HELP! I am moving to Erbil

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWEREDHellooooo Loyal Follower,

I often receive emails of people abroad asking questions about their permanent returns to Kurdistan. Now, let me just say one thing, from all the exclamation and question marks in their email I can tell they’re stressed, and they probably haven’t slept all night — all week. Here I am answering a few questions of three different people who have emailed in the last few weeks:

Where is the best place to rent a house?  

This seems to be everyone’s major concern. Two of three emails asked the exact same question. Look, it all depends on your budget. Unlike many others places (UK in particular) generally the houses here are quiet large (ranging from 100-450 square meters) in the newer suburbs they usually have 3 story houses. So, to ease this down for you I will divide this into two sections– $$ (a lot of money) and $ (not-so-much money), so, here we go:

English Village in Hawler (Erbil)

The $$
These areas are usually a little more (correction, a bit too…) expensive. They include areas near the airport like Dream City, Royal/ Empire, Naz City, English Village, Italian Village, Vital houses as well as the American village (which is about 20 minutes drive out of Erbil, but that is more like $$$. I won’t explain the $$$ options because if you can afford it then you will be the type who will have someone doing everything for you and won’t be reading this humble blog) Anyway… 

Empire, Royal Apartments, Hawler

Prices in these areas can range anywhere from $1, 700 to a good $3, 500 + a month. These houses are usually closed off with a main gate for security, and you pretty much have 24-house electricity with 3 or 4 minute blackouts to change generators or maybe refuel. I know the apartments in Royal and maybe Naz City as well have furnished options. (I will put in the phone numbers for you later if you are interested!) 

American Village, Erbil

The $
If you thought this list is going to give you prices that is $200 or $400 then I am sorry to disappoint you. The price for the suburbs I am going to list range from $600 to $1, 000 a month –  RENT. These include Bakhtiary (one of my favorite areas) and Waziran (just opposite Bakhtiary) there  are also places like Shorsh, 94, Dolarawa, Zanko etc.

Houses in Erbil’s new suburbs

I know in Ankawa, and sometimes Bakhtiary, people rent the second story of their house. It has its own kitchen, bathroom, maybe two bed rooms or one bedroom and a living room as well. These houses normally have a separate gate and stairs from the outside going to the second floor, so you don’t mix with the family living downstairs, at all. Normally the cost can vary between $300 to $450 (I know a group of friends who pay around $400 in Ankawa- 2 minute drive from the airpot). 

What are some good/special schools for my children?
Wait. Let me google the name first, I can never get the spelling right, OK, here it is, the International School of Choueifat (SABIS) is probably the most elite, expensive, good quality (education wise) school in Erbil. Basically, it is for the sons of daughters of leaders, top businessmen and those who can afford it. It costs around $4, 000 a year in addition to food, books, transportation etc. The curriculum is all in English and I must admit myself it looks very prestigious and elegant. Although expect your child to be picked up by the school bus as early as 7 am and return as late as 5 pm and HAVE HOMEWORK on top of all this! I know, poor kid. That’s the expensive option. 

Choueifat, School in Erbil

Although there are English medium schools. There is Ishiq (for boys) and Nilofer (for girls) that are Turkish private schools. The teaching is all in Englsih, although as far as I am aware there is a Turkish and a Kurdish class. The expense for these schools are much cheaper than Choueifat (I copy-pasted the spelling). 

There is also a school called Fakhir Merga Soor, which is located closer to the airport and based inside the city, there is the French School (teaches entirely in French and has one English and a Kurdish lesson) there is also a high school for gifted children with most, if not all, the curriculum being taught in English. Although good (no, not ‘good’ but high) grades and an entry exams are prerequisites here! 

Choueifat, Gifted School and Fakhir Mergasoor are mixed, most other schools in the city are unisex. Other schools are all public, the quality in general is poor and all the classes are Kurdish (there are two Arabic schools).

I can’t live without internet, how can I sort that out? 

Nawand Telecom office in Erbil

Neither can I. You can get Reber Quick (slow, since it is not that quick). You buy the little device and then get a monthly card ($30 usually) and you have internet access. Otherwise there are companies like Nawand telecom, which I use at the moment, it is a little more costly (about $75) but the internet is also better, they also offer a wireless service (and the staff are SUPER SUPER SUPER friendly). If you have a landline, then I encourage you to use the landline options because the connection is SO MUCH FASTER, fast to the extent that you don’t actually wait for a YouTube video to load. The good news (BAD news) is most of the new areas in Erbil don’t have landlines.

NAWAND TELECOM, internet in Erbil: 07503065013 or 0662575310 

Which is the best telecommunication company for my sim-card? 
Well well well… who should I do an advert for? The main companies are ASIA CELL, KOREK and ZAIN at the moment. In Erbil most people have a KOREK number, while most in Slemani have ASIA CELL. Both have their own offers, so it all depends on your calls. Korek provides a BlackBerry service (I think Asia might as well) and they both do internet service for your phone. For Korek you can pay as little as 10, 000 ID for an entire month of [slow] internet connection.

Korek re-charge card

Once you get your sim-card (either at the bazaar or the major malls) then you just purchase re-charge cards. These can be found almost in any supermarket, shop and the major shopping malls. There are difference options, you can get 5, 000 ID; 10, 000 ID; 15, 000 – you get the point. You know you are running out of credit when a sweet lady kindly tells you that you only have 30 seconds left to speak. That’s when you say “Bye! I am out of credit.” 


Can I still do sport in Erbil?
Ummm. DAAAAH!! Sorry, but it does frustrate me sometimes when the media doesn’t portray Kurdistan as it is. Yes there are gyms and there are women, men and young people who go. So there are various options… where do we start from? hmmm..

J&K in Erbil, women’s sport/ fitness

J & K – This was a huge project at the beginning but now it is kind of just a salon, pool and gym (still pretty good) the pool is BIG, the gym is nice, a few TVs, music, a good variety of equipment and they have an aerobics room. It is basically $100 a month. This is located near the entrance of Ankawa easy to see. Can’t miss it. 

LBC (Lebanese Beauty Center)- This is one of the top salons in Erbil, the second floor is a gym. I must admit it is very neat and tidy. Small in size, but I went there for three weeks (lost too much weight and I quit. Note: The purpose of my visit was to gain a few kilos and make some muscles! Yeah I know what you’re thinking). This is located on Shorsh street (close to Royal Mall).

Lebanese Beauty Center in Erbil – salon and gym

There are alternative options such as Blue Center (bit far though) Harveen (near Ankawa) and few others too. 

I have a great job offer, but is there going to be a chance for my wife to find something to do?
Congratulations on your job! Let me guess, an oil company? 😉 If she has a degree there are various vacancies around, I know the university of Kurdistan Hewler has job vacancies, so do various local NGOs, she can also do volunteering here and there. Email me and I will find her something to do. 
Meanwhile, keep an eye on Jobs In Kurdistan Facebook page:  a good friend of mine runs it, might be of help! 

Easy. Three options: Hello Taxi, Pink Taxi, Street Taxi.

Pink Taxi in Erbil

Hello Taxi charges from airport to places in Erbil around $50 (which his a rip off) Pink Taxi (only for women, the great thing about this is the driver is a lady as well) costs 3 000 IQ (around $2.50) then I think about $1 for each km. Normal taxis, painted yellow and easy to see everywhere, can be stopped on the sheet (in fact you don’t need to stop them, they will stop) usually charge between $2.50 to $5. Just to make sure before you get on, tell them where you want to go and ask how much he will take  you for. Sometimes you might need to bargain a bit, but usually they don’t overcharge foreigners. 

A normal Taxi Kurdistan – no need for booking

PINK TAXI: 07506337700 (I actually found this number online and I JUST called them–aah what I do for my Loyal Followers, I wanted to make sure I am giving you the right number– the lady on the phone was so sweet. So she confirmed this is the number you phone and you need to do reservations beforehand. 

Sadly, public transportation is not always recommended or reliable, though we are all waiting for the metro to start toootttttiiiiiiing near the citadel (I can’t wait!). 

Train in Erbil (future) “Next stop Qalat!”

Where are the best places to shop?
Oh My God. Where oh where do I start? In two years time every road in this city is going to have a shopping mall. But for now here are the main ones.

Majidi Mall 
This is located after the Rizgari Hospital. Here, there is the City Center, where you can do you major shopping including fruits, veggies, and everything else you may need. It is the place where you can actually find the ingredients to a recipe you find online!  Then there is Vakko, fancy watch and glasses shops as well as clothing, shoes, Levis, and good bunch of other stores. Price rates here are at the higher range. There is also a perfume shop and two sports shops. How can I forget the diamond/ jewelry shop.

Majidi Mall, Erbil

Family Mall
Located on the 100 meter road, Family Mall is when you go on a Thursday or a Friday afternoon and you CAN NOT FIND A PLACE TO PARK  basically there is a wide range of shops. Everything from your iPhone, to your DKNY handbag can be purchased here. This is also linked to Family Fun, where there many rides and children’s entertainment. So, a MAJOR attraction for nearly everyone. If you’re going to spend a day of your weekend there, be ready to bump into many of your friends. Family Mall also includes Carrefour, where you can get your food shopping done (although I prefer City Center in Majidi… if I ever do food shopping).

Family Mall, Erbil

Royal Mall

Royal Mall
Royal Mall, Erbil
Royal Mall, Erbil
Tablo Mall, Erbil

Rhein Mall is mostly clothing, shoes, games for kids and lots and lots of bridal shops. It is located in Iskan. Prices here are more expensive than the bazaar but much cheaper than Majidi and Family Mall.

Rhein Mall, Erbil

Citadel, believe me this is THE BEST option! You can get almost everything here, from henna for your hair, rice for dinner to a Louis Vuitton handbag (fake of course!). There are many traditional things here that you would not find in the supermarkets and malls. Worth a visit. 

Shopping in the heart of Erbil

Then there is Langa bazar, or the second hand shops, near Rizgari Hospital, in fact you can also go there from the 60 meter road. 

Langa Bazaar in Erbil (Mostly secondhand)

Are there places where I can just hang around?

Well well well… if you asked six or seven years ago I would have had a hard time telling you where to go, but these days there is actually a lot of choices. It all depends on what you prefer: With hookah? Without hookah? Outdoors? Indoors? Girls? Guys? etc… but here are a few options suitable for most people.

Robert’s Cafe in Family Mall

Costa, as we like to call it, is the place where many people go to in the evenings, specially during summer where the outdoor seating area provides a nice atmosphere. There is also wireless internet connection here.

Costa Rica on Gulan street
MADO in Family Mall, Erbil
Second Cup, Erbil, Royal Mall

There is also Barrister in Dream City, this is a place where you can go and find absolutely no one there (good internet connection too). There is also a Cafe in Royal Mall at the center on the ground floor, I love everything they provide as well as the one in Tablo Mall (also on the ground floor). You might like to try them. 

I will close off this entry here, but if you look at previous entries you will see places to visit, where to go and things to try! So look around the blog and please feel at home (baxer hati, sar chaw!) and if you have any questions drop me an email: 

Pictures taken from everywhere and everyone. Sorry I haven’t mentioned the source. Too many to name, but only few are my own, others were stolen from the internet, for a very innocent purpose! 🙂 By the way I don’t think I need to mention which pictures were taken by me. They speak for themselves. 😉 

9 thoughts on “HELP! I am moving to Erbil

Add yours

  1. You have tried to give info for what you know. As a politics major living in Canada, i can't help but to wonder how capitalistic these places are in Erbil and how apersonal and cultural Erbil is becoming. Sazan, you also have a tendency to recommendplaces like Mado, family mall or just big giant malls. i think those places robs Kurds of their soul, identity, culture and heritage. Places you have mentioned promotes an excessive consumerism, tells us stop thinking and start buying. I like those lovely chaixana, simple and frugal breakfast places i went to when i visited for the first time. We have become too tired of capitalism in the west that when we return we want to reconnect with simplicity, life, heritage and culture. Please help promote the authentic side of Kurdistan. Malls are for elite wealthy, upper and middle class and arent as friendly to working , cash poor folks.


  2. Lovely blog, however just wanted to correct that hello taxi is charging $ 25 from airport to Erbil, maybe $ 50 if you live far away from the city, but regular price to downtown and ainkawa or other parts of Erbil is $ 25. Also there is other option of taking the shuttle bus to the parking lot ( free of chrage ) then you can take cheaper rate taxi to down town or ainkawa for only $ 12!


  3. @Hemen

    Thanks for pointing this out, I know exactly what you mean and I feel the same way, but if you look at previous blog entries I have written a lot about the great chai khanas as well, you can see one of these here:
    I have also written here (in this entry) that the qaysari bazaar is the best of all options, of course, this is the real kurdish side! I could not agree with you more!

    slaw w rez from here all the way to Canada!


  4. I live in Italian city, I work in English , my son is in SABIS I take lunch in Rotana and dinner in divan and guess what, I very much liked what you wrote in your blog. Well said Sazan


  5. Thank you so much for your blog. It is useful. I'm new here (4 days ago came to here) and I was looking for some information about Erbil.


  6. Thank you, I loved your blog. I visited Erbil for two weeks in Jan/Feb this year and LOVED it! I am keen to live and work (yes my husband is one of those working on an oil rig). I have been reading the vacancies on the various websites and more than meet the requirements on many of the positions however I am not able to speak Kurdish or Arabic. I hope to be visiting again soon – it was my best holiday ever.


  7. Hey there 🙂
    Your Blog is very informative regarding life in Erbil. Need a favour from you as you mentioned above that if someone is seeking any kind of job you can help… Myself a Masters degree holder in International relations and Bachelors in Mass communication but no work experience. A mother of a year old and a half my husband just got a job in Rudaw Media city and moved to Erbil.. I want you to find me some easy office or a school job so even I can also move to Erbil with my son


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: