How is it to live in Georgia?
Where did you get the courage to move to Georgia? How much does it cost to live in Georgia? What do you eat in Georgia? We have heard all those questions after packing our things up in Estonia and Lithuania and moving to Georgia for the main part of the year. Let’s try to answer those questions and who knows, maybe we’ll see you in Georgia as well!
1. Three kinds of Georgia
One of the first things that need to be pointed out is, that Georgia can be very different depending on the region. Tbilisi is the modern part with startups and coffee shops, Batumi is filled with high glass buildings, golden carousels, bars, casinos and beaches. And then there are the villages. With beautiful views, guys in all ages sitting in the bus stop every day of the week and houses, where the inside spirit matters more than finishing the facade works. Renegade Tea Estate is located in one of those villages, so this article will mostly focus on the things we have learned about this Georgia.
2. Friendly people
Who knows something about Georgia, has probably heard about the hospitality and the free attitude to life of the people. Getting invitations to have some food and wine are quite usual while meeting new people and the most certain way to have a taste of Georgian home-made wine, is to have a slightly longer conversation with anyone… This makes Georgia a perfect travel destination, but can cause some stress, if you plan to take your European attitude towards work with you to Georgia. Working together with the people of Sakartvelo requires the understanding, that having a good time with your friends and family is always the main priority and no job tops it. This mentality takes some getting used to, but once you get it, it might start some shifts in your mindset as well.
3. Cost of living in Georgia
How much money do you need to live in Georgia depends highly on the expectations you have for the life? To give some perspective on what people earn then of 2019 the average salary in Georgia is 1069 lari ($398/355€) per month. Since communal costs in Sakartvelo are quite low and many things can be grown in home gardens the overall living cost is usually not high. On the other hand, since the Georgian economy is highly dependent on import, some things may look overly expensive or even none existing in the shops and markets. Meat products and milk is mostly imported and thereby quite expensive, some food items are difficult to find altogether- pesto and avocados are the main things we have been struggling with our Renegade Tea Farmers team. So overall moneywise it is not expensive to live in Georgia if you adapt to the local habits and sacrifice eating avocados and almonds daily.
4. Is Georgia a safe place to live?
The short and easy answer is: YES. Of course there are different people everywhere, but in general, during our two years in Georgia nothing bad has happened to any of us and we have never felt any threats from anyone.
5. Weather in Georgia
Since the tea is growing from March to October, this is our main expertise. The beginning of the year is usually cold, there even might be some snow. Starting from April it will get warmer and warmer until it reaches to 35-40 degrees by August and then starts gradually to come down again. June and beginning of July have some rainy weeks usually but after that, it’s mostly sunny and the first time you notice that you will need some longer sleeves is around mid-September evenings or October maybe. As mentioned before, the winter-time gets quite cold and an important thing to notice is that like in many other places with generally warm climate the houses are not built for low temperatures. So wintertime comes with either high cost on heating or moving your life to one room in the house that you can keep warm!
6. Paying utilities
Sounds maybe like a weird topic to discuss on its own, but it has been very interesting for us. Paying utilities in Estonia usually means that you have a contract with let’s say electricity provider and they extract a certain amount of money from your bank account every month. Paying for utilities in Georgia means that you take out cash, go to a box in the city (there are soooo many of those boxes luckily though), insert a code and pay what you are required. An important thing that we quite often miss, is the fact that YOU are the one, who has to remember that it’s the beginning of the month so money needs to be paid. If you forget, the electricity is just quite quickly switched off without any additional hassle. It will be switched on again, as soon as you pay, but we have experienced quite a few mornings without Internet or electricity just because no-one remembered to bring money to the tax-boxes :D
7. Time management
Even though our neighbouring countries think of Estonians as slow, the tempo of living in Estonia is way higher than in Georgia. This reflects on everything - all the things that you expect to get done within a day- count a week for it. If you plan to do it in a month, take a half year. This counts to everything from shopping to building to finding reliable partners. There are no big stores to get everything you need at once, it can be a daily activity to find 20 shovels or some cardboard boxes. Filling in papers is manual work, so if you are going to need some official documentation done, take a day off to wait in lines, explain and to be directed to another specialist.
Georgian official language is Georgian (or Kartuli as they say in here) and this is the only language most people speak in the smaller parts of Georgia. You might find someone with some Russian skills, but English-speakers are very rare in smaller places. And by smaller places, I mean basically everywhere outside of Tbilisi or Batumi. So learn some basics of Georgian (we have put some of our tips HERE) and prepare to explain a lot of things in the universal body language!
All in all, living in Georgia is just amazing with local food, landscapes and people. Just keep in mind, that if you come to stay for a longer time, you probably have to be prepared to make some changes, after all- you were the one who came to Georgia not the other way around ;)