A lot of people ask me what is all about and why it’s worth living in Georgia.
Georgia, like any other place in the world, is not for everyone. You can be impressed by Georgian blaze of colors, landscapes, openness and hospitality. You can be as well annoyed by Georgian chaos, still prevailing Soviet lack of customer service which is far from the Western model, Georgians’ attitude toward women, security, environment, religion, and animals – stray dogs everywhere and cows on roads. You can witness so many contrasts and differences here in Georgia like you could never think of.
Nobody can make me believe that there is any perfect place in the world. A lot of expats can easily adjust to every situation and country and, of course, contribute something good to the place.
Why it’s worth living in Georgia?
The color and pace of life
You work like a beaver from Monday to Friday in some corporation doing things nobody needs and nobody cares about. You’re sick and tired. You need a chillout, which currently stands for a global problem and illness. There is one magic bullet: grab your stuff, hand in your notice and get your ass to Georgia. Georgian life is slower and different. Only due to the Georgian way of accepting reality and many misfortunes, Georgia was able to overcome and survive historical nightmares for centuries. They tend to come to terms as easy as stoics. Although they are not paid tons of money, pensions are ridiculous (everyone, despite the profession, receives GEL 150.00 which is around USD 60.00) but almost everyone has their family outside the city. There they have a small house in the country, a cow, a plot of land, preserves, juices, own wine, and grape moonshine – chacha – too. Both because of poverty and creativity, Georgians have “marani”, a home cellar, where they store anything hand-made from their crops. Nothing is either lost or wasted.
Even these days, water and power outage happen to occur in many regions of the country but Georgians handle such problems easily. The everyday life goes on with people hanging out with each other, the social life flourishes; men gather outside their houses to smoke cigarettes, gossip, and play backgammon and women discuss their female stuff. Georgians are very curious, they eagerly invite lost tourists to their houses and treat them with their Georgian goods to show off their authenticity. The truth is, unlike other nationalities, Georgians feel safe and good only in Georgia which is their comfort zone. The life outside Georgia is called Transcaucasia (“the outside Caucasus world”) which they don’t care much about. What matters for them is their Georgian world; their micro-community. For centuries, in many remote areas, people were even unaware of who is the ruler of their country or even which city is the capital (like in a Mikheil Javakhishvili novel “The white collar” – gerorgian “თეთრი საყელო”).
In Kakheti, the eastern region which I have thoroughly discussed on my blog polakogruzin.pl (PolishGeorgian), people have a rare opportunity to work, because only during the period of grape harvest and the production of wine employees are needed. When there is no work to do, Georgians sit in front of their houses and eat whatever they grow. Just like that. While Europeans are preoccupied with discussing problems, in vitro issue, politics and all that stuff, somewhere in a far-away land behind the Black Sea and Turkey Georgians mock us, the Europeans, because we let the government control us and impose ridiculousness on us.
Georgians have different expectations than us Europeans, who are enslaved by the oppressing system which is imposed on them by some bankers that are in control of the whole world. What they have to do is eat, drink, feast, hang out with family and friends. The Caucasus is not so trapped and enslaved by mass media unlike the “civilized Western world”.
When I launched my blog polakogruzin.pl (PolishGeorgian) in 2014, in my first post I explained why I feel so attached to Georgia. This is my home, my place on earth. I wrote that “1985 is my very first contact with Georgia. The day of my birth. I was born in Warsaw, in hospital in Wola district. I was given two names; the first Polish one Krzysztof, and the second Georgian – Nodar. Thanks to my father, I have Georgian origins, his grandmother Nino Tumanishvili married a Pole, Aleksander Nowkuński. I often joke that blood gets thinner generation by generation so thanks to my grandma and dad I have 12.5% of Georgian blood so I’m like a Georgian wine. In the 1980s, which I can barely remember, my family was visited by my Georgian uncles. One of them Nodar Gogoberidze, who was working in Georgian goverment back in the 1980s, gave me, apart from the name, a gray Svaneti hat made from a thick felt, which I have until today”.
I also added that “ever since I was a little kid I felt as if I were missing something.. an oneiric longing for something I could not find a name for. In 2004 my father organized a concert of Georgian music and Georgian dancing. It took 7 days in a bus for the band to come to Poland to give two performances in community center. It was short after the New Year’s Eve, according to our European callander, so the band, whose religion is Georgian Orthodox, had to perform before their New Year’s Eve. After the great and impressive performance we all went to a restaurant to celebrate. Although they suffered hard because the stage was not perfect for dancing in calfskin shoes, hence many of the performers collapsed. These dances often end up in hospital due to the injuries resulting from dynamic dancing. I saw the pain and sadness on their faces; they missed their homeland and families and even though they enjoyed giving the performance like there is no tomorrow. It was easy to sense the love, passion and melancholy which comes naturally in the Caucasian culture, music, and literature. Admiration and fear, breathtaking mountains, loneliness and family atmosphere. Then it crossed my mind..it crossed my mind what I had been always longing for..what I had been missing…the last piece of this puzzle…I finally found it and I experienced it first hand later. I went to Georgia in 2007, soon before the war between Georgia and Russia.
I’ve seen various facets of Georgia, which I’ve been observing since 2007 when I came here for the very first time. Because I went into tourism in 2011, so I come here more often; at the very beginning it was a few times a year in different months. I even took my kids in December 2012. In 2013 it was a few months altogether. In 2014, except for a few short visits at the beginning of the year, I came in May and I stayed until the end of November. Currently, Georgia is my home, where I live and work. I spend here a half of each year or even more.
It is in the Caucasus where I lead my professional and private life. I chose to live both in Georgia and Poland. I’m in Georgia for a couple of months and another couple of months in Poland. I don’t know which of the countries is more of a “here” or “there”. I’m torn, confused and riotous, so my life is, in a way, like the history of the Caucasus. Like the history of my father…like the history of my family”. It’s me – Polish Georgian.
My father, who emigrated from Poland to Georgia 8 years ago, often repeats that he won’t come back to Poland, even in his coffin. Not because he doesn’t love his country or he’s not a patriot but because it is Lagodekhi where he belongs, not Poland. I understand and respect it.
It’s different than in Europe …different than elsewhere….
Marcelina, who is in the middle of looking for a job in Georgia, wrote to me what makes her want to settle in Georgia:
“[I felt it, right away, that this is the place where I belong and I want to stay here. It’s obviously incredibly beautiful and has delicious food…but what stole my heart and made me want to stay is the melody of Georgians’ hearts. I met people feeding piglets early in the morning and humming pretty melodies, I saw people living in poverty, who want to build a better future for their children with their own hands, and people who, despite misfortunes, are still positive…I would like to learn how to be like them]”.
Olajide, American expat, chimes in:
[Georgians never understand why an American would want to live here but, Georgia is actually a great place to live if you are not Georgian and earn dollars. Foreigners don’t have the burden of the various social pressures that exist to conform to traditions and cultures and the quality of that you can have if you earn dollars is very good compared to what it would be like in the states. The weather is also relatively good and there is little crime. The girls, Georgian girls are a miracle. I ended up with a non-Georgian girl long term but Georgian girls are amazing.]
Jess, working for an international organisation based in Tbilisi, confirms:
[In all, I have been living in Tbilisi for a short time however I plan to be based here for some years. I currently am learning Georgian and I work for an international organisation based in Tbilisi. Why is it worth to live in Georgia you ask? It is one of the most amazing countries to live in, the people and culture is very open and welcoming. The moment I moved here I felt welcome and at home. I have lived in over six countries and spent my adult years living abroad – but Georgia is definitely at the top at the moment. If you move to Georgia, I can guarantee you will keep coming back or never leave!]
[It’s worth to live in Georgia because:
– people are so open hearted, warm and kind that everyone feels at home there. You return in your childhood here, when you don’t need to be someone but can be just yourself. And Georgians are very wise people – I have never met such society before that don’t transfer image of your country on you. They don’t blame you in occupation of its territory. They just say “We understand, it’s all about politics not about ordinary people” Such mature position. It’s big delight to live among people like this.
– nature is so magnificent and so different. There is no two same places in Georgia. One month of permanent traveling is not enough to investigate this country and enjoy it’s beauty
– there are so many niches for business, empty one or with low competition while Georgia is in top 20 countries in Doing Business rating
– bureaucracy, corruption and many other post-USSR inherited syndromes are defeated here that means pleasant free life with reliable level of safety and all government services
– healthy and natural food. During the summer it’s literally impossible to stop eating such fresh and tasty fruits and vegetables. It’s never enough
To sum up the best way to understand why it’s worth to live here is just to come and try, at least for holidays.
Georgia is a challenge for the chosen ones
Georgia is a perfect place to set up a business if you don’t lack drive, determination, patience, energy, and cash. It seems to be just as everywhere until you get to know what it is like to “get something done on the Caucasus”. If you lack ideas and inner strength you won’t make it and you’ll join the club of those disappointed and jealous of other people’s success.
Georgia is one of the leading countries, where establishing a company is a piece of cake. Unlike in Poland, where taxes are killing entrepreneurs, setting up a business in Georgia is smooth and easy and you don’t have to worry about taxes, because there are only 6 of them. There are so many things cheaper and more expensive than in Poland, because there is no industry in Georgia. I’m not talking about the present times but at least the last 200 years. It’s more profitable for them to import something than produce it themselves. It’s the same with their “famous tea” which was planted by Russians, but Georgians for many years were importing it from Uzbekistan. Nowadays it’s changing!
Georgians have their own “Georgian maybe time”…marry in haste, repent at leisure. A mean person could say that Georgians are, hmm, “very passive”.
The best wine in the world
The process of winemaking in Georgia is one of its kind. Even 4,000 years B.C. the Caucasian winemakers dug large vessels called qvevri (in Georgian ქვევრი), in which wine could be stored for 50 years. What comes as a surprise to all wine lovers and connoisseurs of wines, is the very fact that Georgians, in their traditional way of winemaking, do not keep the grapes and must separately. Hence, because both grapes and must ferment together, the flavor of wine is so excellent, fruity, and delicate.
Each time I visit Georgia I can observe the connoisseurs of wines who are used to the European ways and methods of winemaking. We, Georgians, do it differently – always against the world and always swimming against the tide. Some tourists are tearing their hair out because the world of wines they always knew collapses in Georgia and so they have to build one anew. Some of them shout “You’re doing it wrong!”… Wrong? Georgian winemaking began much sooner than European so this is exactly how it has to be done for God’s sake
Kakheti is the cradle of the Georgian wines and as I mentioned in “The Art of Winemaking in Georgia”, produces currently 70% of the annual production in Georgia. The legend has it that both the inhabitants of the country and grapevines were born out of the soil at the same time. Georgians even wet the lips of newborns with the drops of traditional wine so the babies can know what their country is so renowned for.
Music, dance, singing
See, listen….picture’s worth a thousand words.
Georgia makes me calm. All that Georgian chaos is like a ballet, which works for me here, not in Poland. I have my own apartment here, my favorite grocery store, greengrocers, and a cafe where I have written many of my articles you can read on my blog. Here I have monuments, nature, culture, and a place where I can experience the world. I love Tbilisi – the city of liquid gold, all the Caucasus, but despite my love for this place I can be very critical what you could notice many times reading my articles. Many people ask me how to start, what can you do in Georgia and if there is any cash cow.
I tell them each time that the best industry in which you can set up your businesses is tourism and the related areas, eg. hostels and restaurants. This is what Georgian economy is based on but if you lack motivation – you won’t succeed.
The golden era is long gone. Only the best, most persistent entrepreneurs can survive and run their businesses. It is worth being, working, and creating here in Georgia just because of these people. It is worth doing something TOGETHER so Georgia can make money and so the money can stay in country to help Georgian families, friends, and microregion.
Not mass, international corporations or back-scratchers.
God protect Georgia from….
I guess you already know why it’s worth living in Georgia, don’t you?
If I were to make an offhand toast for Georgia it would go similarly to what rabbi in Fiddler on the Roof said:
God please bless corporations, international investment funds, radical left and right wings, and the rest of politics who argue about everything. God please bless mass media, personal life coaches, GMO. God bless tourists, who brag about visiting Georgia for USD 300 for a three-week stay who eat food they bought in Walmart and who are too cheap to spend GEL 10.00 in a hostel or restaurant and who won’t come ever back. God please bless Vladimir Putin and other wacko leaders of countries… God bless all those things and people…
AND KEEP THEM AWAY FROM GEORGIA!