Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo Report of what it's like to live there - 12/04/17

Personal Experiences from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo 12/04/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, this is not my first expatriate experience. I have visited the Bahamas, Haiti, Barbados, Iraq, Taiwan, Malta, and Iceland before coming here.

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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?

My home is Long Beach, Mississippi in the US. It actually took me approximately two days departing and returning to post with all the connections and it is physically tiring.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I have been at post approximately 10 months so far.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is OK, the building is dark without much natural light. Power issues make it hard on electronics but the space is large and comfortable.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries and household supplies are very expensive. We did have a COLA attached to the assignment but now it has decreased so its even harder to get what we need. Finances are always an issue when purchasing on the local economy.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I had most things that I love shipped to post to me. It's the only way to survive in this place.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

I do not know as I am unable to afford to go to these places locally. I tried once and was floored when I recieved my first bill so I never went back

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Malaria medications are necessary.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

There is a DPO at post in the US embassy.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Most household help is $20.00 dollars per day with $5.00 dollars extra for their transportation. All in cash without taxes removed as this is a cash-only society.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Only the US embassy gym with membership.

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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.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Only one on Sundays at 9:00 a.m.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You really need French to communicate for everyday life.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Not safe to use and very unreliable.

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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?

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

No, what there is here is most expensive. It depends on your internet provider.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get one through the US embassy if you are an employee.

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Pets:

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?

No.

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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?

I do not know anyone who has a local job.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

I am unaware of any volunteer opportunities.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Casual dress for Americans.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes, local transportation and walking are not encouraged.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Yes, limited medical care and mostly cash-only payments

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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?

Not very good.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Have your allergen-free food shipped. Many items are NOT available locally.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

No but there is poverty everywhere.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Extremely hot in summer with high humidity.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large due to the USAID programs here.

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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?

I don't think there is enough for singles here.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

None that I can see.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I wish I had had more information about bring single and living in this city.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Not on a bet.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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4. But don't forget your:

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5. Do you have any other comments?

I really don't like being here and can't wait to get out.

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