Having been a resident of Kiev for 11 years and have rightly gone native, I may confess that I’m in great love with this amazing city.
Kiev has got an exceptional atmosphere. This is a city you fall in love with.
If you were born here and live – you probably are its ardent patriot.
And if you came here as a tourist – having visited Kiev once, you’ll want to come back here again and again!
Almost every traveler cherishes the warm memories, and will tell friends about the steep green slopes of the Dnieper; panorama of Kiev with numerous golden domes, bridges across the Dnieper; about the blooming chestnut trees on Khreshchatyk street and coloring of Andrew’s descent.
Kiev is a hospitable and European city with developed infrastructure, 1,500 years history, and welcoming and friendly citizens.
But there are things which you may not even notice or see having been staying here for a short period of time.
You may not find out these things staying in the central touristic areas of the city.
Though an observing and experienced solo tourist will probably notice it exploring the city far and wide.
As a Kiev private guide, I’d like to mention some …weird things which I myself don’t really like and find not very positive about the city.
There is one means of transport in Kiev, it is called “marshrutka”.
These are minibusses which transport passengers on the specified routes of the regular transportation.
Their rates are usually twice expensive than rates of the public transport.
There is a real lack of transport in Kiev as public transport cannot cope with all the passenger traffic.
“Marshrutkas” are always stuck with passengers in the rush-hours.
Kievites are compelled to use “marshrutkas”- this uncomfortable and dangerous means of transport.
Anyways, I have nothing against it, but what I want to tell about are the drivers of “marshrutkas”.
Typically, these are mostly men who have come to Kiev from villages or settlement of urban types.
They live either in hostels provided by the transportation company or rent apartments where they live 3 people in one room, it’s cheaper. They work week by week in shifts, working hours from 5.30 a.m. till midnight.
So you can imagine what lack of sleep, malnutrition and constant nervous tension can make with a man.
On the route, they often behave in a very rude way, may forget to make a stop even if the passenger asked for it beforehand, accelerate the bus to a high speed and then abruptly brake, and the passengers in the salon who stand start falling on one another.
Some of them they may come to the work in a slightly drunk or even worse – drugged condition.
After all, the situation is aggravated by the fact that the driver should not only watch the road: all this time, he also leads cash payments! He gives change to the passengers as he works without check-taker.
And after such a load on the psyche, he will often not go to sleep, but for alcohol to relax …
Of course, there are many quite normal adequate drivers. But the percentage of the rude drivers is rather high.
the Romany or the Gipsies
There is quite an acute problem with spontaneous settlements of the Romany which has appeared in Kiev for the last two years.
There are dozens of encampments in the city and in the suburbs.
One gipsy band settled in the left bank district of Kiev, Darnitskiy.
The camp of nearly 200 people appeared in the middle of the garbage.
They live in 35 huts made of planks, carpets, and oilcloth.
The Gipsies are mostly beggars or thieves.
Romany thieves mostly hang around bus stops, in public transport, in shopping malls, in the central railway station.
To attract the attention of them, it’s enough to carry in your bag or backpack something valuable and dive deeper into your thoughts in one of the city’s subway station transitions.
They may completely unnoticeably pull out the wallet or phone from the pocket of the backpack or handbags.
Mostly they work in groups of 4-5 women.
The Gipsy beggars reside near the churches, passing by merciful church parishioners may give some small money to intrusive gypsy children.
Very often I see pregnant gypsy women begging in the subway passages.
Also, Romany women sit begging with infants in the streets, you will obviously see them in the main Kiev street Khreschatik.
They also collect waste paper and metal, mostly in the garbage cans. They bring it to collection points and get some money.
I also saw 2 gypsy men in the public health center who were carrying blankets and pillows which they offered to doctors and nurses to buy. They simply dropped into each cabinet and offered their goods. That was a real shock for me.
So, be aware of your personal things in crowded places, especially when you see gypsy on the horizon.
Rich and Poor Gap
There’s also one sad thing about living in Kiev. The contrast between poor and wealthy people.
The poor are mostly pensioners, elderly people who practically survive on their pitiful pension benefit.
The minimum pension in Ukraine is the lowest in Europe. The retired Ukrainians receive not less than 1247 UAH which is $46.
Also, low salaries have public sector employees like teachers, doctors, social workers.
The biggest part of the salary is spent on the payment of utilities which increased enormously for the last 2 years.
This year some new bills will be applied, according to which the minimum salary will rise to 3200 UAH=$118 from 1660 UAH=$59.
But of course, the level of life for pensioners and public sector employees will not be improved much.
As the inflation forecast till the end of 2017 will make 8,5% (now it’s 13%).
And if the war in the East will continue or systemic banks will fall, the economy of Ukraine may be back in stagnation.
On a great contrast to the surviving population of Kiev live wealthy citizens.
These are mostly deputies, ministers and their family members, corrupt officials, bank top management, entrepreneurs, and a new but rapidly developing job area –IT workers.
You might probably know about Ukrainian IT developers. In Ukraine, the developers earn more than in any other country.
Only in the first half of 2016 Ukrainian IT-companies received orders for $ 1.5 billion.
At the same time on the background of the falling economy, the number of orders continues to grow.
The salaries of developers start from $2000 = 54,182 UAH per month.
Those with a 5-6 years IT experience receive from $4000 = 108,365UAH.
Now you can see the difference, how a developer in Kiev can live comparing with the same developer in the US…
I believe that Kiev has an immense development prospect. I sincerely enjoy my occupation of a tour guide and happy to provide Kiev city tours.
The city has everything for a comfortable living. Rich cultural life, ancient touristic spots, green areas, parks, picturesque Dnipro slopes, hospitable citizens, industrious workers, talented managers, well-developed infrastructure, and geographical location in the very center of Europe.