Moving to Iraq

While Iraq may not be the destination of choice when it comes to embarking on an expat assignment, many might be surprised by

the opportunities available as a result of the country’s post-war revival. If expats can get past the negative images of Iraq in the media, they are likely to find life in Iraq to be interesting and financially rewarding.

Expats living in Iraq tend to be working either on a lucrative short-term expat contract in the oil and natural gas industries or as an NGO employee. The vast majority of foreigners in Iraq secure employment before relocating.

Most expats will find themselves relocating to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on the banks of the Tigris River. Expats living in Iraq are generally housed in secure compounds. Although these living arrangements tend to restrict one’s freedom, most expats report

feeling relatively secure. The general standard of accommodation in these compounds is comfortable and includes facilities to keep residents entertained such as gyms, swimming pools, restaurants and shops.

As a result of ongoing security issues in Iraq, the expat community tends to small and self-contained. In recent years, most governments and employers have discouraged employees from relocating to Iraq with their spouses and children. In some cases, expat families opt to live in nearby countries such as Kuwait or Jordan.

While education is highly valued in Iraqi society, there are really no schooling options available for expat children. All the international schools that once existed in Baghdad are now closed and local schools, which are now under-resourced and overcrowded, are unsuitable for foreign children.  

Expats who haven’t previously lived elsewhere in the Middle East may struggle to adjust to the climate of Iraq. The country is mostly desert where winters are cool and summers are hot, dry and cloudless. The mountainous regions along the Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winter with occasional heavy snowfalls.