Niamey, Niger Report of what it's like to live there - 08/24/22

Personal Experiences from Niamey, Niger

Niamey, Niger 08/24/22

Background:

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

No. I have lived in a large metropolitan EUR city.

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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?

Home is the east coast of the US. Almost everyone comes the Paris but you can come through Istanbul and Addis. It's about 6 hours from Paris to Niamey (direct).

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3. How long have you lived here?

20 months

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4. What years did you live here?

2020-2023

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5. 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?

Embassy housing is huge but very... basic. Strange kitchens and bathrooms. All have pools. Some have large lawns. They are slowly upgrading the housing pool.

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

You can get anything you need just certainly not the variety or brands we're used to in the US. Green vegetables are hard to find.

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

I brought Dawn dish soap, TP and paper towels and Kleenex, salad dressings, Hellmans mayo.

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

There is one service that delivers from a few restaurants: Indian, Mexican, burgers but it's no Uber Eats.

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

Termites happen but GSO takes care of them right away.

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Daily Life:

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

There are no local postal services. We use a DPO that arrives once a week.

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

Almost all embassy personnel have housekeepers (the dust!), gardeners, cook, and (if they have kids) nannies. Very available and very affordable.

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

The new embassy has a small gym and huge pool. Hotels have gyms.

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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 are not widely accepted but some of the larger grocery stores take them. It's a cash economy.

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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?

I get by with very little French but it is a handicap. There are lessons at the embassy.

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

YES YES YES

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Transportation:

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

Local buses and taxis are here but we are forbidden to use them for security reasons.

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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?

Only Toyotas. Only 4-wheel drive.

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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" would be stretching it. We usually have it in place for newcomers. Its expensive, almost $200/month.

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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 just use the work phone unless I'm home and on wi-fi.

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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?

Don't know. There is a vet but I haven't used her.

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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?

Embassy has lots of EFM jobs. Don't know of anyone that works on the local economy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Every kind.

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

Formal dress for Marine Ball only. Embassy is pretty business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Very much so. Google it before thinking of coming.

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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 medical care in local economy. All we have is the Med Unit (and 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?

Bad. Harmattan is extremely bad.

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

Everyone here gets stomach bugs, eColi etc. All fruit must be rinsed in bleach solution.

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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)?

Isolation, depression, stress.

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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?

HOT - hotter than I've ever known in the summer. Bearable for a few months in the winter.

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Schools & Children:

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

American School is next door to the Embassy. I have no kids here.

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Expat Life:

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

We are in survival mode together.

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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?

Only very late night dance clubs that very few Americans brave. Activities at the school. Mostly gatherings at homes.

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

Definitely not.

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

Can't travel in-country at all.

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

Nope

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

Yes. Silver, carvings, weavings, brass trinkets.

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

There are none.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I'm glad I didn't know more.

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

Never in a million years.

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

Nice sedan cars, bicycles, hopes and dreams

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4. But don't forget your:

sun block, Deet, plans for R&Rs to get out of here

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5. Do you have any other comments?

The pay is good.

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