Arusha, Tanzania Report of what it's like to live there - 11/05/08
Personal Experiences from Arusha, Tanzania
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No. I have been based in Shanghai (one year) and Taiwan (6months) before that.
2. How long have you lived here?
I was there for two years.
3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:
I left from NZ and it is a long trip. The time it takes depends on tranfersin Dubai or South Africa (depending which way you come).
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
There is a mixture of secure compound type living and villa type housing. Prices for a decent place in a nice area are very high due to the UN ICTR.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
There is a Shoprite (expensive) and a number of Cash'n'Acrries etc and it is possible to buy most things (thanks again to the ICTR). Veg and meat is cheap. Meat King is a really good butcher and you can get good lobster from the fish shop in the Shoprite compound.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Fancy bottles of booze and interesting/hard to get foods.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There is a Steers (from South Africa) and a local fast food place called Mcmoodies. There are a good number of decent restaurants in lodges, hotels and expat bars. Onsea House is good for fine dining, but my favourite was Nicks Bar for some BBQ chicken and beer.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Courrier it unless you don"t mind it being lost, stolen and broken.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Cheap. US$60+ a month. The quality is often pretty low. You also need to have a night guard for your house.
3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
The machine at Standard Charter works most of the time and there is a Barklays. Most lodges take credit card, but check first. However, cash is king!
4. What English-language religious services are available locally?
I would imagine so. There is a good mix of religions and races in Arusha.
5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
There is DSTV with satelite internet etc, it is exensive. but there is a local alternative called Milan Cable that also offers internet. It isn't as good, but it is loads cheaper.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Tanzanians appreciate you knowing the language and the common man doesn't often speak English, so it is a good idea to know as much as possible. It can also make being pulled over, shopping, fixing something etc etc cheaper and easier.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
It would be a real hassle.
1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?
It really depends how you feel. Mostly the left, but I always used to get amazed by the smashes and near misses that I would see.
2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Daladala are the local minie buses and the are very cheap, but sometimes the driving is a bit scary. Taxis are cheap, if you know what the going rate is. Try and use taxi drivers that you know when travelling at night.
3. 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?
Toyota Landcruiser, Suzuki Vitara, Landrover TDI 110 etc. Toyota"s are good as parts are easy to get. There is a certified Toyota garage, but many people use Day and Night Auto garage. It is important to use an honest garage as they will steal parts and buy gas from well known places as diesel quality can be very low.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
It is cheaper to bring one, but you can get them there. I like the Nokia with the torch on it as there is often no light. The cheaper the better. Pre paid sim cards are cheap. Vodacom or Celtel, but it is a good idea to get both. If you are in the bush often you should probably get a Thuraya satellite phone.
3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?
The phone system is lousy and expensive. It is best to use Skype.
1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
There are a couple of options and I have heard that they are ok, but I don't know what the names are.
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, but they are hard to get and the pay is often low. It really depends on who you know and what your background is.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Tanzanians are very formal in their dress and being clean and tidy is a good idea, but it depends on your job.
Health & Safety:
1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?
Good, but there are diesel fumes in the city and it can get very dusty.
2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Normal African city, but there did seem to be an upwards trend while I was there. Crime usually peaks around Christmas when people need extra money.
3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Selian Hospitals are ok. It is a good idea to get a flying doctors card and have insurance incase you need to be airlifted to Nairobi, South Africa or Europe. A decent travel medicine (tropical) book is a good idea. Many of the drugs sold in Tanzania are fake, so it is best to use a well known pharmacy like Moona's or bring your own.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
It gets a bit chilly in winter. There can be heavy rain. Sumer is pretty hot. there can be no rain. Nothing too extreme.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
I don't have kids, but the ISM seemed to be of a decent Western standard.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
Again, no idea.
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?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Very large. There is the ICTR, more than 2000 NGOs (many local) the tourism business and a load of other organisations. The ICTR will be leaving eventually, but I am sure that something will fill its place.
2. Morale among expats:
Mostly very good. Sometimes Arusha can feel a bit gossipy and there are many frustrations. But most people have a few drinks at the end of the day and laugh it off.
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?
Lots of drinking! Parties, dinners etc etc. There are a few great bars and night clubs like Colobus, Via via, Masai Camp etc and hundreds of local bars. There is a little bit of a pecking order to the expat community, but it is mostly supportive and friendly.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Yes. Many of my friends had wives/husbands and children and loved it. Help is cheap (possibly unreliable) and when time and money permits there are loads of fantastic places to visit.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
I only knew one openly gay guy there (if you go you will also eventually get to know him) and I thought he was pretty brave. Tanzanian society is not gay friendly. However, that is not to say that there aren't gays there.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Not really. Colonialism and poverty effects how white people are viewed.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Drink, safari, Zanzibar, drink, mountain climbing, 4x4 driving, drink, Nairobi, drink.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Tanzanite, beaded things, carvings, kanga (cloth), Konyagi.
9. Can you save money?
If you are on a decent expat package. It is expensive to have a Western standard of living. The ICTR and various NGOs there have created a false economy.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes, I miss my friends very much and the lifestyle and experience is great.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Will to get anything done.
3. But don't forget your:
Relaxed attitude to everything.
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
7. Do you have any other comments?
Tanzanians are fantastic people, but life is hard.