Addis Ababa - Post Report Question and Answers

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

Ethiopia is a very proud and independent country, and proud of the fact that they are an African country that has never been colonized. Ethiopians have a mix of fascination and disdain for foreigners and knowing that helps to adapt to the culture. Ethiopia is also a very religious country, and the orthodox and Muslim calls to prayer sounds throughout the day and night. Being a very religious country, there are frequent religious holidays where roads are blocked and movements are a challenge. Also, know that this post is at high altitude and you will feel sick or uncomfortable for a few days until you adapt to the thin air. - Aug 2023

People in the community tend to get e.coli, tape worms, and other parasites and illnesses. The country changes from day to day. They take the internet away, cancel motor bike deliveries, not to mention the war in the north. Be prepared to adapt and overcome. - Aug 2023

How tough it would be to access some of the goods that I wanted. - Aug 2022

Life is hard, but Ethiopians are worth the trouble! - Jul 2022

I wish I had known how truly terrible a place it would be for me. I see the Addis Ababa of 2021 as a filthy, crowded, impoverished, congested, crime-plagued city. Maybe, decades ago, it was nice. It no longer is. - Jun 2021

Things take a little longer and you must follow-up many, many times, in order to get things done inside and outside of the Embassy. - Feb 2021

That Ethiopians don't consider themselves African; they really do hold themselves apart as a separate people. They are extremely proud and this will be both frustrating (can't change a simple procedure in the office without a fuss) and inspiring as they try to work their way out of poverty and into modernity. - Aug 2020

It is not Africa light. This is a difficult place to live and one should come here with low expectations. - Mar 2020

I was told what to expect, and it has lived up to its reputation. Not a good thing. Can't wait for the tour to be over. - Feb 2020

We wish we knew how difficult it was going to be do live here. We wish we knew how unsafe it would be to go out to the countryside. We wish we knew that we may end up unhappy with the housing issues or that morale would seem so low. - Feb 2019

The frequent power and water outages, and the very slow internet. Many expat homes have backup generators for power, and large water tanks to have a buffer for the water outages. We didn't, so it took some getting used to. Valuable experience because of it actually. The slow internet was my biggest source of frustration, as I never realized how addicted I was to what the internet has to offer. - Oct 2018

How crowded and polluted it is and that is a very isolating place. - Aug 2018

There were a couple of things that I would have liked to known before moving here. 1. Every process of getting a driver's license to selling a car takes so much time and effort, especially when you have to do it on your own. You need to be on top and aware of every step, even if your organization's worker is helping with you. They may have different time frame than yours.
2. As a USG family, I felt like the organization for getting things done needs to be better.
3. When you leave the post, and if you are selling your car, please be aware. Your car is purchased by duty free personnel such as diplomats. Once he/she pays you, and register the car with the government, then your belongings will leave the country. If you sell your car to non duty-free person, such as locals, he/she may pay for the car, but if fails to pay for duty, therefore, cannot register the car, then your shipment will NOT leave the country until the person pays the duty and register.
4. There are so many regulations.
5. I do not think the internet is reliable which is hard for students, and family.
6. Civil unrest can limit your travel within this beautiful country.
7. Cost of living.
8. Things are hard to get such as gas, diesel, food, quality goods. - Jul 2018

How bad the pollution is and how poor the overall morale is among the embassy staff. Also how little there is to do in Addis itself. - Jan 2018

All the history! I highly recommend reading up on Ethiopia's fascinating history before you arrive; it really helps put things in context. - Sep 2017

Everything I just said above: health stuff, driving/traffic and realities of moving around the city. They also took the COLA away, which I don't understand. This may not be a hardship post like Pakistan, for example, but it should be a hardship post. - Aug 2016

That communications are so poor as to be nonexistent.

That the mission is unmotivated to document post issues resulting in no appropriate compensation/allowances - COLA, danger pay, or R&R travel. It is generally recommended that we "get out of town" every 3-4 months to relieve the stress of living here, but allowances/pay does not reflect this. In fact, many go to Nairobi for a break. This is laughable considering that Nairobi, with a much more "first world" feel for much the same cost as living here, has significantly higher allowances and is given double the R&R's of Addis. Inconceivable.

That the basics are difficult here. Housing, transport, even food.

This is a high stress posting, with few if any opportunities for relief in country.

- Aug 2016

I remember that when we were considering Addis it seemed to have a reputation as a great post. But there are a lot of people who struggle here. It's not really a friendly place and there are a bunch of restrictions that make the first few months a particularly tough adjustment (It takes 3-6 months to get your car registered, even if you buy it from another embassy family at post. In the meantime, public transportation isn't available and housing is pretty spread out through the city, so spouses are isolated at home with lousy internet and phone service. Spouses who don't work in development have a really hard time finding employment outside the embassy. Etc.). It actually wouldn't have changed our decision to come, but it would have been helpful to have more realistic expectations. - Feb 2016

Nothing can really prepare you for the poverty. People are generally happy and take care of each other so we never so starvation but it can be hard to see the living circumstances that some are in with no realistic hope of it every getting much better. - May 2014

It's hard to travel out of the city with young kids (driving is exhausting on these roads with toddlers and airporting around is difficult). That said, some tougher families do this magically with no problems. It's super chilly at night, year round, and homes do not have heating and cooling, and do not retain heat from the day. An electric blanket and cozy clothing is advisable. - Jan 2014

Wish we had known there was little to do in Addis (especially for young children). Ethiopia is a very interesting country, but Addis Ababa is an incredibly boring city (unless you like nightclubs). - Nov 2013

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