Living in Brunei can be a rewarding and memorable experience for expatriates. For many the culture, the food, the weather and surroundings are vastly different from experiences at home. But for most those are the main reasons for choosing to live and work in Brunei.
I am a Canadian expatriate living in Brunei for the last 8 months. I arrived with my wife who has taken up a teaching job with the Ministry of Education. I arrived with non-working spousal status but focused my time on launching Byron Recruitment which allows me to work from home and travel the region for business.
My wife loves her school, colleagues and students. At times there are frustrations and demands from work but what job doesn’t have those challenges. The school week took a little getting used to, with Fridays being a day-off and Saturdays a school day. But she has adjusted to this work week, finding Monday to Thursday a rather short week and Saturdays a quick blip in her ‘longer’ weekend. The main disadvantage is that going out of town for the weekend isn’t really possible, although we have visited Malaysia for the odd Saturday night out.
Brunei is an oil rich country and heavily subsidizes the sale of petrol, gas, water, electricity and health care. Brunei is a tax free country – no income tax and no sales tax for anyone! Everyone owns a vehicle and due to the limited public transport system, this is a must. Food is largely imported so costs are a little higher when compared to the rest of Southeast Asia, but there are plenty of inexpensive Malay, Thai and Chinese restaurants and grocery stores as well. Houses are, for the most part, new and modern. They are equipped with every western convenience but built with Asian architecture and design meant to hold up against extreme heat and humidity, sea salt and seasonal tropical storms. International Schools offer western education and extensive after school activities to their students and extended families. A large portion of those living here maintain a healthy and physically active lifestyle, cycling, hiking and running often. Overall there is a high standard of living for everyone.
As a majority Muslim nation, Islam is part of the fabric here. Beautiful and colorful mosques dot the landscape, the call to prayer is often heard and Friday afternoons are exclusively reserved for family and prayer time. But freedom of religion is widely respected and my friends and fellow expats represent a wide variety of different religious and non religious backgrounds. For some the idea of living in a ‘dry’ country is a concern. Fear not, alcohol is easily available over the border in Malaysia and can legally be imported for private consumption by any foreign national.
Some feel that living in Brunei can be quiet and even boring. I disagree. We have often traveled the 45 minutes to Malaysia for an evening of fun or a day of shopping. Most Saturday nights involve socializing with friends, be it dinner parties, cocktail parties, quiz nights, theater events or just enjoying a beautiful sunset over the beach. Festivals and concerts are a regular occurrence, sponsored by groups like Shell Petroleum, the Brunei Brits, the Latin and Indian associations. Everyone makes an effort and the results are a active and close knit expatriate community. Great holidays and vacations can be a big attraction for basing oneself in Brunei. Since arriving I’ve been to the Mulu Caves and Kuching in Sarawak, scuba diving in Thailand and to visit family in Australia. We have many more adventures planned…
Living in Brunei isn’t for everyone but if you have an open mind, are curious about other cultures and an adventurous spirit you can make your stay in Brunei a positive and unforgettable experience.
If you are a teacher and interested in a teaching job in Brunei please visit our website at www.byronrecruitment.com/for-teachers
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