Kiev, Ukraine Report of what it's like to live there - 05/07/21
Personal Experiences from Kiev, Ukraine
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
Yes, first expat experience.
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?
Home country- U.S. usually took over 13 hours of travel time including layover. Connections through Paris and Frankfurt are common, then to the east coast another 7 or 8 hours.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Apartment in the Circus area of the city. Big enough for our needs. Close enough to walk to public transport, parks, shops, etc. Commute to Embassy about 25 minutes by car, 45 minutes by tram. There are a limited amount of houses close by the Embassy, but if you want walkability to most everything, choose the apartment option.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Cheap!!! Quality was not great. Aside from some Asian-esq sauces, no other ethnic spices or ingredients.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Any ethnic foods and spices. Especially Mexican food!!!
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Georgian restaurants are the best!! It is the most underrated cuisine that is a must-try in Kyiv. Take out was plentiful and cheap via Glovo. Just about any kind of food you can imagine. One disclaimer is pretty much every ethnic food is fusion, so don’t expect good ethnic food. Food delivery for groceries is easy using the Glovo app or Zakaz.com.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
None that I noticed.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Through the mailroom at the Embassy.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Household help is cheap, we hired a part time housekeeper once a week and a dog walker. Both about US $5/hour
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
A few gyms in the neighborhood and the Embassy gym. Local gyms are expensive-U.S. prices.
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?
Yes to both.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
I think there are religious services in English- I didn’t go to any so I cannot speak of how they are.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Basic Ukrainian or Russian is highly recommended for interaction with couriers and Uber drivers. Most couriers or delivery people could not find our address and called for directions when lost, but they did not speak English, which made it a little difficult to communicate. Most restaurants have servers that speak English and a good amount of restaurants have menus in English. There are language classes you can schedule through the Embassy that were excellent.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
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?
Something with high clearance such as an SUV.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes!! It was installed in 2 or 3 days after arrival.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Life Cell and Kyiv Star are both cheap and have good service.
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?
Great vets- Zoolux took great care of our pups.
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?
There are a good amount of EFM positions at the Embassy.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Dress to impress!! Smart casual.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
None. It is the safest city I have ever lived in.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical care is iffy. Dental care is OK, everything else I would go to the U.S. or some other medivac location.
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?
Seasonal air quality- not great during the winter.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Dairy free options are plentiful!! As for environmental allergies, if you had seasonal allergies before coming to Kyiv, you will have them in Kyiv.
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
It is pretty gray in the winter. If you have SAD, this might not be the place for you.
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Cold and snowy in winter, beautiful in spring, fall, and summer. Summers are mild and warm, not too humid.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Two international schools.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Overall morale was good, but COVID made it less so.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Meeting up at restaurants was common, as was dinners or gatherings at people’s houses.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
I think it is a good city for all!!
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
Very easy to make friends with locals.
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
None that I experienced, but I know someone who experienced problems.
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Lviv was the best trip!! A must see while in Kyiv. Highlights were the architecture, culture, parks and lovely people we met.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Any museum, tons of parks, and Georgian restaurants!!
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Some embroidery that you might want to buy, but not really considered a shopping post.
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Low cost of living, beautiful architecture.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
You can get just about anything you need here!! And it is so easy to get dairy free foods.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
In a heartbeat!!
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Ideas about what is a proper parking spot. You make your own parking spot in Kyiv.
4. But don't forget your:
Snow boots and etiquette lessons. Use your indoor quiet voice.
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
Movies- Winter on Fire