Ukraine might not be the first country you’d consider relocating to, even if the women here are stunning, and have no problem dating and marrying Western guys. Why might it not have figured on your list of potential places to move to?

Probably because the country was hidden away behind the Iron Curtain for decades, leaving it with the same reputation as most countries that were once part of the Soviet Union – dismal, grey, depressing and full of people queuing for food.

It’s only when you arrive in the country that you realize how vast is it, and the total absence of border guards, or any of the other crap you were taught to believe about Eastern European countries.

Ukraine has emerged from the fog of the Cold War as the second largest country in Europe, soon to be a member of the EU, and a popular choice for expats who want the same quality of life they enjoy in a developed country, but at a fraction of the cost.

There’s also the added bonus that you get to meet, date and maybe marry a woman who dresses like a woman, acts like a woman, and is far more interested in building a future with you than wasting her time on celebrity gossip or bingeing on reality TV shows.

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Relocating Here

So now that you know why so many Westerners are choosing Ukraine as their new home it’s time to go through the process of moving here.

The first thing is that you can’t simply choose to relocate to an Eastern European country just because you’re from Europe, North America or Australia.

Ukraine, like almost every other country in the world, has its own regulations for becoming a temporary or permanent resident of the country.

This is a vast country, and 90-days will barely give you enough time to get a feel for what it’s like to live here. A visa will allow you to live in the country for up to 180-days out of any calendar year, but no more than that.

So, if you meet a woman you want to spend a lot more time with – and don’t enjoy the idea of a long-distance relationship – then you’ll need to look at a more permanent solution.

You can apply for several different types of visa to enter the country, including a student visa, tourist visa, business visa, sporting visa, and several others. Those are all fine for short-term visits to Ukraine, but we need to look at your long-term options.

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The Immigration Visa

You have two choices here – a visa for entering Ukraine to work or one where you’re applying for permanent residency.

Here’s what you need to apply for either a work visa or an immigration permit:

Work visa:

  • A work authorization document, issued by the Ministry of Labor of Ukraine
  • Several passport-size photographs (3.5 x 4.5 cm)
  • Your passport, which must be current and valid
  • Your completed application

Residency Permit

  • Permission to reside in the Ukraine as obtained from the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine
  • Several passport-size photographs (3.5 x 4.5 cm)
  • Your passport, which must be current and valid
  • Your completed application

You may also need a signed/notarized copy of your criminal record, or lack thereof, from your state or national police force – this can often be emailed to you.

In most cases you will also need to present a medical clearance certificate to confirm you don’t suffer from alcoholism or substance abuse issues, and that you’re not carrying any type of infectious disease.

Jumping the Queue

Once you’ve applied for your work or residency visa you then start the waiting process, which can take several weeks, or several days.

Any timeframe you’re given should be treated as approximate, so don’t go planning around it. There are, however, several ways for you to legally speed up the visa approval process:

  1. Be qualified in a specific field of expertise, or be an expert in a specific profession, that will benefit the Ukrainian economy. This isn’t something unique to Ukraine because Canada, Australia and New Zealand routinely provide fast-access visas for people with in-demand skills.
  2. Being related to a Ukrainian citizen, even if they don’t live in Ukraine right now.
  3. If you’ve previously been a resident of Ukraine this can also speed up your visa or residency permit approval.
  4. If you’re married to a Ukrainian woman – even one who has lived overseas for several years – this can also speed up the approval process.
  5. This one is a doozy – be capable of investing at least US$100,000 in the economy of Ukraine. This is basically buying your residency, but isn’t unique to Ukraine. In fact, there are numerous countries in South America and the Caribbean who offer the same “deal”.

Now, this investment doesn’t mean meeting some mysterious figure at a border crossing, and then handing over a suitcase filled with cash.

The process is actually very formal and your investment has to comply with a number of regulations set down by Ukrainian investment and banking laws.

One thing to note here is that buying real estate doesn’t count as an investment for the purpose of getting a visa.

Greasing The Wheels

The cost of living in Ukraine is much lower than in any Western country, but that also means people here earn considerably less than you. In fact, the average monthly wage here is about $400, with even highly-skilled workers earning no more than US$1,000 per month.

A side-effect of this is that bribery is part of the bureaucracy here – it’s not seen as being underhanded or criminal, but just a way to speed up things up, like your visa application, police report or medical clearance certificate.

The amounts involved are usually “additional fees” or “express fees” of $5, $10 or $20, which might seem tiny to you but make up the slack in the Ukrainian official’s wages.

If you think this is corrupt then you should probably take a few seconds to realize that at least these bribes pale in comparison to already-overpaid European and North American senators, congressmen and others taking million dollar bribes from the tobacco industry, big pharma, oil and motor companies to bury damaging information about them.

Cultural Considerations

Ukraine is a predominantly Christian country, although they’re tolerant of people of any religion, so living here isn’t an issue for non-Christians.

Don’t expect people here to speak English simply because you’re too lazy to learn Ukrainian or Russian.

The key here is to find out what language is most commonly spoken in the Oblast (state) you’re moving to and then learn that one, be it Ukrainian or Russian.

At the very least you need to learn the Cyrillic alphabet so you can figure out what street you’re on, etc. This is also a country without silver spoons, where you’re expected to work or simply do without.

It’s your choice, but this isn’t a society where living off social welfare payments your entire life is either encouraged or tolerated.

Generally speaking, Westerners are made to feel very welcome in Ukraine, and that’s been the case since the country gained independence in 1991.

In fact, you might find Ukrainian’s friendly nature a bit weird at first, but only because you’re not used to being invited to a friend’s home for dinner back home.

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Where To Live

Apartments are easier to come by and cheaper than houses, but there’s no shortage of houses here. The only downside is that buying a house means living outside the city limits.

Property prices in larger cities like Kyiv are on a par with what you’ll find elsewhere in Europe, so expect to pay around US$100,000 for a large 3 or 4-bedroom home.

Living in the center of a larger city in Ukraine is more expensive, but it also means you have easy access to all the amenities you need.

Relocating to Ukraine is no more difficult than immigrating to any country around the world. In fact, the bribery system in play here probably makes it that bit easier,  with everyone benefiting as a result.