True Lithuania

Services in Lithuania

In recent decades the quality of services in Lithuania has improved greatly.

Three tiers of services in Lithuania

Services in Lithuania generally fall into these three types:

1.Modern private services that have the same marketing gimmicks, locations, and amenities you could expect in Western Europe or the USA. The prices are also often comparable or somewhat lower. They are usually owned by foreigners or Lithuanian mega-businessmen. Main cities have modern private services of all types, while modern shopping, cell phone, and internet services are available all over Lithuania.

Inside the 'Europa' shopping mall in Vilnius. Developed a large Lithuanian property developer, it was sold to a foreign fund later. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

2.Private 1990s-styled services, which may be harder to find, lack advertising and may lack some other common features (e.g. a 1990s-styled accommmodation may lack online booking opportunities and credit card readers). But they can be much cheaper, far more authentic and more "humane", with money not "the king". They are usually owned by some self-made (wo)men who discovered how to do business by trial-and-error in the 1990s and did almost everything with their own hands. The services of this type predominate in smaller towns but are available in cities as well (especially out of downtowns and shopping malls).

3.Public services, which are owned by the government and often plagued by Soviet attitudes that client is a nuisance. Inconvenient opening times, inefficiency, queues and corruption are common. Public services predominate in healthcare, education and cultural activities (e.g. theaters, museums). Railways and many buses are also government-owned. The prices of public services are usually somewhat arbitrary (two services demanding the same amount of work may have very different prices).

A Soviet-level museum of geology in Vievis. These days, however, such stuck-in-the-Soviet-Union locations are becoming rare, with many public institutions getting renovated on state money and coming closer to the private institutions in quality (still, the difference in work ethics often remains). ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

List of services

Hotels and restaurants are all private. While a few Soviet-style institutions remain in smaller towns, generally they have been all built or renovated after 1990, offering a good service quality.

Lithuania has some of the world's most competitive cell phone, internet provider, and food retail markets, offering considerable quality even at the lowest end of price range.

Lithuanian media is all-private, but it has lost much of credibility recently due to perceived political and business meddling in its articles and reporting.

Lithuanian utilities are usually a state monopoly administered by private companies. These tend to have a dubious reputation as the monopoly fails to encourage them to respect clients. Ceasing to buy utilities (such as public heating) is often banned, completely destroying clients' market power.

Transportation in Lithuania is provided by public companies (railways, municipal buses) and private companies (some intercity buses, taxis, airlines, ships). While public companies are noticeably worse at management, they have improved their vehicles and may offer services at times when there are no private services. Private taxis are infamous for scams.

A Soviet-manufactored train at Marcinkonys in 2017. While Lithuanian Railways have been modernizing their fleet and many of the trains are now new Western-built, such modernization has been much slower than that at the private bus companies or airlines that have did away with Soviet vehicles long ago. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

One remaining case where Soviet attitudes are well-entrenched is the healthcare. While Lithuania has great doctors, public hospitals tend to view clients as a nuisance, even expecting bribes for non-substandard treatment. Private hospitals, on the other hand, respect clients and perform much better.

In education private schools and universities tend to be better equipped and managed. However, key public institutions still trump them in size and faculty. In the case of universities, public ones attract the best students too, arguably contributing to better prospects there.

As Lithuanian salaries are lower than those in the West, the prices of services are also significantly lower than in the Western Europe. They are more expensive than in Asia however.

A list of ways to send money to Lithuania is provided by the IMT website.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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