Home > Asia > Azerbaijan > How do you live in Baku as an expat?

For our series “How do you live in…?”, we are happy to introduce Dorotea from Baku, who shares some info on her host city. Thank you Dorotea. If you also want to participate by sharing info on your host country, get in touch with us!

 

It is hard to define Baku. It is a city full of good and bad contrasts. It is a seductive mix of cultures: Middle Eastern, European and Asian culture, though Turkish and Russian influence are predominant.

The city centre is beautiful, old and new blend harmoniously. The Bulvar (sea walk) is wonderful, very wide and long, thoroughly enjoyed by all citizens. On the other hand, the outskirts are a bit run-down and dirty, but there are also exclusive and new neighbourhoods far from the centre, mostly used by expats.

There are more or less good international schools, TISA (the International School of Azerbaijan) is unanimously considered the best (I am told it is insanely expensive, my children are adults so I don’t have a direct experience), and offers the IB curriculum.

baku

The beautiful Old City

The expat community is not very big, but well organized around meetings and events. The British are obviously the majority, but there is also a fairly big group of Italian that basically revolve around enterprises like Eni/Saipem, Tecnimont and the food service industry. There used to be a lot of workers in the field of construction and furniture, but with the oil crisis the country has been going through a tragic crisis and the sector has come to a halt, with consequent repatriation of foreign personnel.

Negative aspects: THE WIND. Baku is a windy city and it is often tiring to stay outside.

It is polluted and noisy, the traffic is chaotic and dangerous.

Health system is not the best.

baku

Heyday Alyiev Museum in the spectacular building of Zaha Hadid

Lifestyle: whatever you like! Azerbaijani are slightly traditional and conservative, it is all very “family oriented”, but to give you an idea, girls wear miniskirts freely. The country is relatively safe (as it often happens in totalitarian regimes). There is quite a nightlife downtown. As far as shopping is concerned, you can find a bit of everything.

In conclusion: is it livable? For me it definitely is. It is a capital, it is on the sea (polluted), the bay is nice, lively (twinned with Naples, Italy). International sports and cultural events are organized regularly. It is an Islamic country but ABSOLUTELY tolerant. There are orthodox churches and several synagogues and a catholic church. Azerbaijani are really proud of being open religion-wise, and they are right (you can find alcohol and pig meat everywhere).

 

Dorotea
Baku, Azerbaijan
November 2017

Photo credit ©Dorotea

Translated from Italian by Claudiaexpat

 

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