Living in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan hasn’t always been a well-known expat destination considering its grim past during the Stalin-era. It is until it gained sovereignty from the Soviet Union in 1991 that this land-locked country made its name across the world. Today, life waits for foreign assignees that are brave enough to discover the wonders that are hidden in this oil and uranium-rich nation.
Kazakhstan is the world’s ninth-largest country with a total land area of more than 2.7 square kilometres. Though this massive nation is known for its vast featureless steppe and evident lack of historical sites, many foreign companies and workers are still attracted to venture here. This country has a total population of 17.8 million, and a majority of expats live either in the former capital, Almaty or in Astana which is considered as one of the world’s coldest cities. Kazakhstan is a nation that possesses a beautiful blend of European and Asian influences. It boasts majestic mountainous regions and Soviet architectures that stand proudly amidst modernisation.
Exciting Activities for the Family
Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world and it offers everything in a great scale. This Goliath nation is blessed with sparkling glaciers, vast woods, picturesque canyons and emerald coloured lakes which means that the locals’ idea of fun is being close to Mother Nature. Situated just 15 kilometres above the former capital Almaty is The Medeu, the highest sports complex and skating rink on earth. The Medeu boasts an Olympic size ice stadium and a mountain-water swimming pool that attracts top skaters from all over the world. Another top attraction in Kazakhstan for winter-sports lovers is Chimbulak which is a top spot for skiers who want to mountain climb and hike while enjoying the great view of the Alpine routes.
Situated south-west of Astana is the Korgalzhin National Park, the largest reserve zone in Kazakhstan where kids and adults can relax while being surrounded by vast grass steppe and two scenic lakes. Those who love marine life can also visit The Aquarium of the Entertainment Centre (Duman) in Astana, the one and only aquarium in the world located 3,000 kilometres away from the ocean. It houses over 2,000 sea animals and more than 100 species of sea fauna.
Adjusting to Daily Life
Valid international driver's licenses may be used for driving around Kazakhstan. However, a Kazakh driver's license must be obtained by residents who live in the country for more than six months. Driving in Kazakhstan is on the right side of the road. This country also has zero tolerance for those who will be caught driving under the influence of alcohol. Violations such as non-use of seatbelts, speed driving, and using a mobile phone while driving are fined the initial fine for the first offence and are fined higher when repeated during the year. Use of special lights and vehicle sound signals are also considered as traffic violations in Kazakhstan. Driving in Kazakhstan can also be a bit tricky since some rural roads are under maintained and can be dangerous especially during winter.
The The National Bank of Kazakhstan is an independent institution that functions as the country's regulator of monetary and credit policy. Its thrust is to control and regulate the banking sector and ensure the stability of the national currency. A valid passport and Kazakh tax registration certificate are required to open a bank account. Banks are open from 9 am to 6 pm from Monday to Friday while some branches are open on Saturday mornings. The four largest banks in this country are Kazkommerstsbank, Halyk Savings Bank, Bank TuranAlem, and the Dutch ABN Amro. Foreign banks are beginning to penetrate aggressively the banking sector of Kazakhstan, and some have been successful in capturing some clients away from the smaller local banks.
Overcoming Culture Shock
One thing an expat in Kazakhstan needs to learn when living among the locals is respect for hierarchy, especially in the family. People in Kazakhstan are very particular about social rankings and disrespect for a senior is considered a grave offence. Locals can also be very superstitious and re always careful about "evil forces" which are believed to have the power to influence their day-to-day lives. To fight these forces, Kazakhs rely on charms and amulets.
Kazakhs also like to entertain people in their homes and their hospitality has been one of their most popular traits ever since. An expatriate in Kazakhstan, who is honoured with an invitation, should not be surprised to be served bread that is considered sacred in this land. It is acceptable for a guest to be late for less than 30 minutes. However, anyone who expects to be late for such an invitation is expected to make a call informing the host of the late arrival; not doing so is considered rude.
The Kazakhstan culture is also deeply influenced by Muslim which is practiced by 47% of the population. Never offer an alcoholic beverage to practising Muslims and do not be surprised if Kazakhs men do not shake hands with women because it is not a practise in their religion. They are also quite conservative when it comes to clothes so avoid clothes that show too much skin.
Expat Finance Services in Kazakhstan
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Education Services in Kazakhstan
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