Luanda, Angola Report of what it's like to live there - 03/23/17
Personal Experiences from Luanda, Angola
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, this is my fourth post.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
USA. It's about a 24-hour trip home including layovers.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Work in the public sector.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
My housing is wonderful. I live in a high rise in the city center. Housing for expats is excellent and commute times are short. You have to take the time to find a good apartment, but there is a lot of choice now because many oil workers have left.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
I spend less here on groceries and supplies using the unofficial exchange rate. Sometimes you need to go to several grocery stores to find what you need, but there is good quality and lots of choice.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
I don't ship groceries. Bring some tortilla chips!
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There's good Lebanese "fast food" and delivery pizza and a few other places. There are a wide variety of restaurants. Not a lot of American fast food, which is fantastic. There are a lot of Portuguese restaurants. Lots of seafood. Try the choco frito!
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Pick your housing carefully and you should be OK. Fumigate before you move in, and maybe every 6 months.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
DHL. Also a little thing called email.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
You can find good housekeepers via word of mouth, and monthly wages are not that high.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There are lots of gyms, ranging in quality and type. Some deluxe gyms at the international hotels. Some local gyms. A few CrossFit boxes have recently popped up which are affordable at the unofficial exchange rate. You will need to be discerning about workout classes and find the good teachers. There's a variety including workout classes on the the marginal. Martial arts, kizomba, zumba, CrossFit type classes, pilates. Not good yoga.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
People use credit cards and ATMs at the international hotels. I wouldn't suggest using them elsewhere.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Not sure but there are some Catholic masses. People are always going to church so I think there are a lot of options.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
I speak the language and I find it extremely helpful to do so. Yes there are local classes and tutors.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
You can take private taxis - there are several trustworthy companies.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Bring or buy a SUV. Japanese and Korean parts more widely available.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes. Quick installation, with some frustrations. Much easier if you speak Portuguese.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Get Unitel. Home country plans don't work well here from the USA. I don't know about Europe.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
People dress extremely well here. Bring your designer clothes. Yes, bring some formal wear.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Yes, don't walk at night, ever. If you walk during the day, limit it, and don't bring your expensive phone and limit your cash. Find secure parking when you go out. Find an apartment with a parking spot.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
You can go to several places such as Luanda Medical Center or Hospital Girasol. For anything complicated, I would fly to South Africa.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
It's not great but it's not bad in Luanda. Outside Luanda it's great. People who live in poorer communities definitely suffer from poor environmental conditions.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
No winter! Great weather here.
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Moderate for half the year, hot for their summer, rainy season.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
There's an American school, French school, and a Portuguese school. No personal experience.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
The relative size is medium, though it's decreased significantly due to the economic crisis. All of the Europeans, Brazilians and Latinos are happy here. Not a ton of Americans but everyone seems to enjoy this post except for some of the more insular Americans. Some Portuguese people have not gotten over their colonial mindset.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Let me count the ways. Lots of bars, restaurants, clubs. Art shows, theatre, live music. Beaches, camping, sports clubs.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It is not a great city for single people, but doable. Like most countries, it's probably easier to be a single man than a single woman. Couples great. Families maybe not great -- not sure.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Medium. The gay community is low key and on the down low. LGBT expats use social media to connect with people, and then network from there. The expat LGBT couples I know have good local friends in their community. However there is a lot of "live and let live," and it's certainly not dangerous like in certain countries in the region. It is certainly not a European country or the USA -- there aren't gay clubs, gay-owned businesses, or a gay neighborhood.
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Gender equality is an issue. Expats are exempt from some of the expectations, but gender equality is far from a reality here.
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Great beaches, parties, trips to the provinces.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Mussulo, Cabo Ledo, trips to the provinces.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Not a shopping post.
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Good housing, on the beach, in a great region. Good weather.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
That it is a much better post than people say it is.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
4. But don't forget your:
Bathing suit and sunscreen.
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
6. Do you have any other comments?
Get out of your apartment and enjoy Luanda!