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The Expat Experience

The Expat Experience

Moving to a new city, let alone a new country, can be a daunting thing, but many continue to choose Kyiv as their new home – and they love it.

It’s no lie that Kyiv attracts people from all over the world. The very fact that What’s On Kyiv operates successfully here shows that there is not only a Ukrainian audience that is interested in English, but a large presence of native English speakers too. So, what brings people here and why do they choose to stay? Today, we’re talking about the expat experience in Kyiv. 

 

A New Home

Moving to a new city can be scary and a little lonely. Fortunately, for those newly arrived, the Kyiv Expats Facebook Group offers a platform where members can meet new people and other foreigners in the same boat. The FB group is made up of primarily English speakers; however, people within the group come from all corners of the globe. The members of the expatriate community are just as diverse as the reasons that drove them to relocate to Kyiv. 

Many have come for work, like diplomats and those working in international companies, while others have come to study at the various universities here. There has also been a trend in entrepreneurial work and an influx of digital nomads over the last few years since Kyiv offers an affordable, opportunistic, and well-balanced lifestyle for workers in these fields. Another aspect driving this influx is the so-called “digital renaissance” that is occurring around the world and especially here in Kyiv, where digital infrastructure has outpaced interior, electrical, and HVAC infrastructure. Various missionary and humanitarian groups that operate throughout Ukraine also commonly establish their headquarters in Kyiv, which bring in volunteers and workers too. 

 

Something For Everyone

Families who move to Kyiv tend to find the city very family-oriented and welcoming; favourite spots usually include the Lemur Zoo and the various parks. Indeed, many expats cherish the beautiful parks in Kyiv and are amazed at how the capital city (and the 6th biggest city in Europe) remains so green. Another unique aspect of the town is the impressive array of cuisines available. Due to Ukraine’s position between Europe and Asia, Kyiv is a mixing pot of different cuisines, offering Italian through to Thai. What’s more, Kyiv also provides a gateway for farm-to-table freshness, which is typically a lost art in other major cities. 

Jewish expats can generally find kosher food quite easily in Kyiv, and for Muslims, there are halal options available around the city too. For those searching for Lenten (Pistnye) food – which tends to be very healthy – there are options available. Vegan resident, Ann Merrill (originally from the USA), states she called for the Lenten menu at a restaurant she was dining at in order to get more meal options. 

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Comfort and Ease

Furthermore, as English becomes more widespread and practised in Kyiv, the expat experience continues to improve. Foreigners who come here without any knowledge of Ukrainian or Russian are finding it increasingly easier to use essential services and conduct their lives. Typically, there is always a worker or a passer-by that speaks English and can help you out whether you’re in an uber, ordering at a restaurant, or in the supermarket. 

As past events and the events of this year have shown, the expat community can be profoundly affected by external forces. During the years of and immediately following the Revolution of Dignity, international arrivals declined as people waited for the conflict to settle. The current COVID-19 crisis has also shown similar effects, as many have retreated to their home countries. However, the mixed experience of this pandemic in Kyiv has started to bring people back in, especially as restrictions begin to ease. The expat community is a dynamic characteristic of Kyiv and one that significantly adds to the uniqueness of this city.

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