Can You Buy a Good Life in Tbilisi With $500 as a Foreign Expat?

A time ago I did an experiment - counted our (two persons and two cats) daily expenses for a month to find out that our monthly expenses have been at about USD 1,800 for that month. You can see my findings with detailed positions in this article: Cost of Living in Tbilisi (Republic of Georgia).

I have counted for a few more times - and very often the amount we spend per month in Georgia is more or less the same. From my side I should add we travel a lot across the country and spend many evenings at the fancy Tbilisi restaurants. My spending habits have helped me to build a pretty popular blog about food and travels in Georgia

As my blog gets older, and hopefully more mature, it gets more visits (in December it set a new milestone - about 70,000 users) and more questions on contact form. Just recently I got an interesting question from a solo female expat from Dubai, UAE - wandering could she have a decent life in Tbilisi with $500 per month if se decided to move here.

Hi, i read your travel blog on Republic of Georgia. I am surprised to know one needs around 1,000 to 2,000 dollars to live here. Is that US dollars?

I was going to move to Georgia from totally inflated Dubai because i thought it would be much cheaper to live there. I was calculating if i get a decent apartment not in City Center but little outside but in good location for around 300 Dollars and then pay bills which are not much and i got 2 cats their food and little traveling, cooking at home and we dont entertain much, then i can survive in 500 US dollars? Am i dreaming.

I want to live a humble not high fi but good life in Georgia. I am going to eventually move their permanently and perhaps find some job or start some small business. Are the laws to start small food vendor business easy. Here in Dubai it is extremely difficult. Kindly let me know and if you tell me how safe is the place for a single lady to live in Tbilisi? How are the people there and is it pet friendly place. Is it good to Muslims? Thanks a lot.

Seems there is a trend or at least a minor expat re-routing from United Arab Emirates to Georgia. 

Now, I felt a bit confused and didn't know what to answer at first, so I decided to give it a free flow in an e-mail reply:

Sure you can have a decent live in Tbilisi by $500, most of the Georgians live on $500 or less. See: average salary in Georgia. Speaking of quality of life - it depends. 

At start you could make it fun and cheap, but latter I would suggest to raise your minimum, but hey it all depends. Yes you can get a cheaper flat in the suburbs for about $200 or even less. And yes you can afford pretty decent living on the rest in Tbilisi. It will involve public transport, see: How to Get around in Tbilisi by Taxify (Taxi Mobile Application),  less travels across the country, and at the end you might end wandering - why did you move to the suburbs in Tbilisi.

Sure you can survive with $500

It's complicated for me to answer, by not knowing your requirements.

Basically it might be tricky with food permits in Georgia, but I believe easier than in Dubai - thus, I don't know for sure, haven't never tried to open a food store here :)

For the single lady part and Muslim. I believe it is safe for solo female. I doubt there are problems being a Muslim, as long as you pay respect to Georgian traditions I believe it's fine. 

About pets - we are pet owners, we have two cats, as they live in the apartment, we haven't faced any problems. There are some pet clinics here, see: Veterinary Clinic Natia Beridze in Tbilisi, but sometimes its hard to get specific cat food.
Sorry for giving such fuzzy answers.

To make my "investigation" more realistic I contacted two other female expats and asked could they give me their thoughts on living in Georgia with $500/mo. I got reply from Michelle:

Hi, short answer is yes and I definitely do. However, this totally depends on lifestyle! I live in an unmodern studio flat downtown for $200 USD and cook 70% of my meals and shop 50% from produce vendors on the street, don't eat meat, not fancy tastes, etc. I rarely go to bars. Someone could find a room in a shared flat (nicer) for $150-$200. 

How about you, do you think it's possible to buy a good life for a $500/mo in Tbilisi? Leave a comment!