A Bitcoiner’s Guide to Georgia!
Bitcoiner will love Georgia: Bitcoin and Georgia is the perfect match!
Congratulations! You’ve been dollar-cost averaging into Bitcoin for a while now, and the recent price appreciation has given you options you’ve never had before. Options like buying property outright instead of financing, traveling the world, maybe even moving to one of those exotic locations you find along the way!
If you are anything like me, you are still a little hesitant to spend a lot of your new wealth on a house when the market prices are hitting record highs and every neighborhood seems overbought. Nowhere is this more true than large cities across Europe and North America. You definitely need to watch the movie “The Big Short” to get a sense of that. You definitely don’t want to live in the financial centers of the world in the next crash.
In addition, you are very excited for the future of Bitcoin and you want give back a little, and help build something amazing?! You’ve heard about El Salvador, but you’re not ready to accept all the sacrifices you’d have to in order to live there. Well, I’ve got an incredible surprise for you, and it’s called Georgia!
The Country of Georgia in the Caucasus
Georgia is a small country, with a population of approximately 4 million people. Roughly a quarter live in the capital, Tbilisi. It’s located on the Black Sea, between Turkey and Russia, and is physically bordered by two huge mountain ranges which protect it from cold winter winds from the north and hot summer winds from the south. With a climate a lot like Northern Italy, Georgia is a beautiful and comfortable place to live, year-round.
You like wine? Great, because wine was invented in Georgia. You like beautiful nature? In winter you can ski in the mountains and in summer you can swim at the black sea. You can hike all year long. Georgians can party and are incredibly hospitable. I swear you have to try the local food: Badridschani, Khinkali, Khachapuri, Schaschlik, Tschurtschchela or Shoti. Sounds a bit strange but is incredibly delicious.
But what makes it special from a Bitcoiner’s perspective?
More than a few things, actually:
If you’ve been in Bitcoin for a while, you might remember the name Bitfury. Back in 2011, they made waves in Georgia by setting up a huge mining operation. What they did was significant, not only because they were so early to the game, but because they did so in cooperation with the local government. Tbilisi established a special industrial trade zone and Bitfury began it’s operations there and quickly grew. Here are two good articles on why Georgia is an attractive location for Bitcoiner:
Biggest Bitcoin data centre located in Georgia Tbilisi opens Free Industrial Zone
Georgia is unveiling a Free Industrial Zone in capital Tbilisi, and the opening of the biggest Bitcoin data centre by…
How The Tiny Nation Of Georgia Became A Bitcoin Behemoth
Since long before anyone can remember, the big, fertile slopes of the Alazani Valley in eastern Georgia have been…
It was estimated in 2017 that the firm had the third-largest bitcoin mining operation in the world, behind Bitmain and F2Pool. While they’ve since moved on to a more global mission, their legacy continues here as Georgia had ‘the Bitcoin conversation’ on a national stage only a few years after the Genesis block! Today, for all the reasons you can read about that topic in this report (“Bitcoin for Governments with the example of Georgia”) in the Bitcoin Magazine:
Georgia is light-years ahead of other countries in terms of awareness and adoption. There is also a growing movement here (big news coming) to make Bitcoin a legal tender, opening up many possibilities and ensuring Georgia’s future is very bright.
So if you find yourself thinking, “I’d like to move there and help build that future, but I don’t know where to start!” don’t worry. Here’s all the information you need to know:
Step One: Planning Before You Move to Georgia
Georgia is one of only a few countries in the world where citizens of almost any nation can visit FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR without any special paperwork. Additionally, Georgia doesn’t have a restriction on resetting your visa, so you can leave the country for a day, and return for ANOTHER FULL YEAR. Crazy, right? They love tourists and the money they spend! But should you decide to make it official, getting residency is pretty easy, and options for investors start at $100,000 (sounds better than the 3 Bitcoins in El Salvador, or?).
In Georgia you need the local currency (Lari). It is constantly depreciating, which makes goods and services cheaper every year if you keep your sats safe or earn your money on the Internet in euros or dollars.
You can also get residency if you get a job here or if you study here. Citizenship, if that is your ultimate goal, is also a pretty straightforward process. Pick up some language skills (easier than it looks, trust me) and put in the time. Georgia is also one of the few countries to offer Nationalization through marriage for all you Romeo’s and Juliet’s. Still, like traveling to any foreign country, it is best to prepare some paperwork before leaving home to make the process of applying for either residency or citizenship a lot smoother. You are going to want apostilled copies of your birth documents, national identification, educational degrees and certificates (if studying or working), and health insurance info (check with your provider first to verify international coverage, or add that option). It’s not a bad idea to get a few extra certified copies, just in case. If you plan to hop through a few countries on your way, you might find these websites helpful:
- Passport Index
- Travel Off Path
- Covid Travel Tracker
- And, of course, check for your existing government embassy or official webpage (here’s the US Embassy page for Georgia)
Step Two: Logistics and transportation in Georgia
A site I have found very helpful for travel options is Rome2Rio. Of course, you’ll want to have a few other links handy, like the Hotels.com gift card redemption page and the Bitrefill page for Hotels.com gift cards — a very powerful combination!
A little advice for those of you who are doing this sort of thing for the first time: it’s nice to save money on hotels in affordable countries, but maybe stick with a well-known brand for your first night or two in an unfamiliar place. Get an airport transfer to avoid the hassle of taxi drivers with poor English skills and have a nice rest when you land. Air travel is hell these days and you’ll want a little breathing room before adventuring off to find that cute hostel on the back streets that is probably going to be hard to find. Check out this quick video for higher-end hotel recommendations in Tbilisi.
You’ll also find Tbilisi to be more accommodating than many larger cities in the Americas and Europe. You’ll want to get the Bolt App for taxi service and the Wolt App for food delivery. Both are unfairly cheap and Wolt will get you basically anything from any store — groceries, tools, electronics, whatever. Set these up before you land and you’ll be glad you did. A ride (30min) from the train station to my accommodation in downtown Tbilisi cost me 16 lari (=5$).
If you plan to buy a car (probably more useful outside of the cities than within, since Bolt is fast and actually cheaper than owning unless you drive a lot) you’ll want to prepare a bit. All vehicles in Georgia are imported, since there is no local manufacturer, and as a result they’re usually a little more expensive than you would expect if you were buying elsewhere.
To begin with, check MyAuto and Auto.ge. Just remember, BUYER BEWARE! There are many scams, totaled cars, cars with money due at customs, etc. Be prepared to spend a lot of time researching and DON’T TRUST, VERIFY! Always ask for a VIN and look it up. Get that CarFax, and check the insurance rates and get a second opinion. Finally, when you have the car, you’ll go here or better here to register it and get a tag. You’ll need to go WITH THE OWNER (SELLER). First, you’ll need to pay the license transfer fees and customs (if there is a customs balance). Another person will actually transfer the registration and pick out a license plate if it is newly imported. If the vehicle was already registered in Georgia, you’ll be swapping plates, so be sure to bring the old ones with you. Finally, you exit the building, go across the parking lot on the left, go up the stairs, and wait beside the row of windows. Here they’ll give you the registration card and you’re finished!
A few notes: right-hand drivetrains are still legal to buy and drive here, but will likely be outlawed in the future (big push for that), so be aware before buying one (even though they are cheaper). When you are ready to buy, meet the seller at either the main Tegeta Motors or another dealership with a shop, and then pay about 60GEL (~$20) for an inspection. Maybe take a translator.
Step Three: Finances and Banks in Georgia
Until hyperbitcoinization is upon us, you might find it helpful to set up accounts at legacy financial institutions. And that is remarkably easy to do as a foreigner in Georgia. While some countries won’t even let a non-resident open accounts, all you need in Georgia is proof of income. Usually this can come in the form of Bank Statements (they might want up to six months) and a resonable explanation for why you need the account. I said it would make it easier to pay Georgian bills, and that worked just fine.
If you don’t have a steady source of (non-georgian) income, then you’ll need a certain amount of money in the bank to support yourself. There aren’t any amounts written in stone, the banks basically have discretion over whether to allow service to you or not. They are evaluating you as a credit risk when you apply (though they don’t care about credit bureau scores from the US or the Schufa in Germany). Essentially, you’ll end up chatting with a branch manager who will eyeball you and make a decision. The process may take a day or two, but if you jump through enough hoops, they’ll usually give you an account.
I prefer Liberty Bank, they were easy to work with in this regard. Liberty Bank is also preferred from a Bitcoiner perspective, because they have a partnership with a service called eMoney, which is sort of like an exchange wallet that can pair with your checking account, with some bill pay features built-in. In practice, I can move Bitcoin into to eMoney, sell, transfer to Liberty Bank and use that money on my debit card in less than an hour if the blocks are timely. I also like CoinMania, a local exchange that you can link up to your Georgian account. Good to have redundancy!
There is also a home-grown ATM service (alled BitXChange, run by a super-smart OG. There are a couple of other ATM companies as well, and the machines are EVERYWHERE. They all ask for your phone number though (Georgia requires passports to buy a SIM), so use a service like SMS4Sats to get the authorization code and alerts.
New study: Tbilisi tops international cities by Bitcoin ATMs per $10 billion GDP
The Georgian capital city of Tbilisi has the most number of Bitcoin ATMs in the world per $10 billion local GDP, says a…
Sadly, until Bitcoin is made a legal tender here, you’ll need to prepare to make any legal contract payable in Lari, the local currency. It can be a pain to move a lot of money in, if you want to buy property, for example, but slow and steady wins the race. (We are already working on it.) ;)
Step Four: A More Permanent Home in Georgia
If there is one thing I enjoy as much as stacking sats, it’s window shopping for houses to spend those sats on (after you hit your personal goals, of course). And there are some incredible deals to be found in Georgia. Consider this property on more than a hectare (2 and 1/2 acres) with two houses (four bedroom) and 350 mature hazelnut and fruit trees for ~$17,000. Might not be your speed, but you have to admit, that’s a steal. You have read the book “The Sovereign Individual”? As you can see, Georgia is the place to be: The climate is perfect to grow vegetables and fruits and have your peace on your property.
And if you are looking for something a little more impressive, try this beast, a tidy ski lodge with 12 individual rooms and a whole lot of extras for $550,000. Tough to beat! Or slip into this ridiculous, luxury penthouse in the heart of the Old District for less than 2 mil. If you want to rent, cheap places abound! Try this website. My favorite districts (neighborhoods) are Vake and Saburtalo in Tbilisi, but elsewhere is cheaper.
Before you pull the trigger on any of these tempting estates, you’ll want to learn a bit about the legal process for buying property as a foreigner. This website has some good info, and you will also find most real estate agents and lawyers speak fluent English and are happy to help.
Conclusion about Georgia: Bitcoin Citadel paradise
Living in Georgia as a Bitcoin is far easier than you might imagine, and your sats go a lot further here than most places. You can come check things out pretty much indefinitely without paperwork as long as your Passport is valid. The business culture is welcoming (Georgia ranks 12th in economic freedom index), you can get by easily only speaking English (in the cities), and opportunities to build or buy an incredible citadel of your own are everywhere you look.
You want to buy an apartment with sea view in the Las Vegas on the Black Sea (“Batumi”)? No problem. You want to live in the big city of Tbilisi or buy your own paradise in the countryside? The agony of choice is yours. In the meantime, you can live like a king on $1000 a month.
If our efforts to get Bitcoin accepted as legal tender are successful, it will be that much easier. Unlike Central America, there is already a well established civil infrastructure here, and it seems like the local Bitcoiner scene grows by the day. You will not have culture shock (or just a little).
Come join us, and help make history in the beautiful country of georgia!
Why Georgia is the place to be for Bitcoiner (summary):
+ very low cost of living or look here
+ no obligation to register
+ visa-free for stays of less than 360 days/year
+ seizure-proof bank accounts
+ Master-/Visa & credits without credit checks
+ Banking without proof of address
+ no (CRS-)financial data exchange with other countries
+ very tax friendly
+ easy to setup a company
+ the delicious food is grown locally
+ European climate
+ no GEZ (for german readers)
+ crypto & cash friendly
+ nameless SIM cards
+ cheapest real estate in Europe
+ less crime than e.g. in Germany (numbeo)
+ not in EU & NATO — but European lifestyle
+ foreigner friendly (we bring money into the country)
+ Good GINI index for wealth and income distribution
+ No/low corruption and high transparency (world role model)
+ Modern & digital banks with multi-currency accounts
+ Cheap data volume 4g or LTE (approx. 35 Lari/mo unlimited internet)
+ Train service between Tbilisi and Batumi is very modern (5h ride)
+ Mining? One of the lowest electricity costs in the world
and many more reason…. Can we welcome you to Georgia?
You wanna help the project or you want to learn more about Bitcoin in Georgia?