Retire Early on 990 USD Month in Tbilisi Georgia

In this report, I will share the estimated costs to Retire Early on 990 USD per month in Tbilisi Georgia including rents, utilities, groceries, restaurants, transportation, and other expenses for low to middle-range living costs.

After completing our retirement research in Istanbul Turkey, we decided it wasn’t warm enough to visit the Mediterranean beaches in Turkey. We will visit the Mediterranean beaches later this summer when it warms up.

So, we flew east from Turkey to Tbilisi, the capital of the Country of Georgia. I missed Tbilisi Georgia on my last visit to this part of the world, so I was excited about finally seeing it. Also, many of you have been asking me to report on the retirement desirability of Tbilisi Georgia for years.

Google Map

One of the great things about Georgia is that the citizens of many countries get a one-year visa-free entry upon arrival. That includes Europeans, Brits, Aussies, Americans, Canadians, and citizens of a bunch of other countries.

Upon entry, immigration only asked me one question–are you here as a tourist? When I answered yes, he stamped my passport with 365 days. I have known about this for years, but it feels really good when it happens.

Many of you have been telling me that when you want another free year in Georgia, you just do a visa run to another country. Upon return, they stamp you with another free year. Many of you have been doing this over and over again for years.

Two more things may surprise many of you.

First, Georgia was the second country in the world that named Christianity as their state-sponsored religion in 326 AD. The only country that named Christianity their state religion before Georgia, was their next-door neighbor, Armenia.

But don’t worry if you are not Christian. We saw active temples of worship from many other religions of the world in Georgia.

Second, wine was invented in Georgia, 8000 years ago. Before learning this, I would have thought Rome, Greece, or China would have invented wine.

The other remarkable thing about Georgia is that parts of the spice route between Asia and Europe passed through Georgia on and off for over one thousand years.

Georgia has been dominated by the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Russians, the Persians, and the Ottomans. As you wander about the old city of Tbilisi, Georgia, you will see the architectural influences of all these cultures.

That makes Georgia the original melting pot of the world. Georgia has a population of 3.7 million people. One-third live in the capital and largest city, Tbilisi, Georgia. Later in this report, I will share some political considerations about moving to Georgia.

Google Map

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We loved Tbilisi City, and we could easily live here. As I show you more videos of Tbilisi, I will share my retirement desirability factors such as Visa, Medical, Walkability, Internet, Food, Weather, Things to Do, Social considerations, Expat Community, Real Estate, and My Overall Retirement Desirability Score.

But first, I want to share my estimated costs of living converted into US dollars if the two of us moved to Tbilisi George, year-round on a tight budget. We will also include more typical expenses we have heard from other expats to give you another data point.

Estimated Cost Retire Early in Tbilisi Georgia

Rents: I found this furnished studio apartment for rent $350 USD per month a short distance from a few different bus stops with buses running all over Tbilisi. If you rent for a shorter period on Airbnb it would be much more expensive.

If you rent a larger flat with more space it could easily be two or three times as much per month. So for the middle range expenses I would estimate $800 per month on up depending upon area and size.

Here is the process we use to find great apartments. So, we will show you a table of all expenses in a moment. We will use $350 per month for our lower rent estimate and $800 per month for the middle cost of living estimate for expats who want more space.

Utilities: We estimate that the year-round average for our utilities would be about $70 USD per month. The utilities would cost more for the larger space, starting at around $100 USD per month.

Groceries: When possible, we would purchase fruits and vegetables from small shops and street vendors to save money. But we would also shop in grocery stores for nonperishable foods and other things like shampoo and detergents. We estimate about $300 per month for groceries. Other expats are likely to shop more often in expensive grocery stores often spending more than $400 per month on groceries.

Restaurants: We would eat out twice per week mostly in more local-style restaurants averaging about $6 to $10 USD per meal per person and one or two splurges per month of $12 per meal per person. If you add all that up, we would spend around $200 per month for the two of us. We may have a beer here and there, but that is covered below in alcohol.

Other expats are likely to eat more Western-style foods in expensive expat-style restaurants and less in local-style restaurants, so they would likely spend more like $300 per month for 2 people in restaurants. It is lifestyle-dependent.

Cell Phone Data: The cost to get a prepaid sim card for you unlocked smartphone is about $16 USD per month. My Android phone will act as a hotspot so we can both be on the internet at the same time when we are out of the house together.

Other expat couples are likely to buy two prepaid SIM cards so they would send $32 per month.

Laundry: The apartments all seemed to have clothes washing machines. The above grocery estimate includes laundry detergent.

Drinking Water: We didn’t see reverse osmosis delivery in 20 liter jugs here so we would probably get a Brita water filter for the refrigerator. The filter refills would be about $5 USD per month.

Internet: 60 MBPS up and down is about $19 USD for in-home wifi.

Transportation: A monthly pass for buses and trains is $15 USD per person, so $30 for the two of us. Other expats might spend more riding taxis or Bolt Taxi App, and less on public transportation, so I estimate $80 per month for them.

Alcohol (Optional): Domestic beer in grocery stores in Tbilisi are about 10 GEL ($3.75 USD) for 2 liters. 2 liters is about 6 regular size (330 ml) beers for $3.75 USD, or about $0.65 USD per beer. In bars and restaurants half liter draft domestic draft beer range from about $2 to $3.50 USD. So, we estimate would spend about $100 per month on alcohol for the two of us.

Many other expats would spend a higher amount for imported foreign or craft beers in expat bars, so about $200 USD per month for 2 people assuming they are not into imported whiskey or wine.

Entertainment (Optional): We would budget about $200 per month for entertainment for the two of us. We generally enjoy doing more do-it-yourself kinds of entertainment so expats would spend a little more, maybe $300 per month, for 2 of them?

Estimated Costs to Retire in Tbilisi

Tbilisi Georgia

Lower

(USD)

Middle

(USD)

Rent

350

800

Utilities

70

100

Groceries

300

400

Restaurants

200

300

Cell Data

16

32

Laundry

0

0

Drinking Water

5

5

Internet

19

19

Transportation

30

80

Total

$990

$1736

 

 

 

Alcohol

100

200

Optional Total

$1090

$1936

 

 

 

Entertainment

200

300

Optional Total

$1290

$2236

The above lower estimated cost of living would be if the two of us lived in Tbilisi on a tight budget. The middle estimate is just an example of what other expats might spend if they moved here.

To understand what it would cost you to live here, you must put your feet on the ground, see what you would choose to rent, eat, and entertain yourself, and add it all up. It doesn’t matter what anyone else spends because we are all different.

Tbilisi Georgia Livability Factors

Before you move anywhere outside your home country, make sure to create a list of things that you must have for your happy retirement. Here are my livability factors and I will rank each as high, medium, or low before assigning an overall retirement desirability score to Tbilisi.

Walkability: High. Unless it is raining, we would walk everywhere in Tbilisi within 2 kilometers. When we wanted to go further, we would just hop on public transportation. To find out how to use public transportation, go to Google Maps, type where you want to go, and then select the public transportation icon at the top. Google will tell you where to go to catch the bus or train and when to get off. The prices are reasonable and you don’t have to worry about where to park when you arrive. Tbilisi Public Trasportation Information

Internet: High. The wifi in our Airbnb was 29 MBPS down and 26 MBPS up. Good enough for us to do Zoom calls, upload Youtube videos, and watch Netflix. We were also able to use our cell phones as hot spots without paying anything extra.

Food: High. There are foods from all over the world in Tbilisi but not as much east Asian food as you will see in other parts of Europe or the UK. However, the prices can seem a little high as compared to Asia, so do your research to find your budget. You will find small family-owned restaurants serving local Georgian dishes in neighborhoods outside the tourist area with dishes from $5 to $7 USD. If we lived here, we would have a tendency to cook more than we would in other parts of the world in order to keep our total food budget within reason.

Weather: Medium. If you like seasons, but are not a big fan of snow, then I would rate Tbilisi High. Daily highs average from 46 F (8 C) in January up to 91 F (33 C) in August. Nightly lows average from 32 F (0 C) in January to 70 F (21 C) in August. It rains about 5 days of every month in Tbilisi except in April, May, and June when it rains 7, 10, and 9 days respectively.

Things to Do: High. Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia and as such there is much going on here, such as exploring beautiful parks, Museums, live music, people watching, cultural tours, coffee shops, shopping malls, and walking aimlessly for hours around this beautiful city. It is also fun to just jump on a bus without a plan and see where it goes in the city. They all turn around and come back eventually, so you can explore without fear. There are beautiful decaying buildings everywhere that you can tell where once magnificent specimens of another time. They were not kept up during the soviet era because there wasn’t enough money. But something about them remains almost magical.

Social Considerations: English is spoken widely in Tbilisi. Estimates are that around 80% of the people living in Tbilisi speak at least some English. The people are very friendly and helpful here. Many Russians escaped to Georgia when Putin attacked Ukraine. Many of them speak some English also, and none of them told me they are in favor of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. That is why they are here. The increased demand for housing here has increased the cost of living, but hopefully, the war will end soon and things will start to get back to normal. As a foreigner here, I don’t believe you will face any additional challenges because you are a foreigner.

Safety Considerations: Tbilisi has a relatively low crime rate as compared to other European and American cities. Be careful of petty crime in crowded areas such as pickpocketing. Nothing valuable should be in an unsecured pocket, front or back. I checked the US State Department webpage and they do not have any heightened level of risk for Tbilisi–“Exercise normal precautions in Georgia.”

Expat Community: You will hear languages from all over the world as you wander around Tbilisi. see ex-pats from all over the world here. About 15% of the people living in Georgia are foreigners or expats. Here are a few Facebook pages that cater explicitly to English-speaking expats living in Tbilisi: 1, 2, 3. These online expat communities are great for learning all about things that expats want to learn when they first move overseas. But do check each before asking any specific questions. You will often find that someone has answered your questions recently so don’t waste their time by asking it again before reading. That way they will be willing to answer any new questions you have that have not yet been answered.

Medical: The healthcare system in Georgia is not generally considered as good as in Europe. However, within Tbilisi itself, the medical centers tend to be of higher standards. It is also true that there are very good doctors in Tbilisi and other larger cities in Georgia. So, make sure to ask around for referrals and establish relationships with doctors based upon the feedback you have gotten from others who have used their services. In a general sense, you are looking for younger doctors trained in more western standards, during the post soviet era of medicine. You are likely to be surprised how little medical care costs as compared to other countries like the USA.

Tourist Visa: Citizens of many countries are given 365 days visa free entry when they arrive in Georgia. The expats we met there just do a visa run once a year to get another 365 days. The only thing immigration asked me upon entry was, are you here for tourism. I said yes and they stamped me with 365 days. It was the same story for Qiang when she entered. I am American and she is Malaysian. Learn more on this Georgia government webpage.

Real Estate: Foreigners can take title to real property in Georgia in fee simple in their own name. However, I do not recommend buying real estate in a foreign country until you have lived there for an extended period of time making sure you love it. If you decide to buy, you should also get your own lawyer that has no conflict of interest with you. For example, do not use a lawyer recommended by your real estate broker or local lover.

Tbilisi Georgia Overall Desirability Score: High. I love Georgia and could see myself retiring here. It rarely snows here and even in January, the coldest month of the year, on average, it warms up to about 46 F, 8C in the afternoons. I love the large ornate buildings with intricate facades from the pre-soviet era. Even though many are slowly crumbling now because the soviet era lacked the resources to maintain this beautiful city, they are slowly coming back to life now. There is really good food here, a growing sense of budding entrepreneurship that is nicely balanced with an appreciation for enjoying your daily life instead of overly focusing on chasing money.

What would it cost you to live in Tbilisi Georgia?

To get a better understanding of things you should add to our estimated cost of living watch this video: 9 Reasons You Can’t Retire on $1000 Month Overseas.

Most people will likely be unable to retire for the lower range estimate above. I give example reasons why in this report. Plus, this other report explains how to avoid coming home early with your tail between your legs.

Also, if you are going to try to retire cheap offshore, make sure to read my report, the Two Biggest Risks of Retiring Early for Cheap Offshore, which explains why you should have emergency funds available for unexpectedly large expenses.

You should also add anything to the above table that you spend money on in your home country that is not listed in the above table. Presumably, you find those things necessary in life. To do that, visit the Numbeo Tbilisi and add anything not mentioned in the above table.

Never move anywhere until you have visited first personally to verify the living costs for your lifestyle and needs. I am not guaranteeing these prices. These are just my notes and estimates from the time of my visit and this post. Your costs will likely be drastically different depending on your lifestyle and the time since this post.

Many of the expats we meet living overseas are self-insured for medical care. That means that not everyone buys health insurance when they move overseas. That probably sounds crazy to many of you.

I didn’t carry medical insurance for most of my first 17 years living overseas. But last year I bought medical insurance. If you are wondering what it costs and what it covers, watch my medical insurance video is at this link. This is not an affiliate link.

More typical expat living costs in Tbilisi range from about $1500 to $3000 per month. But people spending that much often have higher savings, incomes, or pensions. They often report spending more on accommodations, entertainment, eating out more, traveling, and alcohol. Many also have more expensive cars, houses, or apartments.

Georgia Political Considerations

Georgia was annexed into the Russian Empire starting in 1801 and eventually seceded from the Soviet Union in April 1991 during Gorbachev’s Perestroika.

Thereafter, Georgia endured a period of political instability, until later pursuing a pro-Western foreign policy including a series of democratic and economic reforms aimed at integration into the European Union and NATO.

Most recently, many citizens of former soviet block countries have been monitoring closely what is happening in Ukraine. While visiting, some locals expressed fear that Russia may begin attacking its other neighbors.

As one put it, “Georgia’s 4 million people would be a light lunch for Russia compared to the meal Russia is trying to digest eating Ukraine’s 40 million people.” His words, not mine.

That said, I met a group of young Russians in Tbilisi that said, and I am quoting, “We don’t want Russia in Ukraine.” “We left Russia when the war started because we don’t want to kill people.”

It reminded me of what happened in the USA in the 1960s when young people started fleeing to Canada. So, if you do decide to retire in Georgia, which I would totally understand, because it is so beautiful, think about this.

But don’t buy real estate or start a business, for a few years until the politics have calmed down. Because if you decide you need to leave until things calm down, you don’t want to try to sell a house or business on a moment’s notice.

You’ll want the freedom to just jump on an airplane, bus, or train on a moments notice and head to greener pastures.

Tbilisi Old Town Walking Tour

Google Map

The stops on this tour are not places you need to stop-in and investigate. The purpose of each spot on this tour is to walk you through some of my favorite parts of Old Tbilisi. I would suggest taking this walk in the afternoon starting around 3 PM.

Where we stayed in Tbilisi

We stayed at this Airbnb ($26 USD/night not including airbnb fees) because we wanted to be within walking distance of everything we wanted to see in Old Town Tbilisi. We arrived at the airport at 3 AM. So we didn’t want to deal with figuring out how to get inside our Airbnb in the dark. So when we booked, we messaged the host and asked if she could send a friend to pick us up at the airport. She said yes, and he had a sign with my name on it. He drove us right up to the studio and opened the door for us. And we really loved the place because it seemed to have the same character as Tbilisi. Plus it is right on the most beautiful park in the city.

Restaurants, Services

Restaurants (prices in Gle (divide by 2.67 to get USD))

BREAKFAST IS: Shashouka 18 gel, French toast with creme brulee 18, cappucino 9, grapefruit 13

Brown’s Bar: Wine 33 gel/bottle, fries 11 – monday expat meet out

Racha Wine 14, bean soup 7, Mushroom dumpling 1.5 each, Eggplant with walmut 10, Vegetable stewed 7

Falafel Box: Hummus 18, Touboleh salad 18

Melograno: Wine 45, Spaghetti 22, pork belly 25

Fiesta: Tequila Bar & Mexican Restaurant: Bean taco 5.25, Soyrizo taco 6, draught beer 8, nachos 17

Medusa Bar: Dumpling 2, but I only recommend beer at this place

Local traditional bakery: Local bread 1.7 gel , delicious with cheese and honey

Tone – Traditional Georgian Bakery

RadioCafe: Hummus plate 18, Georgian plate 30, Lemonade tarragon 9.5

Tandoor bakery: bread 1.30 gel

Family Kitchen of Tamar Machitidze: An under-the-radar local eatery. There are dishes for vegans.

Family Kitchen Tar Tun: Weight food – delicious

Saxlis gemo: Dan love bean 12, Ojakhuri veal 20, Mukuzan dry wine 35, service charge 10%

Subway Sandwiches: Veggie delite large 15.90 , Vegan spicy cutlet wrap 19.90

Services (prices in gel)

Bolt: Taxi App we used in Tbilisi.

Magti: Sim card we used: Unlimited + Sim for 43 Gel

Tbilisi – Yerevan Bus: 56 Gel per person 6 hours. The bus we took from Tbilisi Georgia to Yerevan Armenia. +995.593.229554 Bus departs: 7.30am/9am/11am/3pm/5pm/7pm

Free Historical Walking Tour Tbilisi: 2.30 hrs – Tips $10/person

Gamarjoba Georgia Tours: Wine Tour, Official website pay on arrival $39/each

Carrefour: Grocery store with everything.

The Body shop: Skin care products.

Sulphur Bathhouse №5: 120 GEL private room (We bring our own towel, soup, slippers, water)

Galleria Tbilisi: A beautiful mall right in the center of Tbilisi with theaters, bowling alley, retail shopping and food court on the top floor.