As you can see I am a new member, but I have been living in Islamabad, Pakistan for my third year now.
I am here for work reasons too, working for a large multi national as an ERP Consultant, emerging market…poor salary but amazing exposure.
Anyway, enough of me…Islamabad?
As a British Ex pat your quality of life here will be high. Probably higher than in the UK. In a domestic situation, it is normal to have cleaning maids, cooks (Chef), drivers (Chaffeurs sounds a bit too fancy!) even armed, close security (Armed, body guards!)
I think that your benefits package should contain at least:
Full dental/medical insurance for the COMPLETE duration of your stay INCLUDING emergency repatriation, WITH the availability of an extension.
You should have a minimum of a pick and drop service for official duties, but shoot for a vehicle, WITH driver, to be at your disposal.
For someone here for the first time, I would stick to the driver for at least 6months. The reason being that it takes a while to get accustomed to the psychology of road users here…can get pretty precarious.
Once you feel comfortable you can utilize the driver at your leisure.
Check this link out:
I am assuming that residence is included in the pakage, if not, it certainly should be.
The city is divided into ‘Sectors’, (eg. F-10, F-9 etc.), these then have four sub-sectors (eg, F-10/1, f-10/2, f-10/3, etc.)
Your residence should be in any ‘F series’, but preferably F-6, F-7 or F-8. From the map you can see that these sectors are closer to the diplomatic enclave and the Prime Ministerial Building i.e. security is higher/tighter around there.
Also, there are quite a large number of foreigners already resident there.
Included with residence should be the above domestic assistance, cook etc.
As far as socially, you can enjoy quite a decent social life here depending upon your interests.
It is definitely advisable to register with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office:
Another thing to mention is that Alcohol is illegal for Muslims only. Officially a Non Muslim is required to apply for a liquor permit, this can be done on your behalf by an office junior.
Unofficially, however, alcohol (Beer - usually Calrsberg/Fosters), Liquor (Premium Whiskies and Vodka) etc is available relatively openly and the police would probably never ‘stop you’.
‘Stop you’? On occasion road blocks are set up around the city with ad hoc searching of vehicles and persons.
The riskiest thing for a Pakistani here is to have alcohol in the vehicle and then subsequently getting searched…however, Bakshish can go far (!)
Anyway, I doubt you would ever face that.
And yes, you read correctly…unfortunately drink driving is quite common among certain ‘classes’.
Clubbing is pretty much non-existent but there are a couple of ‘night spots’ but they are quite poor.
You wanna go to a cool party, you have to network and you will get invites.
The best ones are Embassy parties…Damn.
Restaurants…there is quite a large array. Islamabad itself is pretty small but I can imagine with the right social network and work environment it could be pretty awesome here.
One last thing, I don’t know whether you are male or female…but women here are treated with respect…especially a Caucasian woman.
With women, it depends on their body language and gaze…keep that in check and no one would dare mistreat you.
The only thing that took me quite a while to get accustomed to was the constant staring…man, I felt like an alien when I first came here…By the way, I am sure you can tell that I am a ‘BritPak’ myself but locals can just tell that you are a ‘foreign’…then they stare and stare…
That is something I wanted to mention since I used to get quite irritated.
Hope this is of some help.
Take it easy.