Niamey, Niger Report of what it's like to live there - 07/30/19

Personal Experiences from Niamey, Niger

Niamey, Niger 07/30/19

Background:

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

Nope, not my first rodeo. I've lived in Istanbul, Turkey; Dakar, Senegal; Beijing, China; and, now, Niamey, Niger.

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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?

New York, New York (so nice, they named it twice!). Eight hours to CDG Paris and five hours to NIM Niamey.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Embassy.

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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 large (five bedroom suites), postage stamp yard, but with a pool. Mango, lime, papaya, and banana trees in yard.

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

Lots of shopping to do in different places. Cannot find everything in one place all the time. Decent choice of wine and cheese from France, fruits and vegetables are seasonal.

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

Liquids.

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

There are one or two good restaurants although I am not a restaurant-goer. Good places, some reasonable, some overpriced, all slow on the uptake regarding service.

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

Termites!! Not wood termites, although if they get hungry enough, they will eat your house.

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Daily Life:

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

Embassy pouch. Local = nightmare.

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

Household help is plentiful and cheap. Most people have a gardener who takes care of the pool and washes the car every day during the week. House maid and cook, if you want. Also, if you have children, nannies are available.

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

Not sure about outside the Embassy, but the Embassy has a tiny gym, not open to the public.

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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, this is a cash economy. Find a reputable bank ATM and you should be fine. Embassy offers cashier services to Embassy employees.

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

Yes, but don't know where.

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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?

One local language is French. My French is crappy, but I survived. So can you. Not sure about tutors.

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

Yes, difficult if not impossible, although you do see people with disabilities riding around in their wheelchairs.

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Transportation:

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

No, no, no, and no.

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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?

High-clearance vehicle as there are limited paved roads and the rainy season brings deep puddles (think Atlantic meets Pacific with Indian Ocean in the middle).

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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. DSTv is about US$200 a month, Canal+ about 44CFA per month. Not long to install.

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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 use an Embassy-provided phone.

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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, Dr. Baare is amazing but limited in what she can do. Any big problems with the animals and you will need to medevac them.

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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?

Jobs are opening up for spouses. No telecommuting as far as I know. Both full and part-time positions are available.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many, I am sure. Orphanages, women's shelters, etc.

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

Casual Business. Formal attire 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.

Yes, malaria is prevalent, tummy issues. Meds need to be taken to combat getting malaria.

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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?

Any serious medical issue will require medevac.

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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?

Air quality is fair to middling depending on the time of year.

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

Not the place to have environmental/food allergies.

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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)?

Morale, but no winter blues.

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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 and dry or hot and humid. The temperature can be as low as 65 and as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Expat Life:

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

Don't know of many outside the Embassy. Morale is half and half. Personally, I liked my time in Niamey.

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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?

Restaurants, neighborly visits, school visits, etc.

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

Good for couples. Not much for singles to do.

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

Sure. A few employees are gay and lesbian and had no problem here that I know of.

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

No.

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

None that I know. Yes, there is gender equality.

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

Seeing the wild giraffes, hippos, buying leather items, buying art, dunes, camels, etc.

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

Having clothing custom made for cheap, with African fabric!!

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

Can be a shopping post. Almost lost my shirt buying stuff.

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

Not sure if there are any advantages. Easy access to camel milk? Not sure.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, it is quite charming in its own way.

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

Winter coat, good shoes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Hobbies! You will be making your own entertainment.

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

None that I can think of.

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