Baku is the largest city in Azerbaijan and the center of commerce and culture. It is also the largest city in the Caucasus region as a whole. The population is estimated to be a little over two million, and around 25% of all inhabitants of Azerbaijan live in Baku's metropolitan area.
Baku is located in the far east of Azerbaijan, on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The city is broadly divided into two districts: the old town Inner City and the more modern downtown area.
Demographically, more than 90% of Baku's population is ethnic Azerbaijanis, but the city does have something of a cosmopolitan feel to it. Russians make up around 5% of the remainder.
Baku is actually located 28 meters below sea level, making it the lowest lying capital city on the planet and also the largest city located below sea level. Baku experiences harsh winds, and is nicknamed "The City of Winds", with harsh snowstorms in winter. It has warm and dry summers, cool and sometimes wet winters, and strong winds all year round. The pleasant summer temperatures once made Baku a popular vacation spot for Russians, but the city now suffers from considerable pollution, which has reduced its appeal.
Average temperatures in July and August are 26.4°C, with minimal rainfall. January and February have daily averages of 4.3°C.
Baku is not a particularly cheap city, and a reasonable apartment in the desirable Fountains Square and surrounding area (Old City) will cost between 1,500 USD and 2,500 USD per month or more. Cheaper options, at around 750 USD per month, are in less pleasant residences in drearier parts of the city. On the plus side, expats are likely to find electric, gas and water bills less expensive than in their home countries.
Housing for expats is likely to be apartments rather than houses. Modern apartments (known locally as primary housing as opposed to secondary, Soviet-era blocks), should be chosen to ensure a decent heat and water supply. Summer houses near the beach, 30–40 km from Baku, can also be rented.
Local newspapers with property classifieds include Bizim Asr and Our Century. Landlords are unlikely to speak English and using a property agent is advisable for expats who need to arrange their own accommodation. Some with websites in English are Lider and TandM Global.