Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Report of what it's like to live there - 12/29/08

Personal Experiences from Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei 12/29/08

Background:

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

No. Kuala Lumpur, Italy.

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2. How long have you lived here?

11 years.

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

Teacher.

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

BSB to London via Dubai. 11 hours.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

High standard. Commute to work is 10 minutes.

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

Cheaper than the U.K. Most things are available.

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

I would bring a lot less, as everything isavailable here.

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

Wide variety of restaurants: Malay, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Indian etc. Also fast food.

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Daily Life:

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

Local post office.

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

Cheap and high standard. Easily available.

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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?

Easy.

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

One church in capital - Catholic.

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

Local newspapers in English - 2. Astro TV - cheap, Br$40 per month

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

Little. English widely spoken

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

Not geared for wheelchair access. Would be very difficult.

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Transportation:

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

Left.

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

No trains. Buses fine. Most people have their own car. Very limited taxi service.

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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?

Not worth bringing the car - get one in Brunei.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes. Br$68 per month

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

One provider - very good.

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

Skype.

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Pets:

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

Excellent vet - Irish. No kennels.

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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?

Teaching, banking. Limited opportunities.

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

Err on the conservative side.

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Health & Safety:

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

Excellent.

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

None. Excellent.

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

Excellent healthcare.

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

Hot and sunny. Or hot and wet.

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Schools & Children:

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

Two main ones. Had bad experience with the cheaper one near the airport. Very good experience with more expensive one near Jerudong.

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

There is one special-needs school for serious disabilities. The special needs department in the international school near Jerudong is good.

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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?

Excellent. Easily available.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Generally good.

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

Lots of it. Privately organized. Also at swim clubs

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

For families -- excellent. Some singles like it -- some don't. No pubs or night clubs, but lots of outdoor activities and 'home grown' social life.

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

Fine, as long as no open displays of affection.

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

No.

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

Outdoor life -- sports, trekking,etc. Swimming, beaches, expat clubs, restaurants, etc. Lots to do, unless you want pubs and nightclubs.

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

Batiq.

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9. Can you save money?

Depends on your lifestyle. I do.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Certainly.

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

Most things available here.

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3. But don't forget your:

Personal belongings, such as photos, etc.

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

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

I take exception to the perception that Brunei is boring... Certainly not my experience - there is loads to do (unless you want nightclubs and pubs)! A great country offering a unique lifestyle!

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