Maseru, Lesotho Report of what it's like to live there - 08/12/20

Personal Experiences from Maseru, Lesotho

Maseru, Lesotho 08/12/20

Background:

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

No. Have lived in a variety of cities/places throughout Africa and the US.

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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?

I'm originally from Oregon and to get to and from Africa to the west coast of the United States is always challenging, this was no different. Long flights without the best connections.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I lived in Maseru for 2 years.

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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?

Nice house with good size yard and adequate storage space.

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

Good. Lots of things imported from South Africa so overall there is a good selection of quality groceries at reasonable prices.

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

IPAs and Mexican food.

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

Not a lot of restaurant variety here. You can find good pizza, and meat.

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

No. It's great that you can be in Africa and not have to worry about malaria here.

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Daily Life:

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

Had mail issued through our diplomatic mission.

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

Very reasonable labor cost. We had a nanny and housekeeper.

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

I have basic gym equipment in my home, so did not use a public gym.

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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?

CC are accepted at the bigger stores and restaurants. ATMs are common but be careful which ones you use.

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

None if you stay in the city.

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

Yes, there aren't sidewalks or ramps.

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Transportation:

1. 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?

I would recommend something with 4 WD, high clearance, and A/C.

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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?

Yes, installation isn't the problem but the cost and speed. It is some of the most expensive internet I've had to pay for and the speed isn't that great.

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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?

Used a local provider. Easy to get a SIM card and pre pay credit.

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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?

Incredibly difficult to get a dog into the country because of restrictions from South Africa. Do your homework on this one. IT. IS. HARD. Vet care in Maseru is poor, but there are decent providers in South Africa.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

It depends.

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Health & Safety:

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

Be aware of your surroundings. No huge issues but I lived in a house with a compound wall and drove a personal vehicle. I occasionally heard about some of the Peace Corps volunteers getting robbed when walking around the city.

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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?

No. It's nice to not have to worry about malaria in Lesotho. The health care is poor and you should go to South Africa for any real issues.

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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?

Pretty good most of the time. Especially if you can get out of the city.

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

Lots of sunshine year round, it can be a bit like being stuck on an island at times. The South African border can at times be challenging which makes you feel like you are locked in the country.

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

Moderate climate with a good amount of sun year -ound.

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Schools & Children:

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

Lots of good nannies. One of my children was in pre-school and attended a Montessori school that we really liked. My other child was too young for school.

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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, they are available and not very expensive compared to US preschools.

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

I know of some kids that took horse back riding lessons.

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Expat Life:

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

Overall pretty good. There is a good community.

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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?

Book clubs, lots of great wineries in SA and other fun things to see. Camping, hiking.

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

If you are single and get active in some of the different clubs/gyms then it would probably be ok, might be a little lonely at times. It was good for me with two small kids. Safe with affordable child care and things to do on the weekends.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

It was easy within the work place and if you are active in clubs.

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

Yes. Gender equality is always an issue but no big racial/tribal divides that I've seen in other places.

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

There is a great wine/beer shop that has an excellent selection of SA beer/wine. The travel in to South Africa is fantastic. We did weekend trips to Vic Falls in Zimbabwe, Cape Town, Durban and Kruger. Great location with lots of fun things to do (if you love safaris and the outdoors).

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

Vic Falls, Durban, Kruger, the direct flight from Bloem to Cape Town, the wine shop next to Dominos

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

Not really. Some weaving but that really isn't my type of art.

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

The traffic is not bad at all (though the drivers aren't the best). The weather is great.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, I have left now but I would go back.

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

Malaria prophylaxis.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen.

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