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Lahore, Pakistan

Living in Pakistan

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Feb 01, 2023

Summary: The approximate population of Pakistan is 212 million people. The largest cities in Pakistan are Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, and Multan. Expats love living in Pakistan for its rich culture, friendly people, and beautiful landscapes. People describe life in Pakistan as vibrant and full of life. Foods popular in Pakistan include biryani, kebabs, naan, and korma. The cons of living in Pakistan include the lack of infrastructure, poor public transportation, and the security situation. The average cost of living for an expat is around $1,000 to $2,000 per month. This includes rent, utilities, food, and other expenses.

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What do I need to know about living in Pakistan?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Pakistan, they said:

"Before retiring in Pakistan you should familiarize yourself with the steps for obtaining a visa and residency permit. Additionally, you should research the cost of living in the area you plan to live in, as well as the availability of areas suitable for retirement. You should also be aware of local laws and cultural customs, and be sure to have adequate health insurance coverage. It is also important to consider the quality of the healthcare system in your chosen location, as well as the availability of other services you may need such as banking and transportation. Finally, bear in mind that many Pakistanis rely heavily on cash, so you may need to consider taking out a local bank account," said another person in Pakistan.

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What do I need to know before moving to Pakistan?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Pakistan, they said:

"Before moving to Pakistan, it is important to research the country thoroughly, particularly the political and economic climate, customs and traditions, and security situation. Learn the language (Urdu is official and widely spoken, with major languages varying by region) and familiarise yourself with local laws and customs. Be aware of the potential for natural disasters, particularly floods and earthquakes. Apply for a visa if required, familiarise yourself with the Pakistani banking sector, and be sure to obtain comprehensive travel, health and home insurance. Secure accommodation beforehand and be mindful of local dress codes and respect for personal space for both men and women. Finally, keep up to date with your home consular advice and register with them upon arrival," remarked another in Pakistan.

"I've written over 100 articles about expat life and travel in Pakistan. You can access the index on my blog: http://www.expatheather.com/Expat_Heather/Pakistan.html It includes moving guides, shopping tips, restaurant reviews, packing lists, cultural observations, travel tips and destination guides. If there's anything else about life in Lahore you would like to know, contact me through my website: http://www.expatheather.com," explained one expat.

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How do I find a place to live in Pakistan?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"When looking for a place to live in Pakistan, it is important to do research to find what type of accommodation best fits your budget and needs. You can look for rental homes, apartments, or guesthouses through online listings, word of mouth from people you know, or by contacting a local real estate broker. You should also consider the cost of living, the local amenities and infrastructure, schools for children, public transportation, and recreational activities. Finally, it is important to make sure that the location you are interested in is safe and secure," said another person in Pakistan.

"We lived in Defence as this was close to my husband's place of employment, had a lot of green space, was quiet and has residents who were used to seeing foreigners. We used a real estate company, Deal Makers to find our apartment. You can read more here: How to Find Housing in Lahore http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1195348/how_to_find_housing_in_lahore_pakistan.html?cat=54 Best Areas to Live in Lahore http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1797302/best_areas_to_live_in_lahore_pakistan.html?cat=16," remarked another expat in Lahore.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Pakistan?

"Expat homes and apartments in Pakistan are typically modern, luxurious and very spacious. Most are equipped with the latest amenities, including TVs, internet, washing machines, and air conditioners, as well as stylish and comfortable furniture. Many also have access to private gardens and balconies, making them great for entertaining. Many of the larger expat homes come with 24-hour security and a separate maid’s quarters. Although expats usually live in larger, more expensive houses away from the centre of town, there are also well-appointed apartments in city centres. Most expats live in well-developed residential areas with supermarkets, schools and medical centres nearby," said another expat in Pakistan.

"We lived in an upper portion, an independent flat above our landlord's family who lived in the bottom section. This is typical for most expats. It's hard to get a stand alone house and much more expensive. You can read more about living in Defence here: Living in Defence Housing Authority in Lahore, Pakistan http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1163761/living_in_defence_housing_authority.html?cat=54," added another person living in Lahore.

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What is the average cost of housing in Pakistan?

If you are thinking about moving to Pakistan, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The average cost of housing in Pakistan can vary depending on the city and type of housing. Generally, housing costs in Pakistan tend to be very low in comparison to other countries," said another expat in Pakistan.

"We had a 3-bedroom portion and paid 24,000 rupees per month, although prices have gone up since 2009. Costs are MUCH lower than in the U.S," added another person living in Lahore.

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How do I meet people in Pakistan?

When we asked people living in Pakistan about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"A great way to meet people in Pakistan is to join social clubs or organizations like the Chamber of Commerce or Rotary. You can also join various sports clubs and look for volunteer opportunities in your local community. Additionally, attending events like festivals, concerts, and art shows can be a great way to meet people. Lastly, using online communities like Meetup and Facebook groups can be a great way to expand your network and make new friends," added another person living in Pakistan.

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What should I bring when moving to Pakistan?

People living in Pakistan were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"Clothing - appropriate, loose clothing in summer and warmer clothing in winter. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and hats. Medication, passport and other important documents. Power adapter or voltage converter, food and snack items, camera, phone and laptop charger. Toiletries, mosquito repellent, hand sanitizer, and first aid kit. Cash, credit cards, ATM/debit cards, travelers’ checks. Maps and guidebooks," said another expat in Pakistan.

"Wish I had brought: comfortable dress shoes/sandals, digital camera, good ear plugs Should have left home: soccer ball (you can buy them everywhere), bass guitar (I never got around to playing it), books I didn't use (got water damaged on the way through the Pakistan Post) Read more here - Expat Packing List for Pakistan http://www.expatheather.com/Expat_Heather/Expat_Travel/Entries/2010/3/2_Expatriate_Packing_List__Pakistan.html," added another person living in Lahore.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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Where should I setup a bank account in Pakistan?

We asked expats in Pakistan what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:

"In order to set up a bank account in Pakistan, you should contact one of the major banking institutions operating in the country, such as National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Bank Alfalah, Habib Bank Ltd, Summit Bank Ltd, United Bank Ltd, and Askari Bank Ltd. Alternatively, you can also research other local banks in Pakistan to determine which institution may best meet your financial needs," said another person in Pakistan.

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Will I be able to find a job in Pakistan?

When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Pakistan, they reponded:

"Yes, it is possible to find work in Pakistan. There are many job opportunities for those with the right qualifications and experience. The most popular job sectors are agriculture, IT, engineering, and finance. Many multinational companies also have offices in Pakistan, providing job opportunities for skilled and experienced local workers. Additionally, the country has a large informal sector where people can find jobs in small businesses and self-employment," added another person living in Pakistan.

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What is life like in Pakistan?

When we asked people living in Pakistan what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Living as an expat in this area can be a truly rewarding experience. The people are friendly and welcoming, the climate is generally quite pleasant, and the cost of living is relatively low. There are also a variety of cultural activities, attractions, and great restaurants to enjoy. The transportation system is generally good and getting around is easy, although it can take some time to get used to the quirks of public transportation in a new place. Depending on the job, the community can offer many exciting career opportunities as well. That said, the language barrier can be a difficult challenge to overcome and, while locals are willing to help, the expat community can be a great source of support. All in all, living as an expat in this area isn’t without its challenges, but with some patience and determination it can be an incredibly rewarding experience," said another expat in Pakistan.

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What do expats in Pakistan appreciate most about the local culture?

"Expats in Pakistan appreciate the hospitality, warmth, and generosity of the people, the breathtaking mountain scenery, the delicious and diverse food, the rich cultural heritage and art, the vibrant music, and the fascinating mix of ancient and modern architecture. They also appreciate the religious harmony and tolerance displayed in Pakistani culture and the vibrant nightlife of some cities," remarked another in Pakistan.

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What do expats find most challenging?

"Expats often find it difficult to adjust to a new culture, language, and environment. Finding the right job, housing and a social circle can also be challenging. Additionally, the lack of familiarity with local customs can cause problems such as difficulty in navigating local bureaucracy and unfamiliarity with the taxation system. Moreover, cultural differences and language barriers can lead to misunderstandings and communication issues. Expats also sometimes feel lonely and isolated due to the distance from family and friends," explained one expat.

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Is there a lot of crime in Pakistan?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"There is some crime in Pakistan but it is generally safer than some other countries in the region. Many areas are very safe, but there are some areas where crime is more of a problem. Areas in major cities like Islamabad, Peshawar and Karachi have higher crime rates due to the denser population. The overall crime rate in Pakistan is low compared to some other countries," explained one expat.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Pakistan accepting of differences?

"Pakistan is a diverse country composed of many ethnic and religious groups. There is diversity of language, culture, and custom across its provinces. As a result, people have generally become accepting of the differences among them, developing into an increasingly tolerant society in which different backgrounds and beliefs are respected. Pakistani people are proud of their diverse population, and people—regardless of their ethnicity, religion, language, or background—are accepted and welcomed into the country," replied an expat in Pakistan.

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What are the schools in Pakistan like?

"Schools in Pakistan follow the same education system as most other countries, although the syllabus and curriculum often vary from province to province. Primary and secondary schools are both public and private, with the majority of the population attending public schools. Students are usually affiliated with either the Urdu or English language medium. The later sets the foundation for a student's academic career and is essential for university admission. Private schools offer a higher quality of education than public schools and tend to have smaller class sizes, more resources and better facilities. A variety of language and international schools also exist, ranging from German, French and Italian to Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. Higher education institutions like universities, higher education colleges and technical colleges are available to students wishing to pursue an undergraduate or postgraduate degree," commented one expat when asked about in Pakistan.

"In Pakistan, most children attend public schools which are funded by the government. Public schools offer free education to students up until secondary level and do not charge tuition fees. The curriculums taught in public schools are uniform throughout the country and cover a range of core subjects such as literacy, numeracy, social studies, science, and religious studies. Private schools in Pakistan are often selectively more expensive and offer more diverse curriculums than public schools while also providing additional facilities such as sports fields, libraries, and well-trained teachers. A variety of international institutions have also opened in the country over recent years and offer a wide range of international qualifications in addition to local ones," remarked another expat living in with children attending .

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Lahore, Pakistan

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