Tbilisi, Georgia Report of what it's like to live there - 09/24/11

Personal Experiences from Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia 09/24/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

NO.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

14 hours via Amsterdam to Minneapolis.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Embassy housing in four areas - There are townhouses, single family homes and apartments. All have backup generators except for apartments.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can find like American items from German and French stores here.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Recommend any brand named item that you simply can't do without - you can find substitutes for nearly everything here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Ronnys Pizza, New York Burgers, Texas Chicken, McDonald's. Plenty of ethnic restaurants. You won't go hungry here!!!!

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

I notice a few ants in the spring and some more in the fall. There are some mosquitoes in the Summer.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through Embassy DPO/Pouch.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Not cheap, but available.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, and the Embassy offers one as well.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Recommend you don't use them.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, I think so.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Bring your AFN decoder box - there are cable packages available.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Some would be great, but honestly can get away without any.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

LOTS, streets are all uneven and very few ramps.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are abundant and inexpensive. The Embassy has a couple companies that they recommend.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Sedans are ok, but high profile vehicles/SUVs are better for some of the unpaved/rough roads.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, but sometimes there are outages. Costs about US$50-$100 per month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Nope, easy to find and inexpensive. Everyone has them here.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

NOT quality, but there is pet care available. Locals are not as patient-friendly as they are in the USA -- very rough manner with animals.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Some.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Similar to Washington, DC.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Just use good common sense. Nothing special.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The Embassy has a full-time direct-hire nurse practitioner and a local doctor. There are medical facilities around the city.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good in Tbilisi, there is some dust from constant construction and roads. You can feel the grit inside your house.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Four seasons, very mild winters in Tbilisi -- some snow and can be very windy at times. Beautiful springs and falls. Couple weeks of very hot days in August.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are a couple schools to choose from, Quality School International, French School & New School.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, but I don't subscribe.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Pretty big.

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2. Morale among expats:

Seem as though most everyone is happy here.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Plenty of nightclubs and shows/theater events. Home parties are popular.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think families and couples enjoy it far more than singles.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No problems of which I am aware.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I'm sure there are, but I don't see it.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Visiting archeological site D'manisi and the Uphultsikhe cave remains, and the Stalin Museum in Gori.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Site seeing, visiting museums, watching Georgian dance troupes, going to movies (some offered in English), hiking, and skiing.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Nothing great to buy here.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Can save some money. There is not much really to buy in the way of souvenirs. Countryside is mountainous and beautiful.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Quest for the logical.....

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor and sense of adventure.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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