Expat Fair showcases what life in Brno can offer to foreign professionals

Brno, Czechia's second-largest city, has long played second fiddle to the capital, Prague, in terms of attracting foreign talent. But all that may be changing.

Brno, the Czech Republic’s second-largest city, is home to some 400,000 inhabitants, 77 201 of whom are foreign workers, according to labour office data from the end of 2021. Despite this, Brno is often not known to foreigners living outside the Czech Republic, and when it comes to foreigners living in Czechia, Prague has long overshadowed the historical Moravian capital in terms of destination of choice. However, that is now slowly changing.

Brno is becoming an increasingly popular destination for expats. According to data from the Employment office of the Czech Republic, over the last 6 years, the number of foreign workers has increased by about a third. Marie Lungová, Communication Manager for the Brno Expat Centre, says that Brno has plenty to offer highly-skilled foreign workers.

Marie Lungová | Photo: Brno Expat Centre

“When it comes to the question of what attracts foreigners, what Brno is well-known for, then it comes down to the universities and the fact that Brno is a technological hub. These are the two main reasons that foreign talent comes to Brno. Then they move here and find out all the other perks and stay here for longer.”

Half of university students in Brno are in technical, natural sciences, and medical fields, and the South Moravian Region's share of high-tech employees is on par with the most developed western regions, according to the Brno Region 2022 Data Report.

But there is another, more personal reason that foreigners move to Brno, Lungová says.

“Quite often, expats move here for their partners, their love interests. They meet them abroad and then when that person comes back home to South Moravia they follow them here and then stay.”

Photo: Brno Expat Centre

More than 10% of people living in Brno are foreigners, but life for them is not without its challenges, Lungová adds – some specific to foreigners, and some that are shared with the local population.

“Quite a lot of the challenges the foreigners face here are actually the same as the local Czech population, like the lack of available housing or not enough doctors. But all of these problems are then more pronounced by the language barrier. Then there are some problems specific to foreigners. One of them, and I think the biggest one, is a lack of schools who are willing to take on students who don’t speak Czech. This is one of the main reasons why quite a lot of expats leave prematurely.”

That is why the Brno Expat Centre was set up almost twelve years ago. It is a free public service funded by the city of Brno with support from the local biggest employers, dedicated to helping foreign professionals coming to Brno.

Photo: Brno Expat Centre

“We help them soften the landing, so we assist them and interpret and consult with them on a variety of daily living issues like finding a doctor or sorting out insurance or finding a language school. Then we help them throughout their time in Brno, with things like when they start a family or finding a job or getting a car or a driver’s license.”

This Saturday, 9th April, the Brno Expat Centre will be holding the Living in Brno 2022 - Brno Expat Fair at Tržnice (Zelný trh 14), the purpose of which, as Lungová says is “to bring everything that makes Brno international under one roof in one day”. Visitors can look forward to expat-friendly services, employers, clubs and communities, and leisure opportunities, but that is not all – there will also be food from every continent barring Oceania and Antarctica, wine and beer, and a culture stage.