Moving Atyrau Kazakhstan

We are moving to…

In Destinations, Expat Stories, Relocation Diaries by expatmeagan17 Comments

It seems fitting that as I’m typing this post it is officially the one year anniversary of our move to Houston. It feels like we only just got to Texas and now it’s just about time to leave.

About a week ago I announced that Dave and I had gotten confirmation that we are moving overseas again. I meant to spill the beans on our destination sooner, but Dave was home this week so I didn’t have a lot of spare time for blogging. The week flew by and now he’s back in London. We are both so thankful that this is his last business trip to the U.K. before we move to…

Atyrau, Kazakhstan

Atyrau Kazakhstan

Yep, you read that right… Kazakhstan. It’s kind of hard to believe, but it’s the place where Dave and I will be spending the next few years of our lives. The last few months have been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. The when and where of our move kept changing. At first we thought we would be going to the U.K. around the end of the year and then all of the sudden the U.K. was out altogether and we were now moving straight to Kazakhstan this summer!

So that’s where we stand. Dave has gotten his official job offer letter and he has sent off for his supporting documentation for his visa application. At this point, we expect to move in late August, but we have definitely learned to go with the flow and take everything one step at a time.

In the meantime, we have both been trying to get our hands on any information about Atyrau that we can, but unfortunately there’s just not that much out there. Here’s what we do know:

  • In Kazakhstan they speak Kazakh and Russian.
  • Atyrau is a transcontinental city. We would likely live in Europe, but we could very easily go to Asia for dinner.
  • There is a foreigners community/compound for expats. We will likely live in an apartment, but there are townhouses available for families.
  • We are not allowed to drive or take local taxis. Instead, we will have a number we can call 24 hours a day to get a company provided taxi.
  • Temperatures are above 100 degrees (38C+) in summer and can get down to -40 degrees (C/F) in winter. It’s what I like to describe Texas summers and Alaska winters, but I’ll let you know how accurate that statement is once I’ve been there.
  • It takes 16 hours to fly to Atyrau from Houston, but requires at least 2 stops so the journey isn’t easy and can take up to 30+ hours depending on your connections.
  • Atyrau is 10 hours ahead of Texas (CDT/CST), making the window of talking time with friends and family back home only 4-6 hours per day. And that’s morning time for Texas so really that only works for people not working or for weekends. Dave has it a lot better, with only a 3 hour time difference between Atyrau and Perth.
  • We have heard that there is a Korean market in Atyrau, which might actually help with the language barrier of buying produce. Who knows. We’ll see.
  • We are a little apprehensive about the food, but apparently there is a TGI Fridays there so if all else fails we do have something that will somewhat resemble “home.”

At first we were really unsure of this move. It’s big and it’s scary and there are so many unknowns. We have been able to talk to some people that have lived in Kazakhstan and it seems like there’s an amazing community and people seem to really like it so we are excited to begin our new adventure. The first 5+ months of our marriage have been a little less than ideal with Dave traveling so much so we are just looking forward to settling down together… no matter where that may be.


  1. Ah! Meagan, it’s aunt Sherrie! I think it sounds exciting and wonderfull! Something to tell your grandchildren! A grand adventure, someday you will be happy for the experience! I think you and Dave are a perfect couple.

    1. Author

      Hey, Aunt Sherrie! I’m so glad you found my new blog. We are both really excited and also pretty nervous about the big move. We are staying pretty optimistic. We head over in a few days for our pre-assignment visit. They pay for us to go over there first to make sure we are ready to commit to the job. Keep us in your thoughts…we are hoping we will really like it!

  2. Wow. I assumed you guys would be in Texas a bit longer. Hope you guys enjoy Kazakh, it’s a place I definitely don’t know much about so look forward to seeing more from you about it and love the new name. Best of luck to you two and Megan and I are rooting for you guys!

    1. Author

      We kind of thought we would be in Texas a bit longer too, but this life is kinda crazy like that. We are heading over to Kazakhstan for a visit in a few days and then we will probably be moving early September. I’m still in complete denial and haven’t started doing any packing. Better get on that!

  3. Yes expat life is definitely one where you have to go with the flow – especially when you start an assignment, and as you found even before you start with uncertainty as to where and when you will start. I’m glad that Dave has kept his job in this oil price turmoil. Best wishes to you both as you commence an exciting new chapter in your life. I still stay in touch with ex work colleagues that are still working in Kazachstan. I know you’ll both have an amazing time.

    1. Author

      Thanks, Mark! We are really thankful and excited about about the move. Our pre-assignment visit is coming up in a few days. Wish us luck! 😉

  4. How crazy is that! Wow, at least being in Europe (or partly anyway) you can travel easily!

    1. Author

      As always, our list of places to visit is pretty long. It will be exciting to visit Europe. I’ve only ever been to the UK. The first two trips we are considering are actually India and Kenya. We are mostly thinking about countries that are easier to visit pre-kids. It’s all pretty exciting though!

  5. Hi, I’m reading your blog as a friend of mine commented on it. I see you are moving to Atyrau! We lived there for 3 years and loved it. I am sure you have done the pre-assignment trip, hope you got to see some of the culture and met some nice people. I would be happy to answer any last minute questions if needed before you take off! Enjoy

    1. Author

      Hi, Jo! So glad to hear you loved Atyrau. The more we find people that have lived there, the better our impression gets. We leave on Saturday for our pre-assignment visit and we are really excited and a little nervous. When did you live in KZ? If you have any tips I’d love to hear them!

      1. Hi, we lived there 2011-14. We still have many friends there who are with TCO. Good luck on your pre assignment visit, hope you enjoy! Most people are back now from their summer break, so should be lots of people there to help you out. If you are sensitive to mosquito bites, make sure you take repellent and anti itch cream with you as this is the time they are really bad!

        1. Author

          I have insect repellent ready to go, but didn’t even think about anti itch cream. Good idea! Thanks for that tip. We are pretty positive about the move. We figure we can go just about anywhere as long as the people are friendly and there’s a good community. It sounds like Atyrau fits that description well.

  6. Hi Meagan! Reading your FB posting really thought you would be back in Korea. Finally the guessing game is answered. Hope you will settle down quickly and enjoy your new adventure in Atyrau!

    1. Author

      Hey Mel, we figured we would end up in Korea again too, but it didn’t work out that way. Thanks for the well wishes! I hope you’re doing great!

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