As a general rule, I won’t do a Could I Live Here
post about a place unless I’ve spent at least two nights there. But I thought I’d make an exception for Pilsen, where I only spent one night, because I thought contrasting a city that is so similar to where I live would be interesting.
Pilsen is a calm little place that is very pretty. Like all traditional Czech architecture, the center of Pilsen has very beautiful and colorful buildings with exquisite carved and painted detail. So walking around the city is nice. The only problem is that it’s a ghost town. Even what should be the most crowded parts of the city are fairly empty. And if you wander off outside the cute center of town, some parks and walking paths are downright desolate.
This was most obvious at night on a Monday, where everything closed early and the only people at the bars should be in rehab for their substance abuse problem. I imagine that it’s livelier on the weekend, but I don’t want to live in a place where I can only find something to do on a Saturday.
I can forgive almost everything as long as I feel comfortable as a pedestrian somewhere. And Pilsen fails pedestrians miserably. Even in the center of town, it seems like there’s traffic everywhere and even though it’s not very big, there’s a weird excess of highways and huge streets with no pedestrian crosswalks. Along some highways there’s an adjacent walking path, which although convenient, is fairly lonely and not very well lit. So it’s not the kind of place I would feel comfortable walking at all hours by myself like I do in Prague. It definitely seems like the kind of place that’s difficult unless you have a car. Though to be fair, there were trams around. Though the network looks extensive, I don’t know if they would necessarily take you everywhere
you need to go in the city.
Like all Czech people, the folks in Pilsen are reserved and relaxed. We didn’t have any negative experiences. People are generally nice if you need help and leave you the hell alone when you don’t, just how I like it. I get the feeling that getting around in the city without speaking Czech might be a little more difficult than Prague. Luckily I know like 10 words now, so when we encountered anyone that didn’t speak English, we were able to survive. But it might be kind of a headache to get along as an expat with limited Czech language ability.
Arguably the best thing about Pilsen is that it’s cheap. It’s the Czech Republic without the premium you pay for living in a popular tourist city
like Prague. Food is cheaper, drinks are cheaper. Transportation tickets are nearly half of what they cost in Prague. And if I lived in Pilsen, I could spend half what I spend now on rent for a bigger apartment. The downside, of course, is that the apartment would be in Pilsen.
Total Livability Score: 3/10
It’s certainly not the worst city in the world. Pilsen would be livable. But it would probably feel isolating to live in a place that’s so boring.