Ukraine is the largest country in Europe and a solid choice for remote workers and ex-pats. Nevertheless, it has a mixed reputation and doesn’t get much hype in the travel community. Away from media drama, here is a complete Ukraine digital nomad guide.
NOTE: I visited Ukraine in 2021. This article was written during that time when nobody could imagine the horrors that were to come in 2022. I will undoubtedly go back and update this guide when Ukraine is at peace again.
Welcome to Ukraine: a Historic Powerhouse with Many Different Faces
Ukraine is one of the most misunderstood countries in Europe.
When I told Western friends that I would be spending six weeks there in the summer of 2021, reactions were decidedly mixed.
Seasoned travelers usually highlight the country’s positives and digital nomad perks. The general public, in contrast, associates Ukraine with political tensions and poverty.
So, what can you expect as a Ukraine digital nomad?
First, let’s dive into history.
In the Middle Ages, Ukraine was a cultural powerhouse in Eastern Europe under the Kievan Rus and Rurik dynasties. From the 13th century onwards, the country witnessed numerous invasions from the Mongols and other eastern powers.
Ukraine belonged to several empires, including the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Russia.
Ukraine then became part of the Soviet Union, and the republic suffered tremendously during Stalin’s reign and the Second World War. In 1986, the Chernobyl power plant became the scene of the worst nuclear accident in history, forever marking the history of Ukraine and the Soviet Union.
Ukraine remained part of the Soviet superstate until its fall in 1991.
Since 1991, it hasn’t been plain sailing for the newly independent country. An ideologically divided population, tensions with Russia, and economic corruption have caused lots of instability in Ukraine.
Nevertheless, Ukraine also invested heavily in its infrastructure, technological progress, and education. As such, it’s today a far cry from a post-Soviet 90s republic.
Ukraine is among the best digital nomad destinations in Europe for several reasons:
- Low cost of living;
- Relatively modern infrastructure;
- Friendly visa policies for most nationalities;
- Easily accessible from anywhere in Europe; and
On this basis, here is a complete Ukraine digital nomad guide covering all the bases.
The Best Cities in Ukraine for Digital Nomads
Any Ukraine digital nomad will wonder about the best cities to base themselves. The following are my top picks when it comes to living in Ukraine as a foreigner.
Kyiv: the Obvious Choice
When it comes to the best cities in Ukraine for digital nomads, Kyiv is undoubtedly number one.
It’s the country’s largest city with the most cultural attractions, coworking spaces, and nomad-friendly coffee shops. It’s also the most international city – and home to the country’s busiest airport.
As such, if you travel to Ukraine for the first time, Kyiv is the obvious choice. You won’t be bored here, and you’ll also find lots of English speakers and fellow nomads.
- Read my guide on The Best Things to do in Kyiv.
Odesa: the Black Sea Option
With around 1 million inhabitants, Odesa is the country’s third-largest city.
It’s located on the Black Sea coast and thereby a popular resort destination for Ukrainians. It also has a decent cultural offer, lots of cozy coffee shops, and a buzzing nightlife scene.
You won’t find Caribbean-style beaches here, but it’s still a charming spot to spend some time in summer. Odesa cannot compete with Kyiv, but if you want a more relaxing location on the coast, it’s among the best cities in Ukraine for digital nomads.
Lviv: the Most European City
Lviv is Ukraine’s most pro-European city, thanks to its proximity to the Polish border.
It’s a small but lively place with lots of cool bars and a young population. It also has some of the country’s prettiest architecture and a laidback vibe. It has less nomad infrastructure than the larger cities, but there is still enough for most remote workers.
If you don’t want to stay in a big metropolis, Lviv is definitely an option, and it’s also well-connected to many places in Poland.
Kharkiv: the Best City in the East
If you want to base yourself in eastern Ukraine, Kharkiv is arguably the best choice.
The city has a vast cultural offer and is one of the strongest economies in this part of Ukraine. Better still, its architecture is more varied than other places in eastern Ukraine, where you only find Soviet blocks.
Kharkiv has enough infrastructure and things to do, but it’s still the East of Ukraine. As such, Russian is the only language – and the mentality is different from Kyiv or Lviv.
To sum up, the city scores points with its authenticity. If you want to go to a Russian-speaking place without going to Russia itself, this is the closest you’ll get.
Vinnytsia: the Underdog
Back in western Ukraine, Vinnytsia is one of the most underrated cities in Ukraine.
Most of the city’s historic architecture dates from the Polish era, and the vibe is European. It’s also a young and hip town – with lots of bars and cute coffee shops.
If you want to stay in an underrated city in western Ukraine, Vinnytsia is undoubtedly a contender. It’s a lot less well-known than Lviv – but similar in size and layout.
Cost of Living in Ukraine
Ukraine is undoubtedly one of the most affordable countries in Europe.
As long as you don’t splash on high-end restaurants and nightclubs, you can live on the cheap in Ukraine. Here is a breakdown of one month of digital nomad expenses in Kyiv:
- One bedroom Airbnb close to Independence Square: 700€;
- Food and drinks: 250€;
- Transport: 50€;
- Tourist activities: 100€;
- Miscellaneous like barber, gym membership, coworking, and SIM Cards: 100€.
Total Ukraine digital nomad budget: 1,200€ (~1,360 USD).
You could get that budget down significantly by renting through a local agency. If you, on the other hand, decide to splurge on restaurants and nightclubs, it will go up.
Infrastructure and Connectivity
Here are some things to know when it comes to Ukraine digital nomad infrastructure.
Wifi Speed and SIM Cards
Ukraine’s infrastructure is hit or miss, depending on the region. Luckily, large cities like Kyiv and Lviv have excellent Wifi speeds – and lots of remote working locations.
With an average download speed of 59.13 mbit/s, Ukraine is nowhere near the top, but that’s the national average. In Kyiv and other major cities, you’ll find significantly better Wifi. As such, one of the best things about being a digital nomad in Ukraine is that almost every coffee shop in a big city will have decent Wifi.
When it comes to buying a SIM Card in Ukraine, Kyivstar and Vodafone are the most popular options. Kyivstar offers unlimited data for less than 10 USD, so it’s my preferred choice.
Getting around Ukraine
The cities in Ukraine are well-connected by trains and buses. Many bus companies don’t sell tickets online. As such, you often have to buy on the spot.
As an alternative, many Ukrainians use Blahblah Car, an app for long-distance ride-sharing.
Accommodation for Digital Nomads in Ukraine
The easiest choice is undoubtedly Airbnb. You’ll find a decent offer in all the larger cities – and also in smaller towns.
Sites like Booking.com are also an option to find short-term rentals. If you can speak Russian or Ukrainian, you can try going through a local agency.
Ukraine Digital Nomad Guide: Remote Working Locations
- Bazis Coworking Space Kiev: one of the best coworking spaces in the Ukrainian capital with different plans;
- AV Hotel and Hub in Kyiv: an uber-modern capsule hotel with remote working locations;
- LIFT99 Hub: a super-trendy coworking space in Kiev with table tennis, hip furniture, and a young crowd;
- One Love: a coffee shop chain in Kyiv that’s popular among digital nomads;
- Kharms: a charming bookstore-style coffee shop near Kyiv’s Golden Gate church;
- iHub Lviv: one of the best coworking spaces in the city of Lviv;
- Cooffice: a hip coworking space in downtown Odesa; and
- Fabrika.space in Kharkiv: one of the few coworking spaces in Kharkiv with English-speaking staff and menus.
Ukraine Digital Nomad Guide: FAQ
To complete our digital nomad Ukraine guide, here are some frequently asked questions.
Is Ukraine Safe?
You might be surprised to hear this, but Ukraine is actually a very safe country.
Of course, there is a conflict in the East, and some territories remain in contention. Life for most Ukrainians, however, is normal. Ukraine is the largest country in Europe, so what happens in one part won’t necessarily affect the others.
As long as you don’t wander into active conflict zones, you won’t hear or see anything. Don’t worry. You won’t end up in Donbas by mistake.
In terms of the crime that you – as a Ukraine digital nomad – might face (petty crime, theft, and scamming), Ukraine is on par with other places in Eastern Europe. Don’t go looking for trouble and use common sense. That way, your Ukraine visit should remain trouble-free.
Is There a Ukraine Digital Nomad Visa?
There is no bespoke Ukraine digital nomad visa as of now. However, most Western countries can stay visa-free for up to 90 days.
If you want to stay longer than that, you’ll need a D-type resident visa. Find out more about Ukraine’s visa policy here.
How are English Levels in Ukraine?
In Western Ukraine (Kyiv and Lviv), English levels are passable. Especially the younger generations are often proficient, and many places are used to Western tourists.
In the East, you’ll definitely need Russian. English is quasi-nonexistent in Kharkiv, Dnipro, and other eastern cities, so be prepared for that.
The language situation is complicated in Ukraine. Many Ukrainians are native Russian speakers, while others only speak Ukrainian.
As a rule of thumb, the further east you go, the less Ukrainian and more Russian you’ll encounter. In Lviv, Ukrainian is the only language, but in most other cities, it’s a mix.
Are There Many Fellow Nomads in Ukraine?
Kyiv is a popular nomad base in Europe, and you’ll find lots of ex-pats and remote workers here.
In the other cities, that’s not really the case. Consequently, if connecting with fellow nomads is your priority, Kyiv is your best bet.