American Expat In Georgia - Expat Interview With Shelby

Published: 7 Nov at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Georgia
An American currently living in the Republic of Georgia by way of Bangkok, Seattle, Paris, San Francisco and one long, cold winter in Philadelphia, Shelby Reynolds has lived as an expat for nearly five years. While she and her husband originally began their expat adventure prior to having children, they now spend their days overseas as a family of five - with their youngest child having been born while living in Bangkok, Thailand. Shelby blogs at A New Bohemia (see listing here)


A New Bohemia

Here's the interview with Shelby...



Where are you originally from?
I am originally from Seattle, Washington in the United States.

In which country and city are you living now?
I am living in Tbilisi, in the Republic of Georgia, in Eastern Europe. And, yes, when I told many of my friends I was moving to Tbilisi, they all had to run for a map in order to figure out where it was located!

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I've been living in Tbilisi for a year and a half with no immediate plans to depart. Prior to Tbilisi I was in Bangkok, Thailand.

Why did you move and what do you do?
We moved here for my husband's job. I get the pleasure of enjoying my family-- being mom to three wonderful young children-- and exploring a foreign, fascinating country.

A New BohemiaDid you bring family with you?
Yes, my husband of almost fifteen years and my three children (ages 8, 6, and 20 months).

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
This was the third time in my life I've lived in a new foreign country. Different cities bring different challenges. I've found the transition each time to be invigorating and full of unpredictable surprises. Georgia is a rustic, beautiful country that garners a hardship grade in terms of posting assignments with most foreign organizations and countries here.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
The expat community is very small in Tbilisi. It's easy to meet other expats, but people transition out of the community and head for their next destination very quickly. While this is true of many expat communities, it is more noticeable in smaller, more remote locations. My close social network is with expats, from various countries, but locals make up a large part of my social web as well when I go about my daily activities.

A New BohemiaWhat are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Georgia is known as the birth place of wine. So, winery visits and tastings are a highlight. Tbilisi also offers the opportunity for many day trips outside of the city and into the beautiful countryside. In Tbilisi, ancient churches mingle with newly finished grand avenues featuring sidewalk pastries and great people watching.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
The country is rustic and, even in the country's largest city, the ways are old fashioned for someone arriving from the west. Cobblestoned streets, flaky croissants and an interesting mesh of Georgian and Soviet architecture make up the sights. The meals prepared are simple and delicious. The people are warm and welcoming. It's a fascinating country to be apart of at this point in history.

A New BohemiaHow does the cost of living compare to home?
Since all hard goods are imported, the cost of 'supplies' is extremely high. For that reason, we buy what we need (and can find) in Georgia, but fill our suitcases with goodies on our holidays to our home country!

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The driving is CRAZY! Drivers back up at full speed on the highway, drive up one way streets and the speed limit is merely a suggestion. You can spot a tourist if they are using their rear view mirrors (the locals don't!). The distance from family is also a negative. The long flights, and the family-wide jet lag, to visit family in-person is tough.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Prepare for inconsistencies in utilities. Even in Tbilisi, the country's major city, we experience regular, almost daily electricity, water and internet shut-downs for periods of time. We have a generator and extra water tank installed at our home-- I love them!

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Georgia can be difficult with very young children. Medical access isn't thorough and education options for our children have been difficult.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
We'll see when it happens. Although our children have done well overseas, I believe they will adjust quite well. When we are on holiday to our home country, everything seems very easy for them. Repatriation might be more difficult for me given that I love the exploration of new places.

A New BohemiaWhat are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
- Bring supplies (favorite food seasonings, clothing and other favorite items) with you. These are all difficult (and extremely expensive to find in the city).
- Be prepared for produce to virtually disappear in the winter months.
-Talk with friends and family about a communications plan. Utilities are spotty in this country and loved ones should know that if you aren't able to contact them, you will when the internet and electricity come back up!
-Learn about local shipping companies so you can have supplies from home sent to your in Georgia when needed. Usa2georgia.com has been a fantastic resource for ordering goods online and having them shipped to our Georgian doorstep.
-Come ready to eat, drink and enjoy the local culture. This is a fascinating, old world European country.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
anewbohemia.com is the second expat blog I've written. I love keeping track of my everyday adventures and documenting what my life is like now. It's a fun journey and I greatly enjoy sharing it with my fantastic readers!

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
I look forward to hearing from you! I am more than happy to take questions and comments via my 'contact' page at my blog (link below) or I can be found on twitter at @anewbohemia

Shelby has her expat blog called A New Bohemia http://www.anewbohemia.com/ which is very worthy of a visit. She can be found on Twitter @anewbohemia. A New Bohemia has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here which would love a nice review if you can spare a quick moment! If you liked this interview with Shelby, please also drop her a quick note below.
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Comments » There are 2 comments

Joy (My Turkish Joys) wrote 2 years ago:

What a fantastic journey! Georgia has been on places to visit esp. since we can now get relatively inexpensive flights from here in Turkey. I've added your blog to my following list too. Cheers!

Betty wrote 3 months ago:

Saw your interview on twitter. Wow, what an amazing journey you and your family are living.

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