Over the past 18 months, Tbilisi has become one of the hottest digital nomad destinations in Europe. But what is it really like to live in Tbilisi? Find out in this complete guide.
The Republic of Georgia is a small country in the Transcaucasian region at the junction of Europe and Asia. Sandwiched between Russia to the north, Turkey to the west, and Armenia and Azerbaijan to the south, it has both high mountain ranges and a long strip of Black Sea coastline.
Georgia is praised for its pristine walks and ancient plonk traditions. The capital of the country, Tbilisi, is a diverse and dynamic city that wins hearts with its eclectic architecture and awesome Georgian food and restaurant scene.
Since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and undergoing a number of reforms triggered by the 2003 Rose Revolution, Georgia’s tourism industry has grown at a seemingly unstoppable pace.
Although Tbilisi is less known as a digital nomad destination than other cities in Europe, its popularity of Tbilisi is constantly growing. In 2020, the introduction of the “remote from Georgia” permit only added to its appeal.
The mild climate, the generous visa policy, and the affordable cost of living are all good reasons to settle in Tbilisi. But it was the incredibly rich culture, fascinating history, and legendary hospitality that convinced me to move to Georgia at the beginning of 2020.
Learn more about living in Tbilisi, Georgia as a digital nomad in this in-depth guide.
Living in Tbilisi
Tbilisi is a relatively small city with just over a million inhabitants. It runs along a valley, with high hills on two sides and the emerald-tinted Kura River running through the center.
The heart of Tbilisi is the charming old town, which includes the hilltop Narikala Fortress (a stone castle from the 4th century); Betlemi district; Old Meidan (a former hub for Silk Road traders); Abanotubani (the sulfur baths district); Avlabari; Chugureti (formerly a German settlement); and more.
Satellite suburbs consisting of tall Soviet-style buildings stretch to the north.
One of the best things about Tbilisi is the way the traditional and the contemporary coexist. One moment you can listen to polyphonic chants in the garden of an Orthodox church, the next, sip a latte in a special cafe.
Tbilisi’s location at the crossroads of East and West means that it has always been very multicultural.
There are features of the urban landscape and some customs that may seem familiar – but at the same time, the peculiarities of Georgian culture, language, and religion mean that Tbilisi really has no parallel.
If you have been living abroad for a long time, you will probably find that Tbilisi is a breath of fresh air.
Tbilisi for digital nomads
Tbilisi is an emerging digital nomadic destination. At the moment, he finds an almost perfect balance between convenience and adventure.
It still has an off-the-overcome-path feel, especially for Western travelers, but the infrastructure has evolved by leaps and bounds, making it a very easy place to live.
The ex-pat community consists mainly of remote workers (rather than NGO staff or English teachers). It’s not as tight as in other places, but it’s slowly changing as more and more coworking spaces and services dedicated to expats open up.
English is widely spoken, especially among the younger generations, which makes it easier to meet the locals. You will notice that your social network will grow instantly if you learn a little Georgian.
What is the visa situation?
Georgia has a very generous visa waiver policy that allows more than 95 nationalities to enter the country without a visa and stay for up to a year. Under this scheme, you can work or study without obtaining a special permit.
Tourists can open a local bank account, register a business, buy a car or even invest in real estate with relative ease. And since this is a visa waiver, nothing prevents you from activating your visa-free period by making an old-fashioned border run.
One thing to keep in mind is that you automatically become a tax resident after 183 days in Georgia.
Many digital nomads who run their own business or freelance choose to register as an individual entrepreneur and benefit from the 1% tax rate.
Georgia is striving to become a member of the EU so that this regulation can change in the future. But for now, Tbilisi remains one of the most accessible cities for remote workers in the region.
Distance From Georgia
In 2020, the remote from Georgia program was introduced as a way for digital nomads to bypass travel restrictions and enter the country.
To apply, you must meet a monthly income threshold, have health insurance and agree to undergo a short hotel quarantine.
Georgia has since reopened its borders to most nationalities, but the permit is still a workaround for anyone who doesn’t meet Georgia’s tourist entry requirements (including Australians like me).
I applied from Georgia remotely to return to the country in June – it was a very simple process.
Weather in Tbilisi
Besides the visa policy, another thing that makes Tbilisi so attractive is the climate.
Winters are mild, with daytime temperatures around 50ºF between December and February. Snow is rare, but there may be a day or two of snowfall in March or April.
Summer can be extremely hot, reaching 104 ° F in July and August. The air quality is also quite poor in Tbilisi in the summer. Most residents leave the city and go to the countryside or mountains to escape the heat.
Spring and autumn are by far the most pleasant times of the year in Tbilisi.
September and October are particularly pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 68-80 ° F and rare rainfall. Many festivals and outdoor events are held during this period, including in Tbilisi.
Activities and activities
There is no shortage of activities to keep you busy during your downtime, from soaking in the sulfur baths to refreshing your Georgian history in one of the many museums and galleries, to cafes in the trendy Vera district.
If you like photography and people-watching, one of the best things to do in Tbilisi is just to walk around the Old City.
Outside the city, the Kakheti plonk region, the Greater Caucasus Mountains, and a number of medieval cave monasteries are just a day trip away.
If you like hiking and want to meet other ex-pats, Weekend Travelers Georgia is a Facebook community that organizes regular excursions from the city.
Tbilisi’s location also makes it the ideal base for international travel.
All borders of Georgia are open, which means that you can easily get to Armenia or Azerbaijan by train or to Turkey or Russia by road.
A number of low cost airlines fly to Tbilisi Airport, making it easy to reach the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Greece, Eastern Europe or Central Asia.
Is Tbilisi safe?
In general, Tbilisi is an extremely safe city with a very low crime rate. Burglaries and pickpocketing are rare, and foreigners are almost never the target of powered crimes.
That said, you need to exercise the same caution and common sense as in any other big city. Pay attention to your belongings, especially when using the subway or bus. Avoid walking alone or walking in unlit areas after at night.
Since Urban taxis are not metered, it is always possible that a driver will overload you (especially if you do not speak the language). You can avoid this by using an application. Bolt is the most popular.
I lived in Vietnam and Cambodia and I still find the roads in Georgia much worse!
Aggressive drivers and a complete lack of traffic rules together create chaos. Road safety should be your main concern and this is something to keep in mind both in the city and while traveling.
Be very careful as a pedestrian, and if you plan to rent a car, avoid cities. When moving around Georgia, avoid making very long trips through marshrutka and never travel at night.
Demonstrations and demonstrations
Georgians are very passionate about social justice and political reform – so opposite are not uncommon. In Tbilisi, organized opposite are usually held in front of the Parliament on Rustaveli Avenue.
The opposite are usually peaceful, but it can turn powered. It’s best to avoid these areas when events are scheduled-the times are always announced a day or two in advance.
The best places to live in Tbilisi
Since moving to Tbilisi in 2020, I have jumped from one apartment to another and have lived in just about every neighborhood.
Most digital nomads choose to live outside the Old City Center, which, while atmospheric, is quite touristy.
The buildings in this area (as charming as they are) are often also not in the best conditions and lack natural light and ventilation. If you want to live in the hustle and bustle, Sololaki – the area west of Freedom Square – is an excellent choice.
Vera is a popular area that is still quite Central but with a more residential feel. There are plenty of cafes, shops, bakeries and plonk bars in this area.
The streets go up the hill, so you can often find an apartment with a view. Vake, the area just beyond Vera, has plenty of green space and is a popular choice among families.
Chugureti on the Eastern Bank of the river is my favorite neighborhood in Tbilisi. In addition to housing the famous factory creative space, it is known for its” Italian courtyards ” (common areas shared between neighbors) and its restaurants.
Saburtalo is an alternative option north of the center. Popular among students (many university campuses are located here), it is a little further away, but easy to get to by metro.
One downside is that rush hour traffic is a problem. There are many Soviet-era apartment buildings in Saburtalo and there is no shortage of great apartments for rent.
Prices vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, but you can expect to pay month for an apartment in the center of Tbilisi. If you are willing to live a little further away, you can find a place for much affordable.