Expat Life,  Ukraine

Life in Ukraine: Things You Should Know And Things To Expect

Last Updated July, 2021

Every time I get to ask others, who are not Ukrainians, what they know about life in Ukraine, they always give different answers. Some people immediately think of Chernobyl, somebody else remembers a famous football player, model, or boxer. Other folks base their opinion on what they currently hear from media, especially about the conflict with Russia.

Not many people get involved. But at the same time, there are quite a few who show genuine interest in Ukraine as a country and intend to live here, at least during some time.

I have spent 24 years of my life in Ukraine and in today’s post would love to answer some of the most common questions that people ask about life in this country. There is definitely a lot of confusion about Ukraine. Allow me to share all the details I know from my personal experiences.

If you are looking to travel to Ukraine soon, read my long and detailed guide on Ukraine travel tips. If planning a trip to Kyiv, start with the guide to Kyiv weather and the best month to go. Or, simply check my page on Ukraine travel to have a better understanding of where to go and how to plan your trip.

PSST: Will you be visiting Lviv anytime soon? Come join my 3 days in Lviv tour and let me show you the most romantic city in the most unique way! We are having our next tour during the Catholic Christmas, so this is also the most magical season to be there. If you would like to go on a different tour, get in touch, and let me create a customized itinerary for you! 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. 


THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT LIFE IN UKRAINE


Is Ukraine Safe To Travel And Live In?

living in Ukraine
I want to start with the first photo from one of the villages in Western Ukraine in the Carpathian mountains. It’s my place of power

Since 2014 Ukraine has been getting a lot of attention due to Crimea annexation and war with Russia (yes, exactly, war with Russia, not a civil war as media presents it and many people follow.) And then it went to talks about Trump-Ukraine scandal (ugh.)

With political and social unrest investments sank, the number of international visitors decreased and the country’s safety question got compromised. To this very day, every potential visitor wants to know if Ukraine is safe enough to visit.

You know, even before war-related events took place, not many tourists were choosing Ukraine as a country of interest, thinking it was not safe or developed enough. Hence, how can they change their opinion today when the country is in conflict, right?

Ukraine is my home country and I always felt safe here before moving to the U.S. But once war broke out it scared me out of my wits and I had no desire to go back, even for a short visit. Before leaving America for good and traveling to Ukraine with Mark in the fall of 2017 it’s been 6 years since my last time there. I felt uncertain and frightened to return.

But to be honest, when I eventually went I regretted I didn’t do it earlier. Together with Mark, we felt absolutely safe, comfortable, and secure. And we had such an amazing time in Ukraine (and still do when revisiting my family from time to time.) In fact, now we are seriously looking into a few apartments in Lviv and thinking to make a base in this beautiful city. 

As with any other country, you have to know where it is safe to go and where it is not. Obviously, anywhere near the war zone is not safe.

Unlike most countries in the world, Ukrainian cities and villages don’t have ghettoes or extremely poor areas where you can feel in danger. Definitely, there are ugly looking neighborhoods with poor infrastructure but their depressing looks (especially during the bad weather) have nothing to do with safety.

Just make sure you are not walking by yourself at night in less populated areas. Stay away from drunk people, protests, big events with crowds, gypsies, and beggars. But this is what we personally did in the States and many other countries around Europe and Asia. Ukraine is very similar in that sense.


RELATED POST: 9 EPIC BOOK (+1 Movie) ABOUT UKRAINE TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND THIS COUNTRY


Life in Ukraine
One of the beautiful castles in Ukraine that still stands and where you should visit – Khotyn castle

Cost of Living in Ukraine

Unfortunately for many Ukrainian people, whose average salary equals approximately $300, the cost of living in Ukraine is expensive. In total, the average annual income comes to $3600-$4000. It can be enough if the person lives in a smaller city and has his own apartment. Otherwise, $300 per month is never enough.

But please, when I am saying that the average wage in Ukraine is $300 dollars per month, do not automatically assume that everyone here is poor, struggling, and wants to immigrate. There are also a lot of people whose salary is $1000-$1500 per month, $3500-$5000 per month (and more) and who have a good life. 

For someone who makes even $1000 per month things will be very affordable. If you are a freelancer, working online, having a thriving business, or working for an international company, you can have a very good standard of living in Ukraine. If you are planning to teach English or volunteer, most likely your room and board will be covered and a salary will be more than enough for your monthly expenses.

Renting a fully furnished one-bedroom apartment in a good location in cities other than Kyiv will cost you between $300 – $400 per month. The cost of living in Kyiv, as a capital, is more expensive. Rent for a decent but average apartment there will be somewhere between $500-$600 per month. For this price, you get a nice looking one or two-bedroom flat with furniture. In my hometown, for example, in Khmelnytskyi it’s possible to rent a new flat in a new building with new furniture for $200-$250 per month.

Depending on the city you choose to live in, expenses for groceries and occasional eating out in Ukraine go between $200 and $300 per person. A cup of coffee to go costs around $0.50. Street food like kebab, crepes, or sandwich cost between $1-$3. Latte and a cake in a coffee shop will be around $3 too.

Public transportation is incredibly cheap. Metro ride in Kyiv is around $0.35 cents, city bus or as it’s called “marshrutka” costs around $0.25 cents, a trolley costs way less, like 10 or 15 cents.

Services like haircuts, manicures, tailoring clothes, shoe repairs are very popular and affordable too. For example, a trip to a barbershop to get a simple man’s haircut will cost around $2-$4. Services of professional hairstylists are priced between $10-$20.

streets of Lviv
apartments in Lviv

Public Transportation

Unlike the EU zone, where taking a plane most times costs less than taking a bus, in Ukraine low-coster market is not fully developed yet. To fly in and out of Ukraine is also more expensive than fly to most of the cities in nearby countries. A major airport is in Kyiv, but there is also an opportunity to fly to Lviv, Odesa, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Chernivtsi. Flights to these cities are usually more costly though.

Every year low-cost carriers enter the Ukrainian market opening new budget flights, so with time flying to Ukraine will be possible at lower tariffs.

The easiest and probably the most comfortable way to travel in Ukraine is by train. Trains have a few class types to choose from and always run on schedule. They are way better than those in the States and a lot of them are as good as trains in Europe. 

Taking a bus or blabla car is another option on how to get around the country. However, a lot of buses in Ukraine don’t have air-conditioners and don’t provide a high level of comfort. Blabla car drivers rarely speak English and you may have difficulty communicating.

One more thing to keep in mind is the condition of the roads. Some of them until this day need to go through repairs. They have holes, cracked asphalt, uneven shoulders, and sometimes even roadblocks. So you can imagine how a trip on a bus to a smaller town or village can go.

However! A good thing to know – the country is building new roads. Many people will tell you that Ukraine is the only destination in Europe with the worst roads. But that’s not the case anymore. More and more roads are being built. We’ve just returned from our road trip to the Carpathian Mountains and were really surprised to see construction everywhere.

If you would like to go skiing in Bukovel from Ivano-Frankivsk or Lviv, you can easily hop on a bus. The road connecting these destinations is in excellent condition. Otherwise, if going farther, I would recommend choosing a train instead or renting a car. 

Renting a car is still expensive but very helpful. I highly recommend you to rent a car. Especially these days, during corona, it is a perfect option to travel around the country on your own terms while staying away from crowds. Yes, you may hit bumpy roads and witness aggressive driving (some folks in Ukraine drive like they are out of their mind) but the entire experience can be very pleasant.

Uber operates in a number of cities, getting a lift is not a problem.

railway station in Khmelnitskyi
Railway station in Khmelnytskyi city

western Ukraine

Quality of Life in Ukraine Today

The quality of life in Ukraine is a rather controversial subject and depends on a few factors. First of all, what do you imply by the “quality of life”? How qualitatively you personally are going to live, as a foreigner? Or how do Ukrainians live? Second, what is your own definition of the quality of life?

If I have to compare Ukraine with the rest of the world then let’s take official United Nations ratings. They use a variety of aggregated data, such as income and wealth, jobs and earnings, housing conditions, life-work balance, personal security, education and skills, and a number of other indicators from all areas of life. For more details, you can read their official measurement of well-being here.

So, according to the UN’s data, Ukraine at the end of 2019 got the 88th position among 185 countries. According to Numbeo, the position is 62nd. Other resources show something else. I personally do not trust just one single resource because there can be always an under (or over) estimation of objective numbers, manipulations or simple miscalculations.

What I can definitely attest to, based on my own experience, is the fact that an average Ukrainian does not have a high standard of living when compared to the West. A lot of people live under the poverty line and barely make their ends meet. Especially those people who live in Eastern and Southern Ukraine. That’s true.

The reason why more people in the East and South have a lower level of life is that because a big number of Ukrainians from Western Ukraine work abroad – in nearby Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, etc. So they bring money home which increases the quality of life.  

At the same time, what is also true, there is a big percentage of people who feel pretty comfortable living in Ukraine and would not trade it for any other place.

The sense of community is strong, much of the poor in the country is lifting out of poverty and becoming a middle class.

Ukraine is developing and moving in the right direction. There is a lot of potential and future.

I am not saying this just because I believe my home country will see better days. I make these conclusions based on personal experiences, observations while living in the country and seeing how many improvements actually took place.

Do you have questions about Ukraine that are not covered on my blog? We can set up a voice/video call with you to go through all of them!


Find out more about this option On This Page
quality of life in Ukraine
Kyiv in winter

Quality of Life in Ukraine for You Personally

The main question is what type of life are you personally going to have in Ukraine if you move there? There are so many nuances to take into consideration. What you like, what you are used to, how easily you can adjust to a new culture and mentality, learn a new language, etc.

When it comes to my personal definition of quality of life, I do not pay much attention to what worldwide statistics show. I evaluate what I personally will be able to afford, how much my life is going to improve, and how much value I can add to other people’s lives.

My life in the U.S. was a struggle although this country is one of the best places where to live. And even though my salary was pretty high. Last year Mark and I were thinking about the opportunity to move to Norway where, again according to statistics, is the highest standard of living. But after lots of brainstorming and calculations we figured if we really moved there, the quality of our personal life would be way below average.

Why? Because we are not Norwegians and the money we make is not going to guarantee the same level of comfort we are used to. But it’s not even about the money. There are other factors that define the quality of life for us. Like food quality, for instance, or health care access, culture factor, climate, etc.

Determine what the quality of life is for you. If you are thinking to possibly move to Ukraine, come to spend some time at first and feel this county. And only then you’ll have a clear understanding if living in Ukraine as a foreigner is for you or not.


LIVING IN UKRAINE AS A FOREIGNER 


Where to live in Ukraine?

If you are considering an opportunity to move to Ukraine, I suggest looking into Kyiv (of course, capital always comes first,) Lviv, Odesa, Kharkiv, and Dnipropetrovsk. These large cities have excellent infrastructure, opportunities, and lots of things to do.

Lviv is one of our favorite cities. It is attractive and cozy. It consists of a mixture of different influences and styles and is close to the Carpathian mountains. Somehow in Lviv, the charm of the city makes you feel comfortable right from the first minutes of the arrival. Lviv also has some of the best coffee not only in Ukraine but the entire world. So if you ever get there, make sure to taste it in one of the most atmospheric cafes around the city.

If you are considering Lviv, here is a must-read guide to Lviv apartment rental. There, I discuss all districts and talk about the pros and cons of living in each of them.

Besides Lviv, a lot of expats and tourists also love Odesa because of its own vibe and seaside. Yet Odesa is one of those love-hate cities when you either enjoy it or totally dislike it. There is nothing in between.

Kyiv, as a capital, is more diverse, constantly developing, and improving. At the same time, the cost of living is higher and sooner or later but traffic with crowds start to annoy.

old housing in Lviv


RELATED POST: BEST PLACES TO EAT IN LVIV: AMAZING RESTAURANTS, BARS AND CAFES


Communication in Ukraine

People in Ukraine speak either Ukrainian or Russian language. English along with other foreign languages is not widely spoken, that’s why communication with locals can become a challenge. If you are based in Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, Kharkiv, or Dnipro, you’ll find plenty of restaurants in the city center with English menus, and employees speaking English. Smaller cities do not see many foreigners, that’s why having an English menu is not common there.

Train stations in big cities and subway in Kyiv have schedules, signs, and announcements in Ukrainian and English.

If you are living in Kyiv, there are a few smaller cinemas that show movies in English. Plus, locals who are eager to practise their language skills with foreigners, often organize English-speaking clubs, music events, and shows. Check out an English newspaper in Kyiv for all events in the capital. Or here is an online magazine “Ukraine Travel Center” for events and things to do around Ukraine.

For other services, it may be tricky to communicate with locals. You may want to use a translator and learn a few basic words in Russian or Ukrainian.

Overall, people in Ukraine always try to help non-Russian or non-Ukrainian speakers who are visiting or living in their country.

If you are moving to Ukraine, especially to a large city, and do not speak any Ukrainian or Russian language, relax and remember that you’ll be OK. With time, you can go to one of the language schools to learn the basics. But I definitely wouldn’t stress out about it at the beginning.

Some of my friends who are foreigners have been living in Ukraine for years but they still don’t speak any local language. And each of them is doing just fine.

What Language Does Ukraine Speak? What Language Should You Learn?

Khmelnytskyi city in Ukraine
In my hometown Khmelnytskyi. Have you checked it yet?

I had some people email me and ask what language should they learn if they will live in Ukraine. Should it be Russian or Ukrainian? Hmm, tough choice.

Well, the official language in Ukraine is Ukrainian. In all regions of Western Ukraine (not just Lviv) as well as some parts of Central Ukraine people speak Ukrainian for the most part. In Eastern and Southern Ukraine people speak Russian. Although recently, a new law came into effect that requires all public and private businesses all over the country to provide services in the Ukrainian language only. Those who refuse to do so will be fined. 

So. If you intend to work in the private service sector or public sector (anywhere in Ukraine) – definitely learn Ukrainian. Even if you don’t plan to work in the service but plan to live/work/study anywhere but Eastern or Southern Ukraine, then also learn Ukrainian. Otherwise, if you move to Dnipro, Kharkiv, Poltava, Zaporizhzhya, Odessa or their regions – learn Russian instead. Once you speak Russian, it will be easier to pick up Ukrainian. 

Overall, what I can add from myself here. The situation with the Ukrainian-Russian language is somewhat ambiguous. But the truth is that more and more people speak Ukrainian these days. Not only at work or school, but in life. As a matter of fact, some people (mainly in the West) can’t speak Russian well. That’s also something to consider when deciding which language to learn.

Yes, definitely, everyone in Ukraine understands Russian but not everyone can respond in the Russian language. 

For example, Mark who is a foreigner but who also knows Russian tries to use it here everywhere he goes. But in many places, it is difficult for him to communicate with others because many Ukrainians (surprisingly) don’t speak Russian well. 

On many occasions, I have to be his interpreter (like in doctors’ offices, banks, some shops) because people can’t speak Russian. They try but often use Ukrainian words that confuse him. We were in many situations when people were apologizing for not speaking Russian admitting that they don’t use it often and forgot some words. So they asked me to translate from Ukrainian into Russian or English because they were not fluent in speaking Russian. 

To be honest, that’s how my family is. No one in my family (besides my mom) speaks Russian. They certainly can understand it but they don’t use it in daily life and it’s really difficult for them to concentrate and speak this language. Not because they don’t want to speak Russian but because it’s really not their first language and they don’t feel comfortable. And they live in Khmelnytskyi and Vinnytsia, not Lviv.

So my answer – yes, everyone in Ukraine understands Russian but not everyone can speak it well and not everyone is going to respond in Russian. This is why, finally to make a long story short – if you plan to live and work in Ukraine long term – learn Ukrainian. Learn Russian only in that case if you know you’ll be living in the very East or South.

Healthcare in Ukraine 

As a foreigner, you will not have access to free healthcare (which is below average anyways.) But going to a private clinic or seeing a specialist is cheap and you’ll be definitely able to afford to pay for it.

If you are going to work for a company then expect them to provide insurance for you. In any other case, if working remotely, for example, there is no need to apply for insurance.

More and more doctors of any specialization in Ukraine are delivering the highest standard of care and professionalism, they are experienced and easily accessible. If you need a treatment or a regular checkup you can get it within a day or two. The same applies to Ultrasound, X-ray, MRI, dentists, and doctors of any specialization.

I remember when I was in the States, the wait time to see a specialist on average was about a few weeks. One time I was waiting for more than three months to get something as simple as an ultrasound. In Ukraine, it is unheard of. If you need to see a doctor, you’ll be able to schedule an appointment within the next few days (sometimes hours) unless he/she is on vacation or on leave.

A lot of people in Ukraine are also into natural remedies and treatments, so finding an acupuncturist, homeopath or naturopathic doctor won’t be difficult too. Unlike in Western countries, where services of these specialists usually cost a lot of money, in Ukraine, they are very affordable.

To help you understand the pricing, here are a few examples. Consultations usually cost between $5-$15 (in an opulent clinic it’s not going to cost more than $40,) blood tests between $5 and $15, a back massage between $15 and $25. Dentist work is also very affordable. A filling costs between $10 and $20 (depending on material,) tooth extraction within the same range. Prices for MRI start from $10, X-ray, and ultrasound between $10-$20. Homeopath visit is between $10-$20 (a few hours long detailed appointment.) One acupuncture treatment between $3-$15 (depending on a city and clinic you are in.)

Dentist care is of high quality and one of the cheapest in the world. I know there are a lot of patients from Western Europe who come to Ukraine to do all dental work. It is way cheaper for them to pay for tickets, accommodation, and all the procedures than just get medical treatment in their own country.

NOTE: If you are visiting Ukraine any time soon, don’t forget to purchase medical insurance that covers costs associated with Covid treatment. You won’t be allowed into the country if there is no such insurance. We recently returned to Ukraine and purchased insurance for Mark through this website.

For travel insurance, you can check SafetyWing. This company has various plans and affordable prices. 

quality of life in Ukraine
Another photo from the village – on a day trip from Lviv
cost of living in Ukraine
Another charming city that is developing fast is Kam’yanets-Podil’skyi

WORKING IN UKRAINE AS AN EXPAT


Getting a visa for Ukraine

As with many other countries in the world, to be able to get sponsorship from a company in Ukraine you have to be a highly-skilled professional. Knowing a language is not always mandatory but of course, preferred. During my working years in Ukraine, I had colleagues from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the EU. They were mainly working as analysts, IT specialists, managers, and directors.

One of the easiest ways to get a temporary residence permit is through school, mission or volunteering. But there are also ways how to get a residency based on your online work and digital nomad lifestyle. If you can prove you have sufficient funds to support yourself you’ll be allowed to live in a country from 3 months to a year, with a possibility to extend. For detailed information, check the website of one of the local law firms.

Life in Ukraine
Streets of Lviv

Jobs for foreigners

The most popular jobs in Ukraine for Americans, Canadians or Western European expats are in Finance, Audit, Consulting, Education (teaching English or other disciplines in English), and IT. Also, there are lots of volunteering projects in Ukraine. I know a lot of people from America who are on an evangelical mission, work with orphanages, summer camps, in renovation and construction. Some of them even work in agriculture and archeology. Those who volunteer usually get free accommodation, meals, and sometimes even pocket money.

Based on long-term volunteering projects you can get a residency permit and apply for side jobs. If you are a native English speaker, the sky is the limit when it comes to teaching English. Ukraine is in need of English Teachers. Schools, daycare centers, early childhood development centers, universities look for teachers on a regular basis.

Another option of how to stay in Ukraine long term while making money is to start your own business. The most popular one would be to open a restaurant with international cuisine. Ukraine is probably one of a few countries in Europe where you won’t find many international foods yet. A lot of those that exist are not even authentic.

So, if you are a foreigner who has skills and experience in the food business, Ukraine has a lot of potential for you. The process of establishing it will definitely take some time and money. But in the end, it is worth the effort, that’s for sure.


LIVING IN UKRAINE PROS AND CONS


Life in Ukraine

Ukraine, like any other place in the world, has its own pros and cons. What I may consider as an advantage, may come as a disadvantage for you. And vise versa. I am going to mention what I personally consider to be the pros and cons. But you decide if that’s going to play the same role for you or not. 

So, in my opinion, among the biggest advantages of living in Ukraine are affordability and a good standard of living. But of course, if your monthly income is higher than the average wage I described above. So, for about $800-$1000 per month, you can have a decent life here. You can be renting a very stylish apartment in a nice new neighborhood paying fraction of what you’d pay in many other European countries. If you decide to base yourself in Ukraine and want to travel around Europe, it is also very easy to do without spending much on flights. 

Another advantage is the quality of food, cheap and affordable healthcare, very good internet (for people who work online), and possibilities for travel.

The disadvantages of living in Ukraine are the bad quality of air, bureaucracy, bad roads (for travelers), somewhat poor service, and the fact that not many people communicate in English.

For the service, sorry (not sorry) but overall, it is very common for Eastern Europe to have poor service. So Ukraine is not an exception here. A lot of restaurants, cafes, banks, grocery stores, etc. deliver a nice service. But in many other places, omg, it’s just non-existent. So be ready for that but don’t take it personally.  

Then the air. That’s a totally separate topic which I am really upset about. Yet unfortunately, the quality of air in Ukraine is one of the worst in Europe. Because of the old diesel cars that flood the cities and burning of leaves and trash in the summer and fall, the air stays polluted.

Ukraine is not an environmentally friendly country and has a deficient physical infrastructure in many places. A lot of buildings are in bad repair, some types of transportation are old and falling apart. Some rivers and lakes are dirty which in turn creates difficulties for recreation.

Another note to make is communication. If you are not going to learn at least some Russian or Ukrainian and won’t have English speakers around you all the time, communication is going to come as one of the cons of living in Ukraine. And bureaucracy. It is another challenge if you are moving to Ukraine for work or want to open your own business. 


OTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT LIFE IN UKRAINE


Racism In Ukraine – Anything to Worry About or Not?

I decided to update this post and also include a section about racism in Ukraine since it looks like this is an important subject for many these days. Once in a while I get an email or comment where people ask me if it is safe for him/her as an Asian, African, Indian, Pakistani or African-American to travel to Ukraine. Interestingly no one from Latin America asked me that. So I guess Latin Americans do not worry (good). But let’s see if others have to worry or not.

And here is what I have to tell you guys. No personal feelings or emotions, just an objective view of how Ukrainians perceive foreigners of a different race. Of course, as with anything else I can’t speak for everyone. But this answer is good to go as the answer from the general masses. 

Racism in Ukraine is actually quite an extensive topic. We could be talking about it with you for hours, if not days, especially if you provide specific concerns or experiences. But when people ask me “I’ve heard that racism is on the high end in Ukraine, is it true?”, “Is there racism in Ukraine?”, or “How do Ukrainians look at black (Indian, etc.) people?” I am honestly not 100% sure what to answer. I can’t say that no, there is no racism in Ukraine. But I also can’t say that there is a problem of racism in Ukraine.

Is racism on the rise? No, quite the contrary, it goes down every year. How do Ukrainians look at black people? It depends where you go but it doesn’t mean that you should worry about anything. 

In touristy cities or cities with universities where foreigners study everyone is used to foreigners and people with different skin color.

In small towns and villages where no tourist has set foot and where meeting a non-white person is a rare event, you can expect extra attention and possible talks. Yeah. But not because people have the intention to harm you but because they are curious. Most likely they will be looking at you like at a giraffe that ran away from the zoo (especially children or elder generation), some may point at you while talking to others, but they will not be chasing you on the street like wild animals.

Also, do not assume this is something that happens on each corner because it does not. Yes, it may happen in villages or some towns, be aware of that but don’t stress about it. If you are not comfortable about going somewhere on your own, go with a guide or join a group tour.

I, as a white person, often encounter this type of experience on my travels. I remember when in Indonesia and Vietnam people were staring at me, giggling and talking about me with their peers. Even now in Turkey, when visiting villages, people do the same.

But overall, Ukraine is not on Mars. It is in Europe. Meeting an African-American, Latin, or Asian person is not something extraordinary. 

In the 90s and even early 2000s, we’ve heard the news about gangs harassing and bullying people of different races (it could happen in the subway in Kyiv, Lviv or Dnepropetrovsk or in distant neighborhoods). That was scary. By the way, in the 90s Lviv was one of the most gangster-like cities with the highest crime rate but today it’s so prettily lovely safe. And those gangs were attacking not only black people but also anyone from Central Asia, India, and China. Ukrainians were afraid of them, not to mention foreigners. 

But thank God such times have passed. We do not hear anything about gangs anymore. Racism is not a problem in Ukraine that should be your concern. 

However, problems occur indeed. They happen when a foreigner abuses the system, stays illegally without any money, works without permission, and/or harasses locals for any reason. 

Also what I can add, people in Ukraine do not like anyone who comes to Ukraine to take an advantage of the country, taxpayers and get free stuff without any return. Ukrainians do not welcome refugees, foreign beggars or those who look for better life without doing any work or putting effort. Do not expect to find a job if you are not highly qualified or can offer skills that locals do not have. 

In Europe or the US, it is very common to come as a refugee or just overstay a visa and apply for various social programs where taxpayers cover all your needs. No need to work or study. Sweet.

In Ukraine, all of this brings hostility. Ukrainians are used to working hard. This is why when some foreigners from African countries or Middle East (which is pretty common) try to abuse the system in any way (overstay visas, work illegally, get fake documents to stay longer, etc.), people meet that with resistance and fury. This is why it can bring up spite towards others of the same race. At the same time, Ukrainians will not look at your skin color if you are an intelligent person with good intentions who came to visit the country (or live) and bring money in. 

Life in Ukraine During Covid

 

Old Lviv
coffee in Lviv
Ukrainian village
Ukrainian village

Oh corona, my favorite topic lately. And yours? 

Well, speaking about Ukraine and coronavirus is quite an interesting task. But I decided to make a quick update and inform you guys, so you get an idea of how the country is doing and what to expect.

When I read the latest news on Ukraine, hair on my head starts moving. I get the impression that the media and government officials have a task to spread fear and cause panic. Because everything they are just talking about is about the numbers, how cases surge, how everybody is getting infected, how the country is running out of beds, and overall, that Ukraine is among the most infected countries in Europe. Yet, it doesn’t close and people don’t wear masks outside. Jeez, so much. 

But what is the situation really?

Yes, there is definitely a lot of talk about coronavirus everywhere on a daily basis. A lot of people are scared and staying at home. A lot of people get sick. But many more people are scared of losing their businesses or jobs and not having what to eat tomorrow. Many people have already lost everything and government provided zero support. 

But what’s really frustrating is how contradictory a lot of information is and how the central government in Kyiv for some reason tries to distort a lot of data. People don’t know whom to believe.

On one side, local news show mayors, deputy mayors, chief sanitary doctors of various cities speak up and fight about the statistics on the incidence of coronavirus. They file suits and argue that data about covid numbers that regional authorities provide and transmit to the Ministry of Health is inflated. They say that hospitals in their cities in reality provide numbers that are much lower than what the Ministry of Health later presents.

On the other side, a lot of doctors who work with covid patients speak up too and state that they are under strain, don’t have enough equipment and supplies.

The Ukrainian government is fiercely trying to impose lockdowns that completely destroy the economy, providing zero financial aid to its people and really zero help to strengthen the healthcare system. Ukrainians protest and resist.

Who especially resist are local authorities and mayors. They refuse to comply with laws that are aimed at businesses and the loss of jobs.

Recently, a new decision came from the center to start weekend lockdowns but mayors all over Ukraine stand up and tell their cities to work. And most do just that. 

Is it normal? Is it allowed for local authorities to do their own thing?

Under the Constitution of Ukraine, in the first place, it is not normal or allowed for the Cabinet of Ministers in Kyiv to make decisions about lockdowns without introducing a state of emergency first. The state of emergency should be based on a critical situation in the country which Ukraine doesn’t have and based on numbers (that come from hospitals on local levels) won’t have for a long time.

By law, the decision about weekend lockdowns is a violation of the constitution and a violation of people’s rights. Thus, it is legal for local authorities to stand up against the national ruling. And this is what they will continue doing until that moment when (if) the country enters a state of emergency. 

Ukraine is not France, England, or even Spain. It cannot afford to have another lockdown and chances are high that it won’t. Yes, people in Ukraine believe in the virus and yes, they know it exists. Yet, they recognize the risks that come from the virus and risks from the economy shutdown. And they are not ready to destroy themselves as a society and hide.

That being said, if you are planning to come to Ukraine to work, study, or live while working remotely, it is probably one of the freest countries in Europe to do that these days (in regards to the movement). The Ukrainian government will definitely continue making decisions about quarantines and partial lockdowns but they will not shut down the economy entirely. And if they try, they will be met with a lot of resistance and protests.

Overall, life in Ukraine goes on. People go to work, some work remotely, schools are open as well as kindergartens and after school activities. Fairs and some meetups still take place too. People travel around Ukraine mainly by car, dine out, and meet with friends. More and more people understand the importance of social distancing and wearing masks around others (because Ukrainians are usually pretty bad with personal space, we always like to be close to other people) but they continue to live, really.

We are not given another chance than to continue to fight for our life to go on.

More is yet to come…

This is it for now. If you have more questions about life in Ukraine, drop me a comment. I will be happy to answer! 

I am also working on many other posts, so hope to see you on this blog again! Would you like to receive updates about Ukraine when a new post is up? Subscribe to my email.


UKRAINE ESSENTIALS


– For long-distance flights, I recommend you to compare prices on Google Flights and Skyscanner. I noticed that on flights from the US, the price can differ in the amount of $70-$100. Sometimes Skyscanner finds better deals than google.

– For short-distance flights, refer to SkyUp. It’s relatively a new low-cost airline that has many flights at a good price with many destinations. What I like most about them is that they offer cheap flights to the Balkans, Scandinavia, some cities in Europe and the Caucasus region.     

– Use i-Visa to check if you need a tourist visa for Ukraine and apply for an expedited visa online.

– If you need a private transfer anywhere in Ukraine, we can arrange it for you. 

– If you are coming to live in Lviv, find out what the best neighborhoods and districts are.

– Find the best Ukraine hotel deals on Booking.com or find a unique Airbnb.

– Find the best cities to visit on your trip and cities to avoid.

– Learn a few important travel tips for Ukraine before your visit.

– Order a copy of an illustrated book about the culture and history of Ukraine.

– For the best city tours, day trips, family trips, private and group tours, and genealogical research, get in touch or check here everything we offer here.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Life in Ukraine for expats is exciting and rewarding at the same time. Here is a mini guide with tips on what to expect from living in Ukraine no matter if you are moving short or long term. Discover Ukraine today. #ukraine #lifeineurope #moveabroad
Considering to live in Ukraine during some time? Here is some basic information on what you can expect from life in Ukraine. This post highlights details on cost of living, healthcare, job market for expats, things to do in Ukraine and more. #movetoukraine #lifeinukraine #ukraine #expatliving #expatsaroundtheworld
 

 

Anya is originally from Ukraine but in heart she is a citizen of the world. She is working online and that’s why has an opportunity to travel slowly and live in different countries around the world. At present time, she is living between Lviv, Ukraine and Istanbul, Turkey. On this blog, her main goal is to inspire others to travel to under-the-radar-places and discover the world while working remotely.

193 Comments

  • Gary Condry

    Anya.

    Love this article and your great reviews on Kiev living. I’m planning on moving there Jan 2 to meet a lady doctor, a heart surgeon.

    It seems that if I even make my $877 social security pay I’d be well off plus Tatiana salary.

    If I’m living there would having money in a Kiev bank be safe or better in a Swiss bank

    Thanks

    Gary.

    • Anya

      Hi Gary,

      I am glad to hear my article was helpful! If you are living in Ukraine, I highly suggest you open a bank account, it is definitely safe and nothing to worry about. If you want, you can open an account in one of the international banks such as Raiffeisen (Austria), Credit Agricole (France), Ukrsibbank (which is BNP Paribas Group, France), ProCredit Bank (Germany), Kredobank (which is PKO Bank Poland), OTP Bank (Hungary). My family and I personally use Privat Bank (Ukrainian) and are very happy with their services. Good luck! I hope you’ll have an easy move!

      P.S. I removed your contact information for security purposes and responded to your email.

  • Sadd

    Hi I want to go to Ukraine for job purpose I have completed master’s in IT and mechanical engg.so kindly help me how to search job in Ukraine.and I am an Indian.

  • bruce waldie

    Hi Anya
    My wife is from Ukraine and i am English born living in Australia. I have both British and Australian passports. She has been living in Australia with me the last 14 months. Due to circumstances here with me in Australia and my wife,s parents who still live there in the Ukraine we are weighing up our options to go back and live in the Ukraine. I have been to the Ukraine about 10 times and love the way of life there.
    My question is, as i am married to a Ukrainian girl does this allow me to live in the country without a visa.
    Thanks in advance
    Bruce

    • Anya

      Hi Bruce, being married to Ukrainian citizen doesn’t mean you can live in the country without a visa. Based on your marriage, you can apply for residency (which takes 1-3 months) once in Ukraine. Although, if you registered your marriage outside Ukraine, it won’t do any difference too. So you’d need to register your marriage again in Ukraine and only then apply for residency.
      With your British or Australian passport you get to stay in Ukraine 3 months. When you get into the country and if you plan to live there long term, I highly suggest you registering your marriage based on Ukrainian law and then after you get a marriage certificate, apply for residency. It does take some time to get your paperwork, so try to do it as soon as you fly in.
      I hope it helps!

  • Wafi

    I am going to open an English language course in Odessa/Lviv. Could anyone possibly tell me which city is better as well as is it a good business to run in Ukraine. Are Ukrainian interested to learn English?

    • Anya

      Hi Wafi, definitely, opening an English language school will be a good business to run in Ukraine, especially if you plan to bring native speakers on board.
      More and more people in Ukraine are eager to learn English. However, these days, the majority prefers to learn either from native speakers or those who have a teaching degree and/or degree in foreign languages and those who have been studying, working in English speaking countries.
      You can take a look at a few schools that have been on the market for a long time, to get an idea of what they are offering and looking for. Some of them are: London School of English and International House
      Also, once you open your school, be ready to invest in some advertising to introduce your school to the public.
      And to answer your question about which city is better, Lviv or Odesa, I will say that it’s up to you. They are equally developed and have a lot of opportunities. Culturally and historically, they are different, so you may prefer one to another based on that.

  • Gary

    Hi Anya. I enjoyed reading your comments about Ukraine. I am married to an Anya. She’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

    We are in the U.S. at the moment (I am a citizen, she has a green card). The plan is for her to get U.S. citizenship while I finish up the last 3-4 years of work before retiring. We also will work on getting me at least permanent residency in Ukraine (via our marriage – it would not be tied to quotas). We only need to reach two years of marriage (we’re halfway there) and I think we can apply for me. I am hoping we can do this from the U.S.

    I did a good job saving money for retirement over the years. I am not a millionaire but I am comfortable. However, in the U.S. our retirement would not be as good as if we lived elsewhere. So we started looking abroad. We love Europe and Portugal was on our short list. However, we are thinking instead about moving to Ukraine for retirement.

    My wife is from Vinnytsia which is regularly cited as one of the best cities for living in Ukraine. We can buy a beautiful flat in a nicer part of that city for what would be less than 20% down on a good (not great) home or condominium where we currently reside in the U.S.

    My retirement and Social Security would go MUCH further in Ukraine and we would have a lot of extra money to travel extensively throughout Europe and spend a couple of months back in the U.S. when we want. With Airbnb, Booking.com, etc. we feel confident we will have a much more enjoyable retirement living abroad, traveling regularly, etc. We’re ready to start living the good life.

    Anya knows Russian and has been teaching it to me. I will never be fluent, will never be able to read and write in it. However, if I can learn enough helpful phrases (200 or so of them would be nice), over time I think I can learn to handle myself alone in Vinnytsia when Anya is out with friends. Many restaurants there have English on their menus. Kyiv is only a 2.5 hour train ride and intercity is quite comfortable.

    If you have any additional thoughts for people in our situation, we would appreciate your insights. Best of luck to you and Mark.

    • Anya

      Hi Gary, retiring outside the US is definitely the right decision to make and Ukraine is a good place for that. You are absolutely right that you can have a high quality of life here and travel all over Europe (and beyond) with the retirement money from the US.
      If you have ties to Ukraine (which seems you do, considering your wife is Ukrainian), your life here will be also much easier. Knowing the language and being able to understand the culture (which is very different from American) is certainly going to help.

      Two things I could recommend are:

      1) For you to become a resident of Ukraine, it probably makes more sense to do all the paperwork and apply for residency when already in Ukraine. Doing it through the embassy in the US will be a hassle and take much more time and money.

      2) I recommend you to travel around Ukraine and check a few other cities besides Vinnytsia. While it is definitely a very nice city to live in, Vinnytsia doesn’t offer much in terms of activities and lifestyle (if those are important factors at all).

      I wish you all the best no matter where you decide to go!

    • James Hannum

      I’m not familiar with that site you give, Booking.com, so I went there to see how good it is. They give a price of $60 per night for a dbl room at Hotel L’viv. But I’ve seen the same rooms at less than half that much at other sites.
      No, the Booking.com room was not deluxe, & it was not holiday dates.

      • Jeanne

        Hi Anya:
        I find myself returning to your travel blogging site again and again.
        My husband and I have fallen in love with Ukraine but we are stumped on how to obtain a temporary residence permit because we cannot find any volunteer or working jobs, such as teaching that are current or available. We are early retirees with a steady income and two young children we can internet/home school while living abroad. Our problem remains however, trying to figure out how to obtain those permits, would love to see more coverage on this subject.
        Thank you for your intriguing and unique content.

  • Navid

    Hi Anya,
    I am originally from Iran and i did my master’s degree in civil engineering. In fact, i am planning to emigrate to Ukraine for a large number of reasons first of which is to further my education in PhD. After graduation, I intend to work as a constructor so i will be able to, for example, refurbish old buildings. Hence i will be a self-employed. Do you think it is a good place for me?

    • Anya

      Hi Navid,

      It is a bit challenging for me to advise if Ukraine is a good place for you personally. It depends on many factors, including your lifestyle, values, goals, etc. Moving to Ukraine to get your PhD in civil engineering? This is a good choice since there are many excellent schools for that. Starting your own business in Ukraine as a foreigner, to be honest, can be difficult because of all the bureaucratic attitudes. You’d need to hire help or know the language and have patience to set everything up.

      As for other reasons, you have to live here during sometime to decide for yourself if it’s a good country to be in. Compared to Iran, Ukraine is behind Iran economically but there are many opportunities for growth and development. Also, Ukraine is a very relaxed country in terms of freedom, press, religion and political views.

      Do you have an opportunity to visit Ukraine at first and see how you like it? That would definitely give you a broader picture.

  • Josef Hannum

    Anya you are quite right when you say TRAINS are the best way to get around Ukraine, and from Ukraine to bordering countries. Here are some more reasons to take the trains:

    Trains have lots of elbow room in them, compared to planes. Seats are much bigger, with plenty of legroom.

    A plane takes 1.5 hours for all the passengers to board, all filing through one tiny door loaded with luggage. Passengers board trains thru about 40 doors simultaneously, 2 doors per wagon. So trains don’t have to delay everyone 1.5 hours… they stop only 1 to 5 minutes at a station.

    Airline seats recline only 1″, making sleep impossible or uncomfortable, but trains have sleeper cars departing major cities around 10pm and arriving in another major city around 8 a.m. These Schalfwagons allow one to travel while sleeping in a real bed with sheets, rocked to sleep by the gentle rolling of the train. So much for trains being “time consuming.”

    You see so much from the huge train windows, whereas from the tiny plane windows you see only cloud tops. You really can’t see anything of the towns & cities of Ukraine from 30,000 ft.

    Trains have a dining car where real food is cooked and served to you at real tables with white linen! Or at least there is a bar/snack car, a very social place!

    Some of the most interesting people can be met on a train if the seating is right. It’s nice to have your own little compartment, 3 people facing 3 people, a large window, a folding out table, 6 bunk beds that fold down at night, and a door that locks at night to keep out the sneak thieves!

    Unlike airports, train stations are in the center of town, close to where people live and work.
    One must drive about an hour out of town to reach an airport. (No neighborhood wants the noise.) Train stations are in the centers of towns, and they are much more numerous — these 2 factors make train stations closer to you.

    One must arrive at the airport 2 hours before departure. You can arrive at a train station 2 MINUTES before departure!

    On a train you can have a huge suitcase or two without having to check them. Wheel them on yourself. And no charge for any luggage. Upon arrival, no waiting 45 minutes for your bag(s) to show up on the luggage carousel.

    After finally boarding your plane, you sit for another half hour or so before the wheels begin to slowly turn. You taxi at snail’s pace a long way, then stop again. The captain announces, “We’re fifth in line for take off, thank you for your patience.” Within about 2 minutes of boarding a train, you’re at full speed toward your destination.

    Finally your turn to take off comes and the engines begin to scream, about 20 feet from your ears. They continue their high decibel screaming throughout the flight. On a train the engine is far away from your wagon; usually it cannot be heard.

    The former Soviet Union countries use old passenger train wagons from Italy and W. European countries. These are far superior to the modern wagons in use in the West. Ukrainian train wagons are divided into about 10 compartments. Instead of all seats facing forward airline style, these older train wagons’ compartments are sociable & friendly, 3 seats facing 3 seats! (Of course each train could have a wagon or 2 with airline style seating, for those who don’t like it.) At night the conductor comes and folds the 6 bunk beds conveniently down, for a real night’s sleep!

    Also in these old wagons from Central Europe, passengers can open the window in their compartment. This is good for saying goodbye to your friends & relatives standing on the platform to see you off. In Soviet countries, at many stations private women sell home cooked food & beverages thru the windows to passengers. Jet liner windows don’t open and they have stuffy, recalculated air because of the high cost of heating the below zero outside air at 30,000 feet. (The stewardess’ union is always complaining about the unhealthy air, but airline executives refuse to spend the money to heat enough fresh air.) Trains don’t have this problem since they are at ground level where the air is warm.

    And most important about train travel perhaps is that it is a lot of FUN! I’ve spent many months in Ukraine on several trips and I can assure you that it is completely unnecessary to take a plane to, from, or within the former USSR. Nor do you ever need to rent a car. Not only are planes & cars unnecessary, it is a much better experience to take the train.

  • Dan

    Hello, Anya.
    I am enjoying reading your blog after reading your opinions and suggestions about traveling to and in Ukraine. My question is…..I have a new fiend who lives in Kremenchuk, and wishes to come to the US to live. However they are quite challenged by the lack of understanding the English language, and not having a decent salary to afford top instruction to learn the language. It seems that there is a very limited source of instructors in that city as well. Do you have any recommendation you might pass along for them to check into for some help? Any help will be greatly appreciated, I am sure.
    Thank you and keep up the great, and helpful writing.

    • Anya

      If you plan to study in Ukraine only, you can find many English programs and there is no need to learn the language. If you plan to live and work in Ukraine, then you have to know at least Ukrainian.
      Regarding your second question about the schools, there are many good schools for foreigners in many cities around Ukraine. It all depends on the major and your budget. Usually, education for foreigners is more expensive than residents and citizens, yet it is possible to find a program on a budget if willing to study in a small Ukrainian city or town.

  • MARK ruebl

    Loved reading your comments. I have become good friends with some people in the Ukraine. I’m from the United states, sadly alot if Americans believe that America is the answer and everyone in the world should be like us. Especially in the world today people need to come together, my ukranian friends have opened my eyes!!! I intend! To visit soon. Thank you for all the information, MARK

    • Anya

      Hi Mark, I am glad to hear you enjoyed reading my post! I hope you will get a chance to visit Ukraine, it has just recently reopened its borders for foreigners and doesn’t plan to close again.

  • thomas

    dear anya

    i work online, i want to move to kharkiv, i just speak english and french but i will start learning russian soon
    what is very important for me in life is to be able to build strong relationship with people which will last a lifetime, i heard friendship was important in ukraine, can you confirm that ?

    thank you

  • Colleen Wadden

    Hi, Anya. This post is so helpful. It’s a relief to be able to access accurate information. I am hoping you might have advice about a few things. Sorry for a long note.

    I am leaving for Dnipro, Ukraine in a couple of weeks for an English teaching position in a three month-program. I will receive three stipend checks in UAH from the school. With UAH being a closed currency, I cannot quite figure out how I will cash/deposit these checks.

    It isn’t very much money, but I won’t spend all of the UAH while I am in country, so cashing the checks would not be helpful and I am sure high bank fees would be disappointing for the low amount of the stipend. With each local bank able to set their own exchange rates, I think I would be at a disadvantage and I’ve heard possibly not able to turn the UAH into USD when I leave, at a bank or a currency exchange. There doesn’t seem to be many international banks in Dnipro or even Ukraine that deal with personal, as opposed to corporate, banking. I might not be able to stay on in Ukraine after the program, so opening a local account wouldn’t work.

    Do you have any suggestions?

    My second question is about the teaching and consulting for general English and Business English. I have CELTA (University of Cambridge certification to teach English to adults) and also 20 years of corporate Communication experience working within a wide range of industries and topics.

    My hope is to help a company with their employees’ English; eventually tutor and hopefully teach communication and PR at a university; or assist with general English and health care English at a School of Medicine or within private health care. (I have many years of business communication experience in health care.) Obviously, a pandemic is one of the worst times to start this work, but I am forging ahead.

    I have heard that there are many IT workers who need general English skills. They know enough IT-related English but cannot generally converse well. I think recently, lessons have transitioned to online; a format I am comfortably teaching with. Do you have any thoughts about exploring this work in Ukraine?

    Any suggestions are appreciated!

    • Anya

      Hi Colleen, first of all, you shouldn’t apologize for a long note :). I am happy to help!

      So, answering your question about the checks, I got a bit confused. Ukraine doesn’t use any check system to pay for services. What type of checks is this school talking about? Do they mean they’ll pay you through a bank check transfer to your international bank account? Usually, there are only two ways to pay a salary, directly with cash or through a bank check transfer.

      I think this school meant they’ll pay you via transfer. In this case yes, both banks (your international one and Ukrainian bank) will charge a fee and the final amount will be in your currency. Depending on the bank in Dnipro the school is going to use, the fee will be definitely different. Some banks charge more, some less but almost all of them work with personal accounts, not just business.
      I just don’t fully understand what this school means when they talk about the checks. If you have more information on this part, please let me know.

      To answer your second question, I can assure you that there is plenty of work in Ukraine when it comes to teaching English! There are workers in different fields who need general English skills. Besides IT there are workers in health care, education, consulting, culture and tourism who also constantly look for improving their English. When I was working for Deloitte (one of the Big Four accounting organizations), we were constantly encouraged to attend English classes and the company was paying for them. A lot of auditors these days have a very basic audit-related lexicon but they are not fluent in speaking. So they are also looking for courses that companies pay for. There was, is, and will be a big demand for English teachers in Ukraine for different fields, not only English for kids at school.
      Also, not all schools transitioned to online. Smaller schools with fewer attendees still work as they did before covid. It all depends on the region and a particular school. But overall, Ukraine is not like anywhere else in Europe when it comes to work during/with the covid. There will be no shutdowns or full lockdowns. Schools will continue to work and there will be a demand for English, be it online or with presence in class.

      • Colleen Wadden

        Thank you, for the information! Knowing about Deloitte is helpful so I can be aware of what large companies or large services, such as health care, might hire business English and general English teachers. My hope is to eventually only teach adults.

        Regarding the stipend from the school, I will receive a living stipend that is paid in three installments. It is not taxed since it is for an educational program. I had assumed each payment would be made with a check, but perhaps I am wrong.

        The funds that I will need while in Dnipro will only be for food, toiletries and utilities. I hadn’t thought about it, but perhaps I will pay the landlord in UAH cash. That would eliminate that hassle.

        I also assumed that I would be paid in UAH so eventually I would have to exchange the funds to USD prior to departure; and of course I want to avoid what are usually high fees.

        My research indicates Citibank is no longer operating for personal banking in Ukraine, only corporate banking. That would leave me with using a currency exchange (outrageous fees) or a local bank. I also read that the local banks can legally set their own approximate exhange rates and usually provide a low middle market average rate.

        The larger concern is that I have been advised and I agree, that it’s a bad idea for digital nomads or teachers to have various bank accounts around the world. But, accessing a ‘global bank account,’ such as Citibank or HSBC, is only possible in some countries and also depends upon if the global bank has branches in smaller areas of the country.

        My hope is to figure out how to bank in various countries and not spend precious savings from a teacher’s salary on banking fees. Obviously, in some countries this won’t be possible, but I’m hoping to be forward thinking and limit how many local accounts I have to open for what might be only a 10 month contract.

        Granted, this article is written by a company selling information that would supposedly provide access to banking information that would help with this issue, but their description of what can happen with local accounts is accurate – and scary! https: //globalbanks .com/ closing-a-bank-account-overseas/

        I am new to this and a bit lost.

  • Josh

    Hi Anya, great website. I met a girl that lives in Ukraine and she is not interested in moving to Canada so to be together I would have to move there. I would of course take a good trip there first to check everything out and see how we are in person. Anyways my question is how difficult is it going to be to stay thre permanetly? I have a monthly income thats more than enough to live in any city comfortably. You wrote about speaking english as being a huge asset if I would like to find work. I dont need to work but if I have to get a job to be allowed to live in the country i would of course. She makes a lot of money on her own so she wont even be a dependant. What do I have to do to stay there legally? Im a Canadian citizen if that matters. I know Canada and Ukraine have a great relationship and we have an embassy there. Not sure if that matters. Thank you for your time and again great website

    • Anya

      Hi Josh, to be honest, getting permanent residency in Ukraine is difficult. Besides marriage, there are two more fast ways how to do it – through investment for not less than $100,000 or through the IT field if you are an IT specialist.
      If you are working in IT (Cybersecurity, development, and CTO), you have a green light into the country. The government supports the IT sphere and attracts foreign professionals through immigration quotas for IT specialists. You don’t even need to work for a Ukrainian company to get the permit based on IT.
      Another route (more difficult but possible) is to apply for a one-year residency as a remote worker and show proof of income (mentioned above in this post). However, immigration services always change the requirement of needed income and make it extremely difficult to get a permit, so you’d need to hire a good lawyer.
      If you don’t plan to marry a Ukrainian citizen or apply for residency based on one of the mentioned options, then yes, your best bet would be to find a job as an English teacher and let the school sponsor you.

  • David

    Hi. I am considering buying an apartment in Borispol – this is close to the airport and intend renting this property out to short term visitors to Ukraine, what hurdles do you think I will need to overcome in this respect. I have a friend in that Town who would oversee the day to day running. Is property a good investment. Thank you

    • Anya

      Hi David, trying to cover in the comment section the topic of buying real estate in Ukraine is somewhat challenging. If there are questions that you’d like to address, we can set up a call with you and discuss everything.

  • Roy

    This is a great post. I went to Ukraine (Kyiv) for the first time in Feb 2020 and absolutely fell in love with it. Looking forward to my return when possible.

  • Roberto

    Hello Anya,
    I am thinking of moving to Ukraine ( Betdichev ) for good ! Is it to be a huge challenge to live there ?
    Thanks
    Roberto ,U.K.

    • Anya

      Hi Roberto,

      I found this video about Berdychiv, so you could understand a bit what the city is like. The video is in Russian but I’ll explain what the guy is talking about:
      1. At first he is giving general information about the name of the city and shows the apartment they rented to live in for a few days. Then he shows the bus and railway station, central square and main street which are very empty and even on a weekday during the rush hour don’t see many people.

      2. Later he says that there are a lot of stray dogs (it’s kind of a problem everywhere in Ukraine but Berdychiv has just too many of them), not much greenery and no crosswalks or areas where people can safely cross the road. There are barely any nice cafes and modern big stores. Also, he mentions that they mainly saw older people everywhere, not many kids or young adults. And I’ll tell you why – Berdychiv has few job opportunities and not many good colleges or universities around. It is partially an industrial town and many people try to leave and move to larger cities.

      3. Next, they went to the restaurant, the only park in the city which is pretty horrible (broken flowerpots and asphalt, not taken care of, no trash cans), City Council (which looks like it was bombed os something, jeez such an embarrassment), walked in a random apartment complex that is falling apart but where people still live until this day, famous Karmelitska monastery, a park area near the river (full of trash and the river is dirty) and walked a bit more around the city.

      Also, he made a good point about ecology. Berdychiv has some of the worst quality of the air in Ukraine. It has several factories polluting the air and the city gas pipeline emits nitric oxide which is a reason why a high number of people in this area suffer from neurodegenerative diseases. By the way, speaking of ecology. The entire Zhytomyr region (county in other words) has the highest level of radiation after the Chernobyl catastrophe (and Berdychiv is in the Zhytomyr region), the average life expectancy here is the lowest in all of Ukraine.

      Verdict (from me): If you were my relative or close friend, I would be discouraging you from moving to Berdychiv. Ukrainians are leaving it to chase better opportunities, I can’t imagine why someone would want to move there, especially a foreigner.
      Of course, it’s not my business and you may have valid points of why you’d move there but (!) in my opinion it is not a good city to live in (sorry anyone from Berdychiv reading this, although they will agree).
      Would it be a challenge to live there? For me and many others – yes, definitely. For you? I can’t tell since I don’t know you as a person. But most likely – also yes.
      I hope it helps. And I am sorry if you expected a different answer!

  • Atif

    Hi Anya,
    I am an India and was thinking to move to Ukraine. I earn enough to stay in the capital and everything sounds quite affordable to me. However, the thing I wanted to ask if there is any help you can do so I can relocate? Currently, I am staying in Dubai. I want to move with my Wife and a Kid.

    • Anya

      Hi Atif,

      Are you asking about the residency? If yes, I am not qualified to give any legal advice. If you need help with logistics, finding a flat, school/nanny for your child, and other moving questions, I can help with that.

  • Mike

    I am considering coming to Ukraine at least for a visit. Perhaps 3 months. My biggest concern is how do I get my money available to me while I’m there? Do I just put it in American bank and use my credit card? Or do I need to do something else? How much cash should I have? I don’t wanna be carrying around a 2-3 thousand American dollars. Not safe? Thanks for the help.

    • Anya

      Hi Mike,

      Almost everywhere in Ukraine (besides markets, small towns and villages) you can pay with a credit card. I would recommend you to get a Bank of America travel rewards card or Chase Saphire or any other similar card that you may know of where the international transaction fee is 0%. It will also help you get points on all purchases.

      I do not recommend you withdraw money from ATM since bank fees are high. I remember one time withdrawing $25 and paying almost $7.

      The best option is to have a credit card with no international fee and have some cash with you. You’ll need cash for paying for public transportation, markets (if you plan to buy groceries there), street coffee & food, possibly some gifts/souvenirs and tips at cafes. That’s pretty much it. Airbnb, hotels, train/plane tickets, grocery stores, cafes/restaurants… for those you can pay with a credit card. Carrying $2-3 thousand is safe but you don’t really need that much if you use CC.

  • Peter Vincent

    I have met a lady in Kiev who wants to come to the US, I want her with me but with the Covid virus everything is complicated.. I have offered to come over to help but she says it is a bad time because of the virus. I have had both vaccine shots, have a current passport so I am wordering if it is advisable. She says it is a bad time, but I wonder if it really is. If I married here there, could she get a visa through me to stay in the US? I have steady income for my work and social security. enough to live comfortably there. We planned on marrying here which makes a lot of sense. Would she really have a problem getting out of the Ukraine to come to the US? I am and artist/photographer/author and would love to visit the Ukraine. Is this not a good time or not? I own a house and two cars, no payments. Is this truly a bad time because of COVID in the Ukraine, or am I getting some strange feelings for nothing? I’m not naive about life and spent 4 years in Lebanon. I like what I hear about the Ukraine and am not woried about the Russian conflict. It sounds very livable, and affordable. I would like to come over. Canbaksreally not connect with US banks for transfers of cash.?

    • Anya

      Hi Peter, I didn’t understand why everything is complicated? Does this lady tell you any concrete reasons why it is a bad time to come to Ukraine now? Either I get a wrong impression or she is just desperately trying to go to the US (is this woman real at all? Have you seen her?)

      No, it is not a bad time to go to Ukraine now. As a matter of fact, Ukraine is only one of a few countries in Europe where it is easy to get in. There are partial lockdowns in some regions but no curfews or restrictions on movement. Kiev is now fully open with restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, etc. being open too. The situation with covid cases is stable (pretty much the same as it was the entire time) and life goes on as usual (again, besides some adaptive quarantine measures in some regions).
      To be able to get into Ukraine, you need only to have insurance that covers covid and PCR test, but in your case, since you have been vaccinated, maybe you don’t even need that (I’d check this information on the official website).
      If you were to fly to Hungary or Czech Republic, I’d definitely say that with the Covid, things are really complicated (almost crazy better to say), in Ukraine – absolutely not, it’s a free country (in terms of restrictions) where at times you forget that covid exists at all.

      I don’t want to make any conclusions since I don’t know much about this woman, but I’d definitely be suspicious since the way she is presenting the situation in the country is not right. And maybe she is doing it for a reason.

      To answer your second question, she shouldn’t have any problem getting out of Ukraine to come to the US if you marry here, in Ukraine, and then she applies for a visa based on the marriage. Fiance visas (K1 visas) are on pause anyways, so there is no way for her to get one at this time.
      Considering the entire situation with the covid and what you told me, the best way for you (if you guys want to be together) is only to come to Ukraine and marry here. If you decide you want to live in Ukraine, it will also enable you to apply for a residency. If you want to go to the US, she’ll have that opportunity too.
      I honestly don’t understand why she would be discouraging you from that.

      You also mentioned the Russian conflict. Trust me, you won’t feel like there is any conflict unless you go to the east. You shouldn’t worry about it.
      Ukraine is a great place to come to now – no tourists, things are calm, and the weather is improving. Very soon, it’s going to be warm and sunny and you can enjoy travels around the country, especially road trips if you rent a car.

      And for the last question, what is Canbaksreally? Sounds like you meant a bank but there is no bank in Ukraine with such a name.
      And by the way, if this lady (or anyone else) is asking you to transfer money, that is a scam. Do not fall for it!

  • Rocky

    Hi Anya, thanks for this lovely updation.
    I read yor full article as well as link u mentioned also.its so helpful for me. I am coming to ukraine in next month and i am goin to settle there. Please contact me on email. I want some suggestions.
    Thank you

    • Anya

      I know the following dating websites are popular in Ukraine (where people register with hopes to meet a foreigner): elenasmodels.com, datingwomenukraine.com, findlove.in.ua, fdating.com, meets.com, anastasiadate.com, match .com, badoo.com. I hope it helps!

  • Rebecca

    Hi Anya! I am from the Uk and have a Ukranian parner (unmarried). We met in Canada where we both lived and then we decided to leave to be closer to home. My boyfriend is already home in Ukraine and I am going over there shortly to join him. As of now, i don’t have a visa sorted out, only the visitor right to stay for 90 days. I am currently studying for a TEFL qualification which will be completed soon. Do you know what my best options are for being able to stay longer? Thanks!

    • Anya

      Hi Rebecca, unfortunately, Ukraine doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities for foreigners on how to stay longer in the country. You mentioned you are studying for TEFL, that could be an option for you to apply for a working visa if you are willing to teach English in Ukraine. Also, there is a way to apply for a long-term student visa if you start learning Ukrainian language with an accredited school. It shouldn’t necessarily be a university or college. It can be a privately owned language school too but it should be accredited and have a license to be able to provide you all the documents for a trip to the embassy.
      Another option, which becomes quite popular these days too, is to refer to a company of the following type (I don’t really know how they are called but they advertise their services through various Facebook groups): the company that helps you (as a foreigner) to find a job in your field (basically connects you with the right employer who will sponsor you) and arranges all the paperwork for your visa. Their services are quite expensive but they always help with a visa if they take your money. If they can’t help you, they’ll tell you upfront.
      If that’s something you’d consider, I recommend you join Facebook groups for expats in different cities and ask there about this service.

    • Anya

      Masks are mandatory only inside the buildings and transportation but a lot of people don’t wear them. Anywhere outside you do not have to wear a mask.

  • AIDA

    Hi Anya! This is a very very helpful article you wrote. I am leaving for Kyiv within the month to start a 3month work engagement. I am planning to buy a short term health insurance to cover blood tests and doctor consultations for my pre-existing medical conditions and probably for emergency care too. May I ask you to please recommend insurance companies based in Kyiv that offer health insurance for 3 months only? Thank you very much!

    • Anya

      Hi Aida, to be honest, I don’t know what to recommend.

      Out of ten insurance companies in Ukraine, only five directly sell voluntary medical insurance policies to Ukrainians and foreigners but there is no option to purchase insurance for a few months only, the minimum requirement is a yearly policy. The rest work only through an employer within the framework of corporate insurance programs for employees. The reason is the high unprofitability of servicing individual clients. Due to the underdeveloped insurance culture, people usually apply for insurance after they have a specific medical condition.

      Also, there is no way to purchase a policy that would cover only tests or consultations. Usually, there are “packages” that include a set of medical services but to be honest, most of them (unless you go with the most expensive one) do not cover a range of procedures. Some tests and procedures (for example, fluorography, MRI, certain blood tests) are not covered by a lot of policies. Insurance with an optimal set of medical services will cost between $450-$550 per year. This policy covers almost everything, including massage and dentistry. However, the final cost determines which clinics will serve you: public or private. You want to go only to a private one. Another thing to keep in mind – only individuals of “non-retirement age” can insure their health. The most loyal maximum age of insurers is 65 years but in many cases this age is 55 years.

      In your case, if there is no employer to cover the cost of health insurance, I’d recommend either applying for yearly insurance (because there is no monthly choice) or pay as you go. In my opinion, there is much less hustle with self-service than having to deal with an insurance company. It is very easy to schedule an appointment to receive a doctor’s consultation or get a blood test done. Yet, if yearly insurance works, I advise you to contact the American Medical Centers clinic in Kyiv. They can tailor a package that will include blood tests and emergency visits.

      Also, a lot of private clinics offer private emergency medical care within 24 hours. In Kyiv, the price is between $80-$120. Some examples of those clinics: Medikom, Adonis, and Amedika.

      I hope I was able to answer your question. If there is anything else to advise, let me know!]

  • Maik

    Hi
    I have to thank you so much for, first of all, Adressing a really difficult and sensitive matter as racism.
    From the point of view of an african living for 20 years in spain and have visited as a tenager countries such as Lithuania, Latvia and other baltic countries, even I was living there for a few years as a student I have to say the experience was amazing. Welcoming people, they are happy to see you in their country, they are interested on you, your story…Best time in my life. To makes things be I met one of my unforgettable girlfriends who was Ukrainian born but living in Russia…what a great time)))

    so, let me thank you again for the topic and the way you dealt with it

    At the moment I am pIannign to move to Ukriaine. I am planning to ask for a permission in my job and stay in there for about a year. I felt in love with those people, that culture and their values , in general.
    I want to get into the “real Ukraine”, and make activities that imply to mix with the natives since I would like to know the native people.
    The idea is stay in there learning ukrainian( I was in doubt whether to learn Russian or Ukrainian. After reading some post, my mind seems clearer)) and doing activities that implilees meeting native people. I guess I will stay in Kiev, but this is not sure yet, I have about a year to settle it.

    My plan is to move in about a year from now.

    So I would love to know whether you can give me some advice about this.
    Nevertheless, I will take all the information are provided in this blogg like a premium wine, because it seem really usuful and personal.

    Hope to hearing from you

  • Jim Clement

    Привіт Аню,

    Щиро дякую за дуже інформативну статтю. I am an older (66) American Disabled Veteran that is retired.. My retirement income is 48000 USD (tax-free) anually. I am also a widower, my wife of 22 years having passed away 2 years ago.

    The more that I read about Львів – – – the more I am convinced that it is a city I must live in for 6 months or so to decide if that is a city I would like to make my last base in life in. I would not have any financial problems – – – nor ever be a burden on the state. Quite the opposite.

    My problem is that I would need some help at first when I arrive there. I would need a good school or instructor for Ukrainian Language, as well as a guide to help me get settled into the city for the first 45 to 60 days. I LOVE that L’viv is a walking, not driving city.

    After that, if the government insisted that I work – – – I could teach English. However, I would prefer to just explore the city and surrounding country with my time. I love the architecture that I see in the photos. I also like everything I have read, and seen on YouTube videos about the country.

    It is a beautiful place! I currently am planning to visit for a 3 to 6 month period in 2022. what would you suggest in order to make my visitation go smoothly?

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