These FAQs cover all the essential questions expats ask in facebook groups all the time. Get the answers ahead of time so you know what to expect.
If you are looking for our guide & FAQs on how and why to move your taxes to Georgia (Hint: 1% Tax rates, really) read the full guide here.
Georgia Expat Guide eBook – Free Download
For a more comprehensive introduction to expat life in Georgia, our free ebook covers all the most important topics.
Our 100 page guide includes:
- Visas & residency
- Business, banking & tax
- Everyday life: from social life to transport, internet, restaurants and much more.
Download your free copy of our ebook:
Before You Take Off
Tbilisi, Kutaisi or Batumi?
One could write an essay on this, but as with everything on this site, I’ll try to keep it short and simple.
Firstly, most cities (and, indeed, the countryside) in Georgia have a lot to offer. Which option is the “best” depends a lot on who you are. But to give you a very basic (but obviously biased and subjective) idea of the 3 main cities:
- Tbilisi: The capital and the largest city. Most expats live here. Tbilisi is arguably also the only city where you’ll find most “western-style” amenities without issues. It’s definitely the most convenient place to move to, the old town and Vake have charm, other suburbs are a little more urban. Air pollution is also a major issue here and traffic. Regardless of this, it’s still a great place to live if you like city life.
- Kutaisi: While one would assume the capital to have the best air connections, in many cases, the opposite is true in Georgia, especially if you like low-cost airlines like RyanAir, WizzAir and others, as most of these only fly to Kutaisi.
Other than that, it’s a small-ish city of around 150,000 people. You’ll certainly find the cost of living to be far less than that of Tbilisi or Batumi, the city will have a more authentic feel to it, but you may miss some of the comforts you’re used to and will definitely find it difficult to get by without knowing any Georgian or Russian.
- Batumi: Batumi is a holiday resort, and that pretty much sums up the place. It has a long shoreline and it’s very busy with lots of nightlife and other tourist-oriented activities going on during the summer. But in the winter, it’s more or less dead. Not the kind of dead that places like Ayia Napa in Cyprus or Sunny Beach in Bulgaria are, as it’s still home to nearly 150,000 people, but you won’t have a whole lot to do in the winter.
Fun fact: Batumi is, apparently, also the rainiest city in both Georgia and the entire Caucasus region, with nearly 2,500mm in annual rainfall!
What’s the weather like in Georgia?
Pleasant, in general.
While Georgia has many different climates due to being quite mountainous, most places that aren’t at too high of an elevation have hot and long summers and mild winters.
In Tbilisi, it isn’t unusual to see temperatures as high as 35 degrees Celsius during the summer months (June to September) and during the winter, the temperature rarely falls below freezing.
Springs and autumns are also quite nice and pleasant, and the average yearly rainfall in Tbilisi is just 500mm, making it a fairly dry place (compared to Batumi, which gets nearly 5 times as much rain!)
You can read more about it from our article: Georgia’s Weather
Will I be able to find a job?
Unless you speak Georgian or at the very least good Russian, it won’t be easy.
And even if you do find a local job, the salary is very likely not going to be enough to sustain “Western” living standards. As an example, the average salary in Georgia in 2019 was just 1,069 GEL (or around $398 / €362), and while the cost of living is relatively cheap too, it will still be a struggle. If you can get one of the rare expat wage level jobs, then you can expect at least 3 times that standard wage. As an expat with rent to pay, living off less than 2,000 GEL a month would not be enjoyable, and that would still be a very slim budget.
Most of the locals that you see living a decent life here either have a second income, work remotely for a foreign company or live with their families (which is incredibly common here, even well into someone’s 30s) and therefore save on costs.
What kind of lifestyle will I find?
Georgia is a laid back, relaxed, easy-going, somewhat unorganised and chaotic, technologically innovative, family-oriented melting pot of Europe, Asia and the former Soviet Union.
It’s perhaps the most divided place that I’ve seen, in that you’ll find incredible bureaucracy and chaos right next to top-notch technological solutions. You’ll find half the people living in huts that barely stay in one piece and the other half in brand new highrises (but nothing in-between, seemingly!) You get my point.
All in all, as Georgia is such a melting pot of different cultures, odds are that you’ll be able to build the kind of lifestyle that you’re after, based on where you live, who you hang out with and the places you go. The no-rules attitude (well, all rules flaunted attitude) means lifestyle is… Flexible.
Don’t expect to find a sunny, cheaper version of a Western European or American city, though, or you’ll be disappointed. Take Georgia for what it is and accept that some things may be unusual or a little dated. It’s still a developing country after all, which is why it’s such a great time to be here!
How to find short or medium term accommodation in Tbilisi?
The usual options – Airbnb, booking.com, etc.
I know many people who have booked an Airbnb for a few weeks to a month and then negotiated a continued deal privately with the landlord. Most landlords will be happy to give you a decent discount if you’re planning to stay for a couple of months until you familiarise yourself with the city and find more permanent accommodation.
The prices of short-term accommodation are also very reasonable, even during the tourist season. It’s not unusual to find nice, new apartments in a decent area go for as little as $20-30 a night.
See the below section on a place to live for more info on long term accommodation.
How can I get my personal items shipped to Georgia?
If you’re someone who’s got more than a few suitcases worth of stuff, this is likely going to be the first major disappointment that you’ll encounter.
Simply put (and no, I’m not making this up), the Georgian government charges import tariffs (30% composed of 12% import duty and 18% VAT) on every shipment that’s valued above 300 GEL (roughly $100), even if it’s your used personal items. Crazy, right?
It gets crazier. Let’s assume that you’re happy to pay the exorbitant fee, then what?
Then, you’ll have to compose a detailed inventory list, listing every single item that you’re shipping, along with its value. How do you determine the value of a pair of old socks? No-one knows 🙂 Seriously. I’ve heard from people who have called embassies, spoken to the Georgian Revenue Service, etc. and no-one seems to have a concise answer. So, wing it, I guess?
All in all, good luck! You’ll need it. Read our article on getting belongings shipped.
After You Land
How do I get a SIM card with some data?
Regardless of whether you land in Tbilisi, Kutaisi or Batumi, you’ll find kiosks selling SIM cards right after you walk out from the baggage claim. Some places even offer SIM cards for free, believe it or not.
The three main mobile operators are Geocell (Silknet), Magti and Beeline and while most people seem to use the first two, all three are supposedly pretty equally good … at least if you don’t plan on spending a lot of time outside of the major cities.
Prices are dirt cheap. While all operators have several packages, you can expect to pay no more than $5 for unlimited local calls and about a gigabyte of data. Personally, I pay 35 GEL (around $11) a month and get unlimited calls and texts and 7GB of data. But I’m sure even better deals can be found.
For a comparison between the main providers read our SIM card comparison article.
How do I get from the airport to my accommodation?
Whatever you do, do not take a random taxi from in front of the airport. You will get ripped off. The Internet is full of stories from people being charged upwards of 120 GEL for the trip. At around $40 for half an hour’s ride, it may not seem like much on the face of it, but with the normal price being in the 25-30 GEL range, it’s several times what you should be paying. And to top it off, a lot of these taxis are worn out vehicles too.
Instead, use Uber-like ride-sharing apps Bolt or Yandex (I prefer the former, but the latter is, apparently, a little cheaper). Grab yourself a SIM card (or connect to the free airport WiFi), install the app and off you go. Bolt even lets you pay in cash if you want to skip punching in your card details.
Most of their cars are decent, with the “standard” size mostly Priuses and “premium” mostly Toyota Camrys. I haven’t tried the cheapest “lite” option, though.
We’ve reviewed all the options here: From TBS to Tbilisi
Where/how can I learn Georgian?
Generally speaking, you have three options:
- Learn on your own: This is what my wife is doing and while she’s making good progress, it is tough. And when I say tough, I mean really tough. Not only are English-based study materials scarce, due to the unique pronunciation of the language, you’ll need to supplement written materials with a lot of recordings and videos to get the full grasp of things. And even then, you’d ideally need a native to tell you whether what you think is the right pronunciation actually sounds right. It’s doable, though. Feel free to shoot us an email if you’d like Elora to send you a list of the study materials that she uses. Oh, and no, Georgian isn’t on Duolingo or any of the other popular apps 🙁
- Get a private teacher: All it takes is a quick post on Facebook and you’ll have tens of people sending you PMs offering their teaching services one a 1-on-1 basis and at affordable prices. The problem? Most of those people are not language teachers and many have a very basic command of English. So you’ll likely end up spending a lot of time learning inefficiently. But if your goal isn’t to become fluent, but rather to just learn a few hundred basic words and to get by at the grocery store then this may be a nice and easy option.
- Go to a language school: There are plenty of language schools in Tbilisi, offering different kinds of courses at a variety of rates and intensities. Personally, I’ve heard lots of good about the American Language Centre, which might not be the cheapest option, but at $10 an hour for personal classes (and much less for group ones), I’d say it’s pretty reasonable. But there are plenty of other options as well, such as the International Centre for Georgian Language and even Tbilisi State University’s own Language Centre.
A Place To Live – Areas, Estate Agents, Buy or Rent
Which area of Tbilisi is the best for expats?
This is one of the questions that seems to trigger a huge divide in opinions every time it’s asked (which is about every day), so I’ll say it again that anything you read here is strictly my personal opinion, and others may or may not agree with it. With that out of the way, here’s my non-comprehensive, subjective and biased understanding of the main areas expats tend to live in:
- Saburtalo is where most foreigners tend to base themselves in. It’s a huge “sleeper district” that is a melting pot of soviet-style blockhouses (Khrushchyovkas) and newly built high-rises. While Saburtalo offers good value for money, being on the cheaper end of the spectrum and having good transport links (there’s a metro line that runs from the centre to Saburtalo), people who live there tend to report not many options in terms of entertainment, going out, etc. You’ll also struggle if you prefer driving or taking the taxi to the metro, as this means lengthy drives to the center, especially during the rush hours.
- Vake used to be the district for Tbilisi’s “elite”, so to speak, and it has largely retained the reputation of being a more “upscale” neighbourhood. Being situated basically between the Old Town and Saburtalo, the location is quite decent, however, there’s no metro so you’re stuck to driving. Traffic is usually OK, except for the rush hours, which is when it can get very clogged. You’ll find a nice combination of old and new buildings in Vake and a lot of modern and nicely done flats. Prices are noticeably higher than in some other neighbourhoods, though. Oh, and Upper Vake is, apparently, among places with the cleanest air in most of Tbilisi, as it sits on top of a hill. Otherwise, Vake is pretty flat, which makes things a bit easier compared to the super-hilly Old Town. Entertainment options are plentiful, with a lot of the city’s nicest (non-tourist-oriented) bars and restaurants located here. We live in Vake and are thus far happy with everything it has to offer.
- Rustaveli & the Old Town are definitely at the top of the list when it comes to the overall quantity of amenities and options, but being highly tourist-oriented, not necessarily quality. While the old town looks beautiful, you’ll find that for the most part of the year it’s rather crowded with visitors and unless you look like you might be from the region, you’ll be constantly mistaken for one by the various restaurateurs, tour providers, beggars and others. The old town is also rather hilly, making getting around on foot difficult at times. You also won’t find a lot of newer buildings in the city centre or the old town, making issues with utilities a little more common than you’d experience in Vake or Saburtalo.
- Marjanishvili is an up-and-coming neighbourhood across the river. It features the popular entertainment complex called Fabrika, which is frequented mostly by younger or, dare I say, “hipster-esque” crowds. While historically not an area that would attract large amounts of foreigners, the presence and popularity of Fabrika and the largely renovated Davit Aghmashenebeli Avenue, with its numerous coffee shops, bars and restaurants certainly attract a lot of attention – mainly focusing on the Arabic & Muslim market. And real estate prices and rents come at a fraction of what you’d find in the old town or in Vake. Transport connections are also decent, with the city centre not too far away and the Marjanishvili metro station right there.
Can a foreigner buy property in Georgia?
Yes. There are no limitations on residential property, the purchase process is extremely quick and simple and there are no stamp duties to pay. The only exception is agricultural land, the purchase of which is restricted. And, because of zoning laws, a lot of land that is in villages and small towns is still considered agricultural.
How much rent should I pay in Tbilisi?
This really depends on what your standards are and where you’re looking. I’ve heard first-hand stories from people who pay under $300 per month, as well as those who pay upwards of $2,000 a month.
What I’d recommend against is asking this question from a bunch of random people on Facebook or elsewhere, as different people have vastly different ideas of what constitutes a good living standard, what’s an “acceptable” budget (be ready to be flamed if you’re willing to pay above the average!) and so forth.
Where can I find a trustworthy / English speaking estate agent?
Ask this question on any one of the expat-oriented Facebook groups and you’ll get bombarded with estate agents of all kinds – some better, others worse. Some approaching you directly, others asking their friends to “recommend” them.
With this in mind, there’s virtually no reason to go with any one estate agent, as all you’re doing is limiting your options, as well as potentially opening yourself up for exploitation or the so-called “foreigner tax”.
Also bear in mind that, if you come from the UK or the US, you’ll find the role of an estate agent here vastly different than you might be used to back home.
Georgia employs the Eastern European standard, whereby an estate agent is not much more than a glorified data entry person with (often quite basic) photography skills. No agent has exclusivity over any one property (so you’ll often find tens of agents “representing” the same property), the majority of their leads come from the aforementioned sites and, in most cases, the agent tends to offer very little to no added value, as even the viewings are conducted with the property owner present.
Oh, and if an agent asks you for money, run! In Georgia, the norm is for the landlord/owner to pay any and all agent fees.
Settling In – Banks, Water, Internet and more
How can I open a Georgian bank account?
Assuming you mean a personal (not business) bank account, you’re in for a treat, as in 2020, Georgia remains one of the easiest countries for a non-citizen (or even a non-resident) to open an account – though they are slowly tightening up restrictions.
All you need to do is show up at one of the banks (Bank of Georgia and TBC are the two main ones) with your passport in hand and in about 20-30 minutes, you’ll walk out with a fully functioning multi-currency (GEL, USD, EUR). Go back in a couple of days and pick up your debit card. That’s it! No address proof, no reference letter.
A word of warning, though: be prepared to provide many more documents and start answering questions if or when you start receiving large (by Georgian standards) amounts into your account, especially from abroad. Banks in Georgia are increasingly tight on KYC and anti-money laundering and, therefore, tend to get quite nosey (and rightly so) the moment they spot anything irregular.
If you want to move a large amount of money, for the purpose of something like buying property, best to get some professional advice first. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we can refer you to an expert.
Do I even need a Georgian bank account?
While you’ll find plenty of expats spend years in Georgia without having a local account and just using their existing one and withdrawing cash or opting for an online bank like Revolut, transferwise, N26 and others, I’d say your life is a whole lot easier if you do have a local account.
Take bills, for example. Would you really want to go to an ATM every month to withdraw cash, only to then proceed to the “bill payment terminal” to insert the same banknotes you just took out? Or would you rather spend 5 seconds doing it via Internet Banking? (Actually, you don’t even need to do that .. just set up a recurring payment and forget about it)
Peoples’ preferences differ and for some reason that is beyond me, some people seem to genuinely prefer the former option, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll find it not worth your time.
How do I pay my bills?
As I mentioned when talking about Georgian bank accounts, the easiest option by far is to just use your Internet Banking and all it takes is a couple of clicks and you’re done.
But if you don’t have a local bank account or just prefer not to use it, you can do what a large portion of the local population does and use the “bill payment machines” (they’re probably not called that, though)
These are the (mostly blue or orange) touch screen terminals that you’ll see everywhere throughout the city. They’re on street corners, next to shops, inside shops … literally everywhere. There must be over 1,000 of these machines in Tbilisi alone so it’s impossible to miss them.
And they’re quite nice and easy to use. Choose your language, tap on what you want to pay, insert the cash (or a card … but only local cards are taken, as far as I know) and you’re sorted.
What are the best grocery stores and supermarkets in Tbilisi?
As with all questions of this type, “best” is highly subjective and what some would consider great is the exact opposite to others.
In addition, many people do most of their shopping elsewhere. It’s very easy to get your fruit and veg from the local vendor, your meat from the butcher and your khachapuri from the hole in the wall. You’ll support the local economy, get good and fresh stuff and won’t pay through your teeth either.
But as far as Western-style supermarkets are concerned, you’ve got a few options:
- Carrefour stores can be found all around, they’re pretty sizeable and you’ll find both local and import products.
- ArgoHub is another supermarket chain similar to Carrefour, but arguably a little bit nicer and better-organized, albeit also a tad more expensive.
- Europroduct, smart, Spar and Nikora are chains of mostly smaller shops that you’ll find scattered everywhere throughout the city. If you’re from the UK, you could compare these to your Sainsbury’s Local and Tesco Express. Though Europroduct has quite a few additional foreign imports from europe.
- Goodwill a slightly more expensive version of carrefour (because the product selection and quality is similar, just higher prices). It’s fine but you might as well go to Carrefour in most cases.
I lost my water. When is it coming back & what should I do?
As the first step, check the Supply Interruptions section of the GWP Website and see if your address is listed there. While the site has an English version, this section is in Georgian so you’ll need to use Google Translate. If your address is listed then you’ll also see the estimated time you’ll have your water back.
If that’s not the case then the problem is likely with your house or apartment. Give it half an hour in case someone’s cut the water supply to get temporary work done, then call your landlord if you rent, or speak to the building manager if it’s your own place.
Oh, and make sure you’ve paid your bills! Many electricity, internet and water cuts here are due to unpaid bills as the utility companies are very trigger-happy and tend to cut off the service in as little as a week or two (within a couple of days with internet), without sending you any reminder letters.
You should always have large containers of tap water for toilet flushing stored in your home. Water cuts and electric cuts about once a month (for about 6 hours at a time, sometimes) are possible but it depends where works are being done.
How does the postal system work?
If you’re from a Western country then prepare to experience something entirely different from what you’re used to 🙂
The first thing you’ll notice is that most apartment buildings in Georgia lack mailboxes. So how does post get delivered, you ask? Well, it’s complicated.
First of all, sending domestic mail is extremely rare in Georgia. In many cases, service providers don’t even send out utility bills. Instead, you’d either check them online or through the little automated bill payment machines scattered around the city. But if a utility bill does get sent, it’s usually given to your doorman (if your building has one) or slipped under your door.
While it’s technically possible to also send and receive letters and parcels, this is usually an affair that requires showing up at the post office and waiting in the queue.
For this reason and the overall consensus that the public postal system is fairly unreliable, most Georgians tend to use private services like USA2Georgia, Kiwipost, etc. for foreign parcels and one of the large number of local courier services for anything local.
Does Amazon deliver to Georgia?
Yes and no.
While it will be tough to find Amazon listings that offer delivery to Georgia, most people tend to use a service called USA2Georgia for this, or Kiwi post from the UK and some other countries. In short, they give you a local address in the US that you can order your Amazon packages to and then forward anything received to a “locker” in Tbilisi where you can pick it up. It costs something like $8 per kilo and taking around a week per parcel, it’s pretty nice and convenient, at least for lighter things.
Considering the above and the inefficiencies of the public postal system discussed above, it’s not hard to see why this has become the go-to route for Amazon shopping.
Oh, remember that if your order totals 300 GEL (around $100) per day , you’ll be charged an import duty of around 30%. Note that this applies per day, so it doesn’t matter whether you have 1 package of $104 or 4 packages of $26 each … if you’re over $100, you’ll pay the tax.
Also bear in mind that packages posted on weekends may be lumped together, so if you’re close to the limit, try to order mid-week or leave a day’s gap between two orders to avoid a potentially nasty surprise.
Once a consignment is trapped at customs, you have to register with the revenue service here and get on the tax system to pay the import tax.
What are some good taxi apps/companies?
There are two main ones in Tbilisi – Bolt (formerly Taxify) and YandexTaxi.
Personally, I tend to use Bolt and haven’t had any major issues with them, apart from the sometimes annoying time estimation algorithm that they have (it’s not unusual to be quoted 5 minutes and to then wait around 15-20 minutes. Especially during rush hours).
Yandex, people say, is marginally cheaper, but with taxi prices being cheap as they are (I rarely pay more than 6-7 GEL for any trip in the city and I tend to use the “Premium” option), I’d rather pay a few cents more for what seems to be a tiny bit better quality.
What are some good cafes for remote work in Tbilisi?
There are plenty of cafe’s all over the city, most have fast internet as the whole inner city has fiber optic (20mb/20mb or more).
But one coffee chain that’s usually reliable is called Entree. You’ll find these cafes all over the city, their coffee is decent, as are the pastries and most places have good wifi and decent seating.
Are there co-working spaces in Tbilisi?
I’d recommend you to check out Coworker.com to get a better overview, as the coworking places vary WIDELY.
On one end of the spectrum you have places like Terminal in Vake, which looks fantastic, offers great amenities and is perfectly situated (if you live in Vake), but charges something like 450 GEL per month just for co-working, which doesn’t even include coffee and tea, which you’ll have to buy from the cafeteria.
On the opposite end, you have places like UG Startup Factory in Saburtalo that charges less than a third of that (120 GEL a month).
HELP – I received an SMS in Georgian but written in Latin letters so Google Translate doesn’t recognize it.
It’s common practice for some businesses here to send text messages that are in Georgian, but typed in Latin letters. That’s also done by the Revenue Service, as well as some mobile operators.
For foreigners, it’s extremely annoying as Google Translate doesn’t recognize it as Georgian, and fails to translate it.
Luckily, there’s a (somewhat annoying) solution:
Head over to https://ge.translit.cc/, paste in your text, and hit the button that says “–> Georgian”. Boom! You now have Georgian text that you can put into Google Translate.
Money & Taxes
Do I need to apply for a Residence Permit?
It …. depends.
If you’re a citizen of one of the 95 countries and territories that can travel to Georgia visa-free then you can spend up to 1 full year in Georgia, including work in Georgia without needing any additional permits. Yes, you read that right. Georgia is, to my knowledge, the only country in the world with an immigration policy this relaxed.
That said, many people still like to get the residence permit, either to safeguard themselves against possible future changes in the law, to gain an additional safety net when travelling (technically, it’s the border guard’s decision whether to let you enter the country or not, unless you have a residence permit) or to prove residency for tax reasons.
If you do spend 183 days or more in Georgia in any rolling 12 month period, you will automatically become a tax resident. This can be a bit of a shock to people who arrived on a tourist visa.
The best outcome is normally to sort out your tax liabilities and options before you even arrive, so you can minimize your taxes rather than get a surprise. You can read about the 6 month tax residency law and your options here.
What are the requirements for a Residence Permit?
The majority of people tend to apply for the permit on the basis of having a workplace and for this you need to, well, have a workplace. Note, though, that it’s no longer as simple as registering a company, hiring yourself and marching straight into the Public Hall to pick up your residency papers. You’ll need to demonstrate the legitimacy of your workplace and this means that you’ll need to remain employed for certain time (often quoted as 6 months) and, if it’s your own business, show a yearly turnover of at least 50k GEL.
But to fast-track the permit, one can always revert to the residency-through-investment channel, which requires you to purchase immovable property in Georgia, valued at 300,000 GEL or more (roughly $100,000). This amount buys you a decent apartment in an OK area that can then be used as a rental property. Once you’ve bought the property, you’ll automatically qualify for the permit, along with any family members.
Other avenues are available, such as study, family unification.
Check our article on Residency Permits for more info.
Georgian Tax Residency – you may already be a tax resident.
Firstly, you should speak to a qualified tax adviser, have them assist you, as well as validate your tax situation, as this is one area where you want to avoid any mistakes as they can turn out to be very costly.
Tax residency in Georgia is automatic after 183 days in any rolling 12 month period, so if you’ve already been here that long, you are already a tax resident and required to file by March 31st of the year following when you became a tax resident. Even if you are on a tourist visa, you are a tax resident.
The best way to minimize your tax bill is to take advantage of the Georgian tax system asap, rather than wait until you have to file and then discover you could have paid less if you registered early. The difference can be many thousands of dollars.
The best time to sort out your taxes is before you arrive in Georgia, or immediately after arriving.
If you have questions about your tax situation and the best way to minimize liability, get a free consultation with one of our expert English speaking Tax advisers.
If you are not already a tax resident and want to be asap to avoid taxation elsewhere, a separate set of rules apply, rather than the 183 days if you’re looking for the “high net worth individual” tax residency, which doesn’t come with any physical residency requirements, but does require you to show assets in excess of 3,000,000 GEL ($1,000,000) and/or income of over 200,000 GEL ($66,600) for the last 3 years.
Starting a Business
How can I register a company in Georgia?
Find information on opening an LLC (limited liability company).
We can help you open your business in Georgia and bypass all the language barriers, check out our pricing and service here.
What are the banking options for my Georgian company?
Your options depend a lot on what sort of a business you have.
While Georgian banks used to be extremely liberal when it comes to opening accounts (and still remain largely so for personal accounts), this has changed and it’s increasingly difficult to get a corporate account open with any of the local banks, unless you can demonstrate actual ties to Georgia, beyond just the fact that you reside here.
Basically, what all of the banks are looking for is physical infrastructure (office, employees, etc.) in Georgia, as well as ideally income or marketing activities in Georgia. If you can show this, then you shouldn’t have an issue opening an account with any of the larger banks – Bank of Georgia and TBC being the preferred two.
But if you’re expecting a lot of foreign income, especially in USD, and aren’t able to demonstrate a whole lot of “substance”, you’ll almost certainly struggle opening an account.
We have a lot of experience in the quirks of opening a business account, if you need help with this, book a free consultation.
You do, of course, still have the alternatives of Revolut, Transferwise and other online banks, many of which make it extremely easy to open an account.
Where do I find a good English-speaking Tax lawyer to help me?
One of the main reasons we started ExpatHub was that we were dissatisfied with the level of service and accuracy we’d experienced with trying to find tax advice locally.
We’ve made it our mission to provide tax advice and accountancy services that meet up to western expectation. We only hire people who speak excellent English and work to our high standards of fact checking and precision.
If you get a consultation with us, we will not only answer your questions but also show you the evidence, direct from the tax code and government legislation, that proves what we are saying is accurate.
Our initial consultation is free, so there is zero risk to you if you’d like to try us out and then meet with a few other accountants and you’ll discover that we really know our stuff and also offer fair, transparent pricing.
How can I hire people in Georgia?
I’ve used Jobs.ge with a lot of success.
This site, along with CV.ge which is their sister site appears to be the largest job portal in Georgia.
The first time I used them, about a year ago, I was looking for a personal assistant and got just shy of 80 applications, which was very decent for the 75 GEL or so that I paid to place the ad.
How do I get from Tbilisi to ….
Bus is the most common option. There are two main providers, GeorgianBus and Omnibus and both have several departures daily. The ticket costs around 20 GEL one-way and to make things nice for those arriving in the middle of the night (which is when most flights to and from Georgia tend to be), the buses are actually aligned with flight times. The ride takes around 4 hours.
Train is a somewhat cheaper (9 GEL) and a bit more comfortable option, but it also takes a bit longer – around 5 hours – and doesn’t take you straight to Kutaisi airport. There’s also just one train per day, as far as I know.
Rental car is always an option for return trips, but if you haven’t driven in Georgia before, you may want to allow some time to get used to the somewhat creative approach to traffic that’s common here before getting behind the wheel 🙂
Minibus or a “Marshrutka” as they’re called costs about the same as the train at 10 GEL, gets you to Kutaisi in roughly 3.5 to 4 hours. Just show up at the bus station, look one up and approach the driver. While not the most comfortable of rides, the minibuses depart often and are cost-effective and quick.
Taxi remains an option if you’re after speed and convenience and don’t mind paying a little extra. One might expect a 3.5-hour drive to cost an arm and leg, but in reality, at roughly 130 GEL or $45, it’s not that bad at all, especially when splitting among multiple people.
Train is almost definitely your best option. The trains are modern and comfortable double-deckers and 2 or 3 travel classes depending on the departure. With 2-3 departures per day, a 5-hour travel time and a ticket price of 25-61 GEL depending on travel class, it’s a great option.
Bus is, apparently, a viable option, but I’m not personally aware of any large providers like the ones you’ll find for the Kutaisi route. You probably also don’t want to spend nearly 7 hours in a stuffy bus.
Flying can’t be dismissed as a valid option. But while the flight itself is only 40 minutes and quite inexpensive, starting from around $55, you also need to take into account the time you’ll spend to get to and from the airport, having to get there early and dealing with luggage. With all of this combined, the time difference between a flight and taking the train won’t appear as significant any longer.
You always have other options like taking a marshrutka and driving, the latter of which might be good if you’re planning to do some sightseeing on the way (and there’s a lot to see!)
While there are some creative ways of getting from Tbilisi to Baku, such as a 10-hour bus ride or trying your luck at the border with a rented car, most people opt for either a flight or an overnight train, both of which have their pros and cons
The overnight train (which we recently took and I’ll soon write a whole article about it) is … fun! We opted for this option less because of the price (can’t go wrong with $30 for a First Class ticket) and more because of the convenient times (leaves Tbilisi at 8pm and gets to Baku at 9am … and vice versa on the way back) and because of the novelty factor. And we weren’t disappointed!
The trains are nice and relatively modern (at least in 1st class), you get your own sleeper cabin that sleeps 2 (4 in second class, more in 3rd) and it has everything you need for a comfortable 12-13-hour ride. Except for food. Bring your own food! And coffee. Hot water is provided, though 🙂
The only slight inconvenience is that you have to physically show up at the train station to buy the ticket. There are no online tickets as they need to check your passport, and you’ll have to repeat the process on Baku side (although for that direction, you can “reserve” your ticket and pay for it online, just need to then pick it up).
The Tbilisi-Baku flight is a far less adventurous but arguably more convenient option. There are 3 flights a day – 2 by Buta Airways and 1 by Azerbaijan Airlines, and the tickets are cheap at around $50-60 one way on most days. The one thing that isn’t great is the flight times, as either your departure or arrival is almost certainly going to be late at night or early morning.
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