Relocating to Aktau

A view from our hotel.

Relocating to Aktau – a personal experience.

First thoughts.

When I found out we would be relocating to Aktau in Kazakhstan I had very mixed feelings. Excitement – this was a new adventure! Sadness – I would be leaving friends, family and pets; all very dear to me. Fear – of a totally unknown country and city. I googled ‘Aktau’ and got little information on the city. If only this blog had been available! I ended up reading a lot about Atyrau but with hindsight not much use as it is a very different city to Aktau. I eventually came up with a picture that the city of Aktau would be restrictive as far as to what would be available to buy and for what I could do with my time. In many ways my first ideas were right but I must say I have been pleasantly surprised.

What to pack.

Essential items to pack will vary depending on those things you deem ‘essential’. My essential items were:

  • books written in english – you cannot get english books in Aktau as yet.
  • arts and crafts items – this is a particular hobby.
  • wool and knitting patterns – another hobby.
  • my favourite range of beauty products in case I couldn’t get them here – I can’t.
  • my favourite cookery books.
  • a supply of Frey Bentos Steak and Kidney pies – a particular favourite of my husband.
  • my favourite dvds – you cannot get english dvds here yet.

These items were packed in our sea freight and when we eventually got it, it was like Christmas! Now that I have been here over 6 months I would add other ‘essentials’.

  • spices for cooking, particularly if you enjoy Indian/Thai/Chinese – bring the spices you need.
  • an e-book reader – you can have hundreds of books on the one machine. Transporting books adds a lot to the weight of your luggage.
  • slingbox set-up. This allows you to watch TV from your home via a laptop or TV. NB. You need to set this up before you leave your base country. More info from: 

The journey.

So the day of our journey came. We left our hometown early and flew to London then to Moscow, Domodedovo airport and finally onto Aktau. The journey went without many problems; we had a delay in London for a few hours but had the time to spare. Before landing in Aktau we had to fill in an immigration card/paper and this was handed in with our passports and visas. All was in order so we carried on to the baggage reclaim area.

NB. Keep the immigration paper safe in your passport as you need it again when you leave Kazakhstan.

We collected our cases and then were surprised to have to show the luggage stub which was carefully checked against our luggage before we were allowed to exit. So don’t lose your luggage stubs! The airport was very busy and there were lots of taxi drivers offering their services. I was glad we were being met and taken to our hotel.

Finding somewhere to live.

It was very comfortable living in the hotel but we wanted to have our own place so the ‘real living’ could begin. We were shown 3 apartments by the company. All were in high-rise buildings like most of the accommodation here and all had the centrally controlled building heating which most of the buildings here have. (The heating is switched on in October and off again around May). All were 2 bedroomed with modern appliances in the kitchen. The decor in 2 were typically Kazakh with dark furniture and colours but the last one we were shown was bright and airy so we chose it on the spot for fear that someone else would take it!


We moved in shortly after and like every new abode it took time for us to settle in. Our sea freight took 3 months to come but when it did and we had our own bits and bobs about the place we felt a lot more comfortable.We have been in the apartment for 5 months now so it is home for the moment.

For a woman, living in Aktau is an experience. You need to be able to keep yourself busy with hobbies and daily routines. The few other expat women here are friendly and there are plenty of opportunities to socialise but you need to enjoy your own company too.
Aktau offers you the opportunity to learn a new language, learn of another culture and experience an up and coming city!
Do you have an experience of living Aktau to share? Contact us at:

6 thoughts on “Relocating to Aktau”

  1. Dear bloggers,

    How happy I was to find your blog. But also a little puzzled, since it looks like you stopped writing already…

    My husband is offered a challenging job in Aktau, which means we have to decide soon whether we will grasp this opportunity or not. You can imagine I am very curious to hear about other one’s experiences and to find somebody to ask about living in Aktau. Can somebody of you contact me?

    Kind regards,
    The Netherlands


      1. Hello ladies..i have just arrived in Aktau and am keen to meet new people here. How can I contact you?


  2. Hi there,
    I am in the same situation as Eefke with my husband having been offered a role in Aktau and now I am on the research bandwagon. I am an English speaking expat currently living in Vienna and very excited about another opportunity but also want to find out about expat groups for the partners who cannot work and have families. I look forward to continuing to read this blog.



  3. Hi there I would love more information on Aktau in regards to bringing dogs over. I cannot see that there are any vets in the area.
    Do you have a good size expat community?
    Do most people live In apartments or a houses?
    How are the local airlines and which ones would you suggest to use ?
    Look forward to getting information on Aktau. Thanks Barb


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