In recent times, Kazakhstani pensioners who have the opportunity are leaving their homeland in search of better living conditions. One of their preferred destinations is neighboring Uzbekistan, which welcomes them with open arms. The key to this migration often lies in connections. Moving becomes more manageable if they have acquaintances willing to provide accommodation, but even if they don’t, that’s not a problem. Kazakhstani retirees rent out their apartments and use the proceeds to support themselves in Uzbekistan. What factors contribute to this trend?
Millionaires in Uzbekistan
Kazakhstani retirees have various reasons for relocating to Uzbekistan, with Samarkand and Tashkent being the primary destinations. These cities offer cheaper and more natural food options, cleanliness, safety, and welcoming locals.
According to those who have made the move, in Kazakhstan, they often struggled to make ends meet. However, in Uzbekistan, they feel like millionaires. Renting an apartment in the center of Tashkent costs around $500 (238,444 tenge), whereas a similar apartment in Almaty currently goes for around 400,000 tenge. In either case, it’s a good deal.
Kazakhstani pensioners receive a pension equivalent to 3 million Uzbekistani soms, which is approximately 120,000 tenge. In contrast, local retirees receive up to 700,000 soms. Additionally, Uzbekistani women retire at 55, while men retire at 60.
With such limited funds, it can be challenging to make ends meet, especially for those facing old age alone. Some resort to selling homemade goods like samosa or dairy products. Others, if they have personal transportation, work as taxi drivers. Despite the well-developed metro system in Tashkent, there is still a demand for taxi drivers, especially when tourists visit.
Regarding food prices, tourists note that only fruits and vegetables are significantly cheaper in Uzbekistan. During the season, plums can be bought for as low as 50 tenge per kilogram, tomatoes for 100 tenge, and grapes for 400 tenge. However, winter sees prices rise, much like in other places.
For instance, chicken fillets and entrails are cheaper (between 10,000 and 12,000 soms). Large eggs cost 16,000 soms (660 tenge). In Kazakhstan, prices can be astonishing every day.
Not Without Drawbacks
Living in Uzbekistan does come with its downsides. Local transportation predominantly runs on gas. However, in difficult times, people have to switch to gasoline because of a natural gas shortage. This often leaves citizens freezing in their homes during the winter. Additionally, power outages occur periodically.
Gasoline is not cheap either. A liter of 92-octane gasoline costs 10,000 soms (just over 400 tenge), while 80-octane gasoline costs 6,200 soms (258 tenge), having been 5,950 before the New Year. The queues for gasoline were kilometers long.
Some Kazakhstani pensioners contemplate changing their Kazakhstani citizenship for Uzbekistani, but most quickly abandon the idea because they do not want to lose their pension savings.
Another drawback of moving is dealing with large suitcases. Migrants who have relocated to Uzbekistan suggest bringing household appliances along, as they are incredibly expensive in Uzbekistan. The same can be said for clothing, which is priced so high that some Uzbekistanis travel to Kazakhstan for shopping.
On the plus side, the streets in Uzbekistan are exceptionally clean. People take pride in maintaining cleanliness, and recycling is a common practice. The government even encourages recycling by rewarding citizens who return bottles, allowing them to earn a living from it. The only inconvenience is the intense heat during the season, but it doesn’t hinder the simple joys of Kazakhstani retirees.