Maputo, Mozambique Report of what it's like to live there - 02/18/17

Personal Experiences from Maputo, Mozambique

Maputo, Mozambique 02/18/17

Background:

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

Panama, Mexico, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo.

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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?

Maputo to Johannesburg to Atlanta, approximately a 24 hour journey.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost 2 years.

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

U.S. government.

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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 overall is good. You mostly find families in houses, some with pools. New apartment complex for singles and families is now open, with pool, gym, ATM, social area. Most people are happy with their housing.

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

If you shop in regular stores, you can save a lot. Sometimes you just want to go to a nice, gourmet store where there is fresh everything from South Africa, and that is expensive. I do a combination of both.

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

Liquids--I did not do a consumable shipment, but we can receive Amazon Prime Pantry easily. Restricted to 16 oz. per shipment, liquids. You can find almost anything here, though, and people travel to South Africa once in a while to do shopping for good meat, wine, cheese, etc.

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

Some wonderful restaurants throughout the city. Food delivery is limited, but does exist from Indian restaurants and pizza spots.

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

Just mosquitoes, sometimes a few ants or cockroaches, but no infestations.

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Daily Life:

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

Receive through diplomatic pouch, do not send much as the size is limited in the pouch. But you can send small things, and letters.

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

Readily available and approimately $200-$250/month for full-time maid. Gardeners work usually part-time, and you can usually have them take care of various things like dog-walking if you'd like.

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

There are some gyms...not too expensive.

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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?

We use credit cards and ATMs.

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

There are a couple of English services--Catholic and Protestant.

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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 can get by without too much, but I speak the language and I think I have had a rich experience getting to know people better and connecting.

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

To a degree, as sidewalks and ramps are not everywhere if that is necessary.

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Transportation:

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

Depends on your situation. There are some reputable taxi drivers recommended, but for the most part people use their own cars if they are coming from another country.

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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?

You can get around without an SUV in the city. Some families if they have two cars will have at least one SUV and another sedan. You definitely need at least one SUV to get around outside of the city on the fun trips to the beaches, 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?

Yes, it works pretty well for us. Quickly installed. You can bring an Apple TV type device, and stream videos no problem.

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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?

I brought an unlocked phone. Buy phone cards with minutes on them as you go here in the city.

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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?

Yes, there are a few high-quality vets.

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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?

There are a few options in the embassy for spouses. Some people telecommute back to a job in the U.S. Otherwise, it is not easy as there is no bilateral work agreement with Mozambique and the U.S.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes, there are tons of ways to get involved as a volunteer, up to whatever point you would like. There is a Service Learning department at the American International School who has contacts with over 20 organizations, and as a parent or as a citizen you can connect with them to get started.

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

It gets hot here, so light clothing for most of the year except a light sweater in June/July. You might need a few suits if you are working in an office, but for the most part nice casual will get you far.

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Health & Safety:

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

Lock you car doors around town. Park in an area that will not be subject to having car parts removed (once in a while you hear this happens). Don't be flashy to draw attention. I move around town freely, I drive, and I just keep my eyes open.

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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?

We take malaria meds, and sleep under nets. We came with a child who has a medical condition, and we have been happy with the access both in Maputo (ICOR) and in South Africa so nearby. You would be medically evacuated for surgeries to South Africa.

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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?

It is pretty good, occasional burning of trash in some areas, which has bothered some families, but overall it is fine. We are on the ocean, and the breezes help.

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

Food allergies are not something people are educated about here for the most part. You will have to monitor this yourself, likely making sure you know exactly what goes into every dish by reading labels. If my child had a food allergy, it would be challenging. Peanuts are everywhere, for example.

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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?

Can be very hot and humid during our summer months. You would be amazed how you adapt, and you start to think it is "cold" in June/July when the low is in the 60s.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are about 4 International Schools that people use, plus a Montessori option. Our kids attend the American International School. They have enjoyed their time there, and we have been happy with their experience. It is slightly teacher-dependent on how your year goes. There will be a new director of the school in August 2017, which could prove to be a refreshing change. There are lots of good after-school activities, and the swimming program is very strong.

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

AISM is trying to do more, but their reputation so far has been that they are not prepared to provide support. That said, there is a new learning support person in primary who is making huge strides in this area.

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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?

Yes, there are a few good options for preschools. Mostly for younger kids, nannies or "babas" are hired to care for them.

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

Yes...soccer, basketball, swimming, dance, art, etc. from the American School.

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Expat Life:

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

Fairly large expat community, and morale is high for most. If you come knowing this post is what you make it, you will love it. You cannot have a list in your mind of what is missing. You will find lots of positive things here with the right outlook.

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

For anyone...living along the Indian Ocean and traveling to the beaches or to Kruger Park in South Africa are some things everyone loves. Finding green space for kids to run free usually requires a long weekend trip, but there are some options, including the AISM school grounds after hours. Going to long lunches at some of the restaurants is fun. Not an expert on the nightlife scene, but there is one.

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

Yes, especially considering African posts in general, this one is friendly to expats who are in the LGBT community.

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

Gender equality is an area that needs attention, for sure, but women are the backbone of families here.

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

We love going on safari in Kruger Park. Our kids have gained a new appreciation for nature and wildlife. They are also better world citizens now, paying attention to the need for caring for our planet and being generous to those in need. We have traveled to lots of beaches, gone scuba diving, and have loved these trips. It has been a very family-friendly post.

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

Lots of options for artwork, handicrafts, etc.

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

Looking at the Indian Ocean everyday.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

More about the restrictions of the non-bilateral work agreement for spouses.

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

Yes, definitely. The friends we have made and the experience for our kids have impacted us in ways that have made our lives more enriched.

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

Winter coats.

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4. But don't forget your:

Shoes--plan ahead and buy for kids in advance. Birthday presents for kids' parties (stock up).

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

Mia Couto is a great start.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

I wish we could stay another year!

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