Baku, Azerbaijan Report of what it's like to live there - 09/29/08

Personal Experiences from Baku, Azerbaijan

Baku, Azerbaijan 09/29/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Second expat experience. Previously lived in Minsk, Belarus.

View All Answers


2. How long have you lived here?

4 months.

View All Answers


3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Military.

View All Answers


4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Baku to Frankfurt to Dulles.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can find almost anything you are looking for here. Once you learn which grocery stores carry which products you will not be as frustrated. Western type products and brands you are familiar with are available but are rather pricey.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Hobby materials - though you can order this stuff online and it will be here in 2-3 weeks.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are many good restaurants in Baku. McDonald's is the only Western type fast food. You will find plenty of good food - Georgian, Japanese, Chinese, Turkish, Russian, Lebanese, Pizza, even Mexican.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We have pouch service. You pay postage only for items less than a pound. Items over a pound there is a pouch fee.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We pay 3 manat per hour for our housekeeper who works 12 hours per week.

View All Answers


3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You can use credit cards in some grocery stores and restaurants but we tend to pay in cash in most instances.

View All Answers


4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Services are available. I have recently seen and advertisement for nondenominational. Not sure about other denominations

View All Answers


5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There are free newspapers available weekly in my apartment lobby.

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It is fairly easy to get by day to day in English but having basic Russian or Azeri will be helpful.

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

This is not a disability friendly city. The sidewalks and pavement are uneven, elevators are small and builidings are not well equipped with wheelchair access.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Same as U.S.

View All Answers


2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The embassy security officer has suggested no using buses or subway system and suggests using a specific taxi service. Most travel around the city will cost 5 manat - about US$6.00

View All Answers


3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

A vehicle with low clearance will not be your best bet here. Higher clearance vehicles or small SUV's will do just fine.4wd is not necessary but may be helpful for travels to the regions.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

DSL/Wireless internet is available for around 60 manat per month

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

You should carry a cell phone. The embassy provides phones for employees. Spouses will need to purchase a phone and SIM card. Minutes can be easily purchased.

View All Answers


3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

You have a Vonage phone line in your home.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

I haven't used a vet yet, but there are several to choose from and one clinic that advertises western standards. There is a dog groomer that I've used many times and she is wonderful. Dogs are not well accepted by the local people in part due to their Muslim culture and in part due to fear I think. There is a large stray animal population and I think many people think dogs will hurt them. There are dog parks and very little grass so walking a dog and potty breaks are very difficult. Small dogs I think are more accepted than larger dogs.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Even though this is a muslim country you very rarely see women fully covered. Business casual is appropriate in most settings.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Unhealthy to very unhealthy - people with allergies should be prepared to take medicine almost daily to aid with congestion. The wind blows and dirt and debris are tossed about. Sunglasses are almost mandatory to keep debris out of eyes on windy days.

View All Answers


2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No real obvious concerns. You should treat this as you would any other city worldwide. Use caution, don't walk alone after dark. Make sure someone knows where you are going, etc.

View All Answers


3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Embassy health unit staffed with a nurse and nurse practitioner. SOS clinic for whatever the health unit can't handle and emergencies. Ok care however I wouldn't let them do any invasive procedure other than draw blood.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot in the summer when the wind isn't blowing. Tolerable when it does blow. Cool and rainy some days in the fall.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There are lots of restaurants to go to and many have very comfortable settings - sofas and coffee table type setting for hanging out and chatting.

View All Answers


3. Morale among expats:

We are all in this together. Some people really enjoy it here and others really don't. The experience is what you make of it. I have really enjoyed meeting the people in the expat community.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good for singles, families and couples. There are many expat social groups that you can become involved with and the embassy is really good about social events.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Unsure.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

This is a Muslim country so women are not usually in positions of authority.

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

There are a few museums in Baku. Since the expat community is so large here you can almost always find someone with a common interst.

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Carpets, pashmina scarves.

View All Answers


9. Can you save money?

If you buy local products and eat at home yes. If you MUST have western products or eat out a lot it will be more difficult.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Doubtful because of the dog situation.

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

High heel shoes (you will break your ankle for sure on this uneven pavement).

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor.

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

There are good and bad points to every country. Baku is a small city and once you've seen it you've seen it. You have to amke your own fun here.

View All Answers


Subscribe to our newsletter


New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More