Best Places to Live in Kazakhstan | 10 Wonderous Destinations to Settle In

From the old Turkic word “Kazakh”, which translates to “wanderer”, and the Persian suffix “-stan”, which means “land of”, the land we know today as Kazakhstan has quite literally become “the land of the wanderer”. In this expansive landlocked country, there is a myriad of beautiful places to call home.

You need not break your back trying to get there, Kazakhstan boasts a relatively affordable lifestyle to pair nicely with the richness of its terrain. The only thing you need to fret about is having to choose!

With Russia to the north, China to the East, and a host of fascinating and culturally rich cities and towns all in between, this historical haven of the nomad is the perfect nesting ground to consider for your next home.

Best Places to Live in Kazakhstan for…

  1. Expats: Aktau
  2. English Speakers: Almaty
  3. Digital Nomads: Astana
  4. Solo Travelers: Aktobe
  5. Groups: Shymkent
  6. Couples: Talgar

Top 10 Places to Live in Kazakhstan

1. Aktau

Best Place to Live for Expats

Cliffside on Caspian sea in city of Aktau

Cost of Living: $

Kazakhstan’s major port city Aktau sits on the banks of the Caspian Sea. Explore some of the city’s historical sites, or savor a stroll along the beachfront.

Tip: Aktau has a unique block address system that does not allocate names to streets. Instead, streets are identified by three numbers: the district number, building number and apartment number.

Who Would Like to Live There: Expats and Couples


  • Locals are welcoming
  • Large Expat community
  • Efficient public transportation system


  • Susceptible to brownouts and water cuts
  • Glass pollution on some beaches
  • Risk of fleecing from merchants

2. Almaty

Best Place to Live for English Speakers

Ariel view of Almaty city skyline

Cost of Living: $$

Kazakhstan’s capital up until 1998, Almaty remains the country’s largest and most vibrant cultural hub. Once a stop along the ancient Silk Road, the city remains a well of opportunity for traders and shoppers alike!

Tip: Visit Almaty’s “Golden Triangle”, its trio of natural treasures – the Kolsai Lakes, Charyn Canyon and Altyn-Emel National Park. 

Who Would Like to Live There: English Speakers, Digital Nomads and Students


  • Centre of commerce
  • Seasonal outdoor activities like river rafting in summer and skiing in winter
  • Renowned tertiary institutions in the area, including Kazakhstan’s Academy of Sciences


  • The area has had earthquakes and mudslides before
  • Relatively high cost of living
  • One functioning metro line

3. Astana

Best Place to Live for Digital Nomads

Wide angle view of Baiterek monument in Astana

Cost of Living: $$

Astana is the shining jewel in the heart of Kazakhstan and has been the capital since 1998. Famous for its varied architecture and skyscrapers, the capital city is a beacon of modernity in the region, especially to the young and ambitious.

Tip: Visit the Baiterek Monument and take the elevator to the top floor for a panoramic view of the capital, or enjoy the aquarium in the basement.

Who Would Like to Live There: Digital Nomads and Expats 


  • Has a regular free-Wifi internet access zone
  • Intra-ethnic and intra-religious harmony
  • English is generally understood in most restaurants and hotels


  • Second coldest national capital in the world
  • Isolated city
  • Threat of theft especially for expatriates and foreigners

4. Aktobe

Best Place to Live for Solo Travelers

View of Aktobe cathedral and mosque

Cost of Living: $

Aktobe is the fourth-largest city in Kazakhstan with one of the fastest-growing industries. Here, where the Kargala and Ilek rivers meet, you will find a lively city with up to 18 libraries and a handful of theatres including the Regional Puppet Theatre Alakai.

Tip: Aktobe is divided between the Old Town to the east, which retains much of its pre-revolutionary Russian character, and the New Town to the west where the city’s more modern appeal has developed.

Who Would Want to Live There: Solo Travellers and Students


  • Fast-growing industry
  • Multi-confessional city
  • Affordable standard of living


  • Pollution from oil and gas plants
  • High risk of theft
  • Sharp variations in seasonal temperatures

5. Shymkent

Best Place to Live for Groups

Archway in Shymkent with flowers in front

Cost of Living: $

Shymkent is the third-largest city in Kazakhstan and was named the Cultural Capital of the Commonwealth of Independent States in 2020. This urban jungle is a major industrial and cultural centre, beloved for its illustrious bazaars and fields of wild tulips, and horses!

Tip: Shymkent is a reputable spot for bird-watching

Who Would Want to Live There: Groups, Couples and Equestrians


  • Efficient public transportation
  • Plenty of recreational activities
  • Vibrant flora and fauna parks


  • Low English-speaking population
  • High humidity in summer and freezing in winter
  • Pollution from old lead smelters

6. Talgar

Best Place to Live for Couples

Mountain range nearby Talgar in the Almaty region

Cost of Living: $

Talgar is a small town in the Almaty region that was named after the river and highest peak of the Zailiisky Alatau Mountains which border it. This quaint town is renowned for its breathtaking scenery and invitation into the outdoors, perfect for those trying to escape.

Tip: Along the slopes of the mountains you can find Siverse apple trees and wild apricots.

Who Would Want to Live There: Couples, Solo Travelers and Nature Enthusiasts


  • Plenty of hiking and biking trails in the mountains
  • Plenty of seasonal outdoor activities to choose from
  • Romantic scenery


  • Poor internet speed
  • The nearest airport is 25km away in Almaty
  • There have been avalanches and mudslides before

7. Taraz

Best Place to Live for Historians

Person walking in the rain on a bridge in Taraz

Cost of Living: $$

Taraz is one of the oldest cities in Kazakhstan. Also a stop on the Silk Road, the city is replete with historical significance and natural beauty. In 2001, UNESCO declared the city a World Heritage Site.

Tip: Visit the Regional Museum of Local Lore to delve into Taraz’s rich history through paintings, pottery, or even stuffed animals.

Who Would Want to Live There: Historians and Solo Travelers


  • Rich in history and culture
  • Has a regular free-Wifi internet access zone
  • Scenic location


  • Cost of living is 3x higher than the national average
  • Few English speakers
  • High risk of mugging after dark

8. Kokshetau

Best Place to Live for Young Travellers

Forest nearby Kokshetau with mountain range in background

Cost of Living: $

Kokshetau is a lakeside city in northern Kazakhstan, named after Mount Kokshe, which sits on the southern shore of Lake Kopa. One of the leading cultural, educational and industrial hubs in the Akmola region, the city has numerous natural attractions to be explored and widespread investment in the arts.

Tip: Kokshetau is the main centre for television and radio broadcasts and is home to all significant Kazakhstani newspapers.

Who Would Want to Live There: Young Travellers and Sports enthusiasts.


  • Multi-cultural and multi-ethnic community
  • Good internet with a developed telecommunications system
  • Numerous opportunities for outdoor activities like ice-skating, skiing or watersports


  • Few English Speakers
  • Extreme continental climate
  • The Burabay National Park is an hour’s drive away from the city

9. Taldykorgan

Best Place to Live for Students

Cost of Living: $

Taldykorgan is a city in the Zhetysu Region that is positioned on the left bank of the Karatal River. Translated to “the willow hills” in Kazakh, the city also sits in the western foothills of the Dzungarian Alatau Range and boasts some beautiful natural scenery.

Tip: The city’s train station services Central Kazakhstan, Central Asia, Russia and China

Who Would Want to Live There: Students


  • Affordable housing/rent
  • Abundant healthcare facilities
  • Diverse range of educational institutions


  • Few English speakers
  • Poor maintenance of some facilities
  • Risk of mugging after dark

10. Semey

Best Place to Live for Retrophiliacs

Aerial view of Semey bridge suspended over Irtysh river

Cost of Living: $

This historically dense student town sits along the Irtysh River close to the Russian border. Once a host to the Soviet Semipalantinsk Test Site for nuclear weapons, the area has since burgeoned into new life and boasts many intriguing museums and monuments.

Tip: Visit the Semey Bridge, suspended over the Irtysh River, at night to witness the enchanting effects of the lights over the water. 

Who Would Want to Live There: Retrophiliacs and Students


  • Renowned intellectual medical community
  • Rich in history
  • Walkable city


  • Poor air quality
  • Residual radiation in some areas
  • Irtysh River is known to flood occasionally

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