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An Expat Talks about Living in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Bishkek

How long have you lived there?

2 years

What activities, clubs and organizations would you recommend to newcomers to help them meet others?

Not many organized groups I heard of except the Harriers, a running/socializing group that meets every week. However, there are a load of volunteer activities, especially tutoring in English

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In terms of religious, racial, economic and cultural diversity, are the people of this city or town diverse? Are they accepting of differences? Describe.

There is a fair amount of diversity, though not that many expats for a capital. No real ethnic areas. It isn't hard to meet people if you want, though it's hard to cast a wide net if you don't know Russian, and Kyrgyz are annoyed if you know none of theirs. The markets are a major diversion, especially the big Osj bazaar toward the west.

What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?

Teaching at the International School is supposed to be pretty easy, and several language schools always want native speakers; but only one, called London I think, pays much. There are newspaper ads in Russian but they rarely help since unemployment is rife, though things are picking up now. The international NGOs never seem to hire from within the country.

In general, what are peoples' priorities in this city? For example, do lives revolve around work, family, socializing, sports, etc.?

Family is easily the main focus, with work a distant second for all except the richest and poorest (which make up about half of the city and are busy but nearly unemployed). Socializing is pretty limited except the most informal family visits because there are so few evening activities and it seems pretty dangerous after 11 pm. For expats, dinner out is very common because it's pretty tasty and very cheap.

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Let the Adventure Begin! E-Newsletter

Let the Adventure Begin! is our premium weekly relocation newsletter that guides you step-by-step through your international move. The weekly newsletter begins 8 months before your move and runs through your first 4 months abroad. For US $29.99, you'll receive an e-mail on Wednesday with tips and advice tailored to where you are in the relocation and settling-in process.

If a friend of yours was thinking of moving to this city or town from far away, what other advice would you give them.

Because of lingering Soviet-style centralization and unease with western entrepreneurship, as well as a lot of official barriers to foreigners doing much, try to set up something before you go. People are friendly and relaxed, compared to Almaty for example, so you should be able to do some networking. Rent is rising fast but still cheap, and most other things (except imports) are very cheap by the standards of any western country

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Expats, digital nomads & retirees talk about what it's like living in Bishkek.

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Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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Expats BishkekExpats in Bishkek

Expats, digital nomads & retirees talk about what it's like living in Bishkek.

Kyrgyzstan Index Bishkek Index
An index of all of our site's Bishkek information.

Kyrgyzstan Forum Kyrgyzstan Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Kyrgyzstan on our Kyrgyzstan forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

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Help others in Kyrgyzstan by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Kyrgyzstan.

Expat Healthcare Advice in KyrgyzstanHealthcare & Health Insurance in Kyrgyzstan

Expats in Kyrgyzstan offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Kyrgyzstan.

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