Dushanbe, Tajikistan Report of what it's like to live there - 03/30/14
Personal Experiences from Dushanbe, Tajikistan
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
This was our first tour overseas.
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?
Home is Williamsburg, Virginia. The best travel route is Dulles to Frankfurt to Istanbul to Dushanbe. It's a long trek, but we always overnighted in Istanbul to break up the travel.
3. How long have you lived here?
Two years: 2009 - 2011.
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Houses are huge; many have large yards and covered porches.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
The markets are great in the summer time. In the winter, fresh stuff can be harder to find. Expect to hit 3 or 4 different spots to get what you need.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Ziploc bags and peanut butter, snacks and chips are also a must.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Sigafredos, Morning Star, Salsa. There is a really good Korean place as well, Tiga for Plov. Everything is incredibly cheap.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
No issues that I can remember.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Pouch. It was our lifeline but because of corruption, many deliveries were delayed. The delay can be as bad as 16 weeks.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
The cost of help was very low.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
The Embassy has a gym and there are lots of options around town.
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?
It's a cash economy...The only spot in which we used Credit Cards was at the Hyatt.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
There was one Catholic Church at the time we were there.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
The Embassy offers language instruction from day one. We hired a Russian tutor for our kids and my wife became best friends with her tutor. They went to the market almost daily. It's pretty easy to learn the basics in Russian and get by.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Sidewalks are pretty bad so I'd have to say that it would be difficult.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
We took Marshutkas, and the buses all of the time. the taxis were fine as well...
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?
AWD is a must and something with clearance is suggested. You can't bring anything with tinted widows...have them replaced before shipping anything in.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Our internet was fine. We streamed videos all of the time. There were times when it went down but Skype was a godsend for us. The cost was nothing.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
The Embassy provides cell phones.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
There was a decent vet when we were there.
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?
Not many good paying jobs.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Embassy and NGOs, and the school.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Shirt and tie.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
We never felt uncomfortable. The only issues we heard of occurred in a bar at 2:00 AM and nothing good happens at that time of the morning.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
We didn't have any serious issues, but you can expect to have some stomach issues from time to time.
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 fine. In the winter, you'll see more smoke in the air, but my family and I never thought twice about it. The summers can get hot, but you get used to it. Temperatures can reach 120F degrees in the Summer, but it never stopped us from a great run.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
It can get dusty in the summer because of the dry heat, but it never affected our mood. It's a very dry climate.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
QSI was the only option at the time and the teachers that my two kids (ages 8 and 9) had were excellent. We still stay in touch with many of the teachers.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
The accommodations are not great, but QSI did a great job with a couple of families who had kids 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?
Our kids were too old, but there were options and costs were very reasonable.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
My kids took karate, TKD, and judo and loved it.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
It's small but tight-knit expat community. The moral was quite high when we were there.
2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It is what it is and if you go there with the right attitude, it can be a great experience. The number of decent restaurants was increasing and my kids quickly found plenty of friends. My wife and I loved the Hash.
3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
It's not a good country to be openly gay, but we had friends who were and they loved their time there.
4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
It's a Muslin country, but it's fairly liberal in its view towards other religions.
5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
The people are welcoming and hospitable and I've never eaten better tomatoes and strawberries in my life. Some of the best local dished are shashlik, lipioshka, Plov, samosas, lagman soup and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.......the one thing we regret is that we didn't buy more suzani fabrics. You can't have too many.
6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Join the Hash, hike in some of the most beautiful mountains on the planet, enjoy the food, the people and the opportunities. Our favorite spots were Morning Star every Saturday morning for waffles, eggs and and awesome cookies, Salsa is a great Tex-Mex spot and Sigafredos for pasta and fries.
7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Rugs and suzanis.
8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Dushanbe is an amazing country. It's a bit corrupt but all countries in that part of the world are. Driving to Samarkand and Bukhara was an awesome experience. I recommend that you take an AWD though. There are hundreds of different hikes within an hour of the city.
9. Can you save money?
You can easily save money if you want.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Leave your bad attitude behind and make the best of it. It's not a walk in the park but my family and I loved our time there.