Information & Chat > The Expatriate Life: Living in the FSU, Asia or Elsewhere

Expatriate Life: Resources & Visa info

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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!

 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?

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.

  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.


--- Quote from: Jinx 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?

--- End quote ---

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.



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