Living in Odessa as an expatriate

Caffeinate Your Odessa Expat Journey: Find Essential Info and Connect with Expatriates Today

Image of Odessa

Odessa, the third-largest city in Ukraine, sprawls along the scenic coastline of the Black Sea. Its history dates back to the 19th century when it flourished as a major port and trading hub. Odessa's fortunes waned during the Soviet era but have rebounded in recent decades as it has experienced a surge of economic and cultural growth. Today, Odessa is a bustling metropolis, home to over one million people. Its cultural heritage is reflected in its stunning architecture, including iconic landmarks such as the Potemkin Stairs and The Duomo (Saint Mary’s Cathedral). Odessa's location and climate make it an attractive destination for expats seeking adventure, business opportunities, and a high quality of life.

Tips for expats in Odessa

Visa requirements

EU, Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian citizens are allowed to enter Ukraine without a visa and stay for up to 90 days. Citizens of the USA, UK, and most EU countries require a biometric visa, which can be obtained online or at a Ukrainian embassy. Ukrainian immigration laws are complex and subject to changes. It's recommended to check latest updates here on the official government website. Similarly, work permits and other requirements must be obtained through a Ukrainian agency or employer. It's advised to seek guidance from your embassy in Ukraine or your employer for further instructions.

Language resources

Odessa's official language is Ukrainian, but Russian is commonly spoken in everyday life. English is also widely spoken, particularly in the business and expat communities. Expats can take up language courses at local language schools, or use language learning apps like Duolingo to learn Ukrainian, Russian, or Polish (as about 20% of Odessa's population is of Polish origin). Language exchange programs and meetups are also available, providing opportunities to meet locals and practice speaking Ukrainian or Russian.

Cost of living for expats in Odessa


Odessa offers a wide range of housing options, from shared rooms to spacious apartments and villas. The cost of living varies depending on the location and type of accommodation. Sharing a room in a hostel or homestay can cost around 400-600 UAH (14-22 USD) per week, while renting a room in a shared house starts at 2500 UAH (93 USD) per month. A one-bedroom apartment in a central location can cost between 6500-8000 UAH (239-297 USD) per month, while a two-bedroom apartment can range from 9000-13500 UAH (329-492 USD) per month. Three-plus bedroom houses can reach upwards of 18,000-25,00 UAH (661-914 USD) per month, depending on the location and size.


Odessa's food prices are relatively moderate, with fresh produce and groceries available at local markets and supermarkets. Meat and dairy products, imported wines, and specialty foods can be more expensive. Some items may be less readily available, requiring expats to stock up during supermarket trips. A week's worth of groceries for a single person can cost around 1000 UAH (37 USD), while a family of four should expect to spend around 3500 UAH (127 USD) per week.


Odessa's public transportation is affordable, with a flat fare of 5 UAH (0.18 USD) for all modes of transport. Taxis and ride-hailing services have variable prices, depending on the distance and traffic conditions.

Climate in Odessa

Odessa has a moderate continental climate, with hot summers and mild winters. The city's location on the coast provides a pleasant breeze during summers, making it an ideal beach destination. Temperatures can soar as high as 35°C in July and August, while winters are mild, with an average temperature of 4°C in January. Spring and autumn bring fluctuating temperatures, with occasional rainfall.

Job market in Odessa

Odessa's economy is diversified, with thriving industries in IT, manufacturing, trade, and finance. The city's strategic geographic location and modern infrastructure have attracted major international companies such as Bayer, Coca-Cola, and Shell. Odessa is home to a vibrant startup scene, with numerous co-working spaces, accelerators, and funds. The city's low cost of living and digital connectivity make it an attractive destination for startups and entrepreneurs. English proficiency is prevalent in Odessa's business community, with many companies employing English-speaking staff. Job opportunities are mainly available in international firms and foreign-owned subsidiaries. Startups and SMEs often offer remote work options, which are attractive for expats.

Healthcare in Odessa

Odessa's health care system is relatively well-developed and affordable. State-run hospitals and clinics provide free or low-cost medical services, while private facilities offer higher-quality care for a fee. The city's main hospitals, including the Odessa Regional Clinical Hospital and the Maternity Hospital, are well-equipped and staffed with qualified medical professionals. English-speaking doctors and nurses are available at some private hospitals and clinics. It's recommended to have appropriate health insurance coverage and seek advice from your embassy for specific recommendations.

Transport in Odessa

Odessa has an extensive public transportation network, including buses, trams, trolleybuses, and taxis. The city's transport system is efficient, reliable, and affordable. The primary mode of transportation is the tram, which boasts extensive coverage of the city. The city's main roads and avenues are well-connected by buses and trolleybuses, with convenient stops and schedules. All modes of transport have a flat fare of 5 UAH (0.18 USD). Taxis are readily available, but it's recommended to use reputable, licensed companies such as GetaTaxi and Epikur. Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Grab are also available in Odessa.

Safety in Odessa

Overall, Odessa is a relatively safe city, but expats should take common-sense precautions. Crime rates are generally low, with most incidents involving theft and petty offenses. Areas near the train station and the seaports are more prone to crime, but these areas are mostly avoided by expats. Expats should avoid walking alone in deserted areas at night and leave their valuables and wallets in a secure place. Long-term accommodation options, such as apartments or shared houses, offer a higher level of security than hostels or hotels. It's advised to seek local advice or guidance from expat community groups for specific recommendations.

Neighborhoods in Odessa

  1. Shevchenko

    Shevchenko, located in the center of Odessa, is a charming neighborhood with tree-lined streets, pastel-colored houses, and historic buildings. Its proximity to the city's landmarks, such as the Potemkin Stairs and the Opera House, makes it a prime location for expats. Shevchenko offers a mix of affordable and luxury housing options, with local shops, cafes, and restaurants lining the streets.

  2. Arkadia

    Arkadia, a newly developed area along the coast, offers modern amenities and upscale real estate. Its picturesque beaches, nightclubs, and restaurants attract young professionals and expats. The area is popular for its community-driven lifestyle, featuring co-working spaces, gyms, and yoga studios. One-bedroom apartments in Arkadia tend to be more expensive than other areas due to its prime location.

  3. Frunze

    Frunze, located towards the south-west of Odessa, is a residential area known for its tranquility and greenery. The area offers affordable housing options, including shared houses and apartments. Frunze has an abundance of local shops, markets, and restaurants, and is popular with families and students due to its distance from the city center.

Attractions in Odessa

  1. Park Shevchenko

    Park Shevchenko, located in the central district, is a scenic urban park surrounded by historic landmarks. The park features a lake, art installations, and statues of famous figures. The pedestrian pathways are lined with street performers, musicians, and artists, adding to the area's vibrant atmosphere.

  2. Primorsky Boulevard

    Primorsky Boulevard, an iconic waterfront promenade, stretches for almost 3 kilometers along the Black Sea coast. The boulevard features a variety of attractions, including statues, monuments, fountains, and concert stages. It's a popular spot to enjoy the scenic views, go for a jog, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride.

  3. Odessa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater

    Odessa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater, located in the city center, is a revered opera house. It boasts an exquisite neoclassical design and regularly hosts performances by local and international artists.

International Schools in Odessa

  1. British International School

    49, Academicheskaya Street, Arcycland-Downtown, 65025, Odessa, Ukraine

    British International School, established in 2003, follows the British national curriculum for students from ages 3 to 18. The school offers a rich academic and extracurricular program, including sports, music, and art. The facilities include large classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, playgrounds, and a sports complex with indoor and outdoor facilities.

  2. EuroEnglish International School

    41, Yakoriany Street, Lesyanka, 65119, Odessa, Ukraine

    EuroEnglish International School, established in 1996, offers a British-style curriculum with an international flair. The school caters to students from ages 3 to 18, providing a rich academic and extracurricular program, including sports, music, and art. The facilities include spacious classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, playgrounds, and playing fields.

  3. Scandinavian School

    48, Lientz Street, 65041, Odessa, Ukraine

    Scandinavian School, established in 2001, follows the Finnish educational system with a Nordic flavor. The school caters to students from ages 1 to 18, providing a comprehensive academic and extracurricular program, including sports, music, and theater. The facilities include modern classrooms, libraries, toy stores, playgrounds, and a hybrid indoor-outdoor sports complex with swimming pools, soccer fields, and tennis courts.

Useful expat resources in Odessa

Expat destinations in Ukraine