Ok Latvia, you win

I’ve decided to throw in the towel, ditch my west European values and attitudes in the bin and adopt Latvian values particularly when it comes to measuring time. The alternative was to have a nervous breakdown or go grey overnight or worse still both. I’m not complaining about the quality of Latvian workmanship, but trying to get an exact date when jobs will be completed is mission impossible. Take our plumber for example. The quality of the job he has done for us is excellent, but trying to get him to communicate to us when he will be on site is like trying to get blood out of a stone. He has never let us down and all the jobs that needed to be done before winter are virtually completed. Then the workman who came to repair the interior window surrounds after having the new windows fitted, turned up at 5.00 pm one Sunday and left at 10.00 pm. He turned up again the next day at 2.00 pm and then proceeded to work until 2.00 am on Tuesday morning. So I’ve decided not to stress any more and go with the flow.

It’s possible though that in the UK we have it totally wrong. All our life seems to be run by watching the clock and meeting deadlines, life always seemed so much more frenetic than here. When we wake, eat, go to work, go to gym, go to sleep etc is all dictated by the clock. Here in Limbazi life is certainly more easy going. Time seems to be measured in months not hours, minutes and seconds, events are dictated by the seasons and the weather not a clock. A few weeks ago a workman told me he wouldn’t be on site as he had to get his potatoes picked whilst the weather was fine.

Perhaps we have it all wrong in the UK and we should take lessons from the Latvians. Time will tell.

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16 Responses to Ok Latvia, you win

  1. amphet says:

    I swapped to Latvian time a while back and now life is more relaxed but I find hoping to getting Latvians to take initiative is my biggest frustration now.

    The UK obsession with 9am confuses me as no one ever can get home from friends house at 3am, cook a light snack, sleep and then get back through Riga traffic for 9am here.


  2. Reinis says:

    Yep, that’s a massive problem in my opinion, especially when it comes to “blue collar” workers. As I see it, most people who still take pride in their work and would be considered more or less professionals have left the country to search for a better life elsewhere.

    Of course, some fluctuation can be expected when it comes to manual labor, but not weeks or months.

    Good luck with your repairs, at least the quality is good! 🙂


  3. I think the main difference is who is working for you. For example, if you got your plumber British he will come in time during working hours and will leave at 5pm, no matter job done or not. But foreigners will work while job is done, even so ridicules late as 2am. But here in England I observed other problem – if electrician is British, he will not done job quickly, even if it is not very hard, because usually get salary monthly or hourly. If it is foreigner, then we know job will be done. We always pray at work- send us polish man to do repair works. :):) But people everywhere are different!:)


  4. June says:

    Potatoes always take priority! We had similar frustrations doing our house renovations, but like you we’re very happy with the quality of the work and the price tag that came with it. Once you get used to the concept, it’s actually fine. And you can easily get a plumber or electrician for an emergency in the evening or at weekends when that would be impossible back home. There’s advantages to both systems, I guess, but I’m getting to love the Baltic way!


    • aedoxsey says:

      Have to agree with you June. We found our plumber after loosing our water supply late one Saturday evening. He was round within an hour, set us up with a temporary supply and came back the following day to make it permanent. All for the princely sum of 30 euros. Enjoy you travels over the next month. Look forward to seeing some photos


  5. Vents says:

    Well, let’s imagine, we have moved to France/Spain/Italy or dare I say Greece? And I would try renovate my newly bought property there? what chance would I stand trying to push my mentality / work ethics/ what not on them? All right – this is Western Europe of course! 😀
    Personally – I would adapt to local conditions and enjoy the experience…

    same goes for seasonal occupation – as far I as know – it is far from uncommon for people in some parts of Europe proper to do one type of work during summer / winter and something quite different during spring/fall. can you say shop/B&B owner vs craftsman in Alps? easily imho.

    Honestly, I’d say it is a good thing there are people in Latvian countryside, who are skilled enough handyman/ don’t drink too much, etc, and who are ready to work their smallholding to supplement the income? could I blame them for that? 🙂

    imho you are not doing so badly so far. (may the luck stay on your side )


    • aedoxsey says:

      Hi Vents, you’re right of course and since I changed my expectations I feel much more relaxed. Looking back at the four and a half months we have ben here, we’ve achieved a lot. New roof, new windows, new bathroom and new central heating. All completed to a very good quality. Thank you Latvian tradesmen. Without you we may have been cold his winter.


  6. Ella says:

    UK definitely has it wrong – fixing a minor problem is a nightmare! It took us 4 months and 5 contractors to determine that our shower isn’t working because of the low water pressure. And each time our landlord got charged for “diagnostics”.
    Latvians have a thing called “darba tikums”, which basically means “virtue of hard work”, and doing a good job is more important than being put in a time frame, especially, if the payment is received for the job done rather than hourly rate (which for construction and suchlike is ridiculous in the first place).


    • aedoxsey says:

      My experiences of trying to find good skilled tradesman in the UK are bad ones. All over the UK there is a shortage. So those you can find are either super expensive or cowboys. You are lucky if you can find someone to do a job at a reasonable price.


  7. Hakko says:

    Those timings most probably are because those people do that job besides their main work. I consider myself “master of all trades” also. Many of my relatives or acquaintances asks me for electrician, plumbing, maybe some construction works or advice.
    Not sure why (maybe it’s subconscious loneliness or need for appraisal 😀 ) but I like to help – also I don’t ask for reward from relatives but they feel better if they pay me. Also I do all that work as for myself and I’m perfectionist. By the way I have good job with good salary.


    • aedoxsey says:

      Thanks for the offer Hakko. All the jobs in my house have been completed and generally I am happy with the work and would recommend all the tradesman. You are right about the fact that they have a main job in addition to the work they have done for me.


      • Hakko says:

        Sorry I didn’t offered help 🙂 Have plenty of work to do at my house – but I’m explaining in general – there’s not so common in Latvia to call special service for let’s say electricity or plumbing there will always be some friend or relative who does that for living and we better call him than servicemen. Only thing we called service for several years was Gas furnace service. We even changed and insulated roof by ourselves, just contracted one worker (which also was recommended by relatives ;D ) for more hands. Maybe Latvians don’t trust strangers – idk?


  8. Daila says:

    It’s actually funny when you look from experience of foreign employee working in UK. It is often that my colleague would ask me to move quicker and not very carefully as we are running out of time. Quality of work is not important if it is the end of the shift. In a result I have to run as a crazy squirrel to finish the work according to my internal standards and with responsibility my mother told me in the same time that my fellow workers would use to just wander around the room and confirm that job is done.


  9. Lawrence Parramore says:

    My experience of plumbers has been mixed, first so so, job done and kind of works but not very well, about the same cost as in the UK. Second super expensive local company, didn’t bother with them, tried cheaper local company started in summer still hadn’t finished in December and the workmen disappeared with a worse situation than before. Finally some friends knowing of the situation ventured their friend who is a plumber and had fitted their bathroom, apprehensively we got in touch, he tried to talk the last lot into finishing their job but to no avail and finally came and did it over a couple of weekends in which we even moved the solid fuel boiler down into the basement and so on, quite a big job really and not expensive! Electricians similar, some do some really silly things but we know one family who are competent and a pleasure to have around! In Latvia you definitely do not get what you pay for, it is often if you find somebody who is competent that they do a good job and quick and sometimes at little or no cost even!


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