General country information
Slovakia is landlocked bordering the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Hungary to the south, Ukraine to the east, and Poland to the north. Vienna is just 30 miles away – within commuting distance – and Budapest and Prague just a few hours away.
The Foreign Office reports a thriving British Council presence in Slovakia. The Council promotes English language teaching, educational partnerships and academic links, as well as exchanges in the arts, science and culture. It works with the Embassy and Slovak partners to foster good governance.Formerly part of Czechoslovakia and within the Communist bloc from 1948 to 1989, it became an independent republic in 1993. Since 2004 it has been a member of the EU..
Mountains dominate the central and northern parts of the country while the south is mainly lowland. It has a temperate climate.
The Foreign Office reports that in 2004, Slovakia was commended in a World Bank report for improving its investment climate, joining the 20 ‘easiest’ countries in the world for doing business. ‘Recent economic policy in Slovakia has resulted in strong growth with falling inflation and budget deficits, keeping the country on course to join the Euro in 2008/9’.
Among Europe’s most dynamic economies in recent years, largely due to sizeable foreign investment
in the auto sector that led to rising exports—registered 2 percent growth in 2012. External risks are materializing, however, with weaker demand expected from trading partners, especially in Europe. This, coupled with still anaemic domestic demand, leads to a growth forecast of 0.6 percent for 2013.
There is a growing incidence of petty theft in Bratislava where pickpockets operate around the main tourist areas, and foreigners are easily identified and targeted. ‘More serious crime does happen in Slovakia but is not targeted at tourists or visitors and tends to be a result of disputes between warring criminal factions’.
Visas are not required for British citizens to enter Slovakia. Those intending longer stays should register with the Police within three days of arrival and can apply for a Slovak ‘green card’, which can then be used as proof of identity (otherwise visitors must carry their passports at all times).
Being EU citizens, UK investors can buy property in Slovakia, although there are restrictions on the purchase of agricultural land and forestry.
Slovakia’s property market is showing signs of recovery and house prices rose during the first quarter of 2013, after slowing price declines during 2012, at least in nominal terms. But when adjusted for inflation, residential prices fell by 1.7%, according to the National Bank of Slovakia (NBS). House prices are down by almost 20% (-28.8% in real terms) from the peak in 2008.
As of June 2013 the total volume of mortgage loans in Slovakia totaled €6.58 billion, an increase of 5.9% on June 2012, based on NBS figures.
Property is transferred by way of a pre-purchase commitment to buy – when a deposit is paid – followed by a surveyor’s report, completion (signing of the final document before a notary) and registration with the land registry – the Kataster. This last step to formal ownership can take some weeks although it is possible to pay for accelerated registration.
The law requires that registration including a plan and description of the property, the name of the registered owner and details of any charges over the property or restrictive covenants or easements.
Mortgages are available from Slovakian banks. Buying costs are estimated to be between 2 per cent and 6 per cent.
Country information – Slovakia
Area: 49,033 sq km
Principal cities: Bratislava, Koaice, Nitra, Preaov, Zilina Median age of population: 36.1 years
Employment rate: 89.8%
Flying time from UK: 1.55 Hours
Currency: 1 Euro = 100 Cents
Time difference from UK: +2 hour
Rate of inflation: 3.7%
International dialling code: ++421
GDP per person: $17,646
Climate: Cool summers; cold, cloudy, humid winters