The largest city and capital of Belarus, Minsk is full of history and culture, still with a small expat community, though. As such, moving to Minsk can be a worthwhile and rewarding adventure, with some challenges that are better to be known in advance, e.g. when it comes to visa requirements.
Situated on the Svislach and Nyamiha rivers and a population of just under 2 million, Minsk today enjoys a special administrative status in Belarus, but the city has played a pivotal part in the history of the region since the 11th century. As a result, it is home to many interesting finds and stunning architecture.
Its location bordering the Minsk Hills is second to none, putting rolling green hills and the rich pinewood forests the country is famed for, a mere stone's throw from your doorstep.
Whatever time of the year you move to Minsk, be sure to pack clothes you can wear in layers and waterproof clothing. The weather is a little unpredictable and liable to change fast.
Summer months are, by and large, warm and humid. Expect temperatures to reach 28°C in July, the height of summer, but be ready for them to plummet when winter comes. The average January temperature is -4.5°C, but it has been known to drop even lower, achieving a record -40°C in 1940.
Its hard to give advice not knowing anything about your situation, but i’ll try.
If you are planning to live in Minsk, you better buy an appartment instead of renting it (rent is 200–250 $/month, buying the same app. will be 35000–45000 $).
Crime rate is relatively low, but beware drunks when they are in group, they can be unpredictable. Also i would advise foreigners against living in Serebryanka or Shabany district.
Carry an ID if you are going out, especially after midnight, local police (they are called militia) can ask you to provide one and they have right to bring you to police station (to identify you) if you fail to do so.
Belarusians dont care much about your race and ethnicity, but they(we) are slightly homophobic, so two men/women kissing in public is generally frowned upon.
Country name is Belarus, not Belorussia, some ppl are sensitive to this.
Finding parking place can be difficult, so be prepared to walk up to 200–300 meters to your destination in center of the city.
Well-paid work is scarce, you’d better find it before moving to Minsk.
Dont buy from street traders except in markets or immediate area around them (Minsk’s markets are Komarovsky, Chizovsky, Expobel, Zhdanovichy).
Emergency numbers are 101 (Fire department), 102 (Police), 103 (Ambulance), operators do speak foreign languages, but only in limits of their school program, they take no additional training, so adressing your call in english may take additional time, in german will take more time, in italian or spanish may not be answered at all.
Minsk, Belarus, is characterized by reasonably priced housing. According to our city rankings, this is a good place to live with high ratings in cost of living, safety and environmental quality.
Minsk is one of the top ten city matches for 7.2% of Teleport users.
That probably depends on what you expect from Belarus.
Among advantages could be lower then in Europe prices (the difference is not so noticable right now, but things might change in future), people will probably be nice to you as a foreigner, it's possibel to find a job, clean city (if speaking of Minsk)
Among disadvantages can be lack of some goods, infrastructure issues (transport, healthcare, entertainments), not much people speak English, questionable future of the country (possible Russian intervention), bureaucracy and corruption might be an issue.
The Minsk botanical gardens is a nice place to watch guys taking tons of pictures of heavily made-up girls hoping to make it big on Instagram or whatever they do with those pics. Actually, the foliage etc is quite nice and it's a peaceful way to spend an hour or two. https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g294448-d2373969-Reviews-Central_Botanical_Garden_of_the_National_Academy_of_Sciences_of_Belarus-Minsk.html
You could easily fill 2 days in Minsk with things to do. 2 weeks, maybe not.
WW2 museum in Minsk is worthwhile too. http://www.belarus.by/en/travel/military-history-tourism/great-patriotic-war-museum-minsk
If you want data in Minsk, MTS and by.welkom are the two major cellular providers. Packages for a sim-only aren't expensive, but ensure you've unlocked your phone prior to coming. 4G coverage is good, but wifi was almost nonexistent until 2010 in Minsk (I counted 1 hotspot at the cafe at the top of the library). It's got a lot better, but don't count on public wifi.
400$ a month if you choose to stay in the dorms. Staying in the dorms is dirt cheap. Foreigners who attend MSLU’s Russian course stay in the nicest dorms in Minsk. Plus it’s a great place to practice Russian, make friends, and find a romantic partner.
Minsk's founding date is considered to be year 1067, when it was first mentioned in Ruthenian chronicles in connection with the Battle on the Nemiga River between Kievan and Polotskian armies. Before said battle, the Kievans burned Minsk (then called Mensk) to the ground. Nice founding date, isn't it?
Minsk only got Magdeburg rights in 1499, way later than other cities in the territory of modern Belarus (Brest was the first in 1390)
Like many other towns in Belarus, it was repeatedly sacked by invading foreign armies in 17th-18th centuries. Such is life in Eastern Europe.
Apparently, the first congress of a certain Russian Social Democratic Labour Party took place in Minsk. Back in the Soviet times, there was a museum dedicated specifically to that - I have no idea if it exists today.
Minsk was the capital of the self-proclaimed Belarusian National Republic, a failed attempt by nationalist intelligentsia to create a non-Communist Belarusian state in 1918. A noble idea it was, although completely unrealistic in the political conditions of that time.
Due to Minsk's close location to the Polish border in the interwar period, Soviet authorities wanted to move the capital of the Byelorussian SSR to Mogilev in the late 1930s. It didn't happen, but Mogilev stil got a supersized administration building originally intended for the republican government.
Minsk got trashed twice during WW2, first by massive Nazi air bombardment in 1941, then by Soviet artillery bombardment in 1944. There wasn't much left after the war.
The Minsk Ghetto.
After WW2, the whole centre of the city was rebuilt in grand Stalinist style. It looks very nice, especially compared with the later Soviet-era districts.
Many rural residents were moved into Minsk in the 1960s and 70s to work in factories. Some say it was also done by the local government to artificially inflate the population and thus attract funds and approval for prestige projects like the Minsk Metro. As a result, Minsk has a lot of sprawling faceless commieblock districts. Some people from other cities like to complain about how residents of Minsk are all pretentious hicks.
Minsk will host the 2019 European Games, whatever the hell they are.
Local architecture fans like to complain about new ugly business centres and residential highrises spoiling the skyline. In my opinion, there should be more of these highrises, because Minsk is so ugly outside the Stalinist city centre, you can't make it worse anyway.
Minsk has this epic thing! Reportedly it's on at least one list of the ugliest buildings in the world. Still looks better than most of the city.
Minsk is the only place in the country top foreign musicians go to, and the ticket prices are ridiculously expensive. Hell, Minsk is ridiculously expensive in general, by the standards of the rest of Belarus.
One very good reason to go to Minsk is you might become rich: According to the number of treasures found during the year, Belarus has traditionally been ahead of all Europe. There were so many large and small wars there that it is difficult to calculate them. Therefore, there is a reason to believe that the Belarusian land hides many more treasures, which just wait to be discovered.
Also Minsk is known as "the Eastern European Las Vegas" in Russia because casinos and gambling were forbidden in the USSR excepted there. Another occasion to become rich... Well in Belarussian standards sure, but apparently most Belarussians are millionaires so... (Belarusians were recently millionaires. Because of strong inflation, the Belarusian ruble depreciated and for 1 euro it was possible to receive up to 25,000 Belarusian rubles. )
I visited Minsk and Kiev last year for a short break - 5 days in Kiev and 4 days in Minsk. The city is very attractive for people like me who have an interest in both the Stalinist architecture of the 1950s and the brutal concrete architecture that follows. There isn't a huge amount of "sights" but I managed to see the Ballet in the Bolshoi, and I really enjoyed the murals around the city. The city is *incredibly* clean and safe although the number of police in Soviet-style uniforms can be a bit offputting. (I didn't feel I could get photos of the Metro even if it amazing). I had a few days to explore the countryside too - visiting Mir and Nevizh Castles and the countryside is very flat but has an appealing quality. Rural Belarus is very traditional though. It was a good few days but I'd like to explore the country more on a bicycle but until the land borders are easier to cross I think that will be difficult.
This post hurts my feelings. C'mon, guys, Minsk is not as bad as described here. It is one of the safest, cleanest and actually one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Bet you didn't know it was named the hottest travel destination for 2019 by Lonely Planet! Btw, see these unearthly photos from Belarus and say otherwise ;) Where else in the world you can assemble your own tractor or have a sleepover at a bog, huh?
Been there twice. Never go in Minsk without you're wife or you'll end up cheating on her : women are so sexy everywhere in the city and easy to approach! Girls, even the prettiest, are not offended when you look at them. They don't have that Parisian snobbism. Streets are clean. There is no criminalty. They drive OK and don't drink while driving. Chinese are investing a lot in the city, along with the Germans. You won't see any Arab of Black people. Good surprise : French is synonymous of Luxury : all fine restaurants have French names and when you speak French people are instantly interested in you. There is even a French Boulangerie with high prices where they welcome you in French (but the croissants are horrible). WI-Fi everywhere and no censorship despite a dictatorial regime. 5 stars hôtels are not cheap (at least 150€ per night). Most of the city has a soviet-style architecture and there are some old rotten factories inside the walls of Minsk. Not many tourists. A very fine place to live but the cultural life is poor, as is the gastronomic culture (a problem when you are a French Gourmet like me). In case of civil war with muslims in Europe, I will move there.
Minsk has larger population than Latvia
There is more Russian speakers in Minsk than Belorussian
Average monthly net wage in Minsk is about €400