Moving to Turkmenistan
Last updated on Feb 04, 2023
Summary: Many expats and digital nomads move to Turkmenistan for its low cost of living, its unique culture, and its diverse landscape. People can find a place to live in Turkmenistan by searching online for rental properties, or by asking around in the local community. The most popular cities for expats and digital nomads in Turkmenistan are Ashgabat, Mary, and Turkmenabat.
What do I need to know before moving to Turkmenistan?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Turkmenistan, they said:
"Before moving to Turkmenistan, you should familiarize yourself with the local language and culture. The official language is Turkmen, and although English is spoken by many, having a basic understanding of the language will help you to communicate effectively with locals. You should also research the local laws and customs which may be different than those of your home country. Be sure to have all necessary documents in order before you arrive, such as passport, visa, work permit and medical insurance. Since Turkmenistan is largely a cash economy, you should plan accordingly and bring enough cash with you to last until you open a local bank account. Finally, make sure that you have established housing arrangements, as it may be difficult to find suitable accommodation upon arrival," remarked another expat in Turkmenistan.
"You will visit dozens of homes before finding one. You will rarely find something that you are used to if you are from the west. You will want to run out of some before even reaching the front door," said another expat in Ashgabat.
How do I find a place to live in Turkmenistan?
We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:
"When looking for a place to live in Turkmenistan, it is best to start by researching the various cities and towns throughout the country. Property listings can help you explore the neighborhoods and determine which is the best fit for you. You may want to consult an experienced local relocation specialist who will be able to provide helpful advice. Additionally, online resources such as Expat Forums and Expat Blogs can provide you with valuable information and tips regarding the local living situation. Finally, it is recommended that you visit the potential place of residence to ensure that it meets your needs," said another expat in Turkmenistan.
What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Turkmenistan?
"Expat homes and apartments in Turkmenistan are typically well-appointed with modern amenities. A standard apartment will come with a living room, a kitchen, one or two bedrooms, and a bathroom. Expat apartments are often part of high-end complexes, with luxury-style amenities such as fitness centers, swimming pools, tennis courts, and other recreational activities. Many expats also prefer to live in Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat, in order to be close to more amenities and resources. Living in smaller cities and towns may be cheaper, but they may not provide the same level of convenience," commented one expat who made the move to Turkmenistan.
"In a low rise apartment building with the locals. It's typical for non-diplomatic expats. 90% are ugly, old and tackily decorated..the stairwells of buildings ..nightmare," remarked another expat in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
What is the average cost of housing in Turkmenistan?
If you are thinking about moving to Turkmenistan, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:
"The cost of housing in Turkmenistan varies, depending on location and quality. Generally, rental prices vary from low to mid-range," remarked another expat who made the move to Turkmenistan.
"They are cheaper than where I am from, but for the quality you get here and what the allowances the companies give for housing based on it being Turkmenistan, the rent is expensive. One bedroom can be between US 300-700/month. US 300-450 priced apartments are very dodgy looking," explained one expat living in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
Should I buy or rent a home in Turkmenistan?
If you have not spent a lot of time in Turkmenistan, you should rent before even thinking about buying. We asked expats there about the buy vs. rent decision:
"Buying a home in Turkmenistan is largely dependent on your lifestyle and financial situation. The cost of buying a home and other associated expenses, such as maintenance and taxes, should all be taken into consideration. If you are looking for long-term stability or have ample financial resources, buying a home may be a worthwhile investment. On the other hand, if you intend to stay in Turkmenistan for a shorter period of time or your financial resources are limited, renting a home may be the better option. While prospective renters will have to pay a deposit and monthly rent, this can often be more affordable than buying a home in the country. Moreover, renting a home also allows you to move more freely, as you are not tied down to one place indefinitely," commented one expat who made the move to Turkmenistan.
What should I pack when moving to Turkmenistan?
We asked people living in Turkmenistan to list three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They responded:
"Essentials to pack for a move to Turkmenistan include clothing for all seasons, warm sweaters and coats, comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent, any necessary medications, a first aid kit, a variety of toiletries, kitchen and cooking supplies, laptop and any other important electronics, and an assortment of books, games, or other entertainment items. Make sure to include a valid passport and any other relevant documents. Don't forget to bring a good headlamp or flashlight as electrical outages can occur unexpectedly in some areas. Other additional items you may want to consider packing include a small amount of local currency, U.S. dollars, photos of your family and friends back home, copies of important documents, and emergency contact information," remarked another expat in Turkmenistan.
What cultural faux pas should I try to avoid making in Turkmenistan?
We asked people in Turkmenistan if they could share any humorous cultural blunders they commited. For new expats, keep in mind that these incidents are an inevitable part of expat life. Learning to laugh about them is the key!:
"In Turkmenistan, it is considered polite to take your shoes off when entering someone's home. Additionally, it is important to greet elders with respect as they are highly regarded in Turkmen culture. It is also important to avoid discussing politics in public, as it may be viewed as impolite and could lead to unpleasant confrontation. Another important thing to remember is the Turkmen’s traditional hospitality for guests, so be sure to dress conservatively, bring a gift for the host, and don’t be too bashful to accept the hospitality offered. Finally, it is important to show respect for religious practices and beliefs, so try to moderate alcohol consumption in public, do not touch or point to books of religion, and be sure to show respect when interacting with individuals at places of worship," remarked another expat in Turkmenistan.
About the Author
Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.