Dhaka, Bangladesh Report of what it's like to live there - 09/28/21
Personal Experiences from Dhaka, Bangladesh
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
Bangkok, Mumbai, and Amman.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
About 24 hours, not very difficult.
3. What years did you live here?
2014-2016 and 2018-2021
4. How long have you lived here?
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
NGO work and then work with the UN.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Most expat families in Gulshan 1 or 2 (preferably 2, north of Gulshan 2 circle) or Barhidhara where the American school is. The commute can be difficult, but if you are working at the US embassy, your housing will be nearby.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
The availability of fresh food is quite good, however the quality can be poor. The best place to shop is at the Nordic Club on Friday and Saturday- especially for veggies. There are multiple grocery stores with imported products near Gulshan/Baridhara- Unimart, Lavender, German Butcher.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
I didn't have this option, but almost everything you need is available. During normal times, quick trips to Bangkok allow you to get anything you need.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
FoodPanda is the main food delivery app. PizzaRoma is the best pizza in town! Holey Bakery and Izumi are also very popular.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
No, the usual, but easily managed.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
I didn't have this option so never did it :)
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
250 USD for wonderful, English speaking nannies and house cleaners. Usually one ayah per kids for those younger than 5 and if kids are older just one for the bunch.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
The are available through the expat clubs; highly recommend joining one for social activities and sport.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Yes, you can use both and very safely.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
There are a few.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Language tutors are available and Bangla is great language to pick up a few phrases. That being said, English will get you very far.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Absolutely; there are also cultural stigmas to contend with as well.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Rickshaws and tuktuks are safe, buses less so, but I've taken them long distances when needed (Chittagong to CXB).
2. 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?
Something that's a bit higher off the ground to contend with waterlogging.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Very easy to install and is decent.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Local provider is very easy to set up and inexpensive.
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?
Work in Dhaka is available, just look for it and you'll find it :)
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Lots! Work with NGOs is abundant.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
You can wear just about anything, but looser fitting clothing and covering knees, chest and shoulders would be more than enough for women. Formal wear is rarely needed.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
No, it's incredibly safe if you keep your wits about you.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Dr Adkins at AISD is great! Otherwise, in normal times, a quick trip to Bangkok for anything more serious.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
The air quality is AWFUL from Nov-April. However, it can be managed with purifiers and sealing some windows if needed. This should be your number one concern if you come to Dhaka,
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Quite hot and muggy, but it's lovely once you get used to it a bit.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
The American school (AISD) is absolutely phenomenal. If you can afford it, send your kids there. The second most popular choice is the French School, especially for kids younger than six. They have a new principal, Karim, who is lovely and really trying to improve the school. Other schools, Grace, Aurora, are supposedly okay, but I don't have direct experience with them.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
My guess is that only the AISD makes any accommodations for students with special needs.
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?
They are fairly inexpensive, look at the French school (takes kids from about 2.5). Pixieland and Jinglebells were also open before COVID, and lovely!
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
At AISD, yes. At other schools, I am not so sure.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
The morale is generally high, avoid the negative folks. It's not paradise, but it can be close if you try. "The grass is greener where you water it!" has been my motto and it's served me well here.
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?
The local expat clubs. Definitely join one to meet folks and you'll make friends quickly. The Nordic Club Spa is fantastic!
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Yes. I've been single and married with kids. It's great for both, especially younger kids.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
It's easier to make friends with wealthy locals who live a similar lifestyle.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
This is an area to be cautious. There have been severe incidents of violence, so keep your wits about you.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
Bring linen cloth. It can be hard to come by, but local tailors are great and can really make you anything
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes! I hope we go back!
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
4. But don't forget your:
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam.
6. Do you have any other comments?
Dhaka is a city where you can do anything: paint the embassy walls, run a kids camp, organize a charity run. Make the most of it!