Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania Report of what it's like to live there - 06/19/10
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 - Europe and South America.
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?
VA is home - travel options are limited, as TZ does not have a national carrier. People must travel on KLM via Amsterdam, or Swiss Air via Zurich
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Spouse of US Govt employee.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Single-family homes are the norm for embassy personnel, but some expats live in apartments. Rents are outrageous ($4,000-5,000/mo) but most homes are comfortable. The vast majority have generators, as power outages are frequent.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Fresh fruits and vegetables are priced within reason; canned goods and other such items are imported from the middle east and south africa, which makes them expensive. Dairy products are very costly.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Bring all your liquids. If you don't have embassy mail, bring clothing and toys, too, as shopping is limited.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There are a few hamburger places, a couple of subways, and lots of Italian, Indian and local restaurants. You'll pay what you would in the US
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Tons of mosquitoes and other tropical bugs - a yellow fever vaccination is a must (among others) prior to arriving.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
The embassy only has pouch mail, so sending things out is difficult. You can receive everything (there is a weight/size limit) except liquids.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Domestic help is common and inexpensive ,but watch out for theft.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
The embassy has a small gym and a club. There are other gyms, but they are extremely expensive (Colosseum is currently $150/month).
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?
There have been recent scams with the Barclays' ATMs -- precaution should be taken. We use the bank at the embassy (Citibank) and have never had a problem.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Yes - various Christian sects and Muslim.
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
None - Tanzanians in the city are bilingual, speaking Kiswahili and English.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes, as is the case with most third-world countries.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Taxis are expensive, and daladalas are cheap but crowded and stinky. There are little 3-wheeled carts that are cost-effective but dangerous.
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?
Roads are a complete mess and are not a priority of the local government. You will drive on many dirt streets, and potholes are the norm. 4-wheel-drives is necessary -- you don't want to bring a low-clearance car.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Internet is still limited and expensive (4G for $85/month).
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Cell phones are common - pay as you go cards are the norm - texting is okay, but calling is really expensive.
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?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
No kennels, but there are a couple of good vets.
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?
No - work visas outside the embassy are impossible to come by.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Yes - theft at knifepoint is on the rise. Unfortunately, walking along the beach is not recommended due to crime. Crime inside the homes is common, but most often it is a result of unsupervised hired help. It can be avoided with monitoring.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Poor medical care - you will be medevac'd for most serious injuries --- to Kenya or SA
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?
If you live on or near the peninsula, as most expats/govt employees do, the ocean breeze blows away most of the dust/pollution that is otherwise prevalent further inland.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Weather is hot and humid most of the year (85-95 F) with a slight break during the winter months of June-August. Rainy season is April and May.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
There is a small French school on the peninsula. HOPAC is a Christian school that is a short distance away (but can take forever to get to in traffic). And IST is the international school. It is divided into two campuses, with preschool-5th grade at one the older kids at another. Teaching is generally good these days, with only the math program being weak. A lack of sporting facilities is the big drawback.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
IST does actually try to accommodate very minor special needs. Some differentiation in instruction in the upper grades can also be seen.
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 many preschools in the area (Little Scholars, Bushbabies, etc.).
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
There are no community or city sports programs. Kids get their sports through the schools.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Large with many nationalities, as there are so many aid groups here.
2. Morale among expats:
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?
Frequent bbq's and outdoor events.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It seems to be a good city for everyone, as the community is fairly active.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
There don't seem to be
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
If you like climbing, this is the place for you, with Mt Meru and Mt Kilimanjaro in the northern section of the country, plus beaches and safaris.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Wood crafts, tinga-tinga paintings, cloth.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
If you can afford the Yacht Club (currently $1500/family to join and $70 monthly) and if you can get membership, it has many opportunities for sailing, diving and fishing. Safaris and trips to Zanzibar are great fun but also costly.
11. Can you save money?
Strangely enough, No!
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
3. But don't forget your:
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
The Zanzibar Chest and East African travel guides.