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 Nur-Sultan (previously known as Astana) 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 when it comes to expat relocation packages, it's worthwhile trying to negotiate the inclusion of such an allowance. Accommodation in Kazakhstan can be expensive, especially if expats are looking 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 finishings and amenities, and old Soviet apartments, most of which lack elevators despite being several storeys high. Soviet-style apartments are significantly cheaper than newer builds.
If expats prefer to live in a free-standing house or cottage, they may be able to find something suitable in the suburbs, though 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 the surest 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 that expats go and see potential accommodation in person before handing over any money. Many expats arrange short-term accommodation in advance to have a place to stay while they search for something more long term.
Renting accommodation in Kazakhstan
To overcome any language barriers with a potential landlord, it is best to hire a translator or bring along a trusted bilingual friend when looking for apartments and signing leases. 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 will be needed 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 aimed at the expat market do include utilties in the monthly rent. Either way, expats will find that despite freezing cold conditions in winter, water and central heating are exceedingly reasonably priced in Kazakhstan.