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“It’s unclear why many find the decision to relocate so difficult”

Five years back, I moved to Minsk from Novosibirsk. This was my initiative, looking for a system administrator position with DevOps skills. I often get the question why I wanted to go specifically to Minsk, as folks normally go to Moscow or St. Petersburg. Several reasons: pleasant climate compared to Siberian winters, opinions of friends from down here. I’ve been to Belarus before—went to Pinsk, Grodno with friends to watch castles and other beauties.

I found my first employment on a friend’s recommendation. I came to the Ice Hockey World Championship, did an interview between the games—and moved to Minsk two weeks on. Never got through the trial period though. I didn’t know back then it was for the best. It was a basic outsourcing system administration company, not from HTP, a rather ‘shabby’ one all in all. At that moment, it seemed to me that my life came crashing down: so much effort and money invested in the move—and now what, go back to Novosibirsk?

There were problems with apartment rental. It was in that year that they banned renting out of social housing. So if the rent before that averaged 200 dollars, it went up to $350—for a one-bedroom apartment far from the subway. Plus that’s when crisis hit; it was impossible to buy dollars, and although I did have some sort of a ‘safety net,’ it was in euros which the landlady had refused to accept. However, it was clear to me even then that the difficulties were temporary. I understood how the IT market works here, and in two weeks I found a new place—an HTP-based company with all the usual ‘goodies.’

“HTP included 300 companies at the time, now there’s 600+; I see this as a huge upside for an IT expert”

If I had known sooner, I would have long decided to relocate.

I was making good money in Novosibirsk, I had to ‘downgrade’ when I was leaving, but I’ve won in the end: here the salary was and is linked to USD, whereas there it’s nominated in rubles. Because of the crisis, I would have had to wait a long time for the pay bump. I think I would’ve ‘hit the ceiling’ there long ago.

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It’s unclear why many find the decision to relocate so difficult. There are no bureaucratic intricacies, either: no work visa required, get your residence permit renewed annually—and that’s it. For several years rolling I’ve been promoting Minsk to my colleagues in Novosibirsk, I offer to help with job hunt—but hasn’t gotten any farther than a simple conversation. Parents come visit—they’re amazed each time. Once they return to Novosibirsk, there it goes again, “We have work here, a summer house…”

.Relations between people are more pleasant in Minsk. Vehicles give way at the pedestrian crossing. You’re not scared they’ll come jumping at you with a bat.

“Cultural life is bustling, too”

In Novosibirsk, I played in a band, attended concerts—it was an important aspect for me at the time of the move. Large-scale events are rare here, but you can go to the Upper Town on a Saturday night—and there’ll certainly be something interesting. I’ve managed to find musicians among colleagues at work; we sometimes get together and play some music.

We continue to travel around Belarus with friends, we especially love castles. Recently checked out Krevo and Golshany. I am often abroad these days, on the lookout for a place where I’d like to live. Yet to find one, though. Every time I return to Minsk with the feeling that I’ve come back home.

Upsides
You’re not afraid of running into scumbags, ruffians and “masters of life.”
A lot of beautiful places, Europe is close by.
Kind and sympathetic people, accustomed to order and cleanliness.
Beautiful girls. One of Minsk girls became my wife, and I am very happy.

Downsides
Prices in Minsk are comparable to those in Moscow.
I faced the vestiges of the Soviet bureaucracy in some situations.