Luanda, Angola Report of what it's like to live there - 05/26/21
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, I've also lived in the UK, Japan and France.
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?
Travel back to the US takes about a day door-to-door depending on where you're destination is. Travel is usually easy with one transfer in Europe.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
US embassy housing is all currently in Luanda and a move is being made out of apartments to stand-alone houses. Each house is different and has its quirks but they are all large, many with a pool and some with a small amount of green space. Commute to the US embassy is short. There is discussion of some housing being acquired in Talatona, nearer the main international school. This would make for a long commute and heavy traffic both ways but if you have children attending LIS it would make their travel much easier.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Groceries can be expensive if you're buying anything imported but generally they are not as high as we expected. You can get most things here but it may require trips to multiple shops and often things will disappear completely for periods of time.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Make the most of your consumables shipment! Sauces, marinades, speciality foods, soft drinks, beer etc have all been useful as the availability and/or choice here is limited.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There is no shortage of places to eat but you'll have to rely mainly on word of mouth once you get here to find those places. You can also order online using an app for delivery.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Roaches are very common. Some houses have had problems with mice, tics and ants and mosquitoes are a year-round problem.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Household help is easy to find and inexpensive. This is particularly the case at the moment after many of the families over here with oil companies returned to the US during the pandemic last year.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Limited but they do exist. The pandemic has also seen a huge growth in outdoor exercise classes.
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?
No and no.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Some Portuguese is very useful, you would struggle with none at all.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
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 a high-clearance vehicle if you plan on taking trips out of the city. 4x4 is not essential but is useful.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, although it is definitely hit-and-miss. Generally it works well but there will be periods where it will be down for a day or two. Installation was quick.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
I have a local pay-as-you-go phone as well as GoogleFi.
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?
Most EFMs work at the embassy, where there are usually jobs available.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
There is no shortage of opportunities although most of these are currently not active due to the pandemic.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Angolans like to look their best so be prepared to dress up when the occasion demands it. Outside of work, no one will give you a second glance for tshirts, shorts and flip flops.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Yes. Crime is a real issue here. It is mainly opportunistic so important to be conscious not to show large amounts of money on you, expensive jewelry, etc. It is safe to walk most places here, however, in my opinion, you will always stand out and be a target for constant requests for money and food. We have 24 hour guards at the house, razor wire etc.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Malaria is real so remember your meds! There are also a lot of gastro upsets. The med unit at the embassy is fantastic and there are facilities in Luanda for anything the med unit can't deal with, but be prepared to medevac for anything complicated.
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?
Air quality is generally ok but it does get dusty and a lot of people suffer from allergues.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Hot and humid.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Most of the kids from the embassy attend Luanda International School (LIS). It's a commute out to Talatona from the current housing. We only have experience with the elementary school and have nothing but good things to say about it. The teachers and support staff have been great and they have done a fantastic job of keeping the kids engaged during online learning at the start of the pandemic and now hybrid learning.
2. 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?
Yes, there are a lot of local preschools and daycares. They are generally good although their approach to some things may be different than you would find at home. The fees are reasonable.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
This is a tricky one for us to judge right now. When we arrived here there was a large expat community mainly spread across the various embassies and oil companies. Morale was good and there was an active social scene. Covid has obviously changed that and it's hard to know if/when that will return.
2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
There's something for everyone.
3. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Exploring the hidden parts of Luanda, local beaches, Cabo Ledo (surfer's beach), Calandula Falls... there's plenty to see and do here if you look for it and are prepared to adventure out.
4. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
There are local crafts available here but I wouldn't describe it as a "shopping post".
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
How friendly, helpful and welcoming people would be.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes, absolutely. We've enjoyed our time here.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
4. But don't forget your:
Beach stuff, insect repellent, suncream and adventurous spirit.