N'djamena, Chad Report of what it's like to live there - 08/27/20
Personal Experiences from N'djamena, Chad
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
Nope. I've lived in other overseas cities, mostly in Latin America.
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?
Washington, DC. roughly 20-24 hours depending on the airline. There are daily flights into the local airport, but some airlines only fly on certain days of the week.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. 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?
Single level houses that are pretty decently sized. Not many in the pool that are more than 3 bedroom. Not all houses have a yard, or a pool. The construction is not fantastic, and after 2 years, most houses need a few repairs. Leaks are fairly common during the raining season (June-September), and cracks in the walls will develop over time.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
You can find a lot of staples, and if the Air France flights are running, you can usually find some frozen good and fresh fruit and veg in the supermarket. The cost for imported food is significantly higher than in the US (20 USD for a pint of cherries), and tends to be higher for frozen/fresh food that has been imported as opposed to shelf stable food.
There are also vegetable markets that sell a decent variety of vegetables. You will need to bleach, bake, or peel produce that is not imported. Toilet paper is available, but not great quality or cost. The quality of dish detergent and laundry detergent isn't great, but it is usable in a pinch.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
More dish detergent. More liquids. Otherwise, if it's dry you can generally order it by mail, although it can take a month+ to arrive.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There are several restaurants in town that serve expats. All are only doing take out right now, and some are closed until the whole COVID thing blows over. Delivery requires good French skills, since addresses aren't really a thing.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Sleep under a mosquito net, and check when you arrive that most cracks are sealed up. There will still be bugs that make it in, and crickets at the end of the rainy season can be really annoying (depending on the year).
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?
Plentiful if you speak French, more limited if you don't.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There is one facility over Modern Market. I've heard it can be pricey.
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?
Generally not recommended to use credit cards, and most stores won't have a card reader anyway. There are a few ATMs, but they won't always have cash.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
French helps. You'll have more options.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Most likely. Sidewalks don't exist everywhere, and when they do, they're not in great shape.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Negative on all public transportation.
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?
Toyotas are great, since parts are easy to find, but most non-luxury cars will do fine. It's not terrible if your car is already banged up, since fender benders are common. Body work for vehicles is very affordable compared to the US.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Nope. You can chose to use data off of a SIM for the highest speed (but very unreliable), or you can choose a 1-3 mb/s line from ILNET, that maxes out at 200 USD a month.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Google Fi and T-mobile both have service within the country (well the capital city). It is not always that fast. Local carriers are Airtel and Tigo.
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?
Veterinaries are available, they're not always up to US standard. Spaying can be difficult to arrange. Some folks have had problems with the documentation provided for subsequent posts.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Yeah, there are some.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Local medical care is extremely limited.
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?
Depends on the season. Good to moderate during the rainy season, moderate to flat out bad during the dry season.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Bring a air purifier. It will help a lot all year round.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
70-ish degrees around December, 110-120 degrees in May.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
There is a French School that some folks use. That's about it.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Not huge, mostly French.
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?
There is an ultimate Frisbee group.
3. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
A trip out to Zakuma in 2019. Took a lot of planning and is16 hours by car. Take the plane if you can.
4. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Zakuma, Elephant Rock, and Goudi are the main destinations. Most will require some level of planning ahead of time.
5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
There is some artwork that you can buy locally.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
Cooking for Conservation, Tchad: A gastronomic safari by Jamie Sparks is written by one of the chefs for a wilderness refuge in the country.