Tbilisi, a city of over a million, is the national capital of Georgia. Although little explored in urban studies, the city epitomizes a fascinating assemblage of processes that can illuminate the interplay of geopolitics, political choices, globalization discourses, histories, and urban contestations in shaping urban transformations. Tbilisi's strategic location in the South Caucasus, at the juncture of major historical empires and religions in Eurasia, has ensured its turbulent history and a polyphony of cultural influences. Following Georgia's independence in 1991, Tbilisi found itself as the pivot of Georgian nation-building. Transition to a market economy also exposed the city to economic hardship, ethnical homogenization, and the informalization of the urban environment. The economic recovery since the early 2000s has activated urban regeneration. Georgia's government has recently promoted flagship urban development projects in pursuit of making Tbilisi as a modern globalizing metropolis. This has brought contradictions, such as undermining the city's heritage, contributing to socio-spatial polarization, and deteriorating the city's public spaces. The elitist processes of decision-making and a lack of a consistent urban policy and planning regimes are argued to be among major impediments for a more sustainable development of this city.
The collapse of state socialism and the introduction of market relationships in Central and Eastern Europe resulted in profound changes of urban development. Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe indicates that the development of a strong housing market and growing material inequalities contribute to the socio-economic polarization of city districts and residential segregation. Based on empirical data, we analyze spatial variation of migrants' first residential choices within Moscow, i.e. intensity of in-migration to a specific district. We test the theory-driven hypotheses about the association between residential choices and housing prices. Our results show that there are some areas that attract migrants of specific socio-economic status. However, housing prices do not explain a substantial share of variance in the intensities of in-migration, at least at the level of city districts; quite a strong association is only evident for foreign migrants. Thus, we find limited evidence of the Moscow' socio-spatial structure polarization due to the residential choices of migrants.