Kiev, Ukraine Report of what it's like to live there - 04/18/08

Personal Experiences from Kiev, Ukraine

Kiev, Ukraine 04/18/08

Background:

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

My second expat experience.

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2. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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

I am an educator.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Good. There's a Delta flight directly through JFK but you have to go through JFK which is usually a problem. Lufthansa, KLM, Aerosvit and many more options are out there.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Varies.

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

About the same as in the U.S. except for meat which is ridiculously expensive.

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

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

McDonald's is here and so is TGI Friday's (Friday's service is terrible!). McDonald's is the same price as back home. There really aren't any other choices that I'm aware of.

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Daily Life:

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

By regular snail mail.

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

Expensive and difficult to find good help.

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

Don't!

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

Yes . . . everything is here.

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

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

A lot!

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

Probably would find it difficult.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

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

Yes, except after dark on the trains and buses. Very affordable.

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3. 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?

Learn how to drive stick and jump into a Lada!

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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, getting cheaper by the day. Maybe US$50 a 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?

Cheap service is available.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Skype.

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Pets:

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

Look at the Women's club book, there are lots of them available. My advice would be to ask somebody you know who has a pet who they use. Housecalls are available.

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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?

Not that I know of.

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

Casual to conservative.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate-Unhealthy: On the roads the pollution is terrible from all of the big diesel trucks. During the burning season (slash and burn agriculture here) it gets pretty nasty depending on where you are.

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

Don't use your ATM card as there are problems with machines popping up all of the time. Petty crime and racist crimes are an ongoing problem.

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

It is VERY BAD . . . our son had to have a minor surgery and the doctor left a scar . . . proceed carefully there.

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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?

9 months of crap and the rest of the year is simply beautiful!

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Schools & Children:

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

KIS and Pechersk School are the two most commonly used and the best. KIS is cheaper.

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

I'm not sure they do anything . . . no real experience with that aspect of things.

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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?

No experience, but I hear it can be quite difficult for some and easy for others.

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Expat Life:

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

Very large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Poor.

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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?

Lots of things to do here, if you can figure out how to get it done.

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

Singles . . . yes! Couples . . . maybe . . . families beware!

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

I don't know.

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

Major problems. Anti-semitism, racism, sexism, you name it. There are neo-Nazi thugs who ride the Metro after dark and attack darker-skinned people.

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

Great parks, the river is pretty, opera, ballets, circus, dreaming of springtime!

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

Pretty little martrushka dolls.

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9. Can you save money?

Depends on how much you get paid. We can't.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Not a chance!

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

English.

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3. But don't forget your:

Russian (not Ukrainian) dictionary.

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

The cost of housing is becoming prohibitive for many. A apartment for a family downtown is over US4,000/month. It is only slightly cheaper outside of the city. It seems to be mob controlled.

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