For investors who are quite new to the market and have not spent too much time in the city other than the main tourist areas in the centre, the number of different choices can often seem bewildering – as is the case with any other city with over 1 million inhabitants.
This guide will give you an overview of what to expect in the different regions so that you can choose the one that is right for you.
This is the historic Old Town which every visitor to Tbilisi is likely to know. Sololaki is the oldest part of the city which covers the area between the Sulphur Baths and Liberty Square, while Mtatsaminda is the area either side of Rustaveli Avenue.
Because this area has been developing for hundreds of years in some cases, empty building plots here are few and far between and it is not zoned for high buildings. The few land plots that do become available are highly expensive and so are usually developed into hotels rather than residential buildings. As a result, there are just a handful of new residential projects here that have been developed over the past ten years. Because of this scarcity, prices are very high, usually starting around $2,000 per m2 and going up to over $3,000.
Vera is a relatively small area which covers the area from the Rustaveli Metro Station to the border of Vake, which starts from either Petriashvili or Kekelidze Street. Featuring mainly traditional red brick buildings, the area has a lot of character and is often named as one of the best places for foreigners to live.
As with the centre of Tbilisi, Vera has been developing for a long time now, which means that there are not many land plots remaining. Most of Vera is built on a quite steep hillside and prices depend upon how high up the hillside the projects are located on. At the bottom of the hill, prices can reach $2,000. Higher up the hill, prices are more affordable and many have great views. However, it’s a pretty steep walk down to the city centre from these projects towards the top of the hill.
Stretching from the borders of Vera to Vake Cemetery and separated from Saburtalo to the north by the River Vere valley, Vake is considered by most Georgians to be the most upmarket and desirable area of the city and, as such, is where most of the city’s most luxurious developments are located. Vake is where you will find the largest green area in the city in the form of Vake Park and most of the city’s larger embassies. Over the years, the fact that Vake attracts the wealthiest of Tbilisi’s residents has led to the best shops, restaurants and bars opening here.
Vake is another area where land plots are getting harder to find, so less and less new projects are being constructed here. Prices here are higher than anywhere else in Tbilisi other than Mtatsaminda/Sololaki. For projects close to the main thoroughfare through Vake, Chachavadze Avenue, new projects start around $1500 per m3 and can go up to over $3,000 per m2 in the most luxurious projects such as Axis Towers.
Above the Round Garden, going up the hillside is an area called Upper Vake, which is close to Vera. Prices here are significantly lower than close to Chachavadze Avenue, but it’s quite a long, steep walk to the main part of the city and there are few shops and restaurants within walking distance, other than a few convenience stores.
To the west of Vake, along the Tskneti Highway is what used to be the small village of Bagebi. Because of its proximity to Vake, this area has seen a lot of development in recent years. Prices here are still affordable compared to the central Vake area.
Saburtalo is a very large area compared to Vake. Due to its size, there are probably more foreigners living in the area than the rest of Tbilisi are combined. One of the reasons for this is that there are many universities in the area which attract a lot of overseas students. Another major advantage of the area is that Tbilisi’s second metro line – the green line – goes right through the centre of the area.
Saburtalo is so large that I divide it into two main sections. What I call ‘Busy Saburtalo’ is the eastern half which ends at the river. Here you will find most of the universities in Saburtalo, including the Medical and Technical universities, plus City Hall and Pekini Avenue, which is one of Tbilisi’s major shopping streets. Traffic can be pretty bad in this area during rush hours.
What I call ‘Quiet Saburtalo’ is the western half. This is not as developed as ‘Busy Saburtalo’ yet and so there are more options for new developments here. University Metro Station was opened at the end of 2017 and has made this area more convenient for living. There are more green areas in this part of Saburtalo, most notable of which is the old Hippodrome, which is currently being turned into what they are calling ‘Central Park’ as it is being completely renovated. The area also contains the new City Mall, which opened in 2019 and is the largest mall in the central part of the city.
Most of Saburtalo is fairly flat, but at the northern edge of the area is Nutsubidze Plateau which offers great views over the city. There is a high concentration of old Communist buildings here and less shopping options than in the centre of Saburtalo, so prices here tend to be more affordable.
Next to Nutsubidze is the Lisi Lake area, which is a popular beauty spot. There is not so much development here. Much of it is zoned for only low rise projects, which means that prices are quite high.
Dighomi is a very large area which covers most of the north-west of the city. With normal traffic, it takes around 30 minutes to get into the centre from here and there are no metro stations in the area. Here is where you will find the US Embassy and the QSI School which is considered to be the best (and most expensive) international school in the city. The large Tbilisi Mall is just outside the city limits to the north of Dighomi.
As Dighomi covers such a large area, there are still plenty of building plots available in the area. This has led to a lot of construction at some of the more affordable prices in the city. Dighomi Village, in the north-west of Dighomi is zoned for villas and so is one of the best options for anyone looking at a private house rather than for apartments.
On the opposite side of the river from Dighomi is the Gldani area. It has similar advantages and disadvantages to Dighomi in that it takes a little over 30 minutes to get to the centre from here. Gldani does have an advantage in the fact that Tbilisi’s main metro line passes through the area. There is a vibrant shopping area around Gldani Metro Station which has a couple of small malls with plenty of shops surrounding them.
The majority of apartments in the area are of the old Communist type, but these are now being joined by plenty of new projects which are among the more affordable options in the city as, again, there are plenty of empty building plots available here and it is possible to build high-rise projects.
Below Gldani is the Didube area. Although closer to the city centre than Gldani, Didube is considered to be a fairly industrial area and so is still quite affordable. The area is well-served by metro stations and there are also many markets located in the area, including the main home improvement megastores. Significantly smaller than Gldani and having been developed for a lot longer, there are less building plots available in the area. Those new projects that are under construction, however, offer fairly good value for money for anyone on a budget who is looking to be relatively close to the city centre.
South of Didube and on the opposite side of the river from Mtatsaminda is the Chughureti area, which includes Plekhanov and Vorontsovi. This is an historic old area, mostly low-rise and featuring typical Georgian red brick buildings. David Aghmashenebeli Street was fully renovated in 2012, which has led this area to become popular with tourists, especially from the Middle East. A few blocks back from here is the famous ‘Fabrika’, which is popular ‘glostel’, co-working centre and collection of trendy bars and restaurants. This has become a centre for ‘digital nomads’ who have been relocating to Tbilisi in increasingly larger numbers.
Still a little ‘ragged around the edges’, the area is becoming increasingly popular with ‘hipster types’. Prices here are still highly affordable compared to Mtatsaminda on the opposite side of the river, but have the potential to increase faster than other areas.
Below Chughureti and just on the opposite side of the river from the heart of the Old Town is Avlabari. If you have seen pictures of historic old wooden buildings perched on the top of a sheer cliff face, then this is the area, as these buildings are in Avlabari. The area is also famous for the Holy Trinity Cathedral with its gleaming gold dome.
Similar to Chughureti, this is a low-rise area with many old red brick buildings, most of which are in serious disrepair. Due to the fact that this area is so centrally located, this area is home to many boutique hotels, together with the first five star hotel in Tbilisi, which is the Sheraton.
To the east of Avlabari is the Isani area, which is zoned for high-rise buildings. There are still some land plots available in this area, which means that there has been quite a lot of construction in the area over the past years. Prices here are cheaper than in Avlabari. Being just a 10-15 minute drive to the city centre from here, or just three stops on the metro from Isani Metro Station, Isani offers a good compromise between affordable prices and ease of access to the city centre.
Covering the extreme east of the city is the Varketeli/Vazisubani area. This is the first part of the city that the first-time visitors to Tbilisi see on their journey from the airport. The area is quite similar to Gldani is that the area has a high concentration of old Communist style buildings, but with plenty of empty building plots available. Advantages of the area are the fact that the last stop on the metro is here in the centre of Varketeli and there is a good mall on the edge of the city in the form of East Point.
As is also the case with Gldani, prices here are some of the most affordable in the city. But, with all of those land plots still available, buyers here are unlikely to see much in the way of capital appreciation over time compared to properties in more centrally located areas.
We finish our tour of the city by hopping back over to the west bank of the river, where we find the Ortachala area. Starting less than 20 minutes’ walk from the Sulphur baths in Old Town, the location is a convenient one for tourists.
Despite this highly convenient location, Ortachala saw little development during the Communist period and had the feel of a small village up until recently. Over the past few years, however, the fact that there are still some good plots available together with the convenient location has led to a fair bit of construction now taking place.
Disadvantages of the area are the fact that there is no metro station in the area (although there are plenty of buses passing through the area going to the centre) plus the fact that there are not so many shops in the area currently. The lack of retail will be solved after a few years, however, as permits have been issued for a new mall to be constructed here.
Although not a particularly large area, prices in the area vary a great deal depending upon location. The most affordable apartments here are actually some of the closest to the centre (although are located quite high up the hillside). The area seeing the most new development is the area close to the river, where prices are average.
Running into Ortachala is the Krtsanisi area, which is up the hillside from Ortachala. This is actually one of the most exclusive areas of the cities because of the views and also the fact that there are more embassies located here than anywhere else other than Vake, including the British, French, Japanese and UAE embassies. The area is also just 10-15 minutes’ drive from Tbilisi’s only golf course – the Tbilisi Hills 18-hole course.