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rip offs in Ukraine

To whom ever it may concern.

Dear expats and others trying to make Ukraine their home. Recently I returned to Ukraine having spent many years living and working abroad (US, Canada). Although originally from Odessa, for lower cost of living and business opportunity reasons I decided to settle in a small Western-Ukrainian town of Chernivtsi. Still I visited my home town frequently. This is my account of the last six month in Ukraine.

Odessa. Some renovation work under way...recently became cleaner too, but for the city this large and expensive - nowhere near the level of economic opportunity or customer  / tourist service a westerner would expect. Crumbling facades away from the city center, average salary of $300-400m (monthly), total lack of adequate jobs... For all this time I have been sending out my resume (I had worked as a technical writer for IT company in US) - mostly no reply...two interviews where I was not even given a chance to speak English (and those were interviews for English teaching position).

I also was sick for a month, having to wait for about 1.5 hours to buy a train ticket at the railway station - the main terminal was not heated in the winter time. The culmination of my Odessa trip was when a security guard at the Roshen store (a candy place) punched me in the nose for telling him he will have problems for following me in the way is customary in Ukraine. Now, latter I complained and got a $100 compensation, but still ...

Chernivtsi: Small, picturesque town in Western Ukraine, where I was thinking of opening a language school and translation services business. The town has 250000 population, is reasonably well maintained with beautiful old architecture in the city center, with a history of mixed culture (many nationalities coexisting together for centuries). Chernivtsi also seemed to have a large number of well educated young people…nice university and other places of culture and higher learning…

Now contrary to all appearances people are no less self delusional and after foreigners’ money than in Odessa. Such words as personal responsibility and hard work are also not first in their vocabulary. There I toyed with the idea of opening a business, met a local partner, only to lose money in office supplies, the money that was never returned to me by the  local girl (my perspective partner). It turns out she did not want to register a business in her name (a common practice here, since to register and pay tax as a small businessman you have to be local and not just a citizen). Now keep in mind that is the beginning she was telling me all kinds of stories about how many people she knows and how much she can help getting things off the ground. Latter I learned that all she wanted was to be an administrator (secretary) with a stable salary and no risk attached.

It is true that people in Western Ukraine appeared to be poorer and simpler, may be more trustworthy, all telling me that they had no money. Still they also appeared no less wanting "all for nothing". Such words as gratitude also seemed to be missing...

Now, on the bright side Ukraine and Western Ukraine for sure seemed to be cheaper when comparing to other countries and other regions of Ukraine, albeit with few money making opportunities, and poor customer service. Also, for a town that small - I found Chernivtsi  (I guess many other towns and cities in western Ukraine are this way) to be fairly tolerant, with many civic and volunteer organizations , with people gradually  getting more and more involved... I think the country is gradually opening up to the world, people are warming up to others, things are improving. I for example volunteered at The English Club at the library, met many nice kids there (college students)- eager to learn and improve their lives. I also met many expats from different countries working for different organizations, trying to help out.

So there is hope, coupled with lower cost of living (mainly lower rent and utilities outside of Kiev), with growing awareness of our people about the rest of the world - I think things are changing.

The main thing is - don't make more of it than what it really is at the moment, don't hope for too much, don't get offended easily.... Just do what is right, do what you would anyway and I am sure you will always find that which is good and descent along the way.

PS. Not sure what “moderators here will do (as I had problems with them in the past), but you are always free to contact me directly. If there is anything I can help you with I will gladly do so. For me tolerance and democracy are paramount and I want to do all I can to contribute to development of my country… for that we need all people of good will, including people from other countries.

Ours might not be the best place to live, but this country is my home – so WELCOME  TO IT.

Oleggy I am thinking about visiting the Ukraine, say maybe Odessa. I have never been there before and I don't speak the language. Do you think I need to hire a translator?

It is a pity that you Ukraine experience was so bad. I have been doing business with this country for 10 years and never had a problem nor have I ever paid a bribe. I am from Los Angeles and divide my time between the States, Ukraine, and our summer home in Slovenia. I love the Ukrainian people and married a local girl. Wherever you go next, I wish you better luck, this is obviously not your place ... Take care

Spdmon, I would agree with you. I'm looking forward to returning to Ukraine in August. I'm going with my Ukrainian girl friend and potential fiance to Kherson to attend my American friend's traditional style wedding. He lives in Ukraine full time and loves it. If I get married which I'm hoping for, I'm going for my resident visa. Until then I can only stay 90 days at a time apparently. Then 90 days out. Yes Ukraine is a poor country, but I love the people and culture. I have a great respect for them. The moral and family values are outstanding in comparison to America. America is infested with violence,drug addicts,gangs and mentally ill. People get robbed and murdered every day in America. When is the last time there was a mass shooting in Ukraine or a street robbery at gun point?   American women divorce their husbands without hesitation for trivial selfish reasons. Rape and child molestation is also at epidemic levels. Ukraine maybe poor and have bad roads. Who cares. Better than getting mugged and shot. Generally they are good people. It's a breath of fresh air away from the arrogance and violence in America.  I do hope the economy improves in Ukraine with more jobs and income for the people,they deserve it.

...it is not about pity or going somewhere else for that matter. I am Ukrainian and intend to stay in Ukraine.

My post was about REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS for OTHER EXPATS. I love my country and will do what I can to help, staying here as long as my US investments and savings allow.

However, saying that things are not what I described them to be is simply misleading. The business environment and people's attitudes are definitely not what they are in the West. In addition everyday cost of living is relatively high for the earning potential and salaries that exist here.

Ours is one of the poorest nations in Europe. Even Romania or Bulgaria offer more in terms of  better standard of living. Yet, for the tortured history that we have, for the constant meddling of Russia in our affairs...for all that it is worth - I commend the people of Ukraine for what they achieved so far and will do all I can to help achieve more in the future.

The freedoms, the democracy we have...to me these things are priceless. It is just that I want people to come to Ukraine for the right reasons...not for girls or because economic opportunities abound.

I never questioned what yo said. I just said it has never happened to me or the vast majority of my colleagues. It is most unfortunate that you think so low of your country. It is you and your countrymen who must change it, not the expat community. I also do business with other FSU countries. Economically, they are not in as good as shape as you have concluded. For me, this conversation has ended, it is your country and the ball is in your court.

spdmon :

I never questioned what yo said. I just said it has never happened to me or the vast majority of my colleagues. It is most unfortunate that you think so low of your country. It is you and your countrymen who must change it, not the expat community. I also do business with other FSU countries. Economically, they are not in as good as shape as you have concluded. For me, this conversation has ended, it is your country and the ball is in your court.

and you are sertainly free to do business wherever you like and express whatever opinion you want. I support it as I support all other freedoms in general.

However, to me it seems odd that on this site most who like Ukraine talk of being married to a Ukrainian girl and somehow doing this prosperous business that very few locals ever get to do. Look - I said what I said: The copuntry is poor and life for locals is hard. Most foreigners who don't have lot's of money to invest find being here difficult also.  Still I find great deal of hope in it, because yes it is my country and we have no other option but to be hopeful and try to change things. AND THAT IS IT.

Oleggy,
you know your country from the inside better than I do of course because it's your country. Same as I know my country better.  You understand the politics,the police, the culture. I am a foreigner. I like your culture and people. I enjoy being there. Yes my girlfriend lives there. At the moment she is here in America with me. I know life is hard for Ukrainian people. I hope that changes. In my view,however they have alot of freedoms that Americans dont have. We are overwhelmed in a quagmire of regulations and laws that restrict almost everything we do. Can we have a chicken or two in our back yard? No,Against the law. The police will come and you have to go to court and chickens confiscated. Can you set up a table and sell food from your garden in front of your house? No. The police will come,write you a ticket and you will have to go to court and pay a fine. If you do it again you will be arrested. Almost every place in America has poor public transportation. If you take a bus, it comes once an hour and will cost $2. In Ukraine,25 cents. You dont even need a car. I could go on and on, but I wont. Both countries have bad points.

The point of my post was not to argue with anybody. It was to inform of the situation in two places - my home town of Odessa and a smaller "cheaper place", Chernivtsi. That is because the situation in Kiev is more known and explored here at length.

Everyone is welcomed to make his own conclusions and share opinions. I think it is good that we have an expat community now, which has not always been the case.

If anything - my post was once more about REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS, not about which country IS BEST.

I appreciate your information about Ukraine. It's very helpful for me. I want to learn as much as possible about your country. I prefer small town living outside of the big city, such as a small village. I'm not sure how I would be received,being an American in a small Ukrainian village, but probably it would be ok.

If you want to know what goes on in the world all you have to do is read the financial pages. :whistle:

would be great to connect with you we have quite a few to discuss...))

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