Living in Bhutan
There are a variety of placements available for teachers, in both urban and rural locations.
Urban and semi-urban locations are those located within a medium to large sized town that is off the main highway; these locations have increased access to services.
Rural placements can be remote, sometimes several hours walk to the main road. These locations have less access to services and will be much smaller than urban or semi-urban locations. These remote locations are very community-minded and are often the most welcoming of areas.
All locations will have access to running water and electricity, though it may be available intermittently in some locations.
Teachers live in a variety of accommodations, depending on the community where they are placed. BCF will arrange accommodation prior to arrival in Bhutan. Monthly rent will be paid for out of the teaching salary.
Depending on the placement community accommodation options may include:
On-campus teacher quarters
These accommodations are typically one room with a separate bathroom. The main room may be divided into multiple sections including bedroom, living area and kitchen. Teacher quarters are only available to teachers working at boarding schools.
Off –campus houses or apartments
These accommodations are typically larger than on-campus housing and will include separate kitchen, bathroom, living, and bed rooms. Off–campus houses or apartments will be located within walking distance of the school.
All accommodation is private, unless otherwise requested, and will include access to running water and electricity. Accommodation will also include cooking and bathroom facilities. Most houses/quarters/apartments will come unfurnished.
Accommodation depends wholly on what is available in the community at the time of placement. Teachers may provide BCF with information on accommodation preference, but please be aware that it may not be possible to meet all requests.
Health care in Bhutan is free and accessible to all foreigners, including BCF teachers in the field. More information on health care in Bhutan can be found at: http://www.health.gov.bt/
There is a national hospital in Thimphu as well as a local hospital in Mongar that can treat many illnesses/injuries. The majority of BCF teachers will be placed in communities with Basic Health Units which can treat common ailments.
Comprehensive travel medical insurance is required for all BCF teachers and is purchased through BCF’s group insurance provider. This policy includes emergency evacuation insurance suitable to remote areas, should one need to be evacuated to India or Thailand.
All applicants must be in good overall health. Prior to departure all BCF teachers must submit a medical evaluation form, which provides approval from a primary care physician to live in Bhutan.
TRAVEL IN BHUTAN
Teachers may have the opportunity to travel in Bhutan during school holidays and on weekends. Teachers who extend their contract for a second year may also travel between the end of the first school year (late December) and the beginning of the second (early February).
During the summer holiday BCF will arrange a short retreat for all BCF teachers in central Bhutan.
Please be aware that some areas of Bhutan require special permits to access. The BCF Thimphu office will review the process for requesting these permits during orientation.
INTERNET AND TELEPHONE
Both internet and mobile phone service are available throughout Bhutan. Mobile phones remain the most reliable way to communicate and may be purchased in Thimphu during orientation. 3G internet can be accessed throughout most of Bhutan by using an internet stick that connects to the mobile network.
Both mobile and internet services operate on a pay-as-you-go basis and may be recharged at most convenience stores.
Traditional Bhutanese food features red and green chilies, cheese, rice, lentils, potatoes, mushrooms and cabbage. Meat, including pork, chicken, and beef, is also available though not a staple of the Bhutanese diet.
Placements will have access to a local market where groceries can be purchased. There will also be shops in nearby towns where supplies and other dried goods may be purchased. Teachers who live in a more remote community may need to make a weekly trip to a larger centre to purchase food items.
There is a good variety of vegetarian food available, although much of it is made using a liberal amount of chili and a smothering of cheese sauce. Ingredients such as nettles, fern fronds, orchids, asparagus, taro and several varieties of mushroom appear in traditional vegetarian dishes. Vegans should ask if a dish contains cheese or eggs when ordering.
During orientation members of the BCF Thimphu office will offer cooking classes and teachers will learn to make typical Bhutanese dishes out of items that will be available throughout the year.
SPOUSES & FAMILIES
Spouses, and in some cases children, can accompany BCF teachers to Bhutan and will be exempt from the daily visitor’s fee. However, proof of marriage, an interview and a spousal application are required.
Accompanying spouses who have not also been hired as a BCF teacher must cover the cost of attending orientation in Thimphu (around $900 for two weeks of accommodation, food, activities, etc.), as well as airfare and travel medical insurance. Teachers participating in the fundraising program may opt to fundraise an additional amount for their accompanying spouse or children.
There are many factors to take into consideration when travelling with children. Teachers interested in bringing children to Bhutan should contact BCF at [email protected].
In the instance that the accompanying spouse is not a teacher, BCF will assist in surveying employment opportunities within the placement region.
Previous spouses have found employment in hospitality or have volunteered their time at the local schools, offering art classes or coaching sports teams.
In situations where both parties are teachers, BCF will secure teaching positions in the same school or community to ensure that the spouses remain together.
At this time, common-law partners and non-married couples are unable to accompany their partners. The only exception is if both non-married partners are teachers.
Bhutan has a strict visitor policy. Typically, visitors to Bhutan pay a daily tourist fee of $250 a day. This fee is the minimum amount that each tourist must spend in the country per day.
BCF teachers may apply to have two personal guests visit per year tourist tax free. Before applying to have a personal guest, BCF teachers must have worked at least six consecutive months in Bhutan. Requests will be considered on a case by case basis. All personal guests are the responsibility of the sponsoring teacher and must stay with the teacher who has requested their visit.
Any additional visitors must come as tourists and will be required to pay the $250 per day tourist fee.