Abidjan, Cote D'ivoire Report of what it's like to live there - 03/15/17

Personal Experiences from Abidjan, Cote D'ivoire

Abidjan, Cote D'ivoire 03/15/17

Background:

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

Not our first posting. Many other African posts.

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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?

From the US east coast, fly from Boston to either Paris or Brussels and then down to Abidjan.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three years.

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

US embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We lived in a stand-alone house. Our house had 3 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms with an office. Housing varies more widely here than at other Africa locations. There are smaller 2 bed/2 bath townhouses to huge houses. Some have pools, others do not. Some have yards, other none.



Commute time depends upon your neighborhood but can be anywhere from 10 min to 1 hour.

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

The availability of supplies is wide. There are most major French chains there: Casino, Carrefour, Super U etc. Prices for most items are slightly higher to much higher than we are used to in the US.

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

Bring liquids, detergent, dishwashing liquid.

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

Almost every type of food is offered here.

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

Termites are everywhere.

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Daily Life:

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

Mail comes via diplomatic pouch only. There is no DPO. Have never tried the local post.

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

Household help and gardeners are widely available. The cost is higher than in most African capitals as the cost of living is much higher here. It is quite a shock to some people just how much the staff asks for as a salary when neighboring countries are half of that. Plan on $200+ a month for a full time gardener and $300+ a month for inside staff.

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

There are many gyms and sports facilities. Most are $500-$1000 a year for membership. Monthly memberships can also be obtained.

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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?

Credit cards and ATMs can be used in high-volume grocery stores, some restaurants and in malls. I would plan on doing most transactions in cash otherwise.

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

There is not much English spoken so I recommend learning at least a small amount of French. Language training is widely available.

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

Yes. There is not much in the way of ADA guidelines.

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Transportation:

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

Not advised for safety 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?

SUV or other 4x4. Roads can get rutted and this provides extra visibility.

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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?

Internet is available and reliable. You can get a portable wifi and have immediate access.

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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?

Many people use Orange or MTN.

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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?

No quarantine. There are very basic vet services. There is no high-level care.

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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?

Most spouses work at the Embassy. Some have NGO jobs but needed basic French to get them.

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

Professional attire is expected at the embassy. Suits. Ties for men. Casual on the weekends. Formal dress only for balls.

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Health & Safety:

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

There is minor petty crime although some home burglaries did happen at Embassy houses.

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

Malaria. Dengue. Chikunyunga. The medical care ranges from spotty to good. The embassy health unit has one of the best practitioners in the system right now. Evacuation would occur for trauma, need for surgery, etc.

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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?

Air quality is awful with the pollution from cars and burning trash. There is also the seasonal "harmattan" dust that comes in January and February which makes the air brown. Anyone with asthma issues should be aware.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Dust allergies can be tough here. Food allergies can be handled if you know what to look for.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Just the usual homesickness-type stuff.

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

Mainly hot and humid all the time with a small reprieve in January and June for a short time. Rains come in the summer mostly, April-September.

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Schools & Children:

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

There is an American and a French school there. Many other private schools are also there and are very good such as Mermoz and Grain de Soleil.

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

Schools can try to make accommodations if they have advance notice.

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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?

Preschools are plentiful. Bebe Calin and Grain de Soleil are two that are excellent. Most before- and after-care is provided by nannies in the home.

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

Yes, you can find karate, judo, tae kwon do, soccer, basketball, swimming, tennis, art, cooking, dance.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge community. The largest are French and Lebanese.

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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?

There is the Hash run, soccer, softball, women's groups, coffee morning etc

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

This is a city that has something for everyone. The only thing lacking would be parks and open spaces for children.

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

Not very tolerant of non-conforming gender roles.

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

This is a male-dominated society that sees nothing wrong with abusing women and children.

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

Making good friends and enjoying family.

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

There is a wide variety of African art and woodwork to collect.

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

You will save a lot of money. Quick trips up to Europe.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That you cannot use the local beaches as they are polluted. You have to drive a good ways to get to them.

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

I am not sure. It was hard on my health with all of the pollution. If that were not an issue, I would move back.

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

Winter clothes.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and bathing suit.

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