Djibouti, Djibouti Report of what it's like to live there - 04/01/08

Personal Experiences from Djibouti, Djibouti

Djibouti, Djibouti 04/01/08

Background:

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

No.

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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:

There are very few flights in and out of Djibouti.

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

I am affiliated with the U.S. Government.

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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 are a few stand-alone houses and those tend to be very large. The most common type of housing is to have two to six units on one compound.

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

It's limited availability and extremely expensive. Djibouti is one of the most expensive places to live overseas.

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

Jet Ski.

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

There is no fast food and only one good restaurant outside of the Kimpinski Hotel.

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Daily Life:

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

The pouch is very good and you can get things in about 10-14 days.

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

Low quality and very expensive.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

None available.

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

Yes.

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

Yes, very expensive.

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

Very little.

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

HUGE.

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Transportation:

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

Local taxis are unionized and considered safe.

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2. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right-hand side of the road, but there are both right and left hand vehicles on the road and there are no rules.

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3. 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?

4x4, bring extra tires.

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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?

Yes, very expensive.

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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?

It's a monopoly, so there is no choice.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

IVG from the Embassy.

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Pets:

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

One good vet.

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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.

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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)?

Moderate.

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

Very little crime, but because of location there is a very real terrorism concern.

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

Very HOT! Health care is very bad.

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

Always HOT, no - not all of the time. The weather from November to February is very nice.

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Schools & Children:

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

One French school and it is the worst overseas school I have seen in the foriegn service.

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

NONE.

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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?

Poor. It's hard to find good help.

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Expat Life:

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

Small.

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2. Morale among expats:

Average.

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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?

If you like bars, yes. If not, then not much.

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

This not a family Post. It is good for singles.

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

NO.

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

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

Diving and fishing.

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

Nothing.

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9. Can you save money?

No, and until the management officer changes at Post COLA will remain under valued.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No.

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

Winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Hat.

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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?

Wait until after this summer to go.

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