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Author Topic: Expatriate Life: Resources & Visa info  (Read 32289 times)

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Offline dbneeley

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Expatriate Life: Resources & Visa info
« on: May 09, 2010, 10:55:09 AM »
Perhaps you are involved with a lady from the former Soviet Union, or would like to be. Maybe you are looking for a place where the cost of living is less than in the West and you want a place to retire. Or maybe you are simply looking for a major change of pace, and are considering seeking your future in Eastern Europe. Perhaps you are simply intrigued by what life in the FSU seems like through Western eyes and how it contrasts with life in the West.

You are not alone! There are others who may be considering such a move as well as some who already have done it. This topic is for anyone either already living as an expatriate in the FSU or who may be considering it now or in the future.

Obviously, there is a large difference between visiting and living in a place. There are challenges that may not be so easy to deal with for a stranger in such a different environment. Whether it's how to get adequate health care or simply things to remember to bring or have shipped that may be unavailable in your new home--there is a myriad of such details that often may be overlooked if you don't think of them before your move.

This is a place for sharing the experiences of those who have gone before you, and to ask questions or to make suggestions both for Western people already in country as well as those considering it.

Just as with any other topic, this one will be only as good as those who take part make it. So come on in and stay a while and let's discuss the challenges and rewards of the expatriate life!

Offline Jinx

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Re: Resources and about Expatriate Life
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2010, 11:47:26 AM »
 Ok I'll bite....I have thought of this many times...Nataly and I living in Kiev for a year or two.

 What has been the best thing about living "in country" and what has been the worst?

 If you could make a list of "must have" items to bring with you, what would they be?

Offline TwoBitBandit

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Re: Resources and about Expatriate Life
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2010, 11:53:32 AM »
I've also thought about going.  I've been lining up some consulting and freelance jobs I could do that don't tie me to living in the United States.

One of the biggest problems that seems to face people, particularly in Russia, is getting permission to stay in the country.  The one-year business visas that everyone used to use are now only good for 90 days out of every 180.  You have to find a way around this by getting a work visa or student visa of some type.


Offline Donhollio

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Re: Resources and about Expatriate Life
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2010, 12:01:30 PM »
  I couldn't do it. I stuck it out as long as I could before feeling like I was going to be driven bonkers  :drunk:   It's a neat place to visit, but unless you're living a charmed lifestyle the daily grind can take a toll on ones mind.

Offline dbneeley

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Re: Resources and about Expatriate Life
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2010, 12:17:34 PM »
Ok I'll bite....I have thought of this many times...Nataly and I living in Kiev for a year or two.

 What has been the best thing about living "in country" and what has been the worst?

 If you could make a list of "must have" items to bring with you, what would they be?

For one thing, it is fairly common for women to have a far larger "support system" of family and friends than men tend to have. Thus, if the lady is living in her home country she has that still in place.

Next, those who contemplate living in country " for a year or two" have the advantage of the Western spouse learning far more about the other spouse's culture and all the things that go with it. They also gain insights into what the other spouse either has gone through or will go through upon living in the West. This kind of mutual appreciation is, I believe, an incredible advantage for the long-term health of the relationship in many cases.

Obviously, it gives you an opportunity to increase your language fluency. You get to know your spouse's family and friends at a much deeper level as well.

As for the "worst" things--if you have business to conduct "back home" it can be a royal pain. Day-to-day things can be challenging, too--the bureaucratic hassles here can be unbelievable, for example. Medical care can be a challenge, too, although there are some good strategies for dealing with that.

As for "things to be sure to bring"--If your computer is older, consider replacing it before you move, as computers can be far more expensive than in the U.S. (same is true for most of Europe, in fact, as I understand it).

If you take food supplements--vitamins and minerals, enzymes, etc.--consider taking a considerable supply. They are far less plentiful here with much less variety.

Consider taking some of our favorite spices if you are fond of dishes using them. Some are available here, many are not easily found. When a friend brought me some chunky and spicy salsa recently, I enjoyed it far more than you can imagine. As you are probably aware, the majority of food here is somewhat bland--at least for a Texan used to frequent doses of spicy foods!

If you're American, I'd try to be sure that all your electrical devices are dual voltage if possible. While most computers are already dual voltage, there are peripherals that are not. In my case, I bought a new electric razor some months before coming here, for example, and I made sure to get one that is a dual voltage device. In fact, I have nothing that is not except my cell phone that I picked up here--I'll use a cheap prepaid during my visit back to Texas this Summer. When I replace this phone, though, I'll likely get a quad band from a major manufacturer so power supplies will be cheap and readily available when I visit the States again.

Also, if you maintain a primary bank account back home, be absolutely sure before you move that the bank understands are records the fact that you'll be living here for a time. If not, it can be a total pain if their "loss prevention" department should assume your account is being accessed by someone who has stolen your identity. Believe it or not, that happened to me with my Chase account on three occasions within a month. Needless to say, another task on my list in August will be to change banks!

If you must receive important physical mail, one of your first stops over here should be to open a post office box. I have yet to see a mailbox in a residential building that actually has a lock on it that works. Also, many mail addresses are awkward to fit in standard address forms in the West. Ours is five lines long when written properly, for instance.

Finally, although surely they exist somewhere, I have yet to see really decent Russian/English dictionaries here. In Kyiv you could probably find good ones at the Patrivka market--but I have not found any here that are as good as I picked up before moving here.

David  

Offline TwoBitBandit

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Re: Resources and about Expatriate Life
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2010, 12:20:50 PM »
  I couldn't do it. I stuck it out as long as I could before feeling like I was going to be driven bonkers  :drunk:   It's a neat place to visit, but unless you're living a charmed lifestyle the daily grind can take a toll on ones mind.
How long did you live there and what things drove you bonkers?

Offline Olga_Mouse

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Re: Resources and about Expatriate Life
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2010, 12:46:59 PM »

I have yet to see a mailbox in a residential building that actually has a lock on it that works.


Mine has, for instance  :nod:
Leaving Russia is not an emigration, rather an evacuation.

Offline dbneeley

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Re: Resources and about Expatriate Life
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2010, 12:50:36 PM »

I have yet to see a mailbox in a residential building that actually has a lock on it that works.


Mine has, for instance  :nod:

So you're the one! I had heard there was at least *one* with a mailbox that actually locks. Now I know who has it!  ;D

David

Offline RG

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Re: Resources and about Expatriate Life
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2010, 12:51:23 PM »
Consider taking some of our favorite spices if you are fond of dishes using them. Some are available here, many are not easily found. When a friend brought me some chunky and spicy salsa recently, I enjoyed it far more than you can imagine. As you are probably aware, the majority of food here is somewhat bland--at least for a Texan used to frequent doses of spicy foods!

I did manage to find some generic "hot sauce," but it took some time, and was certainly not available in most places.  In a more remote area, I believe it would be simply impossible to find.

Quote
If you're American, I'd try to be sure that all your electrical devices are dual voltage if possible. While most computers are already dual voltage, there are peripherals that are not. In my case, I bought a new electric razor some months before coming here, for example, and I made sure to get one that is a dual voltage device. In fact, I have nothing that is not except my cell phone that I picked up here--I'll use a cheap prepaid during my visit back to Texas this Summer. When I replace this phone, though, I'll likely get a quad band from a major manufacturer so power supplies will be cheap and readily available when I visit the States again.
I made that mistake in the opposite direction.  Phones, laptops, even a generic "charging station" and other misc electronics were all dual voltage, allowing a simple adapter to be used.  My razor, however - it holds a charge for a long time, but around day 21 of a 30 day trip, it needed charging.  I had become so used to everything being dual voltage I didn't think about it, plugged it in to charge.  Result - one instantly cooked transformer.  The new razor is indeed dual voltage. :)


Offline Olga_Mouse

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Re: Resources and about Expatriate Life
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2010, 12:55:22 PM »

So you're the one! I had heard there was at least *one* with a mailbox that actually locks. Now I know who has it!  ;D


 :chuckle:  Well, I do receive mail from the States and UK sometimes...  :biggrin:
Leaving Russia is not an emigration, rather an evacuation.

Offline dazzer

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Re: Resources and about Expatriate Life
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2010, 03:50:35 PM »
My wife lives in Odessa Ukraine with our daughter, within the next few months they will be living in England, subject to us successfully getting through the initial cohabitation stage, the next stage would be of course Oksana's adaption to life in England and leaving behind everything she as known, family, friends, career etc, this is something we have discussed at some length, although given we have some communication difficulties, this as meant not to the extent as would people whom speak the same language, the bottom line is that she may not be happy in England, that said, I'm not over the moon about the place anymore myself.

So it may well be that we live in Odessa Ukraine, Oksana as her job secured for 3 years during her maternity leave, but of course i must work, and at this moment i can only speak a few Russian words, this of course would be increased before we made plans for life in Ukraine, although i do find it very difficult and therefore i imagine i will speak only a little, any thoughts on what would be the prospects of me getting a job?, Oksana only earns 250 dollars a month, if i couldn't find work then i would be willing to work in England for perhaps 5 months every year, do they have any laws that may make that not possible?      tiphat
« on: January 14, 2010, 02:18:43 AM »
Would she be offended to get a text without telling her ahead of time?

Offline dbneeley

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Re: Resources and about Expatriate Life
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2010, 10:38:23 PM »
My wife lives in Odessa Ukraine with our daughter, within the next few months they will be living in England, subject to us successfully getting through the initial cohabitation stage, the next stage would be of course Oksana's adaption to life in England and leaving behind everything she as known, family, friends, career etc, this is something we have discussed at some length, although given we have some communication difficulties, this as meant not to the extent as would people whom speak the same language, the bottom line is that she may not be happy in England, that said, I'm not over the moon about the place anymore myself.

So it may well be that we live in Odessa Ukraine, Oksana as her job secured for 3 years during her maternity leave, but of course i must work, and at this moment i can only speak a few Russian words, this of course would be increased before we made plans for life in Ukraine, although i do find it very difficult and therefore i imagine i will speak only a little, any thoughts on what would be the prospects of me getting a job?, Oksana only earns 250 dollars a month, if i couldn't find work then i would be willing to work in England for perhaps 5 months every year, do they have any laws that may make that not possible?      tiphat

Dazzer,

First, I am not aware of any conditions on the permanent residence status in Ukraine, as to whether you can be abroad for five months per year and retain it or not. That should be a first order of business should you explore this option.

Second, what kind of work do you do? Generally, in Ukraine salaries for many kinds of work are far less than you would probably find acceptable. Odessa is the major center for import and export of goods to and from Ukraine, and many small merchants buy there to take items back to their home towns. Thus, various kinds of trade are quite common. However, there are relatively few jobs here if you don't speak the language. Obviously, the fallback for many native English speakers is teaching English. However, more and more people are seeking teachers with some sort of accreditation. There are two very good programs based in Britain for attaining certification in teaching English to non-native speakers. If possible, you might look into those as one possibility. When I looked at this two years ago, there was at least one chain of English schools in the country that does hire native speakers to teach. If this is of interest, you might look at Dave's ESL Cafe: www.eslcafe.com

However, if you can build an income independent of Ukraine--some sort of Internet business, for example--you would be miles ahead. Should this be feasible, you should maintain a primary bank account in Britain or elsewhere in the West as well as whatever bank you may use in Ukraine. Here, we use PrivatBank, which appears to be one of the most sound banks in the country. Many of them are pretty shaky affairs, I'm afraid. Bank charges can be quite substantial compared to the U.S. at least. It is possible, too, to establish a bank account here based on a foreign currency--particularly Euros or U.S. Dollars.

Otherwise, if you have particular technical skills that are in demand here, that too is possible. For example, I considered doing English technical writing for software development companies here. Unfortunately, in Ukraine that seems mostly centered in Kyiv. Of course, I had a few decades of experience in this line that could help--but even so, I would be seriously limited by lack of language skills here. (I did have an opportunity in Novosibirsk, actually, but health issues intervened. Irina was even willing to move to Siberia had I taken the job.)

I don't know if any of this is particularly helpful, but without knowing more of your situation I have attempted at least to cover some of the basics.

David

Offline dazzer

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Re: Resources and about Expatriate Life
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2010, 12:47:25 PM »
Thanks for your reply David tiphat

As regards working some months back in the UK each year, i will certainly look into it before any such decision to live in Ukraine. David you are a permanent resident of Ukraine,  i and I'm sure others would wish to know how you achieved this, and what it entailed?, do i understand correctly from a previous post of yours on another thread, that this differs from applying for a Ukraine citizenship?, is it true that once received you must only hold a Ukraine passport, thus surrendering the other?, what was the deciding factor for you on what avenue to take for your right to remain?.

Work wise.....

I'm not well educated, therefore any form of teaching is for me out of the question, likewise anything to do with the Internet of which I'm fairly hopless, my job is of car mechanic, Ive done this all my life, so I'm fairly good     tiphat
« on: January 14, 2010, 02:18:43 AM »
Would she be offended to get a text without telling her ahead of time?

Offline dbneeley

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Re: Resources and about Expatriate Life
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2010, 01:30:48 PM »
Thanks for your reply David tiphat

As regards working some months back in the UK each year, i will certainly look into it before any such decision to live in Ukraine. David you are a permanent resident of Ukraine,  i and I'm sure others would wish to know how you achieved this, and what it entailed?, do i understand correctly from a previous post of yours on another thread, that this differs from applying for a Ukraine citizenship?, is it true that once received you must only hold a Ukraine passport, thus surrendering the other?, what was the deciding factor for you on what avenue to take for your right to remain?.

Work wise.....

I'm not well educated, therefore any form of teaching is for me out of the question, likewise anything to do with the Internet of which I'm fairly hopless, my job is of car mechanic, Ive done this all my life, so I'm fairly good     tiphat

Dazzer,

No, a lawful permanent resident is not citizenship. It is simply permission to reside here permanently as a lawful resident alien. In America, this kind of permit is referred to as a "green card"--you may have heard the term. I am fairly sure the same sort of thing exists in Britain as well, just as it does in every country of which I am familiar.

If you are married to a citizen here, then you can go through the many details of getting the same sort of residence permit if you wish. You apply at the nearest OVIR office in country, and they require a list of documents including your marriage documents and much the same set you must submit to your government for your wife's immigration into Britain. Any docs that are not in the Ukranian language must be translated (although a number of mine were actually in Russian, since this is the predominantly Russian area of Ukraine). You must also have more passport-style photos made as part of the package. My wife did most of the required song and dance, although I wound up at OVIR myself on four occasions as I recall, mostly to sign various documents as the process wore on. In all, it took about a year to obtain.

About your job prospects. Unless you have some sort of relatively rare specialty, you may find it difficult to work here, especially as your ability to communicate with employers, co-workers, or customers would be so limited. Also, that sort of labor here pays miserably.

I did know a gentleman some years ago, though, who hooked up with some sort of well-connected person to buy and import cars mostly from Germany. They would buy relatively new used models, and the man I knew of was a fair mechanic himself, so he could evaluate the cars very well. He would purchase them and then drive them to Ukraine. His connected partner handled the bureaucratic end, so they wound up paying much less in import duty than they otherwise would have had to and he had no troubles at the border. As the old saying goes, "the fix was in." His partner took care of selling the cars in Ukraine and they had a division of profits worked out so that both were happy. At that time, he was bringing in a car every few weeks. Because they were high-dollar cars, they were making fairly good money on the deal.

I have no idea if this sort of thing could still be done profitably.

I also knew some folks in America who were buying decent used Harley Davidson motorcycles and exporting them to various places in Europe. That was some years ago now, so I have no idea if it would still be feasible--but it is less likely to be attractive to you since the key was being able to buy them in America for far less money than they were bringing in Europe. (They were also buying Fiat 124 sports cars and shipping them back to Italy, interestingly enough, but that seems a market long gone these days).

On the other hand, if you were to get a permanent resident card and had the capital to set up your own shop, in the right area you might do very well simply because I have heard how difficult it often can be to get truly first-class work on many cars. There could be a market among the wealthy for a somewhat exclusive garage for their expensive machinery--especially if you could offer truly first-class and guaranteed service.

David

Offline dazzer

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Re: Resources and about Expatriate Life
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2010, 03:21:41 PM »
David

Previous to my learning of your permanent residency, it was my understanding that it could only be lawfully achieved by attaining Ukraine citizenship, and amongst other things many of which I'm not aware, in order to do so one must of been married to their Ukraine spouse for a min of 2 years, and that one must surrender their passport, in doing so they then receive a Ukraine passport, i have little doubt that the route you have taken is the better option given you will have retained your American passport, was this something you considered?.

As regards myself, i now think i would favour the route you have taken, and perhaps looking to work for some months each year here tiphat
« on: January 14, 2010, 02:18:43 AM »
Would she be offended to get a text without telling her ahead of time?