A Practical Guide to the Way of Life in Ukraine
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- Giovanni Gallo
For an expat like me, InterNations is the perfect place to meet and connect with like minded people in Kyiv.
Life in Ukraine
Healthcare in Ukraine
Ukraine has a wide network of hospitals and family doctors, with at least a small hospital or practice to be found in every town. If you want to see a GP, it’s highly advised to make an appointment as there can often be a substantial waiting time.
Healthcare is free to Ukrainian citizens and long-term registered residents, but there may be a cost involved as doctors’ wages are low. Be aware that when moving to the country as an expat you’ll need to have state emergency healthcare insurance certificate to obtain your residence permit.
There are also some private medical facilities and specialized treatment centers, mainly in Kiev and other big cities, which can be expensive. For this reason, some expatriates living in Ukraine prefer to get private insurance cover instead or in addition to the public one.
Education in Ukraine
The school system in Ukraine is of an excellent standard, with the government committed to an education system that is accessible to all, and it is compulsory to complete your education up to secondary level in state schools. Because of these factors, Ukraine has one of the highest literacy rates in Europe, at 99.4%.
As of 2005, it takes twelve years to go through the school cycle: four years of primary education (from age six), five years of middle (secondary) education, and three years in the upper secondary. There are also many pre-school facilities, including daycare centers and kindergartens.
There is an excellent higher education network, too, with over 800 universities and colleges across the country. State funding is provided to many students, with a scholarship given to those who have achieved at least a 4 in their end of term exams (out of a 5 point system). Students who have achieved all 5s have their scholarship increased by 25%.
Transportation in Ukraine
Ukraine has quite an extensive road network, although most of it has not been upgraded since the Soviet era. Altogether, there are close to 165,000 km of paved road. The 18 km strip of motorway between Kiev and Boryspil International Airport is a wide, good quality road and the same can be said of the roads connecting Kiev to Chop and Odessa. On other roads, you’ll need to watch out for potholes.
The standard of driving in Ukraine tends to be quite devil-may-care, so watch out for other drivers who may think they have the right of way by being faster than you. You must drive on the right hand side of the road, and there’s a zero tolerance policy towards drink driving, so don’t drink before getting behind the wheel.
It is recommended that you get an international driving license if you are planning on driving in Ukraine, although if you are planning to live in Ukraine, i.e. get a residence permit, you’ll need to get a Ukrainian license.
Ukraine also has excellent rail travel links between cities and with neighboring countries. Kiev Boryspil is the main international airport, with others in Kharkiv and Lviv.
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- Samantha Greene
After moving to Kyiv, I did not only get tips from other expats in Ukraine, but also from locals willing to help newcomers.