Russia's expatriation shortlist: Yalta

Hi brothers!

Russia is a huge country, there’s more to it than just Moscow or Saint-Petersburg. That’s why I decided to start a shortlist of ‘expatriation-friendly’ cities based on my own experience.

It’s totally subjective and you shouldn’t base your choice on that. My goal is to show you which places exist and hopefully, it will be of use!

Now let’s get started with the city of Yalta in the Republic of Crimea.

Word of warning

If you’re planning to go to Ukraine one day, do not come to Crimea. Foreigners have been denied entry to Ukraine due solely to the fact that they visited Crimea beforehand.

What does it look like?

Yalta is (and always has been) a seaside resort. What you would call the city center is built around the ’naberezhnaya’, a 1.5-kilometre embankment. Restaurants, boutiques, there’s everything you’re looking for!

(We can’t see it on the picture, but the sea is on the right)

The city is very picturesque overall. Here, you have Pushkin Street:

It’s surrounded by mountains (so you have both the mountains AND the sea which is pretty awesome if you love nature).

Here’s one of the local attractions:

And the view over the water:

How is it?

Prices :dollar:

It’s NOT cheap.

Prices are about the same as in Moscow. Except for housing (prices in the capital city are crazy).

You can get a small apartment in the centre for 25-50k rubles a month. But beware: as a foreigner, you can only rent, not buy.

Climate :sun_behind_small_cloud:

Crimea is located in the South of Russia, where the climate is usually much smoother than in the rest of the country.

According to the locals, you can still swim in the sea in October.

Just a heads-up: the city was hit by pretty serious floods recently, so you might want to keep this risk in mind if you’re planning on coming here.

Working online :computer:

Yalta is a popular spot for digital nomads (primarily from Russia and Ukraine). Considering the setting, it’s not surprising.

If you’re working online (and let’s face it, if you want to live in Yalta you HAVE to work online, you can’t expect on finding a job here) there’s a few things to keep in mind.

First thing: ask your landlord about the speed of the internet. I didn’t do my research beforehand and internet was incredibly slow, I could barely send an email. But I guess it’s not the same everywhere.

If you want to use mobile data, ask your provider first. Mine (although it is a Russian one) used roaming which charged me 300 rubles for 200 MB.

Atmosphere :+1:

The atmosphere is really different from that of the rest of Russia. As it’s always been a курорт, there are very few ugly buildings from the USSR. The city is alive and its inhabitants are incredibly friendly.

You’ll always see street performers at the naberezhnaya (even during winter). Although there’s this touristy vibe I’m personally not a big fan of, like you’re always on holiday.

Covid :mask:

I was there during on of the peaks of the pandemic… but still, I saw very, VERY few masks (even in restaurants).

I can’t promise it will always stay that way, though.

Restrictions :skull:

Crimea is under international sanctions, which means a lot of things that work in the rest of Russia just don’t work there.

1 - You can’t use your credit card

Cards that are not issued in Russia don’t work. You can’t pay, you can’t withdraw anything from ATMs.

You can ask for a card at Сбербанк but if not, take some cash. I you have a Russian card, withdraw cash only from Генбанк ATMs. The fees are much lower than other banks.

2 - You need a VPN

A lot of websites are blocked in Crimea, which make the use of a VPN almost inevitable. Stripe and Slack do not work, to give you an example.

Who is it for?

I would recommend Yalta (and Crimea as a whole) to those who can’t imagine themselves living far from the sea. You can get some fresh air here, unlike a lot of Russian cities. It’s great to be surrounded by nature. Even if you decide to live elsewhere, it’s still a very good place to come and rest from the city.

I think it’s the ideal destination if you’ve just started learning Russian. As people are more friendly than in the rest of the country, they are less likely to shut you off if you say something wrong or if you speak too slow.

But careful, it’s not the cheapest place in Russia… so unless you have a consistent source of income, I wouldn’t recommend it. And don’t forget you have to deal with all the restrictions (which can be a pain in the ass).