Tashkent, Uzbekistan Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Tashkent, Uzbekistan 09/27/18

Background:

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

Yes.

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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?

We moved from the northern Virginia/DC metro area.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

Spouse of a US diplomat.

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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 enormous! For a family of 5 (now 6), we were given a 5 bedroom and 3.5 bath stand-alone home, with a pool and lots of outdoor entertaining space. We don't have much green space, but enough for our dogs to do their business. Everyone I have spoken with is always super impressed with the their housing, and some have said it's the best they've seen in the Foreign Service!

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

Produce is abundant, and when in season, an delicious! It is advised to clean all produce before consumption; I use a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar/water to clean all of our produce. You can find chicken, beef, and pork. Cheese varieties fluctuate throughout the year, and milk is shelf stable. I have been able to find pasteurized (and unpasteurized) goats milk, as well as a dairy-free milk option! For our family of six, I generally spend between US$30-50 on groceries each week (about 1/4 of what I would spend in the states). There are plenty of snack-like foods, and alternatives that are adequate. Eating out is also extremely affordable, and there are some delicious restaurants, and coffee shops are plentiful! Use your consumables for liquids/cuisine-specific sauces and spices/wines.

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

I wish I had brought more wine, haha! More mouthwash, maple syrup, and vinegar. Anything else that I've wanted or needed to replenish, I've been able to get via pouch. I brought plenty of shampoo/conditioner/body washes and peanut butter, and there's a decent Nutella alternative in the stores.

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

There are many different types of cuisine, including a pretty legit Mexican restaurant (probably one of the most expensive places around), and delicious sushi, even in a double landlocked country. There is decent pizza places, western type places (Urban Food is the BEST), and KFC has finally opened!! Express 24 is the delivery app that will bring everything from coffee -> breakfast -> meals -> dessert, right to your door...or wherever you may be! Delivery charges are between $1-2

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

I have had ZERO pest issues, and it has been FABULOUS! That said, one friend finds scorpions in her home, more often than I'd like to say, and another friend has an issue with ants. There are no mosquitos, no fleas, no ticks, no roaches. It's great!

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Daily Life:

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

Send and receive via 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?

Availability is great and about half speak decent to good English. Affordability is also great; roughly US$25/day for full time. A lot of them will also multitask, doing both housework and babysitting as needed.

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

The embassy has a small, but effective gym. There are also a few around town that some people use. I don't have much info on them, though.

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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?

This is a total cash economy, and you will have a large stack of bills with you at all times. It is common for men to wear a purse/wallet to carry their cash around. I will add that I NEVER feel uncomfortable carrying large amounts of bills while going about my daily business.

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

There is an English-language Catholic service on Sundays. There is also a fairly large LDS group, here, and they meet someone's home every Sunday.

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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?

You can get by without any knowledge of Russian, although it will be difficult. Many locals under the age of 30 try to learn and speak English, and area willing to help out. Google Translate app is also extremely helpful. I arrived with a pretty good grasp of the alphabet, and that has proved to be very beneficial. Learning some pleasantries (Hello, good bye, please, thank you) and giving an honest effort will go a long way with the locals.

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

Definitely.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are abundant, and there is a reputable app for hailing a metered cab. There is a fast train to get you to Samarkand or Bukhara for a weekend get away. Tashkent has one of the more ornate and stunning underground metro systems in the world! Google it, it s gorgeous and clean! Photography of the metro stations has recently been approved by the local government.

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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 that is sturdy, as there are many potholes, and unpaved roads all over the city. Chevy has a stronghold on the market, but international parts are easier to get (Toyota, Mercedes, etc). You could also just purchase a car from someone departing post.

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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?

There are 2 internet service providers that embassy personnel use at home. Evo+ is available in ALL the homes, but has connectivity issues, at times, and limited data during the day. Evenings and weekends are unlimited, though. Sarkor is available to about half the homes (in the Maxim Gorky/Mirzo Ulugbek neighborhood), and has an unlimited plan for about US$100/month. I am able to stream Netflix/Hulu/Amazon TV, while being on the computer, or working on other devices, without interruption. I believe it is in the process of being changed, so that all homes will be able to have Sarkor.

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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?

Bring an unlocked phone to put a local sim card into. Beeline is organized through the commissary, and is very 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?

There are a couple vets in town and one of them will make house calls. There is no quarantine. It is fairly easy to get large dogs into the country, but is more difficult to get them out. They come in on the Lufthansa Cargo plane, but have to go out of Almaty, because Uzbek Air doesn't have enough space for anything larger than a 500 series kennel, and then there are only 3 spaces, per flight.

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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?

With the EFM hiring freeze lifted, many EFMs found employment at the embassy. Some work at the school.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

I've heard of people volunteering at some preschools, and TIS.

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

Business/business casual at the embassy. Public ranges from traditional garments to western clothing. Women wear shorts and sleeveless shirts, just nothing too short or revealing. If you travel outside of Tashkent, things get much more conservative.

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Health & Safety:

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

I feel totally safe in and around Tashkent. As a woman, I frequently walk the streets of the neighborhood, without any concern. I can go to the stores, or the bazaars without an issues. The people are friendly, and love kids. Driving is probably the most dangerous part of living here.

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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 air quality is terrible, most days. Dust is everywhere, all the time, which can cause some asthmatic and sinus issues. It is also terrible for those who were contacts. Be sure you have plenty of back up pairs, AND a pair of glasses. Wash your produce, and don't drink the tap water. The Med Unit is staffed with an American PA, hired by the state department, a local Dr./pediatrician, a local nurse and EFM receptionists.



Regular checkups/vaccines/tummy aches and such can be treated at the embassy. There is an international clinic that is staffed by a variety of expat physicians, and they have more equipment to provide tests/scans. Anything that would require a procedure or hospitalization would be medically evacuated to London.

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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?

As mentioned above, air quality sucks. I believe purifiers have now been approved to be distributed in all homes; we're just waiting for that to become effective.

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

Again, air quality can have an effect on asthma and sinus issues. Wash the produce and don't drink the tap water. They aren't super conscious of food allergies, so you just have to be cautious. TIS has specific tables where peanut products can be consumed and the rest of the campus is peanut free. You CAN find gluten-free products, if you look for them. There is a Bob's Red Mill store in town.

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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)?

It's probably a good idea to get away every six months, or so. Traffic will grate on your nerves. The CLO does a fantastic job of keeping gatherings on the calendar, and that helps to keep the blues away. Its really a fun place to explore!

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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?

Climate is dry, all year, really. Spring is Mar-May and lovely. Summer is June-August and HOT!! Make friends with someone who has an outdoor pool, if you don't have one. Fall is Sept-Nov and lovely. Winter is Dec-Feb and pretty frigid.

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Schools & Children:

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

Tashkent International School (TIS) is an IB school that all the embassy kids attend. It is a lovely school, that is steadily improving the way it operates. The biggest frustration is the last minute notification of info/events. My kids (all in elementary school) love their classes/teachers/after school activities. There is a British School and a French school, but they are mostly attended by locals, and staffed by all local teachers. There is also a homeschooling group, if that is something that would better suit your needs.

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

Accommodations are on a case by case basis. Contact the school to discuss possibilities for your child.

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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?

TIS has a 3yo and a 4yo program, on the same campus as the other grades. There are a couple of local preschools that some embassy kids attend; one is a Russian speaking school, and the other is Russian/English.

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

Many after school activities are available through TIS, for their students. Cross country, soccer and basketball are all competitive in the high grades. Drama is offered starting in fourth grade, and choir is growing and has an amazing teacher!

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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 small-medium community; about 60 direct hires, and their families. Lots of LARGE families (4+ kids) and kids of all ages. Morale is great, and gatherings/dinners/events always have a great turnout.

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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?

Meeting for coffee, monthly Happy Hours/Trivia Nights, hosting small (or large) dinners, Monthly CLO EFM coffee mornings. Being active in the TIS PTO is a great way to stay connected. There is also TWIG (Tashkent Womens International Group), which brings together women from all over.

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

Singles...meh. Couples, sure. Families - absolutely!

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

Not in my opinion. It is a very conservative, primarily Muslim country.

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

No issues, really. Men are superior, here, but they aren't particularly unkind to women. As mentioned before, I don't feel uncomfortable or unsafe going out by myself.

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

It's such a neat place to explore, especially traveling along the Silk Road. Discovering the cultural artistry/textiles. The friendly people, the inexpensive cost of living, the housing...there are a lot of perks to living in Tashkent.

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

Visiting Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Fergana Valley.... going into the Chimgan Mountains for hiking, or sledding in the winter. Visiting the bazaars are always fun, too.

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

Absolutely shopping post. Rugs/carpets out the wazoo! Gorgeous suzanis and ikat/adrass textiles.

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

Housing, cost of living, and morale of the community

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I wish I had known to throw out my preconceived notions of a "stan" country. The worst part is probably the complexity of flying in and out of the country... although more and more direct flights are becoming available, to more locations.

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

Absolutely! I probably wouldn't have fought my husband as much about putting at the top of out bid list.

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

Preconceived notions of living here. Leave behind your urgency of daily living you experience in a metropolitan US city.

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4. But don't forget your:

Moisturizer and sense of adventure.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

It really is a gem of a place. Don't hesitate to explore this region of the world.

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Tashkent, Uzbekistan 08/08/18

Background:

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

Yes.

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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.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Enormous with a pool. Single family homes with enclosed perimeter fence. Embassy houses are spread throughout the city, commute times can be up to 30 min. Non-embassy expats had even larger houses more central in the city.

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

Local produce extremely affordable in season. Sunflower oil, pasta, boxed milk, chicken, eggs, local bread, and local cheese is always available and generally affordable. Imported goods are extremely expensive if available at all.

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

It is a consumables post as of 2018. And there is a commissary for embassy families and other goods can be purchased via Ramstein (through the commissary), so you can get almost anything if you're willing to pay a hefty price. Lots of people shipped alcohol, peanut butter, salsa, and liquids like sauces and vinegar. Most other items can be received through Amazon orders. We brought 50 pounds of frozen cheese (cheddar, swiss, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Parmesan,) and frozen meats in our luggage and just hoped they didn't lose that bag.

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

The country is just starting to develop more restaurant options, including delivery services. To me, all locally prepared food is pretty blah and the same thing.

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

We had minor ants a couple of times. There are wasps. Some friends had scorpions (small but not very dangerous).

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch (no DPO). Shipped items take at least 2-3 weeks, minimum. Longer when it gets backed up during holiday seasons.

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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 readily available. People are coming out of the woodwork when you arrive because Americans pay US$25-30/day when all other nationalities pay US$15/day. Some families had nannies, cooks, housekeepers, gardeners, chauffeurs, and pool cleaners.

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

There are some. I cannot speak to quality or price.

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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?

None. Cash only, mostly local currency, though tourist sites might accept crisp US Dollar or Euro currency in large bills. In 2017, the Uzbek govt liberalized the exchange rate so the previous discrepancy between the "official" rate and the "black market" rate is no longer an issue. This change is positive for diplomats.

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

Catholic, possibly Protestant, and some "non-sanctioned" services in homes may be available. Religious freedom still seems to be an issue in this country.

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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?

Locals speak Uzbek to one another. Russian is widely understood in the city, especially by older Uzbeks (over age 35), locals are very kind and helpful about English, but there will be little true communication. Plenty of Russian language classes available and affordable through the U.S. Embassy language program, Tashkent International School parent classes, or private in-home tutors.

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

Terrible. No wheelchair access, no level sidewalks. No accommodations for hearing or sight impairment. No good medical care for serious conditions.

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Transportation:

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

Crazy affordable. Metro is cheap and safe if you live nearer to the center of the city. Any car is a taxi for cheap (like, $2 could get you across the city), but you probably won't have a seatbelt, definitely no carseats for children, and traffic is a consistently risky venture.


Uzbek air is an interesting experience. The local trains (to take you to other cities) can be nice if you pay for the express or less nice if you have to go on the economy train.

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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?

Lots of cars available from diplomats to diplomats every summer. You can buy a Chevy in country. Lots of potholes on residential roads, so bring something hardy. US Embassy mechanics are amazing and resourceful. Chances of car accidents are pretty high. The bigger you are, the more road respect you are likely to receive.



Little to no risk of burglary.

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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?

Better all the time. Limited fiber optic options in some areas. Speed still limited.

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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?

Bring an unlocked international cell phone. Local providers available.

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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 kennel services, so pet owners swap with each other. Veterinarians seem sketchy. Serious restrictions and logistical issues with airlines getting pets in and out, i.e. very 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?

Local salaries are pitiful. Some had telecommuting jobs or worked at the international school. Native English speakers were begged to tutor English privately. Overall it's tough or impossible for expats to get a job on the local economy because work permits are difficult to come by.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty. Dog shelters, schools, orphanages, but you have to be careful, too, since it doesn't seem like they like to admit there are problems in the country.

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

All local school kids wear a uniform of white shirt and black pants or skirt. Suits and ties, skirts and heels are worn in the workplace. Weddings are very formal, dressy, shiny affairs.



It's a Muslim country, so moderate modesty of women is appreciated, like, no cleavage, no short shorts.

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Health & Safety:

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

Police state, so I felt very safe even as a lone woman walking. Use common sense.

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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 available through Tashkent International Clinic (doctor and dentist). Anything remotely serious requires evacuation.

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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 isn't measured or published by the government, but it felt poor, especially in the middle of the city. Usually hazy. It was an exception to see the beautiful mountains.

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

No local sensitivity to food allergies of any kind.

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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)?

Just culture shock.

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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?

Very hot, sunny, and dusty in the summer. Some snow in the 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?

Tashkent International School is where all the embassy kids went when we were there. Some parents LOVED it (especially the community feeling) and some parents found its reputation to be inflated. Very strong in liberal arts, but some parents worried about STEM lacking in lower and middle grades. This gets better in high school. After-school activities are many and varied. Social events revolve strongly around the school. Facilities are good for Uzbekistan. New gym recently added and plans for new expanded elementary building and ELC (pre-school). Grounds are vast and quite secure. Truly international student body.



Other options include a British School with lovely facilities (and I believe they are beginning to expand into upper grades like 8 and 9), and a French school.

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

While we were there, they were accommodating peanut allergies, speech therapy, and IEPs at least in the lower grades. They really try to meet the learning and emotional needs of all the children, by hiring extra aides or working with teachers to increase the challenge for advanced students. Mostly, the teachers are incredible and the administration is top notch. Definitely contact the school to discuss your options.

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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?

Preschools are available at TIS, the British School, and the French school. There are also a couple of local English program preschools (Star Kids International and Twinkle Star) and plenty of Russian ones (Chuda is beloved). Know that Russian and Uzbek language preschools promote the Russian or Uzbek cultures, so not a lot of independent thought or curiosity or exploration. I didn't know any expats with their children in an Uzbek preschool.

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

Plenty of private lessons available in EVERYTHING: tennis, piano, fencing, swimming, chess, and/or tae kwon do. You just have to find an athletic club or private teacher. Lots of after-school activities available through Tashkent International School for students, and sports too at the older grade levels.

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Expat Life:

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

The expat community is small enough that most people know most people either through work or through the school. There are embassy employees, the UN, UNICEF, the EU, business employees from GM, Korean companies, school teachers, oil companies, and others. I would suggest morale was generally good. Tashkent is affordable and safe, so good for families. It is remote and can be expensive to travel into and out of, and always feels like central Asia, so you can't escape your reality much.

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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?

Tashkent Women's International Group (TWIG) available to women expats is an amazing club with many social, cultural, and educational activities.
The Koreans have an incredible community and network, as far as I can tell. You can ingratiate yourself in the TIS school Community as a volunteer or an involved parent and meet other parents and teachers and administrators there. With locals, your neighbors are likely to be friendly and inclusive, especially if your children play in the street with theirs, or you try to speak their language.

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

I would say couples and families could be very happy here. You can make your own fun, but there are also parks and bowling, public water parks, amusement parks, historical sites, museums. It's probably slightly more difficult for singles.

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

It does not seem socially acceptable here. No visible presence, at least.

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

The country is primarily Muslim, but not extremist. There does not seem to be true religious freedom. Prejudices against gypsies, but I still saw plenty of people giving gypsy beggars cash. Women who are single or divorced or childless carry a stigma. Local marriages are arranged.

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

The local people are so kind and helpful and accepting. The goods and services are extremely affordable. I loved the Tashkent International School community for myself and for my children. I loved being a member of Tashkent Women's International Group (TWIG) and the U.S. Embassy community was absolutely incredible. So inclusive, so fun, supportive, interesting, generous, good people in leadership positions, and a good feeling.

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

Most visitors and tourists prioritize visits to Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, and the Fergana Valley. There is an old Koran at the Hazrati Imam in Tashkent worth seeing. The Chorsu bazaar is an immersive experience in the sights, smells, styles, products, and culture of the country. I loved seeing any of the ballet or opera productions at the Alisher Navoi theatre, riding the Metro to see the unique station stops, checking out the bizarre Yangiobod bazaar, and visiting all the museums. Also, weekend trips into the mountains for hiking, sledding, skiing, horseback riding, and even a couple of camping trips.

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

Plenty. A local textile handicraft called Suzani, pottery and ceramics, Atlas and Adras fabrics (cotton and/or silk hand-dyed), hand-tied carpets and rugs, carved wood items, affordable custom-made clothing, local musical instruments, etc.

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

So affordable. Very safe. The culture is a really interesting historical blend of Asia, the Middle East, India, and Russia, so it feels like no other place you've lived (unless you've lived in Central Asia before, but it's even more authentic and less modern than some of its neighbors).

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Words of Wisdom:

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

The air quality can be very poor for prolonged periods during the winter. There really are very limited or very expensive modern international products available in country, so you need to be low maintenance, resourceful, and maintain a grateful mindset. The driving is crazy, but don't let that stop you from doing it, necessarily.

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

Totally. I was very sad to leave and would do it again. My kids were fine to be there, but fine to leave, too. My husband thought two years was enough and would not care to go back.

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

American or European driving skills. Observe drivers and driving for a few weeks or months before you get behind the wheel yourself, and then maintain constant vigilance, be 100% defensive, exercise every precaution and don't expect any sort of normal behaviors from other drivers.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, walking shoes, peanut butter, salsa, cooking spices, and basic Russian phrases.

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

Historically, they look to Amir Temur (Tamarlane) and Mirzo Ulugbek (his grandson), as heroes, but lingering post-Soviet buildings and overtones remain, as well as Old Silk Road influences. Of course, tourist books. And Google images of Uzbekistan.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Attitude is everything.

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Tashkent, Uzbekistan 07/05/15

Background:

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

No. I've lived in Europe and West Africa.

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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?

Europe - it's about 9 hours or so, depending on connections. Flights out of Tashkent are very limited, with Turkish Air and Aeroflot being the only real options if flying West. As a result, flights are expensive and it isn't that easy to leave the country for a weekend. Flights also tend to arrive in the middle of the night and the airport experience is not a pleasant one. In fact, the airport is considered one of the worst in the world and everyone has their stories to tell of just how long it took them to get out of the airport.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Four years.

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

Educator.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Apartments and houses, which often have interesting layouts or decor. Get used to sparkles. There isn't much traffic in Tashkent, so commuting isn't really a problem.

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

Local products are generally reasonably priced and not expensive. Local fruits and vegetables are amazing and cheap, particularly at the bazaars. Anything imported is expensive.

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

Cheese, except that it wouldn't survive being shipped.

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

The range of restaurants is fairly limited and none of them stand out as being spectacular. Cuisines are mostly limited to Uzbek, Russian, Italian, Korean, Turkish, and Georgian. This is not a city with a huge restaurant scene. No international fast food chains are available. There is a local coffee chain, Bon, which is decent. One can be sure to run into other ex-pats while there.

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

None that I had a problem with.

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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?

Available and affordable, at about US$15-20/day.

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Don't use them.

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

There isn't that much English, so knowing Russian is really helpful.

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

Yes. The roads are full of potholes, as are the sidewalks. Many sidewalks are very slippery when it snows, as well.

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Transportation:

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

Public transport in Tashkent is safe and affordable, although most expats don't take it. Any car here is a taxi, so that is a cheap way to get around.

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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?

There is internet available, but none of it is high-speed. It is also expensive and many of of the so-called unlimited packages are not unlimited. Nonetheless, it is improving.

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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're available here.

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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 really.

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Health & Safety:

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

No - there are police everywhere. It's a strange benefit of a police state.

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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 Tashkent International Clinic offers good quality basic medical care, with English speaking doctors. Anything else gets evacuated.

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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?

It seemed fine, particularly because there aren't that many cars in Tashkent.

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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?

Summers are very hot, with temperatures over 40C. Spring and fall are nice, but much too short, to the point of sometimes being non-existent. Winter always has some snow, but isn't that cold, although it will occasionally go down to -20C.

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Schools & Children:

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

Tashkent International School is good and runs all three programs of the IB. There is also a British school, although it only currently goes through about year 7.

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

TIS will make accommodations. Contact the school directly.

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

Yes, through TIS.

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Expat Life:

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

The size of the community is fairly small. Morale is ok - it depends on who you talk to.

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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?

Eating out and hanging out with friends. Options are limited. This is a 'make your own fun' kind of place.

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

Excellent for families. Socially, it's quite limiting for singles and couples.

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

No, it's not culturally accepted.

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

Traveling around the country, hiking, and enjoying the wonderful produce.

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

All the Silk Road cities. The Savitsky Museum is definitely a worth a visit as well. In Tashkent, the Ilkhom Theatre puts on surprisingly edgy productions and it's strange that it hasn't been shut down yet.

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

Carpets, suzanis, ceramics, art, wood carvings, etc. There are lots of things to buy.

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

The interesting history and culture.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes, definitely.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

It is really difficult to have people visit here. Due to the registration rules, guests often have to stay in hotels. Money is also complicated here. All money must be declared upon entering the country and one may not take out more than one entered with. Dealing with these restrictions and making sure not to lose the customs declaration form requires more planning than elsewhere. The black market exchange rate is also significantly better than the official rate. Most people work out their own money exchange schemes to take advantage of it.

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

Yes, it's an interesting and often overlooked part of the world.

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

Idea that countries ending in 'stan are all a terrible place to live in. This is a very interesting part of the world, with a long history and unique culture.

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Tashkent, Uzbekistan 08/24/14

Background:

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

No. I've lived in Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Korea.

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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. Maybe 20 hours or more - depending on connections. Long. Jetlag is impressive.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Since Winter 2013. Currently living here.

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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?

Various types of housing available. Commutes are about 20 minutes.

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

The basics are available. The prices are relatively low unless you are buying imported goods.

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

Canned fish, peanut butter, shampoos and conditioners, anti-perspirant, body crèmes/lotions, floss, vitamins and supplements, cereals, crackers.

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

There are no international fast food chains available here. They have their own fast food - lavash, plof and sashlik. There are some good restaurants in town - Turkish, Korean, Chinese and European. The International Hotel has an excellent brunch most Sundays.

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

Mosquitos, flies, ants, locusts.

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Daily Life:

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

I do through my work. They have DHL and FedEx here for international mailings. I don't know how reliable the national post office is here.

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

US$20 a day. Easy to find someone. They require a great deal of management.

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

Yes. Outrageous cost. US$3,000 a year. There is a small, free gym where I work.

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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?

This is a cash economy. You can only use Visa cards at a few banks. That makes internal travel for tourist difficult.

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

I understand there is a Catholic service in English on Sundays.

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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?

Everybody here speaks Uzbek and Russian. I use my Russian, but find it useful to study Uzbek to fully understand what is happening around me and read signs. There is much more English here now - the government is encouraging the study of the language. Teenagers are keen to interact with expats who speak English.

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

Yes. It's not a handicap friendly environment. That said there are continuing efforts to change that.

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Transportation:

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

Local trains and buses are generally safe - use caution at night of course.

Taxis are dangerous because many have shoddy conversions to natural gas.

Public transport is quite cheap. You can take the brand new air-conditioned fast train between Tashkent and Samarkand for US$54 return trip.

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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?

I would bring an SUV. The availability of parts and service are sketchy. You have to be careful of gasoline because it is frequently watered down. There are many local restrictions and duties. I haven't heard of any carjackings - there are strict punishments for car thieves here. The reality is, if you have brought a car here, then you work for an international institution that will help you support that vehicle.

The roads are crazy. Nobody understands the concept of choosing one lane, using turn signals, distance between vehicles or maintaining a 'communal' speed in a group. Pedestrians treat roads like parks - they wander through them with no cares, highways are even bigger parks for them. Horses and cows frequently wander over roads the same way. The police are constantly pulling people over for infractions of the law. It's the worst traffic I have ever seen in my life.

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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?

We have internet. It's not high-speed. You'll get used to it. I think I pay US$40 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?

No problem. You can get them easily here.

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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 necessary. There is a vet who caters to expats. No kennels that I've heard of. Generally, you ask a friend or colleague to take care of your pet.

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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. There really are not.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Not that many, but they do exist.

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

At work, suits. In public, casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

It's a relatively safe city. The police are very active here.

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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?

There is one international medical clinic here. I think it is average healthcare. 'Tashkent Tummy' is prevalent. The heat and the dust can be very enervating in the summer.

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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?

In the summer it gets very dusty in Tashkent as it doesn't rain for months.

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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?

Winters are relatively warm with February dropping to -20C. Summers are very hot - upwards of +40C. Dry climate.

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Schools & Children:

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

Tashkent International School and the British School. Both have good reputations.

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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?

There are preschools and nannies are very inexpensive - US$20 a day.

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

Yes. They are organized at 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?

Expat community is relatively small. There might be as many as 1,000 expats here. The morale is pretty good and people are keen to interact.

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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?

People invite each other to their homes or get together for dinner/dancing at a restaurant. Pool parties in the summer.

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

As any Central Asia city: Great for families and single men. A bit more boring for single women and couples.

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

I would think not. The former Soviet Union doesn't have a history of being very liberal in this respect.

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

Women are considered to be second class citizens - nothing new about that anywhere, it's just a matter of degree. You work around it. Islamic institutions are closely scrutinized. There are Jewish organizations and the Russian Orthodox church is well-established with their own patriarch. Afro-Americans receive long stares and many questions, to the point where it's uncomfortable.

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

Touring historical cities, travelling to Moynaq and Nukus.

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

There are some interesting sights in town and some good restaurants. People like to travel into the mountains about an hour outside of the city. There is a zoo and a petting zoo for kids. Most expats travel to Samarkand, Bukhara, Fergana Valley, Khiva and Nukus. Weekends in Istanbul, Dubai and New Delhi are possible as direct flights are available.

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

Chess sets, silk clothing items, ceramics, jewelry, wooden jewelry boxes, silk purses, carpets, paintings, Uzbek musical instruments.

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

Very interesting historical cities and, of course, the Savitsky Museum in Nukus. The culture is unique. Saving money is easy. Tends to be sunny most of the time.

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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?

Just how big Tashkent is. It sprawls like Los Angeles.

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

Yes.

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

Need for privacy. Everybody watches everybody here. It's like a Las Vegas casino.

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4. But don't forget your:

Adapt to a new reality.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Got to You Tube and bring up Tashkent. Lots of videos.

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

The Economist updates on Uzbekistan.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

If you are coming as a short-term tourist, be sure to bring cash and a Visa card. Also be aware of the registration requirements as you travel from city to city. It would be wise to join a tour group the first time here.

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Tashkent, Uzbekistan 06/11/07

Background:

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

Croatia, Germany, Thailand, Phillipines.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Wife is posted here.

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

5 hours to/from Frankfurt.

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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, mansions. Commute time - you can get anywhere in town in 20 minutes.

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

Costs are going up but for a westerner, you can do OK here. But be very careful of counterfeits and imitations....

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

Contact lenses solution, sun-creme.

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

Limited and most menus are in Russian.

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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?

Very reasonable.

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Very limited.

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

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

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

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

A lot, there is zero setup for physical disabilities. The streets are a mess as well as the sidewalks and most apartment buildings do not have operational elevators. There are some, but not a lot.

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Transportation:

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

Right.

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

Very affordable.

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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?

Hard question. If it is very new, you have to bring all of the repair parts. they run out of diesel 2 times a year and fuel is dirty. Better to buy a second hand 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?

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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?

Tri-band.

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

Skpye.

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Pets:

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

Limited.

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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.

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

Air pollution good, do not drink the water, wash all fruits, vegetables, eggs.

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

Not really, the 'state' mostly leaves diplomats alone.

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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?

See my previous comment on the Tashkent International Medical Clinic (www.tashclinic.org).

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

Hot, very dry in spring, summer early fall. Bad winter and subzero weather. Roads are not cleared.

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Schools & Children:

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

Tashkent International School is the only way to go.

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

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?

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Expat Life:

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

A few thousand.

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2. Morale among expats:

It depends on the country and the mood of the government.

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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?

Everything revolves around the TIS.

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

Yes, as long as the Tashkent International Medical Clinic remains here - you can make it. There is only one place where the international community and diplomats goes to !! And it is extremely reasonable: Tashkent International Medical Clinic (www.tashclinic.org). Trust me once you have watched them medically evac someone - you will be impressed.

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

I do not believe so.

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

well, you are in Central Asia.....

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

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

View All Answers


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?

It depends on who you work for...

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

110 volt stuff.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen.

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

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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