Maputo, Mozambique Report of what it's like to live there - 01/18/17

Personal Experiences from Maputo, Mozambique

Maputo, Mozambique 01/18/17

Background:

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

Brasilia, Brazil for two years but have also lived/worked all over Africa for shorter stints.

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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?

Washington DC. Some fly through Europe (Maputo-Lisbon direct and then onward or Maputo-Joburg-any European city); we prefer the more direct route Maputo-Joburg-DC (there is also a direct Joburg to NY and Joburg to Atlanta).

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost two 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?

Housing is evolving here. There's the Miramar compound which is about 10 large/more American style houses that share a central yard. Not a lot of privacy in Miramar but still good for those that are very social, have kids, etc. Miramar does not have a pool but does have a playground area/trampoline/etc. Miramar is mostly USAID folks.



Then, there is the new Acacia Estates apartments, 2-3 bedroom (depending on family size), very large, very nice, very American/modern. They have some new construction issues (leaking mostly), but those should be worked out with time. Acacia Estates has a pool (one big, one kiddie) but no playground.



Finally, there are the stand-alone houses, more Portuguese/older, still pretty large. Some stand alone houses have pools and good-sized years, others no.

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

The dollar continues to do well here, so prices are great right now. Availability is also great since South Africa is next door (so most things are imported). I can get almost anything here: cheese (including basic cheddar), sour cream, Mexican food supplies, a variety of alcohol, etc.

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

Honestly, nothing. Since we have access to Amazon shipping, there's not much I can't order online or find in South Africa.

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

Restaurants: look on Tripadvisor :). A lot of fast food places (including the new Pizza Hut) deliver.

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

It's Africa. There will be bugs, not infestations, but bugs. Flying cockroaches exist. They have big worms here.

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Daily Life:

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

Embassy has mail service.

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

Typical help includes gardener, dog walker, driver, nanny, maid, and maybe a household manager. Cost depends on service but is generally cheap. Roughly $200 USD/month full-time.

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

Plenty of gyms/clubs to workout, not sure of cost.

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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?

Credit cards widely accepted and safe to use.

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

There are a few not sure of names.

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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?

Most people speak a bit of English. Local Portuguese classes/tutors are available and affordable.

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

Most places are not wheelchair accessible.

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Transportation:

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

Buses (chapas) are generally not safe. Taxis are safe and affordable.

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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?

4 wheel drive so you can travel within Mozambique (beach sand, flooding, unfinished roads, etc.). I've heard people recommend not buying a common car, because the parts are more likely to be stolen. Don't bring a car that's in great cosmetic condition. It will get dinged, scratched, etc.

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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?

High-speed is available and works well. It can take a few weeks to install, but people often get a dongle if they need Internet right away. You can buy a dongle in an hour and be set up.

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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?

So many options out there now; everyone does it differently.

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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?

Animals do not need to be quarantined in Maputo but do in Jo-burg, so you may need to route your pets differently. Veterinarian services seem okay. South Africa is nearby for anything major.

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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?

Work at Embassy or telework, part-time and full-time seem common.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Not sure, but plenty.

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

More casual dress, business casual if even that. Formal dress required for the Marine ball.

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Health & Safety:

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

Minor crimes are common (mugging, theft, etc.). Need to be smart.

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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?

Embassy Med Unit is fine; South Africa nearby for major needs (including driving to Nelspruit 2.5 hours away if needed). Most people take an antimalarial drug.

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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?

I think the air quality is fine, but people have had allergies here.

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

People are generally unfamiliar with allergies.

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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?

Hot. There are a few months (June/July) where you might want a sweater in the morning/evening, but it's generally hot. Rainy season is Oct-March, but there's been a draught lately so not much rain.

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Schools & Children:

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

I know there is are Portuguese, French, American, and Canadian schools. No experience with them.

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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?

Lots of preschools available; they are expensive. The good ones have wait lists.

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Expat Life:

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

American community is very large. Portuguese community is also very large. Morale is okay. Africa can wear you down, but there are plenty pros and people seem happy.

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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?

Most socialization is the norm: going out to dinner or bbq parties. Everyone travels a lot over the weekend.

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

Probably better for couples or families though singles will be just fine. There's a nightlife and good travel options for singles. There are just more families since Moz is attractive given the cheap childcare.

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

It is a better LGBT option than most African countries.

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

Gender equality is about the same as other African countries. Ethnic/religious prejudice doesn't seem big here.

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

Travel! Capetown, Kruger game reserve, beach (Xai Xai, Ponto Ouro, Beline), Durban, really the options are endless for long weekend trips.

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

Panorama Route is a hidden gem. There's a Mexican restaurant in White River.

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

Normal African artwork is available.

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

Travel, availability of goods given close proximity to South Africa, most people speak some English, cheap help (childcare, cleaning, etc.).

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely.

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