woman in hardhat and winter coat on platform

Aerial view of Atyrau from video intro


The following information and pictures are provided to help employees who are considering a TengizChevroil (TCO) expatriate assignment to see what it is like to work and live in Atyrau, Kazakhstan.
The city of Atyrau is located in the western region in the country of Kazakhstan. It is a transcontinental city between Europe and Asia at the mouth of the Ural River on the northeast side of the Caspian Sea. At the beginning of 2020, population of the Atyrau region was 355,117 people, primarily consisting of Kazakhs, Russians, and Koreans.
The climate in Atyrau is semi-arid and spans from hot summers to cold winters. The lowest temperature was recorded at -36.2°C (-33.2°F) in 1909, and the highest temperature measured at 44.6°C (112.3°F) in 1984. The warmer weather occurs from May through September with average monthly highs ranging from 25.3°C to 33.7°C/ or 77.5°F to 92.7°F. Colder temperatures occur from October through March with average monthly highs from -3°C to 15.6°C/ or 26.6°F to 60°F. Precipitation is low throughout the year, although snow is common (but light) in the winter.
The Atyrau Airport is conveniently located about 15 minutes from residential areas but is developing and still quite small. Air Astana is presently the main carrier that flies into the Atyrau Airport (airport code is GUW). Frequency of international flights and destinations are somewhat limited with the most common connections through Amsterdam, Istanbul, Almaty and Astana. Domestic flights, on the other hand, are regularly available seven days a week to Almaty and Astana.
Tengizchevroil headquarters is a modern, nine-story building on the European side of the Ural River, a short walk from many city facilities. Each floor has coffee and tea stations and filtered water, as well as access to refrigerators and microwaves so that employees can bring their own meals. There is also a canteen on the first floor that serves snacks and beverages, along with a full-service cafeteria (lunch only) and generous seating areas.

The general atmosphere of the workplace is busy, friendly, and open with a mixture of cubicles and offices. Normal office hours are from 9 am to 6 pm. The dress code for the office is business casual attire.

Atyrau-based employees work on a hybrid schedule that consists of remote working on Monday and Friday, with in-office presence Tuesday through Thursday. Working 100% in-office is another option for critical business purposes or for those that prefer to work in the office. TCO currently does not offer a 9/80 schedule.


Employees and their families live in two different housing complexes in Atyrau. These housing options include Dostyk Village (townhomes) and Ardager (apartments).

Dostyk (Kazakh word for friendship) Village is a gated community on the European side of the Ural River and is home to about 90 families. Dostyk has two director's homes and 86 two-story townhomes that have four bedrooms, living and dining areas, a small yard and a small garage.
Amenities include a fitness center, gymnasium, recreation center, indoor tennis courts, outdoor swimming pool and indoor lap pool. Flooring is carpet (upstairs only) and heated tile. Townhomes are completely furnished with standard furniture and include gas stoves, electric ovens and treated water. Several areas in the townhomes are wired for 110 volts and 50-cycle electricity including the kitchen and bathrooms. Other sockets are 220 volts for the two-prong, European-type plugs. The priority for Dostyk Village is families with school-aged children.

TCO leases furnished 3-bedroom apartments at the Ardager residence building in Atyrau. Ardager has a gym and a swimming pool that can be freely accessed by residents. All apartments provide daily laundry and cleaning services, internet/wi-fi, satellite TV and trash pick-up/removal at no additional cost to residents. Expatriates living in Ardager have full access to Dostyk’s community facilities, which are located across the street. Ardager is typically slated for unaccompanied expats.

support services

Atyrau is one of the fastest developing cities in Kazakhstan. While still fairly remote, the expanding community and evolving Kazakh economy position Atyrau for continued growth.
Kazakhstan is predominately a cash economy, with commerce conducted in Kazakhstan Tenge. There are several ATM machines in Atyrau where expats can use their credit or debit cards to obtain Tenge. Most expatriates use the ATM machines in the TCO headquarters building where one can obtain American dollars or Tenge. There are many banks in Atyrau, but it is advised that expatriates and their dependents continue to do as much banking as possible online, through ATMs or at their point of origin. To offset foreign charges, many expatriates obtain ATM or credit cards in their home countries that do not charge international service or non-network ATM fees.
Atyrau is a safe and secure place to live. The biggest threat to safety and security is traffic related. This risk is mitigated through trained drivers providing transportation in a variety of TCO vehicles. TCO expats and dependents are not allowed to drive.

Tengizchevroil expats and their family members receive TCO badges which allow them to have access to headquarters and residential facilities. Security staff checks cars entering and leaving the Dostyk and Ardager compounds as well as the office facilities.
Company housing is equipped with phone and data lines. Employees can arrange for internet service through a growing number of providers in Dostyk, and internet is pre-installed in Ardager. For international calling needs, most residents use phone cards and voice-over internet protocol technology. Mobile phones as well as SIM cards are readily available in Kazakhstan. Minutes need to be purchased separately and service does not include voice mail. As an alternative, many residents in Kazakhstan use ‘WhatsApp’, a messaging app that uses the internet to send messages, images, audio, or video.

Mail is available through the Chevron pouch mail service and takes on average one to two weeks to be delivered. Residents can receive up to 10 pieces of flat, non-paper mail such as books and CDs per month. The address is PO Box 6066-Atyrau Pouch, San Ramon, California, 94583. Other items can be sent through DHL service at the resident's own risk and cost. 
Dostyk Village has a good library for the school where children can check out books and there is also a used book exchange area in the club house where residents can drop off and pick up books.
  • Medical doctor: An expatriate doctor is available seven days a week for routine and urgent care at the Riverside Doctors Office (RDO) in Dostyk Village. The Riverside doctor also provides after-hours emergency care, which includes home visits when required. Employees and their dependents are required to undergo a bi-annual Chevron medical exam. The exam can be completed at the Riverside Doctors Office or in your home location. Prospekt Medical Caspian (PMC) is another option frequented by expatriates. Appointments can be made for minor illnesses and routine medical care such as vaccinations. Specialized medical care (e.g., dental, pediatric, OBGYN, etc.), investigations and medications are limited in Atyrau, therefore Atyrau-based residents are advised to complete any specialized medical care in their home countries.
  • Pharmacy: There are several pharmacies around Atyrau, but it is recommended that over-the-counter needs and prescriptions are filled at the point of origin and on annual home leave. Medicines should be brought in on your person with a copy of your prescription.
  • Medical emergencies: Medical evacuations by plane to the closest appropriate location are arranged for serious medical emergencies. 
Like other countries with emerging economies, pet ownership is not common in Kazakhstan. Therefore, support services for pets like veterinarians, kennels and pet supply stores are almost non-existent. While company policy on reimbursement for transport of one pet remains valid in Atyrau for long-term residents, families are discouraged from bringing pets to Atyrau and are not permitted to adopt, foster, or bring local animals to TCO-provided accommodations or facilities.


The Dostyk American International School (DAIS) , located on site, is provided for students in pre-K (age 3) through grade eight. DAIS is a mainstream school operated by International Schools Services under contract to Tengizchevroil and is accredited by Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The school provides an American-based curriculum and requires fluency in the English language as one of its criteria for admission as all courses are taught in English.

Note that dependents residing in Atyrau cannot be homeschooled as per policy.
icon: sitting at a desk and working on a laptop with hot coffee
view slideshows about atyrau so you can know what to expect in the following categories:


There are several supermarkets in Atyrau and some outdoor markets that specialize in fresh produce. There are also online grocery and restaurant delivery services available for your convenience. Options for general needs shopping like clothes, shoes, kids toys, and sports equipment are growing and continue to expand in available assortment.

recreational facilities

There are recreational activities available in and out of Dostyk Village. Dostyk Village has indoor and outdoor pools, a multi-purpose gym, exercise facilities, indoor and outdoor tennis courts and walking paths. The Dostyk Clubhouse has a game room, lounge, restaurant and bar.

You can find traditional Kazakh entertainment ranging from sporting activities, drama and musical variety shows. The Ural River provides entertainment in the winter with ice skating and ice fishing, and in the summer with kayaks and boating. There are a few local bowling alleys, billiard rooms, and video game arcades. Atyrau has an art and a natural history museum that both have frequently evolving exhibitions. Short excursions outside Atyrau to archeological digs are also a must see.

Atyrau residents have a tradition of organizing a variety of activities, including Saturday sports and after school clubs for the kids. For adults, there is an array of leisure interests, including book clubs, mahjong, weight training, yoga, Zumba, trivia, pickleball, badminton, canasta, TGIF, cycling, running, volunteering and many other activities.

There are several bars and night clubs in Atyrau that have local entertainment and many international celebrations like St. Patrick's Day and theme nights. 
There is a growing list of good restaurants with diverse types of food such as Italian, American, Georgian, Indian, Uzbek, Turkish, and other Asian foods. Many restaurants will deliver to homes or apartments.

summary of expatriate living

The main religions in Atyrau are Islam and Christianity. There is a Russian Orthodox church, Catholic church and Muslim mosque all close to the residential communities and offices. There is a Christian fellowship on Sundays and a few Bible studies in Dostyk Village.
Expatriates are not allowed to drive in Kazakhstan; therefore, TCO provides all local transportation needs. There is a fleet of vans and SUVs that are available to expats and their families 24-hours-a-day by calling or emailing TCO transportation services. Expats are not permitted to ride in local taxis.

Most TCO residents commute to work on a company shuttle that runs every 30 minutes from the residences to the office in the morning, at lunchtime and in the evening every weekday. The commute time is around 10 minutes.
Russian and Kazakh are spoken in Atyrau and many Kazakhs and Russians living in Atyrau speak English. The company offers 80 hours of language training in Russian for new expats.

Downloading language apps such as Google Translate is helpful when out and about in Atyrau. Many expats use this method to communicate in different languages.
While household help is available in Atyrau, the practice of having house cleaners or nannies is not widely abundant or practiced in Kazakhstan. There are a few dry cleaners and seamstresses in Atyrau. Other services can be arranged through recommendations.
Dress in Kazakhstan is typically Western-style clothing. Those moving to Atyrau need to bring clothing and outerwear for a long and potentially harsh winter as well as a hot summer. Employees traveling to Tengiz can be equipped with winter coats and appropriate boots if needed. 
The Welcome Committee (WC) is a group of volunteer TCO spouses who assist TCO in orientation activities for new expats and their families. A Welcome Committee member is paired with a new expatriate and facilitate the pre arrival, arrival, and post arrival transition into life in Atyrau and help to build connections in the community.
There is an abundance of volunteer opportunities in the residential and local Atyrau communities. Inside the residential community there is always an opportunity to help with one of the various special events or regular activities. Within the Atyrau community, many employees and their families have gotten involved in teaching or practicing English with locals and with charity projects.
Kazakhstan has a rich culture, with influences from both the East and the West. Learn more about Kazakh culture here.

For more information or specific questions about Atyrau, please contact TCO Expatriate HR.