When I started to look for more information about moving to Bishkek, someone on the WTM boards recommended Real Post Reports (or talesmag, or Tales from a Small Planet). It is a handy little site and even had a recent report from Bishkek which was very helpful.
They put up a new report a few weeks ago. A couple of things in it amused me. She was very opposed to taking any kind of public transportation- she said those who ride the minibuses "must have strong stomachs or no sense of smell or a grand sense of adventure." I wonder which one of those I have. And what is her thing with "Bishkek belly"? I've never heard that before, and I've certainly been no worse off than I was in the Middle East.
The thing is, most expats couldn't live the way the US Embassy people do, and that's who's writing most of the reports for this website. Business expats could, but there aren't many in Bishkek. I couldn't possibly afford the over-$2000/month rent; the full-time driver, nanny, gardener, and housekeeper (that would add up to around $500/month); and the $1000/month tuition at the International School.
I think it's reasonable for expats to have a similar standard of living to what they did in the US. We're reasonably close to ours, although it's a little lower here. I do have someone clean once a week, but other household chores take more time here, especially boiling and filtering all the water. Other than that, I don't have anything here that I didn't have in the US. And I don't have a library (sob).
It's the living an extravagant lifestyle in a poor country that bothers me. Tales of a Female Nomad mentioned this. She spent some time with some expats in Guatemala (although clearly a limited set) and summed it up pretty well- "the ex-pats are living in luxury for next to nothing." Well, maybe for next to nothing compared to what you'd pay in the US, but it really can add up- and your tax dollars pay for it.