A new land for digital nomads, Georgia offers exceptional quality of life and a great work environment for expatriates from around the world. Nestled between Europe and Asia, famous for its vineyards, Georgia has many assets: breathtaking scenery from the Black Sea to the valleys of the Caucasus, an exceptional cultural heritage, an unrivaled sense of hospitality, affordable living and a favourable tax system.
Foyer Global Health offers you some insights into expat life in Georgia and some advice on how to successfully relocate to the heart of the Caucasus, whether on your own, as a couple or family.
Flexible entry requirements
Georgia is known for its extremely favourable visa policy for expatriates. Citizens of almost 100 countries, including Canada, France, the UK, Spain and Denmark, can currently stay in the country without a permit or visa for up to a year without any special permit or visa. If you plan to stay more than a year, however, you need to apply with the authorities for a residence permit. For more information, click here.
Focus: Remotely from Georgia
Launched on 27 August 2020, this national programme aimed at attracting digital nomads from 95 countries has contributed to the growth of the expatriate entrepreneur community. Through this special scheme, the Georgian government grants a 360-day work visa, within ten days, to entrepreneurs who can prove that they have a monthly income of at least $2,000 or $24,000 in a bank account.
Where should you live in Georgia?
Most foreigners head to beautiful Tbilisi, the Georgian capital and the country’s westernmost city. Expats appreciate its modernity and vibrant nightlife, its beautiful architecture, but most of all the many professional opportunities it offers. If you prefer living by the sea, alongside tourists in summer, a long period of peace and quiet in winter, head for rainy Batumi! This seaside town, located on the shores of the Black Sea, features a tranquil atmosphere that is particularly appealing. Wine lovers, on the other hand, will opt for Sighnaghi, Georgia’s most romantic town, located in a rich wine-growing region on the edge of the Great Caucasus. Kutaissi, the country’s second-largest city, will appeal to those who are looking for a more serene lifestyle and medieval architecture.
An advantageous tax policy for businesses and individuals
You are considered a tax resident of Georgia if you stay in the country for 183 days within a year. The favourable tax policy for foreigners has led many entrepreneurs and digital nomads to settle in Georgia.
Tax rates, in brief:
- Between 1 and 3% tax for self-employed entrepreneurs
- For companies registered in Georgia: 0% tax on undistributed income and 15% on distributed income.
- 5% tax on interest, dividends, and royalties
- No employee or employer costs
- 18% VAT
- Flat-rate tax of 20%, only on Georgian income
Working in Georgia
While there are several job opportunities for expats in international companies based mainly in the Georgian capital, many foreigners in Georgia work as digital nomads or entrepreneurs in the country. The working ecosystem is very favourable to entrepreneurs, in terms of government requirements to set up a business, taxation and working conditions. Before moving to the country, however, the best thing to do is to have a business plan or a concrete job offer.
Very affordable cost of living
The cost-of-living inTbilisi is almost half that of Paris. For a family of four living in the Georgian capital, it would cost at least €2083 per month without rent. Generally, the low cost of living (particularly outside the capital) for items such as food, telecommunications, travel, leisure and even property are major factors in Georgia’s attractiveness. If you come from Western Europe or North America, prices are obviously higher in Tbilisi, but comparatively speaking, very affordable.
Opening a bank account in Georgia
If you’re planning to relocate to Georgia, you should open a bank account with a national bank such as the Bank of Georgia or TBC Bank. All you need to do to open your multi-currency account is go to your nearest branch with your passport and a home address. There is no minimum deposit and management fees are relatively low (a few laris per month).
The official language is Georgian; it is written in its own 33-letter alphabet (mkhedruli). Although it is difficult to learn the language, it is still advisable to know a few basics to smooth your reinstallation. Most of the population speaks Russian rather than English. However, for political reasons, English is very gradually replacing Russian as the country’s unofficial second language. Currently, in most parts of the country, speaking Russian will be more useful than speaking English.
Most expat families send their children to international schools, including the British International School of Tbilisi and the QSI International School, which can only be found in the capital. Elsewhere, such as in Batumi, you’ll find Georgian schools, including the Georgian American School of Batumi, where classes are taught both in Georgian and in English.
Healthcare in Georgia
Although the Georgian government has made great strides in improving its healthcare system through major reforms in accessibility, decentralization and privatization, there are still major gaps and inequalities. Expatriates prefer to seek treatment in modern private international health facilities, which offer excellent quality care. To be fully covered for these expensive services, however, you need a flexible and effective international health insurance policy.
N.B. Avoid importing medicines containing benzodiazepines or opiates; these substances are strictly prohibited in Georgia!
Top experiences in Georgia:
- Admire the cultural heritage of Tbilisi on a walk and cable car ride
- Soak in one of the thermal baths in Abanotubani, the capital’s spa neighbourhood
- Sample Georgia’s incredible culinary staples, including khinkalis and khachapuri
- Head to Batumi seaside resort with the summer solstice
- Take a wine tour of Kakhetia and delight in the indigenous grape varieties of this international wine capital
- Visit the troglodyte city of Vardzia
- Venture to the Azerbaijan border to discover the monasteries of the magnificent historic site of Davit Gareja
- Discover the sacred heritage of Svanetia
- Hike in the wilderness of Tuchetia