“when do I get my own Jeep”: a migrant’s ode

This is the question in my mind today. I have two and a half university diplomas (the other half will be added when I finish my thesis), eight years of NGO experience, good language skills, research and journalism experience, publications, travel, living abroad . Yet I do not see purchasing a Jeep as ever something realistic unless I start a successful business in Kyrgyzstan.

This thought crossed my mind after a quarrel with my apartment owner over water and electricity bills which he promised to pay but then declined. He owns a Jeep and a car plus works for Kumtor which means that he has a high salary. He is about 35-40 years old. The apartment rent was 200 dollars per month which is reasonable these days for Bishkek (with an average income of 180-200$ per month). I pay about half of my income for renting an apartment. Labrys shelter is full of migrants coming from Naryn and Talas looking for safer places for LGBT. They cannot afford to rent an apartment for 200$, they cannot afford renting it for 50$. There are migrants in Bishkek who earn 100$ for 12-hour working days. The cheapest lunch costs about 1,5 dollars even if you cook yourself especially in meat-eating culture. Speaking about poverty.

So when will I be able to purchase a Jeep? An average woman in Bishkek earns about 100-200$ at a regular job. An average man earns more and usually has an ‘irregular’ [read: illegal] job. Men somehow manage to buy cars which cost 4000$ and up. Men manage to rent 200-400$ apartments. The more I live in Bishkek, the more I question the system of how society is organized. Apartment owners would not rent for anything less than 180$.  Who rents these apartments?

Sometimes I think its cheaper to live in Europe. When I lived in Sweden, my friend and I rented one room apartment in suburbs for 400$ and this was considered to be expensive. You need at least 200$ to rent a one-room apartment in Bishkek. Isn’t this scary?

Where do migrants live? What’s waiting for an average migrant in the future?  One option is to rent with four-five friends, then you only pay some 40-50$ and hardly have breathing space. This is a reality for many young women and men who came to Bishkek looking for better fortunes.  Will the state ever consider people who live in horrible conditions and sometimes do not eat meat or butter or even a warm meal for weeks? 

I earn more than an average woman in Bishkek but I am very worried about apartment rent prices in this city and I will not have a man with a Jeep to support me. I doubt that I will have a legal job that would help me invest in purchasing an apartment (at least 30000$) or a Jeep (sometimes costs the same).  

One thought on ““when do I get my own Jeep”: a migrant’s ode

  1. I think oligarchocracy is an integrated part of all post-soviet/CIS societies. To be well-to-do in such societies you need some ‘business’-connections with local mafia and state officials (in fact these are the same people) and run an illegal business, and the only other way to gain reasonable money is working for foreign organizations.

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