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Suggestions or advice? (Almaty)

Greetings all.

I've been asked if I am interested in working in Almaty for the next year or so (teaching English and non-language Business Skills) so am looking into what people think who live there. I speak very little Russian (taxi drivers and grocery-store type stuff) and am interested in increasing that a bit. Lived in CIS countries for almost 4 years now and reasonably attuned to life there and interior travel.

The threads are interesting but I want a bit more focus.

My questions:

How do you feel about the long-term stability of Kaz and Almaty? Thoughts on growth, corruption, ease of doing business, those sorts of things? What would you suggest to someone who was deciding on whether it made sense to move there in the next few months?

Pay is in the $30K range and includes an apartment out near Mega-Center. Does that sound work/liveable for someone who doesn't mind a 5-day workweek and enjoys home-life, travel and relaxing evenings with friends? The job doesn't seem to involve much moving around the city, mostly staying in a fixed, Center location or down in that area.

While I am not a big clubber, I enjoy coffee and beer with friends/friendly people. Good restaurants are appreciated (value ones, I don't hob-nob with the rich and famous much). I tend to form trips and build groups for interest areas - cooking, low-energy exploration, etc. Any suggestions on the better coffee-houses and less smoky pubs for a relaxing conversation and plugging into a new group?

Can Americans get an tourist visa for China in Almaty and enter through the land border crossings from Kaz? I visited Almaty last August, made a couple of local friends and went down to visit a buddy in Bishkek, only a couple of surprises along the way, nothing earth-shaking.

I'm sure that there are questions I don't know to ask, so feel free to braindump a bit. I'd appreciate you treating it as if your best friend asked what you thought about them moving to Almaty and give honest advice and suggestions.

Thanks.

Almaty Forum