Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania Report of what it's like to live there - 07/01/22
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. This was my fifth African post, after doing several EU posts.
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?
East coast USA. It’s just under 24 hours away.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. 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?
The housing is usually large villas either on a compound of other embassy houses or stand alones. They are large, usually quite dark, but pretty nice houses. African houses generally need constant maintenance but that is part of the fun of living in Africa.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
You can get hold of everything for a price. Imported food is expensive. You’re best off of you can find a local alternative to your tried and tested brand that you recognize. If you follow a quirky diet your life will get mega expensive. I’ve seen soy milk for sale for $15 a carton. You’ll do well adjusting to a local diet.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
I shipped a lot of food and I’m glad I did because it would have been expensive, but consumables are no longer a thing so learn to live without. I always bring back a cooler of cheese every time I travel.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
They have KFC, lots of pizza places, Lebanese, Chinese, Korean, American classic, Mexican. Local food is a French fry omelette (chips mayai), meat on a stick, rice, beans, bbq chicken. You can get all sorts of food in a restaurant or delivered to your door.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Nothing not usual to the rest of Africa - cockroaches, ants, the occasional snake (rarely poisonous but everyone will swear it is deadly and try to kill it).
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Dpo. I would avoid local mail. I’ve used DHL before with success
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Plentiful and cheap. People employ nannies, housekeepers, drivers, gardeners, pet walkers, cooks. Usually you can employ someone full time and pay around $250 a month.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There are gyms. They are likely expensive. Body fuel gym seems to be a favorite. Also coliseum gym is popular. Other people have a trainer that comes to their house.
There are thousands of running groups around the peninsular too.
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?
I use a credit card. Never had any problems. ATMs are around. I hate paying their charges so don’t use them.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
If you stay on the peninsular you don’t need any Swahili, although people definitely appreciate it.
Down town it really helps and out in the country at least learn the basics or it will be a challenge.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Oh yes. Most definitely, although home nurses would be quite affordable!
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Bajajis are cheap and fun and safe. Taxis are plentiful and also quite cheap.
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?
Big 4x4 if you want to drive out of town. Around town something with enough clearance for the mega road bumps and potholes.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes it is. It’s pretty good. Sometimes goes out but is mostly reliable. We got ours installed the day we moved in. It was very easy.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Get a local sim. They are very cheap. I pay no more than $12 a month for my phone.
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?
There are vets for routine care. I don’t think they are good for animals that are actually ill. In that scenario you’re pretty much on your own.
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 teachers. Otherwise your choice is work in the embassy or don’t work.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Not really. You have to buy a very expensive work visa whether you’re paid or not so to do voluntary work you’re going to have to pay.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Of course there are times to wear more business suits for meetings etc and balls and formals for even more formal stuff. Mostly it’s hot and sweaty and suits aren’t great for that.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Nothing out of the ordinary for a relatively wealthy population of people living in an impoverished country. - bag snatching, phone snatching, etc.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
We’re lucky in Tanzania because COVID doesn’t exist here (that’s what the government has been claiming anyway!)
Malaria is real
Dengue is real
Aga Khan hospital is not terrible but mostly for any big issues you will be med evac’d
Local doctors for routine care are totally fine in my opinion.
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?
On the peninsular pretty good unless someone decides to burn their trash which isn’t that often.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
If I had a real food allergy I wouldn’t trust them to guarantee something was free of something. I don’t know, this isn’t Europe. Use your common sense. There really aren’t the rules for following food warnings here at all. If you have a deadly food allergy I’d probably avoid Africa in general.
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
Not that I’ve heard.
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Hot. 100 degrees pretty much daily. rainy season twice a year when it buckets down, and then hot and humid again.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
IST has been great.
There are some other options. DSA and Latham and a French school. People seem happy with school
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
IST has a good special needs program
3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Yes. IST rolls them in to after school activities. All the major stuff like football (world football) tennis, swimming, basketball, volleyball etc.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
It’s large. I think the moral is excellent.
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?
Most socializing is at houses, on the ocean, on the beach and at restaurants around town.
Dar Yacht Club is expensive but worth it. It’s the center of the expat life and is a great opportunity to get on the water, learn to sail, enjoy the beach, own a boat. It’s a lovely quality of life.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Singles don’t have much of a dating pool. Families seem to do better.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
I don’t know many people who make friends with locals. They are very friendly but it’s hard to find someone that matches your socio economic situation. Either these friends will be hitting you for money or the wealthy Tanzanians are living the life of a mega rich government official.
However there is a huge expat community that is easy to dive in to and many clubs to meet people.
There don’t seem to be many ethnic prejudices and people mix in well within the expat group.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Only if you enjoy living in the closet. It’s illegal to be gay in TZ
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Ethnic problems - no
Gender - women aren’t equal in TZ culture, although the Muzungu (foreigner) may get a bit more Leigh way than others.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Learning to sail, kayaking, meeting friends, being within a 1/4 mile of the ocean, quick weekends in Zanzibar, shopping in busy African markets, being in pretty much the only country that completely ignored Covid and enjoying the freedom to just carry on without lockdowns or worries while the rest of the world suffered.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Day trips to zanzibar.
Walking the dog on coco beach
Walking around the peninsular at 6am.
Eating Mishkaki (meat on a stick) from a local food place
Hiking to waterfalls in Leshoto
Paddling boarding before work in the week.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
There are lots of local handicrafts, baskets, zanzibar chests, local fabrics and fashions. Local art.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Being next to the Indian Ocean. You can swim every day if you want to. It’s easily accessible if you’re a dyc member. Learning to sail, owning a boat. It’s easy to find a beer with an ocean view at the end of a work day
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
Just how great it would be to be next to the ocean.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Wool sweaters and mittens
4. But don't forget your:
Swim suit, life vest, surf board, SUP, kayak
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
The royal tour is a new movie about Tanzania.
6. Do you have any other comments?
Dar has been a fabulous tour. If you break out of the embassy crowd and mix with the expat community you’ll find it a really rich experience. Don’t limit yourself to staying within the embassy.