Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania Report of what it's like to live there - 03/02/14
Personal Experiences from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No we also lived in Asia.
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?
California. We use the KLM flight to Amsterdam and then direct from Amsterdam to LA.
3. How long have you lived here?
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?
Most are stand alone houses; some in compounds and some not. Most are a nice size. Some have large yards, but some do not. We happen to live in one of the smaller houses and that was okay with us. We also have a small yard, but thankful we have some grass and plants. Please do not come to post thinking you will be receiving a palatial house. Yes, some people do receive a large house and yard, and yes, there are some with pools, but that isn't everyone! Some lucky people have Indian Ocean views, but most people do not. Everyone from the embassy lives on the peninsula and commute time is usually about 15 minutes (without traffic). Easy commute, but watch for dala dalas, Bajaj drivers, motorbikes, bicycles and pedestrians.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Groceries in Dar cost a fortune but you can find most everything you want/need if you go to a couple of stores. Canned items are really quite expensive. Do a consumables order if you use a lot of canned items. There is a great butcher shop with wonderful cuts of meat but you will pay for it. Chicken breasts run about US$15 a kilo. Minced beef is about US$10 a kilo. There is also a great deli that imports meat from Germany. They get great sandwich ham and turkey and cheeses but that will cost you about US$30 a kilo. The fresh produce in town is reasonably priced. Locally produced yogurt is inexpensive and pretty good.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
More insect repellant.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
KFC is now in Dar, but it's very expensive and there are great restaurants that are not too expensive. To go out to a nice dinner with drinks will probably cost around US$50 for 2 people.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Mosquitoes that carry malaria and dengue! I know snakes are not insects, but Dar also has green and black mamba snakes. Very dangerous! I have only seen one in my neighbor's yard about 1 year ago, but still very scary!
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Through the embassy - DPO.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Lots of availability, but I have no idea how much the wages are.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
The Embassy has a gym and it's free. Nice gyms in town run over US$100 a month per person.
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?
Don't use the ATMs in town! I have known some people who did and their account information was stolen.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Christian, Catholic, LDS...
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
None. Most Tanzanians in Dar speak English. If you would like the better price on the bunch of bananas your eyeing or on a fresh tuna, Kiswahili is a must!
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Very difficult to live here if one has a disability.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
I would not recommend taking local trains or buses. Only use a taxi driver that comes recommended by a friend/colleague.
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?
4 x 4 if you plan on going out of town a lot. A regular sedan is fine in town.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes (not that fast), but expensive. We pay about US$100 a month.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Embassy will issue cell phones. For family members, it's cheap and easy to get a cell phone and buy minutes.
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?
No. There are kennels available. Notify the embassy if you plan on bringing in a pet. They can help with the paperwork.
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?
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
At work, it depends on one's office. Most do not wear a suit and tie everyday. In public, dressing modestly is always appropriate.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Yes. All the houses have a guard, security bars, and alarms. Always be aware of your surroundings and don't ever carry a bag/purse/backpack while walking on the street. Many people have been hurt when thieves drive by in a car and try to snatch the bag from an unsuspecting walker. Never carry huge amounts of cash and keep a good hold of your smart phone.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Yes, malaria and dengue. We are fortunate to have an embassy doctor. IST clinic is also very good.
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?
No bad air quality where most of the expats live. Sometimes, a neighbor will burn trash, but the smoke doesn't last very long.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Hot and humid. June, July, and August are the nicest months when the humidity goes down a bit.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Most kids go to IST or Dar International Academy. Some prefer DIA over IST. Do research and talk with parents with school-aged kids before making a decision.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
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?
There are preschools available. Many people with small children will hire a nanny.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Yes, through the school.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Large size and morale is good.
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?
Yacht club, beaches, dinners.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Yes. It seems everyone can have a good tour here.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
No experience with this, but I don't think so.
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Some religious violence both in Dar and in Zanzibar.
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Safaris and spending time on the beach. Eating the yummy tropical fruit and seafood is also nice.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
If you are into water sports-sailing, diving, snorkeling, boating then this post is for you! There are also cinemas, paint ball, and a driving range in town. There are no hiking opportunities in Dar, but there are some about 4-5 hours out of town.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Wood carvings and chests.
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
The weather is hot and beautiful. The safaris are expensive, but fantastic. Friendly people, gorgeous beaches, great seafood, and tropical fruit. Yes, one can save some money, but groceries are expensive.
10. Can you save money?
Yes, but don't miss out on the safari opportunities. Also, trips down to Cape Town can get a expensive.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
Bad power problems (invest in some good surge protectors) and bad-smelling water. Also, the chicken tastes like fish.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes. I am glad we came. We have some wonderful memories, but 3 years was enough. If you are really not into water sports, you might get bored here.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Winter coats and boots. You can also leave behind a sense of urgency. This is Tanzania and things run at a slower pace.
4. But don't forget your:
Patience, swim suits, sunscreen, and sense of adventure. Don't sweat the small stuff and you'll be fine.