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A Quick Guide to… Living and Working in Odessa, Ukraine

Posted by: Kevin Delhaye

A port city resting against the Black Sea in Southern Ukraine, Odessa is widely known for its lush beaches and breathtaking 19th century architecture, parks, and gardens. Odessa earned its named in compliance with the Greek Plan of Catherine the Great; the ancient Greek city of Odessos was fabled - mistakenly - to have been located where Odessa is today. 

Odessa was partially bombed during WWII, but its historical centre remains largely well preserved. It’s the third largest city in Ukraine, with a population of around a million people.

Emergency Services: 112

Language: While Ukrainian is the official language of Ukraine, Russian (78%) is the dominant language of Odessa City. 

Religion: Primarily Orthodox Christian

Currency: The national currency of Ukraine is the Ukrainian Hryvnia (UAH). Currently $1 is equivalent to 25.92 UAH. 

Travel: Bordering Belarus, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Russia, Ukraine is a fantastic base of operations if you want to begin exploring Eastern Europe, or opening up a business that operates on an international basis.

Getting a visa: The visa system in Ukraine is rather complicated, and it is difficult to maintain residency in the country for more than 90 days. Often, however, it is possible to cross the border every 90 days, to return the following day with your valid visa. If you are looking to pass through Moldova, ensure that you acquire a Moldovan stamp in your visa - Ukraine border patrol does not recognise the Trasnistria stamp, but they do the Moldovan. Due to the frequent instances of bribery and corruption throughout Ukraine, overstaying your welcome might get overlooked. 

Meeting new people: Lots of Western expats find their downtime in Odessa's bars. The Irish Pub, which is situated on the long public street Deribasovskaya street, is often a fond watering hole for many westerners. Learning Russian to reside in Odessa is definitely advisable. Generally, our experience and experience reported to us of the general Ukrainian populace is positive. A welcoming, sincere, and friendly people.

Nightlife: Throughout summer, the nightlife in Odessa will go on late into the early hours of the following morning! If you are hoping to live in a quiet area, avoid the city centre.

Healthcare: There are many hospitals in Odessa; however, it's crucial that you take measures to arrange international health cover. Payment for any services provide to you will be expected before you are treated. Don't break any bones!

Housing: Living downtown is about twice as expensive as living in a suburb farther out. If you can reconcile a longer commute with a quieter neighbourhood (and cheaper, to boot!) then we advise this. Great areas to live include Primorshoy and Malinovskiy! 

Getting around: Ukrainian driving is...unorthodox. Ignoring red lights in order to carry on is considered rather standard behaviour, and consequently, accidents are frequent. If you are adamant about purchasing a car, it will be worthwhile to purchase a second-hand car for reduced costs. Public transport is steady, and could be a viable alternative to car travel if you live close enough to your place of work. Public transport is also government-subsidised. Given the friendly nature of the Ukrainian populace, many locals will act as makeshift taxi drivers for a small fee. 

Home comforts: There are many items in Ukraine that you will discover are not of the standard you might be used to if you've come from a developed western nation such as the U.K. or the U.S.A.; toiletries and washing up liquid are generally defective. We do not recommend the consumption of the local water. 

Problems? Single women can be susceptible to harassment in Odessa, and it could be worth your while to wear a ring on your wedding finger to deter men or babushkas. Ukrainian girls often dress up fancily, so a casual jeans and t-shirt might leave you feeling isolated. 

Food: Ukrainian food revolves around carb-based foods such as bread, potatoes, buckwheat, and dumplings. Cabbage is another staple. Local beer is favourable, and cheap. Often the wine is sweeter than western European wine. Prepare for change! 

Price Guide

3 course meal for 2, mid-range 600 UAH $23.15
Draught beer 15 UAH $0.58
Loaf of bread 8.25 UAH $0.32
Mid range bottle of wine 90.58 UAH $3.49
Gas/Petrol (1 litre) 24.67 UAH $0.95
Taxi (1 km) 6.5 UAH $0.25
Rent - 1 bed, city centre* 8,188 UAH $315.90

Photo by Denis Dubin. Wikipedia Creative Commons. 

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