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Living in Tehran

A comprehensive guide about living well in Tehran

Not only is Tehran the largest city in Iran, it also claims to be the largest in Western Asia. Iran's capital city since 1796, Tehran has seen its popularity grow a lot throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, and its metropolitan area is the 29th in the world in terms of the size of its population.

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Life in Tehran

Thanks to its status, Tehran has become a magnet for expats who are drawn to its modern urban developments and growing economy.

Education in Tehran

Education is taken seriously in all of Iran, not just the capital, making the literacy rate higher than average for the region at around 85%. Mainstream schools begin with kindergarten through grade 12; high school is not mandatory but students wishing to enter higher education must have a high school diploma and pass the Iranian University Entrance Exam.

There are a number of bilingual and international schools for the children of expats living in Tehran, which offer excellent standards of education, have small class sizes, and superb facilities. These schools include:

  • the Mahdavi International School, which takes pupils aged between four and 13,
  • the Tehran International School, which takes both male and female pupils,
  • the British School, which takes pupils aged from three to 12,
  • the Pakistan International School and College, which is the only school in Iran that teaches British GCSEs and A-Levels,
  • the French School in Tehran, which has its curriculum approved by the L’Agence pour l’enseignement du Francois à l’étranger (AEFE), and
  • the Japanese School in Tehran, which takes students who have at least one Japanese parent or guardian.

Fees and enrolment procedures are different for each school, and the number of available spaces may be limited, so it pays to make inquiries as soon as you possibly can. 

Transportation in Tehran

Although development of public transport is ongoing, the sheer size of Tehran’s population has made it problematic, leading to the majority of people using their own vehicles — but this too requires careful planning. Tehran is divided into two discrete traffic zones: the first restricted zone bases itself on a vehicle’s registration number and restricts access on certain days, and the second restricted zone can only be used by public transportation, such as taxis and buses,  as well as emergency services.

There are vast numbers of taxis in Tehran but because of restricted zones, it is sometimes necessary to change taxis several times in order to reach a destination. Tehran also has wide lanes for buses. The latter are often used in place of trains to cover long distances, which has reduced the number running throughout the city. Having said that, the central train station in Tehran operates around the clock, and there are four bus terminals to be found in the city.

Safety and Security in Tehran

Iran has developed a reputation of being a potentially dangerous place, but much of this has grown from international wariness. The entire country is ruled by Sharia Law, including Tehran, so the general advice to any foreigners working and living in the city is to make sure that you abide by the law or the punishment could be hefty.

These rules include obeying the law over personal matters as well as more general ones. For example, same gender relationships are not acceptable at all in Tehran, and women are expected to behave and appear extremely conservative in public. 

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Updated on: June 30, 2015
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