Latvia is a small country in the Baltic states in Europe, bordered by Lithuania and Estonia. It is famous for its beautiful forests and architecture, as well as its traditional food and rich history. With a population of just over 2 million, Latvia is a small country, but has a lot to offer expats and foreign workers.
Working In Latvia
Latvia has had several big transitions over the last three decades, leaving the Soviet Union in 1991, transitioning to a free market economy, and then joining the EU in 2014. Each of these events posed challenges for the country, but Latvia has overcome every hurdle and become a key power in Eastern Europe.
One of the main reasons people choose to work in Latvia is to gain access to its fast growing economy, which has been one of the most secure in Europe. Between 2012 and 2017, their GDP grew by 20.6%, considerably higher than the EU average of 7.4%. Over that same period, unemployment dropped across all categories. It’s ranked as one of the easiest countries in the EU to do business, and has lower tax rates than other countries. This is a large part of what attracts so many expats to Latvia.
Due to its location, much of Latvia’s economic growth comes from the production and exportation of goods, including lumber, machinery, and electronics. Around a quarter of Latvia’s GDP comes from the industrial sector. Latvia has excellent transportation infrastructure to move everything it manufactures, so journeys around Europe are easy to make on their road network, which is over 70,000 km long. There are also rail networks into Russia, other Baltic Countries, and EU countries further afield should you want to travel.
If you are an EU citizen, you’ll need to apply for a residence permit to stay longer than 90 days. If you’re a non-EU citizen, you’ll need to get a work permit to work in Latvia. You’ll also need to prove you have concrete prospects of getting work in Latvia. If you’ve used a recruitment company to secure work in Latvia they may be able to help you get a permit, or at least prove there has been an offer of work.
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Living in Latvia
Latvia has a relatively high quality of life. It has free education for all children up to the age of 15. From there they can enter work or move onto higher education. This early education is free for expats living in Latvia, provided they pay the necessary social security contributions and have a residence permit. Most expats live in Riga, the capital city. There are several international schools based there, where the majority of the lessons are taught in English.
The health service in Latvia is funded by social security, although there are charges for some procedures or treatment. The overall level of Life Satisfaction within Latvia has risen year on year, and the people of Latvia were more optimistic about the future than the EU average.