Dili, East Timor Report of what it's like to live there - 11/21/13
Personal Experiences from Dili, East Timor
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
Too many to list!
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?
DC - this is probably the most remote location ever from DC. Travel could be 26 to 36 hours depending on routes. Most folks relax in Bali on route!
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
NGO and US Embassy.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Nice houses, my commute was 5 minutes by bike, hubby took 15 minutes by car.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Varies. Local products are cheaper.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Mexican food products?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Fair range; cost can be high though due to UN inflationary impact.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Mosquitoes carrying Malaria, Dengue and Chikengunya. My husband found a scorpion on his bathing suit one morning!
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
U.S. embassy mail - 2-6 weeks.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Depends, help ranges from $300PM to $800PM.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
At the U.S. Embassy and a few along the sea road too.
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?
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Language policy is controversial. Portuguese is only spoken by about 20%, Bahasa is useful. Tetum is best.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes - lots.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
I used to use them but apparently now they are not so safe anymore..?
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?
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Variable and slow!
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
High costs and slow connection?
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?
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?
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Not whilst we were there.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Malaria, Dengue and Chikengunya. Health services are poor. Medical evac is common.
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?
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Hot and rainy seasons.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
QSI, very small and personal, fine for elementary level. Some wonderful teachers!
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
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?
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Ad hoc when parents coach them.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Was good and fun.
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?
Dinner and beach parties.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Very catholic (97%) so I would say, low profile?
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
How long to you have?! Some issue for me was gender inequality and gender-based violence.
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Scuba diving and snorkeling, trips to Bali, Sydney and New Zealand.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Ataruo Island, Jaco Island, Bali (not so hidden!).
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Tips to Bali.
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Lovely people, good food, amazing beaches and scenery, great hill walks, scuba diving and snorkeling is incredible. Some people went diving before work!
10. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
How hot is was!
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
In a heart beat.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Leave your high heels behind (men and women!)
4. But don't forget your:
5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
7. Do you have any other comments?