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Living in Myanmar

A practical guide to the way of life in Myanmar

Although Myanmar has only started welcoming foreign investment in 2011, it is an attractive and safe place to live for expats. As it is slowly democratizing, Myanmar also features ever-improving living conditions. This article presents the country’s healthcare, safety, education and more.

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Life in Myanmar

Foreigners will find expertise and advice from the close network of expatriates living in Myanmar’s major cities, as well as from the embassy and consulate services all throughout the country and overseas

Healthcare in Myanmar

The public healthcare system in Myanmar is slowly improving for locals. In 2013, its government committed to spending more money on hospitals, medicines, and pharmacies. This effort, along with foreign investment and economic growth, will likely improve the state of public healthcare in the years to come.

Nevertheless, expats requiring medical care are recommended to visit a private clinic rather than a hospital. There are many internationally qualified doctors working in Yangon, but if you need hospitalization, it is advisable to go to Singapore or Bangkok. Foreign residents should therefore have this eventuality covered by their international health insurance. Primary care can be found at private-pay polyclinics, or even monasteries, for a fee.

Education in Myanmar

Myanmar enjoyed one of the highest literacy rates in Asia after its independence from Britain in 1948. Even to this date, 89.9% of adults and 94.5% of youths are considered literate according to an UNESCO report from 2007.

The educational system is largely based on the British system. English is taught as a second language since kindergarten and throughout primary and secondary education. Students completing the compulsory five years of primary school may go to middle school and, if they carry on with their studies, they can specialize in science or arts during high school.

Going to university is a possibility in Myanmar. The most selective ones are medical universities but there’s a wide range of courses available, including computer science, economics and aerospace engineering. The quality of these varies and attendance is only permitted to students who have completed their previous education in Burmese schools.

Students from international schools or other private centers typically continue with their higher education abroad, at universities based in Malaysia, Singapore, the United States, Australia, France or Britain.

Safety and Security in Myanmar

Myanmar is quite safe for expats and travelers. The most common incidents reported by foreigners are non-violent crimes, such as theft of unattended items or pick-pocketing, but even cases of those are extremely low.

Yangon is one of Asia’s safest cities, with no areas to be avoided. Outside Yangon, crime against foreigners may be higher, particularly in remote places where police presence is low. Nevertheless, violent criminals don’t tend to target expatriates because police are more likely to follow up on these crimes than the ones committed against locals. Note that you as a foreigner may not be permitted to travel in some parts of Myanmar, particularly some border areas.

The police and medical emergency number is 199 and the fire emergency number is 191. Always comply with instructions, observe the law, and contact your embassy after reporting a crime for further advice and assistance.

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Updated on: March 17, 2015
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