Windhoek, Namibia Report of what it's like to live there - 06/14/15
Personal Experiences from Windhoek, Namibia
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No. Mostly Asia over seven years.
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?
Washington - about eight hour flight to Frankfurt and eight hour flight to Washington from there.
3. How long have you lived here?
July 2013 for two years.
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?
Almost all houses come with garage, pool, braai, maid's quarters and yard, but not necessarily grass. The commute is 10-15 minutes. Traffic is minimal.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
You can pretty much get most things in Windhoek, sometimes at a price. Baking supplies are amply available. Meat is cheap. Fresh fruits and vegetables selections can be slim in the winter. I usually spend about US$75 on groceries per week, when the exchange rate was N$10:1.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Pretty much everything you want is available, though maybe not be stocked regularly or without a bit of looking around. I would bring any ingredients you would need for cooking anything non-Western/ethnic foods. Mexican/Asian ingredients rare and expensive.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
KFC is the only American chain here and a limited number of South African chains exist. Reasonable prices. City lacks non-Western food options; a few exist but none are very good.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
We have an ant problem inside the house and I have learned to live it.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
We use the pouch but it takes three weeks.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Reliable and good domestic help is relative. Part-time help is very reasonable.
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?
We prefer using cash but have used credit card and ATMs without an issue.
4. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
None. English is an official language.
1. 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?
Purchasing cars from Japan is better value; that being said cars tend to hold its value when in country. SUV is recommended for out of town road trips, however, when in town a compact car is fine.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, 4G Internet at about US$100 per month.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Business at work and conservative/casual in public.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
There have been issues among the community but I have not experienced any in our family. Use street smarts and keep valuables out of sight when parking. Lock up and follow rules.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Quality of medical care is fine.
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?
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Weather is dry, but very good with 300+ days of sunshine a year.
Schools & Children:
1. 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?
Yes, but limited. Good quality daycare options are rare. We opted for full-time nanny as day care and preschool options usually finish at 1pm. That being said, my child attended a preschool for last six months and loves it. Cost is miminal, but it still ends at 1pm.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Expat community is small, morale generally good.
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?
Braais, get out of town, pool parties, get together with friends.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It's a great city for families with younger children.
4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
There are racial and gender prejudices but does not apply to expats.
5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Etosha in the dry season is a sight to be seen. Sossusveli was great. Zambezi a treasure. Regional trips to South Africa have been fabulous. At night, even in the city, the stars are amazing. Walking with a Cheetah.
6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Etosha, Waterberg, Sossusvlei, walk with a cheetah, star gazing, camping, game drives.
7. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Slow pace of life, access to game drives, weather is dry but mild, Namibians love kids - so it's pretty family-friendly everywhere you go.
8. Can you save money?
Yes, there isn't much to spend money on except trips or online.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
Be prepared to do some road trips. Most destinations are at least a 4-hour drive from Windhoek. Meat is a big part of local diet, particularly red meat.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Expectations of modern conveniences (24-hour grocery stores, take out food options, frozen prepared meals) and fast-paced life.
4. But don't forget your:
Sunglasses, sunscreen, patience, and your smile.