Praia, Cape Verde Report of what it's like to live there - 01/21/23
Personal Experiences from Praia, Cape Verde
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, also a large city in Central 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?
Midwestern United States. It's quite unpleasant to get to Praia. The layovers are generally long. Right now you can get to Praia from Boston on Azores airlines, stopping to refuel in the Azores. People seem to like this flight in general, but it's only offered once or twice a week. The other option is to transit through Lisbon, which always seems to be a headache. Lisbon airport is very close to the city so easy to spend couple days in Lisbon if you have time.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. 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?
Housing is generally great. Most of the houses are old but some are new. All of the houses are large. Few if any of the houses have "yards." Most of the houses have rooftops and/or backyards with tile or cement flooring. The older houses often need maintenance. Most people are happy with their housing.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Judging from previous comments on Praia, there is now a greater variety of groceries and household supplies to be found than in the past. It's difficult to find high quality beef. You can find frozen steaks and frozen ground beef, but it's not high quality. It's usually shipped in from Europe or Brazil. You can find fresh fruits and vegetables at the street markets, but in the supermarkets they tend to be lower quality.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Meat. Some American cheeses that you can't find here like Muenster cheese and Monterey Jack. Bread flour. Cereal. You can find cereal here, but you won't find American cereals. Any Asian or Mexican ingredients.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There are probably a dozen restaurants that are above average in Praia. Portuguese, Italian, and a lot of Cabo Verdean restaurants.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Nothing out of the ordinary. Mosquitos are around at night especially if you have standing water on your property, but it's never that bad. I haven't ever used mosquito spray. Ants can be a problem.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Through diplomatic pouch. From delivery to pouch address to your hands in Praia takes about two to three weeks.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Household help is available and affordable. It's as affordable as anywhere I would guess. Many families hire a housecleaner and/or nanny for kids. Some people hire a part-time gardener. It is difficult to find people who speak English.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There are gyms around, and they look nice. Cost is probably $30-$40 month. Many people workout outside in the mornings or evenings when its's cooler.
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?
Sometimes I can use my visa travel card, but local debit cards are more widely accepted. Using a local debit card for shopping or dinning out is common.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Very few in any.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
It helps a lot if you can speak basic Portuguese. You can find affordable Portuguese or Cabo Verdean Kriol courses.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes. Elevators are uncommon.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Yes. Taxis are abundant and affordable.
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?
Almost any car would do fine here. A car too large might be an annoyance for driving through the neighborhoods or downtown.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes. The internet is generally very good.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Most people get connected through the local provider. It's very affordable and good.
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?
Some spouses are able to telecommute. I don't know of any spouses working for local firms.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Formal dress is required at fancy events. However, generally casual/island style. Publicly many people wear shorts.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
No. This is a safe post.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Not really. Available medical care is limited. I would imagine that for some types of specialized care you would need to travel to Europe or back to the United States. Particularly giving birth, you can find good OB/GYN here but not epidural unless you go to the private hospital in Mindelo.
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?
Sometimes it gets dusty outside.
4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
It is very isolated post.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
The climate is really nice. It's a desert so it rarely rains. It's sunny every day.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
There is a French school which seems to be most popular among expats. There is also a Portuguese school.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Morale is good. The expat community is small. You will get to know many of the expats living in Praia.
2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
This is a good place for families with small children especially if they are active. There are good beaches, parks, walking paths and nice weather. Older children might get bored living here. Single people might get bored unless they really like reading or relaxing, or make an effort to make local friends.
3. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
Yes and no. The expat community can be a bit removed from local networks.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
It's fun to visit the other islands, especially Sao Vicente and Sao Nicolau. The hiking is fantastic and the beaches are great. Easy and short trip.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Yes. Tarrafal on the other side of the island is fun to visit. Hiking in Serra Malagueta is a lot of fun. Some people like the live music scene.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Easy access to beaches. Nice weather year-round. Zero traffic. Fresh passion fruit.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
There really is no grass or quality beef.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
4. But don't forget your:
Swimsuit. Books. Shorts. Hiking shoes. Spearfishing pole. Sandals. You need a couple pairs of sandals to live in Praia because it's so dusty, i.e., every time you go outside you need to wear sandals or your feet will be covered in dust.
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
There isn't a lot of media on Cabo Verde.