Most expats live in the capital city of Tehran, where accommodation is plentiful. In most cases, employers arrange accommodation for their expat employees prior to their arrival in Iran. Housing prices in Iran are rising despite the availability of properties, especially in Tehran.
It is possible for foreigners to own property if they have legal residence in Iran, but the process can be difficult. In most instances, expats prefer to rent rather than buy property in Iran.
Types of housing in Iran
The standard of expat housing in Iran is excellent. Especially in Tehran, more and more upmarket homes are being built. Most expats in Iran live in newly built residential complexes. These complexes come with a range of additional facilities such as swimming pools, saunas and health clubs on site.
Furnished vs unfurnished
Expats can choose between furnished or unfurnished accommodation, but furnished housing tends to be for shorter stays. It is advisable that expats make a detailed list of all inclusions and photograph the contents for proof of the condition when moving into a furnished property. Furnished housing typically includes everything from curtains and kitchen fittings to cutlery and decorative pieces.
Unfurnished property is a fantastic option for expats who would like to add a personal touch to their new home. It usually comprises basic furniture pieces such as a bed, kitchen fittings and appliances. While it is possible to ship furniture to Iran, buying furniture in the country may be the most hassle-free option as there are strict regulations on shipping goods into the country. Iran is known for beautiful Persian furniture, so expats will be spoilt for choice.
Many expats who do not have their accommodation taken care of by their employer choose to stay in temporary accommodation while they survey the different areas and suburbs of Tehran. While short-term rentals are on the pricier end of the market, they are usually full-inclusive and more affordable than hotels.
Renting accommodation in Iran
It is not difficult for expats to find accommodation to rent in Iran, especially if moving to Tehran. Expats can apply for accommodation either by responding to a property listing online or through a real estate agency if an expat's company does not arrange accommodation themselves. Expats should be aware that unmarried couples are legally forbidden from living together in Iran, so it is best to respect local customs and laws.
Finding a property
For those whose company does not arrange accommodation, property listings are available online. Exploring these listings will also help expats understand the differences between neighbourhoods, property types available and rental prices.
Apart from searching online, there is a good range of reputable rental agencies operating in Iran. Most rental agencies will provide services in English for expats. Some even offer their services in other languages, such as French. Expats should ask their company for recommendations on trustworthy real estate agents. Embassies should also be able to provide some assistance in this area.
Rental contracts in Iran vary quite dramatically. It is important that expats fully understand the terms of the lease they are signing. Most rental contracts will be set for a period of one year. That said, because of the availability of property in Iran, expats will likely be able to negotiate shorter leases if necessary. Expats should ensure the lease agreement clearly states the monthly rental price, the amount for the security deposit and who will be responsible for the utilities. Expats are also advised to thoroughly check what the contract says regarding rent increases, as landlords in Iran have been known to raise rental prices unscrupulously.
References and background checks
Most landlords renting out private housing in Iran prefer to lease to corporations to guarantee themselves a consistent income. As such, expats' employers can act as a guarantor for them when renting accommodation in Iran.
Security deposits in Iran are quite hefty and can range anywhere from five to 10 months' worth of rent. The deposit is usually used to secure the property and compensate for any potential damage. In the case that the property is left in a suitable condition, the deposit is returned at the end of the lease.
Termination of the lease
Tenants may not terminate a lease agreement before its expiration in Iran, as it is a legally binding document. Prospective renters can negotiate with their landlord to include a clause that allows them to terminate the lease by providing at least a month's notice. Expats should expect to receive their security deposit back within a week to a month after moving out, provided there is no damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear.
Frequently, electricity and water are included in the rent for furnished accommodation, but this also means that it is more expensive than unfurnished accommodation. Utilities are typically not included for unfurnished property and will be reserved for the tenant's account.
Expats renting accommodation in Iran will have to set up their utilities, such as gas, electricity and water, and this is usually done through their landlord. They will be able to make payments at ATMs or using an app.
Gas and electricity
Electricity use in Iran is subsided by the government, so expats' monthly bills will be fairly reasonable. Although most households in Iran use gas for heating their homes and water, a recent gas shortage has prompted locals to find other means. The major energy providers in Iran, include SLB, TotalEnergies and Schneider Electric. The country is set to start installing smart electricity meters in homes to automatically send accurate readings to the electricity provider.
Iran is a water-insecure country, and water scarcity is a commonality throughout the country. While tap water in the country is largely safe to drink, most expats tend to stick to bottled water. Similarly to electricity, water will be connected through the landlord and can also be paid at an ATM or using a mobile app. Expats moving to Iran should be prepared to deal with the country's dwindling water resources and use them sparingly.
Telephone and internet
Telephone and internet coverage in Iran are generally excellent, and expats can access the internet using SIM cards or VPNs. Most expats moving to Iran will not have a need for a fixed telephone line owing to the proliferation of mobile phones, so most choose to install a broadband connection instead. Some of the most popular providers, include Hamrah e Aval and MTN Irancell.
Waste and recycling
Iran is still in the process of developing modern waste management practices, so most of the country's collected waste is not segregated and is dumped in landfills. Fortunately, the country recently opened 80 recycling centres in Isfahan and 18 in the south of Tehran to encourage its residents to bring in valuable materials for recycling.
For more specific information, expats should contact their local municipality, as they are usually in charge of waste collection and management in their respective cities and towns.