Kampala, Uganda Report of what it's like to live there - 09/08/18
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?
USA, North Dakota, 28 hours, stop in Minneapolis, Amsterdam, Kigali, and then arrive in Entebbe.
3. How long have you lived here?
16 long months.
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Husband has a diplomatic position.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Housing is horrible in my opinion. If we want to use our washer or dryer we have to turn everything else in the house off. We have two air conditioning units but they canâ€™t be used at the same time or we lose power. Same goes for using the stove; everything else must be turned off in the house or we lose power. There have been times we have lost power more than five times in one day. We had water pipes burst and flood our house. We have â€œsliding screenâ€ doors that havenâ€™t worked more than a week of us being here. Constantly have repair people at the house â€œfixingâ€ things but the repairs don't seem to last. We live in Naguru and the commute can be anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours to the embassy. The traffic is horrendous.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Awful, we typically have to drive to four different stores to complete our grocery shopping because one store has no butter or no milk or is out of something. We just bought a jar of peanut butter for $12. Certain items like fruits and vegetables can be cheap but you have to know where to go. They will try to upcharge you because youâ€™re an expat. Household supplies are horrible. Bring all your own cleaning supplies.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Everything! All cleaning supplies, all beauty needs, any and every non-perishable item.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
The only good thing here is we have a few nice places to eat. I have had had multiple cases of food poisoning (and I've heard my neighbor has, too) from these upscale and pricey places. Jumia is a food delivery system people use but by the time the food comes itâ€™s cold.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Lizards and ants are common.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
I donâ€™t send anything. Iâ€™ve never been to a local facility. We have items shipped to the embassy. It takes two to three weeks.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
We have a very small home and no kids so we donâ€™t need much help. We have a housekeeper who works two days a week and is paid US$50 every 2 weeks.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There are a couple nicer hotels with gyms but itâ€™s insanely expensive, e.g., US$1200 or more for a year.
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?
You need cash for most things. I have not used my card anywhere and I wouldnâ€™t trust it. ATMs are available, but not all are trustworthy. We only use Barclays and always check to make sure it hasnâ€™t been tampered with. Most ATMS have armed guards nearby for safety.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
None, everyone speaks English.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes, wheelchair accessibility is non-existent.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Adorable, yes, but absolutely not safe. I have heard there are people robbed and beaten on buses and I've heard the motorcycle taxis average 10 deaths a day.
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?
An SUV is the only acceptable choice. Nothing nice! It could get broken into or hit by a motorcycle tax car regularly trying to maneuver through traffic. The potholes here are the worst Iâ€™ve ever seen and roads are awful in my opinion.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
LOL, high-speed again is very expensive and it goes out often.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Youâ€™ll need a local provider.
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 quarantine. There are vets but they come to your home. Iâ€™ve heard horror stories bout kennels and would never recommend using one here. Bring all your own dog food and supplies, heartworm pills, flea and tick meds with you. They donâ€™t care for dogs here and there are many strays in bad shape. I heard the city regularly put out poisoned meat to control the stray population, and one could see the dead piled up on the roadside.
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?
Many spouses either stay home or work at the embassy. I work on the local economy and make $10 an hour part time at a dental office.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
None, everyone Iâ€™ve tried has said they didnâ€™t need any help.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
We have embassy events so yes formal is needed. Otherwise wear what you want. Women who wear shorts or dresses anove the knee will be stared at but Iâ€™ve never been bothered besides that.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Oh, yes, car thefts and break-ins are common. I have not found our guard service to be satisfactory. I've heard of phones being stolen out of your hand.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Malaria. There is only one hospital that Tricare will let us go to here. We are being sent to Germany to see fertility docs this month.
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?
Bad bad bad! People routinely burn garbage, and it physically hurts to breath.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Hot with rainy seasons.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
I would say morale is low.
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?
Going out to eat. Taking a yoga class.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
I would not recommend this city for anyone.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
No, I do not think it's accepted here.
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Women are treated poorly. Seem to be a lot of male chauvinists.
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Seeing the Nile and some friendships Iâ€™ve formed
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Fun things? There is a movie theatre and hotel pools you can use. Nothing other than outdoors. Night is bad with mosquitoes and daytime traffic is bad except for Sundays.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
No, there are cheap trinkets they will try to sell you at high prices.
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
Honestly, I wish I had not come here.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Absolutely not, nor would I ever recommend it to anyone
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Valuables and nice cars.
4. But don't forget your:
Donâ€™t come here.
5. Do you have any other comments?
Iâ€™ve literally been counting down the days since I got here. Iâ€™ve had diarrhea more times than I can count.