Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Report of what it's like to live there - 06/04/12
Personal Experiences from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
Fifth expat experience.
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?
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?
There are two major neighborhoods where most people live within the expat community. One is close to the school. The other is closer to the embassy. As the size of the expat population grows, people will start moving to other neighborhoods within Addis or on the outskirts. Traffic is crazy; therefore, in all honesty, I can't write a predicted commute time.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
It is getting expensive. High inflation here.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Cheese, more car repair parts, pet food, etc....
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Fast food? No. But good restaurants are appearing.
5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?
You can find it.
6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Addis is a malaria-free zone. However, once you leave the city limits, you will be in a malaria zone. Make sure your pets are protected from fleas and ticks. They cause health issues. Bedbugs are making headway here.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Inexpensive and it is easy to find qualified people.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes. They are everywhere.
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?
Use them at the Hilton's/Sheraton's ATM machines.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
DSTV cheap and western. Papers: mostly local, but cheap.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Don't need much.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
The altitude is rough on everyone. This place is not designed for those with mobility challenges.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Affordable? Yes. Safe? Spotty. Some have brakes that work....some don't. Some have doors that don't fall off....others, not so much.
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?
Toyota SUVs.....that's it.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Still very poor, but slowly getting better. Bandwith is not good enough for youtube as of yet. Very spotty connection at times. Not a place to live if you are taking online classes. Every now and then VPNs get blocked.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Can get them anywhere and on the cheap. 3G simcards can be found for Iphones
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. Many people here have pets.
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Not bad vet care.
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?
Many embassies and NGOs here filled with expats. However, it is VERY hard for the spouses to find work on the local market outside of the particular embassy they are assigned to. This cannot be stressed enough. If you are seeking to have two incomes, it will be very hard.
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.
Other than pickpockets and aggressive panhandlers, no special concerns.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical care is getting more spotty. One popular clinic that expats visit may be shutting down soon.
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?
Pollution is growing. LOTS of exhaust from the ever growing car/truck population (traffic is awful). Car pollution + high altitude causes lung issues for many here.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
It rains each day for four months, then it is dry. Very moderate temps. Weather-wise, a very nice place to live.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
The majority of kids go to ICS.
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?
Lots of them.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Through the schools only.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. Morale among expats:
Decent. Many call Addis "Africa Light."
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?
Many short trips outside of the city are a good way to keep social and happy.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Not noticed openly.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Easy traveling in and out of country.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Get out of town. Lots of trips are around. Both short weekenders and long trips are rather cheap.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Coffee -- It's the birthplace of the coffee bean.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
11. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Toss a coin.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
electric-powered or biodiesel car. It ain't going to work here. Get a tough SUV or a small car you don't mind getting dented on a regular basis. Most people leave their car here in country when they depart.
3. But don't forget your: