Bishkek is the largest city in Kyrgyzstan and, being the capital, is the cultural, political and economic center of the country. The city sits at around 800 meters (2,600 Ft) altitude, close to the northern edge of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range. The city is laid out in a grid pattern.
Bishkek is in the far north of Kyrgyzstan, close to the border with its much larger neighbor - Kazakhstan. According to the Population and Housing Census, its population as of 2012 was 874,400.
The Kyrgyz, a Turkic people, account for the majority of the population, but the influence of Kyrgyzstan's Soviet past is evident, not only in the significant ethnic Russian population, but also in the shared official languages of Russian and Kyrgyz. Official business is often still carried out in Russian, or both. Around 76% of the population is Muslim.
One advantage of a move to Bishkek is the average of 322 sunny days per year, due to the city's mountainous location. Average precipitation is around 440 millimeters (17 in) per year, and average daily high temperatures range from 3°C (37.4°F) in January to around 31°C (87.8°F) during July — the hottest month. Summer involves dry periods with occasional thunderstorms, including strong gusting winds and, rarely, dust storms. During winter, there can be sparse snow storms and heavy fog, occasionally lasting for days at a time.
Air quality in Bishkek can be a problem, with pollutants sometimes exceeding acceptable levels. Seven air quality monitoring stations in the city measure levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde (occasionally reaching four times the allowable level) and ammonia.
Property in Bishkek is characterized by apartment blocks in the central area and smaller, privately-built houses further out.
Expats tend to live in the center, and will often have accommodation arranged for them by their employers. Increasing numbers of mid-rise, luxury apartment buildings are available; encompassing reasonably priced, high-standard accommodation. They can cost as much as 1,500 USD per month, but apartments in less upmarket complexes are available for less than 500 USD a month. Studio apartments can go for as little as 200 USD per month.
People moving to Bishkek can choose furnished and semi-furnished apartments; the fully-furnished option should include everything required to live comfortably, plus some loud and shiny Kyrgyz interior design. Apartment blocks should usually include some kind of security measures, such as 24-hour guards or key codes. It is worth asking the landlord to change the locks when moving in, too.
Some local rentals listings sites have English options, such as Salut.