Khartoum, Sudan Report of what it's like to live there - 05/12/09

Personal Experiences from Khartoum, Sudan

Khartoum, Sudan 05/12/09

Background:

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

No. 5th expat experience.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2006-2008.

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

Spouse of diplomat.

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

7-8 hours on KLM and Lufthansa to Amsterdam or Frankfurt.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We were a small family but had a huge house with a nice garden. You find either small, modest apartments or very large houses. Not very much in between.

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

Fresh fruits and veggies at the open air market were of pretty good quality (especially the tomatoes!) I ate so many kilos of nice tomatoes while there that now I am spoiled for life! The cost per kilo is comparable to other places. Not cheaper, not more. Other imported goods (cheeses, breakfast cereals) are double, if not triple the price in Europe or U.S.

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

Furniture for those huge houses! If you have a container, load it up with your favorite items. You will save money in the end. Many speciality items can be found at the supermarkets (Amarat Center and Mawra Center), but at a cost. I was amazed to find Dijon mustard readily available - but it cost more.

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

Lots of fast food options. We would often order from Italy Pizza in Riyad and they would deliver.

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

Mosquitoes were annoying in the evening. Other than that, your typical household insects (ants, flies...) weren't really a problem.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic pouch.

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

Mostly Eritrean, Ehtiopian or Filipina. 250-300 USD per month.

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

I took an elliptical trainer with me, but there are some small gyms at hotels or the tennis club

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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?

Cash economy. Never used credit cards.

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

I know they existed, but not sure about details.

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

Local press is in English. No international papers. Satellite TV, yes. I don't remember cost, but it definitely wasn't cheap.

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

A little Arabic always helps.

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

Many.

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Transportation:

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

I took a taxi once. Scarey experience!

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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?

We had a Toyota Land Cruiser, but there were many who drove Toyota Corollas. Roads were mostly unpaved and only for desert excursions, I highly recommend a 4X4. The most common brand of car is Toyota. Easy to find parts and get serviced. Carjackings weren't an issue.

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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. We paid equivalent of 65 euros for a pretty good high-speed connection.

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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?

Take a phone with you and get a local phone number. Very easy.

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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?

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

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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?

With international organizations, yes.

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

Very conservative. Men don't wear shorts. Women cover legs and upper arms.

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Health & Safety:

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

Moderate. Dust is the major issue.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

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

Khartoum was a very calm city. I never felt threatened in any way taking normal everyday precautions as you would in any city.

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

For serious health issues it is better to leave Sudan.

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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. Hot. Hot. Most of the year. A bit of a break in December and January.

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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 knew of three: American, French and a British-system one called KICS. I had no personal experience with any.

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

Not sure, although I don't think there would be too many options.

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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?

Gina's Daycare was the most reputable when I lived there, although I had no personal experience.

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

I think through the Greek Club or through the schools there were tennis or football (soccer) lessons.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Pretty good if you are able to leave regurlay to recharge (every 2-3 months).

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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?

Mostly entertaining at home. There are a couple of nice open-air restaurants--Universal Coffee and a Lebanese restaurant in Khartoum -- but I can't remember the name!

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

It was a nice, quiet place for young families. I also know there was a very lively nightlife. I haven't been to as many parties since!

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

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

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

Driving out to the desert, visiting pyramids, hanging out at the pool

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

Artwork, travel.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes, if your housing is paid for.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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

tank tops, mini skirts and winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

linen items, favorite magazines, books, DVDs, and board games.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Khartoum is a hardship post in many ways, but I met very kind, warm people; and at the end of the day, it's the people you meet along the way that will make or break your stay.

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