Tbilisi, Georgia Report of what it's like to live there - 06/09/10

Personal Experiences from Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia 06/09/10

Background:

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

Yes.

View All Answers


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?

Washington DC, 15-24 hours through Amsterdam, Munich, London.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

View All Answers


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

US Government.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Single-family homes with yards in Zurgovani and Digomi. In Zurgovani, you are living with your co-workers. Not a lot of privacy. Digomi is nice, but streets are bad and really muddy when it rains. Digomi and Zurgovani are within 5 minutes of the US Embassy. Saburtalo has townhome style and single houses. Is typical city housing, but if you love being in the city it's perfect. In Vake you will live in an apartment. It's the closest to living in a European city. Lots of great restraunts, park, close to the Old City.

View All Answers


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

Groceries are widely available at Goodwill Hypermarket (think small Walmart) and Populi. In the city there are small markets along every street. Fruits and Vegetables are available all year long, but especially fresh and tasty from May-Sept. The US Embassy commisary has gotten much better and has improved morale!

View All Answers


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

Pancake syrup and bisquick. Sunscreen, children's medicines (tylenol, motrin) Adult motrin, Advil, Excedrine, immodium

View All Answers


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

McDonald's is here. They also have Georgian "fast food". They have some great restaurants in the Old City and Vake.

View All Answers


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

The same as you find in the US

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

View All Answers


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

Available and very affordable.

View All Answers


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

There is a great gym at the US Embassy and there are private workout facilities on the economy.

View All Answers


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?

Use the same care that you would in the US then you should have no problems.

View All Answers


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

Yes, all denominations

View All Answers


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

No

View All Answers


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

You should know the basic phrases in Georgian. Definitely learn the Georgian alphabet. Although many of the older people speak Russian, they prefer not to. A lot of the younger people are now learning English rather than Russian.

View All Answers


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

Tremendous difficulties. I would not recommend that anyone with physical disabilities live here.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe and affordable. Trains are safe and affordable. A great way to travel to the west coast/Black Sea. Subway is ok. Buses and marshutkas are definitely not recommended. Travel on these at your own risk.

View All Answers


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?

Any type of car is fine, however, make sure that it is not new and that you are prepared for it to get hit in an accident. Most people drive 10-15 year old SUVs. The roads are slowly improving, but many remain filled with potholes. Georgian drivers are horrible. There are no rules of the road. Although the police are very good, they are lacking in their policing of the roadways. Many Georgians drive carelessly fast. There are many fatal accidents, however, none have involved expats during my time here. The driving is the one thing that makes every expat here crazy!There are also no street signs so a GPS is a must.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

Yes, $50-70.00 US monthly

View All Answers


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

Cell phone service here is not a problem. Two different carriers with good service.

View All Answers


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, you will need a certificate within 30 days of your arrival in Tbilisi showing that all shots are up to date, especially rabies.

View All Answers


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

Adequate pet care is available. It certainly is not as pristine as you will find in more advanced countries. There are no kennels. Bring dog/cat treats and dog/cat food. Although they have limited amounts here, the quality is not known. Most people order their food and treats online.

View All Answers


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?

No

View All Answers


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

Business dress at work. The Georgians are still stuck dressing as they did in their Soviet past because they don't have much money, nor do they have easy access to quality clothing, but that is changing. You will now see men in shorts and women in capris, but it's the exception rather than the rule.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

None.

View All Answers


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

You will get Tbilisi tummy. The Health Unit at the embassy is GREAT!

View All Answers


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?

Air quality varies with the weather. When it's cloudy, the air is stagnant and polluted. When it rains or is windy, the air cleans up. Asthma sufferers should be aware that it can cause problems.

View All Answers


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

Hot in summer, Beautiful and warm in fall. Winter and spring are cold and rainy. The wind can be very bad, but not often.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

QSI is the school attended by many embassy kids. Education and management are good. It's closest to the embassy. The New School is attended by those who don't want to follow the crowd. New School is certified in the International Baccalaureate program and costs significantly less than QSI.I prefer New School for my child.

View All Answers


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

It would be on a case by case basis and limited at best.

View All Answers


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?

It is available. I have not had personal experience with it, but know people who have. I have not heard any complaints.

View All Answers


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

The US Embassy has been very good about providing sports opportunities for kids. Kids can also play sports locally.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Fairly large for such a small country

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Morale is good, but can definitely be affected by taking a short drive. Embassy community is friendly. Many families with kids.

View All Answers


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?

Food, wine, clubs. Many in the embassy community often get together on the weekends.

View All Answers


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

Great for all.

View All Answers


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

Georgians do not acknowledge the gay lifestyle. That said, there is a closeted gay community.

View All Answers


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

I have never encountered any.

View All Answers


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

The people, the food, and of course the wine!

View All Answers


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

Supras, wine tasting, touring the varied regions of Georgia. If you sit home every weekend, then you are not experiencing Georgia. It's great for those who love the outdoors.

View All Answers


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

Carpets from the North and South Caucasus. Wine, jewelry and art.

View All Answers


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

The country of Georgia is absolutely beautiful. If you love the outdoors, then this is your place. There are lots of unexcavated historical sites where you can walk right up to the site. The Lari is weak against the dollar, so you are able to save money. It is also easy to get to Western Europe, Istanbul, Dubai and other Eastern European locations via air. Tbilisi airport is new and in good condition, however, most flights leave in the middle of the night.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't want to have any fun.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely.

View All Answers


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

brand new car.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

camping and hiking gear, mountain bike, sun screen, sense of humor.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

View All Answers


Subscribe to our newsletter


New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More