Living as an Expat in Bangladesh

1. What are some important cultural norms and customs to be aware of when living as an expat in Bangladesh?

When living as an expat in Bangladesh, it is important to be aware of several cultural norms and customs to ensure a smooth and respectful integration into society. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Respect for Elders: Respect for elders is deeply ingrained in Bangladeshi culture. It is important to show deference to older individuals in both social and professional settings.

2. Greetings: Greetings play an important role in Bangladeshi culture. It is customary to greet others with a smile and a handshake. Addressing people with their appropriate titles, such as “Sir” or “Madam,” is also appreciated.

3. Dress Code: When in public, it is advisable to dress modestly to respect the conservative norms of Bangladeshi society. For both men and women, wearing traditional attire or clothing that covers the shoulders and knees is recommended.

4. Eating Etiquette: In Bangladesh, it is common to eat with your right hand and to only use your left hand for hygienic purposes. When dining with others, it is polite to wait for the host to begin eating before you start.

5. Religious Sensitivities: Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim country, so it is important to be respectful of Islamic customs and practices. Avoid eating or smoking in public during Ramadan, and dress modestly when visiting mosques or religious sites.

6. Concept of Time: Punctuality is valued in Bangladeshi culture, but it is common for events to start late. It is important to be patient and flexible with time commitments.

7. Hospitality: Bangladeshi people are known for their hospitality and generosity. If invited to someone’s home, it is customary to bring a small gift as a token of appreciation.

By familiarizing yourself with these cultural norms and customs, you can show respect for the local traditions and build positive relationships with the people of Bangladesh.

2. How is the cost of living in Bangladesh compared to other countries?

1. The cost of living in Bangladesh is generally much lower compared to many developed countries around the world. Rent, groceries, transportation, and healthcare are significantly cheaper in Bangladesh, making it an attractive destination for expats looking to save money.
2. However, the cost of living can vary depending on the city or area you choose to reside in. For example, Dhaka, the capital city, tends to be more expensive compared to other cities in Bangladesh. It’s important for expats to research and compare costs based on their specific needs and lifestyle choices. Overall, many expats find that they can maintain a comfortable standard of living in Bangladesh at a fraction of the cost compared to their home countries.

3. What are the most common challenges faced by expats living in Bangladesh?

1. Language Barrier: One of the most common challenges faced by expats living in Bangladesh is the language barrier. Bangla (Bengali) is the official language of the country, and while English is widely spoken in urban areas and among educated populations, expats may still encounter difficulties in communication, especially in rural areas or when dealing with government officials or local vendors.

2. Cultural Differences: Adapting to a different culture can also be a significant challenge for expats in Bangladesh. The social norms, customs, and traditions in Bangladesh may differ greatly from those in Western countries, leading to potential misunderstandings or uncomfortable situations for expats.

3. Infrastructure and Services: The infrastructure in Bangladesh can be lacking in certain areas, leading to challenges with basic services such as transportation, healthcare, and utilities. Expats may need to adjust to frequent power outages, limited internet connectivity, and unreliable public transportation.

4. Health and Safety Concerns: Expats may also face health and safety concerns while living in Bangladesh. The country has high levels of air pollution, water contamination, and sanitation issues, which can impact expats’ wellbeing. Additionally, safety and security can be a concern in certain areas, particularly for foreigners.

5. Work Permits and Visa Regulations: Navigating the complex work permit and visa regulations in Bangladesh can be a challenge for expats. Understanding the legal requirements for living and working in the country, as well as renewing visas and permits, can be a time-consuming and bureaucratic process.

Overall, while living in Bangladesh can be a rewarding experience, expats may encounter challenges related to language, culture, infrastructure, health and safety, and legal regulations that require careful consideration and adaptation.

4. Is it easy to find accommodation as an expat in Bangladesh?

Finding accommodation as an expat in Bangladesh can vary depending on the city and your specific preferences. Here are some factors to consider:

1. Location: In major cities like Dhaka and Chittagong, there are more options for expats in terms of upscale apartments and gated communities. However, in more rural areas, options may be more limited.

2. Real Estate Agents: Working with a reputable real estate agent can make the process of finding accommodation easier, as they can help navigate the local housing market and language barriers.

3. Rental Agreements: It’s important to carefully review rental agreements and understand the terms before signing. Make sure to clarify responsibilities for maintenance, utilities, and any additional fees.

4. Costs: The cost of accommodation can vary significantly depending on the location and type of housing. Expats may find that prices are higher in popular expat areas or for furnished apartments.

Overall, while finding accommodation as an expat in Bangladesh may require some initial research and effort, with the right resources and guidance, it is possible to find suitable housing options that meet your needs.

5. What are some popular areas for expats to live in Bangladesh?

Popular areas for expats to live in Bangladesh include:

1. Gulshan: Known for its upscale residential areas, international schools, embassies, and shopping centers, Gulshan is a favorite among expats due to its convenient location and modern amenities.

2. Banani: Another affluent neighborhood in Dhaka, Banani boasts luxury residential complexes, trendy cafes, and a vibrant nightlife, making it a popular choice for expats looking for a lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere.

3. Baridhara: With its spacious houses, green surroundings, and diplomatic enclave, Baridhara is a top choice for expats working in the diplomatic community or seeking a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

4. Uttara: Located near the airport, Uttara offers a mix of affordable housing options, international schools, and shopping centers, making it a convenient choice for expats looking for a family-friendly neighborhood.

5. Dhanmondi: Known for its tree-lined streets, parks, and proximity to schools and universities, Dhanmondi is a popular residential area among expats seeking a vibrant and diverse community to call home.

6. How is the healthcare system in Bangladesh for expats?

The healthcare system in Bangladesh for expats can vary in quality and accessibility. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Public healthcare in Bangladesh is generally underfunded and may lack the necessary infrastructure and resources to provide high-quality care. Expats may often encounter long waiting times, overcrowded facilities, and limited medical supplies in public hospitals.

2. Private healthcare facilities, on the other hand, offer better quality care and more modern amenities. There are several international standard hospitals and clinics in major cities like Dhaka and Chittagong that cater to expatriates and offer services in English.

3. Healthcare costs in Bangladesh are relatively affordable compared to Western countries, making it an attractive destination for expats seeking medical treatment. However, it is recommended that expats invest in comprehensive health insurance to cover any unforeseen medical expenses.

4. Expats should also be aware of the need for preventive measures such as vaccinations and regular health check-ups due to the prevalence of diseases like dengue fever and waterborne illnesses in Bangladesh. It is advisable to consult with a travel health provider before moving to Bangladesh to ensure that all necessary precautions are taken.

Overall, while the healthcare system in Bangladesh may have its limitations, expats can access quality care through private facilities and by taking appropriate precautions to maintain their health and well-being during their stay in the country.

7. What are some popular leisure activities for expats in Bangladesh?

Popular leisure activities for expats living in Bangladesh include:

1. Experiencing the vibrant cultural scene: Expats can immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of Bangladesh by attending traditional music and dance performances, visiting historic sites such as the Sundarbans mangrove forest, and exploring local art galleries and museums.

2. Sampling delicious Bengali cuisine: Food plays a significant role in Bangladeshi culture, and expats can enjoy exploring the diverse culinary offerings in local markets, street food stalls, and upscale restaurants. Trying traditional dishes like biryani, pitha, and hilsa fish can be a delightful experience for expats.

3. Outdoor adventures: Bangladesh offers a range of outdoor activities for expats, such as hiking in scenic hill stations like Bandarban and Rangamati, boating on the picturesque rivers and lakes, and exploring the lush tea gardens in the Sylhet region.

4. Shopping in local markets: Expats can indulge in shopping experiences at bustling markets like New Market in Dhaka and Chandni Chowk in Chittagong, where they can find traditional handicrafts, textiles, and souvenirs to take home.

5. Engaging in community events: Expats can connect with local communities by participating in cultural festivals, religious celebrations, and charity events, which provide a deeper insight into Bangladeshi traditions and customs.

Overall, expats in Bangladesh have a wide range of leisure activities to choose from, catering to diverse interests and offering unique experiences that showcase the country’s beauty and charm.

8. How easy is it to make friends and socialize as an expat in Bangladesh?

Making friends and socializing as an expat in Bangladesh can be relatively easy due to the warm and friendly nature of the local people. Here are some points to consider:

1. Bangladeshi people are generally welcoming and curious about foreigners, making it easier to strike up conversations and build connections.
2. Joining expat communities or clubs can be a great way to meet like-minded individuals who are also living away from their home countries.
3. Engaging in local cultural activities, such as festivals or events, can provide opportunities to interact with locals and make new friends.
4. Language can be a barrier for some expats, as the official language is Bengali. However, many Bangladeshis also speak English, especially in urban areas, which can facilitate communication.
5. Utilizing social media and online platforms can help you connect with other expats and locals who share similar interests.
Overall, with an open mindset and willingness to step out of your comfort zone, expats can find it relatively easy to make friends and socialize in Bangladesh.

9. What is the transportation system like in Bangladesh for expats?

The transportation system in Bangladesh can be quite challenging for expats to navigate. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

1. Public transport: The most popular mode of transport in Bangladesh is the rickshaw, particularly in urban areas. Expats may find this mode of transport slow and not always the most comfortable, but it is a quintessential experience in Bangladesh. Buses and CNG (auto-rickshaws) are also common means of public transportation.

2. Traffic congestion: Traffic congestion is a major issue in Bangladesh, especially in cities like Dhaka. Expats should be prepared for long commute times and crowded roads, particularly during peak hours.

3. Ride-sharing apps: In recent years, ride-sharing apps like Uber and Pathao have become popular in Bangladesh. These can be convenient options for expats looking for a more comfortable and reliable way to get around.

4. Private vehicles: Some expats may choose to purchase or rent their own vehicle for added convenience and flexibility. However, it’s important to note that road conditions in Bangladesh can be challenging, and traffic rules are not always strictly enforced.

In summary, expats in Bangladesh should be prepared for a diverse and sometimes chaotic transportation system. While it may take some time to adjust, with patience and awareness, expats can navigate Bangladesh’s transportation system effectively.

10. How is the job market for expats in Bangladesh?

The job market for expats in Bangladesh can vary depending on the industry and the individual’s qualifications and skills. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Sector Specific Opportunities: Expats may find job opportunities in sectors such as development organizations, NGOs, multinational companies, academia, and the diplomatic community.

2. Demand for Skills: Certain skills are in high demand in Bangladesh, including expertise in areas such as information technology, engineering, education, healthcare, and finance.

3. Networking: Building a strong professional network can be crucial for expats seeking job opportunities in Bangladesh. Networking events, online platforms, and industry-specific contacts can help in connecting with potential employers.

4. Language Proficiency: While English is widely spoken in business settings, knowledge of Bengali can be an asset when working and communicating with local colleagues and clients.

5. Work Permits: It’s important for expats to ensure they have the necessary work permits and visas to work legally in Bangladesh. Understanding the immigration and employment regulations is essential to avoid any legal issues.

6. Salary and Benefits: Expats may find that the salary and benefits packages offered in Bangladesh vary from what they are accustomed to in their home countries. It’s important to negotiate terms that align with market standards and personal expectations.

Overall, expats can find opportunities in the job market in Bangladesh, but it’s essential to conduct thorough research, network effectively, and ensure compliance with legal requirements to make a successful career transition in the country.

11. Are there any specific safety concerns for expats living in Bangladesh?

Yes, there are some specific safety concerns for expats living in Bangladesh that they should be aware of:

1. Political Unrest: Bangladesh has a history of political unrest and demonstrations which can sometimes turn violent. Expats should stay informed about the current political situation and avoid large gatherings or protests.

2. Security Threats: There have been isolated incidents of security threats targeting foreigners in Bangladesh, such as terrorist attacks. It is important for expats to remain vigilant and follow any security advisories issued by their embassy.

3. Road Safety: Traffic in Bangladesh can be chaotic and road accidents are common. Expats should exercise caution when navigating the busy streets, and consider hiring a local driver if necessary.

4. Natural Disasters: Bangladesh is prone to natural disasters such as cyclones, floods, and earthquakes. Expats should have a plan in place for emergencies and follow any official warnings or evacuation orders.

By staying informed, being vigilant, and taking necessary precautions, expats can navigate these safety concerns while living in Bangladesh.

12. What are some recommended resources for expats living in Bangladesh?

1. Expat groups and forums: Joining expat groups and forums online is a great way to connect with other expats living in Bangladesh. Websites like InterNations and have active communities where you can ask questions, seek advice, and meet new people.

2. Local expat clubs: Many cities in Bangladesh have expat clubs or associations that organize social events, networking opportunities, and cultural activities for expats. Joining these clubs can help you integrate into the local expat community and make new friends.

3. Expat blogs and websites: There are several blogs and websites run by expats living in Bangladesh that offer valuable insights, tips, and recommendations for navigating life in the country. Some popular expat blogs include “Dhaka Expat Life” and “Bangladesh for Expats.

4. Embassy resources: Your home country’s embassy or consulate in Bangladesh can be a valuable resource for expats, providing information on legal matters, healthcare, safety, and other important issues. They may also organize events or offer services specifically for expats.

5. Language schools: Learning the local language, Bengali, can greatly enhance your experience living in Bangladesh. Enrolling in a language school or hiring a private tutor can help you communicate better with locals and immerse yourself in the culture.

6. International schools: If you have children, enrolling them in an international school in Bangladesh can provide them with an education that follows a familiar curriculum and ensures a smooth transition to life in a new country.

By utilizing these recommended resources, expats living in Bangladesh can enhance their experience, connect with other expats, access valuable information, and navigate the challenges of living in a new culture and environment.

13. How is the education system in Bangladesh for expat families?

The education system in Bangladesh for expat families can vary depending on the specific school or educational institution they choose. International schools in major cities like Dhaka and Chittagong typically follow global curricula such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) or Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), offering a high standard of education. These schools often cater to expat families and provide a multicultural environment for students to thrive.

1. International schools in Bangladesh may offer a more familiar educational experience for expat families, with English as the primary language of instruction and a focus on international perspectives in their curriculum.
2. Some international schools in Bangladesh may also offer extracurricular activities and support services for expat students to help them adjust to a new environment.
3. It’s important for expat families to research and choose a reputable international school that aligns with their educational goals and preferences while ensuring the school is accredited and recognized for its quality of education.

14. What are some tips for adapting to the climate in Bangladesh as an expat?

Adapting to the climate in Bangladesh as an expat can be challenging due to its hot and humid weather. Here are some tips to help you cope and adjust:

1. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration, especially during the hot months.

2. Dress appropriately: Wear lightweight, breathable clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton to stay cool and comfortable.

3. Use sunscreen: Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays by applying sunscreen with a high SPF before going outside.

4. Take frequent breaks: Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun and heat by taking breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas.

5. Embrace the siesta culture: Follow the local custom of taking a midday rest when the sun is at its peak to avoid the hottest part of the day.

6. Use cooling methods: Utilize fans, air conditioners, or cooling towels to help lower your body temperature during particularly hot days.

7. Be mindful of food and drinks: Avoid consuming street food that may not be prepared hygienically and stick to bottled or boiled water to prevent foodborne illnesses.

8. Acclimatize gradually: Allow your body time to adjust to the climate by slowly increasing your exposure to the heat and humidity.

By following these tips, you can better adapt to the climate in Bangladesh and enjoy your expat experience to the fullest.

15. How is the food and dining scene in Bangladesh for expats?

The food and dining scene in Bangladesh offers a diverse and flavorful experience for expats. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Local Cuisine: Bangladeshi cuisine is known for its rich flavors and variety, with dishes such as biryani, kebabs, curries, and various types of bread like naan and paratha. Expats can enjoy exploring traditional Bangladeshi dishes that are often spicy and aromatic.

2. Street Food: The street food culture in Bangladesh is vibrant and a must-try for expats. From delicious snacks like samosas, fuchka (pani puri), and bhel puri to heartier options like chicken tikka rolls and beef tehari, there is something for everyone.

3. International Cuisine: In major cities like Dhaka, expats can also find a wide range of international cuisines such as Chinese, Thai, Italian, and more. There are upscale restaurants offering fine dining experiences as well as casual eateries catering to all tastes and budgets.

4. Vegetarian and Halal Options: For expats with dietary restrictions, there are plenty of vegetarian and halal options available in Bangladesh. Many restaurants are conscious of dietary preferences and offer dishes that cater to specific needs.

Overall, the food and dining scene in Bangladesh provides expats with a delicious culinary journey that showcases the rich flavors and cultural diversity of the country.

16. What are the visa requirements for expats living in Bangladesh?

1. The visa requirements for expats living in Bangladesh depend on the purpose of their stay and their country of citizenship. Generally, expats need a valid visa to live and work in Bangladesh. The most common types of visas for expats include Employment Visa, Business Visa, Dependent Visa, and Resident Visa.
2. To obtain a visa for Bangladesh, expats typically need to provide a valid passport, a completed visa application form, passport-sized photographs, a letter of invitation or employment contract, proof of sufficient funds, and a valid return ticket.
3. Some nationalities may be eligible for visa on arrival or visa-free entry for a certain period. It is important for expats to check the specific visa requirements based on their nationality before traveling to Bangladesh.
4. It is recommended for expats to consult with the nearest Bangladeshi embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date and accurate information on visa requirements and application procedures. Additionally, working with a reputable immigration consultant or legal advisor can help navigate the visa process smoothly.

17. How is the communication infrastructure in Bangladesh for expats?

The communication infrastructure in Bangladesh for expats has improved significantly in recent years. With a rapidly growing economy and increasing foreign investment, the country has seen significant advancements in its telecommunications sector. Expats can easily access reliable internet services, mobile networks, and landline connections in major cities like Dhaka and Chittagong. Additionally, the widespread availability of social media platforms and messaging apps makes it convenient for expats to stay in touch with family and friends back home. However, in more rural areas, connectivity may be less reliable and expats may face occasional disruptions in communication services. Overall, expats in Bangladesh can expect a reasonably good communication infrastructure, especially in urban centers.

18. What are some important things to know about the legal system in Bangladesh as an expat?

As an expat living in Bangladesh, it is important to familiarize yourself with the legal system in the country to ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities. Here are some key things to know about the legal system in Bangladesh:

1. Legal Framework: Bangladesh operates under a legal system based on common law traditions, with influences from both the British legal system and Islamic law.

2. Judicial System: The judiciary in Bangladesh is independent from the executive and legislative branches of government. The Supreme Court of Bangladesh is the highest court in the country, with lower courts and special tribunals handling various legal matters.

3. Legal Code: The legal system in Bangladesh is heavily influenced by its constitution, which outlines the fundamental rights and principles of the country. Additionally, various laws and regulations govern different aspects of life in Bangladesh, including employment, taxation, and property rights.

4. Language: The official language of the legal system in Bangladesh is Bangla (Bengali). While English is also used in legal proceedings, it is important to ensure that you understand all legal documents and proceedings in either Bangla or English.

5. Legal Assistance: If you find yourself in need of legal assistance as an expat in Bangladesh, it is advisable to seek help from a qualified lawyer who is familiar with the local legal system and processes. This can help you navigate any legal issues that may arise during your time in the country.

Overall, understanding the legal system in Bangladesh as an expat is crucial for ensuring that you comply with the law and protect your rights while living in the country.

19. How is the overall quality of life in Bangladesh for expats?

The overall quality of life in Bangladesh for expats can vary depending on individual circumstances and preferences. Here are some key factors to consider when evaluating the quality of life for expats in Bangladesh:

1. Cost of living: Bangladesh is generally considered to have a low cost of living compared to many Western countries, which can be appealing to expats looking to save money or live more comfortably on a budget.

2. Healthcare: While quality healthcare facilities are available in major cities like Dhaka and Chittagong, access to specialized medical care may be limited in rural areas. Expats may want to consider obtaining international health insurance for peace of mind.

3. Safety: Like any country, Bangladesh has its own set of safety concerns, including road traffic accidents and crime rates in certain areas. Expats are advised to take necessary precautions and stay informed about local safety issues.

4. Climate: Bangladesh has a tropical monsoon climate, with hot and humid summers and mild winters. Expats should be prepared for the seasonal variations and potential challenges such as frequent power outages during the summer months.

5. Infrastructure: The quality of infrastructure in Bangladesh can vary, with some areas lacking reliable utilities and transportation services. Expats may need to adjust to occasional disruptions in services and plan accordingly.

Overall, expats in Bangladesh can find a vibrant cultural scene, friendly locals, and opportunities for personal and professional growth. By being well-prepared and open-minded, expats can enjoy a fulfilling experience living in Bangladesh.

20. What are some common misconceptions about living as an expat in Bangladesh?

Living as an expat in Bangladesh can come with its own set of misconceptions that may not always align with reality. One common misconception is that safety and security are major concerns in Bangladesh. While it’s important to exercise caution like in any other country, Bangladesh is generally a safe place for expats to live and work. Another misconception is that the standard of living is significantly lower compared to Western countries. While costs may be lower in Bangladesh, the quality of life can still be quite comfortable for expats, with amenities such as modern shopping malls, restaurants, and healthcare facilities available in major cities like Dhaka and Chittagong. Additionally, some may mistakenly believe that language barriers will be insurmountable, but many Bangladeshis speak English well, making communication easier for expats. Overall, while there are challenges to living in Bangladesh as an expat, dispelling these common misconceptions can help individuals make a more informed decision about relocating to this vibrant and diverse country.