As of September 2014, the visa process has been centralized, and applications can now be completed online, which is a practical solution for those considering an international relocation to Georgia.
Moving to Georgia is the best way to experience the country's rich heritage. It is famed for its friendly locals, fresh produce markets, and spectacular countryside. Tbilisi, the capital, is still very traditional and yet multicultural, which adds to its charm and appeal. The expatriate community here is very small and close knit. This means you can be sure of the support of others who have made the move to Georgia ahead of you while you meet the locals and integrate into the wider community.
The majority of the estimated 4.9 million residents of this tiny country (it is just 69,700 square kilometers) speak Georgian, and this unique language belongs to its own ancient linguistic group. So it might well take some time for you to get your tongue around the guttural sounds of the Georgian's 33 character alphabet.
If you are considering moving to Georgia, you do need to pay particular attention to your income. While the country has some fantastic fresh produce markets and local shops, it is very reliant on imports. This means that the costs of certain items may well be higher than what you’d expect. Similarly, items that are easy to come by at home, like new clothes, might be harder to source in Georgia, even if you are in Tbilisi.
This small country is affected by subtropical influences, with the Great Caucus range operating as a barrier against the cold Northern winds and moderating the temperatures. The plains to the East of the country never experience temperatures below freezing, making them perfect for country walks even in the dead of winter. The Black Sea coast boasts palm trees and humidity, although admittedly the tropical climate does mean that the rain falls heavy and often in Georgia.
The hardest part of any move is finding a home, no matter where you’re moving to. If your move to Georgia is work-based, then be sure to ask your employer about good areas and the local property market. Many expats find it useful to rent a property and get a feel for the area before they commit to buying; if they even want to buy property is.
Rents in Georgia are particularly varied. A one bedroom apartment in the center of Tbilisi is likely to cost upwards of 600 GEL (around 300 USD) a month, with apartments in some of the most desirable areas achieving 1200 GEL. A similar, small property outside of the city could be secured for around 400 GEL per month. If you are moving a family or would like a spare room so that your guests don’t have to stay in hotels, then you will notice a significant jump in the rental prices. Three bedroom city center apartments cost around 1400 GEL a month, and those outside the city are not very much cheaper.
The property market, particularly in Tbilisi where ancient buildings are bordered by new builds, is especially difficult to summarize. The variety of properties on the market means that prices per square meter are variable, although you could expect to spend upwards of 2300 GEL.
Recent years have seen property prices rising faster than rents, meaning that renting a property might be the most financially viable option if your move to Georgia is short-term or uncertain. It is worth noting that there has been an increased demand for properties across the country. This increased demand means that areas such as Tbilisi are currently experiencing a market boom.
If you are intending to stay for a considerable length of time, buying a property could represent a significant return if real estate values continue to increase. However, there is a lot of investment by property developers, particularly in the Tbilisi area, which may slow down the real estate market and reduce short-term returns on property investments.