Imagine a place that feels like Eastern Europe with a hint of the Middle East / Central Asia. Where you can stay for a year on a tourist visa. Where you can drink some of the best wine in the world for throwaway prices. A country where food, accommodation, and travel are some of the cheapest in the world. A place where people are warm and friendly. A city with a Mediterranean climate. And a country on the edge of Europe, situated in one of the most beautiful regions of the world.

Imagine a destination that was relatively undiscovered but open to foreign investment and international entrepreneurs. A country where it’s a simple process to open a bank account or start a business.

That place is Georgia. And I’m not talking about the Deep South state. I’m talking about the tiny Republic of Georgia in the Caucasus mountains, the capital of which is the vibrant & fascinating Tbilisi.

Tbilisi is an Eastern European city right at the centre of the Eurasian Continent, the capital of a developing country that has a European Union Association Agreement and a fast-growing economy.

Why Tbilisi is Your next Digital Nomad Destination

My prediction: In a few years’ time, Tbilisi will be a digital nomad hub. Airlines like Ryanair and Wizz Air (which already flies to Kutaisi) are considering flying direct to the capital from European cities, making the place more accessible and attractive to location independent entrepreneurs. The country is ripe for a tourism boom and deservedly so. There’s so much to see in this compact little country and its charming capital.

Ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili has plenty of haters but most people will agree that he cleaned up corruption when he came to power in 2003. Georgia was a corrupt place back in the years after the Soviets withdrew. But that’s all changed. Georgia is now one of the easiest places in the world to do business. It’s safe and the people don’t rely on f***ing other people over just to get by.

There’s currently conflict with Russia, and border and a sovereignty dispute with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. These issues affect businesses. Putin’s ban on flights to the country negatively affected the tourism industry. This has a knock-on effect for the rest of the economy. Digital nomads can benefit thanks to a weakening Lari but it’s not a good climate for business and indirectly hinders the development of infrastructure – which of course, is important for people that work online.

Tbilisi Sunset

Where is Tbilisi?

Tbilisi, the biggest city in Georgia, lies in the east of the country, which sits in the Caucasus mountain region.

Georgia on a map showing Europe and Asia.

Tbilisi truly sits at the centre of the silk roads and at the crossroads of the Asian and European continent. It was a strategic city for many empires and tribes for thousands of years. Tbilisi’s is located at the 41st parallel north, a latitude it shares with Sardinia, California, Portugal, Greece, and Spain.

Friendly, Welcoming People

Georgia has a reputation for being a friendly place. On my personal ranking of the friendliest nations in the world, Georgians are certainly up there. But don’t expect showy friendliness. Breaking the ice is important. But once you’ve smiled, asked how someone’s day is going, or attempted some Georgian language, Georgians open up. I don’t think I’ve been in a place where a smile and a “how are you today?”, get such a warm response. All smiles and genuine curiosity. It regularly made my day.

 I don’t have an official top ten but Let’s say that countries like Thailand, Philippines, New Zealand, and Colombia are in there. I can now add Georgia. 

friendly Georgians

Cost Of Living in Tbilisi

Tbilisi is as cheap as many South-East Asian capital cities. It’s on a par with some Ukranian cities. Outside of the Euro zone and with a weak economy, Georgia’s Lari has lost ground. Your Euros or Dollars will go a long way here.

Expatistan puts Tbilisi as the 3rd cheapest city in the world based on the website’s user-reported price index.

Tbilisi is the third cheapest city in the world

The Mercer Cost of living survey puts Tbilisi as one of the cheapest places in the world

Rib-Eye steak in one of the most expensive supermarkets sells for around €5 a kilo. In Western Europe, a kilo costs between €20 and €30. High-quality local wines sell for €10-15 but you can pick up decent bottles in the supermarket for €3-5.

A meal in a basic restaurant will set you back €2-3 and a three-course dinner in a top restaurant will still come in under €20.

Taxi rides of 10 to 15 minutes cost between €1.50 and €2.50

I found prices overall to be as cheap as those in Bangkok or Medellin for example. Street food in Asia might be cheaper but apartments in Tbilisi are great value compared to the saturated markets of Bangkok, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur.

Amazing value restaurants with views in Tbilisi
Amazing value restaurants with views in Tbilisi

Accommodation in Tbilisi For Digital Nomads

There are plenty of options to choose from and depending on the season, there are some bargains to be had. Renting for anything longer than a week is great value.

Airbnb

Airbnb is the most obvious for stays of less than 6 months. According to Business Insider, Tbilisi has the cheapest Airbnb prices in Europe

Here’s an example. The entire apartment costs about $400/month.

Renting an apartment

Speaking Georgian opens a lot more doors (literally) but most of the big apartment rental websites are in the three languages of Georgian, English, and Russian.

I joined most (if not all) of the Facebook groups about long-term rental in Tbilisi. Renting long term is very economical. The prices were very impressive. $400-600 a month will get you a nice (often brand new) apartment in a good location. There are only a few places in Europe that have similar standards at that price. 

rental apartment in Vake Tbilisi
$600 / month rental apartment

Facebook Groups

Renting long term is a painless process in Georgia thanks to the very generous Visa policy. In fact, at these prices, you could afford to base yourself in the country and spend months travelling to other parts of the region (Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia) or the world.

From what other expats tell me, it’s safe to deal with real estate agents and rental agencies. I’ve only had good experiences dealing with Georgians and never feel like I’m being ripped off.

Where to Stay

There’s no best place to stay in Tbilisi. Your choice of short or long term accommodation depends on your specific needs. But the options below will allow you to explore the city and find your favourite area.

Short Term

Airbnb is the easiest way to find an apartment for a week or more. I usually books hotels for stays of a day or two but the advantages of having a kitchen and some local knowledge help for stays of a few days or more. 

Airbnb prices fluctuate depending on the season and the ban on flights to Georgia from Russia sent prices plummeting. I was able to find 2-bed apartments in the best area in town for $300 a month (with a big discount) quite easily. 

There are plenty of hotels and hostels in the city, spread across the different neighbourhoods. If you want to be in the thick of the action, try the area south of Vera close to the old town. For a quieter time with more western conveniences, try Vake. For really quiet, Saburtalo is the best option, but it is a little far to travel to the old town for example. To shun the major touristy areas and modern conveniences, the east side of the river offers some cheap places to rent and eat. 

Fabrika Hostel is a very popular place among backpackers and budget travellers. The awesome building and surrounding bars and cafes make it a good base location too. Dorm beds start as low as $7 but the hostel also offers twin rooms.

Hotel Tabi is clean and comfortable and located in the old city centre

Hotel Zeg is located in a sweet spot between the river, Freedom Square, and the old town. It’s a stylish place and very comfortable.

I have to mention Rooms Hotel Tbilisi. It’s a lot more expensive than the options above but definitely worth a look for a night or two. The same hotel in any major European city would cost three times as much. The cafe and restaurant serve delicious food and coffee and the bar is well stocked and staffed by friendly bartenders. The hotel is located in the thick of the action. Check their Instagram profile for discounts. I’ve seen a few 20% discount codes.

Long Term

Renting an apartment long term is easier in Tbilisi than in most cities I’ve lived in. There are a couple of accommodation sites worth checking but it’s worth contacting an agent who can show you around many apartments in an afternoon. You might pay a bit extra than going direct, but the convenience of navigating the system and seeing multiple apartments quickly might be worth it to you.

Landlords don’t ask for deposits for long-term rentals. You pay for the first and last month’s rent. The contract is usually for 12 months. Bargaining on price and negotiating a shorter lease is also possible. Anything goes here. If you’ve lived in places like Thailand or anywhere in Western Europe, you might find this a bit of a welcome change. 

Tbilisi Neighborhoods Guide

I was advised to live near David Aghmashenebeli area in the northeast of the city. My first apartment was very close to the central train station. I can’t recommend this area to digital nomads or long term visitors. There are very few places to eat outside of the main avenue and it’s not really close to the interesting parts of the city. If you like Kebabs and Shawarma, you’re in luck. There are a couple of Georgian places and that’s about it.  However, Fabrika Hostel and Impact Hub coworking are close. Apart from this, it’s a bit of a dead zone.

Rustaveli Avenue
Rustaveli Avenue

Lots of expats live in the Vake/Vera area. The leafy trees offer plenty of shade so it’s a good spot for walking around. Not much in the way of public transport but as I mentioned, taxis are relatively cheap. Rent and eating out is more expensive in this part of town. But the area has a lot to offer: Parks, plenty of coffee shops, and amenities like the Neptune sports complex.

This neighbourhood seems fresher and less polluted than anywhere near the river or the centre. The best cafes to work from and the best coworking spaces are also in this suburb.

The leafy streets of Vake, Tbilisi

The Old Town area is one of the best spots for a short term visit but is less appealing for long-term. It’s a tricky part of the city to navigate, and most services and conveniences are aimed at tourists. The area around the fortress, botanical gardens, and funicular is beautiful and interesting but also the most touristy area.

Best areas to live in Tbilisi - old town, Vake, Rustaveli, Vera

Internet & Connectivity

One of the most important aspects of a digital nomad lifestyle city is the connectivity. It’s hard to be location independent and run a business without fast, reliable internet.

Internet Speeds

In my experience, good internet is hard to find in Tbilisi. Okay, so it’s not terrible, but it might be too slow for power users. If you’re uploading a lot of large files, doing webinars and video calls, or streaming videos and courses, the slow speed might frustrate you.

All Airbnb properties have Wifi and most cafes, bars, and restaurants offer free Wifi, often with no password so you can jump on easily. This raises a few security concerns so you might want to use a VPN for random connections in unknown places. Open wifi networks are easily mimicked by hackers.

Mobile Phones

Mobile phone plans are inexpensive and you can pick up a SIM at the airport – you need your passport to get a mobile SIM so you might as well buy one there while you have the passport to hand.

 If you’re spending any longer than a week in the country, get an Unlimited Plan SIM. A month costs around 40 GEL ($15). WiFi is available in most places but I wouldn’t rely on it. If you want to use taxi apps like Bolt, then a mobile plan is essential.

Here’s a list of GEOCELL offices in Tbilisi in case you want to buy a SIM there or top up: 

Other popular and recommended providers include MagtiCom and Beeline. They all charge similar prices and cover the same areas in and around Tbilisi. If you plan on doing a lot of travelling to remote places in Georgia, look further into the coverage maps of each provider (or grab a second SIM).

One of the easiest ways to renew ( is to use Ding which lets you send credit by credit card or PayPal.

The easiest way to top up or recharge the mobile phone plan is at the self-service kiosks around the city. Look for the big orange ATM-style machines in supermarkets, malls, and shops. You can also use Ding.com to top up online

Local calls cost about $0.05 a minute. 

I used Geocell which worked really well. I had coverage almost everywhere, even in the mountains of the Kazbegi region.

Visas

Georgia has the easiest visa policy in the world: 1 year, no questions asked (as long as your country is on the quite extensive list) and the visa renews when you leave the country. In effect, you could stay here forever. That might be music to the ears of nomads in Thailand or for US citizens looking to spend a longer period “near” Europe.

Tax For Nomads & Expats

Georgia is becoming popular as a place to do business and set up residency from a tax point of view. 

Why is Georgia a popular place for people trying to minimise tax? Well, the easiest answer is that income earned outside of Georgia is not subject to taxation.

It’s fairly easy to establish tax residency in Georgia. Just stay for longer than 183 days in the country in any 12-month period. If your annual income exceeds USD $90,000, you don’t even need to spend the 6 months in the country. You can apply as a high net worth individual. (Note: there are a few other boxes to tick on this application but the government has tried to make things as easy as possible). 

Kathleen Di Paolo of Wanderers Wealth, a tax expert that wants to empower Digital Nomads, Freelancers, Expats and all other Wanderers of the World with financial freedom, has this to say about Georgia:

“Obtaining temporary residence in Georgia, which can be extended and eventually used to obtain permanent residency, is a relatively easy process for any person willing to make an investment or start economic activity in the country.

Further, Georgia applies a territorial tax system which means that individuals are taxable only on Georgia-source income.

Georgia is also one of the easiest places to open up a bank account.

In short, Georgia’s fast and simple incorporation process, low-tax regime, easy banking, together with its strategic location, low labor and living cost, and an easy residence permit, make Georgia a very attractive jurisdiction for Digital Nomads to live in. “

For information on registering a business, read this guide to opening a business in Georgia by the BLC law office.

Georgia is a low-tax country but as always, there are caveats and gotchas. Setting up tax residency in the country is a good choice for some people but not for others. Every situation is different. Consult a tax expert who understands your digital nomad lifestyle or your expat situation.

To sum it up:

  • A 0% foreign earned income tax rate
  • Ease of business rates one of the highest in the world
  • Personal income tax is 20%
  • The corporate income tax rate is 15%
  • Tax on dividends is 5%

Combine this with the low cost of living and Georgia becomes an interesting country for digital nomads. 

Of course, you need to balance this against the fact that the country is not in the EU and is relatively unknown in international financial circles. Services like Stripe for payments do not operate there and a Georgian bank account is not as trusted as, say, a German bank or even a Bulgarian bank. 

Links:

The Georgian Revenue Service: https://www.rs.ge (English version available)

The GRS provides a detailed guide to tax, which although it was issued in 2012, continues to be up to date

The Invest In Georgia website offers a comprehensive look at the benefits of investing in this uniquely situated country

The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Ranking is 2 years old but the details are sound and still very useful for planning your tax strategy. There’s also a Benchmark tool for comparing Georgia with, say, Estonia or Bulgaria. Georgia is ranked 6th in the world.

Getting there and onward connections 

This is one area where Georgia falls down in the digital nomad ranks. It’s a brilliant place to live and work as a digital nomad but if you want to hop over to another country, it can be a bit of a slog.

Many (most?) international flights are scheduled to leave between 3 and 5am. Georgia is a not a hub and even the capital, Tbilisi relies on connections in Istanbul and to some extent Kyiv, Ukraine. 

Even flying to Istanbul direct means doing an overnighter.

Google flights from Tbilisi to Istanbul

And then you’ve got stopovers and missed connections to factor in (the voice of experience talking – 8 hours in Istanbul airport at night in between flights will wipe you out for a day or two). As you can see, Tbilisi is not quite a jet-setting, city-hopping base location for digital nomads. 

Flying to Baku is not a problem, although if you’re used to cheap flights around Europe with the likes of Ryanair and Wizz Air, the cost of a 1-hour flight might sound a bit steep.

It’s equally easy to get to Ukraine (another former Soviet bloc country) but the cheapest flights sometimes require a stopover in Turkey.

As I arrived in Tbilisi in late June 2019, tensions with Russia caused Putin’s government to ban flights to this tiny country that benefits greatly from Russian tourists. As a result, it was even more difficult to fly to Russia (the country’s biggest neighbour and greatest source of tourist numbers). 

Armenia to the south is easier to access by road than air, with the 30-minute flight costing upwards of USD $250 all year round.

Wizz Air is just about to launch flights to Tbilisi from all over Europe. Currently, the airline flies from around 30 locations in Europe direct to Kutaisi (including as far away as London Luton airport). However,  Kutaisi, as pleasant as it is, lies 3 hours away from Tbilisi by taxi.

Transport & Travel Guide

Tbilisi has a metro, tram, and bus network as well as a plentiful supply of taxis.

Metro

The Tbilisi Metro system is cheap and trains are frequent. I found it a little confusing to navigate at the main train station metro stop but apart from that, it’s a good way to get around if you’re not pressed for time. A ticket costs just a few cents. The slowest part of a metro journey is descending and ascending to the platforms (the tracks are deep – almost as deep as those in Kyiv) and waiting on the trains to arrive.

Taxis

You’ll never have a problem finding a taxi. I find it better value and more convenient to use the ride-sharing app Bolt (an offshoot of Taxify). Fares are incredibly cheap compared to most Western Cities and there are plenty of drivers waiting to take you anywhere from the airport to the old capital of Mtskheta, as well as all around town.

If you plan on doing some tours around the area, take a few bolt taxis and when you find a driver you get along with, ask for their rates to all the places you want to visit. Off the clock, it can work out cheaper. As an example, I hired a Bolt driver (off the clock) who brought me to Mtsheka and waited for a couple of hours in town while I did my touristic stuff. We also went to the Jvari Monastery and a couple of other stops for photos. Then we drove back to Tbilisi. The journey cost about $7 each way. More expensive than local buses, of course, but much more convenient.

You’ll save $10 on a local bus but you’ll spend a lot longer getting around and you can’t stop for photos.

Older drivers seem incapable of following the Bolt app GPS map, or at least they don’t like using it. The app shows them where to go but they still ask for an address. Cue the dramatic throwing of hands up when they’ve never heard of your destination. You can point out that the driving instructions and locations are clearly presented on the app that drives all of their business but this won’t get you far. Tell them the name and number of the street or a landmark.

Uber is not yet operating in Tbilisi and it doesn’t look like it will. Bolt/Taxify works very well here so there’s no real need for another provider. 

Local buses 

I didn’t take these as they look like a pretty uncomfortable way to travel in the heat of the Georgian summer. The low cost of both the metro and taxis meant I didn’t miss anything. 

Walking 

Being a big fan of walking and exploring a new place via my own steam power, I walked a lot in Tbilisi. With all the steep streets it’s not a place for casual strolling. The only real flat areas are near the river, but that’s also where the traffic rolls by all day, and most likely the most polluted area of the city. 

Cycling

Spend a day walking the streets and see how people drive. Then realise that cycling is an extreme sport and you’re not ready to die yet. (I love cycling, just don’t like getting smashed by cars)

Safety

Tbilisi is safe. Very safe. Probably safer than your own country (unless you’re from Singapore) most likely. Georgia ranks 49th safest country in the world by Global Finance magazine. The country is in position 99 in the Global Peace Index.

These rankings all use different criteria so it depends on how you view safety. There might be a conflict in a tiny part of the country and this has the effect of tanking the rankings. But the capital city could be as safe as Disneyland. This is likely the case with Georgia. Tbilisi is safe, but there are border areas of the country (Abkhazia and South Ossetia) which drag the countries rankings down.

Road safety is probably your biggest worry. Georgia has one of the world’s worst records for road traffic deaths. According to OECD data, it is, in fact, the most dangerous country to be a road user.

You’ll see plenty of dogs and cats roaming the streets but most are harmless. Georgia tags all its dogs. I started to see these little coloured discs on the ears of dogs that otherwise looked like strays. But a tag means the dog has been vaccinated and neutered. Aggressive dogs are eventually tracked down and removed.

Marjanishvili street bars & cafes
Marjanishvili Street bars & cafes

Digital Nomad Cafes

There’s no Starbucks in Tbilisi. 😀 So, here are the best coffee shops for working in Tbilisi:

Pin Pon Cafe Bar

Located below the Mother of Georgia statue on Lado Asatiani St, a few blocks from Freedom Square. Nice selection of coffees and teas. Comfortable setting.

Adress: 13 Lado Asatiani St

PinPon Wifi Speed

Entree

Entree chain of cafes has a few options dotted around. The one in Marjanishvili square (right beside Discovery) has around 10 tables. Not the best chairs or working from though. Typing while banging your elbow off the curving backrests isn’t going to make you work better (first world problems, I know). There is a space near the door for standing and working (it’s quite small though).

Lukewarm coffee. Cheaper than most cafes in the area. 

One point in favour of this place is the wifi speed, which was the fastest of any cafe I checked. A decent 69MB download speed means you’ll be able to stream Netflix in that cafe and avoid work 😉

Address: Marjanishvili Square

entree cafe marjanishvili square wifi speed
Entree cafe Marjanishvili square wifi speed

Stamba Hotel Cafe

stamba hotel cafe tbilisi

Whenever I travel to a new place, I look for hotels with cafes. I’m not sure why more people don’t use hotels over coffee shops. Hotels offer better service and often similar prices or cheaper than the local coffee places.

The absolutely gorgeous Stamba Hotel in Tbilisi is no exception. The converted soviet worker factory is now a high-end hotel with a great cafe. Expensive? No. In fact, and American coffee here is cheaper than pretty much anywhere else at 3 GEL (about USD $1.20)

The cafe opens at 6 am or 7 am depending on who you ask so it’s a good place to head to for early workers.

You even get a massive jug of lemon water with your order. 

Wifi is faster than most but nothing out of this world. The decor and ambience are excellent. This is a comfortable place to work although I wouldn’t overstay my welcome. 😀

Stamba Hotel is also an excellent, if expensive, place to stay.

Address: 14, 0108 Merab Kostava St

Fabrika Hostel Cafe

Fabrika Hostel Cafe

Fabrika Hostel is where you’ll find a mass of people on MacBooks or wandering around taking selfies. It’s a comfortable place with different types of seats and tables. The cafe is on the first floor of a cool, renovated building on the East side of the river. Coffee is pretty good and they also sell beer. Outside you’ve got a selection of bars and restaurants. The wifi is fast and reliable.

Address: 8 Egnate Ninoshvili St

Paul Restaurant

Located a stone’s throw from Freedom Square, Paul Restaurant is a good spot to work from. The coffee is a little more expensive here but it’s worth it. If you want some delicious pastries to munch on while working, Paul has arguably the city’s best selection.

Bring a sweater or jacket as they really pump the air conditioning here. You’ve got a choice of outdoor seating, a quiet upstairs area, and a bench with high-stools at the bottom floor window.

The internet download speed hovered around 7MBs (on multiple visits), but somehow, it felt faster than in my apartments which never got above 10MB. I guess I’m spoiled, coming from Western Europe with speeds of 200MB.

Address: 3/5 Galaktion Tabidze Street

ViceVersa Coffee shop

viceversa coffee shop vake tbilisi

Vice Versa is a great-looking place in Vake built to look like an Italian espresso bar. The copper-coloured tables and fittings really add something that the likes of Coffeesta (Georgia’s version of Starbucks) lack. The grumpy barista became super friendly once I started asking a few questions. The coffee is truly excellent.

Inside the cafe door, there are high-tables and high-stools. Towards the back, you’ll find seats and tables with subdued lighting. It’s not a big place so it might get a little crowded. The cafe is located right in front of Terminal coworking space.

Address: 29 Irakli Abashidze Street

ViceVersa coffee Vake - Internet speed
ViceVersa coffee – Wifi Download Speed

CoffeeShop Company

Big place with plenty of space indoors and outdoors (covered). Largest selection of coffees and teas: Try the ginger, honey, lemon and cinnamon tea.

Address: 11 Ilo Mosashvili St, T’bilisi

Coffeeshop company Vake speed test
Coffeeshop Company speed test

Prospero’s Books Coffee Shop & Bookstore

Prospero's Books Rustavelli avenue

One of the most popular cafes in Tbilisi for digital nomads, Prospero’s doubles as a bookstore. If you’re looking for any kind of guidebook or literature on Georgia in English, this is the place to shop. This is a peaceful place to work from. The coffee is not as good as it could be.

Address: 34 Rustaveli Ave, T’bilisi 0108

A second Prospero’s Books location opened up beside the Tbilisi view hotel (a few hundred metres from the funicular station). It’s a small place and a little stuffy but is one of the few cafes in the area.

Skola Cafe

Skola cafe Rustavelli avenue Tbilisi

Skola cafe and wine bar is a nicely lit, cosy cafe on Rustavelli Ave, Tbilisi’s main avenue and arguably most beautiful street.

With a mezzanine section featuring a long table with benches for working upstairs, white walls, and wood benches, there’s a “coworking” feel to the place. There are also plenty of plug sockets. The place is not big but is good for working, as long as you start early. Be aware that this is a kid-friendly place so the noise level can be distracting. Not to mention that it drowns out the relaxing jazz in the background. As a digital nomad, you’ve probably got a collection of headphones and earbuds. Bring them!

The coffee is pretty good here too. And you can sip delicious Georgian wine while you work, if that’s your thing. I like to think it helps me write better. But I could be just lying to myself.

Address: 17 Shota Rustaveli Ave

skola cafe and wine bar Rustavelli ave wifi speed
Skola Cafe and Wine Bar, Rustavelli Ave wifi speed

Erti Kava

A cool little coffee shop a couple of blocks off Rustaveli Avenue. It’s on a nondescript street up a hill, as almost everything is heading away from Rustavelli. The coffee is delicious, and the decor is bright and cheery. There aren’t too many seats so pick your moments to visit. It’s also another kid-friendly place so keep that in mind if you need to concentrate. 

The cafe’s wifi speed was slow, but nothing out of the ordinary for Tbilisi.

Address: 8 Mitropan Laghidze St

Erti Kava cafe Wifi speed
Erti Kava cafe Wifi speed

Coworking in Tbilisi

If you prefer to do work in a space designed especially for location independent workers, coworking spaces can be very productive environments. They can also be a waste of money. It’s important to find one that suits you.

Terminal Vake

Terminal Vake coworking
Terminal Coworking Space

Terminal is a nice coworking space set across a few floors and staggered levels. I was impressed by the tasty decor, subdued internal lighting and use of natural light. There’s an outdoor area, a cafe, and many private rooms and even a large conference/presentation room.

Prices start at 30 GEL ($10) for 1 day. 10 days is 180 GEL. Night owls get in for half price per day at 15 GEL

A month costs 425 GEL, which at the current conversion rate is $155 USD or €138

The office is open 24/7. There are no standing desks apart from one tall table outside.

Terminal Vake coworking cafe and outdoor space
Terminal Coworking

Terminal Vera

The second outpost of this “chain” of coworking spaces. I use the word “chain” lightly as there doesn’t seem to be much connection between the two. Same company but you can’t use your monthly pass interchangeably between locations. This is coming, they tell me. But for now, choose wisely.

Another beautiful coworking office with fast internet and great facilities.

terminal vera coworking
Terminal Vera

Impact Hub

This coworking space didn’t impress me, despite its popularity and location inside the excellent Fabrika building. I’d like to be transparent and say that I did not use the facilities. 

I didn’t check the internet speed here but as soon as I walked in I knew it wasn’t going to be a place for me. But there were plenty of people working away and I’m sure they were quite happy to be there. It was deathly quiet as most people worked while listening to headphones. If you like super quiet places to work, this might be just the thing for you. 

outside Impact Hub and Fabrika Hostel

One benefit of Impact Hub is that the company organises events (as it does in other cities around the world) and is more deeply involved with the startup community than other coworking businesses. You also have a great cafe in Fabrika and a street full of bars and restaurants to choose from right outside the door. It’s also a host for Tedx events. 

Most nomads will probably choose the west side of the river to live on, so that means making your way over to the east. It’s not that complicated but for people that like to put as few barriers to getting to work as possible, this might be an issue.

Impact Hub Tbilisi gets 5-star reviews on Coworker, Facebook, and Google, so it’s good enough for a lot of people. I’d recommend checking it out for a day and making your own mind up.

Art House Tbilisi – The Place To Meet

Art House is not labelled as a coworking space but it’s one of the best locations for working in the whole city. And nobody knows about it. I could review this place in the “cafes” section but it resembles a coworking hub much more than any cafe in Tbilisi.

Art House Cafe - Coworking Space

This is a multi-level complex with a restaurant on the bottom floor, a Gym and a pool. The gym and swimming area are accessible only via monthly or day pass and the prices are a lot more expensive than similar fitness studios in the city. 1-month costs around US$100. The cafe and bar are free to enter and work from. The only requirement is that you buy something. Every time I visited, I was the only person there. So if you’re looking for peace and quiet, this is the place for you. If you want the buzz of fellow workers nearby, look elsewhere for the moment. However, I believe that Art House will soon be buzzing with people from Georgia and all over the world. They just need to get the message out there.

The second floor splits into a bar kitted out in comfy leather couches and subdued lighting. Perfect for doing some deep work.

The other part of this floor is a cafe with artwork and murals on the walls. It feels more like a hotel cafe. Coffee is cheaper here than it is in the high street and at the moment, you’ll have the place to yourself. Friendly staff and a great choice of drinks and snacks make this place a must-visit for anyone thinking of working from a cafe in Tbilisi. 

Art house bar Publica Tbilisi

Networking & Connecting with businesses and nomads

Generally speaking, business websites are an afterthought in Georgia. I guess it comes down to the translation problems. Every site in Georgia connected with tourism needs a Russian and English version. This presents issues with maintenance. Then there’s the question of which language to blog in? When and how to translate updates? Etc. I imagine most business owners decide that their website is a pain, and turn to Facebook.

I found the contact pages on many sites to be useless. Emails bounce back because the owner’s inbox is full. Nobody seems to care.

Facebook seems to be the thing but anyone who pays attention to marketing these days knows that Facebook for business is next to useless for communicating information to followers. Try finding relevant up-to-date information about events, prices, or services on the Facebook page of any business in Georgia. Only the very best have this covered.

So you’ll need to start calling people. The old fashioned way. Remember that thing we used to do before data on our phones? To be honest, I’m happy about this. Phone calls are faster, I can ask all the questions I want, and I can try to make sure we all understand each other. Most educated people in Georgia speak English so there’s no real barrier. 

Expats in Tbilisi

A few expats and digital nomads spend time in the city. The week I arrived someone started the Tbilisi Digital Nomad Facebook group. That might indicate the level of interest that nomads show for the city currently. 

The Tbilisi American Business and Networking club Facebook group sometimes runs events with subjects like “Georgian Business Dos & Don’ts” which can be useful for people thinking about or already running a business in the country.

Events & Meetups

Most of the websites for entertainment or cultural listings are out of date.

Many businesses prefer to use Facebook instead of a website. I don’t think the news about Facebook’s awful organic reach and poor usability has reached Georgia yet. 

If you check out the Facebook page of a local business, you might find some stuff in Georgian written six months ago. And the opening hours will be a mere guideline. Best to use Google Maps for more up-to-date opening hours. Even the business location is often incorrect – be aware when you’re looking for a place.

Despite my issues with the platform, Facebook is one of the best places to find events in Tbilisi. As I mentioned, websites come and go here. Most are neglected. Facebook groups aren’t great either but many event organisers put their show, yoga class, travel event, bar crawl or otherwise on Facebook as an event. When you search Tbilisi on a particular day, you should get a list of current events with up to date start times and attendees (at least the ones that publicly announce that they will attend)

Meetup.com is not very active in Tbilisi among Georgians or travellers. In 6 weeks I found nothing of interest. However, the Couchsurfing website has an active events section. You don’t have to be a guest or host to take part in the events. 

Fabrika Hostel runs cultural and fitness events regularly. They also host meet-ups and a few high profile paid events, like this one (I arrived in time for this event but it sold out a month in advance).

The Tbilisi Opera house was closed during the summer months so I didn’t get to experience any Opera, Ballet or otherwise. But if you’re there during the cooler months, check out the beautiful 170-year-old Opera building on Shota Rustaveli Ave.

The Tbilisi Events Facebook page, website and app were for sale when I checked. A nice business opportunity for an entrepreneurial traveller? If the price is right.

Internations runs a few events every month and draws a decent crowd. The majority of the people are expats or long-term business people living in Tbilisi. But there are also random travellers and digital nomads in attendance. It’s also worth heading along just to visit some event locations, like the Biltmore Hotel.

A note about connecting with businesses:

You can expect over 50% of your emails to bounce. I spent 5 weeks in the country emailing different companies and services and the rate was more like 80% (but I’d like to think that this was exceptional). Unfortunately, email as a way of communicating appears to be an afterthought, even for government departments.

Health & Fitness

Pollution levels can reach high levels. And sometimes you can really sense when the air quality has dropped. Tbilisi sits in a valley and there’s quite a bit of traffic, so the air can feel a little heavy. Occasionally the air “tasted” dirty. And my eyes were starting to look red after a few days. The stinging sensation I put down to shampoo, but I’m sure it was the pollution. (I recall wandering around with red eyes and itchy skin in Bangkok when pollution levels went through the roof)

You’ll never be more than a few seconds standing beside a man in Georgia before he’s enveloped in a cloud of smoke. Everyone (especially the men) smokes here and it can get a little frustrating. Expect to breathe in the passive smoke of the marshrutka drivers or the 20 other guys walking ahead of you in the street. 

You’ll never see locals running or doing sport for fun. I don’t believe I saw a single cyclist. However, there are plenty of places to get some fresher air in the city (walk up to the fortress, run in Vake park).

Gyms

Gyms are fairly common throughout the city, especially in the areas where expats live.

Champions Academy is a huge, multi-level gym located at the top of Aghmashenebeli Avenue, near Queen Tamar Avenue. The gym is open from 7 am every day.

Champions Academy charges 160 GEL for one month (€52 or $58)

A day pass costs 20 GEL ($7-8) and gives you access to pretty much everything. 

The Georgian national rugby team trains here so you can be sure that the facilities are pretty good. There are 4 levels and even a CrossFit-style level where you can push sleds, jump boxes, and do CrossFit-y stuff to your heart’s content.

Champions Academy – 150 Davit Aghmashenebeli Ave

champions academy gym

Neptune Sports Complex is a massive place with an Olympic swimming pool and gym.

The complex also runs classes in Latino Fitness, Pilates, Yoga, and aqua spinning (whatever that is).

An Unlimited visits pass for one month costs 350 GEL ($120 USD)

Neptune Sports Complex – 49a Chavchavadze Avenue

Yoga

The most impressive-looking yoga studio (called Yoga cave) unfortunately, does not offer classes in English. This despite having a website in several languages and staff that speak English well.

Fabrika Hostel hosts open-air yoga sessions on their lovely rooftop every week. This is well worth attending if only for the views and social aspect. They also run tango classes, movies, and other events. 

Fabrika hoste rooftop tango class

Note that some studios close during the hottest months.

Outdoor sports

If you’re into skiing, you’re in luck. With some ski fields just a couple hours from the capital and lift passes as low as a couple of dollars, Georgia is a super budget location for snow sports.

Vake Park is a great place to do some jogging or walking. There’s also a small street gym inside the park.

If you want to stretch those legs, the hills around Mtatsminda Park, Mother of Georgia and Narikala fortress are great for walking. There are trails between landmarks and you’ll enjoy stunning views of the city.

Weather & Climate

Tbilisi gets hot in summer. Expect most days to hit the 30C mark or higher. The climate is normally reasonably dry but the humidity can creep up from an average of 50% to a less tolerable 80%. 

As the city sits in a valley, the air can feel oppressive at times, especially when there’s little wind. It’s not helped by heavy traffic moving up and down both sides of the Kura River. I felt a similar effect in Medellin, another valley city with heavy traffic. Official figures put the pollution levels at no higher than major European cities but to me, at least, the air felt toxic at times.

Rike park Tbilisi in Summer

July is one of the wettest months and the second hottest. 

On one occasion during my stay, wild storms hit Tbilisi and the following morning temperature dropped to 14 C (57 F). This, after a week of highs of 38 C (100 F). 

If you want to avoid the hottest temperatures but still get plenty of sunshine, September is a great time to visit. It’s also one of the harvest months at the vineyards, an important cultural event in Georgia.

Locals tell me that snow is rare in the city but the hills above Tbilisi get a covering of snow for some weeks. Temperatures dip below zero in winter (December to February) but it’s a lot warmer here in winter than Eastern European cities such as Bucharest, Kyiv, or Sofia.

Food And Drink

I can’t speak for the beer, as I prefer wine. And why would you when you’re in the cradle of wine? This is one of the best countries in the world to drink wine. Georgian wine, in all its varieties, is delicious and ridiculously cheap. The beer, by western standards, is very cheap too. Georgians also drink Chacha, which has nothing to do with the dance of the same name. It’s a type of potent brandy, and after a few glasses of this stuff, the only thing you’ll be doing is lying down. It’s also an acquired taste. 

Georgian wines

I’ll say it: I don’t like Georgian food. Apparently, I’m the only person on the planet who doesn’t. And I know a lot of people will wrinkle their nose at this. I dare you to find a blog that doesn’t gush about the wonders of Georgian cuisine. It’s just not for me.

A huge food market called Dezertir Bazaar near the central station opens every day from early and has hundreds of vegetable stalls. But pretty much everyone is selling exactly the same thing: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, some other greens. If you like those vegetables, this is a great way to get cheap produce.  The meat stalls made me queasy. I’ve lived in Asia, South America and travelled through North Africa and the Middle East but something about how they handled the meat here, the smell, and the look of the cuts just turned me off.

How is the meat? Tough as nails and super lean (tasteless) is the preferred style. BBQ meat with no fat and flavour are super popular. 

This is a good introduction to Georgian Cuisine.

Tbilisi sunset at the river

Digital Nomad Tbilisi Pros & Cons

Looking for a quick way to evaluate Tbilisi as a digital nomad destination. These pros and cons might help:

Pros

  • Cheap accommodation, food, transport, Internet
  • 365-day visa on arrival
  • Welcoming environment for tourists, expats, and nomads
  • Ease of starting a business
  • Ease of opening a bank account
  • Good interest rates on savings
  • Low tax for businesses
  • Easy access to the rest of the country from Tbilisi
  • Growing coworking scene and vibrant cafe scene
  • Friendly locals with a good level of English
  • Close to stunning mountain ranges (2-3 hours), wine-growing regions (1-2 hours), and the black sea coast (5 hours).

Cons

  • Slow internet
  • (Relatively) expensive coworking spaces
  • Air pollution can be high
  • Inconvenient flight connections.
  • Traffic and dangerous driving can make life stressful
  • Not LGBT friendly
  • Can be very hot in Tbilisi and low lying areas of the country in summer
  • Small startup scene
  • Not a walkable city
  • Few meetups and nomad networking events
  • Expensive electronic products and imported goods

Whatever you do, give Tbilisi a try. Visit Georgia and experience one of the most beautiful countries on earth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Tbilisi cheap?
Tbilisi is one of the cheapest cities on the planet. Compared to Western Europe capitals, Tbilisi is anywhere from 50% to 80% cheaper.

What is the average salary in Georgia?
According to Invest in Georgia, the average salary is just over USD $400. The most expensive city in the country is the capital, Tbilisi.

Is Tbilisi Safe?
Tbilisi is a safe city. According to the Overseas Security Advisory Council, crime in Tbilisi is comparable to a moderate-sized American city

Can you drink tap water in Tbilisi?
Non-locals should avoid drinking tap water. Recently arrived visitors may experience tummy upsets from drinking tap water.

Do they speak English in Tbilisi?
There are three main languages in Georgia: Georgian, Russian, and English. English is fast becoming the second language, especially with younger people.

How easy is it to get a visa for Tbilisi?
Visas for the Republic of Georgia are relatively easy to obtain and are very generous. Citizens of most Western countries get an automatic year-long visa on arrival.

What’s the wifi like?
It’s not great. But it’s not terrible either. Work from a coworking space if fast wifi is a priority.

What is Tbilisi close to?
Mountains (Kazbegi region), wineries & vineyards (Kakheti region), beaches (Batumi), and the borders of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia.

Is there a digital nomad community in Tbilisi?
There are several Facebook groups, Couchsurfing meetups, and events organised by the city’s coworking spaces that bring together the Tbilisi nomad community on a regular basis.

Digital Nomad Tbilisi - A guide to living in Georgia's Capital
Digital Nomad Tbilisi - A guide to living in Georgia's Capital