Khartoum, Sudan Report of what it's like to live there - 06/11/15
Personal Experiences from Khartoum, Sudan
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
I have lived in seven other overseas countries.
2. How long have you lived here?
One year and a half.
3. 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?
The largest embassy housing compound consists of around 40 houses. Each of these is a very large, five-bedroom house with balconies (plural) and a backyard. Most Americans live at this compound. Most other American staff live in townhouses or apartments, and I'd have to say that most Americans are quite satisfied with their housing.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Western-style food here is generally expensive or difficult to find. Most Americans order food online, from Amazon, Walmart, NetGrocer, or the like.
3. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Lots of ants. Some mosquitoes.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
American employees get to receive almost anything they need through the pouch. Outgoing mail is severely restricted in size, but exceptions are made when an item (even a large one) needs to be returned for repair or replacement.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
One can get part-time domestic help for around US$100-$150 a month.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There is a small gym at the Embassy itself, and a much larger one at the main housing compound. Both are free to employees.
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?
Because of U.S. sanctions, you cannot use them here.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
The more Arabic you speak, the easier a time you are likely to have here. However, most restaurants and other places that you are likely to visit have at least some staff who speak English.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Internet service at the residences is fairly inexpensive, but connectivity is sporadic and unreliable. I would guess that most American staff do their online shopping by using a computer at the Embassy.
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?
Quarantine: No. There are vets available here, but I cannot speak to their quality.
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?
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Normal office attire.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Khartoum is a danger pay post, but there is very little street crime, and most American employees feel extremely safe here. All embassy residences are heavily guarded.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical care in Khartoum is very poor. However, medical care in our embassy clinic is excellent, and we have a very professional, very friendly, and very caring medical staff.
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?
Usually very good. Occasional large dust storms, accompanied by strong winds, can really darken the sky and make things unpleasant, but these are not everyday occurrences.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
The years here are marked by three levels of temperature: Hot, hotter, and hottest. A rainy season, where it normally rains almost every night, lasts about a month and a half. It is hot then, too.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
No children currently allowed at post.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
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?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Counting other posts, I'd say there is a fairly large expat community. The morale at the U.S. embassy is normally very high.
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?
Movie nights, dinners, pool parties, book clubs, cruises on the Nile.
3. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Getting to know some of the friendliest and most honest people in the world. Camping.
4. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
I would recommend studying the history of this region as much as possible, and then visiting some of the historic areas north of the city.
5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
As an embassy employee, one earns a good deal more than his base salary. American embassy employees currently earn their base salary PLUS 50% hardship and danger pay, plus a COLA. Specialists also earn overtime pay. If you do not like cold weather, then the hot and dry weather in Khartoum can also be considered an advantage.
7. Can you save money?
You sure can. Some of your funds will be spent on R+R travel, but the ample allowances here should enable you to sock away a good amount of cash.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Absolutely! This is a great post, and a lot of our American staff have extended here. This is one of the best places I've ever lived.
2. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?