit! Oh, and good to know about the egg cups – that one sparked a global debate. Too funny 😉 Anyway, thanks for the comment! Glad you’re happy to be back! Pop in and have a read every now and then 😉 Linda

    • Anna says:

      As a resident New Yorker I’d like to point out that half of Brooklyn is super-posh, uber-cool, home to Hollywood movie stars, month-long-waiting-list restaurants and $2500 for a 1-bedroom apartment rents. And I’m saying this as a Manhattanite!

    • Expat Eye says:

      I put an -ish on the end so as not to offend your sensibilities any further.

    • Livonian says:

      How about English and Irish girls wearing tight t shirts over their enormous muffin tops? Is that a better sight? 🙂

  43. bevchen says:

    I like dill… not sure about the rest. Although my ex-boyfriend plays ice hockey.

    The Germans think tea is the cure for everything as well. They have “Erkältungstee (for colds), Schlaf- und Nerventee (sleep and nerve tea – for those of a nervous disposition who need calming down before the ycan sleep) and Blasen- und Nierentee (bladder and kidney tea – my ex-colleague went to the doctor’s with cystitis and was told to drink this tea. By an actual DOCTOR!). And that’s just a small selection of the “miracle” teas available here.

  44. Anna says:

    If I went just by the quiz, I am 5 for 10, so it looks like I might be able to make it. However, after reading the post and looking at the photos (no WAY is this your real neighborhood, right? none of those places look functional or like they’ve opened their doors to anyone in the last 20 yrs. you picked the worst examples and used abandoned buildings for stand-ins, right? RIGHT?!), I want to go slit my wrists a little. And chain myself to Moscow.

  45. Mr Kev says:

    And to think you were thinking of moving somewhere else next year! 😉

  46. linnetmoss says:

    Agree about the dill and mushrooms (and berries). For the rest, oh you poor child. I hope they have plenty of booze available.

    • Expat Eye says:

      They do. Just avoid the local Balzams 😉

      • GR says:

        Oh nooo, you didn’t! Balzams is the best part. Mix it with tea and you got yourself a magic potion that cures all! But seriously – I have been living in the US for a few years now and I really wouldn’t want to go back to that Latvian weather, hell no. I agree with a lot of things you write in your blog, but I must say that Russians and Latvians differ a lot and often times you won’t see a Latvian do something a Russian would do and vice versa (good or bad, doesn’t matter). sorry to hear that you are moving – but I get it, Riga it very suburban compared to other Euro cities. Good luck either way!
        As a linguist I find Latvian language very compelling, it’s is one of the most archaic Indoeuropean languages, after all.

        Dill FOREVER! (My American husband hates it, but I still manage to sneak it in his food..)

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha, my mother used to do that with carrots – how she thought I wouldn’t notice the orange bits I don’t know! Still no final decision on staying or going but if this fuss keeps up, then GOING! This whole thing is ridiculous! 🙂 Linda.

      • Livonian says:

        Why don’t you stick around? There are people who have said much worse things about LV (like, 100x worse) and they are still there, some of them are even sitting in the Latvian parliament or are heads of influential newspapers.

  47. I like dill and picking mushrooms. Not so sure about the rest…

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