Maseru, Lesotho Report of what it's like to live there - 03/13/09

Personal Experiences from Maseru, Lesotho

Maseru, Lesotho 03/13/09

Background:

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

No, we have lived in France and the Philippines.

View All Answers


2. How long have you lived here?

We have been here 7 months so far.

View All Answers


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

My spouse works at the U.S. Embassy.

View All Answers


4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

It is a long trip from the U.S. to Maseru. We took a direct 16 hour flight from Dulles to Johannesburg and after a three hour airport wait we had an hour flight to Bloemfontein in South Africa before a 90 minute road trip to Lesotho. You can fly from Johannesburg to Maseru but the connection times from the US mean that you will have to overnight in Johannesburg as the last flight for Maseru leaves at about 3pm as the pilots apparently do not want to stay in Maseru.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We have a great house which is a 5-minute drive from work and the South African border.

View All Answers


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

Groceries and household supplies are easily found. Many people cross the border to South Africa to shop there on Saturdays. If you can't get it in Ladybrand or Maseru then Bloemfontein is just a 90 minute drive away and there you can find pretty much everything.

View All Answers


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

You can get most things here. But if you like high tech gadgets bring those or be prepared to go to Bloemfontein (90 minutes) or even Johannesburg (4 hours) to get them. Bring your own DVDs unless you want to cross the border to Ladybrand to rent them. No cinemas in Maseru.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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

There are flies and mosquitoes but there are NO insect diseases that I am aware of - no malaria - it is too high here.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

We use the U.S. Mail system. I tried to use the local system a few times and the postage is cheap and the letters did arrive. However sending parcels is a different story. One arrived and one is somewhere in a black hole.

View All Answers


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

Cheap. Our live-in nanny costs about US$130/month and is great value. Our live-in cook is slightly cheaper. But you need to get used to the Lesotho way of food which isn't everybody's cup of tea. They like corn and corn products as well as meat. Vegetables are not something that exists a lot in the local repertoire of cooking.

View All Answers


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

Lehakoe Club.

View All Answers


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?

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

View All Answers


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

None in Maseru, though any knowledge is always a bonus. If you go out of Maseru to remote rural places, then the local language is needed.

View All Answers


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

Good luck! This place is not designed for anyone with disabilities. You are lucky to have a footpath so people walk on the roads.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

View All Answers


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 one with high clearance. Driving on any roads in Lesotho into the 'mountains' requires high clearance to deal with the atrocious pot holed roads. However, if you stay in Maseru or drive in South Africa then any car is fine.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

Yes, but it is slow and expensive.

View All Answers


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

Please don't use them when driving!

View All Answers


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?

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

View All Answers


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?

NO.

View All Answers


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

Neat.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Pollution? Negligible! When it is dry there is some dust (erosion is a major problem in this country) but really pollution is NOT a concern - certainly not compared to the Philippines.

View All Answers


2. What immunizations are required each year?

View All Answers


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

Yes. U.S. Embassy advises people not to walk around downtown Maseru. There have been assaults including right outside the U.S. Embassy. There have been home invasions so the residential security guards are a wonderful asset.

View All Answers


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

No health facilities here. We go to the doctors in Ladybrand as we don't like the Lesotho health. For any hospital care or specialist care you really need to go to Bloemfontein.

View All Answers


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

No humidity. It is generally clear sunny skies. Though I hear it gets very cold in winter (the houses are poorly insulated). There are impressive lightning and thunder storms in summer as well as some rain.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

American International School has grades pre-school to 8.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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?

We have a nanny who is fantastic. The AISL offers pre-school for children aged 3 or more and runs from 8-12:30pm daily.

View All Answers


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

Only if you make them yourself. I hear that there are supposed to be ballet classes. Our children go to music classes but aside from that you need to do it yourself.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Small.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Good I think. You make your own entertainment.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Social life is limited to what you make. It often involves visiting other people. If you like golfing, lots of opportunities - Maseru, Ladybrand and further afield.

View All Answers


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

This is a great place for families. There are many families here. Singles would probably get bored as there are no clubs, bars or entertainment here unless you make it yourself.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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

No racial, religious of gender issues that I am aware of.

View All Answers


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

Semonkong waterfalls are the largest single drop in Africa. Getting there involves travelling several hours over atrocious pot holed roads. Morijia is 40 minutes away where you can walk and see dinosaur footprints! Don't expect HUGE footprints though! Thaba Bosiu, the birth place of Lesotho is about 30 minutes drive from Maseru and interesting to walk up onto the plateau. Ask for Ntate Edgar as a guide as he has wonderful historical stories to tell you. You can walk pretty much anywhere in Lesotho as all land belongs to the King. But expect a fan club to follow you if you walk in Lesotho. The village children are always seeking money or sweets. Otherwise you can head across the border to South Africa easily. But there are no malls unless you drive 90 minutes to Bloemfontein in South Africa.

View All Answers


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

Beadwork. You can also buy tapestries here as well as straw hats.

View All Answers


9. Can you save money?

Definitely.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

View All Answers


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

Low clearance vehicles.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Patience.

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

It is a great place for families with young children.

View All Answers


Subscribe to our newsletter


New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More