Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Report of what it's like to live there - 08/18/22
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?
No - I have been in Europe and South America before.
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?
US - direct flights are available from a few major airports in the US. If not, you can reach it via Europe or Middle East. Many connections through Ethiopian Airlines.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. 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?
Housing is extremely overpriced and rather underwhelming. Habesha know that expats get rental subsidy, so that is why they charge exorbitant rates for rather crappy apartments. Each apartment will come with its own set of problems. Landlords are more concerned about the money rather than fixing anything. Beware of rental agents, too. They like to make sure they get their dollars cash!
Commuting can be horrendous as well. I once waited three hours to move less than three km because the police unexpectedly shut down all the major roads for a holiday.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Bambis and Gorgeous were quite good - just get ready to pay more for imported goods. Some rather common cleaning supplies will not be found.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Bathroom bowl cleaner, good cheese, any and all pet supplies, any special sauces or spices for your country-specific dishes.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Deliver Addis is horrendous. They cannot keep up with the overall demand. Many different restaurants throughout the city. You will not find sushi. Italian seems to be the go-to option if dining out.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Not that I can remember. Maybe the tiny cockroaches because other people don't keep their houses or apartments clean, but that's it.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Do not plan on the mail system work for you.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Cleaning staff are available everywhere. But make sure you find someone trustworthy! Friends have secretly filmed maids stealing money. It is very common.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Some gyms around, not so great, high prices.
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?
Do not plan on cards working at all! Places will blame YOU that it is your bank's or card's problem, but in actuality, the phone lines cannot connect with international banks. I have found though, that Zemen or Dashen bank card readers seem to work the best.
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?
Need to know some numbers to try and negotiate.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Even as a physically-able body person, I had troubles getting around. Sidewalks do not exist.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Never took bus nor the train. Taxis are expensive but Ride App isn't so bad.
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?
A white Toyota SUV. Easy re-sale value, and easy to get parts or repaint if necessary.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Do not expect fast speed internet. We subscribed to 4 Mbps and normally registered around 1. something. Telecom is the only way to go. Never even think of using Websprix! They just skim off what Telecom gives them.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Only Telecom, and it is terrible.
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?
The vet was nice when he performed a spray on our cat, but she died the next day. So, not really sure on how to judge the quality of vets. However, you will not find ANY pet supplies at all in the city. I remember seeing one place that offered fresh food, but it received many complaints about the quality. HIGHLY reconsider if you want to have a pet.
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?
There are no expat spouse jobs available - work permits are needed and it is a lengthy process to obtain one. We went this way for my spouse and it was an absolute nightmare.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Just go anywhere and volunteer -plenty of help needed everywhere.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Business casual / Business smart
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Not so bad. Just don't go out walking at night.
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 not the best- we used Nordic clinic.
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?
Air quality is horrendous. Bring an air purifier with you. There is a particular day in November or December that everyone burns their trash "to get rid of the plagues."
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
GF people would struggle even though pure injera is supposed to be teff only.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Very distinct dry and rainy seasons. Plan your international holidays during the rainy season!
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
We don't have children.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Huge expat community. Morale is rather low, and much of it involves drinking. Unfortunately, some people from certain countries only stick to themselves, whereas other countries and international organizations like NGOs and UN are a bit more outgoing and social.
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?
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Singles, couples and families could all survive. It's how you make use of the situation you are in.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
No way Jo-zay.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
I was cat-called every single day for something. "Fereng" "Corona" "China" --- I am not even of Asian descent! So many ignorant people. They love to harass foreigners. Keep your head down and ignore it all.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Many beautiful places once you leave the city. But you have to travel far distances to reach them!
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
The new park in the north of the city isn't so bad.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Around the post office area for souvenirs. Don't expect to shop for new clothes or anything, it's all junk.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
How tough it would be to access some of the goods that I wanted.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Never again in my life will I live in Addis Ababa.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
All expectations for things to work.
4. But don't forget your:
Extreme patience, but your strength to stand up for yourself and demand what is right.
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
Red Sea Diving Resort