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Today we are going to show you the opportunities that Georgia offers to digital nomads. “Tbilisi loves you” should be the first thing you hear when entering Georgia after a 5-hour direct flight from Western Europe. After your stay in Tbilisi, you will feel loved and cared for by this city, and you will wonder why it took you so long to discover this country.

Tbilisi is a city of contrasts, where ultra-modern buildings stand alongside decaying ruins, where fashionable boutiques coexist with begging, a city where the contrast between rich and poor is striking. Tbilisi is also a blind spot on the world map of digital nomads. And it is a pity, because the small and beautiful Georgian capital has a huge potential for digital nomads that, as in many Eastern European cities, is still untapped.

Digital nomads have many reasons to give Georgia a chance (we have already dedicated an in-depth article to Georgia): Tbilisi is easy and cheap to reach from anywhere in Europe, has prices below the Southeast Asian average, and offers tasty food and good wine. Add to this an age-old tradition of hospitality whereby guests are treated like gods, a modern and very permissive political system for the region it is in, high security for foreigners and a wide variety of charming landscapes within a few hours’ drive – should you get bored in bustling Tbilisi.

1. Accessibility

Tbilisi may be in Asia for many, but its connection to Europe is undeniable. Many German airlines fly direct to Tbilisi, and you do not need to spend a fortune to travel: you can fly to Tbilisi for around $200 return if you stop over in Istanbul – either for a few hours or for a few days if you want to enjoy more the Bosphorus city.

You can also find good deals – sometimes under €100 – if you fly from cities such as Warsaw or Budapest with low-cost airline WizzAir, which flies to Kutaisi, four hours west of Tbilisi.

2. Price

Georgia is a cheap destination, at or below the price level of major digital nomad destinations such as Thailand or Vietnam. The local currency is called lari and is equivalent to approximately 40 US cents.

You can find accommodation in a private hotel room with decent internet for as little as US$10, and dormitories for as little as €5. If you prefer a flat, there are some very nice and well-located flats – on AirBnB, for example – for €15 a night.

A full meal costs between €2 and €4, and even less if you choose to cook for yourself. Moreover, good wine is affordable for everyone. The wide variety of fresh fruit you will see on the street and its very low price will probably whet your appetite at all hours.

If you want to see the great sights around Tbilisi, you can get a driver for as little as €20 to take you to different parts of the country, even if the journey takes hours. Taxis are generally cheap, and for journeys within Tbilisi you’ll rarely pay more than €2. You could try local buses and the metro, but I do not think they are worth it given the low taxi fare. Local long-distance transport is provided by marshrutkas (Volkswagen minibuses), which only run when full, but offer very cheap fares in return.

3. Food

Food in Georgia is not only cheap, it is also very good. Cooking is a part of Georgian culture, and if you have the chance to join a Georgian family for a feast, I would encourage you not to miss it. At festive meals, the so-called tamada guards the table and offers elaborate toasts.

Georgian cuisine is rich in cheeses and meats, and is characterised by regional differences that divide certain dishes into four or five variants. Do not miss khachapuri (dough pancakes stuffed to the brim with cheese), lobiani (bean-stuffed bread), khinkali (meat-filled fritters), odjachuri (pork with fries) and the many varieties of shashliks.

The best way to enjoy all these dishes is, of course, with a good wine, which is grown all over Georgia. This country – and this is something that few people know – is considered the birthplace of wine, which has been cultivated in Georgia for more than 5000 years. Its own traditional production process and its many unique varieties give wine lovers plenty to taste and enjoy.

4. Hospitality

Guests are regarded as gods in Georgia. In the rural world it is still commonplace for humble families to offer free accommodation and food to strangers. The author experienced this first-hand: after visiting a monastery, the taxi driver invited him to his mountain village, where he spent the night without paying, enjoyed a delicious meal and got drunk very happily, as it is considered customary and polite to drink vodka with the host. What the author did not know at the time is that empty glasses are automatically refilled, and the way to say you do not want to drink any more is to leave the glasses full.

The friendly and polite character of Georgians more than compensates for the language problem. In Tbilisi, the young population gets along well with English, as Russian is nowadays frowned upon. However, for dealing with rural people I would strongly recommend a basic knowledge of Russian, unless you prefer to learn the exciting but very difficult Georgian language, which has its own alphabet. In any case, improvised sign language is always enough to make yourself understood in some way.

5. The system

Georgia is today one of the most modern, open and free countries of the former Soviet Union. This means that many nationalities can enter Georgia and stay for up to one year without a visa or residence permit. This is certainly a pioneering measure worldwide.

Georgia and its citizens are pro-Western and do not have a very positive view of their big neighbour and aggressor Russia, which last tried to invade them in 2008. The economy is relatively free and doing business is easy: on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, Georgia ranks 15th, just behind Germany. The advantage over other former Soviet states and even many EU members is enormous. Georgia has successfully fought the corruption that once prevailed in the country and is growing steadily, despite the fact that Russia has been boycotting Georgian products for several years.

The infrastructure still needs improvement, but at least in Tbilisi you can count on fast and functional internet. The government has a positive attitude towards the digital world: the streets of Tbilisi are lined with ATMs where people can pay their utility bills and much more.

Oh, and if you decide to stay long enough in Georgia to become a tax resident, fear not – you will not pay taxes as long as you work through a foreign company.

6. Security

Although Georgia’s surroundings may look like a powder keg, the country itself is very safe. The regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia – both independent regions of Georgia – neighbouring Chechnya and the proximity of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan suggest the worst in terms of security.

However, none of this should affect Perpetual Tourists or digital nomads, who can easily leave the country overnight (either by plane or via Turkey).

Within the country itself, you can move freely at any time of day, but of course, the usual precautions should be maintained. In general, the wild animals that still abound (wolves, bears, leopards) are a greater danger than the people themselves in Georgia.

7. The city

Tbilisi is bigger than you might think. Many travellers make the beautiful ‘Traveller City’ their camp, even if they miss the modern ‘New Town’ where the local rich live, dine and hang out.

The hilly Kura River runs through Tbilisi and its “Old Town”, where the state-of-the-art Peace Bridge is located. On both sides of the river, bridges connect modern lanes lined with restaurants, bars and nightclubs, so entertainment is guaranteed. These lively streets lead to the ones where daily life takes place in the capital, which has not changed much since the days when the Silk Road still passed through Tbilisi.

The city has a large number of churches of tourist interest. After all, Georgia is considered one of the youngest Christian nations in the world. The Sioni Cathedral dates back to about the 5th century. Other highlights include the Metheki Church and Sameba Cathedral.

You can enjoy fantastic views of Tbilisi in two ways. The first is to take a modern cable car from the old town to the Narikhala Fort, which was built by the Persians. This way you can see the huge statue of the Mother of Georgia, or simply enjoy the vastness of the city from above. From the cable car, you will also see the presidential palace on a steep hillside, two futuristic metal tubes that are supposed to be concert halls and the empty parliament – now located in Kutaisi, Georgia’s third largest city. In addition, many colourful rooftops, churches and greenery will complete the panorama.

The other option is a drive to the hill south of the city where, in addition to the TV tower, there is a huge Soviet-style amusement park. You can either walk up this hill on your own or take the railway. Once there, the Ferris wheel offers wonderful views of every corner of Tbilisi that you could not see from the cable car.

Of course, digital nomads have to work too. One option is the co-working space, which offers a pleasant working environment from €8 a day, or €50 a year. The city also has many other small cafés equipped with Wi-Fi where you can work undisturbed.

8. The surrounding area

If you get bored of Tbilisi, there are plenty of day trips within easy reach. To the east, the flat wine-growing region of Kakhetia might catch your eye. To the north is the Caucasus with its 5,000-metre peaks. If you travel south from Tbilisi you can visit nearby Armenia, and to the west you have the whole of Georgia, with its hills, monasteries, ancient ruins and lush nature. In winter, the ski resorts of Gudauri and Bakuriani open their doors. In summer, the spa town of Borjomi is within easy reach for relaxation and hiking. The Black Sea coast is just 8 hours away by bus, or less if you take one of the comfortable overnight trains that even have Wi-Fi for the journey. I also recommend a trip to the majestic Scaneti, home to Europe’s highest mountains. Nearby are the beautiful ancient royal town of Mstjeta, the cable car town of Chiatura and Stalin’s hometown of Gori. You can also visit the David Gareja Monastery, for which you will either have to enter Azerbaijan illegally – without any consequences, do not worry – or pay a visa fee of €80, which is not too bad either.

Concluding

In conclusion, we could say that Georgia is a worthwhile destination for Digital Nomads and anyone who can afford the trip.

Georgia has a lot to offer. Despite its eastern location, it is still easy and cheap to travel to the country, and offers very reasonable prices for Digital Nomads. The national cuisine ensures a good physical condition, and the hospitality of Georgians heals the soul. The political and social system is very open towards foreigners, and both investment conditions and business opportunities are very good and relatively easy. Moreover, the country is very stable and offers something suitable for all tastes. Moreover, if you get bored of Georgia, you can opt for a variety of nearby destinations that are opposite to the impressive natural diversity of this country.

Georgia and Tbilisi are destinations that no digital nomad should miss. If you already have plans for this summer, you can visit Georgia in autumn: the best time to enjoy this country is from September to November.

Finally, if you want to discover more interesting destinations for digital nomads or Perpetual Tourists, take a look at our Emigration Encyclopedia or book a consultation with us so we can help you decide which is your best option.

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