Dakar, Senegal Report of what it's like to live there - 05/03/09

Personal Experiences from Dakar, Senegal

Dakar, Senegal 05/03/09

Background:

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

Not a first experience. We have been living overseas for 19 years.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Three years, from 2006 -09. My wife taught at the International School -- a school that has improved greatly since 2008.

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

U.S. Embassy.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Direct fights to U.S.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Large houses; some are poorly constructed.

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

More expensive than the US. French items are readily available.

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

Liquids from the US. Everything here is imported from France.

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

African versions of fast food places in US. Adequate. A bit higher in price than in the US.

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

Mosquitoes and ants.

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Daily Life:

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

Via USG.

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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 pay our housekeeper about US$250, including benefits. Help is available

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

Yes.

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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?

We never use our credit cards overseas due to having the images stolen twice.

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

Not a lot.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, South African TV. No papers.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

French is the language of the country. Few people speak English.

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

Poor roads, homes aren't built for the disabled.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis, yes. Affordable. Buses are crowded.

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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 with high clearance. Japanese-made vehicles usually have parts.

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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?

Yes, about $50/month, and it works. Can have VOIP.

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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?

They work most of the time.

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Pets:

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.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes, there are good vets.

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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?

No.

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

Tie for men.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

Malaria, yellow fever, etc.

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

Thefts are not unusual.

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Malaria.

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

The rainy season is July - Oct. The rest of time the climate is great.

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Schools & Children:

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

International School of Dakar, Dakar Academy. Our teen-aged children attended for three years. Above US standards.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Both ISD and Dakar Academy have provisions.

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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?

Yes.

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

Yes, we played tennis and swam year around.

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Expat Life:

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

Expats are here but you don't see them a lot.

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2. Morale among expats:

Improving. Traffic used to be horrible, but this improved in 2008. Now we have a freeway of sorts called a corniche.

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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?

If you make the effort.

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

For families, yes.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes, we have several gay/lesbian friends who have liked it here.

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

No.

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

Sports and the outdoors. Knowing French helps.

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

Artwork.

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9. Can you save money?

Not a lot. The cost of living is higher than in DC.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, now that the cornice is done and you can move about the City. Before, it was not the place to live.

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

Warm coats.

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3. But don't forget your:

Humidifiers. It gets very dry. UPSes to support electrical equipment.

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

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

This used to be a place to be avoided due to the traffic, beggars, etc. Since 2008, though, Dakar has become a nice place to work and live.

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