Tbilisi, Georgia is likely a place that you’ve not heard too much about, I’ll be honest, until a while ago I didn’t know too much about it myself.
I just assumed it was one of those dreary, ex Soviet bloc countries that was corrupt and full of those horrific Communist era apartment towers that you often see in documentaries about the USSR.
Well, I’m happy to admit that I was completely wrong, since about 2005, Georgia has moved towards becoming a very open country with an equally open economy, and they are very welcoming to digital nomads.
Why Tbilisi is good for Digital Nomads
There are several reasons which make Tbilisi quite attractive to digital nomads. The cost of living is very reasonable, internet speeds are good, there’s excellent food & drink and amazing scenery in Georgia as a whole.
Cost of Living in Tbilisi
Tbilisi is the capital city of Georgia, you’d usually expect costs incurred by living in any capital city to be hefty, but in this case you’d be wrong.
I live in Dublin, Ireland. When I compare the prices of things like grocery shopping, broadband, transport and especially rent between Dublin and Tbilisi, the differences are astonishing for the most part.
One other incentive to Digital Nomads, and a huge one, is visas, this really works very well for Digital Nomads intending to relocate to Georgia.
The cost of shopping in Tbilisi is far more attractive than in the West, you can very easily buy groceries for yourself for the entire week for about $40 – $50, depending on your own personal tastes.
You can get a nice meal in a restaurant for about $6, a bottle of nice wine will cost you between $4 to $5 and a bottle of local beer will set you back about a Dollar.
If you’re a smoker, then a pack of Marlboro will cost you about $2.
Internet & Mobile / Cell Phone Costs
Cable Internet in Tbilisi
This is likely something that you’ll be interested in, especially if you’re a digital nomad. Internet speeds in Tbilisi are quite good, and prices are very reasonable.
The two main internet providers are Magti and Silknet, they both offer virtually identical packages. The premium package being a 100 Mbps for 100 GEL per month ($30).
You can the Magti packages here and the Silknet packages here.
Mobile / Cell Phone Service in Tbilisi
Mobile providers in Tbilisi provide their services at a really good price with good coverage. Data prices are extremely cheap when compared with the West, the three main providers offer similar pricing.
You can expect to pay around 12 GEL ($3.65) per month for 5 Gigs of data and about 30 GEL ($9) per month for 20 Gigs of data.
There are bigger bundles available (Magti have an unlimited offer for 150 GEL / $45 per month) but it’s unlikely you’re going to go over the 20 Gigs of data as you’ll likely be working on wifi at home or in a shared workspace.
Property Rentals in Tbilisi
Rent prices in Tbilisi are very reasonable, and while they do vary, you can expect to find a fairly decent apartment in the city for around $250 to $350 per month but you can pay as little as $150 for a smaller place or as much as $1000 or more if you decide to go for a bigger, swankier place.
A good place to look for available rental properties is MyHome.ge, you’ll find a wide selection of apartments and houses for rent on here and you have the option to switch the language to English and set the currency to USD.
Something to note though, if you are looking at rentals on MyHome.ge, it’s worth your while to hit the tick box for owner listed properties. With these properties you might be able to negotiate a better price, although if the owner doesn’t speak English then you’ll need someone with you who either speaks Georgian or Russian.
Another option to have a look at is Air BnB, you can find some really good places here and will often find price discounts if you go for a longer stay option.
Co-Working Spaces in Tbilisi
There are quite a few co-working spaces in the city, however as Tbilisi becomes a more popular destination for Digital Nomads, the prices gradually increase.
You can expect to pay about $125 per month although if you hunt around you might be able to find some better deals. Also check if the price includes free tea or coffee, this seems to vary from place to place.
Personally, I find co-working spaces to be a waste of time and money, I can get much more done working by myself without the distraction of others around me. However, everyone is different, you may prefer to have a livelier work environment so co-working spaces may be right up your alley.
Transport in Tbilisi
Getting around Tbilisi, and Georgia in general is extremely cheap, especially when compared with the US or Europe.
Taxis in Tbilisi
There are two main taxi apps that operate in Tbilisi, Bolt and Yandex, Bolt is a little more expensive than Yandex but still extremely cheap by Western standards. They are similar to Uber or Taxify, you order the cab on your phone app and agree the price to your destination.
Buses in Tbilisi
There is a vast network of buses in Tbilisi, the price is very low, generally costing about $0.15 / 0.5 GEL per journey.
Tbilisi is in the process of rolling out a fleet of new, eco friendly busses to help reduce carbon emissions in the city.
Metro / Subway in Tbilisi
There are 2 metro lines in Tbilisi which meet up at Station Square, to pay for travel then you’ll need a Metromani travel card that you can top up in the metro stations themselves. Each journey will cost you 0.5 GEL.
The Metromani card is very useful as you won’t need to carry coins with you to pay for journeys and can be used on the metro, busses and cable cars.
Traveling to Tbilisi
Georgia is located in between Europe and Asia, although it counts as being part of Asia, when you see it on a map you might assume that it is actually Eastern Europe. Tbilisi itself is situated pretty centrally in the country.
The visa situation in Georgia for Digital Nomads tends to be really good, besides European Union member states, there are 95 other countries whose citizens can visit Georgia on a tourist visa and stay for up to one year.
Once the year is up, you can simply do a border run by visiting a neighboring country for a day or two, then return and start the process over again.
This is very useful as you may wish to return to your own country to visit family, friends etc. It also means that you’re not having to do border runs every couple of months like you would if you were in Thailand for example.
Remotely From Georgia
The Georgian Government recently launched a visa program called Remotely From Georgia, this program is aimed at Digital Nomads who would like to travel to the country during the COVID-19 pandemic when many other countries’ borders are closed.
There are some criteria that you’ll need to meet however:
- Must be able to show that you’ve had a minimum monthly income of $2000 for the last 12 months.
- Be a citizen from one of the 95 countries listed above.
- You’ll need to do an 8 day quarantine in a government approved hotel (at your own expense), you’ll then be given a COVID test on the 8th day. A list of the hotels is available here.
- You must have travel and health insurance which is valid for at least 6 months and which provides cover for COVID-19.
You can find the application form for this visa program here.
Also, please note that you’ll need to take a Georgian Government approved flight into the country until further notice, you can find a list of them here.
Taxes for Digital Nomads in Georgia
The tax situation in Georgia is extremely beneficial for Digital Nomads as the Georgian government do not tax any money earned outside the country (i.e. online earnings).
If you’re resident in Georgia for more than 183 days within a 12 month period then you will become tax resident. Personal income tax rate in Georgia is 20%
Opening Bank Accounts in Georgia
Georgia is one of the easiest countries in the world to open a bank account in, even if you’re there on a tourist visa. Two of the biggest banks in Georgia are TBC Bank and the Bank of Georgia.
Both will offer the ability to open a personal account very easily, especially considering that you’re not a Georgian citizen.
So as you can see, there are quite a lot of benefits to Tbilisi from the perspective of a Digital Nomad. It’s not unreasonable to say that you could live fairly well on $1000 a month, including renting a pretty decent apartment.
Food and drink is very cheap, the people are very friendly and welcoming, they’ll go out of their way to make you feel at home while you are a visitor in their country.
Renting an apartment is also really cheap, even if you go with the AirBnB option, especially if you choose a longer stay option, you’ll normally get a discount. Internet speeds are good and transport costs are also really cheap.
Tbilisi is a great choice for someone wanting to become a Digital Nomad, especially as you can stay there for up to a year on a tourist visa. Even though the situation is a bit up in the air at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you still have the option to go there with the Remotely From Georgia visa / permit so the option to move there is still open to you even now.