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Old 28th December 2009, 15:02
Outback Outback is offline
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Americans living in Ukraine?

This is for all those Americans that married a Ukrainian and have chosen or been coaxed into living in Ukraine for over a year.

My wife and I have been married for 2 1/2 years and live in South Carolina, USA. We both have good jobs, secure finances, a nice house, and a baby on the way. We live a moderate lifestyle for Americans. The only debt we have is the mortgage and we live within our means. However, from day 1 she's constantly harped on how much more wonderful Ukraine is with it's carefree lifestyle, devotion to family, and low cost of living. Yes we know the pay is abyssmal compared to here, but things are a lot less expensive as well.

She considers American doctors incompetent if they can't answer a question or make a simple mistake. American doctors are nothing without their fancy gadgets and money she says. In Ukraine the medicine is free aside from bribes. She's stunned that her employer will only give her a few weeks off for maternity leave. She says in Ukraine the mother gets $1000 just for having the baby, 3 years paid leave, and up to 3 more years unpaid leave.

She says the education system in American can't compare to Ukraine. In Ukraine the students are actually expected to learn the material and write essays whereas most tests in America are multiple choice. She was shocked that she was able to take a 3 month opthalmalic medical assistent course at a technical college and get a job working with an opthalmologist. Her coworker does the same thing as she does and was hired right from a coffee shop, no degree needed. In Ukraine it'd take years to acquire enough knowledge to merit working in that office.

She says we could sell our house for around $100k and since a decent house in Ukraine only costs a few thousand dollars we could get a virtual mansion. I highly doubt houses are so cheap there as her brother just bought a very used car for $3000. Surely a house is much more expensive than a car.

When i bring up the fact that far more Ukrainians live in America than Americans live in Ukraine, she says those are greedy Ukrainians who only care about money and material items. Yet then she runs off to the store and spends thousands on fancy home decorations and gardening paraphenilia.

My theory is that since she has been so sheltered by her family and education system that she never had to live much in the real world in Ukraine. She's never paid a bill, bought a house or car, never really had to deal with the government aside from getting her visa to come here.

So tell me folks, before i sell all our "frivolous American belongings" and move to Ukraine, is Ukraine really the rumored land of milk and honey that America is supposed to be? Or are there far more problems which force Ukrainians out of the country? If it matters, she's from the small town of Khotyn near Chernivtsi.

Thanks ahead of time for any insight that you can provide.
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Old 28th December 2009, 23:55
stepanstas stepanstas is offline
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Well, I do not fit who you asked to answer this question but I was born in Ukraine and I do visit it year after year so I can compare a few things to the American lifestyle.

I will be a bit critical because this is a major decision in your life and I want to be honest.

Doctors: I agree to some extent. For major operations, yes the US is far more advanced, but for basic operations and other visits, yes a simple bribe (and in many cases today not even that) it is easier. Put it this way. My dad recently had a head surgery. It took him years of going to his doctor, him saying its fine, him saying its not fine, him saying to wait until the problem goes away to get examined, him saying the exam shows nothing wrong, waiting until the problem comes back, him saying something will need to happen, him taking pills, him getting more exams, him getting a referral, that doctor doing nothing but taking money (luckily we have insurance, but thousands of dollars that doctor alone), after his insured visits ran out he said no surgery is required, getting referrals to another doctor, finally getting the surgery after more exams, being told there will be no more problems, the problem coming back, another surgery. Whew, I'm done. On more than one occasion he's said he should have just done it in Ukraine. Now while you may not want to trust Ukraine with every operation, you have top institutions in Europe and they are just a short plane ride away just like in the USA.

I think she is going too far with maternity leave. Europe has a better record for leave and vacations but 3 years, thats dream land. I can't vouch for what it actually is but I do know this one case (its probably one in thousands) but this lady went for leave, he got bribed, hired a new lady and no more job. $1000 just for having the baby? On average I think thats 2 or more months pay.

Education: No argument, she is correct. Much tougher in Ukraine.

House: Nooo. Mansion? A really really really nice house in Ukraine in a major city could cost a million dollars. Condos in a major city in a nice area for 2 br or so could cost $50k +. Major sales in Ukraine (house, car) are all done in USD and they don't come as cheap as you think.

Cost of living being cheaper: Depends. I mean a trolly ticket costs 1 hrv and a bus ride 1.50. Thats like a 7th of a dollar. Food, most is cheap. Bread 2.50 (like 25 cents). But if you want to buy technology, you are buying using international prices. I know a doctor that had to finance a purchase of a dishwasher.

Now listen, I love Ukraine, I still really want to move back there. Living is just different. You feel like there is more compassion. You get to love some things. Even things that are dysfunctional, you love them. Do I recommend you move there? Yes. I suggest however you look for some houses and jobs first, then do some math. Did you ever visit Ukraine?
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Old 29th December 2009, 14:16
Outback Outback is offline
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Thanks for the reply. I shouldn't have said the post was just for Americans who are living in Ukraine. Your post provided excellent information.

I have been to Ukraine 3 times for 2 weeks each time. The first time i stayed with a family i knew while i got to know my now wife. The second time we stayed in a hotel in Chernivtsi. The third time we stayed in her parents house in Khotyn.

From what i observed, most of the regions we visited were simple towns much like in South Carolina, aside from the abundance of cars. Most people seemed happy when they were with friends and family but alone they seemed troubled. My wife says that they're concentrating on their own problems and trying to figure out how to make their lives better. It seems like it would be particularly difficult for older people to struggle to get by, but apparently they have learned to adapt. It broke my heart to see 70 yr old women carrying water buckets along a dirty rocky path.
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Old 30th December 2009, 01:16
stepanstas stepanstas is offline
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Yes, but that image is typical in Ukraine. Our grandmothers are in general hard workers. Its not so much a need for the money, even though they say they need it, they just love work. They could not handle sitting at home doing nothing and the younger generation is either at work or left. So most grandmothers are at markets and they enjoy that time talking with other babushkas. As far as carrying water, thats tougher to see. I would usually expect someone to get water for her but they also like to be very independent. So it just works that way.

You are correct about them learning to adapt. Some get very good pensions, especially war veterans. Its those that never had a real job (i.e. working at markets) that might struggle some. Gas I would say is the biggest problem as far as bills.

I think your wife is correct with that statement. Look, I think that in general people get by fine but they have a constant desire to do better, a little bit more extreme than in the US.

Keep us posted on how everything works out.
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Old 13th January 2010, 19:57
AkMike AkMike is offline
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I just returned after another 45 day stay. I have plans on retireing there for at least part of the year.. Reverst snowbirds maybe? I agree with what Stepanstas says about the economy in his/ her first post.
I am considering having a home built in a village close to Cherkasy on the Dnieper. The total cost is going to be about $100,000 USD for a 2500 sq ft home. Nothing real fancy either.
Their education system is much better that the US.
The bus tickets just hit 1.75 hyrn. while I was there too. It's 2.00 in Kyiv.

For all it's faults Ukraine still has some of the best people in the world and that is what makes it so special IMO.
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Old 14th January 2010, 10:40
Yaroslav Yaroslav is offline
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Well, thank you so much for your nice words about Ukraine guys but I would like to express a little bit different point of view. I agree, Ukraine is a beautiful country with many good people living in but the truth is that Ukraine is really not the land of milk and honey and there are many problems in Ukraine.

I was born and lived in Ukraine almost all of my life but I've been travelling to the US and Western Europe many times because of business. And let me tell you that the main reason young people would like to move to another country is salary. My colleagues earn several times more than I doing the same job working at the same company but in a different office. Please also be advised that law system does not work in Ukraine the way it works in the US. Bribing in Ukraine is a common thing. I should also mention the political situation but will not :-)

Anyway the point is that if you plan to work in Ukraine you would probably not be able to earn as much money as you did in the US.

Ok, hope this helps,
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Old 14th January 2010, 16:46
AkMike AkMike is offline
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I think that anyone who's spent any time at all knows of the problems. No it's not nirvana and it's going to take alot of time and effort for it to reach western style standards. But I fear it'll lose some of it's charm and character. But that is part of the price.
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