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The capital vs the largest city, the political centre vs the economic centre, the north vs the south, the mountains vs the sea, Islamabad and Karachi are undoubtedly two of the most important cities of Pakistan (sorry, Lahore). Both these cities have their own peculiar lifestyles which are quite different from each other. Having lived in both cities, I am now here to dispel the various perceptions and rumours that often float around and give an honest review of the lifestyles in both Islamabad and Karachi.

I’ve heard clichéd sayings from nearly every fellow Karachiite ranging from “Islamabad is a dead city” to “Islamabad is not even a city.” To be honest, coming to Islamabad from Karachi for the first time is a strange experience. No pollution, no traffic on the roads, greenery everywhere, it really seems like you’ve been transported to a totally different world. But once I started living here, I gradually fell in love with the city. Islamabad is a very beautiful place that has its own distinctive charm. On the other hand, Karachi is a ‘crazy’ city (both in a good and bad sense). It is plagued with numerous problems but its spirit and liveliness is unrivalled by any city in the country (sorry again, Lahore).

Below are a few factors for comparison:


Karachi is the clear cut winner. It has an abundance of both franchises and street food, which is by the way, very tasty! Islamabad’s food isn’t as bad as people often make it out to be but it does fall flat in front of Karachi.


I hate to say it but there is no denying the fact that Karachi is deteriorating in this regard. The enormous and ever-growing population of 25 million has really taken its toll on the city. There are many broken roads which are causing numerous problems for residents. Islamabad, on the other hand, is very well built and organized.


The night life scene in Karachi is very vibrant. You won’t be haunted by completely empty roads after midnight, Enough Said!



In Islamabad you get to witness the different seasons (Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring) in their full grandeur. In Karachi: you also get to witness various seasons which are summer, slightly less summer and less summer. The range and beauty of Islamabad’s weather cannot be matched by Karachi. A rainy day in Islamabad is just another normal day whereas a rainy day in Karachi is a moment of celebrations and weather status updates on Facebook.


The calm and peaceful nature of Islamabad is what ultimately makes it so special. The clean atmosphere really is an ideal environment to ensure a peace of mind. Karachi, on the other hand, is always bustling and making ‘noise’.







Karachi is the go to place for shopping at reasonable rates but that comes at a price. These markets are flooded with people all the time. Things might generally be more expensive in Islamabad but you also get a smoother shopping experience. However, when it comes to high-end malls, Karachi is definitely the winner. Centaurus and Safa Gold Mall are no match for Dolmen and Ocean Mall when it comes to variety of shops and overall ‘feel’.



Technically speaking, Islamabad is the better city if you compare the overall quality of life. But I have to say that the spirit of Karachi is beyond amazing. Even when the security situation was bad a few years ago, the city never backed down. It always got itself up and stayed as lively as ever. Hence, for me, Islamabad and Karachi are both amazing cities in their own distinctive ways.



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