Kathmandu, Nepal Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Kathmandu, Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal 08/28/19

Background:

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

I have been with the Foreign Service for 6 years and the military before that. I have lived in various posts in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Americas, and Europe.

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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?

DC. It takes about 2 days, 51 hrs. The flight is grueling and extremely expensive, about $2,000. Actually, it's expensive to fly anywhere from Kathmandu.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 Years.

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

I am an FSO

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing ranges from big 5-bedroom houses with huge yards to townhouses, to apartments. It seems kind of random who gets what based on availability. There's a shortage of housing so we know a few people who were in a hotel for awhile when they first arrived. Most of the housing is within a 10-minute walk to the Embassy, but there are plenty of houses that are much farther than that. I knew someone who drove 1 hour each way to work. The traffic is horrendous so don't be fooled if some place is only a mile away from the Embassy, it might take you an hour to get there!

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

I was surprised at this one. Nepal is supposed to be a very cheap country, but the availability and quality of local food is terrible. Never eat the mangoes from India! They put some chemical on them that makes people sick. Also there is no regulation on what companies put in their packaged food, so you might be eating all kinds of chemicals and not be aware of it until you feel terrible. If you have any kind of allergy, just stick to meat, veggies, fruits and things off Amazon.

You can eat really cheap here if you want to eat Dal Bhatt (lentils and rice) every day, but if you want to eat an American diet, you'll be spending way more than you would in the US. For example, butter is $6/ half pound, beef is around $21/ pound, and cheese is $20-30/ pound. We bought a turkey from the commissary for thanksgiving and it was $100! Also, the only place you can find berries is in the commissary and they're $10/bag.

The availability of anything is highly seasonal and subject to change on a moments notice. When we first got here, the boarder with India was closed and you could hardly get anything. Even now you may want to make dinner on night, but only be able to find a few sad carrots, tomatoes, and onions in the store.

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

Everything. I had no idea that simple things like good flour, baking soda, and spices would be extremely hard to find. We ended up using all of our consumables allowance and purchase dry goods from Amazon monthly. Think ahead about entertaining, holidays, and birthdays, and ship everything to post. I shipped vanilla, sprinkles, cranberry sauce, cookie cutters, pumpkin, and a bunch of spices. You can find some things here if you really try, but the quality is lacking, they are expensive, and it's just plain easier to order it.

Also, if you have kids bring everything they like! Cereal, snacks, toys, books, baby wipes, diapers etc....

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

There are a few decent restaurants and there's Foodmandu delivery service. We don't eat out much because it's expensive if you want a good meal and 75% of the time ,one of us gets sick. Sanitation, or lack thereof is a huge problem in Nepal. People simply don't understand the concept of washing and the dangers of contaminating toilet water with food. I was totally blown away and I've lived in some rough places!

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

There are mosquitoes in monsoon. Med will tell you there's no Dengue in Kathmandu but I got it last year and never left the valley. Also, you can't eat any leafy greens (herbs, lettuce, chard, etc...) in monsoon because of an awful parasite that is not killed by washing. There are some cockroaches in some of the houses, a huge pigeon problem! I have dubbed our friend's place "the pigeon palace" because you can't even see the facade anymore because of all the pigeon poop.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO. If you use the Nepal mail, they will probably hold your mail for ransom (no joke) or it will go "missing". We've even had some things stolen out of the DPO, but it's pretty rare. DPO can take awhile though, at least 3 weeks, but we've had things take 4 months.

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

Household help is extremely cheap, $200-300/month. Most Embassy folks employ a housekeeper, driver, gardener, and nanny if you have kids. I have found that the reliability and workk ethic is extremely lacking here. We went through 3 housekeepers before we found a good one. Sadly stealing is a very common practice here and we fired 2 people for stealing. It's also common to have house help do some strange things like use the same rag for the bathrooms as the kitchen, not listen when you ask them to do something, buy peanuts when they know your kid had a peanut allergy, etc... That said, if you do find someone good, it's wonderful. Make sure you have a contract that includes a 3-month trial period!

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Phora, the American club has a small but decent gym with treadmills and weights. At the Embassy there's a cardio room, and the Marine house has a weight room. There are no local facilities.

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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 recommend using cards because of the skimming. We use cash everywhere. There is an ATM at the American Club and the Embassy, and those are the only ones I use.

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

There is one English-speaking church in Patan but it's a 50-minute drive. No Jewish services anymore.

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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?

If you're in the Kathmandu valley, some very basic Nepali is helpful but not necessary. Outside of the valley some Nepali is helpful especially if you are trekking.

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

Yes! I can't imagine living here with any kind of disability.

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Transportation:

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

No. RSO says not to use the buses, rickshaws, or tuk tuks as there is a lot of theft and groping. Taxis are ok, but they're tiny! No seat belts, and they will try and overcharge you. Always establish the price before you get in and ask someone who's been here awhile what the prices should be. They'll try and play hardball, so just walk away and go to the next one.

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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?

Don't bring it! You will get dinged. It's extremely hard to bring a car to post, and it's a right hand drive country. Buy a car here.

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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?

The internet is ok. We can stream maybe 60% of the time. The speeds they advertise are wildly inaccurate. Expect there to be problems with service. Either they won't set it up right, it will only service one room (bring wifi extenders), or it will be so slow you can't use it. Out internet was set up in a week, but it took another 3 months of fighting with Subisu (the company the Embassy recommends), to get it to actually work.

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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?

Everyone uses Ncell. I pay $10/month. It's ok, but if you have any problem with the service, it will be terrible trying to fix it.

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Pets:

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?

No quarantined. The vets are ok. Just be aware that because of disease and sanitation issues, your pet may get sick or have skin issues if they go outside.

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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?

Most spouses work at the Embassy. Some telecommute, and other's have found jobs are NGO's. Local salaries are really low, $500/month or lower.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

I knew someone who volunteered but then the government made it illegal to do so. It's actually a lot harder than you would expect to donate your time here. There's a huge problem with fake non-profits. Most opportunities are European and American kids who pay to volunteer and live at the facility.

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

The Embassy is business to business-casual depending on where you work. In public is modest (no shorts or tank tops) and extremely casual. Pajamas seem to be acceptable public attire. Only formal wear at the Marine Ball, but bring your dress or tux with you! Don't expect to find a skilled tailor here.

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Health & Safety:

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

There have been some bombings (usually 5-6 per year), usually by the communist group. Women can be groped on the street or grabbed, this is not super common, but it does happen. Don't walk alone at night and steer clear of groups of young men. It's a decently safe post.

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

Everything other than a cold or parasite requires a medevac. Med is ok for most normal things but don't expect them to do much of anything. People have curtailed because of this. Many, many people develop skin issues because of the poor quality of our water, which is annoying if you're an adult, and extremely concerning if you're a child. People also have hormonal problems and lung problems because of the terrible air pollution.

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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 here is ok in monsoon, but any other time, it's about the same or worse than New Deli, or Bejing back in the early 2000s. I underestimated how bad it could be. In the dry season, you can only see 100 feet ahead of you sometimes. Bring and wear a good mask, don't exercise outside, limit walking, and do your research! I would not have brought my kids here if I had known.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Don't come. Or resign yourself to never going out to eat. Nepali's don't understand allergies at all. I thought it would be ok if I explained my son's allergy in Nepali and had a card in Nepali, nope!

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Depression from the poor air quality. Previous poor morale is slowly changing due to new people coming in.

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

It's a temperate climate, and never gets below 30F or above 92F. The summers (June through August) are wet, and the rest of the time it's dry.

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Schools & Children:

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

I've heard the Lincon School is excellent, but no personal experience.

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2. 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?

There are preschools and they are decent. The Montessori school is good. There are a ton of kids here and there's a play group (or several) for every age. Lot's of opportunities for social interaction.

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Expat Life:

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

It's a mid-sized post. There are some expats here, but not many. Embassy morale is not great; Kathmandu is a hard place to live and work. There are some Embassy events. I was expecting more excursion type events like they do at other posts, but so far there have been few. This is definitely a house-centric, and make your own fun kind of place. If you want to do something, ask around, you may find someone who knows where to find it.

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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?

Mostly just get-togethers in our house. Card nights, BBQs etc...

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

There are some good things for singles. Nepali men always seem to want a date. For couples it's ok if you make some good friends; for families it's great except for the health issues.

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

Yes. Nepalis are becoming more excepting of the LGBT community. We had our first Pride Parade this year! You may face discrimination outside the valley where attitudes are more conservative.

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5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

It's fairly easy to make friends with locals if you really try. Everyone wants something it seems, (money, visas, etc...) so that really is wearing me down. If you are a black or white American you will get starred at a lot! Nepali's are very friendly.

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

Gender inequality is huge. I had to get used to men completely ignoring me and only speaking to my husband or the other men in the group. Don't shake the hand of the opposite gender unless they offer first. When I went to activate my cell phone, they asked where my husband was!

Among Nepali's, there are prejudices against those of a lower caste, and people are sometimes killed over marrying into the wrong caste. Also against the Tibetians, Tamang, and other tribes.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

We went to Pokara, and Chitiwan, and took the Everest flight. All amazing and totally worth it! Just stay in the nicest place you can afford, ask for a mattress topper, and whatever you do, don't drive, fly. Driving through the mountains is seriously a suicide attempt.

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

Buy veggies at Le Serpa market, visit the burning grounds, get out of the valley as often as possible. There's also some nice hotels that are BnB's close by: Chandra Ban resort and Nagakoit.

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

Yes and no. It's hard to find good quality items, and when you do, they are very expensive. I have bought some carvings, thangkas, tibetian furniture, and silver jewlery.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

If you like trekking, and have have the money to do it ($2000 for a 1-2 week trek), it's completely worth it and amazing. Just expect to really rough it, and eat Dal Bhatt mostly.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How horribly dirty it is, how expensive trekking is, how bad the air is, people will steal and swindle you every chance they can, and how you should bring absolutely everything you will need.

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

No.

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

Need to get things done, perfection, and cleanliness

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience! hard stomach, sense of humor.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

If you have a great sense of humor and adventure, you can make the most of this post. Throw all of your expectations to the wind. Even though some people enjoy their time here, I have never met anyone who wasn't super excited to leave.

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Kathmandu, Nepal 08/05/15

Background:

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

I've lived in Paris and Cairo.

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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?

Chicago... it's a long trip, shortest route is nearly 36 hours, through Doha or Istanbul (but beware Turkish airlines is not the best and they are late almost everyday).

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3. How long have you lived here?

20 months.

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

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Houses are larger than in the U.S., most U.S. government employees live in large single family houses with a few on compounds. The houses can be old and not very updated with funny-colored all-tile bathrooms (I have a bathroom with floor to ceiling blue tiles with jumping dolpins). They are all close enough to the Embassy to walk to work in a reasonable time.

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

The local food and produce is cheap, but can be low quality. The imported items are very expensive (US$8 for cream cheese, etc.). Beef and some vegetables (red peppers, peas, brussels sprouts) and almost all quality dry-goods are imported (cereals, pasta, etc.). Depending on how you eat, you can either save a ton of money or go broke.

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

My favorite beer, liquor, and wine. There is some here, but a limited selection. pickles. I miss pickles. Bring Western spices, quality cleaning supplies, personal care, pet food, ziplock bags. These can all be difficult to find on the local market. Basically anything you really NEED, bring with you, as you probably can't find a quality version here.

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

There is a food delivery service that will deliver food from many restaurants for $1.00 delivery charge. There's not really fast food available (there's a KFC, but I haven't tried it). There are a lot more restaurants than I expected. There's really almost everything your could want, including sushi and Japanese food, Korean BBQ, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. in addition to Nepali restaurants. The "American" restaurants seem to have the lowest quality food.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

mosquitoes in the summer, but not too bad.

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Daily Life:

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

Through the Embassy. I have heard that there is a local post office, but haven't ever tried to use it.

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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 prevalent. Many people employe 3 or 4 local staff, from housekeepers, nannys, drivers, gardeners, and guards. A typical salary is less than US$150 a month. Many staff can be afraid of dogs, but if you search you can usually find good quality staff to suit your needs.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are a few, but I have not used them.

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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?

Credit cards are accepted at some places and are becoming more widely accepted, but cash is still the norm. ATMs have a 10000 nrs. limit (approx. US$100), so you can find yourself using them frequently and if you have to pay an ATM fee with your bank it can really add up.

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

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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?

I don't know any and get along just fine. Many locals don't speak English, but there's always someone who does and is willing to translate nearby.

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

Yes. There are no accomodations for individuals with physical disabilities. There are few sidewalks and they are generally in bad condition. I have seen individuals in wheelchairs rolling down the side of the street. That said, there is an active disability rights advocacy scene, so it's not impossible.

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Transportation:

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

No trains. Buses are scary. Taxis are safe and really affordable, crossing from one side of the city to the other will cost you US$5. You can convince taxi drivers to take you to really remote places for US$10-$20. Bring your negotiation skills.

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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?

Depends. In the city, a compact car is just fine. If you are thinking of driving yourself outside the city (yikes!) you would want a high-clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicle. I don't know many people who drive outside the city. They drive on teh left and have really strict import restrictions, so I highly recommend buying a car locally. The servicing seems to be fine here, but at Western prices.

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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, there are three main providers, each with their own issues (reliability, customer service, cost). The most reliable with the best customer service will cost US$150 a month for 1MBPS service. The least reliable will cost US$60 for 5 MBPS, it really depends on your tolerance for outages. The middle of the road provider is around $100/month but has terrible customer service.

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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?

If you want a smart phone, bring it with you. iphones, etc. are available here, but can be expensive. The local cell service is 3G, and generally very good.

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Pets:

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?

No quarantine, but the quality of vet care can be a challenge. There are two decent vets in the city, but there is a lack of pet medicines and pet products in the city. Kennels, especially large ones, are impossible to get in the city, so bring one with you. That said, there is a huge street dog and stray cat population, so if you are considering getting a pet, this is the place to do it, just come prepared.

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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?

No. They can be hard to find, pay little, and work permits are very difficult to obtain.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many- there's a ton of need, so anything you would want to do you could find a place to do it, from animal welfare to orphanages, to counseling centers.

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

Generally quite casual in public, in the office it's business casual/business depending on where you work. Leave your high-heels at home as its difficult to walk on the streets/sidewalks.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not really, this is one of the safest places I have ever lived. As a single female, I have never felt threatened or uncomfortable. Be careful while driving as the drivers are terrible and if you get into an accident, people will "mob" around the scene.

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

Yes, many. Medical care is not the greatest although there are two clinics that cater to tourists and westerners. Any major health problems are better dealt with outside the country. Food poisoning and the Kathmanpoops happen to everyone, frequently. Bleaching fruit and veggies is recommended. Don't drink the water. Many people have challenges with the air quality and respiratory illnesses.

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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?

Terrible in the winter. Not bad during monsoon season as the rain washes away most of the pollution, but it's not a clean place by any means.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

bring allergy meds, dust, dander, and pollen are prevalant.

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

Its mild year-round, with hotter summers, but with monsoon it cools off when it rains, so it's not too hot. Winters require a light jacket.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

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

Much smaller after the earthquake. Morale is okay, there is a lot to do and see. It can be hard to live here, especially if you need Western things (like paved roads!), so some people have a harder time than others. Things are slowly getting back to normal, so hopefully the expat community will begin to rebuild.

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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?

Mostly just bars and restaurants. It's a make-your-own entertainment kind of place. There's no theater or concert venues, but there are a lot of local bands that play at the bars in town if you like live music. One of the local bars just installed the first draft-beer system, so that's available now.

Many people prefer to socialize while being active here, running, hiking, mountain biking, yoga all have active communities.

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

I think its good for all, but some youger singles find it difficult to go out as the bars are very smoky and can be quite crowded and very loud. However, those who are into the club scene have a few decent choices. There are a lot of activites for those who are looking for an active lifestyle, there's a climbing wall, tennis courts at the American club, many yoga options, etc.

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

yes, Nepali culture is accepting of everyone.

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

As a Westerner Nepalis will stare at you. However, they are all very nice. I have not run into any prejudices that I've noticed. Dating can be challenging due to cultural differences and men can still be condescending to women sometimes.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Visiting places outside Kathmandu. Get out of the city if you can, places like Ilam, Dolpa, Mustang are phenominally beautiful. It can take some time to get there, but it's really worth the trip as long as you are in the country.

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

There's a go-kart track that can be fun, a climbing wall.

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

Antique Tibetan furniture and carpets; hand carved wood or stone sculptures; Buddhist Thanka paintings; textiles, really a lot of neat things.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Saving lots of money. Mild weather. Exceptionally nice locals. Fun/interesting culture. Great handicrafts.

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10. Can you save money?

YES!!!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How to drive a manual transmission car. I don't really think any amount of preparation would have changed my experience. Unless you've lived in India it's a culture/living experience like nothing else.

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

I think so. Maybe for a shorter time, but it's been a really great experience.

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

Western standards. Desire for green space and running/walking outdoors.

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4. But don't forget your:

Openness for new experiences.

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Kathmandu, Nepal 07/25/14

Background:

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

Previously lived in Kathmandu as a student.

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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?

From Washington, DC, it's anywhere from 24 to 40 hours with layovers in the Middle East or East Asia. I have flown through Doha, Korea, and Thailand - all are good routes with good airlines.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2012-2014.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Mostly large family homes, with a number of apartments. We lived in the apartments - they were spacious for a couple, and we enjoyed the community and proximity to downtown (5 minutes driving) and the Embassy (5 minutes driving). Facilities and GSO were both very responsive to maintenance/general housing requests, although they are somewhat limited in their ability to make repairs as most of the housing is leased.

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

Very cheap but limited and very seasonal. Kathmandu was getting more and more products over the course of my tour. Pack lots of liquids and canned foods in your consumables. You can get everything else you need at the commissary or on Amazon. Also, there are a number of great companies that deliver things like strawberry and fresh milk/yogurt to your house. Ask around about them.

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

Liquids.

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

A number of decent restaurants but nothing fantastic. Everything is cheap and there are a lot of restaurants catering to expats that serve hygienic food.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Spiders, ants, mosquitoes, roaches - but all pretty occasional and not bothersome. Others had worse issues with mosquitoes but they don't carry disease here.

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Daily Life:

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

Plentiful and cheap.

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2. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are small gyms at the Embassy and the American club. There's also a burgeoning gym business around town. The Embassy has cross fit and other fitness classes. There's a good yoga studio in town.

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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?

Nepal is a cash based economy. There are ATMs in most of the touristy areas as well as at the Embassy.

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

Very little but a little goes a long way and will make your experience so much better.

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

Definitely. I frequently saw people in wheelchairs going down the middle of the road in traffic because the sidewalks were inadequate or didn't exist. You could get around in a car but you would be severely limited.

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Transportation:

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

No trains here. Taxis are safe and affordable although not the most comfortable experience. Public transportation is even cheaper and less comfortable.

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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 small but with high clearance. Inquire with post about the car import rules before you come - the rules changed after we arrived and you could no longer import any used cars.

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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. On the slower side. We could sometimes stream video. I can't remember how much we paid but it wasn't particularly expensive.

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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?

Not a lot. If your skills are in the development field, you'll do much better. There were a lot of jobs at the Embassy but not usually matching with the experience levels of our family members.

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

Business to business casual at the Embassy. Very casual in public.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not really - you will feel very safe here. Women should be careful about walking alone at night, though, and should definitely not hike or trek alone.

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

Plenty of health concerns. Gastrointestinal issues are a major problem here. Most people are sick on a regular basis. Luckily, though, there is no dengue or malaria. Medical care is very limited. The medical unit was not equipped to deal with long-term health issues.

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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?

Bad and getting worse. One of the worst things about Kathmandu. Do not expect that you will be able to go for a pleasant jog in the morning, unless you live out on the edge of town (which has its own disadvantages).

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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?

Great temperate year-round. It never gets below freezing in Kathmandu although it can feel very cold in the housing during the winter months (Nov-Feb). Fall and spring are absolutely gorgeous. Late spring can get a little stifling but it soon gets better with the monsoon rains, which clear away all the pollution as well. Monsoon is muddy and humid but pleasant enough.

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Schools & Children:

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

I don't have any firsthand experience but people seemed to be happy with the American and French schools.

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Expat Life:

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

Medium to large but it can feel a little claustrophobic sometimes because Kathmandu is so isolated.

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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?

Lots of in-home entertaining. A number of cultural events, concerts, parties going on around town.

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

Nepal is surprisingly tolerant of the LGBT community despite the fact most of the society is very conservative. I knew a number of gay expats who seemed to be happy in Kathmandu.

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

Within Nepali society, absolutely. There is certainly discrimination against expats of color, as well, mostly in the form of staring and inappropriate comments. The gender discrimination is much more subtle but as a Westerner, it will get under your skin.

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5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Trekking in the Everest and Mustang regions. Seeing the Terai in its monsoon colors. Watching the city light up during Tihar (the Nepali equivalent of Diwali). Witnessing the power of USAID projects in rural (and even urban) areas. My wonderful Nepali co-workers. Yoga. Wandering the back streets of Kathmandu, which are full of life and old temples and charming people. Pretty much every conversation I ever had with old Nepali ladies at my Consular window.

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

I really enjoyed getting out on the weekends for hikes. It takes a little bit of planning but there are lots of good options. There are a number of nice resorts on the hills around Kathmandu that will get you out of the pollution - Namobuddha is my favorite. Pokhara is a nice escape, if touristy. My favorite tourist activity was to wander around the backstreets of Bhaktapur. Lots of outdoor adventure - mountain biking, trekking, rafting, canyoning, you name it.

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

Tibetan furniture, Tibetan carpets, Tibetan handicrafts . . . a lot of Tibetan stuff. And some nice Nepali handicrafts too. Pashminas.

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8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The people here are wonderful. I know people say that about a lot of places but it's really true about Nepal. You will be amazed at the kindness of strangers here. It's also a very beautiful country -- particularly outside of Kathmandu -- and inexpensive.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Of course.

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

Expectations.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of adventure and willingness to learn new things and be open to new experiences.

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

Forget Kathmandu - Manjushree Thapa

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5. Do you have any other comments?

This post can be challenging at times, particularly because it is isolating, and not everyone loves it. But a lot of people were very happy here.

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Kathmandu, Nepal 05/19/14

Background:

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

No. Cambridge, Budapest, Taipei, Tashkent, Hanoi.

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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. Shortest flight is probably through Doha -- 4 hours to Doha, usually a layover of 6-8 hours, then 13 hours to DC.

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3. How long have you lived here?

20 months.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

U.S. embassy housing is mostly fairly large houses within 5km of the Embassy. Some are beautiful, some are a bit odd, par for the course for a third world country. Most other expats live in Patan or that side of town where the views are better and the air quality is slightly less bad.

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

Vegetables and fruits are good and available in season. Some are imported from China or India and so available off season but expensive. Dry goods are available at a few supermarkets (Saleways is one example) and about the same prices as U.S. Household supplies are mostly cheap Chinese or Indian .

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

High quality cooking oil, balsamic vinegar, a 3-year supply of liquid toiletries (you can get, but not your brand necessarily if you're picky about that), green chiles, green enchilada sauce and other Mexican food.

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

KFC, Baskin Robbins and maybe one other. Don't come if you can't live without Starbucks or McDonald's. There are cheap good options for Indian or Nepali food for a few dollars a meal, all the way to relatively expensive European fare at Chez Caroline, and organic vegetarian food in Thamel.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitos are an issue during the monsoon.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic Pouch. DPO is coming soon.

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

Very available and cheap, about US$100-170/month for a full time nanny, US$70-100 for full time gardener, US$150 for a driver.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. The U.S. Embassy has a small gym, the American Club likewise. There are small private gyms in the city, including one that offers kick boxing for women. I think a couple of the larger hotels have gyms that have memberships as well. There are also several good yoga studios catering to expats.

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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?

Stick to 'safe' ATMs at the Embassy or American Club. If you don't have access to those, use Standard Chartered or another international bank, not the local banks.

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

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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?

I get by fine with only a Namaste and danya bat (thank you). People do appreciate the effort and try hard to understand if you learn some Nepali though.

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

Yes. I wouldn't advise coming.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are fine and cheap. Embassy recommends not to use buses and tuk tuks, which look crowded and unsafe anyway.

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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?

Bring a 4WD that you don't mind beating up. Some of the roads have recently been paved but quality is not high and potholes and sinkholes are common. Our road in an upscale neighborhood is currently being 'improved' and is a sea of mud when it rains and as bad as a jeep trail in the U.S. when dry.

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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?

Up to 4 MB - at least that's what advertised. Really, you get about 2.

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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?

Embassy provides phones for employees and spouses. Otherwise phones are easily available via NCell or other dealers. Service is dirt cheap and you can get your phone unlocked easily.

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Pets:

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?

No. There are at least two good vets. No kennels that I know of.

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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?

It's tough to get a job once you get here in the NGO world -- get one before you come if you can. The U.S. Embassy has 2 EPAP positions and several other EFM positions.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many.

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

Current Ambassador wants DC-style dress. In public, for Westerners this is a very casual city, almost anything goes as long as it is modest e.g. shorts and tank tops are not appropriate, and neither are exercise tights when trekking, although many tourists seem to have a blind spot for this. Women here wear mostly saris or salwar and kemiz, although younger women increasingly favor jeans -- almost always with a long shirt that covers the behind though. There are a couple of big formal events every year, so bring a tux and a floor-length dress.

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Health & Safety:

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

There are no streetlights, so it is very dark at night. Bring a good supply of small flashlights you can put in your bag. Even so, street crime doesn't seem to be a huge problem. In Thamel, keep your hands on your bag.

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

Major health issue is the air. There is good medical care for routine issues but anything remotely serious requires a medevac to Bangkok or Singapore.

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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?

Bad. A lot of people have trouble with it. That said, I don't find it as bad as the previous reviewer, and have not had a problem with upper respiratory issues except when my neighbors burn trash, and that's temporary. Neither has my husband or either of my kids. However, it is ranked the second worst in South Asia. I think it is mostly particulates of PM10 or larger, not the really deadly PM2.5 stuff that you find in New Delhi or Beijing, but that's just my theory, there is no air quality monitoring working in the city, so it's hard to say. I've seen pictures of Beijing and New Delhi that were far worse than anything you get here.

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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?

Climate is beautiful 9 months out of the year. The other 3 months are the monsoon, when it is hot, humid and muddy, with showers every day. Otherwise it is between 40 and 85F, sunny, clear to partly cloudy most days.

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Schools & Children:

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

Most American expats send their kids to Lincoln School (lsnepal.com), which is a great option, although small (c. 260 kids preK through 12). There is also a French School and a British School.

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

Lincoln School has limited support for special-needs kids, admitted on a case-by-case basis.

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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?

Yes, many. My son goes to Bina's Keti Keti Bari, a nice English-language medium 'Montessori' school. But there are other options too numerous to name here, especially if you want to go 'local.'

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes. LS has a great sports program and participates in SAISA tournaments and punches far above its weight for a small school.

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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, diverse and interesting. Morale is high except for those who come expecting something else.

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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?

Have people over for dinner, go out for meals, hang out at the American Club (mostly families).

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

I can only speak for families. There is not a lot to do for kids in Kathmandu outside of school unless they like rock climbing and mountain biking. Or trekking -- we've taken our 11-year old daughter on a number of treks up to 9 days and she loves it. LS has good after school options and a great sports program.

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

Can't really speak to this. I've never seen any gay PDA but also never heard of any targeted attacks. I'm sure there is a low profile community. It is common to see men holding hands in public but that does not mean they are gay.

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

This is a traditional South Asian society, and women are second class citizens in general. There are serious problems with violence against women in domestic settings as well as economic discrimination.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Trekking and riding horses in upper Mustang, one of the more remote areas and on the edge of the Tibetan plateau.

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

Eating out is a good past-time in the city. Otherwise, outdoor activities are where it's at -- mountain biking, climbing and trekking primarily.

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

Tibetan carpets and other Buddhist items, felted and handmade paper crafts, Newari carved wood items.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Incredibly vibrant, interesting culture infused with a mix of Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Unbelievably nice and friendly people. Amazing outdoors activities, namely hiking and trekking in the stunning Himalayas.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, unless you spend it all trekking.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How little the government is capable of doing.

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

Absolutely.

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

Fear of dirt, high heel shoes, snow boots (it does not snow in Kathmandu!).

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4. But don't forget your:

Trekking gear, camera, sense of humor.

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

Lonely Planet Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya (Travel Guide),

The Trekking Peaks of Nepal,

Islands in the Snow: Climbing Nepal's trekking peaks (Footsteps on the Mountain travel diaries),

The Snow Leopard (Penguin Classics), and
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Come! It's our favorite post so far. We love it, and hope you do too!

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Kathmandu, Nepal 04/20/14

Background:

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

I have lived in Europe, Central America and Mexico.

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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, D.C. to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Istanbul, Istanbul to Kathmandu

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3. How long have you lived here?

Five months.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Amazing large spacious housing. My favorite house yet.

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

Most everything is available here and is pretty cheap if you get the local version. Household supplies are cheap but also flimsy cheap. Nice quality household goods are not available.

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

LIQUIDS! Snacks, potato chips, salsa, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, perfume, make-up, long shelf silk milk and tomato sauce, quinoa. I would not have bothered with olive oil, oatmeal, salt or sugar. The ones here are very good.

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

No fast food which is a good thing, and about a dozen decent restaurants which are SUPER CHEAP. A nice night out with your spouse, with drinks and dessert and a good meal will cost about US$20 each. A regular meal is about US$7 at the nicer restaurants. You can eat here, and I mean an entire filling delicious meal, for 95 cents.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Some spiders and roaches. Not a problem really.

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Daily Life:

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

I use government mail.

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

Very cheap but not very good. We clean our house ourselves; it is never clean enough.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

No. I have not seen a gym or workout studio. I have actually not seen any yoga studio in Kathmandu, which is surprising. If you thought you would come here to easily do yoga every day while looking at the Himalayas, you will be disappointed. You will be doing yoga tapes in your bedroom.

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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 would not use them unless it was at one of the nice hotels.

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

I think there is a Catholic Church, not sure of the rest.

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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?

Well.....not much for us since we just function inside American circles. But I have found that to ask for directions and things like that, it is so much better to have a little knowledge of Nepali.

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

Oh yes. Roads are crowded, sidewalks are minimal, and if they exist, they are broken and with lots of holes. There are ZERO street lights, so if you are walking at night, you run the risk of stepping in a hole. I have twisted my ankle twice here.

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Transportation:

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

Only taxis, and only if you need them. They cost about US$1. There are no buses or trains.

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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?

A cheap 4x4 automobile that you don't care about. It will get dinged and will get super dirty. No carjackings or things like that. You are better of buying a car here for US$1,000 and just selling it for US$800 when you leave. Do not bring a large expensive car. You won't be able to get through a lot of streets.

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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, in theory. It is fine for browsing the internet, but I have the best and costliest internet and I can't get Amazon Prime to work most times. Netflix works about 70% of the time. Worldlink is the best service. I bought a year or fast internet for about US$175 (not unlimited but consumable by GB) and it lasted about three months. Still pretty cheap though.

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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?

Get one here or bring an iPhone. You can easily get a chip for an iPhone and you will be able to make calls to the States super cheap.

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Pets:

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?

No quarantines and plenty of very good and very cheap vets. My cat almost died here because the pollution was so bad. I desperately took him to a vet down the road and he has been fine ever since. I paid US$3.

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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?

Nope. None.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes and very needed. This is a very poor country.

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

At work it is suit and tie, and in public you can be pretty casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

It is pretty safe here. For females, hiking alone has become dangerous, so if you are in a group you are fine. Driving here is dangerous. You will be hit or hit somebody almost guaranteed. Pretty scary.

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

You will get sick here. The air will give you an upper respiratory infection almost as soon as you get here, and the food will make you sick. It is only a matter of time. There is ok healthcare here but if you are seriously ill or injured, you will have to be medevaced to another country.

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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?

Horrible. The air quality is prohibitive. If you think you will be waking up and seeing the mountains while you are drinking coffee, relishing in the beauty of the Himalayas, you will be very disappointed. This is the worst air pollution I have ever seen in my life. I am constantly sick, even my cat almost died from the air pollution.

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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?

Beautiful weather. Four seasons, which are pretty mild. It is not cold like most people think. I have really enjoyed the weather.

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Schools & Children:

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

Most people send their kids to the Lincoln school.

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

Not many. I know there are speech therapists and such.

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes through the schools.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge expat community and pretty good morale. If you have chosen to live here, there must be some reason you are here and you are most often happy.

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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?

Going out to eat and going drinking in Thamel. That is it. It is the most boring city I have ever been in.

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

Great for families and singles. Couples will get bored here unless you are a couple who treks together. Let me say again, if you are not outdoorsy and do not LOVE trekking, you will be bored out of your mind in Kathmandu. The city shuts down at 8 PM, there are some bars but not many, and there are no parks, malls, clubs or theaters to take a nice walk in. My husband and I are so bored here.

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

I am not sure. I don't see a lot of couples holding hands of any sort. It seems like PDAs are looked down upon, so gay PDAs might be shocking to people. That being said, my husband and I hold hands and kiss all the time, and we don't get any stares from people. It is my experience that the Nepali people are very kind and accepting.

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

If you look like a Westerner, you will be stared at. That is about it.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

I have saved some money.

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

Nina's Cafe by the Embassy is the best place here. Also, Fire and Ice Pizzeria in Thamel is great. That is it. I have found absolutely nothing interesting to do here. Bored out of my mind.

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

Pashminas.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Saving money. If you like hiking and trekking, this is the place for you. But ONLY if you love these things. If you may or may not want to trek while you are here, Kathmandu is not for you. The weather is very temperate, very nice.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes a lot. Very cheap and nothing much to spend your money on.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That is was so dirty and polluted. I am so blown away by the filth that I don't have any desire to see anything else here. I don't want to see temples or monasteries because I know it will be just full of trash and driving to get anywhere brings me to tears. I wish I had known that this city is only for people who love trekking and camping and mountain biking. If you like these on occasion or don't like this, you will be bored to tears here.

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

Never again. I am counting the days to leave.

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

Expectation of Kathmandu being the place where you will finally find peace by doing yoga and meditating while basking in the beauty of the Himalayas. Nepal might be the place, but Kathmandu is not. Leave behind your high heels, they are impossible to wear in Kathmandu.

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4. But don't forget your:

Air masks and air filters. Antibiotics too.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

I really wanted to love it; I really did but I don't. Kathmandu was #1 on my list and I feel like a complete and total failure for hating Kathmandu, but I have found nothing beautiful here, nothing natural and green, and nothing peaceful. I cannot connect with the culture and have found nothing interesting to do. So I watch TV, eat out sometimes, and cry a lot. I have saved money though.

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Kathmandu, Nepal 12/17/13

Background:

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

This is my fourth overseas experience.

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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 Virginia, fly out from Dulles, to Tokyo, then Bangkok, overnight in Bangkok and then fly to Kathmandu. It takes more than a day to arrive, you loose a day during travel because of the time difference.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Over a year, moved here in July 2012 will leave July 2014.

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

Work for the U.S. government, Embassy Kathmandu.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Embassy housing is close to the Embassy and many Americans walk to work within 10-20 minutes if they choose to. Housing is generally nice and large, but doesn't always have large yards or gardens. There is a new townhouse compound for singles and couples that is also very close to the Embassy. There is also an apartment building with spacious flats for smaller families. Most larger families have good sized homes with a bedroom and bathroom for each child. Many of the houses are old and can get cold in the winter, however the Facilities section does a good job fixing and maintaining.

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

Different varieties of western foods are pricey and hard to find. If there's anything you have to have, particularly liquids, ship it in your consumables. Amazon Prime has been a lifesaver for school snacks, toilet paper, and paper towels. There is a good organic vegetable and fruit market on Saturday mornings where you can also find good cheeses and meats. For the most part, you have to make do with what you can find or have it shipped through the diplomatic pouch.

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

Lots of shampoo and conditioner, laundry detergent, listerine.

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

There are many decent restaurants where you can eat for cheap, but there are no popular fast food chains except for Baskin Robbins, Pizza Hut and KFC. Once you go to some of the good local restaurants, you won't want Pizza Hut or KFC.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Very few insect problems. We brought mosquito repellant but have rarely used it.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic pouch.

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

Most people hire maids, cooks, and/or drivers. Good help will cost you about US$125/month per person. Be ready to pay extra for local holidays, anniversary pay, etc.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are a few gyms but I haven't been there or priced them. The Embassy has workout facilities for employees and family members. Having your own home gym or creating creative workouts is helpful.

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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?

You can use ATMs here; I usually use the one at the Embassy. I typically don't use my credit card as some people have been scammed. It's easy enough to pay for things in cash.

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

One Catholic church across town. Several non-denominational churches as well.

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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?

Not too much, you can get by without it.

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

Yes, there is no accommodation for those with physical disabilities here. Even the new sidewalks can be challenging to someone without a disability.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are generally safe and affordable. You need to haggle with them as they will double the price if you let them. I don't recommend tuk-tuks or the buses- packed with people and very dangerous. There is no other type of public transportation.

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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?

4WD vehicles are best. The roads are very bumpy and the streets are narrow. That being said we brought our Honda Odyssey and get it around the city. We don't take it out of the valley, however, we rent a 4WD or borrow someone's for road trips.

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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, but it's not too high speed.

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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?

You can get your iPhone unlocked here. The network is OK, but spotty during peak times.

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Pets:

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?

No. Some decent vets but no kennels.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many NGOs and charities.

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Health & Safety:

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

Kathmandu is generally very safe. You do have to pay attention in tourist areas like Thamel - pickpocketing does occur. But, we allow our 17-year old daughter to take taxis with her friends on occasion. On the whole, the Nepalis are kind and helpful to foreigners.

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2. 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 very bad. It is dusty and smokey during the Winter months (December-February). If you have asthma or allergies this may not be the place for you. That said, I run outside on a regular basis. I think you get used to it, but it's not fun.

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

Kathmandu has a great climate. The winter months get cold in the Valley but not unbearably so. Typical mornings in December are around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Embassy housing has A/C units that turn into heaters in the winter so you stay warm. The monsoon season gets hot and muggy but nothing like India's unbearable heat. The rains clear the air and wash away the dust.

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Schools & Children:

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

Lincoln School is the most popular school for embassy families with school-aged kids. There are also several preschools (Addison Academy and the French School). There is a British School with great facilities. Our children were in elementary, middle and high school here (we have three kids). Our oldest daughter will be graduating from Lincoln in 2014. It is a small, friendly school and we have seen many positive changes in the short time we've been here. The new principal (currently in his second year) recently hired many new teachers who have improved the school academically. They have a great French language program and just started offering Spanish to middle school and high school students. The kids are very friendly and inclusive. There is also a good music and drama program. After school activities keep my 10-year old son busy with karate, drums and breakdancing to name a few. Overall, we've been pleased.

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

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Lincoln School has a great sports program that is part of the SAISA network. My daughters were on the swim team and traveled to Mumbai for the SAISA competition. They also offer soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, and track. While the sports fees are non-existant, travel to SAISA meets can be pricey (US$600-$800 per kid).

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Expat Life:

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

Great expat community. Inclusive and friendly.

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

Yes, this is a good post for all types of families. The community is open and you can be as social as you would like.

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

Kathmandu is pretty open to homosexuals.

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

None that I'm aware of.

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5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The Nepali people are very friendly and easy going. This is our third posting in South Asia and I find the Nepalis to be wonderful people. We have enjoyed trekking, travelling to Europe on R&R, learning to mountain bike, whitewater rafting and getting out of Kathmandu Valley.

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

If you are outdoorsy this is the place for you. It's cheap and easy to hire a guide to go mountain biking, trekking and/or whitewater rafting. Adventures can be tailored to your needs. The Himalayas are amazing. There are lots of nice little restaraunts and some good places to go shopping for pashmina and cashmere shawls, etc. Silver jewelry with gemstones is plentiful at varying qualities and prices. There are also a few good movie theaters with western movies that play for short periods of time.

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

Pashmina, Cashmere, silver and gemstone jewelry.

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8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Saving money, outdoor experiences - trekking, whitewater rafting, mountain biking. Easy to visit Thailand and Malayasia from here.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That it's on an earthquake fault line, somehow I missed that in the post report.

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

Yes, we've enjoyed ourselves despite the difficult infrastructure (or lack thereof).

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Kathmandu, Nepal 06/25/13

Background:

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

First expat experience.

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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 base is in Washington DC. Common flights route through Bangkok, Doha, or New Delhi with total flight times being easily between 20-30 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1.5 years.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Embassy housing tends to be within a 30-minute walk to the chancery, and consists of houses with perhaps 9 apartments. Interiors are extremely spacious, and yards are a mix of sizes. If you're with a government organization, you will probably have a generator or inverter (a large battery system) for all the hours of load shedding you'll encounter. Commutes are between 5-15 minutes by car, and maybe 30 minutes by foot.

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

Groceries are very low in cost - especially produce at the local markets. Household supplies are reasonably priced at the local supermarket.

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

Microbrew Beer. You can pretty much get most other things here.

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

KFC recently opened up -- which was a big hit for some people. There are plenty of restaurants that can serve food quickly, and even a home food delivery service (Foodmandu.com) that is extremely efficient and effective. Cost tends to be very affordable. Meals for two can be $10 USD at a modest restaurant or closer to $100 at the nicer hotels/restaurants.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None, though leeches come out in the summer monsoon (in the grassy areas outside the city).

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Daily Life:

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

Embassy mail.

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

Household help is extremely affordable; most U.S. Embassy personnel have someone to assist, either with cleaning, cooking, or driving, or all of the above.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, the US Embassy has a small gym, the large hotels operate gyms that sell memberships, and there are private gyms throughout the city.

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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 can't because I haven't used mine in 1.5 years. Very few places will take a credit card. There are some ATM machines around, but you use them at your own risk.

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

I think so.

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

Yes - though I'm not sure of the cost.

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

In Kathmandu, it can feel like everyone speaks English.

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

There are almost no sidewalks; there are potholes that can go from a few inches deep to a few feet deep overnight; most roads are bumpier than any jeep track in the US; elevators are scarce (and so is the power to operate them) . . . . in short, it's a very dynamic environment. With that being said, you tend to go to a set location in Kathmandu, such as the embassy, or maybe the American Club, or someone's house - so if you can get in/out of a car, then you could be fine. Most expats don't just walk around in the city anyways, as you share the roads with tuk-tuks, buses, cars, and motorcycles.

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Transportation:

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

I've known people to take the buses and tuk-tuks, and they're okay as long as you don't mind crowded vehicles and strangers potentially sitting on your lap (not a joke). Taxis are available as well. You have to bargain with the taxis, but they are still affordable.

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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?

Bring something with 4WD if you want to leave town -- the roads are RUGGED here. Also bring something that you want scratched up. Motorcycles routinely tip into the side of my car at stops. This is the place to add character to your vehicle. Japanese vehicles can be fixed here, but the repairs tend to be pricey (for the area). Indian vehicles are much cheaper (in every sense) and can be repaired very affordably.

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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 - there are established options for cable internet, though the speed is not as advertised. You will be able to skype/facetime back to the US, though. Cost is maybe $50 per month. Fiber-optic options are also coming out now with promises of much greater speeds.

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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?

You can probably buy an unlocked phone here, but we brought ours. Cell phone plans and data plans are affordable.

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Pets:

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?

No.

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

Pet care is available - though the vets don't have the depth or breadth of experience that many US vets do.

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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?

There are a lot of NGO opportunities. Local firms tend to pay very low salaries.

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

Dress code at work is business to business casual. Public dress is all over the spectrum: Nepalis wearing traditional outfits, and trekkers wearing bizarre outfits (you have to see it). You can pretty much wear most things, though you are still in a conservative society.

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Health & Safety:

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

This city is safer than most in the US.

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

Air quality is my biggest concern, and medical care is available. There is a western health clinic in town, but I think medevacs are fairly common here. Medical care is not readily available (if at all) outside the city.

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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?

Very unhealthy. I'm sure many people think their city's air is polluted, a common theme in many places right now. . . . . However, I can say this has been the worst air quality I've ever experienced, and I've traveled in Asia, the Middle East, and South America. There is dust from all the road work the city is doing, pollution from diesel buses, and the smoke/smell/cloud of burning trash is almost always around. I'd recommend going almost anywhere other than Kathmandu if you have any respiratory issues. However, the air outside the city is fine - so if you don't plan on spending a lot of time in Kathmandu - no worries.

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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?

The climate is mild - maybe 2 weeks of true winter weather. Spring tends to get warm, and summer monsoon season keeps temperatures quite moderate.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

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

Huge - There is an amazingly large expat community in Kathmandu which creates a very fun and active social scene. It's quite common to have social committments every night of the week.

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2. Morale among expats:

Varied, though generally high. I think the pollution and developing-world aspects tend to bother people the longer they are here, but most people have a good -- or even a great time.

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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?

There is a great social scene in Kathmandu, and it is very easy to get plugged into it. There are many restaurant options, but not much is open past 10pm.

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

This isn't western Europe, and there aren't parks, sidewalks, or even smoothly-paved roads in most areas of the city. That being said, if you enjoy going on self-structured/created adventures in the countryside, there are a lot of options. Also, household help is very affordable and widely utilized, which could help a lot of families. Singles and couples have a lot of options for activities, but the key is "active" . There isn't a ton of just meandering the city and maybe popping in somewhere for a cappucino.

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

Not entirely sure, but it seems okay. I haven't noticed anyone explicitly against gay/lesbian expats or locals, though it is a conservative culture.

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

None.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Trekking, interacting with the uber-friendly Nepalis, biking, and just living the expat life in a wonderful place.

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

Anything to do with trails is great here. There's a fun Hash-House Harriers group, terrific hiking, and great mountain biking. Also, exploring the culture is fantastic. My wife and I have slept in Buddhist Monasteries, seen incredible cultural sites, and just really admire the country's beauty. The key is to get out of Kathmandu. A lot.

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

Lots of true hand-made crafts, small stools made of trash, Ghurka knives, wooden masks, unique paintings and textiles.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Kathmandu, and Nepal are quite cheap to live and travel in compared to most western economies. The outdoors is an obvious draw, with opportunities to trek (hike), camp, whitewater raft, bungee jump, mountain bike, etc. It's quite easy to get out of the city and into less populated areas where the air clears up and there is less traffic. Also, the city is extremely colorful - filled with culture exciting people from all over the world, and good restaurants.

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11. Can you save money?

Absolutely. If you can't save here, there isn't any hope for you.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely!

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

road bike, low-clearance vehicle, and credit cards.

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3. But don't forget your:

outdoors gear and camera.

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4. Do you have any other comments?

Recommended for the adventurous and those unafraid of developing-world conditions.

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Kathmandu, Nepal 05/29/13

Background:

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

I lived in Honduras, Mexico, Belgium, Australia, and Togo before moving here.

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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?

The Northwest of the U.S. It is typically 35 hours to get home.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I have lived here four years.

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

I am a teacher.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

I am content with our house.

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

I have seen a more limited grocery selection in other countries, but there are many items I miss. Cheese is quite expensive here and I love it.

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

Definitely.

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

There is a wide variety of restaurants that I view as a bargain. Going home to the U.S. always causes sticker shock.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Cockroaches and mosquitoes (non-malarial).

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Daily Life:

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

Inexpensive and wonderful if you manage them well. Be fair. Don't forget the annual 10% inflation rate impacts them more than you, and adjust their salaries accordingly. Our kids will miss their nanny dearly when we go, and it isn't because she spoiled them.

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

I know very little Nepali and get by just fine.

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

It is not recommended for disabled people to come here. At the moment there are no sidewalks. The city is being rebuilt as part of a road-widening project. Also, there are rarely ramps or elevators.

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Transportation:

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

I have never had an issue and take regular taxis. I am male.

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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?

Bring a narrow car. Roads are not wide.

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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?

Available and not prohibitively expensive.

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Health & Safety:

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

I have known of two bombs that have gone off in the city in four years. That is the only thing that really concerned me. The situation does seem to be improving, though. The political protests are organized ahead of time, and people are warned to stay off the streets. If you cooperate, there is no danger. They are good at not targeting foreigners.

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

Medical care is not great.

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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 my one true complaint about Kathmandu. Get out of town on weekends between February and April when the air is the worst.

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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?

It is one of the best climates I have lived in. There are seasons with cool winters in the 40s and 50s and warm summers into the 90s.

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Schools & Children:

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

I am biased. I have taught at Lincoln for four years. Last year and the year before, the school went through some convulsive changes and experienced significant divisions. Many negative impressions of the school stem back to that time. There was a change in administration, however, and the school is moving forward again. I don't believe that stories of unresponsive administration and out of touch long time teachers are relevant today. I know of four teachers out of 30 who (next year) will have been there more than five years. I view those more experienced teachers with a great deal of respect and find them highly professional.

Despite the fact that most students are not native english speakers, our SAT scores this year are higher than the world average. The is a significant upward trend academically in the upper school in the last few years. I have taught at marginal schools before, and I know that this is not one. I have not visited a public school in the U.S. that can compare with the education we offer. I taught 150 students in US public school classrooms. I teach 77 this year. The curriculum is innovative, relevant, and pushes students to take an active role in determining what courses are offered. We offer 10 different AP courses with only about 85 kids in the high school. Take at look at the web site and judge for yourself www.lsnepal.com

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

Lincoln offers a full-time resource teacher at both the secondary and primary levels. There are also two ESO teachers for English language learning support.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

The schools do offer sports programs.

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Expat Life:

1. Morale among expats:

Those coming from Paris may find a lot to complain about. If you are coming from a challenging post, there are a lot of positives: great tourist infrastructure, easy to save money, great entertainment options, and an interesting home base on the opposite side of the world from the U.S.

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

We have children here and have found it a great place. I will be sad to leave it. I don't like the air quality and worry some about this. I didn't like malaria medication in Togo, or street crime in Honduras. Expat life has its ups and downs. We live outside the city some, which helps with the air. We run air filters in the house, and we try to get out of town when the air is bad. It is definitely reasonable. There are, however, few open areas where young kids can run and play; just the British Club and the American Club.

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

I know many gay people who are happy here.

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

Many people discriminate against dark-skinned people. Mostly they stop and stare in a provincial way. It is usually not malicious and not dangerous, but it is definitely annoying. This is less common in the city but more pronounced in the countryside and on treks.

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5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Trekking and regional travel. There is a lively restaurant scene in the city. There are many cultural events compared to other countries I where have lived. Jazzmandu, Hotel Vajra theater, live music at Moksh, holiday bazaars, school performances, art galleries: it isn't New York, but there is a lot going on for a developing capital city.

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

There are great religious sites and UN World Heritage cites. The old architecture is beautiful.

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7. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Outside the city is great if you like nature. Trekking is amazing. Mountain biking around the city is good and a great way to avoid traffic and pollution. I have a trailhead at Shiva Puri National Park about 30 minutes from my house. It is a three hour hike to the summit at around 9,000ft with great views north to Langtang. You can hike from Shiva Puri National park up over the pass at 15,000ft into Langtang National Park on an eight day trek.

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8. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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

love of urban walking.

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3. But don't forget your:

trekking poles.

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

Travelers' Tales Nepal: True Stories of Life on the Road (Travelers' Tales Guides)

Forget Kathmandu: An Elegy for Democracy, Nepal

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Kathmandu, Nepal 06/21/11

Background:

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

This is my first time working for a U.S. Embassy and my first true "expat" experience as all of my other experiences (4 in total) were 9-months or shorter.

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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?

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3. How long have you lived here?

I've been here nearly 2 years.

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

With the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is great - huge houses, most have nice yards & gardens. There is also a new apartment complex with beautiful, large apartments.

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

Groceries are largely available although some items (such as cheese) is hard to find. I would recommend using your consumables/HHE to bring your favorite items from home.

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

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

Very little fast food, but a huge variety of fantastic restaurants at a very low cost.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

It's VERY easy to be vegetarian here as many Nepalis are. Organic produce is not widely available, but there are a few speciality markets that have it.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Moths get everywhere, mosquitos during monsoon - but pretty typical stuff for this part of the world.

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Daily Life:

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

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

Very inexpensive - about $150-200 per month.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, lots of different options, although most people do not choose to work out outside (running, tennis, etc.) due to the terrible air quality. I used to run outside, but have given that up in Kathmandu as I feel that I am doing more harm than good to my lungs.

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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 basically a cash society, but you can get money from the Embassy cashier (if you're here with the U.S. Mission) or a few ATMs in town (if you trust them.)

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

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

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

It's not necessary to know any Nepali, but it can only increase your quality of life.

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

Very difficult - do not come here if you have physical disabilities. There are no sidewalks. I have literally seen disabled Nepalis pushing themselves down the street in their own wheelchair in the midst of crazy traffic with no one looking out for them -- very sad.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, safe & affordable but not very pleasant.

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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?

The smaller, the better -- Kathmandu streets are tiny and it is very easy to get stuck in a "traffic jam" of 2 cars.

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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?

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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?

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Pets:

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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & 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?

I'm not sure about paid jobs, but there are plenty of volunteer opportunities.

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

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Health & Safety:

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

This feels like one of the safest cities I've ever lived in, although I know there is still some petty crime. The security concerns are all politically-related (protests, strikes that shut down the city) and for Embassy personnel, RSO is very good about keeping everyone aware of what's going on... so no real concerns for personal safety.

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

Medical care quality is very low -- there is only one decent Western client and they can only do out-patient care. A medevac is quite likely if you are really ill.

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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?

Very, very poor. The air quality is terrible and one of the worst I have ever experienced. Although I do not have small children, I would think twice before bringing small children here due to the terrible air quality.

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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?

Monsoon for 3 months of the year (June-Aug, with some variation) but overall the weather is nice - never too hot, never too cold.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

Very, very inexpensive household help.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

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

Very large - there are expats of all types, but mainly of the NGO/volunteer variety and very few corporate types.

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2. Morale among expats:

Typically very high, although everyone complains about the same things: the pollution, the traffic (which isn't really "traffic" but is more just terrible driving), and the fear of the looming earthquake.

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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 to do, but you have to go out and find it. This is not a city like DC or London (clearly) but there is plenty to do if you are energized and motivated.

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

Yes to all - I know people from every category and they have all found an appropriate social life here.

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

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

No, Nepalis are some of the most tolerant/accepting people I have ever met.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Again, trekking! Although it takes a while to get out of the city and it's not possible to do a "short" trek (the shortest is about 4-5 days, and most require at least 1 full week), if you plan it right, you can go to some amazing places on foot.

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

Outside of Kathmandu: trekking and exploring the beautiful country. Inside Kathmandu: lots of nice restaurants, bars, bike rides, temples, etc... but do not expect beauty inside this city. Nepal is a beautiful country, but Kathmandu is not a beautiful city -- quite the opposite.

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

Tibetan rugs, furniture, & artwork.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Trekking! Trekking is a huge, wonderful delight and a great reason to come here. I do NOT recommend that you come to Nepal if you do not enjoy hiking, as that is one of the really nice/beautiful things about the country.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes -- in a major way! This is probably one of the best things about living here. I have saved TONS of money without even trying or budgeting.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

This is a tough one - I'm happy that I have lived here once but have absolutely no interest in ever returning (not even for a visit, unless I was to fly directly to the mountains.) Kathmandu is tough and it wears a person down. After 12 months, I was very happy here. After 18 months, I was pretty tired of living here. I will be very, VERY, ready to leave after 24 months.

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

Expectations -- this place has been nothing like I expected it, in both good and bad ways. Also, leave behind your favorite shoes (especially high heels) -- the streets will destroy them.

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3. But don't forget your:

Ability to remain calm when faced with ridiculous situations that would never happen anywhere else -- like a motorcycle stopping in the middle of the road, right in front of your car, to answer a cell phone call, without even thinking of pulling over.

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

As you can probably tell from my report, Kathmandu is not for everyone and the negative things (like pollution, traffic, just basic lack of common sense or critical thinking skills) have affected me more than I expected them to. One of the worst parts about living here is that you know that you are living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but Kathmandu itself is not anywhere close to being beautiful and the terrible air pollution blocks the views of the mountains for all but about 2 weeks a year. If you make an effort to get out of the city, it will be a better experience, but overall I would say that this is a South Asian city like all the others...

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Kathmandu, Nepal 09/30/10

Background:

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

This is my first expat experience

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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?

Fairfax VA is our home town. The trip was 15 hours for the first leg to Seoul, where we overnighted in Incheon Airport (hotel behind security) and the second leg was about four (4) hours to Kathmandu.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I am two months into a two-year tour.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

U.S. Embassy families get large houses (2500 sq ft), or apartments. All properties in the city are behind walls, making for narrow gauntlets which taxi's and larger vehicles run. Large yards (1/16-1/8 acre).We're spread all over town, but commute is walkable and/or drivable in 10-30 minutes depending on your exact location.

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

Bhatbhateni Super Market, Namaste SM, Blue Bird are major dept stores and they have most things you need to survive. Cost of most things is less, milk and western-style cereal is more. Meat is VERY expensive. Get used to veg. to remain healthy. That said, Nina & Hagar is the best place for meat (imported from AU), and restaurants often have small meat dishes for less than one would buy fresh meat in the store.

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

Consumable items: chocolate, chocolate chips, flour (local is crap for baking), western cereals and chips, canned cat food/dog food. Anything you want immediately, or inside of three months (household items can take a while)

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

No fast food time-wise, but culturally there is Pizza Hut. Other restaurants (all hole-in-wall) are around, and actually very good. Indian, Nepali, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Western, Thai. Amazing.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Don't know if "organic" translates here. Much of the culture is oriented towards vegetarians from a cost standpoint. Farmer's market at 1905 Market is awesome.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Large, agile mosquitoes are active. Bring bug spray, get vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis, etc.

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Daily Life:

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

Get post via the embassy.

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

$120 USD/mo (9000 nrs) will get you a housekeeper or most other staff. A driver is becoming an expensive cost; some are asking twice that now.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The Hyatt hotel (couples-friendly, not so much kids), The American Club (for Embassy or mission-related, or other expats)

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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?

BhatBateni Super Market is the ONLY place I used a CC.Have not used ATM's locally. This is a cash society. Keep 5,000 nrs for a weekly budget for your family

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

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

TV (and internet) by Subisu is available. See next section for details

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

Nearly zero. All Nepalis know some English. That said, it will be a lot more fun if you know Nepali, and they are friendlier still if you show them you are trying

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

Sidewalks, if even there, are nearly untenable by small children let alone someone with a walking disability or wheelchair bound. Narrow back-streets make similar traffic hazardous (also no sidewalks there).Building entrances NEVER have ramps.

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Transportation:

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

No RXR's. Avoid the buses, they are dirty and not safe. Taxis can be reasonable (60-300 nrs in town depending on destination), but can be a hassle. Haggle or ask for the meter before you get in.

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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?

Use a small auto, like micro sized, or you risk not being able to navigate the back roads. No hummers please. That said, something with 4wd and ground clearance would be useful too. Talk to folks who live here to gauge your needs. Locals drive suziki's. Toyota, Renault, VW have dealerships. Newer vehicles only.

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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?

Subisu provides a cable modem internet and TV package. We use the top end, 1Mbps up and down, no fixed IP.Relatively reliable (down only twice in two months for 1 - 2 hours), it costs 5800 nrs / mo (about $80 USD).Fair warning, you need to pay 3 months at a time and up front, in cash.

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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?

NTC has 3G networking, but NCell is also decently reliable. I jail-broke my iphone and put in the local NCell SIM.

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Pets:

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?

No, but they should have a certificate, rabies shots, and probably be chipped. Ask your local vet.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & 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?

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

Conservative. Adults, to be taken seriously, should avoid shorts and tank tops. Kind of like how you wouldn't dress as a teenager if out on the town or working. Trekkers and tourists are excused, especially in Thamel (tourist district), but will be targeted for offers of trekking, hash hish, etc.

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Health & Safety:

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

None really. The friendly culture makes violence unlikely.

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

The water is horrible, but Aqua Hundred is a good bottled water brand. Embassy folks get well water (yes!) trucked in and have a distiller as well, so no concerns at home. Kathmanpoo's can be dealt with via Pepto (if just passing bug) or Antibacterial (if prescribed) for anything more than a few days straight.

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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?

Dusty and polluted like Los Angeles. Monsoon season is ok, but breathing masks are advisable for city life in the winter (Nov-March)

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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?

The climate is mild and average for the temperate region. Monsoons bring rain (not w/o sun, though) in June- Sept. Bring waterproof shoes, or care-free sandals for city walking during that time. It is humid then as well

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Schools & Children:

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

Lincoln School seems to provide a good curriculum for at least younger children; no experience with older ones yet. Kids get bussed to school and back, which is great.

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

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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?

Addison Academy seems a decent preschool, much less expensive than Lincoln, but you get what you pay for.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

The Lincoln School has occasional sports programs I think

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Expat Life:

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

I hear that there are 1700 Americans living in town, and we have all other nations here as well. Large enough to direct the economy of the tourist industry.

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2. Morale among expats:

Very 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?

Restaurants and bars abound, but shuts down early (8-9pm)

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

Singles and families/couples, yes.

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

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

Though this is not a misogynistic culture, women are not equals in all eyes. That said, all tourists are equally exploitable :)

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Thus far (two months), the engaging expat community has been a highlight. It has been the pathway to being able to mountain bike, hike, run, see the restaurant and nightlife scene, tour in town, etc.

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

Touristing, shopping for knock-off hiking gear, jewelry, curious. Hiking, trekking, cycling (taking life into hands in the city)

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

Hiking gear knock-offs, local honey, local yoghurt, journals (go for thicker ones, though they aren't leather bound), stationary and cards for writing home

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

All of the above. Kathmandu provides an urban base of operation for local touring in town and touring in the outskirts (mountain bike through the city to the outskirts for instance).The culture is very friendly, and especially outside the city kids are happy to practice their english. It is very inexpensive to live in the city, and some local staples are quite inexpensive, though imports can be pricey. A loaf of bread = 55 nrs (about .8 USD).AU Shelf Stable Milk = 175 nrs/quart ($10 USD/gal).The weather is average for a temperate region; 95 and humid in June/July, 70's (F) for September. Monsoon (wind + rain) from June - Sept.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes!

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

sense of worry and bad sense of humor, impatience. Your large vehicles. Road rage.

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3. But don't forget your:

mountain bike, hiking shoes, patience, sense of humor. Hat, waterproof shoes, pepto bismol. Bandaids. Earthquake preparedness/MRE's

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Power outages via load shedding affect the quality of refrigerated goods in some stores. Embassy community has generators, so no worry there, but it has an affect on your power saving mentality. Try to fit a sizeable UPS in your household goods.

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Kathmandu, Nepal 01/11/10

Background:

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

No. I lived in Jerusalem, Split, Croatia, Dubai, UAE, Sibu, Romania, and Doha.

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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?

US and Canada. Usually go through the Middle East and connect at NY or Washington.

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3. How long have you lived here?

18 months

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

corporate job

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We lived in a 10 bedroom home. It was large and functional. Many of the homes are Nepali style and don't make a lot of sense. We were lucky to have a home with a very large yard, but this is very rare. Also, a large home doesn't make a lot of sense in Nepal because of all the electricity issues.

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

Be prepared to drive all over for groceries. You can go to Bhat Bhatini but it can be pricey and selective. Plus, it was across the city for me and could take up to an hour to get there. I would get my veggies and fruits from the market. There is also an excellent meat shop (and really the only hygenic store)it is called Nina and Hagar. Only trust their meats. Everything else is scary. Blue Bird is also a good alternative to Bhat Bhatini

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

Paper bags, toys (in Nepal toys are expensive and cheaply made).You will not like your choices for childrens' clothing. You can have your clothing made, but they cannot do jersey or stretch fabrics. You can have jeans made for children if you find a good jeans tailor.

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

None. But my FAVORITE Chinese restaurant is at the Soaltee hotel. Roadhouse is also great. It is super cheap and fantastic.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

If you visit Chitwan in the summer the mosquitos can be a bother. We also found VERY large spiders in our home. We also had a rat or two.

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Daily Life:

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

Sometimes through slow boat. It took a while, but it arrived.

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

Excellent. We loved our didi and dai. It is cheap. We had our didis live with us, which worked out great. Our one didi came with us to our next posting. Nepalis are lovely people.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

I went to the 5 Star hotel. It was pretty lame, but sufficient. It was also expensive for what it was.

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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?

Try not to as much as possible.

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

Yes. There is a Mormon and Catholic church that I know of.

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

Yes. It is all cheap.

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

Not much. It is a tough language to learn.

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

A lot. The roads are not even, nor are the sidewalks (if you are lucky enough to find one).Maneuvering throughout the city is no easy task.

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Transportation:

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

We never used local transport but taxis are your best bet.

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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?

We had a very large van with a driver. We also used a motorcycle when it was just my husband and I.

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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. It cost about 70 dollars a 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?

Just use the regular Mero Mobile. It was fine.

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Pets:

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?

No.

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

Our dog survived. I don't think it is an optimal for a pet, but pets can survive. The vets also do house calls.

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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?

Not too many. There is a large opportunity for humanitarian work.

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

Modest.

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Health & Safety:

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

Terrible. This is especially true in the summer. The smog sits overhead and doesn't leave until the Monsoon begins in April.

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

Not really. The Maoists can be a pain and stir up problems. Usually crime is minor towards the expat community.

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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?

You will become ill with something. It is inevitable. CWIC is about the only respectable clinic. We had several things done there and it was just fine.

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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?

The weather is pleasant in the spring, summer and fall. October is by far the best month. The pollution isn't that terrible and you can see snowcapped mountains. The winter can be rough and depressing (mainly January and February).Many of the homes are not equipped to deal with the cool weather. We had to wear parkas in the house. The electricity can be a problem. They often do load shedding during the winter months so even if you have a heater, you often can't use it. Sometimes you can use a gas heater but there is often a shortage of petrol as well.

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Schools & Children:

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

Lincoln School is terrible. We had numerous problems with them. They don't respect the parent and believe that they know what is best for your kids. Be prepared for your kids to only explore the Liberal Arts. The school itself has many liberal ideals, which funnels into all the classrooms. The school will provide your children with an excellent school theater program but don't expect much in the maths and sciences. There are some teachers who have worked there for well over 10 years. When you meet them, you will wonder if they forgot what the real world looks like.

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

Lincoln did not provide me with much. Again, I felt like the school did not listen to my concerns as a parent and did whatever they thought was best. In the end, they were wrong, and I was right.

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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?

The playgroup there is fantastic!I have made many lasting friendships from meeting weekly at each other's home. There is a warm, welcoming feel in the expat community.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Not really. You will rely on after school activities to keep your kids active. Phora is also a great place to get your kid's wiggles out.

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Expat Life:

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

Quite large. The people are unique, especially those who have lived there for more than 3 years. Most expats are with NGOs or with the State Dept.

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2. Morale among expats:

It seemed great. Most people who can live through Nepal are easy-going and friendly.

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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?

There isn't much of a social life. You have to seek it out. We spent a lot of time together as a family, which I loved.

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

As a family with kids, I loved it!It is difficult for children to find friends and can feel a little isolating.

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

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

Yes. At times we could not meet because of the recent bombing of a Catholic Church.

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

Thamel is a lot of fun and there are some fantastic, cheap restaurants. Chitwan is a must-see. Ride a few elephants and see the rhinos. Pokhara is beautiful if you can visit on a clear day. Some of the scenery is breathtaking. It is much easier to fly to these places but the Nepali landscape is absolutely gorgeous. Patan, Dubar Square and other parts of the city are fun to explore. Definitely get a whole new wardrobe. Visit Women's Planet (Dubar Square) and find yourself a jeans tailor.

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

Nepal has A LOT to offer. Many expats miss the opportunities that are in Nepal. Get a new wardrobe. I also had TONs of home decor things made from my home tailor. I got tons of jeans and jean skirts made from my jeans tailor. I had dining room chairs made and many other items of furniture. We also had some custom made Tibetian furniture made- Gorgeous. Also, Tibetian carpets are fabulous. I also found a jeweler who made me some amazing silver items. If you draw him a picture, pick a gem, he can make anything. Nepal has SO much to offer. You just have to have a good imagination and find the right people to do it.

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9. Can you save money?

Definitely. There is no where to really spend large sums of cash.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No question. It changed my life.

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

White clothing. It will not remain white using Nepali water.

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3. But don't forget your:

'Give away items'.You will find opportunities to give things away. Bring blankets and clothing for kids that will last them as long as you are there. Also, bring toys. You won't find any good ones in Nepal. Your favorite clothing items so you can get them copied. If you have a shirt you love or something you always loved to wear but it doesn't fit any more, this is your chance to get it copied or made just right. Bring fabrics you love from home. Magazines that have wooden furniture you love. Find yourself a carpenter and he can copy that too!

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

Into Thin Air.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

7 Days in Tibet

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Never give up an opportunity like this. Of all the countries I have lived, Nepal was the most enriching and life changing. It will stretch you, but the character you will gain from the experience will be something you will hold forever.

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Kathmandu, Nepal 05/03/08

Background:

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

No, between the two of us - Prague, Nairobi, and Lahore.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

KTM is on the other side of the world. From DC we fly to Tokyo - Bangkok, overnight and then a three hour flight to KTM. You can also go the Atlantic route but it is usually more $$. Around 40 hours door to door.

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

I am posted to the U.S. Embassy here.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Some apartments, mostly single family homes. All homes are fairly large, in walled gated compounds, most with very little green space.

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

Local food prices have risen sharply here in the past two years as they have worldwide. Anything imported will be relatively expensive. Locally grown food is still fairly reasonable for us, but becoming unreasonable for Nepalis.

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

Not much. Maybe some specialty foods etc.

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

Nothing 5 star, but there are many places that are good enough. No fast food chains - for which I am grateful.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch.

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

Day guard/gardener, Didi (she might nanny/cook/clean) and Driver will run approximately US$350. a month. Hours and benefits and pay actually vary quite a bit. They are very, very helpful to have available when you hit the ground. Hire provisionally from a person who is leaving and reassess after a month. It will make your entry much nicer.

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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?

Credit cards - don't do it. Numbers are stolen all the time. I haven't heard any issues with ATMs but check with your bank on fees. I hear USAA doesn't charge a fee.

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

Yes, Catholic and Protestant and Mormon. There is a Rabbi for the backpack crowd. Of course there are a plethora of expats who come here to pursue Buddhism.

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

Newspapers in English - inexpensive. TV/Internet is a combined package and is expensive - over US$100 a 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?

Of course anything you can learn is helpful and respectful. Many people in the city center speak English and most signs are in both English and Nepali.

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

There is absolutely no wheelchair access anywhere. Period.

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Transportation:

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

Left. And people with drivers report a far lower frustration level than those who drive themselves. Traffic is heinous.

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

We are only advised to take taxis and they are fine, inexpensive, but dirty and hot.

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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?

Slight paradox here. The roads are narrow in town and a huge SUV is difficult to maneuver, park etc. That said, the roads, especially outside the city center can be very poor and a more rugged vehicle is more helpful. We drive on the left side of the road. While some do, I would not bring a vehicle here. Buy it locally, count on a LOT of wear and tear and sell before you go. You'll trade paint every day with other drivers.

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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 - see above.

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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?

They are issued to all direct hires and EFMs here. We pay our own bills however.

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

Online. Skype, MSN messenger whatever.

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Pets:

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

The vets do house calls. How good are they??? Make sure to ship all pet meds.

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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?

No. Some NGOs. EFM jobs at the embassy pay very little.

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

Business attire at work. Modest for women in public, but not too restrictive. Younger women are increasingly dressing more Western - which is kind of a shame.

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Health & Safety:

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

People will tell you it is unhealthy. But honestly we don't spend a lot of time walking in the downtown area where the air is the worst.

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

Certainly you could be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Generally we feel quite safe. The embassy is very security conscious.

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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?

Hope and pray you don't have an emergency situation. You'll get medevac'ed for most issues. There is an expat health clinic and a dentist.

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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?

Monsoon during summer time, dry season during winter. Nice weather. Mild winter!

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Schools & Children:

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

My children are younger and we have generally had a good experience. People with older parents report a few issues - mainly regarding a lack of training/accountability for some of the long-term resident teachers.

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

There is some assistance, but limited.

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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?

There are actually many, many options here. Montessori, playgroups etc. Most people have a Didi or nanny in their home as well.

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Expat Life:

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

Unsure. Fairly large for a place like KTM.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good for the most part. The long term expats are an extremely unique and interesting bunch. You won't find many places in the world with a group quite like them. Most expats are quite happy and knew they were moving to a developing country. There are some however who don't get a lot of support from their organizations, had unrealistic expectations etc. who are unhappy.

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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?

We have made friends in different communities and have enjoyed our social life here. Some who limit themselves to just the embassy community can feel a little claustrophobic understandably. See note at the end re. Phora Durbar.

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

Yes - there is something for everyone. Each life stage has its opportunities and challenges.

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

It is a traditional culture. That said, the media does report openly about some gay issues. I know people who are gay here but don't know what their experience has been like.

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

Are you kidding? All of the above.

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

Nepal is physically beautiful and culturally fascinating. There is more to see than is possible in a two year tour! In the KTM Valley there are many religious/cultural sites to visit. Lots of outdoor adventure trips. And, of course, trekking in the Himalayas is incredible.

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

Rugs, pashminas, jewelery, brassware etc.

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9. Can you save money?

Now that all depends on whether you choose to. There is plenty to spend it on - but you don't have to.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely.

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

Strappy sandals. Strollers except for airport use and at the American Rec Club.

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3. But don't forget your:

Adventurous spirit, hiking boots and sense of humor.

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

All Samrat Upadhay.

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

All Samrat Upadhay.

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

No ... but you can rent some Bollywood stuff to get in the mood :-). Nepal is not India ... but it is often India Lite.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

The American Rec Center, or Phora Durbar, makes this a great place for families. It has swimming pools, tennis courts, playgrounds, a cafe etc. You will be there a lot. It is a hub for expat community in the center of town. A nice oasis for which we are all grateful.

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