A man standing in front of a shop weighing the pros and cons of Iraq.

22 Pros and Cons of Iraq: Unveiling the Realities

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Moving to a new country every two years

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Considering going to Iraq?

It’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.

Iraq is a country with a rich history and culture, a relatively low cost of living, and a warm climate.

Two years long I’m living in Erbil which is the biggest city in Northern Iraq  and also the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

living in Iraq offers many advantages and also some challenges. In this article, we will explore 22 pros and cons of Iraq regarding living and traveling in this fascinating country.

Table of Contents

What are the Pros of Iraq?

There are many pros of traveling and living in Iraq!

Pros of Iraq: Rich History and Culture

One of the major advantages of living in Iraq is the country’s rich history and culture!

Iraq is home to ancient civilizations like Babylon and Mesopotamia, and it has a wealth of historical sites and artifacts.

Exploring these cultural treasures can be a truly epic experience.

The amazing old citadel in Erbil is another example of the rich culture.

View all Unesco sights in Iraq.

Beautiful Natural Landscapes

Unlike what you might expect, Iraq is known for its diverse landscapes, from the marshlands in the south to the mountains in the north.

Living in Iraq provides the opportunity to explore these natural wonders, appreciate their beauty, and experience different regions of the country firsthand.


Iraqi Kurdistan is situated in the northern part of Iraq, bordering Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, and the rest of Iraq to the south and west.

The landscape is the region is truly beautiful: mountains, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and wildlife, it is all there.

Iraq in Autumn and Spring

If you enjoy warm weather, Iraq’s climate might be appealing to you.

The country experiences warm summer like  temperatures in autumn and spring, making it possible to enjoy outdoor activities throughout a big part of the year.

While perhaps some of your friends experience a lot of rain in autumn in their country, in Iraq it can be around 35 degrees which is really pleasant because it is not humid at all.

The nice weather is definitely a pro of Iraq.

Cost of Living in Iraq

The cost of living in Iraq is generally lower compared to many other countries in the Middle East or Western part of the world. Housing, food, transportation, and other daily expenses are relatively affordable. This can make Iraq an attractive option. Especially taxis are cheap!

Last info about the costs of living in Iraq can be found at Numbeo.

Growing Economy

The economy I in Iraq and Kurdistan is growing fast.

Every day there are new buildings being built, and shops and bars are opening.

Many Kurds who fled the country during Saddam times are now even returning to Erbil for example. (Many of them are Dutch-Kurdish!)

Because of the growing economy cities change fast, so there are many new things to discover every week or month.

Close to Natural Wonders

Living in Iraq provides easy access to natural wonders such as the Zagros Mountains and the picturesque Gali Ali Beg Waterfall.

Outdoor enthusiasts can go hiking in the mountains, skiing at Koya mountain, and exploring the region’s breathtaking landscapes. Lake Duran is another beautiful place.

Make sure to always go with a local who knows the area!

Warm and Welcoming Community

The Kurds and Iraqis are friendly, warm and welcoming. They are proud of their culture and it brings them joy to show and tell all about their habits and customs.

Whenever you walk on the street people will great you friendly.

Several times folks came up to me ask me where I’m from and then try to say something in Dutch!

Or they just stop with their scooter to ask if you want to take a picture, how nice is that!

Multilingual Environment

In Iraqi Kurdistan, it is common to find people who speak multiple languages.

Kurdish, Arabic, and English are widely spoken, creating a multicultural and inclusive environment for residents and visitors.

It makes it very convenient as an expat to find your way.

And if someone doesn’t know how to speak English they will call a friend and you’ll get someone on the line who will explain it in English for them. Happened to my many times!

Visiting small local towns

There are many small towns in northern Iraq that are worth visiting like Shaqlawa, Koya or Akre. Each of these towns have their own traditions and festivities, and very friendly locals!

Delicious Middle Eastern food

I love the food in the Middle East! Kebab, Doner, Dolma, Biryani, and falafel. As you might expect, these local dishes are super affordable, even at the more expensive local restaurants; a great perk of living in Iraq!

Historical Sites and Monuments

Iraq has an amazing collection of historical sites and monuments. Seriously, it’s like stepping back in time. One of the most famous ones is the ancient city of Babylon, which was once the capital of the Babylonian Empire.

Surrounding countries 

An advantage of living in the Iraq is the options to easily and affordably visit some amazing surrounding countries. Countries like Lebanon, Oman, Jordan and Turkey are all close by which is a great opportunity for some exploring.

I probably never would have been able to visit these places if I didn’t live in Iraq.

Seen here above is the desert in Oman, below Jounieh a town just above Beirut.

Political Stability

This depends on where you are staying in Iraq.

If you are staying in Iraqi Kurdistan you’ll experience political stability and safety. The Kurdistan regional government has managed to establish a sense of order and security in the region.

Unlike some other parts of Iraq, Kurdish authorities have successfully maintained control and kept the area relatively stable. This means that residents can go about their daily lives without constantly worrying about political upheaval or instability.

Other parts of Iraq might be less safe because of extremists.

Read my safety guide here.

What are the Cons of Iraq?

Like any other country living and traveling in Iraq has some drawbacks.

Con of Iraq: The traffic!

The most dangerous thing/activity in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan is undoubtedly the traffic. People can drive like crazy.

It’s important to be aware of anything that is happing in front of you behind you and on both sides when driving here!

Besides that the traffic jams in Baghdad are crazy, a ride of 10 km win the city can easily take an hour!

Read my full article a about what it is like to drive a car in Iraq.

Limited Freedom

Freedom of movement can be limited in Iraq. Political and social tensions can result in restrictions on personal liberties, and it is important to be mindful of the cultural and societal norms in the country.

Some parts of Iraq, especially areas near the border with Iran and certain disputed territories like Kirkuk or Mosul, are more prone to violence and conflict.

These conflict zones can be a significant risk to personal safety. It is advisable to avoid these areas.

Iraq in winter time

What I personally didn’t expect is that it can get really cold in Iraq in the winter! Even more in the North in Erbil temperature can drop to 0 degrees. Now you might think that’s not bad right 0 degrees?

The thing is houses are not isolated very well and the floor of the house is built right on the actual ground. There is no isolation layer so when the temperature drops to 0 degrees the floor will hurt your feet of you walk on bare feet in the house! It will get super cold inside in the winter so you’ll need a good AC for heating.

This is totally different then in my home country where you’ll have several layers of isolation between the walls and floor.

Access to Basic Services

Access to basic services, such as electricity, water, and internet, can vary in different parts of the country.

While major cities like Baghdad and Erbil generally have better infrastructure, smaller towns and rural areas experience occasional disruptions in these services.

It is important to have backup plans and be prepared for these situations. Always bring some water!

The heat during summer times

One of the cons of living in Iraqi Kurdistan is the extreme heat during summer times. The region experiences scorching temperatures, with daily averages often reaching 50 degrees Celsius.

This intense heat makes activities during the day, and even at night, challenging and uncomfortable.

It becomes difficult to go outdoors and enjoy activities like hiking or even simple things like walking outside. 

Availability of Healthcare

Iraq’s healthcare system has faced challenges in recent years due to the conflict and economic difficulties.

While major cities have hospitals and medical facilities, the quality of healthcare may not be up to international standards in some areas. 

Power generators

Living in Iraqi Kurdistan has its drawbacks, and one of them is the reliance on diesel power generators.

While these generators provide electricity during frequent power outages, they come with their fair share of cons.

First, the constant noise they produce can be incredibly annoying if they are close to your home.

Additionally, the emissions from these generators contribute to air pollution, negatively impacting the environment and people’s health.

During the evening the air pollution is often the worst, luckily during the day the air is pretty good.

Dry environment

With little rainfall throughout the year, keeping plants alive can be difficult, and the lack of greenery can make the landscape seem really dry.

Additionally, the dryness can also lead to dry skin, which I never had before!

Shops and brands missing

Most American or Western brands are not present in Iraq. But then again, Western brands are probably not the reason why you’re thinking of visiting Iraq!

At least it encourages you to try out new things and support local businesses.

Not all areas are safe for hiking

So, one thing you need to keep in mind if you’re thinking about living in Iraqi Kurdistan is that not all areas are safe for hiking.

Unfortunately, there are still land mines scattered around certain regions near the borders. Moreover, drone attacks are also a concern in some areas close to the border of Iran.

If you enjoy exploring nature through hiking, it’s important to be cautious and do some research or go with a local who knows the area.

Final thoughts of the pros and cons of iraq

Like any other country, Iraq has its pros and cons. In my opinion the pros definitely outweigh the cons regarding visiting Iraq.

It is a unique place that surprised me in many positive ways!

F.A.Q. 22 Pros and Cons of Iraq: Unveiling the Realities

Some Iraqis, especially those from the Kurdish ethnic group, may prefer living in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq due to its relative stability compared to the rest of the country.

Arabic,Kurdish, and English are widely spoken in Iraq.

Iraqi Kurdistan is considered relatively safe for foreigners. Other parts of Iraq are considered less safe. 

Useful info can be found here.

A man standing on top of a sand dune with his arms outstretched.

About the author

Chris Oberman is the founder and author of Moving Jack and has been traveling the world for over 20 years to 40+ countries.

He lives in a different country every two years which allows him to gain unique in-depth insights and experiences in new places abroad.

Quoted on Gritdaily.com, NRC Newspaper, Vice,and Feedspot.

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