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Moving to Uzbekistan

For expats moving to Uzbekistan, the country's desert sands and awe-inspiring mountain peaks make for a fascinating landscape to explore. While it may not the most conventional of expat destinations, Uzbekistan certainly has its own unique brand of charm and can offer an interesting and enlightening stay for the open-minded.

Living in Uzbekistan as an expat

Though the expat community in Uzbekistan is relatively small, the country's strong economy continues to draw foreigners looking for career progression. Thanks to the Uzbek government’s efforts, the country's GDP is steadily increasing year by year. The main drivers of the Uzbek economy are gas, oil and gold, and most expats work as senior management professionals in one of these industries.

The official language of the country is Uzbek, although Russian is also spoken by some. Few Uzbek people speak fluent English, so a basic knowledge of Uzbek or Russian is recommended. Those planning on living in Uzbekistan for an extended period should consider enrolling in a local language course to make the transition smoother.

While most Uzbeks are Muslim, Uzbekistan is a very tolerant nation, so expats shouldn’t have any difficulties practising their religion freely here. Regardless, expats should always demonstrate respect for local etiquette and should dress modestly.

Cost of living in Uzbekistan

The cost of living in Uzbekistan is one of its most appealing attributes. Compared to Europe or the US, life in Uzbekistan costs a fraction of the price, though it is slightly more expensive than some other Central Asian countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Excellent and well-priced fresh produce can be found in local markets, and eating out also offers good value for money.

Climate in Uzbekistan

The arid continental climate in Uzbekistan can be trying, especially during winter when temperatures seem to hover around freezing. Thick, cosy coats are the order of the day at this time of year. Meanwhile, summers in Tashkent can be hot and expats should take care to keep cool as the temperature can climb up to 96°F (36°C) at its peak.

Expat families and children

Expat families relocating to Uzbekistan with children should keep in mind that there are only a handful of international schools in the country, most of which are located in Tashkent.

Healthcare in Uzbekistan isn't on par with standards in Western Europe or North America and there's a serious shortage of doctors and medical facilities. While the Uzbek government is trying to reform the medical system, it's best for expats to seek treatment in private hospitals. Many expats travel abroad for more complex medical procedures.

While there is no doubt that Uzbekistan is firmly off the beaten path, its starkly beautiful landscape and welcoming local population have much to offer expats looking for something different.


Fast facts

Population: 34 million

Capital city: Tashkent 

Neighbouring countries: Kazakhstan to the north, Kyrgyzstan to the east, Tajikistan to the southeast, Afghanistan to the south and Turkmenistan to the southwest.

Geography: Uzbekistan is primarily comprised of desert terrain with some mountainous areas.

Political system: Unitary presidential constitutional secular republic

Major religions: Islam

Main languages: Uzbek and Russian

Money: The local currency is the Uzbekistani som (UZS). Uzbekistan is still very much a cash-based society, so bank cards are not commonly used.

Tipping: It isn't common or expected to tip in Uzbekistan. Some upmarket restaurants may add a 10 percent service fee to the bill.

Time: GMT+5 

Electricity: 220V 50Hz. Plugs with two rounded pins are used throughout the country.

Internet domain: .uz

International dialing code: +998

Emergency contacts: 101 (fire), 102 (police), 103 (ambulance)

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in Uzbekistan. In Tashkent, local public transport consists of taxis, buses, trolleybuses, trams and trains.

Public Holidays in Uzbekistan

 

2022

2023

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Defenders of the Motherland Day

14 January

14 January

International Womens Day

8 March

8 March

Nowruz

21 March

21 March

Eid al-Fitr

2 May

21 April

Remembrance Day

9 May

9 May

Eid al-Adha

9 July

28 June

Independence Day

1 September

1 September

Teachers' Day

1 October

1 October

Constitution Day

8 December

8 December

*Islamic holidays are subject to change based on sightings of the moon.

Education and Schools in Uzbekistan

Education and schooling in Uzbekistan have been going through continuous reform since 1991 when the country became independent. The local curriculum has been criticised as being too focused on rote learning, but there has been movement towards subjects with a practical orientation.

There are a few international schools in Uzbekistan, most of which are located in the capital city, Tashkent. International schools are usually the best option for expat families as they tend to lessen the disruption of the move, especially if children are able to attend a school that teaches their home curriculum in their first language. 


Public schools in Uzbekistan

When it comes to public schooling in Uzbekistan, the most immediate obstacle for expat families is the language barrier. Of the country's close to 11,000 public schools, the vast majority (almost 9,000) teach in Uzbek. The second most common language of instruction is Russian, used as the main language at fewer than 1,000 public schools across Uzbekistan. There are no public schools that teach in English.

Public schooling in Uzbekistan is therefore only recommended for expats whose children already have proficiency in Uzbek or who are young enough to still pick up the language easily. Furthermore, local schools are often difficult to adjust to in terms of culture. For this reason, only families staying in Uzbekistan for the long term tend to consider this an option.


Private and international schools in Uzbekistan

Prior to 2017, there was little to no private school presence in Uzbekistan. However, as part of the reform of the education system, the government has recently begun to offer incentives to those establishing private schools. This has resulted in many new private schools opening in Uzbekistan. 

Private schools choose their own language of instruction. There are a number of international schools in Tashkent geared towards expats from certain countries. In the case of international schools, teaching is in the language of the school's country of origin, which is often English.

International school fees are usually pricey, so if expat parents are relocating to Uzbekistan for work purposes it's worthwhile trying to negotiate the inclusion of education expenses in the relocation package.


Special-needs education in Uzbekistan

Special-needs education in Uzbekistan lags well behind global standards. Only in the 2021/2022 academic year did the country begun to move towards an inclusive education model for those with special needs. Currently, the government is focused on secondary education, including vocational education. Selected secondary schools across the country now operate on an inclusive basis and offer remedial classes for special-needs students. Graduates of specialised educational institutions can now join certain vocational schools as part of a specialised group.

Private schools are likely to have more resources devoted to special-needs education, but the extent of the support available can vary widely from school to school. It's best to consult with schools directly to find out more about any special-needs policies or programmes.


Tutors in Uzbekistan

Though tutors aren't widely used in Uzbekistan, there are a few online tutoring companies that have listings of Uzbek tutors. For expat families, tutors can be particularly helpful in assisting with language acquisition and maintaining the family's mother tongue, which can be important if the child's schooling is in their non-native language.

In the run-up to major exams, expat kids attending international schools following curricula like that of the UK, the US and the International Baccalaureate can benefit from online tutoring. Not being limited to the relatively small tutoring market in Uzbekistan makes it easier to find a good fit.

International Schools in Uzbekistan

Expat families have a relatively small selection of international schools to choose from in Uzbekistan. Most are located in the capital city, Tashkent. The British system, including the Cambridge IGCSE and A-Levels, is the most commonly taught curriculum throughout these schools. A handful of other schools offer alternatives such as the French or American systems.

International schools can often ease the transition of moving to a new country, as expat children will be around those who have had similar experiences. In addition, international schools are the only schools in Uzbekistan with English as their main teaching language.

Below is a list of international schools in Uzbekistan.


International schools in Uzbekistan

The British School of Tashkent

The British School of Tashkent (BST) is a well-respected international school offering a joint British-Uzbek curriculum. The school's student body of 600 is diverse, being made up of more than 30 nationalities.

The school follows the English National Curriculum, with students taking their IGCSE and A-Level exams in secondary school and sixth form. BST also delivers the Uzbek curriculum, providing Uzbek students with the Attestat certificate. With a typical student-teacher ratio of 11:1, students are sure to receive the individual attention they need to thrive. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE, A-Levels and Uzbek
Ages: 1.5 to 18

CIS International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge Primary, Cambridge Secondary (including IGCSE), A-Levels, and Russian
Ages: 2 to 18
Website: www.cisedu.com

Ecole Française de Tachkent

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: French
Ages: 2 to 18
Website: www.ecole-francaise-tachkent.com

Tashkent International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 2 to 18
Website: www.tashschool.org

Expat Experiences in Uzbekistan

When considering a move to a new city, there is nothing more useful than hearing real-life stories and experiences from other expats who have lived there. We'd love to hear about your expat experiences. Please contact us if you live or have lived in Uzbekistan and would like to share your story.

Rachael is an ESL teacher. After living in two other countries, she decided it was time for a new challenge. This brought her to a new life in Uzbekistan. With friendly locals and a rise in demand for English teachers, she believes this is a country expats should keep an eye on. Read more about her life as an expat.

Rachel, Uzbekistan