Lome, Togo Report of what it's like to live there - 02/22/19

Personal Experiences from Lome, Togo

Lome, Togo 02/22/19


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

We've lived in six African countries over the past 20 years.

View All Answers

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?

Home is Italy. Pretty easy to get to Europe. Air France, Brussels Airlines and TAP all have direct flights. The country is also served by Ethiopian, and Moroccan airlines.

View All Answers

3. How long have you lived here?

Two and a half years.

View All Answers

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

Diplomatic mission.

View All Answers

Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We have a house with four bedrooms (all en-suite) with a reasonable garden in Tokoin Cebevito. Commute time is about 10 minutes.

View All Answers

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

Local products such as meat, fruits and vegetables are plentiful and inexpensive. Supermarkets carry imported (largely French) products which are more expensive than at home, but not unreasonable.

View All Answers

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

We typically ship a lot of Italian products: espresso coffee, olive oil, wine, etc.

View All Answers

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

There are a good number of restaurants, but none to write home about.

View All Answers

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

Mosquitoes at times.

View All Answers

Daily Life:

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

Letters? Do those still exist? Packages are mostly through DPO, although we also use local postal facilities to receive DVDs and books from Amazon UK.

View All Answers

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

Our gardener is paid 30,000 CFA (about $52) a month for three days / week of work. My wife also gets a weekly massage, that costs 5000 CFA.

View All Answers

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

My wife has a personal trainer come to the house. He gets 5000 CFA per hour session.

View All Answers

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?

I use a credit card regularly at the larger supermarkets, and have never had any problem.

View All Answers

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

Don't know.

View All Answers

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

French is required to get around. We have a private tutor come to the house for 10,000 CFA for three lessons / week.

View All Answers

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

No more than any other city we've experienced in Africa. Meaning yes.

View All Answers


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

Moto taxis are widely available, although I don't consider them safe. Taxis can be had at reasonable rates, say, 2000 - 3000 CFA / trip within town. There are no trains or trams. City buses exist. I don't know the cost, but they don't appear to be very frequent. Peace Corps volunteers use buses to travel up country. Ticket prices are reasonable.

View All Answers

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?

In town, streets are mostly unpaved, and can have lots of ruts / holes / detours. A vehicle with good ground clearance is recommended. Theft of car parts, particularly recent model vehicles, is common in my opinion.

View All Answers

Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

This past year internet has improved markedly. We now have fiber optic to our residence at 30 Mbps. Cost is very reasonable: 30,000 CFA (about $52) per month, and the service is more reliable than anything I've experienced elsewhere in Africa to date.

View All Answers

2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

There are currently two local providers. For use in Lome, either is fine. Lots of people get dual-sim phones, and either have both providers available, or else keep one sim for home country number (e.g., for whatsapp).

View All Answers


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?

We use a German woman here. She's very good. Animals need not be quarantined upon arrival.

View All Answers

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?

Mixed bag. There aren't many positions in the local market.

View All Answers

2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

They're there, but you need to look for them.

View All Answers

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

Business casual. Formal dress? You mean like to attend opening night at La Scala? In West Africa, there's pretty much a tailor on every street. Locally available materials are bright and beautiful. You can have all kinds of clothing made to fit, from suits, to boubous, to shirts, dresses...pretty much anything you want, and at reasonable rates.

View All Answers

Health & Safety:

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

If you don't ride on the back of a moto taxi, you don't have lots to worry about, but do take care to avoid getting malaria.

View All Answers

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 nowhere like in Europe or North America. That said, we did find a good dentist who takes care of basic needs for Peace Corps volunteers. My wife had a panoramic xray done and I'd not seen that before.

View All Answers

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?

Being on the ocean, the air quality is pretty good. Except for the harmattan season, when there's lots of dust. If you have any respiratory issues, take care.

View All Answers

4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Afraid I can't answer this one.

View All Answers

5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Nothing particular.

View All Answers

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

It's actually not too hot, but often uncomfortable, due to the humidity. You can always go out for a bit, but if you enjoy your air-conditioned home, you'll probably end up spending lots of time indoors.

View All Answers

Schools & Children:

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

Our kids are grown. There are several schools, including the French school (I hear it's ok), Arc en Ciel (has both English and French programs) and what's called the British School. I haven't heard anything particularly good about this latter. There's also an American Overseas school that doesn't seem like it will last much longer.

View All Answers

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

Can't help here.

View All Answers

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?

There are several preschools, some bilingual.

View All Answers

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

No help here.

View All Answers

Expat Life:

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

It seems smaller than most places I've lived. Morale is pretty good.

View All Answers

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?

Our socialization is pretty much limited to the home.

View All Answers

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

Good for anyone with a good attitude.

View All Answers

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

I don't have any information on this, so expect it's kept under the radar.

View All Answers

5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Togolese are very friendly, sincere, and love to share in public. Invitations into a Togolese home, however, is unusual, even among themselves.

View All Answers

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

I'm not aware of any problems. The people I've met are very accepting and seem to be non-judgmental.

View All Answers

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

Easy answer: working with Togolese colleagues!

View All Answers

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

This isn't a tourist spot. Spend time with people, and you'll have an experience you won't likely get in most places.

View All Answers

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

It's West Africa. Pagne (cloth) is abundant, extremely varied, and wonderful.

View All Answers

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

The people.

View All Answers

Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Not much.

View All Answers

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


View All Answers

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

Prejudicial ideas.

View All Answers

4. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor and willingness to laugh - the louder the better.

View All Answers

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

Can't think of any.

View All Answers

Subscribe to our newsletter

New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More