Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Report of what it's like to live there - 02/19/21

Personal Experiences from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 02/19/21


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

Second directed post after directed EAP tour.

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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?

DC. 6 hours to Frankfurt and then 6 hours down on United/LH.

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3. What years did you live here?

2016 - 2018.

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4. How long have you lived here?

I lived in Addis for two years.

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


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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Old cold houses with weird layouts. Commute time from Bole was around 30 minutes on a good day, up to 60 minutes on a bad day.

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

Lots of availability but the quality wasn't the best. Fruits and veggies had to be washed in bleach or sickness would ensue.

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

American beer. Peanut butter. Other liquids of high quality from Costco (dish soap, laundry detergent, etc.)

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

There was a Turkish restaurant which was good. There were also an assortment of other restaurants, many of which we did not frequent as sickness was common in Addis.

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


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Daily Life:

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


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

We had a cleaner/cook, nannie, driver, and day guard or less than US$600 a month. The quality of work was "Addis good."

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

The Embassy has a nice gym and a pool.

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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?

Cash only.

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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?

English was fine.

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


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

Taxis are very expensive.

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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 which is banged up. We were side-swiped while in Addis and our driver hit a parked car. We had a drivecam which helped keep our driver honest (I reviewed it after I saw the dent in the car - the driver's story didn't match the videos).

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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?


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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?

ETC is the only provider.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Shorts and t-shirt for me on the weekends. Long-sleeve collared shirt and slacks at the Embassy.

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Health & Safety:

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

I felt safe.

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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?

We got sick once a week and I ran to the bathroom more than I care to remember. You just kind of get used to the intestinal issues. Peanut butter and Gatorade were my friends on this tour.

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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?

Poor when it's cold as folks burn wood. Otherwise blue skies.

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

The elevation caused me to not sleep through the night for my entire tour. It was incredibly difficult.

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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)?

Elevation is a killer.

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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?

San Diego weather.

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Schools & Children:

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

The local schools are a no go. I've heard good things about the international schools.

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2. 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?

Plenty and cheap.

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

Very little.

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Expat Life:

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

Lots of expats. I joined the British Embassy golf club and played every weekend and made some great friends there.

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

I don't think so.

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3. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

I wasn't able to break into the local scene. The locals who I met were always asking me for visa help.

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

Golf at the British Embassy. Flying to Cape Town, South Africa for R&R (it's only a six hour flight).

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

You are close to Cape Town, South Africa. You can save money if you aren't afraid to read books and stay at your homes on weekends.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Things take a little longer and you must follow-up many, many times, in order to get things done inside and outside of the Embassy.

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

I will not be prioritizing my return to Addis. I was glad that I served there, it set me up for success at subsequent posts.

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

Expectations of sleep and Western timelines.

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4. But don't forget your:


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