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Visit new places, meet new people, and find ways to improve your life

Travel Idea: Taking a Gap Year to Georgia as a US Citizen

(or many other countries’ citizens!)

by Julien

Taking a trip to another country can seem like a daunting dream you’ve had since you realized there is a whole world of places to visit. In fact taking a trip for a whole year, and in that year visiting other countries as well, can be near impossible to figure out. Luckily we’ve got your back. There are many countries where you can stay for years+. There just might be more of a process to doing so.

Let's talk about Georgia though, a gorgeous, inexpensive place of beauty with wonderful food. Yeah Georgia(the country) is a kicker! Now you’re thinking, how do we possibly account for every expense we will need for that year?? Let's break it down to the essentials and go from there. You will need a place to stay and lucky for you, Airbnb’s are not all that expensive. You can get a very aesthetically pleasing apartment all to yourself for lets say 25usd a night ($750 a month). Not bad huh?

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From AirBnB
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From AirBnB
Okay, let's say that’s a little too much for you. Try 10$ a night ($300 a month) in this cozy loft. It’s a one room apartment. On the top of the ceiling you see is a bed for you to sleep in because no you don’t have to use the couches. If you are looking for a place near the sea those prices aren’t going up that much either and having a look at how nice the AirBnB’s are will make you think this is all unreal, but I assure you it is most definitely real.

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From AirBnB
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From AirBnB

If you want to rent something even cheaper you can search for local apartment rentals. You’ll be able to find someone who speaks English and go over to different places. You’ll find the numbers end up being significantly lower than AirBnb, and 4 - 5x cheaper than rent in average cities in the US, not including New York or San Francisco!

All in all, the monthly cost for living in Georgia will be as cheap as 300 USD a month, and cheap does not mean bad!

Now we get to talk about food. Mmmm is it good and not only that but you can go out to eat for all 3 meals a day for 25 usd a day! That in itself is incredible and don't worry, all your favorite dishes can be found here as well just so much better, I mean they get food from all their neighbors after all. Also there are Indian options and Mexican options for much cheaper than you’d pay at home! I almost forgot to mention fast food is here too, yuck! But if you're a fast food guy you can get your meals here for even 12 usd a day. Very cheap. Now let’s talk about alcohol, because chances are, if you're old enough to make a trip here you are old enough to sip their beer.

All this talk about dining out and going to pubs, how are you supposed to even get there. Public transportation is indeed present in Georgia, and it's totally affordable, unlike America… The Russian company Yandi Taxi can get you from one place to another for just 3.50 USD and just to be clear, that’s for a 15 minute ride! Your other options include local bus and intercity bus travel, although these can be uncomfortable and crowded.You can buy a prepaid bus card at any metro in Georgia and price epr ride can be $0.20. Both of these are very doable, however it is up to your personal preference.

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From https://taxi.yandex.com/tbilisi/tariff/econom

Right, let's talk about your clothing situation. Now you are staying abroad for over a year and, maybe you want a change in apparel. This would be the best time to do so. A pair of clothes can cost a good penny, upward of 300usd for an outfit, or a few outfits if you go on the cheap side. That along with personal care, including toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, meds and first aid, haircuts and grooming and other essentials will cost you around 25usd for everything. Not bad considering you only have to buy these things a few times throughout the year.

Nice, so we have all of the big costs out of the way. Let's talk about travel insurance.There are many options available to you so choose what you feel most comfortable with, I would recommend WorldNomads. They are fairly reasonable with their price. That's what we are after. You can get this travel insurance for 220usd every 3 months, however that is just a quote as of April 2020 so it is subject to change.

What kind of phone service should you use? Because American international phone service can be very very expensive ($10 per GB or more) I encourage checking out beeline.ge. It is a Georgian mobile data plan that can be used at a very reasonable price considering you’re overseas. 25GEL (8 usd) for 30 days is not so bad especially when you get 3GB of data and unlimited talk and text with any phone you have. Of course, they have cheaper plans if you are interested, so have a look yourself at the Beeline website.

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From Beeline

What are some downsides about Georgia?
The locals smoke a lot more than the US so you’ll smell it much more often and sometimes in restaurants. Also there is more air pollution and some tourist traps, especially in Tbilisi. You also might not find someone that speaks English especially outside of the major cities so that can be a hassle if you don’t speak Russian or Georgian. However, you can always go to the beautiful places in the countryside/mountains all over Georgia and enjoy fresh air, friendly people, and an affordable long term vacation.

Throughout this post we talk about how inexpensive living in Georgia can be for you. Plus you’re getting a very fun and enjoyable life at that. But it won't be much good if you don't have a way to spend that money. Best way by far is to use a no foreign transaction fee credit card. These can be hard to come by but here is a solid one you can start with. Quicksilver from Capitol One. Most of their cards have no foreign transaction fee, but I am recommending this one because it has a 0 USD annual fee. Meaning no extra money out of your pocket. That is pretty great. Also, do not forget to always pay in the local currency! Let’s say you want to use local currency cash.. You go to the ATM but your card charges you a hefty fee for converting that currency. Not if you have a Charles Schwab debit card. Get a bank account with them and you can use an ATM card however many times you may need, they will reimburse you for the foreign ATM transaction fees.

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From Charles Schwab

Also, if you find yourself really liking Georgia you can create a bank account there and store more money in local currency (and with Dollars and Euros too) for convenience. It will take 4-8 hours (mostly waiting) to open a bank account as a foreigner but the process can be done! TBC Bank is the commonly recommended choice if you choose to go this route, one of the biggest. Try to go to the main branch in Tbilisi if you can, they are more likely to speak much better English. (Click Here)

So you’ve been living in Georgia for quite some time now, let's say you want to switch up the scenery. There are many places you can travel to for fairly cheap and simple requirements! Obviously you're going to want to plan this out ahead of time so lets give you some examples of some great neighboring places you can travel to. First, Armenia is another beautiful place you can commute to just south of Georgia. You can stay in Armenia up to 6 months visa free and have similar prices to Georgia. Just a little southwest is Turkey. Another amazing place to commute to and see the sites. You can stay here for up to 3 months with an easy to set up 20$ eVisa. You can also apply to any of the EU countries and stay for up to 90 days every 3 months. These can include France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Greece, Sweden, Finland ect...Here is a map for your convenience.

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From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Member_States_of_the_European_Union_(polar_stereographic_projection)_EN.svg

Below is a cost of living sheet in TBILISI based on many travellers
https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/in/Tbilisi

Examples of entire places to yourself AirBnBs
Apartment 1 14$/night Amazing sea view on the coast of the Black Sea
Apartment 2 15$/night Amazing sea view on the coast of the Black Sea
Apartment 3 10$/night Located in the Capital Tbilisi
Apartment 4 19$/night Located in the Capital Tbilisi

Monthly Cost
Food
Dining:
2,100GEL(654usd)
Home cooks: 1,200GEL(374usd)
Alcohol
Pub:
480GEL (150usd)
Liquor Store:
150GEL (48usd)
Local Transportation
Yandex Taxi: Optimal
Ride fare for 15km-12GEL (3.50usd)
Bus: Buy prepaid card at any metro station 0.60 GEL
(0.20)usd per ride

Clothes (OPTIONAL)
Price includes 2 pairs of; tops, pants, socks, underwear, shoes
Clothes store: 850GEL (283usd)
Personal care
Meds, self care, grooming
30GEL
Traveler Insurance
Example 20 year old US citizen
Averaging 65usd
Phone Plan
Beeline:
For 3GB mobile data
Unlimited Talk
Unlimited Text
35GEL (6usd)


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