Aktau, of all places :)

Hi guys,

I'm thinking about applying for an office job in Aktau. Uh, I know it's probably not the most intreaguing of all places, but the work sounds interesting and payment is good. I hope someone can tell me a thing or two about living in that remote place, and in Kazakhstan in general.

Apart from dailies such as groceries, private internet and a hot shower I'm also interested in two things: is sun blocker (50+) available (I burn so quickly) and can I get the contraceptive pill easily? What about travelling to neighboring countries? I only found an Azerbaijan embassy in Aktau. What would be the procedure for a EU citizen if I wanted to go to other countries? Travelling the region would be one of the main reason for applying for this job.

What's working in Kazakhstan like? Do people make long hours because they think there's nothing else to do or is possible to maintain a good work/life balance?

That's all I can think of now. I hope someone can answer at least some questions.

Hello lemontea and welcome to Expat.com!

I hope that other members will be able to advise you.

Good luck,

lemontea wrote:

Hi guys,

I know it's probably not the most intreaguing of all places, but the work sounds interesting and payment is good.

about living in that remote place, and in Kazakhstan in general.

Travelling the region would be one of the main reason for applying for this job.

What's working in Kazakhstan like? Do people make long hours because they think there's nothing else to do or is possible to maintain a good work/life balance?

Your tone toward Kazakhstan is extremely condescending. :) Don't be ashamed of wanting to go there, it's a wonderful country with rich history, vibrant present and promising future.

Yes, you can easily buy sunscreen and oral contraceptives in Aktay. Even around the clock. You can buy most other things you are used to buying in the EU. You are not going to a jungle, you know.

There is an Azerbaijani consulate, not embassy in Aktau. Big difference.

As a EU citizen you will be required to obtain visas to most of the countries in the region, unfortunately. List your destinations of interest and I'll respond with more details.

Some people love some people hate working down in Kazakshtan, it all depends on your priorities and attitude. Of course there's not much to do in the small provincial Aktau if you're a NY or Paris type of person. But for that matter that is the case if you move from NY or Paris to a "little sleepy lumber towm", in the USA or France, you know. Aktau is all about oil and gas and harsh survival for the rest. BUT the pay is good, using your own words.

Mind you, there're a serious potable water problem and multiple issues with the environment in the Western Kazakhstan. Well, there's nothing that can't be solved by a good-quality inline filter or bottled water outlet. Other environmental hazards like the clouds of radioactive salt blown away from the surface of the waste water reservoir near the MAEK - the nuclear water desalination plant in Aktau or the sulphur-rich pollution emmited from oil and gas sites, are, too bad, more difficult to avoid...

Hi Kazakh_Man,

I'm sorry if I sounded somewhat negative. It wasn't my intention.

I'm asking about those weired things like contraception and sunblocker because I've been in well visited places before and could not get either of them. And lets be honest: there's not much info on Aktau on the net. Most of it is somewhat negative, stating you can't do this and you can't buy that. But what is possible? I guess it's sometimes easier to complain than to tell what's nice about a place :)

Actually, the whole region is on my list of countries to visit for ages. Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Usbekistan, Iran, Kyrgistan, of course Kazakhstan itself.. maybe some places in the Russian Federation. Mountains are nice, but I like deserts even more.

I know about the environmental issues connected to Aktau, but am still collecting information to decide if I want to stay there for a while or not.

It's okay, lemontea, and I'm sorry for sounding somewhat grumpy :)

I asked around from my friends in Aktau that's what they're saying.

Sunblock: UV 30 is usually the highest strength you're going to get there. You can find UV 50 too, but it's less common. You can also get it on special order. I am told that you probably don't need a filter stronger than 30 for Aktau.

Contraceptive: no problem, around a clock. BUT. The pharmacies in Aktau may not carry the particular pills that you need. So, if you'd like to PM me with the name of the contraceptive I can check if it or its local equivalent is available in Aktau. An interesting fact about Kazakhstan: prescription IS NOT required to buy any medicine.

In Brief, requirements for EU citizens:

Azerbaijan - tourist visa
Turkmenistan - tourist visa up to 3 months, more than 3 months HIV test result is required
Usbekistan - tourist visa
Iran - Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Slovenia are visa exempt, others must obtain a tourist visa.
Kyrgistan - tourist visa
Russia - tourist visa

You can go in advance to an embassy or consulate in Kazakhstan to obtain the visas or some of those countries will issue a visa upon arrival at the airport. If you are getting a visa in advance, you'd need a letter of invitation, which is usually arranged by a travel agency for a fee.

Practically speaking, you can either 1) get the visa at the airport (if the country allows it and it will take some time of waiting, nothing is quick in Central Asia) or 2) you can get it in advance for a fee through a travel agency, which I recommend for peace of mind.

Either way, traveling in the region will be quite very possible, if you have the time and money for that.

Because you're undecided wheather to come or not, I am giving just general information. If you're coming for sure, let me know and I can help you with web links to up to date official sources.

Thanks a lot for your kind answer Kazakh_Man. Some good information there. I spent the last few days searching for more info on the net and looking at photos and the landscape in google earth. And lets be honest: The Mangystau region looks marvellous! I'll give it another weekend to think through, and then will probably apply for a position there. Lets see what comes out of that.

Other things like sun screen and contraception I'm sure can be sorted out somehow. If my products are not available then I'm sure I can find an alternative.

So fingers crossed :)

You are welcome. It is a pretty place especially in the summer indeed. Sounds like you're looking at it pretty positively. Good luck!


Hi Kazakh_Man,

yes, I know that blog. Wonder what became of the makers as it hasn't been updated for a while

Just ran across your post.  I am an International pilot (35 years) and have literally been all over the globe.  I am currently based out of Almaty, KZ and frequently travel to Aktau.  I am here because of the wages, which are very good.  There are many places globally that pay higher than industry standard wages and there is a reason for it.  I have flown/lived in China, India, Africa and the Middle East.  I have made a very good living, oftentimes in excess of 200,000.00 USD per annum.  However, there's always a caveat.  The food, living conditions, personal cleanliness, ease of doing everyday business, availability of goods and services, level of governmental corruption, morals and character in these areas are extremely lacking.  I will advise you (especially Middle East) to take your money upfront, in cash.  International contracts are enforceable to a degree but very costly to pursue.  Few of these countries are helpful and the employer is generally a worthless P-O-S.  I know this sounds cynical but it will save you alot of anguish.  As far as the birth control?  There are many beautiful women in every country that actively seek a western pilot in hopes of getting to the US.  Over the years I have had many opportunities and taken advantage of very few.  The people are just too damn nasty.  If you want to lay down with one, be my guest.  Hope this is helpful.  Seriously, ALWAYS GET YOUR MONEY UP FRONT!  And be certain that you have the proper documents for egress from that country BEFORE you enter. 
Best rgds., Steve Allred

Uh, there seems to be somewhat of a misunderstanding :rolleyes:
I am a woman, married happily. I was just curious if the pill I'm used to might be available or not. And working: well, my current employer has an office in Aktau so there's no reason to be worried. However, most people are local so it's difficult to find someone on an expat contract. that's all, really :)


Hi lemontea,

As an expat living in Atyrau for two years now I might be able to help you a bit.

Kazakhstan is an interesting country, as you said yourself: Mangistau region is really beautiful. We've been there on a 3 days trip last April and we were astonished! (compared with Atyrau area)

Sunblock is widely available up to factor 30. About birth control: our doctor at iSos told us that kazakhstan is a bit behind on this matter, so try to apprach iSos Aktau and see if they have the brand you use.

Message me if you might have other questions :-)


I want to meet and get to know the youths of Aktau