Relocation to Georgia: the IT community, adaptation, and prices
Anastasia Zaiceva has lived in Batumi for half a year now, and she shares her conclusions and impressions with Anywhere Club.
— On March 2, 2022, my family and I flew to Georgia, — says Anastasia, Head of the Communications at ZiMAD, — We chose Batumi as the city for our move almost by accident. We were in Tbilisi in January, and it did not seem to us to be the most convenient place to live, so we wanted to see other cities. Since we had tickets to Kutaisi, we decided to stop by and see Batumi because of the proximity. And here we remained. The old part of city is quite European, beautiful and authentic.
The decision to move was an easy one. Everyone in our family loves to travel and, at that time, we did not understand that our trip would be so long. We booked tickets for 3 weeks and planned to observe the situation in the region from another, more distant viewpoint. Plus, we have always had the desire to live in another country. It was appealing to be something more than a tourist; integrating into society a little more deeply. Trying to live according to different laws, in a different culture, is an interesting experience. We've been living here for six months now.
— We quickly managed to find an inexpensive apartment. Especially considering the prices at which real estate was offered at the time of our move. Our one bedroom apartment costs $450 per month, plus utilities. But we were lucky, because we moved at the beginning of a stream of relocators. Subsequently, prices rose sharply as a result and, in addition, the tourist season began in the country. In season, an apartment like ours can cost up to $700 per month.
A nice apartment at an affordable price was one of the factors influencing our decision to stay. Moreover, we always wanted to spend summer by the sea with our child. Today, a trip to Turkey for 10 days, taking into account complex logistics, would cost more than the whole summer of our stay in Batumi.
How much money is needed
— In fact, you don’t need a lot of money to move to Georgia.
Apartments here are rented fully furnished, which significantly reduces the cost of renting a home. In America or Europe, you often have to buy furniture yourself. For a long-term lease here, you need to make an advance payment for 2 months of rent — the first and last months of your rental term. The first goes to the owners, the last to the realtor. If you agreed directly with the owner, it will be cheaper. When the season ends, apartment prices drop a little. Also, many people leave Batumi for Tbilisi for the winter because winter in Batumi is quite a rainy time.
Expenses for opening a bank account, utility bills, and a telephone are relatively cheap here. For example, a SIM card with unlimited internet for a month costs $11.
For the most part, everything is relatively cheap in the country. The average salary here is $300-350 per month. Based on this, you can conclude how much money is enough for you to move and buy food for the first time.
But there were also a couple of surprising moments. I was not mentally prepared to discover that, coffee would cost the same as it does in Europe. And, in general, all dairy products are quite expensive.
— Many people in Batumi know Russian. Sometimes, even when you start speaking English, they still answer you in Russian. Plus, you pick up some words in Georgian pretty quickly. I have a good ear for accents and, when I say “Hello” in Georgian, native speakers answer me in Georgian or bring a menu in Georgian, and are very surprised to discover that I don’t know the language. English and Russian are both quite commonly used, so you can easily explain yourself to pretty much anyone anywhere.
Impressions of the country
— Georgia is a fairly developed country from a socio-cultural perspective. For example, did you know that the creative director of Balenciaga is Georgian? There are a variety of entertainment events, and many cool cafes. But despite this, Georgia still feels a bit stuck in the 90s.
I was also surprised by the local women. Many of them seem very unhappy. When attempting to understand why, I learned that marriages and families are begun young, and it seems to be accepted that spouses will not get along with each other. As a professional woman in the 21st century, I was surprised by the patriarchal, sometimes forcefully so, feeling of the society here.
Transportation was also an unpleasant surprise for me. Children are transported in cars without car seats. For me, this is totally unacceptable. And there are a lot of accidents here. They drive terribly. Everyone is in a hurry somewhere when they drive, honking and overtaking in the opposite direction – if you are a timid driver, it will not be pleasant for you.
About IT community
— I am a sociable person, so I can find a circle of friends everywhere. Of course, these will not be the friends with whom you have experienced a lot, but you will definitely not be alone. We communicate with old friends online. People have been used to this since the days of covid and, after 2020, most of my friends now live in different countries.
There is an IT community here. There is also a community of women who organize themed bachelorette parties. In addition, there are many sports groups, including things like yoga in the park or on the beach – thanks to the good weather, you do not need to rent a room. In general, you will be able to find plenty of activities.
Various meetups are held in co-working spaces. When we arrived, there were no coworking spaces at all. But now, if you enter “coworking in Batumi” on Instagram, you will find at least 15. The cost is from 25 to 45 GEL per day – this is from $11 to $16, a monthly subscription is from $100 to $200 with a workplace assigned to you, coffee, and cookies. But these spaces are not very busy. People in relocation still save more. At home, many people did not rent an apartment, so they could afford additional expenses; now they have to pay here and there for new expenses.
How to adapt
— Our adaptation in Georgia was complicated by the situation in the world, and a misunderstanding of how events would develop. I would say our adaptation was unsettling. Somewhere in the second month, though, I let go of my expectations for the situation, and began to focus on positive moments in everyday life and the country – something interesting or unusual. I focused on travelling around Georgia, experiencing positive emotions.
Any adaptation can be easier if you are positive. You should not concentrate on negative points, or compare your new situation with how it was in your country. You are a foreigner here, you live and work according to different rules and laws. This will require a little more patience, optimism, and indulgence. Most importantly, try not to dwell on the negative aspects of your move, but find the pluses. It is absolutely worth relocating since it can be a great experience that offers you new impressions, knowledge, and opportunities.
— It is very difficult to predict what will happen even in a couple of months. I don’t see any immediate end to our time here, but I do want to see other countries and discover new opportunities for myself.
I can immediately name three things that I miss:
Undoubtedly, there are also things in Batumi that I will miss when I am in another city: