It was the best of times, it was the unpredictable weather of times. Two weeks in Kazakhstan took me through three different climates in Astana, Atyrau, and Almaty.
When I arrived in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana in late April there was some fresh snow on the ground from a snowstorm a few days before. Located in the middle of a high desert steppe, Astana is a very flat city that has grown quickly in size in the past decade. Many buildings are new, which is favorable for expatriates that like to live in newer buildings. A housing source told me that apartments built before 2005 are considered “old” and undesirable for many expats. It was chilly, but I was still in awe of Astana’s interesting architecture.
I visited Atyrau next on my Kazakhstan tour and it was on the other side of the country compared to Astana. Atyrau is situated near the Caspian Sea and is split in two by the Ural River, meaning the city has land in both Europe and Asia. Expats tend to live in serviced apartments or gated houses, though expat housing is more limited in Atyrau due to its smaller size than bigger cities in Kazakhstan. The weather changed from hot rain to cold rain to clear skies all within hours. I had to dress in layers and carry an umbrella with me while conducting my research. Thankfully the malls were air conditioned!
Almaty is the largest city by population in Kazakhstan and it was the former capital until 1997. It is located at the base of various snow-capped mountains, and it is very green and full of foliage. Almaty translates to “Father of Apples” as historically there have been many orchards and farming in the Almaty area. Many expats appreciate the city’s proximity to the mountains as skiing and hiking are popular activities for both expats and locals. Many expats live in high-rise apartments, which offer stunning views of both the valley and the majestic mountains in the distance. Newer builds are popping up around the city to cater to the increased amount of expat arrivals to Almaty in the recent year. Sources said that once expats arrive to Almaty, they are quick to call home to tell all their friends and family to visit. During my time there, I was able to wear a light jacket or even just a t-shirt thanks to perfect spring temperatures.
My survey trip through Kazakhstan was very interesting and I got to see a beautiful culture and meet very kind people. And fortunately, I had packed a very versatile wardrobe!