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“We’ve managed to fly somewhere five or six times in a little over a year”

Ilya. We moved in July 2018. We’ve already visited Minsk several times before, but the very idea of relocation came during our last visit on May holidays. I remember lying in the grass on the Svisloch embankment, amazing weather, we admired the city, and I told Maryam, ‘Let’s move to live here.’ That’s how we decided to try. I didn’t know much about the Belarusian IT then. When I shared the idea of moving with friends, I got a straightaway advise to check out EPAM, which I did. I ran a concurrent search for information about the experience of those who had moved to Minsk—found many similar and generally quite positive stories online, which further assured me of my decision.

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Maryam. It so happened that Ilya got an offer, and I still had none at the time. In St. Petersburg, I worked for major international companies, so I wanted to find something as interesting in the new city. One of such openings, Revenue Analyst, was at EPAM. We did a Skype interview and planned another one, face-to-face, in Minsk. I moved as Ilya’s relocation partner: the company grants this opportunity not only to spouses but partners as well. Eventually, it turned out that even though I am not from the IT sphere, I’ve been able to find an interesting place for myself in the company: there is always something to do apart from IT. Communications, HR, finance, accounting—the range is really broad, so you shouldn’t fear relocation.

Ilya. The entire relocation process took only about a month. The company’s given us great support throughout it. There was a clear and understandable plan, we were told which expenses will be borne by the company: flight tickets for me and Maryam, shipping our stuff, registration with the migration service, real estate agent services, etc. Basically, all we had to do was pack. We were granted a temp apartment during the first month while we were looking for a place to rent long-term.

“We decided from the get-go that if we move to a new city, we would want to live in a well-refurbished apartment closer to the downtown”

But finding a suitable alternative has proved more difficult than anticipated. It seemed to us that rent would be cheaper whereas it’s actually similar to that St. Petersburg; however, the utility bill is lower.

We felt very pleased about not being left to face the new city alone after the move. EPAM has a team to help the expats; these colleagues aid in handling the issues foreigners encounter, organize meetings for the ‘relocatees.’ The latter also get together in communities, chats, help each other out.

Maryam. I like the fact that Minsk is very clean and green, with many parks in the city. If you go out of town, you’ll instantly find yourself in a quiet protected forest: for example, one of my favorite spots for walks is the Prilepsky Reserve. Not far from Minsk, quiet and green—a place of power, one can say. Entertainment-wise, we feel comfortable here after St. Petersburg. Art house cinema, movies in English, contemporary art exhibitions, fashion parties—you can find all this in Minsk. When friends come over, we show them the Old City, Zybitskaya, Oktyabrskaya Streets, go to concerts. Minsk is noticeably developing; new exciting spaces emerge. OK16, for instance, various cafes, establishments—much of that was not there before, the colleagues say. In some ways, the Belarusian capital still has room for improvement—sometimes a lack of serious competition is felt in such services as, say, online shopping, food delivery. In St. Petersburg, we used a healthy food delivery service, whereas in Minsk we are yet to find a replacement providing decent value.

Ilya. Minsk is a pleasant surprise after St. Petersburg—no serious traffic jams, calm and comfortable traffic. The proximity to Europe is great; this makes Minsk a better place for convenient traveling.

“We were happy to discover Vilnius airport and Belavia ticket sales. We’ve managed to fly somewhere five or six times in a little over a year—and that’s not counting flights to St. Petersburg every two or three months”

Traveled around Belarus, too: we’ve been to the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, Brest, got acquainted with Marc Chagall’s works in Vitebsk. We plan to visit Pinsk and the Braslav Lakes next summer.

Generally, I can say that the relocation to Belarus has been quite easy and seamless for us. Life here is very comfortable, considering the ‘income/expenses’ balance when you work for an IT company. We would like to spend a long time in Minsk.

Upsides
Active cultural life.
Convenient traveling around Europe.

Downsides
Prices are as high as in St. Petersburg.