Last updated on Jan 23, 2023
Summary: People describe Almaty, Kazakhstan as a vibrant city with a unique mix of modern and traditional culture. Expats love the city's stunning mountain views, its vibrant nightlife, and its diverse range of restaurants and cafes. The weather in Almaty is generally mild, with temperatures ranging from -4°F in the winter to 86°F in the summer. The average cost of living for an expat is around $1,500 per month. The cost of a one bedroom apartment is around $500 per month, while a two bedroom apartment can cost up to $800 per month. The approximate population of Almaty is 1.8 million people.
Is the cost of living in Almaty high?
We asked people about the cost of living in Almaty, they wrote:
"The cost of living in Almaty is "Euro light". For example, American groceries and fruits and vegetable out of season can be very expensive. However, there is always an abundance of season produce that is extremely inexpensive. Gas is very cheap. Buying a car can be expensive. Household items, clothing, and public transportation is far less expensive than Western prices. Housing can be expensive closer to downtown, but in the outlying areas of the city, all with excellent public transportation, homes and nice apartments are much more reasonably prices, and well below Western prices," said another expat in living in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
What are the visa & residency requirements in Almaty?
"Kazakhstan requires a visa for foreigners. Work visas can be obtained through employers. Travel visa for Americans are good for 30 days. The visa process can be quite arduous, and many foreigners do a visa run to the border with Kyrgyzstan, which is quick and cheap," remarked another expat in Almaty.
Why do people move to Almaty?
When we asked people why foreigners move to Almaty, they responded:
"Foreigners move to Almaty for careers in banking, commerce, oil, and education. The breathtaking mountains and easy access to nature, along with four glorious seasons and many Western conveniences, cultural events, and green spaces make it an ideal city for families," said another expat in living in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
What do I need to know about living in Almaty?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Almaty, they said:
"Make sure they are well paid Almaty is expensive more than London or Amsterdam and much more than US cities. Have good medical insurrance you need to be flown out for almost anything. Only come if you like out door activities, skiing, walking, there is limited cultual activity though what there ia is more accessible than other cities in the world. Opera and ballet is inexpensive. There are several art galleries and many up and coming artisits. Buy the biggest stongest car you can afford, land cruiser or similar the traffic is deadly, don't take the local gypsy cabs unregulated cars which pick up people, they are very dangerous. Take great care crossing the road. Bring as much of everything that you can, it is probably available here but you won't like the price, lack of choice or quality," said another expat in Almaty.
How do I meet people in Almaty?
When we asked people living in Almaty about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:
"Almaty International Women's Group despite the name it is open to both men and women. They have a guide, lots of activities and meet every Wednesday in the Ankara Intercontinental Hotel, 10.30 to 12.00 Otherwise expat bars Mad Murphy's Dostyk Avenue very well known," explained one expat living in Almaty.
What is life like in Almaty?
When we asked people living in Almaty what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:
"I belong to the marries group and really don't know any single people here so I can't judge. The married lot socialise with each other, dinner's parties, trips to the mountains and places of interest. There always seems plenty going on. Many of the employed people spend a lot of time travelling within the country, its 2000KM to the capital Astana from Almaty and 3,000 to the Caspian. So they tend to want quiet weekends," remarked another in Almaty.
Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Almaty accepting of differences?
"It's generally very relaxed. There is no dress code the women in summer wear very revealing clothes. Generally people are smartly dressed only the expats wear shorts in town. I have never seen homosexuals openly walking hand in hand as in Europe so I have the impression this is not tolerated, nor people kissing on the streets, so I assume its not done," explained one expat living in Almaty.
What are the schools in Almaty like?
"The school is mostly local as the international community has moved to Astana. This is a problem for every 'international' school in Almaty. Quality Schools International system of learning / teaching is something to get used to (mastery education). Creativity is very low among teachers and this shows in art classes, or classes for the elementary children. The budget of the school is never published and the tuition money are not reflected in the quality of the staff or of the school. The school lacks guidance counselor for the elementary school, and this translates in issues being 'solved' through the principal who is not necessarily trained adequately," said another expat in Almaty with children at Almaty International School, QSI (Quality Schools International) .
About the Author
Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.