Dili, East Timor Report of what it's like to live there - 02/23/10
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?
No, I have lived in Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines.
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?
3. How long have you lived here?
We got here in June of 2009.
4. 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?
Because of our job, our housing is very nice and secure. I have see some other home not quite as nice and the kitchens are not really kitchens but more like a hot plate with a frig. I would say if you are willing to pay the rent you can find nice houseing.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
There are several grociery stores in Dili and you can get anything you really NEED if you want to pay the price. Most goods are from Indonesia or Australia. Very few American brands.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There is no fast food in Dili but we do have lots of restaurants in town. There is Thai, Indian, Italian, Pizza, Western, Vietnamess, Lebanese just to name a few. $4.00 to $20 a dish
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
There are lots of insects and malaria and dengue fever are a problem.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Mail in Dili is not reliable.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Domestic help is used and afordable. If you hire local help the cost is around $100 a month Other domestic help is much more expensive. About $300 to $400 a month.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There are no real gyms or fitness facilities in Dili.
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?
This is a cash only country. No credit cards are used here. There are about 3 ATM's around town.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
As far as I know there are no services in English. Catholic.
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
Indo Vision. About $50.00 a month.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Most people in Dili do not speak English so it is helpful to know some Indonesian or Tetun.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
This is not a place for people with disabilities. There is very little infrastructure and the city is not disabled friendly.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Local transportation is not recomended.
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?
4x4 is a must here!! We have one Toyota dealer ship/repair shop here in Dili and a few small repair shops around town. Parts are hard to get and very expensive.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Internet is not reliable here in Dili and very expensive.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Buy one when you get here. They are cheap.
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?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
There is one Vet in Dili. He was trained in Australia.
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 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.
At this time security is not an issue. Things are pretty peacful.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical care in not very good here in Dili. Most cases are medivacted to Singaporeor Darwin.
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?
The quality of air is pretty good right now but car, trucks and motorbikes are not up to standard and put off a lot of fumes and at times black smoke......
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
There are two seasons here in Dili. The rainy season (6 months) and the dry season (6 months)It is a tropical climate and warm to hot year round.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
There are two international schools here in Dili. QSI (preschool through high school) and DIS (preschool through middle school homestudy high school)Both schools are adequate but very expensive for what you get. Both schools are expanding their classrooms. QSI is also upgrading it's playground.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
There are no accommodations for special-needs children.
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?
Both schools offer preschool for 3 and 4 year olds. There is no daycare in Dili. Most people hire a nanny if daycare is needed.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
No sports programs for kids. We do have a swimming teacher in town for now but you never know when people will transfer out.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. Morale among expats:
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?
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
We have all three in our communtiy and most seem to be very happy. There is really nothing to do in Dili outside of making your own fun. There is no movie theater, mall, shopping, bowling ect. We go to the beach, diving, swimming at the pools, each others homes ect.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
I would not say this is a great city for gays as Timor-Leste is a conservative catholic country. However, I have not noticed any outward feelings one way or the other by locals living here.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
I think due to the large international community, UN, UNMITT, and other NGO's, this is a very mixed communtiy and I have not seen or heard of any issues.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Making good friends with lots of people from other countries.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Diving, hiking, going to the beach
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Dili is small town and everyone knows everyone. There is not much to do in town so we spend a lot of time making our own fun by having get togethers, sports at the embassy, swimming and BBQ's at the pool,Movie nights at each others homes, ect. The diving here is also very good.
11. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes, my family is very happy here in Dili.