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Moving to Georgia (country): A Guide for Expats

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Georgia is a small country in the Caucasus region, bordered by Russia, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. It has a rich history, culture, and natural beauty that attract many visitors and expats. However, moving to Georgia is not without its challenges and opportunities. In this article, we will explore some of the aspects of living in Georgia, such as the cost of living, education, healthcare, and culture.

Cost of Living in Georgia Country

One of the main advantages of living in Georgia is the low cost of living compared to the USA and many other countries. According to Numbeo, a website that compares consumer prices across the world, the cost of living in Georgia is 53% lower than in the USA. This means that you can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle with less money in Georgia.

However, the cost of living also depends on where you live and what you buy. The capital city of Tbilisi is the most expensive place to live in Georgia, followed by Batumi, a popular tourist destination on the Black Sea coast. The rural areas are cheaper, but they also have less infrastructure and amenities.

Some of the items that are cheaper in Georgia than in the USA are food, rent, utilities, transportation, and entertainment. For example, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs about $9.65 in Georgia, compared to $20 in the USA. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs about $300 per month in Georgia, compared to $1,200 in the USA. A monthly pass for public transportation costs about $10 in Georgia, compared to $75 in the USA. A movie ticket costs about $4 in Georgia, compared to $12 in the USA.

However, some of the items that are more expensive in Georgia than in the USA are imported goods, healthcare, education, and taxes. For example, a liter of gasoline costs about $1.30 in Georgia, compared to $0.80 in the USA. A pair of jeans costs about $50 in Georgia, compared to $40 in the USA. A visit to a doctor costs about $25 in Georgia, compared to $100 in the USA. A year of tuition at a public university costs about $2,000 in Georgia, compared to $10,000 in the USA. The income tax rate is 20% in Georgia, compared to 10%-37% in the USA.

Therefore, before moving to Georgia, you should consider your budget and lifestyle preferences and compare them with the local prices and availability of goods and services.

Education in Georgia Country

Education is compulsory and free for children between 6 and 14 years old in Georgia. The education system consists of four levels: elementary school (grades 1-4), basic school (grades 5-9), secondary school (grades 10-12), and higher education (bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees). The official language of instruction is Georgian, but some schools also offer bilingual or multilingual programs in Russian, English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, or other languages.

The quality of education in Georgia varies depending on the location and type of school. Generally speaking, public schools are underfunded and overcrowded, while private schools are more expensive and better equipped. The curriculum is based on the national standards and covers subjects such as Georgian language and literature, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, foreign languages, arts, physical education, and civic education. The students are assessed by national exams at the end of grades 9 and 12, which determine their eligibility for higher education or vocational training.

Higher education in Georgia is offered by public and private universities, colleges, and institutes. The admission process is based on the results of a unified national exam, which tests the applicants' knowledge and skills in four subjects: Georgian language and literature, general skills, a foreign language, and a subject of their choice. The higher education system follows the Bologna Process, which means that it is compatible with international standards and diplomas. The most popular fields of study are business, law, medicine, engineering, and social sciences.

As an expat living in Georgia, you have several options for your children's education. You can enroll them in a local public or private school, where they can learn Georgian language and culture, but also face some challenges such as language barriers, cultural differences, and academic gaps. You can also enroll them in an international school, where they can follow an international curriculum such as the International Baccalaureate (IB), the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), or the American High School Diploma (AHSD). These schools are usually more expensive and selective, but they offer a high-quality education and a multicultural environment. Some of the international schools in Georgia are the QSI International School of Tbilisi, the British International School of Tbilisi, the European School, and the New School.

Healthcare in Georgia Country

Healthcare in Georgia is a mixed system of public and private providers, funded by the government, employers, and individuals. The public sector consists of primary healthcare centers, hospitals, and specialized clinics, which are managed by the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs. The private sector consists of various types of facilities, such as polyclinics, diagnostic centers, dental clinics, pharmacies, and spas, which are regulated by the National Agency for State Regulation of Medical Activities.

The quality and accessibility of healthcare in Georgia depend on several factors, such as the location, the type of facility, the level of service, and the insurance coverage. Generally speaking, the urban areas have better healthcare infrastructure and resources than the rural areas. The private facilities have more modern equipment and qualified staff than the public facilities. The tertiary care and specialized services are more expensive and limited than the primary and secondary care. The insurance coverage is uneven and incomplete among the population.

Since 2013, Georgia has implemented a Universal Health Coverage Program (UHCP), which aims to provide basic health services to all citizens and residents who are not covered by any other insurance scheme. The UHCP covers services such as emergency care, primary care, maternal and child health care, chronic disease management, cancer screening and treatment, and some surgeries and hospitalizations. However, the UHCP does not cover services such as dental care, optical care, cosmetic procedures, rehabilitation, and long-term care. The UHCP also requires co-payments for some services, which can be high for low-income households.

As an expat living in Georgia, you are not eligible for the UHCP unless you have a permanent residence permit or a work permit for more than six months. Therefore, you need to have a private health insurance plan that covers your medical needs and expenses in Georgia. You can choose from a variety of local or international insurance companies that offer different plans and benefits. Some of the local insurance companies are GPI Holding, Aldagi, Imedi L, and Alpha. Some of the international insurance companies are Cigna, Aetna, Allianz, and AXA.

Before moving to Georgia, you should consult your doctor and get any necessary vaccinations, medications, or prescriptions. You should also check the travel advice and health alerts from your home country's embassy or consulate in Georgia. You should also carry your health records, insurance documents, and emergency contacts with you at all times.

Culture in Georgia Country

Georgia is a country with a rich and diverse culture, influenced by its ancient history, geographic location, ethnic composition, and religious beliefs. Georgia is one of the oldest Christian countries in the world, dating back to the 4th century AD. The majority of Georgians belong to the Georgian Orthodox Church, which has a strong influence on their traditions, values, and identity. However, there are also other religious groups in Georgia, such as Muslims, Catholics, Armenians, Jews, and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Georgians are known for their hospitality, generosity, and warmth. They love to welcome guests and treat them with respect and kindness. They often invite visitors to their homes or to a feast called supra, where they serve various dishes such as khachapuri (cheese bread), khinkali (meat dumplings), lobio (bean stew), mtsvadi (grilled meat), and satsivi (walnut sauce). They also drink wine or chacha (grape brandy) and toast to God, family, friends, country, peace, love, and happiness.

Georgians are also proud of their language, literature, music, art, and architecture. Georgian is a unique language that belongs to the Kartvelian family and has its own alphabet. Georgian literature dates back to the 5th century AD and includes epic poems such as The Knight in the Panther's Skin by Shota Rustaveli. Georgian music is characterized by polyphonic singing and folk instruments such as panduri (three-stringed lute), salamuri (flute), doli (drum), and chonguri (four-stringed lute). Georgian art is mainly represented by icons, frescoes, mosaics, carpets, jewelry, and enamel. Georgian architecture is distinguished by its churches, fortresses, towers, palaces, and houses.

As an expat living in Georgia, you will have many opportunities to experience and enjoy the Georgian culture. However, you will also need to respect and adapt to some of the cultural differences and norms of the Georgian society. Some of the aspects that you should be aware of are:

  • Religion: Religion is an important part of Georgian culture and identity. You should respect the religious beliefs and practices of the Georgians, even if you do not share them. You should also dress modestly and behave appropriately when visiting religious sites, such as churches, monasteries, or mosques. You should avoid discussing sensitive topics such as politics, sexuality, or other religions with the Georgians, as they may have different opinions and values than you.
  • Etiquette: Georgians are very polite and courteous. You should greet them with a smile and a handshake, and address them by their first name or their title and surname. You should also use formal language and honorifics when speaking to elders, authorities, or strangers. You should avoid using gestures such as pointing, waving, or thumbs up, as they may have different meanings or be considered rude in Georgia. You should also respect the personal space and privacy of the Georgians, and avoid touching or hugging them without their consent.
  • Communication: Georgians are very expressive and emotional. They often use body language, eye contact, and tone of voice to convey their feelings and intentions. They also like to joke, tease, and compliment each other, but they may also be sarcastic or blunt at times. You should try to understand the context and the humor of the Georgians, and not take their words too literally or personally. You should also be honest and direct with them, but avoid being too critical or negative.
  • Family: Family is the most important aspect of Georgian culture. Georgians have strong family ties and loyalty, and they often live with their extended family members in the same house or neighborhood. They also celebrate family occasions such as birthdays, weddings, funerals, or religious holidays with great joy and enthusiasm. You should respect and appreciate the family values and traditions of the Georgians, and try to get along with their relatives and friends. You should also accept their invitations to their homes or supras, and bring a small gift such as flowers, wine, or sweets.
  • Gender: Gender roles are still quite traditional in Georgia. Men are expected to be the breadwinners, leaders, and protectors of the family, while women are expected to be the homemakers, caregivers, and supporters of the family. However, more women are entering the workforce, education, and politics in Georgia, and challenging the stereotypes and discrimination that they face. You should respect and support the equality and empowerment of women in Georgia, and avoid making any sexist or offensive remarks or actions.

Moving to Georgia can be a rewarding and enriching experience for expats who are willing to learn and adapt to a new culture. Georgia is a country that offers a low cost of living, a high quality of education, a decent healthcare system, and a vibrant culture. However, moving to Georgia also requires some preparation, research, and adjustment to overcome some of the challenges and difficulties that may arise. Therefore, before moving to Georgia, you should consider your goals, expectations, and preferences, and compare them with the reality and opportunities of living in Georgia.

I hope this article has given you some useful information and insights about moving to Georgia. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask in the topic. Thank you for reading! 😊

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