Dushanbe, Tajikistan Report of what it's like to live there - 06/22/20
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?
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?
Washington, DC, United States; Flight times are not convenient. I flew 14 hours to Dubai and opted to overnight rather than endure the 14-hour layover before taking the 3.5 hour flight from Dubai to Dushanbe.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
I live in a spacious 2-bed, 2-bath apartment with modern amenities a bit outside of the main part of the city. Houses are typically large and offer large courtyards, but many are being razed in favor of large apartment buildings.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Availability of items exceeded my expectations. Most items can be found, although some are fairly expensive (e.g., a box of American cereal is about $10). Fresh fruit and produce is seasonal and must be washed carefully.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Most things can be ordered through the mail, except wine. The selection of wine here is limited.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Dushanbe offers Italian, Indian, Korean, Turkish, Mediterranean, and steak restaurants that are all of decent or better quality.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Some moths in spring, but nothing major.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
I use diplomatic mail service.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Many people have full-time housekeeping/nanny help, as it is quite inexpensive compared to prices in the United States.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
The city offers a number of upscale gyms that vary widely in price. I don't belong to any gyms, but I think the hotel gyms with pools are about US $200 per month. I think other gyms run about US $50-100 per month.
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?
I don't think credit cards are widely accepted, but they can be used at grocery stores and hotel restaurants and spas. I only know of two ATMs that colleagues commonly use.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
I have only heard of one Catholic service per week.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
The majority of people do not speak English, so having basic Russian or Tajiki would be very useful. Tutors are affordable.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Taxis are safe and very affordable. Taxi rides within the city run US $2-5.
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?
Many people within the city have sedans, but roads are frequently under construction, so a small SUV would be better. If you plan to explore outside the city, you'll need a vehicle with good clearance.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes. It can be installed quickly.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
I kept my home-country plan.
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?
I don't have pets.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Dushanbe is very safe. I'm not aware of any violent crime or even any theft.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Many people experience "Tajik tummy" while in country. The water isn't safe to drink. People are medevac'd for serious injury or illness and for most dental care.
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?
Air quality is not good. It's best in spring, but never "good". It's terrible in winters.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Dushanbe experiences all four seasons. Winters in the city are fairly temperate. Summers are very hot (dry heat) during the day, but pleasant after dark.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
There is an expat community, but it doesn't seem to be that social. Morale in the country varies. People who enjoy hiking love it 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?
Facebook as a "Dushanbe Expats" group, which advertises some weekly bike rides in summer and trivia nights. Hike Tajikistan, who has a Facebook page, is a local hiking guide service that organizes weekly hikes and some overnight trips.
3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
From what I understand, most people in Tajikistan are not accepting of the LGBT community.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
Language could be a barrier to making friends with locals. No barriers otherwise.
5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
The mountains are gorgeous. The people here are amazingly friendly. Ge out and explore!
6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Lake Iskandarkul, Seven Lakes (Haft Kul), Lake Kulikalon, Lake Timadora, Childuktaron, the Pamirs, and more!