Kampala, Uganda Report of what it's like to live there - 10/15/13
Personal Experiences from Kampala, Uganda
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
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 DC about 24 hours. You can connect in Brussels, Frankfurt, London, and Amsterdam.
3. How long have you lived here?
Over a year.
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?
Most are single family homes except for a handful of apartments (8?) and those are typically assigned to singles, unless requested otherwise. Commute time can vary drastically from neighborhood to neighborhood. Also, it varies when local schools are in session. Rule: just leave before the locals get on the road.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Expensive. COLA has increase -fold since our arrival and it still does not cover the overage. Fuel is approximately US$6.80 per gallon. LOCAL fruits and vegetables are cheap, but it's expensive for imports.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
With respect to the pouch, anything liquid e.g., desired toiletries, shampoo, deodorant, etc.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There will be KFC here in November. Plenty of restaurants to choose from. Prices can vary, but it is what it is.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Malaria is the biggest concern here. You will have mosquito nets and the opportunity to take malaria medication. Take it, it works!
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Currently pouch, but DPO "should" be starting soon. Work in progress!
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Previous Embassy help can be 300,000 to 650,000 ugx. Gardening 200,000 to 400,000 ugx depending on lot size.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
The Embassy has a poor excuse of a gym. The MSG Det has a small one as well. Typical gyms in the area are expensive up to US$250 per month or US$1,200 a year per person!
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?
Stanbick ATMs are the only recommended ones. Barclays does have a machine inside the Embassy. It's recommended to carry cash.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes. There are no ramps, accessible parking, or elevators.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
No. No. No. Bodas are offlimits per RSO.
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! There are pot holes galore. Uneven roads, spot flooding, and you will need an SUV type if you go on trips! Toyota, Mitsubishi, and then maybe Nissan are recommended. They do have a Jeep dealer and parts are expensive for all types. You can save by shipping the part in yourself. If bringing your own vehicle, it's recommended to bring a clean set of tires. Your vehicle WILL get dinged up in traffic. There is no stopping that.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
IN and Smile are good. Depends on usage. 100,000 to 250,000 ugx.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Plenty of plans to choose from. Recommend MTN, that is the contract the Embassy has, so MTN to MTN calls are free.
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. Get with GSO to get permits well prior to arrival. They can be slow. There are a few vets in the area, do your research; some are self-proclaimed vets with no credentials!!!
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, local law apply so you might work for a lot less than you would want to work for.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Local orphanages, food distribution areas, etc.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Shorts and t-shirt.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
If you follow the RSO's guidelines you should be fine. Lock your car doors when traveling, keep your phone out of sight, etc.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
The Embassy nurse if the first stop. After that you MIGHT get medical help outside the Embassy. Most of the time you will get EVACd to Nairobi or Pretoria. Dental work is very good and inexpensive.
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?
Good for the most part. You will get the occasional burning of trash/yard waste in certain neighborhoods.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
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?
There are but we decided to stick with children's groups and private teachers.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Very limited outside of school.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
The expat community is large. A lot of missionaries and traveling missionaries. Morale....?
2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Families yes. For singles, it can be. There is plenty of nightlife and a good singles community.
3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
No. Local law states that it is illegal and forbidden.
4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Not so much. Outside of Kampala you can run into your typical tribal disputes.
5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Any "Africrap". Its actually pretty decent. If you want anything made out wood, they will make it.
6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Saving money...no. The safaris are getting more expensive than in recent past. The weather....yes! 68-82F all day everyday. On hotter months it will get to around 85F.
7. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
I repeat again, traffic is horrible. Roads were built decades ago and they have not expanded to alleviate the traffic concerns.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
4. But don't forget your:
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
6. Do you have any other comments?
It is what it is.....