Finding a cozy home for a good price is always tricky, but when you are a foreigner and don’t speak the local language, it can easily seem daunting. If you are looking for flats for rent in Tbilisi or elsewhere in Georgia (country, duh) and not sure where to start, this article is for you! I went through the process and it wasn’t as easy as I hoped (that’s because we are stingy), but I am here to share all my tips and knowledge on how to find a cheap apartment in Tbilisi the capital of Georgia, or other towns in the country.
When we were looking for a place to rent in Georgia to spend the winter, we tried asking in facebook groups, use the help of an agent or search on real estate websites – the last one is the best option in my opinion and I will explain why.
Facebook groups for finding a flat for rent in Georgia
While you can find a flat with the help of English speaking agents in the FB groups or a Georgian/Russian speaking agent you somehow run into on your quest, you’ll have to pay them an extra fee and it is less convenient than speaking directly to the owner. However, if they help you find a good deal, I think that the 50 lari which is a usual price for this service is not too bad. I know of three groups where you can search for a flatshare or a flat for rent:
Although it is not a flats-for-rent group, most of the travelers, expats, and foreigners in Georgia will surely benefit from the wealth of information in the group of
The advantages of using the FB groups is that you can usually see some photos, chat with the agent (or owner/person looking for a flatmate) about your needs, the number of bedrooms, price, location etc before you actually go and spend two hours traveling and checking out the apartment.
The cons are that since these groups are usually aimed at foreigners, the prices are higher and set in dollars. (In fact, you can find a monthly rental in Tbilisi for the same price on Airbnb and without the hassle.) The currency exchange rate fluctuates a lot between the dollar and Georgian lar so your rent might change every month. Also, as you might have noticed, they focus on Tbilisi – I didn’t find a group where people share apartments for rent in the whole country of Georgia.
What I didn’ like about these groups is that the people often either didn’t answer me for days (or even weeks!) after I asked when could I see the apartment. One of them (a man, needless to say) even started out by calling me “My dear” which made my skin crawl. Once we even went to see a “private room” advertised by a guy who turned out to be a Mormon, asked us whether we believed in God within first five minutes, called F “brother” and suggested we could live there “as family”…and there was no private room in the end – he basically wanted us to rent his living room, divided from his “bedroom” by a curtain. He also mentioned his prayer group might visit here and there, but said that we shouldn’t bring any guests. F fixed his computer full of viruses, we finished the tea he kindly offered us and left a bit disillusioned about whether we actually wanted to share a flat with anyone. (Not that I have something against Mormons but I don’t enjoy when people judge me based on my (lack of) beliefs – especially when there is no door to shut in their face if they try to convert me!)
However, I have met people who were lucky and found a nice place by searching or posting in one of these groups – give it a try and maybe you’ll find your new home!
Real Estate Agents
We talked to a few agents that we’ve met outside of Facebook – the receptionist of our hostel connected us with one who showed us two apartments in Rustavi., a village near Tbilisi We didn’t like the flats we saw, but Rustavi isn’t exactly the most charming village either, plus there is a big factory that pollutes the air which was an important factor for us.
It is possible to meet real estate agents at the Dry Bridge in Tbilisi – these will show you monthly rental flats in Tbilisi downtown and if you speak Russian, it won’t be hard to make a deal with them. It seems a little sketchy but we actually met one flat owner there who had a renovated apartment in an old house in the downtown and was willing to rent it out for 500 lari a month (a great deal). We didn’t take it because at the time we were looking for a place to share with another couple of travelers and needed two separate bedrooms, but it was the best offer we got in Tbilisi.
The pros of finding a flat with an agent are that you can usually meet the owner and negotiate with them, also you can see different options within one neighborhood. What annoyed us though was that the agents didn’t really respect our requirements and often showed us flats that didn’t have the stuff we needed (like doors between supposedly private bedrooms) or looked like a crackhouse (with burned electric sockets, full ashtrays left behind by previous tenants and a hole in the wall where the gas heater used to be).
However, if they help you find a good deal, I think that the 50 lari which is a usual price for this service is not too bad.
Georgian websites with apartments for rent
There are several websites where owners post their flats – normally, these are aimed at other “normal people” (e.g. Georgians) and the prices are a lot lower than what you can find on Facebook. (By that I mean that the number is the same but the price is in GEL.)
We searched for apartments here:
In the end, we found a flat that fulfilled our needs on Place dot ge.
Advantages of this are that you can see a wider offer of both fancier or affordable rentals with the price isted upfront, you don’t have to pay anyone and you can directly contact the owner – on the other hand, you have to act fast since the good deals disappear faster than vodka at a graduation party. Still, in my opinion, these websites are the best chance you get at finding a cheap apartment in Tbilisi or elsewhere.
Besides searching for a rental online, do try the good old word of mouth; ask your local friends (you can make some via Couchsurfing if you are new to the area) to recommend you where or how to find a place that fits your needs – we were able to find a flat in our town for a couple of friends by calling our landlady who in turn contacted her friends and neighbors and recommended us a place similar to ours in the neighborhood.
Another friend just went out for a walk, looking for the “for rent” signs in the windows when she met a local old lady who took her to several places and helped her find a perfect flat for a good price. Yes, Georgian people are really that nice!
How we chose where to live
Georgia is a great place for digital nomads, longterm travelers and hitchhikers/cyclists looking to spend the winter somewhere nice and affordable, and if you are looking for an apartment for rent, especially if it’s a monthly rent, the winter season will be in your advantage.
We started out looking for a rental apartment in Tbilisi, but we decided to leave the city after about a month of living there for various reasons, especially because the air in Tbilisi is polluted and both I &F suffer from allergies and breathing problems and other 21st-century diseases – something to consider! Besides, we have spent most of the past year in fields, forests, and mountains and as I’ve realized, we’d rather go climb a hill than see an exposition in a museum. (We always find time to hike but we somehow haven’t entered a single gallery in Tbilisi. Uhm, awkward.)
We didn’t want to live somewhere too cold (sorry, Svaneti) or rainy and we also felt like seeing something new (we’ve already spent a month in Kutaisi, two weeks in Tskaltubo, a month in Ushguli and three weeks near Batumi), so we were interested in seeing rental opportunities in Telavi (Kakheti) which has nice nature, Akheltsikhe (nice downtown with the Rabat castle, not too big, but large enough to have good connections, supermarkets and pharmacies) or well, basically anywhere with a nice flat for a low price and good hiking options.
In the end, we rented a one-room apartment in Borjomi, a town famous for its sulfur springs just two hours by car from Tbilisi and twenty from the entrance to the Kharagauli National Park. The prices are good and it is still easy to go to the city when we need to visit a doctor or buy something unusual.
Traveling to Georgia and looking for inspiration? I also wrote about these places:
Not sure how much it will cost? Check out my friend Cynthia’s post on budgeting for Georgia:
Have you rented a flat in Georgia? How did you find the process? Do you have more tips you’d like to share? Write them in the comment section below!