Why are you here?

More and more people are moving to Ukraine and for a wide variety of reasons. This is not an exhaustive list… but hopefully covers most of the Expats in Ukraine…

The Tourist

Ukraine is not currently known as a tourist destination though the situation got better thanks to the Euro 2012 Championship. Many people return to check out their roots or are intrigued by its history but generally the country is not tourist-friendly. Outside of the major three cities there is no tourism culture (except encouraging outward-bound flights to Turkey, etc.) and the Government has done little to promote any of Ukraine’s heritage. This is a shame as Ukraine has a great deal to offer, if only it were packaged correctly.

Frankly, the regions differ by their tourist culture considerably. The Western regions have been done their best to develop their historical and recreational capability and really made a go a past few years. Crimea, Odessa and Kiev try to catch up with them, but are more spoilt with the inherited assets: perfect climate, seacoast location or historical legacy. These places are really worth ‘must see’ rank, but service they offer is often overpriced and imperfect. The Eastern and Central Ukraine got shaped for agricultural and industrial purposes so that can hardly be defined as tourist destinations.

For holidays, Ukrainians themselves flee abroad to the countries that do not require a visa rather than spend too much time here and those that do tolerate poor infrastructure and service along the Black Sea coast during the summer or head for the Carpathian mountains in the winter to dodge drunk skiers.

To sketch out the status of the Ukrainian tourist industry – SME and private entrepreneurs have developed despite the official policy than owing to it. You can really experience excellent service and outstanding hospitality here if you just have nice intuition or are lucky enough...

To sum up: Ukraine is a right choice for those who are not comfort-conscious and do not mind some adventures. Basic Russian or Ukrainian would be a ‘plus’...

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The Worker

Working and living in Ukraine is a different experience to what Europeans and Americans are used to and it really is a case of either embracing the country or living in an expat bubble. Come here from the third world and it most seem like paradise but even those who are from the West and have low-paid jobs can struggle if they do not keep their wits about them.

Sometimes it’s not even about money but attitude. Many people cannot handle the bad roads, corruption, rudeness, apathy and long for a bacon sandwich with brown sauce. Others manage to cope with the bad faults and counter these with the good things in life – a great nightlife, a lack of imposing rules, a cheap standard of living.

Some are on a different planet and huddle like desperate housewives wondering whether their skybox will work and will the US shop still have tins of frankfurters. Paying over the odds for domestic chores to be carried out this group would be more at home on the Veldt shouting at the servants. Those days have gone – but the mentality still remains in some circles.

Let’s face it, most expats are not forced to be here against their wills and a lot have been seconded on short-term contracts or are embassy /NGO workers who rotate every few years. As in most countries in the world there are those that fall back on the ability to teach their own language as a career alongside the professionals in real estate, construction, banking, mining or retail. Occasionally you will meet someone who is in “Import / Export” but generally they are either on the run from the police / owe a lot of money back home – or both.

As a worker you may be alongside fellow expats or heading up a team of locals; going solo with an internet shop or leading a team of software developers. All of these are possible, all have good and bad points but remember – you can always leave; your Ukrainian colleagues will have more difficulty.

That said, this is still not an easy country to stay and work – whatever your income – unless you have a positive mental attitude.

Visas and work permits are a minefield and explored in full elsewhere as well as discussed regularly on the forum.

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The Lifer

Most lifers would probably not call themselves that. They came here 10-15 years ago and fell in love with a girl / the lifestyle / the low cost of living (or all three) and thought “Do I really want to go back to Stoke / Cincinnati or Seattle?”

They can live here in long-term employment; be self-employed or even retired but the “lifers” will generally not be seen as often around town – whether in Kiev, Odessa or Lviv. They usually have their house in the countryside or suburbs and generally keep away from the expat life that seems to revolve around the Barclays Premiership and Chambers of Commerce cocktails and canapes.

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The Wife Hunter

It is not for anyone to judge you and how you meet your future partner – most people meet in bars or over the internet and it is now more widespread to travel abroad to do the same thing. Many of the members of the expat community here have met their partners through dating sites and their relationships have flourished into marriage and kids and a car and all those things they ran away from in England / USA – but this time with someone who genuinely respects them and is prepared to make a go out of living together.

A substantial industry in Ukraine has therefore grown to cater for the “older single man” …and so there are more scammers.

Often that lovely girl you are communicating with is actually Igor, 64 with wife, 2 girlfriends and 6 children or is Ludmila (Igor’s wife / girlfriend or one of the 6 children who is good with a PC). Even if you eventually meet your loved one don’t be surprised if you are expected to offer expensive presents, pay for a translator and then leave empty-handed. Many women see the dating game as a safe and fun way to earn more money so please: “Caveat Emptor” (Buyer Beware) should be your guiding phrase.

Let’s face it, if you’re fat, fifty, balding and the situation all looks too good to be true (she is blonde, 22 and is a fitness instructor) then it probably is. Be prepared …or have your heart broken and your credit card abused.

For the genuine wife-hunter it pays to do your research and get references from satisfied customers on specific websites. Expatua.com does not offer reliable wife hunting services but we do know some people that do – so please visit our forum.

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Last and least-appreciated – by expats anyway – is the sex tourist who comes here to add a notch to his bedpost in return for parting with cash. Some may kid themselves that they are here to find true love but they don’t really fool anyone.

Sexpats will be found in the usual expat haunts; are easily preyed upon and should be avoided as they usually attract trouble.

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More – on our Forum!

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