Baku - Post Report Question and Answers

What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Houses are located in stonepay/royal park or Izmir Villas. Large apartments spread out downtown. Can only speak to the houses so far. Stonepay is far from the Embassy and city center, especially in traffic. Izmir is like a single suburban block within the city. You can walk to work from there in 25-30 minutes. With traffic so bad, only live in Stonepay if you really want the TISA (British) school and a bigger home/more greenery. Izmir homes smaller, less greenery but better condition and commute. Both communities have well, community, with the kids running around with each other and riding bikes, etc. - Sep 2023

If you find yourself assigned to live in the Turkish Red Bricks, it's essential to brace yourself for what could be a challenging living situation. If possible, consider requesting an alternative housing community to avoid potential hardships. There is no sense of privacy because you can always hear people that are above you, below you, and adjacent to you. The master bedrooms are adjacent to the neighbor’s kitchen and if we were fluent in Azerbaijani then we would be able to understand what they are talking about. Moreover, the ceaseless construction activities taking place round-the-clock contribute to a perpetual background noise that can make it feel as if the construction is happening right within your own apartment. The acoustics within these buildings seem to amplify every sound, magnifying the disturbance. From day 1, we’ve had constant issues with our apartment like broken door handles, leaking A/C units, bathroom sinks smelling like sewage every day, and leaking warming racks. We’ve had gray water leak from the apartment above ours into our master bathroom twice. Each time we reached out about it, initially we would be told it was a drainage/sewage pipe leaking and then ten minutes later we were being told it’s not. So, no one can ever give you a solid answer. If you do have a handyman, come over to fix an issue, make sure you put away all your towels and rags, because they will use them without even asking you, and make sure they clean up after themselves, because they will leave a mess. One silver lining frequently mentioned in relation to the Turkish Red Bricks is their proximity to the Embassy. However, it's worth noting that these commendations typically come from individuals residing in more favorable housing areas. If you were to approach them about swapping accommodations, chances are they'd swiftly decline, fully aware of the subpar living conditions. - Aug 2023

Housing is large and spacious for all family sizes. All apartments are walking distance from the Chancery or Annex, as well as one single family housing development. The largest housing development for our community members is in the "suburbs", 4 miles out, with houses ranging from 2-4 floors. Commute time for this area ranges from 15 minutes during the summer months, up to 1 hour during winter months. - Aug 2023

Families with children are usually in the suburbs housing complexes. Others tend to be downtown at apartments which are modern and quite spacious, centrally located with a 20-30 minute walk commute to the Embassy. We've had no issues and love our housing. I think all housing options allow pets. - Jun 2023

Probably the biggest house we'll ever have in the Foreign Service. It was brand new when we moved in and has been a great house to live in. It has 4 floors total that include a giant open area attic and a basement with garage. The International School of Azerbaijan (TISA) is located in the neighborhood. Commute time for my wife and kids to get to school was a five minute walk. Driving to the Chancery or Annex (at Landmark Hotel) can take 15-45 minutes depending on traffic, and the return trip is usually 20-60 minutes. If you can change your schedule to go in early and leave early you will miss a lot of the traffic. I found that if I left the Annex by 5:30 I could get home in 30 minutes. If I left at 6pm or later, it would take 45 minutes to an hour plus. The Chancery and Annex are about a mile apart, but the Annex is in a more trafficked area so getting out can be more difficult. Certain times of the year, like when Formula 1 is in town, the traffic is a complete nightmare and everything is gridlocked. Or when the president goes anywhere they shut down the roads and you could be stuck for 30 minutes. - Jun 2021

Housing is great. There are houses and apartments spread throughout the city. That is the one downside; while housing is clustered, you are spread throughout the city and traffic can make it hard to get from one place to another. Commute times range from a 10 minute walk to a 30 minute drive (45 minutes with traffic). Apartments range from 2 bedroom to 4 bedroom. Houses are from 3 bedroom to 5 bedroom. One housing location shares a compound with one of the international schools. Some of the apartments are a nice walk to the Chancery, many are a nice walk to the Annex. Houses have interesting decorations sometimes, but they are generally quite nice. I think most people I know are happy with their housing. GSO has done a nice job of sharing photos of housing and asking your thoughts when you fill out your housing survey. - Jan 2019

In general, housing is pretty good here and most people are very happy with their housing. Houses and apartments are good-sized and adequate. Commute times vary from a 10-minute walk to a 25-minute car ride. For most housing units, there is, if at all, little green space.

Of course, housing changes all of the time, but we live in a high apartment building “Turkish Red Brick,” a 10 minute walk or 5 minute ride away from the embassy, 10 minutes away from the downtown area, with three groceries stores within a 10-minute walk. Singles, couples, small families as well as bigger families have lived here. The Baku International School is about 15-minute car ride away.

The embassy rents new and very nice apartments right near the Bulvar, mostly for singles, couples and small families (about a 10-minute ride by car). A little compound “Izmir Villas” is a great option if you want to be somewhat closer to the embassy (less than 10 min by car). Houses are American style and look very nice, but have routine maintenance issues.

Another compound is Grand Park, which also has nice single houses and is close to a big new grocery store. Again, routine maintenance issues. If you would like to send your kids to The International School of Azerbaijan and live close to the school, but don’t mind the 25-30 minute commute to work, chances are high that you will live at the big compound Stonepay, which looks like a little dated American suburb. There is not really much around Stonepay, so you’re a little out there in your bubble. - Jul 2018

If you're in Baku with an embassy or corporation, you will likely find your housing size to range from adequate to large. If you're with an NGO or have to find your own accommodation at your own cost, you may have a smaller apartment. Housing does not have much storage space and closets are often quite narrow. But living spaces are good-sized and can easily accommodate social gatherings if you like to entertain. Average expat commute times range from 10 minutes on foot to 35 minutes by car. There is no specific expat neighborhood, but the general footprint of where most expats live, work, and play in Baku is fairly compact. - May 2018

We live in a large house inside a gated community. The community has a small market, a cafe, two outdoor swimming pools, fitness center with an indoor swimming pool, a playground and a soccer field. There are several locations for embassy housing. It's a good mix of apartments and houses. The location is typically dependent on your choice of school. - Mar 2017

There is a new rule for the embassy that only singles or married couples without kids get apartments and all families of 3 or more have to move into houses. None of the apartment buildings meet fire safety codes so to reduce the risk, the management decided to get employees out of the apartments as much as possible. The apartments and houses are nice and large with ok but intermittent utilities. The appliances are mostly European so they are smaller than we are used to but overall ok. - Jul 2015

There are several housing areas. In downtown, close to the embassy, are apartments, some across the street from the embassy. Most are walkable to the embassy. Somewhat further out (2 miles) are private, walled houses that are in 'neighborhoods' that consist of badly-paved alleys. During rush hour is is faster to walk than to drive. Even further out are two other housing areas, Badamdar and Grand Park. Badamdar is more private, large residences in walled compounds. Grand Park is a walled, gated neighborhood with non-walled houses and some small green areas. The commute time from GP and Badamdar is about 15 minutes in the morning and anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour in the evening. All of the housing is very large and most are quite nice. Almost all have three floors and a small garage. The yards are often, however, a lot of pavement. - Jan 2013

Each housing neighborhood varies. There is both suburbs and downtown living. There are both apartments and houses. The commute varies for each area AND due to Eurovision the commute time has tripled if not quadrupled in length of time to get from the 'burbs to the Embassy. - Dec 2011

For embassy personnel housing is a mix. Apartments - some right across from the chancery and others about 5-10 minutes walking distance from work. There are a scattering of other apartments and houses. Construction quality is poor. Houses for embassy personnel are assigned in accordance with rank, family size. Depending on traffic it can take 30-45 minutes (or even an hour if it is particularly bad) to reach the embassy. - Sep 2010

Very mixed. There are some huge houses with pools (although they are drained, and everyone is forbidden to swim in them this year) and some very small duplexes or apartments. Housing is a big source of unhappiness here. The housing board is completely illogical: their decisions are not based on rank or age/sex of kids. Housing is not even remotely up to western standards. - Aug 2010

Traffic is horrible here. Typical commute to the embassy is approx 20-30 minutes. - Oct 2009

Ranges anywhere from apartment living to houses. most live in enormous houses. It takes about 25-45 min. to get to the Embassy depending where you live and how bad traffic is. - Nov 2008

Singles and couples without children will live in apartments. Families will live in large houses. - Sep 2008

Most singles/couples live in apartments while families with kids have homes. The commute is anywhere from 15-45 minutes. - Sep 2008


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