Lusaka, Zambia Report of what it's like to live there - 03/07/09

Personal Experiences from Lusaka, Zambia

Lusaka, Zambia 03/07/09

Background:

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

No, we have lived in Accra, Cairo, and Bangladesh.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Through Europe; going through South Africa risks losing your luggage to thieves.

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

NGO.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There is not a great deal of traffic here. Some people complain that it took 20 minutes to get to work. Housing is generally within 5 to 15 kilometers of anything you need.

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

Groceries are very expensive. Meat and cheese especially are expensive. Sometimes the country will go through a several month spell where you cannot get certain items, and magically they reappear again. Everything, when available, is for a price.

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

A few more sweaters and specific foods that we like

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

There is a burger place and a few pizza places. No Western fast food places, though.

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

Mosquitos, putsifly, the normal African dudus.

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Daily Life:

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

We get our mail through our employer. Otherwise, I would not trust local mail services.

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

US$150-200.

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

Very few.

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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 are ATMs around and generally seem safe to use.

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

Yes, there are a number of churches.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, newspapers are cheap and DSTV is a bit more than US$100 a month.

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

None.

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

There are few sidewalks, no ramps, and I imagine it would be very difficult for someone with physical disabilities to get around.

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Transportation:

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

They are affordable, but really should not be used for safety and security reasons.

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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?

Some of the roads are poor and have potholes, especially outside of Lusaka. There is no reason to have an SUV inside Lusaka unless yo want it. For traveling outside Lusaka, and SUV is necessary.

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Phone & Internet:

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

High speed internet here is a dream. Internet access is expensive and slow when it is working, which is about 75% of the time.

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

They are available and tend to be pricey to use.

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Pets:

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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are a few veterinarians that are recommended by the community with no complaints.

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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, absolutely not. Work permits are a nightmare as well.

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

Casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Pollution is generally good with the dry season having spells of mass trash burnings.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

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

Lusaka is as safe as Africa can get. That being said, economic crimes are on the rise.

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

Medical care here is poor. Have all checkups done in South Africa.

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

There is a long rainy season where rains tend to happen in the late afternoon. June-August is very chilly. September to December is very warm.

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Schools & Children:

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

The American International School of Lusaka is a decent school for children in elementary school. Above that, you will really find a problem with the curriculum and lack of challenges for children and teens. People not accredited to teach IB are filling the teaching spots. The IB program is quite weak at AIS as well. All in all, this is not a school to bring older children. There is also another international school, ISL.

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

None except for extremely mild cases.

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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?

No experience here, though there are plenty of places with waiting lists.

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

There are a few programs available, though not a good variety and not well-organized. Again, if you have older children, this is not the place to come for opportunities for them.

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Expat Life:

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

Medium.

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2. Morale among expats:

Morale is low, especially now since the copper prices have fallen. This has not been the happiest of places, and most people seem very ready, even anxious, to leave.

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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?

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

Yes, for couples. For families, if your children are very young, it is a sleepy post, but can be okay. For families with older children, school options are really poor.

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

Yes, though night life is limited.

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

Not really.

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

Safaris, Victoria Falls, South Africa. Zambia itself has very few things that are affordable. The safaris are expensive, and if you have been to South Africa, Kenya, or Tanzania, they will also be very disappointing.

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

Typical African items.

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9. Can you save money?

No, not really. The cost of basic living is high enough that it is uncomfortable, and traveling is very expensive.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No, education is important, and the school is not good.

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

Expectations for school.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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