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A postcard from the land of the first Europeans: living in Georgia as a foreigner
My name is Max, I am 45 years old and this is my story.
As someone who loves hiking, it impressed me how good was Georgia for this hobby. This is a perfect place to find green hills, crystal clear skies next to unique Medieval churches. In other words, it feels as you are taking a step back in time or knocking on heaven's door. For those who like a challenge, a weekend climbing Mount Elbrus (the highest in Europe) will compensate you with the kind of views that could only belong to Georgia. It sealed the deal for me.
Then, as a wine lover, I found it fascinating that Georgia has been producing wine for at least 8,000 years! Some say it is considered to be the birthplace of this beverage. Since I've been here, good wine has not abandoned my life, and it won't in the short term.
Going to Georgia
All of my friends asked me why Georgia, from all the possible places. I told them that it all started in 2014 when I read that Georgia gives citizens of 95 countries special permission to stay visa-free for a year.
This permission was what allowed me to test the country before I made my final decision. I grabbed my suitcase, some of my savings, and stayed there for three months at first.
During that time, I realized a few things that I needed to work on. What hit me first was that Georgia has its own and unique language, spoken only by Georgians and what's even more surprising is that it doesn't resemble any other language in the world. You might be surprised to know that Georgians call their country Sakartvelo.
For someone that only knew how to speak one language at that time because he never thought it would be necessary to speak other, this was a hit of reality.
As for people, I have to say that they welcomed me very well. However, we must understand that in three months we're still tourists. Things usually change when you move with intentions to stay and live forever, but it didn't happen here. Some of my closest friends here were people that gave me a hand with the language barrier in my first months here as a tourist.
In short terms, Georgians are really warm, more than I could expect as a foreigner. I also lived in Puerto Rico and in Sicily, where people are specially known for their warmth towards their guests. A fun fact related to this is that the word tbili in Georgian means warm, while Tbilisi, its capital's name, would translate as warm location. The latter might be said about a considerable part of its population too, if you ask me.
Then, when I came back home and made my final decision about moving to Georgia and looked for certain information, it made me reaffirm the decision to do it. For example, Georgia has relatively bland immigration laws, especially for those who come from the US, EU, Turkey, Israel, and Switzerland.
In order to get the Georgian residence, you'll need to prove to be an asset to Georgia, like in so many other countries. What's special about Georgia is that this process doesn't take years. Instead, it takes about two months. Some requirements for obtaining residence quicker may include investing in the country, buying a property, marrying a Georgian, founding a business here, or having a long-term job. As you can see, this is what I was looking for.
Another detail that helped me throughout this process was that a residence application completed in English could also be approved, even though required documents should be in Georgian.
Living in Georgia
From my experience, I can tell you some useful information about this beautiful country. Regarding money, I can highlight that it was really easy for me to leave my life as a real estate broker behind, when I decided to start my own technology business in a free tax zone in Georgia.
Through our local experts, we can offer assistance to you to form your company in Georgia.
Besides this, what everyone needs when moving to another country is a place to live. Therefore, I can mention that here in Georgia the prices for apartment rentals may vary because it sometimes depends on the district. Nevertheless, if you search in detail, you can find great places with reasonable prices.
For instance, the price for a one-bedroom flat starts at US$250 and might go up to US$1000 per month. Besides location, some other factors can influence the cost, like the condition of the apartment, the size, among others. As you might suppose, the more outstanding the apartment, the higher the price.
If you're from the US like me, you will find attractive that most of the owners quote monthly rates in US dollars and expect you to pay in that currency. Still, few will ask for Georgian Lari. Buying real estate is an interesting dilemma. It can be somewhat expensive, yet it has really good investment returns, so it mostly depends on your economic status and what you want to do in Georgia.
In Mundo, we’ve partnered with a top real estate developer in Georgia.
Unless you are planning on making Georgia your permanent home, I don't recommend buying an apartment, since it is quite expensive.
In addition, when talking about the healthcare system, there're some things you should know in advance. First, a comprehensive insurance policy is necessary to meet the high price of care in Georgia. Before you move, you must ensure that you've got the right level of coverage to meet your needs.
However, if you're considering taking the next step with your whole family, you might be wondering what is the educational system like in Georgia. If your kids don't speak Russian or Georgian, maybe an international school works better for them than a traditional state school.
There are a few international schools in Tbilisi, the capital, providing services for the ex-pat community. For instance, some English International Schools allows students to study in English for UK qualifications, including GCSEs and A-Levels, and there are also American International Schools.
Now, speaking about prosperity and economy, you must know that Georgia took a swift turn towards a free economy and a stable democracy since 2004. At that moment, the government built a favorable tax regime and a solid banking system, combined with a reduction of import and export regulations. Something that I have to highlight is that Georgia is not a CRS signee, meaning that its banks don't immediately report the financial information of their clients to foreign tax authorities.
If you come to Georgia, you can open a bank account in a couple of hours. This is especially beneficial when you consider the old-fashioned requisites of some European jurisdictions. Trust me; you'll appreciate it as much as I do.
If you want to know more about our banking services in Georgia, check out our article.
What happened is that, nowadays, Georgia is considered the second-freest economy between post-Soviet states after Estonia. In short terms, Georgia can be seen a synonym of business, since it has the 12th freest economy in the world and is the 7th easiest country to do business.
Taxes in Georgia
A good place to do business is a place where there's a reasonable tax regime, and Georgia fits this category really well. If you ask me about the most underrated tax and banking jurisdictions on the planet, Georgia would probably be at the top of both lists.
Georgian policies often welcome high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs that trust in the country. If you check the country's history, you will notice the key role it played as the border between the Roman and Persian Empire. Also, historically it has been the crossroads of the Caucasus and the lands surrounding the Black Sea. Therefore, their status is not something especially new.
In this sense, Georgia has a simple tax system with a 15% corporate tax rate, a 20% income tax rate, a 5% dividend tax rate, a 1% property tax rate, and no capital gains taxes.
Similarly, you should be aware that there are tax benefits for certain types of companies:
- International finance companies are exempt from corporate tax for their profits obtained from financial operations.
- Special trade companies are exempt from Corporate Tax for their profits obtained in the re-exportation of goods. These are domestic companies that have applied for special status and operate in free trade zones.
- Entities of an industrial free zone benefit from an exemption for their profits obtained in carrying out their activities in a free manufacturing zone.
As you can see, my Georgian experience has been exactly what a foreigner with ambitious dreams and expectations in life can expect. Obviously, I had to work a lot, but take my experience as a proof of how the opportunities are out there. You just need to go there and grab them. In this case, I found mine in Georgia, and you can be next. Take the chance and try the opportunities this country has to offer.
Beautiful Georgia has much to offer to foreigners, and it receives them with open arms.
In Mundo, we offer top-level financial, banking immigration, and corporate services in this country. If you have any inquiries regarding our services, contact us right now.
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