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Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

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By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Sep 17, 2022

Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees talk about what it is really like living in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. They offer advice about meeting people, cost of living, finding a home and more.

What do I need to know about living in Bishkek?

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

"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," added another expat in Bishkek.

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What do I need to know before moving to Bishkek?

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

"I recommend living in the city of Bishkek. Everything is in walking distance and there are nice parks," commented one expat who made the move to Bishkek.

How do I meet people in Bishkek?

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

"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," remarked another expat living in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

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What should I bring when moving to Bishkek?

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

"I wish I had brought more of: my favorite beauty/toiletry items, non-perishable food/sauce mixes, coffee I wish I had left at home: my good shoes, pasta (there is plenty over here), skirts," added another expat who made the move to Bishkek.

Will I be able to find a job in Bishkek?

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

"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," explained one expat living in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

What is life like in Bishkek?

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

"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," added another expat who made the move to Bishkek.

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AGS Worldwide Movers

AGS Worldwide Movers can move you to and from anywhere in the world. Presently the AGS Group has over 141 locations in more than 95 countries and has one of the largest networks in the international removals industry. We relocate 85,000 families every year. Free moving quote!

Learn MoreGet a Quote

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

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"I like the folk music, the handicrafts that everyone makes here, the way they use everything that others would see as trash to make something new and interesting," added another expat who made the move to Bishkek.

What do expats find most challenging?

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"Not flushing toilet paper. Squatting toilets. Burning rubbish -- even plastic. People always running late. People come late to show that they are important by making you wait for them. How men don't shake the hands of women, even in business. Always having to offer something to someone at least 3 times because they will refuse it unless you insist on it, even if they want it," said another expat in Bishkek.

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

Live in Bishkek? Answer this Question

"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," explained one expat living in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Get a free international health insurance quote from our partner, Allianz Care, whose plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget.
Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance in Kyrgyzstan

Get a free international health insurance quote from our partner, Allianz Care, whose plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget.
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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.

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Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

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Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

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.

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

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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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