Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania Report of what it's like to live there - 11/10/22
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?
Nope. Papua New Guinea, China, Qatar, Oman, and France.
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?
Chicago. 25 plus hours. Travel is soo long! We go through Amsterdam, but Doha is highly recommended, too.
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?
Compounds and stand alone houses all on the Masaki peninsula. Commute times are 8-12 minutes to the embassy and 2-20 minutes for the most commonly attended international school IST (two different campuses).
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Fruits and vegetables are fresh, delicious and moderately priced here. One of the highlights. Anything imported is stupid expensive. Grocery stores are expensive compared to local markets (which are more hassle than most will put themselves through weekly), but cola evens it out. If you have real food preferences bring them in your HHE, suitcase or mail it through DPO.
3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
The variety here is awesome! Fancy Tanzanian foods have an Indian flare, but daily foods are ugali, beans, greens, veg and fresh salads. Mishkaki (bbq) is common, but mostly viewed as a treat by the locals. International food options are great! Ethiopean, Chinese, Korean, Italian, Thai, American-esque, Indian.
4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
We live in Africa. There are bugs. Lots of bugs.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
DPO and pouch.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Household help is very affordable. $300-ish a month. People commonly have drivers, house keepers, Nannies, cooks, athletic trainers.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Awesome running groups!! Kayaking groups, scuba diving, yoga, personal trainers. There is a gymnastics gym, mixed martial arts gym and other organized sports.
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?
Yes. Safe to use. That said, this is the first place in a long time where I have needed to have cash on hand just in case, because there are those ransoms places.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
For daily living on the peninsula it isn’t needed, but people are so delighted by a foreigner using Swahili and it makes encounters much more enjoyable and advantageous. Embassy offers classes. I took six months of classes and have loved using the language.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Bajajis are fun, easy and 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?
High-clearance, 4-wheel drive. Poor roads or flooding.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Internet install is easy and fast. Internet is pretty good. Trouble with the provider is to be expected, but not too common.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
We have a home country plan and local provider. Both are beneficial.
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?
A lot of people work in the embassy. Lots of available EFM jobs.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
A little creativity and a willingness to organize and you can find opportunities to serve everywhere! Professional level volunteer work is likely more challenging for diplomats.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
In public places locals are mostly more conservative, but foreigners do anything.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Don’t be stupid, you are in a big(ish) city. Otherwise you are fine. The people are delightful.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Dengue is real. I haven’t heard many malaria reports and many people manage medicine and bug nets differently.
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?
Ok. Trash burning is stinky, but not bad.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
If you have bad lungs the tropical climate is tricky.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
It is certainly humid, but actual heat temperatures don’t get that bad. It is always fine in the shade I guess it is all perspective, I have lived in the Persian gulf region and that is like hades hot. The cool season (May- August) is wonderful!!
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
My kids have gone to IST elementary and secondary. I think the school is wonderfully holistic in its approach. Uses map testing and the pyp/myp program. Campuses are beautiful and open aired. Teachers are from everywhere and top notch.
2. 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?
Preschool options abound. Our youngest attends bush babies, a Montessori style preschool. We all love it.
3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
The school provides a lot!
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Expat community on the peninsula is great! I run, do green initiatives through the school and kayak with friends from all over the world. I think most at post have high morale.
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?
The yacht club is basically the community center. Expensive, but worth it for all the groups, events and clean beach access.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Best for families I think. My single friends have a hard time finding people to date or hang out with.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
We have made local friends through church, but they aren’t besties. We don’t hang out throughout the week for work schedule differences and the economic divide in lifestyles. Even still they are fun people!
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Nope. They struggle with basic women rights. They are many years from having homosexuality becoming legalized.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Gender equality is certainly a thing. Yikes. Foreign women don’t have it so bad, but I hurt for the women here.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Oh man, the in country travel is awesome. Lushoto, Zanzibar, tarangire… the snorkeling is fantastic, running groups are the best I have ever had, food is great, sailing, kayaking. Food is great!
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Baskets, Kitenge fabrics, carvings and paintings are big. The markets can be really fun if you have a light heart about them. People love to be playful here.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
No dishwashers! Ugh! No real traffic rules followed, the invasive crows are awful. The fruit is so great. The sunrises/sunsets are amazing and attainable time wise since we are so near the equator. Life is really lovely here.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Cold weather stuff can be kept in a closet for travel back home. No rock climbing here :(, so no gear. Camping is complicated, but possible for the brave.
4. But don't forget your:
Open mind, sandal collection, inflatable sup and kayak.
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
Get an east Africa bird book and Indian Ocean creatures id book.