Kharkiv, Ukraine for Digital Nomads, Expats and Long Term Travel (Khakov)

It's a bit confusing as Kharkiv, which is now the official Ukrainian name, is often spelled as Kharkov which how you'd say it in Russian or even sometimes spelled out as Харьков in Russian or Харків in Ukrainian, giving it four different spellings. It's also funny that when said out loud, people often think I'm talking about Kiev. But either way, this is my travel guide to Kharkiv in north east Ukraine for long term travel or living here.

The first question people always ask is why Kharkiv, or even why Ukraine. The answer is low costs, easy visas, and interesting culture. Ukraine is one of the few countries in Europe that isn't part of the schengen visa zone, which means, I can stay in the EU for up to three months in the summer, and Ukraine for another three without breaking any rules. This year I've already spent April in Spain and Portugal and plan to stay until September to speak at a conference in Prague so without leaving the EU, I would have overstayed my Schengen visa.

Aside from that, Ukraine is a super interesting country with a ton of culture, fantastic food, good infrastructure, and a super low cost of living. To be honest, if Ukraine ever joins the EU and takes on the Euro, prices will skyrocket and there will be little to no reason to come verses going to other countries, but for now, Ukraine, especially during the summer when the weather is great, is a hidden gem and an amazing value, especially if you like to be off the beaten path and explore places that few other tourists go. Keep reading for my guide to how to get here, where to stay, how to get around, where to eat, sleep, cowork, and what to do in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Getting to Kharkiv

One thing that makes Kharkov so special is the fact that it's a bit further to get to. This usually means that by the time you get here, you've probably spent a bit of time in other cities in the country first and keeps away the stag parties and weekend travelers. Similar to places like Chiang Mai in Thailand where it's just one extra step to get to, most tourists on a tight schedule just don't go, which allows for the city to have more long term residents, travelers, and attracts less scams, touts and rip offs.

There are a few direct flights to Kharkov Airport (HRK) but mostly from Poland, Turkey, and a few seasonal flights from Vienna, Barcelona, Paris, and Italy on low cost carriers SkyUp, RyanAir, and Wizz Air. But most of the time, you'll be flying into Kiev into either Zhuliany (IEV) or Boryspil (KBP) which are the two international airports in Kiev. This is what I did from Lisbon, Portugal on Wizz Air.

From Kiev, or any other city in Ukraine, you can take a local train, which is actually a really nice ride. I took the afternoon intercity rail, which is the newer, nicer trains with a small dining cafe on board, outlets at every seat and even a bit of wifi when it worked. It was a 5 hour journey for 355.22 uah/$13.44 and actually quite easy and comfortable especially if you've downloaded some movies onto your laptop or phone and topped up your data on your SIM card. You can also take the 7-9 hour overnight sleeper trains which I really enjoy and plan to take on the way back down to Kiev next month. You can book all trains online at and buy tickets up to 1 month in advance for most lines. Most locals buy tickets just 1-2 weeks in advance and there are so many lines that unlike places like Thailand or Sri Lanka, you'll always find a seat and it's usually never full.

Train prices range a lot though, so if you want the ultra cheap seats, you'll need to book as soon as the seats open up usually 30 days in advance. As an example, on the sleeper trains, the deluxe seats on the fast train this weekend still have plenty of 1359.31 UAH ($51.81usd) beds left but the berth beds on the slower train that go for 144,97 UAH ($5.53usd) are sold out 3 weeks in advance. So make sure you click on "show without available seats" to see the entire list.

Sleeper Train Times: Kharkiv to Kiev

Map of where Kharkiv is Located

Where to Stay in Kharkiv

It was really difficult to find good information on where to stay in Kharkiv and I originally thought I wanted to stay near the two coworking spaces, Fabrika and Fspace which are located between the river and the train station, just outside the center. Next I thought a good compromise would be to stay at Nordian apartments which is in the center but still walking distance to the two spaces. Luckily, they were fully booked as I later discovered after physically being here for a few weeks that it's not the best area to be in. 

To be fair, anything on this map where my green pins and red hearts are considered the city center and most locals would be happy to live anywhere here and it's all technically walkable. Although from Nordian to Central Coffee is a 30 minute (2km/1mile) walk slightly uphill, making it a bit inconvenient to do everyday for most people. I've stayed in three places in Kharkiv, first being at Hostel Sputnik for a few days when I first arrived as it was close to Fabrika. I walked the entire neighborhood and am glad I don't live there full time as there's really not much to do around there and the train station isn't the nicest place to live close to. 

My first month I stayed at an Airbnb (get $55 off) at Pushins'ka 96 which is a 10 minute walk up the street from the Pushkinskaya metro station and overall a decent place to stay as it was on the rim of the city center, allowing me to walk most places within 20 minutes. I could also easily take the metro everywhere else. This first apartment was $575usd a month on Airbnb. My second month, I moved Airbnb's to the center center, on the main street of Sumska 42 directly across from the Taras Shevchenko Monument and park. It was a slightly older and smaller flat and didn't come with a flat screen TV, but was only $450usd for the month. It's the perfect neighborhood to be in and is surrounded by cafes, restaurants, bars, parks and coffee shops. The only downside to living in the center is the lack of gyms and supermarkets. You'll still find them, but they'll be much smaller than the ones further out. 

If you're staying longer term, you can rent flats for as low as $175 a month outside the city center with the average for most people being around $250 a month from what I've heard asking around. And in the center you can find places nearby for $350-$500 a month as well but only through local agents, and shady facebook posts. Be careful not to pay some random guy a month's rent in cash only to later find out he also rented it to a bunch of other unsuspecting people.

where to stay in kharkiv
My pinned places, apartments and favorites.

Best Kharkiv Neighborhoods

If you're here for 1 month or less, you'll want to stay in the center, on or as close to Sumska Street 42 as possible which is where the Mirror Stream Fountain and Opera House is.

Pushkinska street is the other main street in the center and generally has more shops in terms of clothing stores, cell phone stores, grocery stores and cell phone repair shops. Most of this street is a good place to live, especially closer to Pushkinskaya or Arkhitektora Beketova metro stations.

However Sumska is more lively, has better cafes, restaurants, and is where all of the monuments, statues, central parks, and street music is played. Sumska Street is relatively long, at the very bottom you'll find the Spar Supermarket and the Nordin apartments, but it's not recommended to stay there as aside from a few good restaurants down there, most things you'll need to walk uphill to get to. Instead, I'd recomend staying in the center of the street near Sunska 42, or even a bit further up closer to Central Coffee which is where the Universitat Metro station is.

There are a few good coffee shops, bars, and things to do between Universitat Metro Station and Gorky Park, but I'd personally rather live closer to the Opera House as it's more lively and just make the 2km / 1mile walk up to the park which takes around 25 minutes or so once in a while, as it's really only a place you go when you have free time to hang out anyways.

If I was staying for 3 months or longer wanted to save on costs, I would stay near the metro station Heroiv Pratsi close to Karavan and Trts Dafi mall. Locals know the neighborhood as Saltivka but it's huge and parts of it are a bit ghetto so make sure you stay close to the mall or metro station. If you do, it's a direct train ride on the metro costing just 8 uah (30 cents) to most places in the center and takes around 30 minutes as it's the last stop on the line.

What I really like about that neighborhood near Dafi is that the malls are basically in the same parking lot as each other, a 5 minute walk from the metro station, and between there is a ton of food, shops and even a nice outdoor fruit and vegetable market. Inside the malls are everything you'd ever need including two full size gyms, and a giant supermarket and general merchandise Target/K-Mart type store where you can buy anything and everything. Also if you ever don't feel like taking the metro, which stops running at midnight, you can pay 75 uah ($3) to take the 15 minute taxi back home or into the city center.

In general as long as you live close to a metro station in Kharkiv, you'll find coffee shops, restaurants, and most things you need. But I've now been to most of them and most aren't places I'd want to live. They're a bit soulless and uninspiring. The you have places like Metro Stations Traktornyi Zavod and Industrianina in the kHTZ district that are still considered dangerous especially at night. But even there in HTZ it's a more of a joke about it being a place to get robbed than it actually happening, as plenty of locals live there without issues as they do in places in Detroit.

Best Neighborhoods in Kharkiv to Live

Coworking Spaces and Cafes

I originally thought I would join either Fabrika Space or FSpace but after visiting both, I realized that unless you are working remotely for a 9-6 job, there's little to no benefit of these coworking spaces. In Thailand and other countries, I join coworking spaces as a great way to meet other digital nomads, and to have a productive place to work from. Both so called "coworking" spaces were actually office spaces without walls, as everyone there has a fixed desk. It's a terrible business model as it limits the number of members you can have at any given time, drives us the price, and reduces the chances of meeting new interesting people.

Fabrika has a beautiful first floor bar area, but the actual coworking space on the 4th floor was cramped and just okay at 3,600 uah a month ($136). FSpace on the other hand was a lot nicer of a space, and at 2,500uah ($95usd) a month, a good value, but had terrible management and foresight. Even though only 5 of the 20 desks were being used, because they only sell fixed desk options, they were completely sold out for the month. It's like a gym only selling 20 memberships so they don't get too crowded, even though at any given time 80% of the people aren't actually there at the same time. If they simply sold all memberships at 2,000 uah and just had a few fixed desk options at 3,900 uah a month, they would make more money, allow more members, and everyone would be happy.

There are a few more coworking spaces such as rozvytok, branch and the pay by the hour anti-cafes around Kharkiv, but I ended up just working from home and and various coffee shops instead. Some of my favorites included Central Coffee (hotspot only), Mis'Kafe 1654, Lviv Croissants (for tea as their coffee is terrible), and the larger Aroma Kava locations, both on Sumska' and Pushinska streets. Also some of the Sweeter Coffee locations have excellent setups as well, but most of them are tiny and take a way only. Basically, I recomend walking around and finding coffee shops that have the 3 digital nomad keys for a good coffee shop, 1. Wifi, 2. Power Outlets, and 3. Bathrooms. Most will have 2 of the 3, but the trick is finding a few places that have all three and where you won't feel like you're wearing out your welcome. That's why I change spots everyday for variety and ended up spending time at the chain cafes and not at local cafes that also serve lunch like 1654 as they got busy.

Office of the Day at Lviv Croissants Kharkiv

English and Entrepreneurs

Kharkiv being in Eastern Ukraine is a Russian speaking city. Most people you meet, especially those over 30 will not speak English and even younger people might have studied it in school but won't actually be able to have a conversation. So unless you speak Russian or are willing to learn the language, I wouldn't recomend coming to Kharkov. There's been a few times I was surprised when a cashier at a cafe spoke English but I'd estimate that 99% of the time it's Russian only.

As for finding the local digital nomad community, unfortunately as of 2019 there isn't one at all. There are a lot of IT workers and programmers in Kharkiv, but first off you'll almost never meet them as they aren't very social and secondly there's very few travelers or tourists here. Your best bet for meeting locals or new friends are by happen chance at a cafe, bar or in the park, on Tinder or any of the various monthly meetups, such as on couchsurfing, Silicon Drinkabout or Kharkov Afterwork events which during the summer happen about once a month or so.  There are also the weekly English Speaking clubs such as KharkovGoGreen ForestEnglish Hub, and Window on America which are good places to help out the local community by communicating with them in native English and a place where if they see you for more than 2-3 weeks in a row without you being weird will eventually open up friendships.

If you're into Latin dance, there are casual meetups both by the opera house as well in Constitution Square during various evenings around 7pm. But things like this are a bit hard to find info on so unless you speak Russian or happen to stumble upon them, you may miss out not knowing when or where they occur.

There's a super tiny, not very active or great expat community, (Kharkiv Expats) here so I wouldn't come expecting to get plugged in there. Unlike places like Chiang Mai where it's easy to get plugged in to both the expat and digital nomad communities, I've really not met that many people compared to most other places in the world. So unless you are very proactive in going out to meet people and have 6 weeks or more where in the city, don't expect your social calendar to be full and definitely don't expect any sort of entrepreneur community regardless. In general, it'll take you around 1 full month to develop friendships or a dating life so make sure your trip is for 2 months or longer if you do come. For me, it's been almost 8 weeks here at the time of writing this and finally I have enough friends and acquaintances for me to have people to go out with everyday.

Outdoor Dance Meetups on Sundays at 7pm

Having Dinner with Friends in Kharkiv

Culture, Dating, and Friends

One of my favorite things about Kharkiv and Ukraine in general is the culture. As part of the former USSR, they were extremely closed off to outside influence for 74 years until just recently in 1991. And just last year the EU opened up its borders to allow Ukrainians to travel there easily without visas, but even then, due to the high costs of the Euro vs. Grivna (UAH) the majority of people still have never been outside of the country.  Many people dream about traveling to the USA or Europe and are excited to hear about what like is like in California, and communicate with a native English speaker. I won't lie, it feels kind of cool to meet people and have them be super interested in your life and your thoughts on the world.

Also since Ukraine is both closed off to Western influence for so long, they still follow traditional family roles, and have defined social rules. From an outside view, you may think it's old fashioned, antiquated or unfair, that as an example men always pay for dinner on a first date here, but if you've read the book or watched the TED talk about the Paradox of Choice, you'll know why having less choice actually makes us happier. Here there are no playing games of kind of offering to pay or split the check, or playing games of texting back and forth for weeks and waiting a day in between not to seem desperate. In Ukraine, if you ask someone on a date, they'll give you a very clear yes or no. No one asks "how are you" unless they actually care how you are, and text message threads are simple and to the point.

Most dates or casual hangouts here consist of meeting at Istorychnyi muzei (the giant thermometer) or Universitat metro station exits (the glass entrance) then going for a walk and a coffee. Girls here, like the rest of Ukraine are beautiful, thin, and feminine, and no one is overweight as it's part of their culture to walk a lot and not to overeat junk food.

Since it's a University town, flashing cash and going to expensive places isn't popular like in Kiev or Odessa where it's common for a lot of girls to want to go to expensive Sushi or seafood restaurants on a first date. You can read more about my thoughts on dating in Ukraine in this blog post. But in general there are very few gold diggers here in Kharkiv even on tinder, which is refreshing as in Odessa and Kiev, it was usually 1/3 of the messages you'd get. People in Kharkiv, both men and women are generally a lot more down to Earth as it's a smaller city where being trendy, wearing expensive clothes and splurging on expensive dinners isn't as popular.

Overall, I really like Kharkiv and the people here. The only downside is that even if you want to go to nice dinners or to nice bars, it's actually kind of hard to meet other people to go with you. Only a few of the guys I met are making enough money to eat out at nice steak houses or even at restaurants, and going out to fancy bars, even though they exist here, isn't ultra common. So yes, expensive, nice places like Moskvich Bar, Horoshee Mesto, Sky Lounge or Panorama Bar do exist but it's not likely you'll visit them or your friends or date will even suggest going there, especially when there are so many less expensive options in the city that are also really nice. It'll take a few weeks to start meeting people, but if you're here for 2 months or longer, you'll make some great friends both guys and girls.

Smoking Hookah is Popular in Kharkiv

Where to Eat in Kharkiv

The funny thing about Kharkiv is that even though there are a ton of good restaurants, and eating out is quite affordable, I ended up cooking a lot my first month here. In Kiev, Lviv and Odessa, I'd eat out almost every meal, but there's something about the slower paced life in Kharkiv and the culture here where it felt more normal to go grocery shopping and cook at home most meals rather than going to restaurants. The good news is that I learned how to cook Ukrainian Borscht which is both super tasty and healthy. I also ended up saving even more money by eating most meals at home, or having simple take away rather than sitting down at cafes and restaurants.

For quick meals and snacks I would often get croissant sandwiches for 49 uah ($1.86) delicious cream soups in an edible cup at Soup Culture (Супкультура), traditional dumplings at The Varenik, canteen style food at Puzata Hata, Shawarma gyro kebabs at street vendors ($1.33-$2.25), or an entire student pizza at Bufet for 59uah ($2.24). But my favorite place that I've ended up eating at almost every day and loved was the cook to order canteen Pyrizhok. It's located on the corner just by Sumska 42 and the food comes out fresh and hot.

Pork with Cheese & Mushrooms, Chicken Kiev, Mashed Potatoes and Beet Salad: $4

Beef Steak, Mashed Potatoes and Cabbage Salad: $3.80

Snacks and Lunch 

As for snacks my favorite was the Uzbek/Turkmen Samsas in the central market for $1 a piece that were filled with mutton and onions. There was also a shop right by the Pushkinskaya Station called Ali-Baba that would sell entire roast chickens for $5.69.

A travel tip for Ukraine is that most high end restaurants offer a business lunch menu which gives you a 3 course menu for usually less than 200uah ($8usd). My favorite that I've found so far is at Beef Club which at night serves $40 steaks but during lunch has a 3 course lunch menu for just 169uah ($6.44usd) that is very tasty and filling. Even the somewhat fancy Horoshee Mesto restaurant has a business lunch menu where everything is almost half price.

Also on Sumska street is an upscale version of Puzata Hata called Kasha Maslom which is excellent. The funny thing is, I've walked by the location at least 30 times before I realized it was a restaurant, and was super happy when I found it. The problem with google maps, tripadvisor and finding restaurants in Ukraine in general is the fact that the map locations are often wrong or just don't show up at all even if you're standing right in front of it. Plus most things aren't in English anyways so it's sometimes hard to search or find what you're looking for. To find the really great places, you need to stay for at least a month at get to know locals and get recommendations. For an example, all of my favorite places to eat don't show up on google maps even if you're standing directly in front of it.

A really nice Borscht at Beef Club

Amazing Baked Potatoes at Beef Club

Dinner and Steaks

During my last week I decided to try all of the nice restaurants and steakhouses in Kharkiv and was pleasantly surprised. The places the charge 100-150 uah per 100 grams are usually overpriced and end up being close to prices in the USA, so whenever I see that I avoid the steaks. Some restaurants like Argentine Grill or even Beef Club are overpriced and overrated for steaks. But in my experience steakhouses like Mne By Myasa that charge a flat price of 299 uah ($11.28) or less for all of their steaks and not by weight are a great value.

Also almost all restaurants have steaks as well, so places like 44 Favorite Place with their 299 uah grill platters or even nice French Restaurants like Soromno Buty Neshchasnym that are somehow able to serve three different types of incredible steak for only 149 uah each, which is only $5.61. They have a t-bone, filet mignon and a sliced steak on top of mashed potatoes with mushroom sauce. They're only 280 grams (10oz) or so though so I usually order a steak and something else such as another salad, soup, or even sometimes a second steak.

The only place I haven't had a chance to try but want to is Churrasco Bar which seems like a great value at 329 uah ($12.41) for an all you can eat Brazilian Churrascaria like Fogo De Chao which normally costs $62 anywhere in the world. The only problem is that most of the meat is chicken and it takes 90 minutes just to go through one rotation with meat coming only every 15 minutes which means unless you plan on sitting there on a cold winter night drinking vodka with a big group of friends for 3 hours, you're better off just ordering a grill platter somewhere for the same price.

299uah Grill Platter at 44 Favorite Place

Sunday Lunch with Friends in Kharkiv

Only in Kharkiv can you get an incredible 149 uah $6 Steak. 

Veal Chops with Cilantro and Garlic Sauce: 290 uah ($11)

Best Gyms in Kharkov

Unfortunately for most of us who would prefer to live in the city center, all of the ones here are small, cramped, and mediocre at best. Real estate and space in the city is at a premium so you're options are either, small old gyms like Bulldog (tiny and cramped), Stavr, Labrinth (a good one), and Sportzal for around 500uah a month ($19usd) or to overpay at Egoist on the top floor of Ave Plaza mall for an outrageous ($110USD) a month. The good news though is there are pull up bars everywhere in Ukraine, including at most of the parks so you can train outside for free.

If you are outside of the center or don't mind taking the metro everyday to the gym, you can join huge, nice gyms like King Fitness or Pulse Fitness for $21 a month which are huge and well equipped. However, they are always outside of the city center are and difficult to get to. So instead, I opt to join the smaller basement style gyms and just deal with being a bit cramped. The good thing though is if you go at 10am there's usually no one there as people who join these gyms usually go before or after work. My current gym is called Malibu (Малибу) and was only 325uah ($12.39usd) for the month as I took the 7am-2pm package and I love it. It has a proper squat rack, 3 sets of pull up bars, free weights, a studio room with a boxing bag, and is right in the city center. It's needed as the only problem with living on Sumska street, directly in the city center is that it's the only place I haven't found outdoor pull up bars.

There are also a couple of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gyms in Kharkiv but they are all outside the city center and all require you to have your own Gi. I almost joined Pirates BJJ as I figured I could take a $2.50 Uber there but ended up not to as I don't want to carry about a heavy Gi during my travels. Also a bit further out of town in places like Bezliudivka, which is a 40 minute drive away, you can do outdoor sports like wakeboarding and play beach volleyball.

At Malibu Gym 
Beach Volleyball at the Bezliudivka Lake 

Things to Do in Kharkiv

After the second day of being in Kharkiv and walking the entire city center, I wanted to leave and actually looked at flights to Odessa. The city at first glance is uninspiring, unexciting, and there's little to no highlights or major attractions. However, I'm glad I stayed as with most cities, once you settle in, you realize there's more to life than instagram worthy highlights like the eiffel tower or major attractions. As with most cities, I started my sightseeing with a free walking tour (Kharkiv) which was a nice way to learn a little bit about the history of the buildings, city and monuments, but was a bit boring as I was the only one on the tour.

Walking around the city center and visiting the markets such as Central or Sumsky markets are always a nice way to spend the day and see the local culture. There's also a cat cafe called Cats and Coffee and movies shown in English at Planeta Kino which you have to book well in advance for new releases. There's also a small movie theater called Palladium that has English movies on DVD that you can screen in a private showing for between $27-$34 for the entire theater if you have a group of friends. At night there are tons of bars and a few nightclubs, including Moskvich Bar and Red Door Pub which are both in the center. Also there's a cool concept of an English speaking only bar called School Pub where you can meet other people. It's a bit grungy and hit or miss, but is a good place to go if you're bored.

On weekends it's nice to get out of the city and go to places like Feldman Ecopark which has both free entrance and a free semi-hourly shuttle from the metro station. Closer to the city there's also the famous Gorky Park which has amusement park rides, a nice restaurant, and is a popular place to go for a walk. There's also a few outdoor markets that sell fruits, vegetables, clothes, and random accessories. Check out Central Market and Barabashova Market for a real Ukrainian experience, or go to the nicer indoor Sumsky market or any of the big malls such as Trts Dafi, Karavan or French Blvd malls.

Watch my video below for a look at what Kharkiv, Ukraine looks like and what daily life is like here.

Wages and Costs of Living

Most things in Kharkiv and in Ukraine are super cheap. With their currency going from 8uah to $1 devaluing all the way to 26uah to $1 in the past couple of years without their wages or pensions changing much, price and geoarbitrage can be easily had here. However, not everything is cheap, or even cheaper than the US. Things like clothes, shoes, cars, electronics, gas and utilities are often the same price or even 30-50% more in Ukraine than they are in the USA.

Also, even though there are a lot of people who earn $300 (8,000uah) or less per month here in Kharkiv, some actually earn much more. For an example, whether someone says they earn $200 or $600 a month, that usually means after tax and that amount doesn't include cash bonuses which seems to be a normal part of pay even for jobs ranging from cashiers at cafes all the way up to doctors. The salary range I've heard when asking around is anywhere as low as $300 a month all the way up to $2,000 a month for an IT worker. But by far the most common salary of people I met was actually closer to $600-$1,000 a month range in total, after tax. Which means in the US, you would have to earn between $1,000-$1,5000 a month pre-tax as the equivalent. Below is a screenshot of monthly salaries at Aroma Kava coffee (think Starbucks/Dunkin') which is all aftertax as the company pays it on your behalf.  Note how much the wage differs in Kharkiv than in the capital city of Kiev, this explains why things are so much cheaper here.

Either way, it's still a low amount compared to the US, but since costs of living here are so much lower, at the end of the month, most Americans and Ukrainians I know are just covering all of their bills and not saving anything anyways. The good news is if you can earn a western wage of $2,000-$4,000 a month after tax here in Kharkiv, you can live very well and still have money left over to save, invest or travel. During my first month of living in Kharkiv I spent $1,400 on expenses and earned around $4,300, giving me left over money to first give my parents $1,000, and still be able to invest almost $2,000 into savings by buying more cash producing assets.  Also below is a breakdown of the costs of living surveyed by Numbeo which i've verified to be largely accurate.

Wages here in Ukraine. 8,000uah=$300 a month.

costs of living kharkiv, ukraine
Costs of living in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Best Time to Come

I arrived mid April when winter was just turning into Spring. My first week was cold, very cold with temperatures below 10c (50f) during the days and down to 1c (33.8f) at night. However, I really enjoyed experiencing a week of winter and honestly it wasn't that bad as every building is heated so you're never cold indoors anywhere, and even walking around was fine as the sun was out most of the time. However, if you really want to experience the Kharkiv that I love with perfect sunny walking around weather during the day you need to come between May 1st - September 15th. 

What I really like about summers in Ukraine in general is the fact that even though it gets hot and sunny during the day, the weather usually never goes above 29c/85f meaning it never gets too hot, humid or unbearable like it does in Asia or even parts of the US during summer months. I also like that even during the summer, at night the temperature drops down to 15c/60f which allows you to sleep comfortably with just the window open at night and no A/C which is bad for your health. The only issue is most places I've stayed in don't have bug screens on the windows, which means you'll get the occasional mosquito which is annoying but not dangerous as there is no malaria or dengue fever here which is a big plus for Ukraine during the summer compared to Thailand or Bali where it's common. 

That being said, the best time to come to Kharkiv is anytime when the weather is good, up to 6 months a year. The only issue is that even though we get a super easy 90 day visa exemption when arriving, it only resets after 180 days, meaning realistically, we can only spend 3 months a year in Ukraine unless we want to come during winter which isn't advised. Until recently you could simply make visa runs even 2.5 months by leaving the country and coming straight back in as no one calculated or cared about the 180 day rule, but I've heard that as of this year, they started scanning your passport to automatically calculate the days to abide by future EU rules. It's annoying as there's no other way to extend your stay legally aside from getting an employment, student, or permanent residency visa. The other option is to simply overstay your visa and pay the 895uah ($33) fine which a ton of people do, but recently they've been cracking down on that as well and raising the price up to sometimes $300 or more. 

Temperatures of 20c and up is perfect weather.

Overall Thoughts on Kharkiv

As much as I personally like the city, the country and the culture, I cannot recomend Kharkiv to most people. For a short 1 week trip, it'll be a waste of your time, and for longer trips, you'll easily find yourself bored on most days. For me though, it was perfect. My goal was actually to get away for awhile, stop having too much fun, and get back into a good work, gym, and life routine. I also wanted to be bored enough where I'd purposely find time to create content, and learn a new language.

For me, Kharkiv has been perfect for that. There is good infrastructure in terms of internet speeds, 4G, easy Ubers, Metros, places to eat, grab coffee, and monthly gym memberships.  Also, like the rest of Ukraine you get 90 days upon entry with no visa, it's not part of the Schengen zone, which means you can spend 3 months in Western Europe and 3 months here back to back forever, and the costs of living are low for a Western lifestyle. Also it's surprisingly safe here, especially in the city center, even at night for a solo female walking home alone. I even regularly leave my laptop out in cafes when I go to the toilet and have never had an issue.

Kharkiv isn't as fun or built up as Odessa or Lviv and isn't as big as Kiev, but for me, it's exactly what I was hoping it would be and I plan on coming back again in the future whenever I need a couple of months to chill out, go to the gym, and get back into a solid routine without too much distraction. If you want to read more about my thoughts on the culture, dating, and economy of Ukraine or what the other cities including Kiev, Lviv and Odessa are like read the next two blog posts below. Otherwise, feel free to leave a comment below with any insights or questions you may have.

Travel Guide to Lviv, Kiev and Odessa

My Thoughts of Dating, Culture and Economy of Ukraine 

2021 Update: I went back to Kharkiv!

With love from Kharkiv,

Johnny FD

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  1. Would you visit Kharkiv? Why or why not?

    1. Hi John,

      I've been using your blog post as a guide to plan my trip to Kharkiv (~1-1.5 years). I've figured out visas and work, but I have a lot of questions, especially about finding a decent place to live. I'd love to find some time to chat either this week or perhaps after Thanksgiving if that works.


    2. Hi Ritvik, feel free to ask anything here in the comments. Or sign up for a phone coaching session:

  2. Hey Johnny, thanks for the extensive post! Looking forward to planning a trip to Ukraine next year.

    1. Happy to help Tenni. Enjoy your summer in Ukraine next year!

  3. Nice overview and pretty accurate. When I started traveling a lot more around the world and saw what's going on there I realized to myself that my home town (Kharkiv) wasn't as bad as I though it was haha. Btw, been there almost during the same time as you did (came in for 3 weeks, left on Jun 10). Flew to Austria from there and met a few ecom entrepreneurs from Canada on board the plane. That was unexpected but seems like people start to get themselves familiar more with the city and country in general which I'm happy for.

    Thanks for your blog, found it by the reference from Anton's course.
    Let me know next time you decide to go there, I'll try to advice some great spots and/or introduce to some local folks doing business as yeah, people are a bit less open over there with strangers

    1. Hey that's awesome! The funny thing is my current girlfriend is from Kharkiv, but we met here in Sri Lanka!

  4. Fantastic post. Best info I've seen on Kharkiv.


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