You’ve probably never heard of it — and that’s understandable. Sakartvelo, also known as Georgia, is a small, former Soviet nation in the the Caucasus. Nestled between Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey, it’s a place with a lot of history, yet few people would be able to tell you anything about it.
In September I’ll be moving there.
The question: Why?
It’s a simple question with multiple answers. The first being I want to leave the United Kingdom (again). My first attempt to leave the UK before Brexit was a success, however it wouldn’t be until a year later that the UK officially left the EU. Unfortunately due to COVID I was stuck in the UK during that time.
Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines. These are places I lived in during that year. I never felt unsafe, or unwelcome, or like I shouldn’t be there. In fact my experience was the opposite. People wanted to know where I was from, what football team I supported, where I’ve been, where I’m going, and they were always happy to tell me about the people in their country and their culture. I’ve been invited to eat with people and their families, I’ve been invited to villages, I’ve been treated like a guest everywhere I’ve been.
No person visiting the United Kingdom will ever experience the same from British people. If you’re in the UK and you’re not white, people will question why you’re here, but not because they’re curious. If you’re in the UK and you’re white but you’re speaking a different language, people will silently (or not so silently) judge you.
Both the tabloids and the government have done an excellent job at pitting British people against minorities. Refugees with their lungs full of water turn up on our shores and before they can even get dry they’re labelled as migrants who need to be sent back. People come to the UK for a life in a country where they can feel safe. Dealing with a bunch of racist dickheads is nothing compared to what they were forced to escape from. Yet it’s still far from the basic humanity they deserve.
I left a hateful country, I experienced a wealth of love and friendship overseas, and then I came back to the same hateful country. It’s a mistake I deeply regret, and I won’t be coming back. That’s the sad cold hard truth.
The second answer is Georgia allows British people (and citizens of 92 other countries) to visit Georgia for a whole year without a visa. You can live and work in Georgia for 365 days, leave, then come back and get a stamp in your passport allowing you to stay for another year. Right now that’s exactly what I need. A country that is accepting of immigration where I can live while the world recovers from COVID-19. I can’t travel the world right now, but I can travel Georgia.
Third and lastly, Georgia is everything I’m looking for in a home base. It’s stunningly beautiful, the people treat guests as if they’re a gift from God, rent is super cheap, the food is super cheap (and delicious!), there’s very little bureaucracy, it has a very interesting history, and it’s still not yet completely spoiled by tourism.
It’s not perfect. There are plenty of problems with Georgia, but I’m not seeking perfection. I’m looking for a fresh start in a place where I can call home.
September cannot come soon enough.