Moving to Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a country that has witnessed decades of war. It remains embroiled in a Taliban-led insurgency against the government, which has struggled to extend its authority throughout the country.

Violent clashes and terrorist attacks are common. Therefore, the country remains a high-risk expat destination. Safety and security are the primary concerns for expats contemplating a move to Afghanistan. Despite these security concerns, some expats will appreciate Afghanistan's multiculturalism, rugged pastoral beauty as well as the tenacity of the Afghan people. 

Expats moving to Afghanistan mostly work in the armed forces, private security field or development and diplomatic sectors. Expats will not find the comforts of other expat destinations. The hardship of living in Afghanistan combined with high risks to personal safety ensures that expats are well-compensated financially. Expats are typically housed within secure military compounds and most foreign workers are surrounded by heavy safety measures.

Due to the ongoing conflict, many governments advise their citizens to avoid travel to all or some of the country. An expat assignment to Afghanistan should therefore be considered very carefully. Whether the benefits outweigh the risks is for each expat to decide for themselves.

Western interests are particularly targeted in attacks in Afghanistan and kidnappings of foreigners occur throughout the country. Foreign embassies, government offices, religious and military buildings, hotels, shops and restaurants used by the international community have been targeted in the past and the threat of further attacks remains high. 

Decades of conflict in Afghanistan have left the country’s infrastructure ruined and underdeveloped. Healthcare is well below what most expats would be used to. There are only a few basic medical facilities available, mostly in Kabul. Any serious medical emergencies will require air evacuation out of the country. Expats should ensure that they have comprehensive medical insurance to cover this.

Educational opportunities are extremely limited for expat children in Afghanistan. There are very few international schools in the country. Those that are available are all centred around foreign-controlled compounds in Kabul. However, Afghanistan is certainly not an expat destination for the whole family. Those contemplating a move to Afghanistan should rather do so without their children.


Fast facts

Population:  About 35 million   

Capital city: Kabul

Neighbouring countries: Afghanistan shares borders with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the north, China to the northeast, Pakistan to the east and south and Iran to the west. 

Political system: Islamic constitutional democracy 

Geography:  Afghanistan is a mountainous and landlocked country with plains to the north and southwest. The Hindu Kush stretches from central Afghanistan towards Pakistan, forming the central highland region.  

Major religions: Islam

Main languages: Pashto and Dari

Time: GMT +4:30

Electricity: 220V, 50Hz. Two-pin 'type C' and 'type F' plugs are used.

Money: The Afghani (AFN) is subdivided into 100 pul. 

International dialling code: +93

Emergency numbers: 103 (ambulance); 101 (fire); 102 (police)

Internet domain: .af

Transport and driving: Traffic drives on the right-hand side.

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