Tips if you are planning a move to Georgia

Georgia is a welcoming country, both in terms of the hospitality of the locals and the relative ease of applying for residency or citizenship. Georgia is still an undiscovered country for many, but it boasts many enchanting landscapes with UNESCO World Heritage-listed castles and monasteries, while the capital, Tbilisi, remains traditional but multicultural, with a small but close-knit community of immigrants from the West.

A new law grants foreigners a residence permit for one year

The Georgian government issued a regulation in 2014 allowing citizens of 95 countries to stay here visa-free for a year. So you have a good excuse to check whether the country meets your expectations before deciding to live in Georgia long-term.

Living in Georgia and vacationing here are different

If you have visited Georgia, it was probably a vacation or business trip during which you felt the country's great hospitality. However, when you become a resident here, you can no longer expect to be treated like royalty. You will receive fewer invitations from Georgian families and fewer offers to show you around. This is understandable and sensible as you now become part of the community and have to adapt and start figuring things out on your own. But don't think for a second that Georgians will neglect you. They will continue to help you and remain your friend when you are in need.

Visitors to Georgia are warmly welcomed | | © Sergo Karakozov / Alamy

There are other immigrants in Georgia

Although the Western immigrant community is relatively small, it somewhat resembles its own village within a country, and community members support one another.

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Don't expect everyone to speak English

Georgia has its own language, written in Georgian script and spoken only by Georgians. It is similar to no other language in the world. It may seem difficult to learn at first due to the guttural sounds, but it is not impossible for foreigners to learn. We've created lists of idioms and phrases to get you started. Once you've learned a few phrases, you'll find your way around.

The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral looms over a street lined with souvenir shops in Mtskheta | | © Jake Lyell / Alamy

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral looms over a street lined with souvenir shops in Mtskheta

The country relies heavily on imported goods

Although there are local shops and bazaars selling fresh produce in Georgia, the state relies heavily on imports, meaning prices may be higher than you expected. This is often the case with foods like coconut oil or milk, organic produce, almond milk or flour, Asian spices or pastes, and Italian pesto. Clothing can also be expensive compared to other European cities. Even budget brands here have high prices relative to the cost of living.

Prices may be higher than expected | | © Tim E White / Alamy

Prices may be higher than you expected

You can quickly ship goods from the USA to Georgia

The lack of a wide variety of goods in Georgia has led to a demand for products from other countries, particularly the United States. Several international companies ship to Georgia from various online stores based in the USA, Germany, China and the UK. It will take approximately a week to receive your products.

Finding an apartment can be difficult

When moving to a new country, one of the most difficult things is often finding an affordable and attractive home, and Georgia is no different.

The price of a rental depends on the location, the condition of the apartment and the size; As a rule, central locations are more expensive than districts on the outskirts. The more prominent the apartment, the higher the price. Most owners quote monthly rates in US dollars and expect you to pay in that currency, but some also charge Georgian lari.

Buying an apartment here is quite expensive and is not recommended unless you plan to make Georgia your permanent residence.

The price of a rental depends on factors such as location | from | © Marina Pissarova / Alamy

The price of a rental depends on factors such as location

You must take out health insurance

Health care in Georgia is expensive and immigrants are not eligible for subsidized or free services. Therefore, purchasing a comprehensive insurance policy is a must. Depending on your monthly budget, there are numerous health insurance plans to choose from.

Georgia allows dual citizenship

The country has relatively smooth immigration laws, especially for those coming from the US, EU, Israel or Switzerland. It allows dual citizenship and to obtain it you must prove that you are of use to Georgia. This process takes up to two months. Requirements for obtaining citizenship may include investing in the country, purchasing a property, marrying a Georgian, starting a business here, or holding a long-term job.

You can get dual citizenship if you can prove you are an asset to Georgia | | © Philip Willcocks / Alamy

You can get dual citizenship if you can prove that you are an asset to Georgia

Obtaining a residence permit

A Georgian residence permit entitles a foreigner to enter and stay in Georgia for the period of validity of the document, as well as to invite another foreigner to the country. To obtain a residence permit, you must submit an application in person or online at the Public Service Hall. The required documents should be in Georgian, but an application completed in English may be approved. Permits are issued for various reasons, including work, study, permanent residence, investment and family reunification.

Paying bills is easy

Georgia has one of the strangest but simplest systems for paying your utility bills. The whole country is full of payment boxes where you select the service you want to pay for, insert the money and you're done. Simply! This way you don't have to wait in a queue at a post office or bank. You can even buy train tickets at certain ticket offices if you decide to travel to one of Georgia's many beautiful cities.

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