The question of where to go was quickly resolved. Tashkent was the place of our relocation, and now it is our place of residence.
For many of my acquaintances from Russia the perception of Uzbekistan is based on stereotypes, not the least of which was the mass migration of gastarbeiters (and the famous TV series).
Very few people knew what the country, and especially its capital, Tashkent, was really like. But we were lucky: for five years in a row, we went every year (except for 2020) to Tashkent for the EMBRAS summit and award (more about it at www.embras.world), which we founded together with our Uzbek partner - the company Person Hunters.
Now, three months after living in Tashkent, we want to share our impressions of the country and the city. Perhaps you will also be interested and become a participant in the EMBRAS Summit, which will be held on October 14, 2022.
I will use my presentation that I made at the relocation conference as the basis for my account of life in Tashkent. It is based on a model we developed based on the world's best practices for assessing well-being and forming the HR-brand of the region.
Tashkent is a very safe city. Here you will see police officers standing no more than 500 meters apart on all the key roads in the center of the city. They keep you safe in any weather - you get used to their presence very quickly. By the way, unlike the Moscow police they are not in the habit of checking your registration based on the fact that you do not look like an Uzbek 😊
Of course, in this city you can run into trouble, first of all cheating (you might have encountered it in Eastern countries like Egypt or Turkey). So you need to keep your ear to the ground and be careful. To avoid this, there are two ways: a demonstration of strength and superiority (as one of our good acquaintances, though it is not close to us), or vice versa, to earn their trust and enter a close circle. Then you will not only not be deceived, but on the contrary, you will be protected and helped in every possible way. Hospitality is in Uzbek blood. I haven't seen so much help and support in so many different issues, helpful advice for a long time.
If they know you, they will easily sell you food with a promise to "bring the money later". But to do that you have to become not a guest, but a resident. Get in tune with their rhythm and the specifics of life, and then trust will begin to build. It is very important in any sphere - in personal life and especially in business.
Another peculiarity of Uzbekistan as a Muslim country is special relationship with alcohol. It is not sold in a regular supermarket (only in special stores), often in restaurants it is not on the menu (but there are restaurants with alcohol and great bars). Alcohol consumption according to the figures of statistics is not insignificant, but it is not customary to do it publicly. Therefore to meet drunk people on the street (especially violent) - it is impossible. And this is another plus in favor of safety.
Tashkent is a comfortable city to live in. Short distances that are covered not for the usual hour for a Muscovite, but for 15-30 minutes, most often by cab, because it is very affordable here. In the city is convenient to walk to your desired location, in the center of the large trees create shade (but it does not help in the hottest season, at this time is better on the street for a long time). In general, the city is very green, especially in the center (although old-timers constantly complain that there used to be even more green).
The city has a large number of fountains (important for a hot climate), beautiful, landscaped parks, there are modern playgrounds (most often they are not in the yards, but it is in the parks, in large public areas). There are lined bicycle lanes, but there are few cyclists - while it is not fashionable and unsafe - because of the driving style of motorists.
This is one of the biggest problems of the city, which is pointed out by the relocaters (incidentally, the President also recently drove around Tashkent for half an hour and was horrified). The traffic is quite chaotic, with frequent violations of the rules. That is why it is important to be careful on crosswalks and not to relax (and to teach children to do so). My personal pain is the lack of seatbelts on the back seat (in the front seat is now mandatory, introduced fines, and before you could even hurt the driver, if you buckled up). Unfortunately, it's impossible to book a cab with a child seat, and even your own seat or booster seat you can't buckle up. For here it is considered cool to cover the back seat with different - sometimes homemade covers - for convenience and beauty, but they also hide the belts under them. I hope that one day this issue (as well as the quality of traffic) will be solved.
In terms of urban planning and habits of a "Muscovite", the city is planned with soul, very convenient and comfortable (it was planned by Muscovites - first after coming here in XIX century, then after the earthquake in 1966).
The ecology in the city is not bad, either there are less cars or the general level of pollution is lower. But we live in an old house, generally enclosed by trees on all sides, with birds chirping in the branches and squirrels jumping around. There are cherries, strawberries, and many more flowers growing around the house.
By the way, there are mayns - Afghan starlings - very cheeky birds. They like to settle in the hoods. The locals are struggling with this without much sympathy for nature (but the newcomers at least let them hatch their eggs before they get rid of the nest).
In terms of cleanliness: the city is comparable to other metropolitan areas and in some ways even cleaner. For me, at least, cleaner than New York with its bags of trash in the center or Buenos Aires.
Particularly striking are the local trash cans: there are special people who manage it (they have a special "booth" at the trash can). In addition they carefully sort the trash you bring, and our house has an ennobled area with at least three dozen potted flowers and perfect cleanliness. There are also "recycling hunters" around the city, collecting what can be recycled. Such is the peculiarity of the cyclical economy here.
Services and governance
About five years ago, the country chose a new path after the change of president. From that moment, active economic growth and the active development of the system of government began.
Of course, the atavisms of the previous period of the state's existence remain. For example you have to register the IMEI of your telephone (if you stay more than 30 days), that is how the import of devices into the country is controlled. The procedure is painful, you have to "walk around". I managed to do it on the third try.
The level of automation of government services at the moment is lower than in Russia (and especially in Moscow). But it is already possible to open an IE online. The country has chosen the digital path of development of the management system. So we are waiting for improvements.
In the city mandatory registration of residence (now more than 15 days, and back in March was - 3 days). But this is easily done by landlords. Registration is done for six months, and there is one plus - you don't need to leave the country to extend it. You just have to come again, pay a small fee and prolong it.
As for government agencies: we have not come into close contact with them yet, but, of course, it's an eastern country. Some cases are leisurely, but you can go through the fast track with acquaintance. On the other hand, at customs, my husband processed the shipment fairly quickly and without introductions, he was treated very politely and helped.
One of the sore spots of life in Uzbekistan is the drain of qualified personnel. It has affected many areas, including health care. Now there is a particularly rapid development of medicine - many commercial clinics are opening. As in many other spheres, recommendations are very important: in general, it's a special way of life in Uzbekistan. You locals will always give you the contacts of reliable and trusted people: dentists, manicurists, cosmetologists, etc.. Take it for sure - it will come in handy in the future. Now I myself am sharing those services that I was able to try and liked.
In medicine, I've also been able to find some pretty good doctors by recommendation, but I keep access to my doctors online. Supplementing local medicine with a second opinion through telemedicine is a good way to go.
I would also note that there is an excellent group on Facebook called "Doctors of Tashkent", which is actively used by local residents. And through telegram chats - general relocated, specialized (children's or women's), through the chats of mothers - you can always find doctors by recommendation. And, of course, through local friends and acquaintances.
As for the opportunity to maintain their health, there are all possibilities for this
Food: incredibly delicious fruits and vegetables, there are stores for vegans (you can find there a lot of familiar healthy foods). Locals prefer red meat - beef and lamb, they are very good in quality. It is difficult to find an idea and rabbit. There are rivers and local fish, which is also very tasty. In general, a HALF table is guaranteed for you.
Sports: there are parks for running, running culture is actively developing, there are fitness clubs, there is yoga and Pilates, there is even its own "Race of Heroes". For many popular sports - even ice skating, because there's a big ice palace - you'll find opportunities to practice. Although there is still room to grow, for example, our acquaintances have not yet found capoeira classes. Buying sports equipment is not always easy and more expensive than in Russia, so either bring it from trips or order it through different marketplaces. There's also a community of interest here, and you can always find like-minded people and the recommendations you need.
Vacations. This is a special love of mine in Tashkent. Unlike Moscow, there is no "hardcore" here in terms of work. Of course, there are workaholics and they "gravitate" to each other, but on the whole, there is a much more benevolent and understanding attitude to personal life. There is no speed usual for Muscovites here, everything is done "when it should be done". So slow down, exhale and live.
Weather. One of the cool aspects of life in Tashkent is that there is plenty of sunshine and 6 months of summer. Yes, there is a dangerous period in the summertime - chillia - from about mid-June to mid-August. It is high (over plus 40) temperatures with no rain and no wind. So you need special rules of safe behavior: do not walk in the heat, dress comfortably, drink more water, do not drink alcohol and coffee. And, of course, air conditioners are very helpful. We, however, decided not to live this experience in the first season and went to the sea. By the way, when you call a cab - put an extra tick to be sure there was air conditioning. It is not always turned on to save money. All the rest of the time it is comfortable and warm in the city. So be prepared to expand your summer closet - it will definitely come in handy here.
The city and the country have everything you need for quality of life. Yes, a lot of things need to be developed, but everything necessary for comfortable life is already there.
We remember how 4-5 years ago there were problems with Internet (we couldn't even make a call with a client). Now Internet with normal speed is available everywhere, and we work very well remotely with other countries.
Tashkent has a very beautiful subway - I recommend using it at least sometimes. I get a great aesthetic pleasure from the design of the stations. I will not say anything about buses - cabs are so accessible here that it is the main way of getting around (after the subway and walking).
The country is actively developing domestic tourism: a huge number of excursions in the vicinity of Tashkent, both organized groups and with an individual guide. There is a high speed train "Afrosiab" to the main cities for tourists - Samarkand and Bukhara, soon it is planned to extend to Khiva. A separate plus for us is that the Uzbek Airlines airline company is actively developing. They fly to a large number of major cities and countries, including Europe and the United States. So that you won't be left without travel.
The hotel business is also on the rise. There has already appeared the first award in this sphere. Hotels are actively built: both chain hotels (still in minority), and mini hotels. Since Uzbeks are trade nation (Great Silk Road passed through the country), then since the legalization of business, it began to flourish. Certainly, quality of service in hotel and restaurant business is far from Moscow (but in Moscow it is much better than in many European cities). But the lack of standards is compensated by sincere desire to make the guest feel good.
With public education at the moment everything is bad - the outflow of teachers, low salaries. In general, the rule of the previous president did not pass without leaving a trace. And in addition to the decline in quality, the phenomenon of "exporting children" has emerged. Many people prefer to send their children abroad for higher education. The active development of the system of private schools and kindergartens contributes to this. Many private schools teach according to two programs - Russian and international, often in the 10th-11th grades the instruction is in English. In general in schools Russian as the basic language is accepted here (and there are even many state schools with the Russian program). But it is the international programs that are considered ideal. Therefore at the same time in Tashkent there is a huge number of foreign language schools, very well organized training for IELTS.
And if you do not want to send your child abroad, you have the opportunity to give him an excellent education in international universities in Tashkent. There are branches of a large number of international universities here - Westminster University, the University of Singapore, as well as universities from India, Korea, and of course Russia. At the cost of tuition in the world universities in Tashkent is much more accessible than in their branches in Europe or the U.S., and certainly more accessible than many universities in Moscow.
In general, Uzbekistan is a very young country: about 60% of its residents are young people, the average age of Tashkent residents is 32 years. Therefore, the field of education is also experiencing a great "boom", and I already know the cases of employment of excellent teachers and managers from the Russian education system in Tashkent.
Culture and Recreation
It turned out that there is an abundance of it in Tashkent. There are theaters - Bolshoi Theatre, Ilkhom, Drama Theatre, Conservatory and classical music concerts, Russian theaters often go on tour, great festivals are organized - jazz, electronic music etc. There are exhibition halls and museums, however modern art is lacking, but situation is changing due to new generation of youth - for example, we have plans to visit "Element" festival on the Aral Sea.
Raising children in Tashkent is easy: there is everything you need. You can find a nanny or a private kindergarten, developmental classes and playgrounds, game rooms and amusement parks, playgrounds and master classes, children's theaters and performances. This is one area where you will get almost everything you are used to in the big cities of Russia.
It's easy to rent an apartment in Tashkent, but take a realtor by recommendation (otherwise you'll end up like us - just an attendant who does nothing, just makes an appointment and stands nearby). Prices after the events of February have soared, but there is always a choice for every purse. You can rent a big private house in the mahalla (these are the name of individual neighborhoods with private houses) or a small apartment in the center, you can take an old stock or a new building. It's much more affordable to buy an apartment than in Moscow, but we haven't yet studied this question in detail and don't know how easy it is to buy an apartment for citizens of another country.
In Tashkent you can buy much of what we are used to. There are well developed chain stores and very well developed delivery service (even alcohol will be brought to you quickly). Markets are very popular - we actively use them ourselves, it's generally a special pleasure and experience. In general, you will not go hungry. But to dress fashionably will not be that easy: there are not many familiar global brands, often reselling things from AliExpress (but you can order directly from them), delivery from the Russian Marketplace works, there are Turkish brands and you can find good local brands. So I would recommend combining buying in Tashkent with bringing good things from trips (however, we did it in Moscow, too).
The financial system
In Tashkent, you can easily and quickly open cards in many banks (that's why tours for Visa or Mastercard are so popular). There are already good mobile applications from many banks. But there are still queues at branches and the system is not yet as efficient as in Russia. But there has definitely been a big breakthrough in three months, and banking and financial services are now in the forefront of development in the country. But everyone still keeps their money in dollars 😊
Income and work
Another - perhaps the most important area - is the opportunity to work and do business.
Uzbekistan is now the land of opportunity. The market is growing, salaries are rising (although they still lag far behind Moscow, but the overall cost of living here is a little lower). The need for good specialists is huge, and Russians are happily considered as potential employees. Yes, you won't get the kind of money you're used to in Russia if you work for hire. If you are bought in the capital, you can get a good (even very) relocation package. But if you come on your own, you already have to agree to the terms of the companies. But there is a rare opportunity here: to create systems from scratch, to apply your accumulated experience and learn new things.
It's not just about the specifics of the market. Uzbekistan is not developing as a "follower of Russia" - in many industries technologies from different countries are used, so you will also have a chance to learn something.
It is important to be ready to work in a new environment: there is a different type of culture of communication in teams and relations with managers. In most companies there is a strong culture of respect for managers and at the same time, nepotism. While in many companies managers (and not always managers) and the topic of leadership still need to grow up. The gap in the management system with Russia (and with developed countries, because Russia is already on par with them) is about 10 years. But the speed of introduction of the new is great, so in the next 3-5 years there is a chance to overcome this gap.
Doing business in Uzbekistan (as in Central Asia in general) is important in a different way than in the United States, Europe, or even Russia. You can't "swoop in and grab it," but you have to build relationships and invest in them. It is necessary and important to communicate with people here, to gain their trust. You have to "sell" a lot of things as an approach and then sell your solution. Yes, the market is much smaller in many areas than in Russia with its 140 million. But the market is growing, and if your goal is long-term development, it's worth it.
Now, of course, competition is growing, especially in the field of professional services. Many Russian companies - especially consulting companies - have rushed to conquer the Central Asian market. That is why we expect increased pressure on the market and, at the same time, its development. Just like it was in Russia in the 2000s.
By the way, the chance to live through the second millennium is very attractive for us: to see how many spheres are growing and developing and how modern technologies come and are introduced, to facilitate this and to create conditions for the growth of the economy in general.
I very much want to make Uzbekistan a country of opportunities for its citizens and residents so that the best professionals stay in the country or come to Tashkent to live and work with pleasure. And love for the country, the city and the people who create the unique color and life experience.