Signup for our free newsletter:

The Ukraine Economy

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted September 28, 2007

Dear Wealth Daily Reader:

It was 9 A.M. when I touched down at Borispol Airport. The entire cabin–except for the Americans–erupted in applause.

"Hmm. Never experienced that one before," I thought to myself. "I wonder why they did that."

I soon found out.

This is Borispol Airport. And it’s in Kiev, Ukraine.

The airport can best be described as stuck in a time capsule. I saw men driving farm tractors pulling trailers full of luggage on and off planes. Seriously.

Customs? There wasn’t any. Well, that’s not exactly true.

But when the customs agent saw how many people were standing in line waiting to get through, a look of "Comrade, where’s my vodka" came over his face. And–get this–he just waved us to the exits where I met my driver. I could’ve been carrying 100 vials of Ebola and they wouldn’t have known it.

Rule #1 for Americans traveling to Kiev: Never take a private car into the city. Always look for the worst, slowest-looking Soviet junker to take you to the hotel. Like the one seen below. This is a Russian made Zaporozhet. And my son’s bicycle goes faster than it.

Russian Zaporozhet

My driver, on the other hand, was driving a Mercedes C-Class, and he opened her up at 130 MPH. Weaving in out of traffic, slamming on the breaks as other cars cut us off, and cursing women drivers, I knew this was the end for me. I was gonna be splattered on a Kiev highway like a watermelon dropped from a 100-foot building. Greeeeeeeat.

How much will my family have to pay to ship my corpse back to Maryland?

"Dude, this isn’t NASCAR!" I said half laughingly as he floored it for a full mile.

He just turned around, stared at me for a couple seconds, and in a monotone voice only a whale could understand, said: "Beautiful women in Kiev. You will like them now."

ME: Thanks for the advice buddy. Now please turn around and watch the road.

The first thing you notice in Kiev isn’t the women. It’s the Soviet-era buildings. Emotionless. Sterile. Distant. It’s like another world. But it really isn’t.

Beneath the veneer of blandness, Kiev is booming, Western style.

Our American contacts there told us that real-estate prices have tripled in the past five years. Americans are moving their software companies to the Ukraine to take advantage of the highly-educated–and very cheap–work force. A top-notch software engineer can cost $1,000 per month, $12,000 a year. In the States, a top software engineer can make $250,000.

An accountant in the Ukraine? $300 per month.

You’ll also find high-end shops–Prada, Armani, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Sushi bars. Wine bars. And Russian cars must share the road with BMWs, Jaguars and yes, Hummers.

And of course, there are the women. No man can talk about Kiev or the Ukraine without talking about the women.

Words really can’t explain it properly. You have to see it to believe it. In Kiev, the ratio of women to men is 3-to-1. And I’ve been told that’s on the low side.

On my return flight I sat next to a 44-year old American who lives half the year in Kharkov, the second-largest city in Ukraine.

He told me the ratio there is even more dramatic–maybe 7-to-1. And all the women are 23 years old. That’s what they always say.

Truth is–I think Ukraine’s gene pool has been isolated for hundreds of years. It hasn’t been contaminated by outside influences. I mean, I’ve never seen so many 6-foot, blonde-haired, blue-eyed women in my entire life. Everywhere you look was a woman better looking than the last. It’s surreal.

But I wasn’t in Kiev to look at women 15 years younger than me. I was there on business.

And in next week’s Wealth Daily, I’ll report on a blockbuster investment I discovered.

Stay hungry,

Brian Hicks