Lusaka, Zambia Report of what it's like to live there - 08/22/14

Personal Experiences from Lusaka, Zambia

Lusaka, Zambia 08/22/14


1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, Caribbean and Latin American countries.

View All Answers

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?

Washington DC - 20 hours with a stopover in London, Amsterdam, or South Africa.

View All Answers

3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

View All Answers

4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Government.

View All Answers

Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Single family homes that are gates and maybe 7-15 minutes away. A few compounds - at least one seems to have no yard privacy and another does.

View All Answers

2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Availability of groceries is relatively good - but pricey. US$4-$5 for a can of tuna, US$2-$2.50 for fetuccine, US$15 for a bottle of extra virgin olive oil. If a part a of the American community, you can buy from the commissary but that is expensive too for many things and there is mostly a stock of canned and boxed "staples."

View All Answers

3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Olive oil, soy sauce, nut butters.

View All Answers

4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

South African Fast food chains, a KFC, Subway. There are some okay restaurants - not a single spectacular one and prices can range from US$4 for a chicken schwarma to US$7 for fish and chips to US$20 for trout and couscous.

View All Answers

5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Cockroaches, ants, mosquitoes outside of Lusaka - the real risk for malaria is outside of the capital.

View All Answers

Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO or Pouch.

View All Answers

2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Widely available and is about US$200/month if they are experienced with American families.

View All Answers

3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes - cost varies and there is even a Cross-fit group and a former Olympian that runs multi-week boot camps.

View All Answers

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 have not had an issue using my credit card in the grocery store or restaurants although I prefer to use cash. MasterCard is not easy to use in ATMs

View All Answers

5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Tons - Pentecostal, Baptist, Catholic, Ba'hai(sp?), even Buddhist.

View All Answers

6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None but people appreciate it when you can greet in local languages. English is the official language.

View All Answers

7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Um yes - there are no sidewalks.

View All Answers


1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Not safe and not affordable. If using a reliable taxi driver I think the price is about US$10 each way.

View All Answers

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?

Any type although most people have SUVs.

View All Answers

Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Not high speed and about US$80/month.

View All Answers

2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

MTN, Zamtel, or Airtel are fine.

View All Answers

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?


View All Answers

2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Tons - especially with HIV affected people.

View All Answers

3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

At work - business casual to business and in public - casual.

View All Answers

Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Not really although there have been reports of carjackings and thefts from homes - not the violent crime you hear about in Nairobi or Johannesburg.

View All Answers

2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Quality of medical care is low.

View All Answers

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?

Very dry and dusty - it bothers some of my family members but not all; It is bad when people start burning grass.

View All Answers

4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

In May it starts getting cool and in June and July it is maybe 70s F during the day and 40s F at night. August is windy and the temperature ranges from 50-80F maybe, September it warms up, October is super hot, November the rain comes and lasts until March/April with 80s F for highs and 70s F for lows.

View All Answers

Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are a few schools - for ease my children are at AISL. The elementary schools is using the IB program and many American parents complain that their children aren't learning enough. I always wonder what those same parents would say if their children were strictly being taught to pass tests and not much critical thinking or creativity encouraged. That said, I wish the math curriculum was more rigorous and incorporated more rote learning.

View All Answers

2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Not many.

View All Answers

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 not many options but I've heard of three who people really like it and the cost is about US$4,000/year.

View All Answers

4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes through the school and outside - soccer, tennis, basketball, volleyball.

View All Answers

Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Fairly large and generally good.

View All Answers

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?

BBQs and getting together with friends.

View All Answers

3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good for everyone although kind of boring.

View All Answers

4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Not at all.

View All Answers

5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not overwhelming issues.

View All Answers

6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Lots of families with young children.

View All Answers

7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Many expats like to go camping or on safari. There is the Hash group, BBQs, movie theatres, Alliance Francais.

View All Answers

8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Purses made from plastic bags.

View All Answers

9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?


View All Answers

10. Can you save money?

Yeah unless you're traveling all the time or just HAVE to eat like "typical" Americans with all the processed food.

View All Answers

Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That the art scene is essentially non-existent and it is so expensive to go to nice lodges and most safari stuff requires 6+ hour drives.

View All Answers

2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?


View All Answers

3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Preconceived notion that you will be living in a culturally rich African country.

View All Answers

4. But don't forget your:

Good manners and patience - Zambians are into greetings (long ones!).

View All Answers

Subscribe to our newsletter

New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More