Relocating to Myanmar?
Posted by: Ashley Barry, Director, Supply Chain Management, APAC
Myanmar is a unique expatriate destination, combining warm hospitality and friendly people with a rich culture and history. However, an international assignment to Myanmar is not without its challenges. Cartus’ latest video provides hints and tips for those planning to relocate to Myanmar.
As part of our corporate relocation services, we advise assignees moving to Myanmar that there are two main housing options available; serviced apartments and standalone homes.
Many expatriates prefer to live in serviced properties. Generally, they have good furnishings and décor, but they are in high demand and should ideally be booked as much as six months in advance. Alternatively, standalone homes are big, but do not contain modern western-style amenities. Landlords of standalone homes, however, are often willing to make refurbishments to secure a rental. It is important that families wishing to live in a standalone home should ensure that appropriate security precautions are taken.
Demand for expatriate housing in recent years has driven the rental price up two to threefold, although prices for standalone homes are currently going down slightly. Payment is normally made by US$ in cash, which can be challenging as a year’s rental payment up front is normally required.
International schools in Myanmar are located in Yangon. These schools are popular and there is usually a waiting list, meaning that parents should allow as much time as possible and submit their application to at least two to three schools while still in their home country. Schools require an in-person interview with the child before offering a place, so if an application is made in the home country, the interview can take place as part of a look-see preview trip.
Expatriates are not advised to drive in Myanmar because the roads are in a very poor condition and regulations are not always followed by drivers. Taking public transport is also not recommended, although official taxis can be used as an alternative. Cartus’ advice is that companies should provide their international assignees with a car and driver during their stay in Myanmar.
Cash is the preferred method of payment throughout the country, with US$ bills most commonly used. Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted and whilst there are several ATM’s in large cities, expatriates should note that they only dispense local currency.
Burmese is the official language of Myanmar. Street signs appear in Burmese only and very few locals speak English, although some store assistants may have a basic knowledge.
We do advise that assignees learn some essential Burmese to make the most of their assignment to the country.
Top Relocation Hints and Tips
As part of our corporate relocation services, we also advise that assignees to Myanmar:
- Respect the local religion and customs
- Be patient in all official business dealings
- Don’t expect punctuality – it is accepted that meetings may start a few minutes late due to the inevitable traffic congestion
- Be cognizant of religious festivals – no one works on these dates
- Have comprehensive health insurance, including emergency transportation to nearby Singapore or Bangkok.
Myanmar has a rich history with a wealth of heritage sites and temples to visit. The people are friendly and the culture is peaceful and accepting. Expatriates to Yangon, especially, are surprised to find so many open green spaces for a large city and the food, a fusion of blends from nearby China, Thailand, and India, adds to the colour and experience of an assignment to Myanmar.
For further information on Myanmar and to help you manage your global relocation services, please take a look at all our destination videos.