Best Place To Live Kathmandu for Expat 1
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In general, where you live will be dictated by where you work, or where your children will go to school. It is good therefore, to hire a serviced apartment for the first couple of months in order that you can look around and find something you like.

Kathmandu is basically divided into the north of the city (Thamel, the Palace etc.) and the south (Patan, UN House etc.). These areas are separated by the Bagmati River. The ring road circles the city but it is often just as crowded as the inner city roads.   Traffic moves faster on the ring road and therefore the possibility of accidents is higher. Again, with the increase in traffic over recent years, it is a challenge to make that short journey (10-15 minutes on an empty road) during office hours (allow an hour during peak times). Therefore, people do normally live near to where they work.

Southern Kathmandu

Best Place To Live Kathmandu for Expat 2
Patan Durbar Square Lalitpur

The south consists of Patan, Lalitpur, Sanepa, Jaulakhel, Jamsikhel and, outside of the ring road, Bhaisepati. Many INGOs are located on this side of town, as is the British School. This area is perhaps a little less congested than the north side and the roads seem a little wider and cleaner. This could be down to the individual Municipalities.

Around Sanepa and Jamsikhel there are a lot of restaurants and cafes which attract both locals and expats, and fewer tourists. These areas are next to each other and it is easy to walk around this area, which has an expat community feel to it. Accommodation available is both apartments and houses.

Bhaisepati has become popular with expats as it is less crowded and more open. It is, however, across the ring road. If there are any political disturbances, the ring road is often closed off. And it is just that bit further away from everything if you don’t have your own vehicle. Taxis are reluctant to go there at night as they will have to return empty and buses only run in the daytime. Mainly expats living in this area are looking to rent individual houses.

Northern Kathmandu

Best Place To Live Kathmandu for Expat 3
Baluawatar Kathmandu

The north consists of Thamel, Durbar Marg, Lazimpat, Baluawatar, Maharajgunj, and Budhanilkantha. Less INGOs have their offices on this side of town. The French School is located in Lazimpat. Thamel is the tourist hub of the city and there are an abundant of restaurants, bars and music venues.

Lazimpat is increasingly becoming a vibrant place in the evening also. Here you will be in the middle of things, with easy access to all types of transport, banks, and shops.   Accommodation is mainly of the apartment type and if you are lucky to find a house, it will be a little expensive in this prime location.   Its approximately 10 minutes walk from Thamel.

Baluawatar is a nice residential area, about 15 minutes walk from Lazimpat and the main transport routes. Accommodation available is both whole houses and apartments.

Many people enjoy living in Budhanilkantha, which again, if you don’t have your own vehicle, could mean you are less able go to out in the evenings. Budhanilkantha, however, is located far enough out of the main city to be greener and have fresher air and cleaner water. There are less restaurants in this area but plenty of small local shops. It is about a 15 minutes drive from Lazimpat at off-peak times. Public transport is limited and busy in this area. Mainly expats in this area are looking to rent whole houses.

Accommodation School For Expat Child

Best Place To Live Kathmandu for Expat 4
Rato Bangala School

For those who do not have to live in a particular area for work or schools it’s a personal choice really. Many old time expats also enjoy living in Bouddha or Swoyambhu where the local population is Buddhist and the feel or the area is different from the rest of the city.

With regards to safety, all these areas are basically the same. It is safe to walk around in the evenings. Theft does take place, as everywhere in the world, so if you are renting a whole house, a guard or a dog is advisable.

With regards to cost all the above areas have mid range expat accommodation prices, ranging from around US$200 for an apartment to US$500 and above for houses. Furnished accommodation will cost you more and if you are planning to stay more than a year it would be definitely worth looking into buying your own furniture, particularly if you are renting an apartment. See Prices of Expat Accommodation in more detail.

Accommodation itself can range from a services apartment, homestay, small apartment to a large independent house, depending on your budget and requirement. Rents range accordingly. For a small un-furnished or semi-furnish apartment you won’t get much under Rs20,000 ($200). For a large house expect to pay $800 upwards.

Most expats do stay in Kathmandu but there are small groups in other towns, especially Pokhara. Prices in Pokhara are lower than in Kathmandu.

If you have school aged children you might want to select your accommodation near to the school. There is an abundance of Montessori nursery schools – remember to check that they do speak English with the children. For primary or lower schools students, there is KISC, which is also available in Pokhara up to approximately age 12.

Don’t overpay!

When you have just arrived, before renting, ask friends and colleagues what you should expect to pay in the area you wish to stay. With the high number of development agency staff on high salaries and accommodation allowances, prices have risen considerably in past few years. These are unrealistic prices and way over the norm. Note that a Nepali family is probably going to be able to rent the same small apartment for Rs10,000 that you are being asked Rs20,000 for! So as well as being cheated, expats are often unwittingly pushing Nepali families off the accommodation ladder.

Do ask about water supply

Is it regular? Is it from the government supply only or is there a ground well? Are you expected to pay for water to be delivered by tanker when water is scarce? Is it good water – check for yourself – is the water yellow (heavy iron content), does it smell bad (might be contaminated by sewage) etc. While yellow water is common throughout the city and not a real problem because you are not going to be drinking it anyway, water that smells is not a good sign, as you will by showering and washing your dishes in it. (People with blonde hair please note: the iron in the water may turn your hair orange!)

Load Shedding Group

Find out what group you are in for electricity cuts. And does the apartment come with a back-up power supply?

Update  November 7 2017: There is no Load Shedding in Nepal.

Garbage collection

Is there a regular garbage collection in your house/area? Ask the landlord and if this has not already been established, ask your neighbours what they do and how much they pay.

About Author

Jackie has lived and travelled in Asia for 27 years, more than 20 of these in Nepal. This writer/ editor is currently the owner of a small vocational training company. She is also involved in the tourism and development sectors. When not working she can be found at live music gigs, at the theatre, or art events.

(6) Comments

  1. Glauco Porto

    Hey, Jackie! Do you happen to know if apartment buildings are safe living given the area has experienced earthquakes. And regarding houses, have you ever heard of burglary or anything?

    1. Jackie

      Hi Glauco

      I thought i had replied to this…. there is no easy answer to this question. Some buildings were badly damaged in the 2015 earthquake. Some are unoccupied still. Some where retrofitted and some, like mine, were undamaged. In general dont go for a building more than 3 floors high. Theft…yes, like all countries Nepal has theft but in general its very safe here. Most buildings have bars on the widows as standard.

  2. peter

    Hey Jackie, my family and I are coming to Nepal in a few weeks for a contract as a climate change specialist. We are seeking advice on a safe, clean, quiet, semi-furnished 3 bedroom apt, with good reliable water and electricity, somewhere in or near Kathmandu. Air quality is a real issue for my compromised lungs, so a rental location in a less smoggy region is essential, while allowing me to commute to work in the city each day, and my 3 girls to go to daycare (2 yrs), primary (grade 1-5 yrs old), and high school (13 yrs).

  3. Jackie

    Are you by chance working with ICIMOD? In which case that is in the Godavri area. Which although far from the centre of town is near ICIMOD. Anything central is very polluted. Staying outwith the ring road is better BUT if you are commuting over the ring road you are going to come into contact with pollution. Bring good quality face masks. If you sign up to Google group ktmktm then you will find posts about accommodation. And you can also advertise for same. There are plenty of daycare places. Schools – not so much for your older kids. Have a look at what I wrote here https://www.magicalnepal.com/expat-guide/list-of-schools-for-expats-children-in-kathmandu/.

    Good luck!

  4. Upama Pokharel

    Namaste,

    We are giving our beautiful house on rent located inside a small housing colony at a very beautiful, calm and peaceful area with easy and nearby access to everything including public transport, local market, medical shops and hospitals. We are looking for an expat tenant.

    Rent: Rs 40,000 (for 2 bedrooms)
    Location: Golfutar

    House includes:

    Bedrooms-2 (one with attached bathroom)
    Bathrooms-2
    -A living room
    -A Kitchen
    -A dining
    -Small storage

    AVAILABILITY:

    -Wifi Available
    -Security Guard
    -Hot and Cold water
    -Power inverter

    Garage is not available, as it is occupied with our car parked there.

    PS- If you don’t need 2 bedrooms and only 1 bedroom, that can also be possible. For 1 bedroom the rent will be Rs 30,000. However, if you just take one bedroom too, we will not look for another tenant for another room- the other room will be kept locked. So you will still be the only tenant for the whole house.

    Conditions and other informations:

    We live abroad and we are giving only 2 rooms at rent. The other 2 rooms located at the top floor of the house will be kept locked as we have our stuffs there. Other than that you will have access to everything, including the terrace.
    Also, whenever we visit Nepal we would like to stay in our house, so the room is kept on that purpose for our convenience. However, we visit Nepal only occasionally and when we do, you will not need to worry about your privacy, we fully understand and respect that, so that will be taken care of.

    We are looking for a good tenant specially with the intention that our beautiful house still feels lively when we are away, and continues to receive the love. We wish the same for you, to feel the love and peace during the stay!

    As the house is located inside the housing colony, we have very good security, cleanliness, and good water facility.

    If you are interested and need any more information, please message me or contact me at 9818010008.

    Thank you!

  5. Sanjivv

    Hi Jackie Planning to come to Nepal which will be nice area around darbur marg to rent a place , A 2 BHK and how much should it cost or is AIR BNB a better choice for a long rental plan.
    Your help will be greatly appreciated.
    Thx and warm regards

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