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Job, communication with locals, cost of living, schools. How Russians are integrating in Georgia


Georgia became one of the main destinations for Russian-speaking emigration after February 24th last year.

There is no exact data on how many new inhabitants this Caucasian country has gained over the past year but it is believed that at least a hundred thousand Russians arrived here.

In any case, Georgia faces a new challenge that could change the development of the country, and in any direction, depending on socio-cultural, economic, and ideological factors.

How is the new stage of life shaping up for Russian-speaking emigrants? What about jobs? To what extent are stereotypes justified? Do they have to change their habits? We will try to find out together with the protagonists of the publication.


Since 2019 there are no direct flights to Georgia, but there are connecting flights to Yerevan, Minsk, Baku and Istanbul. And since May 2022, covid restrictions on travel across the Russian-Georgian border at Upper Lars, which is the only checkpoint for overland travel, have been lifted.

Georgia has the most liberal rules of stay for Russians: no visa is needed for a year, and any trip outside the country with subsequent return nullifies the period.

Yes, the current wave of migration is not much liked by the Georgian opposition, which demands introduction of a visa regime for Russians. But the official authorities say that the existing ways to control migration flows are sufficient for now.

Kirill Mironenko, a manager from Moscow, has been living in Tbilisi since early September. His choice of Georgia as a destination coincides with the motivations of many Russians:

- I think everyone knows what kind of situation the Russians have been facing since last year. Getting visas to many countries has become problematic, and currency fluctuations of the currency have caused financial difficulties as well. The option of going to one of the neighbouring countries has become the easiest. Georgia is one of the most democratic and free of them. After living in Russia, this is an important factor. The climate is also very pleasant.

Cost of living

Mass arrival of Russians to Georgia spurred investments in the economy, which is growing by 10 percent. The local currency, the lari, has also significantly strengthened. Last year's appreciation was generally beneficial for emigrants: in May 2022 the GEL was worth only 20 rubles. Now the GEL has gone up - the exchange rate is already close to 30.

The flipside of economic stability - rising cost of living. Georgia is no longer the cheapest country to live in: rent prices have doubled, the price of a square meter of newly built housing has almost doubled. Food is becoming more expensive, as are restaurant prices and the cost of a number of services.

The telegraph channel Emigriceps compared the living budget in Georgia with that of other visa-free countries.

A reasonable standard of living for one person, including rent, would cost $1,200 per month in Georgia - more than in Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Central Asian countries. Moreover, it is even cheaper to live in Mexico, Argentina or Peru!

Relations with the locals

"How are Russians treated there?" - is the most frequent question that emigrants hear from their friends and relatives in Russia. The answer may be very short: "Good!" - But it would be incomplete.

For ordinary Georgians, the main outcome of the past year was significant inflation, while salaries remained modest. Of course, this state of affairs affected attitudes. Before the war, especially during the years of poor tourism, guests from Russia were worth their weight in gold.

Today's wave of migrants brings not only pluses, but also minuses: renting accommodation at today's prices is becoming increasingly difficult for locals. Nevertheless, at the household level, the attitude to Russians is indeed good - albeit a little more even than before.

- There are misunderstandings and serious shocks between the brothers too, says political scientist from Tbilisi Badri Nachkebia. But anyway, people with whom we have lived together for 200 years, with whom we communicated culturally, come to us. So for some part of the Georgian population this does not make them angry. The second part of the population is in wait-and-see mode. And there are people who hope that the Russian-speaking diaspora that is being formed here will later become our representative in the dialogue between Russia and Georgia. We are talking about restoring Georgia's territorial integrity.

Everywhere in Georgia one can see wall signs indicating where the Russian warship and subsequently all the Russians should go. People who seriously expect to hide from the "military" summons should look for another country.


Most Georgians over forty speak Russian. The majority of young people speak English with a fair degree of comprehension. In general, there are practically no problems with understanding here - and for many emigrants this is also an important factor.

Learning the Georgian language speeds up adaptation noticeably. It is not easy to learn, but you do not need to learn it on the level of native speakers - any attempts to speak Georgian will be warmly welcomed by locals.

- I would recommend, first of all, to stock up on some common phrases, common words. And trust me: even if you try to use these words in small quantities, they will always find common ground with you. They will get someone who knows Russian out from under the ground! says Badri Nachkebia.

Aida Bigvava, founder of the Georgian language school, records a threefold increase in the number of clients.

- If a person learns a popular language, it may be primarily for pragmatic reasons: for work, career advancement," says Aida. But Georgian is spoken by only four million people, and learning it is always about love! Love for the country, for its people.

Georgians themselves have different opinions about the chances of a foreigner mastering their language. They range from "it's as easy as learning the alphabet" to "you'll never learn our verbs". The best way to check is to start learning.


Georgia now has the lowest official unemployment rate in years, at 15.6%. But the number of employed people is decreasing.

The main mistake migrants make is relying on high salaries. For many locals salaries of 800-1000 GEL per month ($300-$400) is the norm and even a sign of stability. Lower salaries can also be found.

A more effective way to find oneself in Georgia is to start one's own business. The business environment is one of the most attractive, and there are still many niches to fill.

- It's a country with a lot of opportunities. Take it and do it! Serafima Vlasova, head of the Family Classes education centre, is convinced. There is a lot of work here, you can take it on, and there are no obstacles to it. This seems to me more valuable than the abundance of wage labour. Yes, there are many vacancies in Europe, you can go to work for someone but it is so difficult to do your own thing there! And besides, they already have everything there. You are not needed there!

Today most of the people coming from Russia to Georgia either have remote work, or are ready to organize their own startups in the new place. During the Russian mobilization period there was a growing number of those who were relocating but did not have much idea about what they would do here. The main advice from those who moved in the "first wave" is not to get locked up in your emigrant shell.

- You don't have to be afraid to take the first step, even when you don't know what's going on at all, says actor and club art director Savva Samodurov. When we moved here, we took a big risk. My wife and I, a child with a disability, dogs... But it all worked out in the end. You can always find an outlet for your creativity! The problem is that while you sit still, there are no meetings, events, acquaintances that push you to show what you can do.


Russian speaking school age children from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus have the opportunity to study in public schools in Georgia.

For this school year in Tbilisi and Batumi the number of classes where Russian is the language of instruction has increased significantly. At the same time the most frequent class is Georgian language. The schools have a five-day week, each student is assigned a personal laptop, and grades are given on a 10-point scale only in middle classes.

Kindergartens are more complicated: there is no state programme for emigrants from Russia, so one has to rely on private kindergartens or babysitting services. Both are not affordable to everyone.

Children in Georgia are treated in a special way - everyone who has come here, at least for a few days, can see that.

- There is an unconditional love for children! They are worshipped here, especially babies, a mother of two, Veronika Guseva says. For Georgians, a child is something sacred, which must be touched and petted. Not all Russians are happy about it, some are a bit shocked, like I was at first! Now I take it easy.


What about famous Georgian hospitality? The legendary loverliness of local men? And what about the unobtrusive and unhurried nature of business life?

Everyone will be able to find in Georgia either a complete confirmation of all known stereotypes or their complete absence. It depends on the degree of openness of the seeker and the angle of his or her vision. Of course, one should not set aside two or three hours every day for unscheduled meals, but it does happen from time to time.

- Mahinjauri. 10am. Cafe by the sea. Came in for a coffee. In five minutes the table was laid. Salads, shashlik, chacha. A present from the next table. Just like that. The guys were celebrating something - entrepreneur Dmytro Zotikov shares his impressions.

The imperfect punctuality is also an omen of Georgian life, but it rather irritates those who have not yet adapted to the local pace.

Here is what Jan Fedorov, a psychiatrist from St. Petersburg, has to say:

- Wine has become for me an indicator of the depth of my immersion in Georgian life. In the "alco-plane", I moved away from whisky towards wine, mostly Saperavi. Wine, taking the joy of the sun and the power of the juices of the earth, overflows into my blood and becomes a part of me. And so I no longer pay so much attention to time, to punctuality, and find an hour or two in the middle of the week to wander around the Botanical Gardens, enjoying the warmth of the first spring day.


Russian speech is everywhere in Tbilisi and Batumi today. Once again the Russian language skills of the locals are an advantage when looking for work. At times, even for a short time, you can forget that you are in another country.

Russians themselves are forming a full-fledged diaspora, actively learning the language, and mastering unoccupied service niches. On the whole, newcomers and locals have much more in common than in difference.

- There are open, friendly people, ready to help. This is true not only for Georgians, but for those who come here and stay here.

There is something common in the newcomers that unites all of us. It is a great support to know that you are not alone. What about groups in the "cart", where you can find a home, friends, and a job... Which we did! There is a feeling that we are more needed here than at home, where most of us are on our own or live by the principle 'my house is on the side', says Veronika Guseva.

"To be useful for the country" is the main principle for many new residents of Georgia. Not to take someone else's place, but to create their own. Respect local traditions and try to look at things positively.

The only factor that can affect the prospects of Russian citizens in Georgia is politics. Recent events in Tbilisi show that the intrusive influence of the northern neighbor has not weakened, and the "two chairs policy" of the Georgian government tilts back and forth. And the Russians simply cannot ignore these fluctuations.

By: Alexander Pichugin


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