Accra, Ghana Report of what it's like to live there - 08/11/16

Personal Experiences from Accra, Ghana

Accra, Ghana 08/11/16


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

No. I have previously lived in Latin America.

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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?

There are direct flights from JFK and Dulles (about 10.5 hours). There are also many options to fly to Europe (Belgium, London, Portugal, and then fly to Ghana (about 6 hours from Europe).

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We live on a compound in a sizable house. A lot of expats live in certain neighborhoods (Cantonments, Airports, Labone) and commute times are not bad though traffic can be bad--just depends on where work is.

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

There is a lot that is available at high cost.

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

You can find most everything though dairy products are very expensive. People freeze cheese and meat and bring it in their suitcases when they come to post.

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

There are many restaurants that are decent and available (Chinese, Korean, Indian, Lebanese, Italian). A lot of people use HelloFood app to have food delivered but I have not tried it.

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

Occasional ants and cockroaches but nothing too bad. Depends on the quality of housing.

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Daily Life:

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

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

There is Pippa's Gym and others in the airport which are supposedly good but not cheap. There is a yoga studio in the Movenpik hotel which is supposed to be good but again, not cheap.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards are accepted but it is recommended to not use them. However, we have used a credit card for grocery shopping without issue.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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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?

You will be OK with just English.

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

Difficult due to lack of infrastructure.

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

Taxis are safe and affordable, and Uber is now here.

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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 because of poor quality roads.

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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?

Internet is available (Vodaphone and Surfline) though it isn't fast. Upon arrival you'll need a few days to get it set up.

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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?

Data is cheap, so you can get a local cell phone and pay less than $10 a month for data/cell coverage. Calls to the USA are also cheap.

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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?

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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?

Lots of NGOs.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

The North American Women's Association can hook up people with volunteer organizations.

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

Business or local dress (especially on Africa Wear Fridays).

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Health & Safety:

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

Ghana is relatively safe though one needs to be aware of surroundings and not walk around waving your cell phone.

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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?


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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?

It is good though the seasonal Harmattan (December- March) can exacerbate breathing problems. That being said, I am asthmatic and found it manageable.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It is hot most of the year and slightly cooler in summer months and during the Harmattan.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are many education options available. We have been happy with Lincoln Community School (there are others such as a French school and GIS), and the Little Explorers preschool (fantastic and highly recommended, though there are others).

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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?

We highly recommend the Little Explorers preschool. Others in the community use Beanstalk or Owl's Nest but for many reasons we liked Little Explorers better. It is not cheap but this preschool is worth it. It has an after-school program as well.

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

Yes, ballet, swimming, horseback riding, and piano lessons.

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Expat Life:

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

I would say it is relatively large (I don't feel like I know everyone or even half the people). Morale seems high.

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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?

There is a HASH group, the NAWA, and an Accra Expat Facebook group.

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

I can only comment that this is a great post for families because there are a lot of other families. Between play dates and birthday parties, time gets filled up pretty fast. There aren't SO many things to do with kids, but as families you make your own fun.

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4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

The Christian/Muslim diversity within the country does not cause any issues.

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

The slave castles (Elmina) are a must see for historical purposes, is a good resource for this.

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6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Goethe Institute has good cheap food and is an expat hangout. Also, they have a artisan fair the first Saturday of every month. Great to buy clothes, beads and other fun stuff.

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7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Beads, masks, printed cloth.

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

People are very friendly. It is close to a beach (though for actual swimming it is recommended to drive out of Accra).

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Words of Wisdom:

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


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


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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and bug spray. Also several Universal Power Source (UPS) units as blackouts happen frequently.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

"An African City" (season 1 is on youtube) is highly entertaining.

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