Expats in need of accommodation in Kazakhstan will find that, as is often the case, their budget will largely determine the quality of housing available to them. While the constantly expanding cities of Almaty and Astana (previously Nur-Sultan) always seem to have new apartment blocks springing up, some expats may discover that they can only afford to live in older Soviet-style apartments.
Although accommodation allowances are no longer a given as part of expat relocation packages, it's worthwhile trying to negotiate the inclusion of such an allowance. Accommodation in Kazakhstan can be expensive, especially if expats want to maintain a high standard of living.
Types of accommodation in Kazakhstan
Most of the accommodation found in Kazakhstan is in the form of apartments. These are usually one of two types: newly built apartments with modern finishes and amenities, and old Soviet apartments which mostly lack elevators despite being several storeys high. Soviet-style apartments are significantly cheaper than newer builds.
If expats prefer to live in a freestanding house or cottage, they may be able to find something suitable in the suburbs. That said, this comes at the cost of a long commute into the city centre for work and notably higher rent.
Finding accommodation in Kazakhstan
By far, the easiest way to find somewhere to live in Kazakhstan is by hiring a real estate agent to do the necessary legwork. Though this will incur a fee, hiring a reputable agent is also a reliable way to avoid getting scammed by fraudulent apartment listings online. A bilingual real estate agent will also be able to help navigate the more technical side of renting an apartment.
For those planning to go it alone, online property websites and local newspapers should yield plenty of results, but it pays to be cautious about any deal that seems too good to be true. It is also imperative for expats to view any potential accommodation before making any payments. Many expats arrange short-term accommodation in advance while they search for something more long-term.
Renting accommodation in Kazakhstan
It is best to hire a translator or bring along a trusted bilingual friend when looking for apartments and signing leases to overcome any language barriers with a prospective landlord. As mentioned, a bilingual real estate agent can also help with this.
Applications and deposits
In most cases, only a passport and possibly a deposit may be necessary to rent an apartment – and some landlords don't even charge a deposit.
Utilities are not usually included in the rental price, although some rentals catering specifically for the expat market include utilities in the monthly rent. Either way, expats will find that despite freezing conditions in winter, water and central heating are significantly reasonable in Kazakhstan.