Luanda, Angola Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Luanda, Angola

Luanda, Angola 06/13/19

Background:

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

No. I have also lived in Italy, Beijing, and Congo.

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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 country United States of America. From the USA to Luanda was 18 hours with a one stop. There are about 8 international flights a day, and prices tend to be expensive as there is no real competition.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year so far.

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

US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Embassy housing doesn't reflect "normal" living conditions. Traffic isn't too bad outside of rush hour.

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

You can find cheap goods as long as your willing to go to four or five different places. You can find almost anything you want, maybe not the brand you are used to but an equivalent.

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

None.

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

You don't have a variety of food choices as in other big cities and the exotic options are a little more expensive.

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

Mosquitoes are everywhere.

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Daily Life:

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

No local post here unless you use DHL or FedEx.

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

There seems to be a surplus of household help, it can range from ~US$30 to ~$50. You can always negotiate cheaper.

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

There are a few nice gyms in the hotels. They are very expensive compared to what you get.

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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?

Credit cards are not used. Cash based society. You can talk to the banks about opening a local account to use there form of debit card here.

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

Don't know, but with the lack of English in the community I can assume that is not available.

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

You need Portuguese to make life easier.

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

Yes, there isn't much accommodation for handicap or disabled people.

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Transportation:

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

Nope and Nope.

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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?

To leave the city as the road are not in the best shape and pot holes can easily swallow you car I'd recommend a high clearance vehicle and 4x4.

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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 it is the speed is enough to stream Netflix. You can get faster speeds but it will cost you. it can take a couple weeks after arrival if not already set up.

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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?

I use a local provider. Data is pretty cheap compared to the US.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes, local orphanages are always looking for help.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, security issues are plentiful here. I would not leave the house at night unless you're going car to building and building to car. People have been robbed, physically assaulted, and stabbed. Cars have been broken into even while people were stuck in traffic. Always keep your eye out.

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

Medical here is not the best. Most serious things would require you to go to South Africa to get it looked at.

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

I'd say the weather is amazing year round in the city.

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Expat Life:

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

Very small with the oil crash. Overall morale is good, many have house parties and events.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I would not have, life is hard here.

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

Sense of safety.

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Luanda, Angola 03/23/17

Background:

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

No, this is my fourth post.

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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. It's about a 24-hour trip home including layovers.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Work in the public sector.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

My housing is wonderful. I live in a high rise in the city center. Housing for expats is excellent and commute times are short. You have to take the time to find a good apartment, but there is a lot of choice now because many oil workers have left.

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

I spend less here on groceries and supplies using the unofficial exchange rate. Sometimes you need to go to several grocery stores to find what you need, but there is good quality and lots of choice.

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

I don't ship groceries. Bring some tortilla chips!

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

There's good Lebanese "fast food" and delivery pizza and a few other places. There are a wide variety of restaurants. Not a lot of American fast food, which is fantastic. There are a lot of Portuguese restaurants. Lots of seafood. Try the choco frito!

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

Pick your housing carefully and you should be OK. Fumigate before you move in, and maybe every 6 months.

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Daily Life:

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

DHL. Also a little thing called email.

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

You can find good housekeepers via word of mouth, and monthly wages are not that high.

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

There are lots of gyms, ranging in quality and type. Some deluxe gyms at the international hotels. Some local gyms. A few CrossFit boxes have recently popped up which are affordable at the unofficial exchange rate. You will need to be discerning about workout classes and find the good teachers. There's a variety including workout classes on the the marginal. Martial arts, kizomba, zumba, CrossFit type classes, pilates. Not good yoga.

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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?

People use credit cards and ATMs at the international hotels. I wouldn't suggest using them elsewhere.

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

Not sure but there are some Catholic masses. People are always going to church so I think there are a lot of options.

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

I speak the language and I find it extremely helpful to do so. Yes there are local classes and tutors.

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

Yes.

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Transportation:

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

You can take private taxis - there are several trustworthy companies.

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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?

Bring or buy a SUV. Japanese and Korean parts more widely available.

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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. Quick installation, with some frustrations. Much easier if you speak Portuguese.

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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?

Get Unitel. Home country plans don't work well here from the USA. I don't know about Europe.

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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?

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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?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots.

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

People dress extremely well here. Bring your designer clothes. Yes, bring some formal wear.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, don't walk at night, ever. If you walk during the day, limit it, and don't bring your expensive phone and limit your cash. Find secure parking when you go out. Find an apartment with a parking spot.

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

You can go to several places such as Luanda Medical Center or Hospital Girasol. For anything complicated, I would fly to South Africa.

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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?

It's not great but it's not bad in Luanda. Outside Luanda it's great. People who live in poorer communities definitely suffer from poor environmental conditions.

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

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

No winter! Great weather here.

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

Moderate for half the year, hot for their summer, rainy season.

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Schools & Children:

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

There's an American school, French school, and a Portuguese school. No personal experience.

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

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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?

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

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Expat Life:

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

The relative size is medium, though it's decreased significantly due to the economic crisis. All of the Europeans, Brazilians and Latinos are happy here. Not a ton of Americans but everyone seems to enjoy this post except for some of the more insular Americans. Some Portuguese people have not gotten over their colonial mindset.

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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?

Let me count the ways. Lots of bars, restaurants, clubs. Art shows, theatre, live music. Beaches, camping, sports clubs.

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

It is not a great city for single people, but doable. Like most countries, it's probably easier to be a single man than a single woman. Couples great. Families maybe not great -- not sure.

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

Medium. The gay community is low key and on the down low. LGBT expats use social media to connect with people, and then network from there. The expat LGBT couples I know have good local friends in their community. However there is a lot of "live and let live," and it's certainly not dangerous like in certain countries in the region. It is certainly not a European country or the USA -- there aren't gay clubs, gay-owned businesses, or a gay neighborhood.

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

Gender equality is an issue. Expats are exempt from some of the expectations, but gender equality is far from a reality here.

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

Great beaches, parties, trips to the provinces.

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

Mussulo, Cabo Ledo, trips to the provinces.

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

Not a shopping post.

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

Good housing, on the beach, in a great region. Good weather.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That it is a much better post than people say it is.

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

Yes.

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

VW Golf.

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4. But don't forget your:

Bathing suit and sunscreen.

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

Author: Pepetela.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Get out of your apartment and enjoy Luanda!

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Luanda, Angola 04/23/16

Background:

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

No; I have lived in Honfleur, France, Montevideo, Uruguay, and Chisinau, Moldova.

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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 base is Fort Worth, Texas. There is a charter flight from Luanda to Houston thrice weekly. The USG, though, makes us cost construct vs a restricted fare ticket through Europe. That means the Houston one is unaffordable to USG personnel. Oil personnel use it frequently. Otherwise, it's through Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels, or Lisbon to the US, which is a much longer trip.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have been here since October, 2015

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

Foreign Service spouse.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There is a lot of housing for oil company people outside of town in Talatona. Embassy people live close in to the center, mainly in old, dumpy houses and new, badly built apartments that are very overpriced. Most construction here is Chinese and very low quality.

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

Potatoes are currently out all over the country. There are regular rations on sugar, flour, and milk. It is not unusual to find you must go to several grocery stores to put together a meal, even of solely local food. All imports are expensive when you can find them.

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

More colby jack cheese. Motor oil. Spare car parts.

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

There is KFC and Pizza Hut. There are several decent restaurants, and, because the unofficial exchange rate is so high, they are currently affordable.

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

Mosquitoes, flies, slugs, sugar ants, cockroaches because the city goes on regular trash strikes...

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Daily Life:

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

We are allowed to U.S. mail because of the embassy. There is no mail system in Angola. There is DHL.

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

Domestic help is plentiful but of low quality. It is also inexpensive. We do not employ anyone currently. Many oil people employ maids, guards, nannies, and drivers. The embassy provides us with guards.

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

The embassy has a gym. There are some other gyms in the area. Some of the apartment buildings have gyms for tenants. Cost varies.

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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?

Don't. Just don't. The Angolan banking system is not compatible with the systems of the West. On top of that, there's the theft aspect plus the general restrictions on currency.

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

We do not attend church, but I understand there is an LDS community and a nondenominational church.

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

Nothing is in English. Because the language is Portuguese, it's fairly easy to read if you have another Romance language.

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

There are no accommodations for people with disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

Nope and nope.

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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?

Nothing less than an SUV is acceptable on the roads, especially after a rain. Parts all have to be imported. No cars over three years old may be imported and sold on the local market. Car theft is common.

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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?

It depends on what you call high speed. The cost is exorbitant, and the current max is abouot 25 MB. We pay over US$100/month for 10 MB.

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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?

This is surprisingly affordable. Don't subscribe. Most people use a pay as you go system.

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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 quarantine. There is a good vet who speaks some English and boards.

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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?

Nope.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Because of the security situation, volunteering is frowned on.

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

At work, American standard. In public, not one I've seen. Being covered is a plus - most of the population is so poor they don't wear shoes or clothes without major wear.

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Health & Safety:

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

Violent crime is on the uptick. Property crime is more likely to happen than not. Gunpoint and knifepoint robberies of expats in the middle of the day. Unsafe to go anywhere at night unless it's a private place.

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

Yellow fever epidemic. Malaria epidemic. If you get sick, medevac to Namibia or South Africa as soon as possible.

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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?

Air is muggy and full of particulates. There's always dust in the air. Because of the humidity, the air feels very thick in the lungs.

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

Many restaurants use mystery ingredients, especially shellfish. And seasonal allergies are year round.

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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?

Constantly very hot and very humid. There is a rainy season from March to May. They tell me it cools down a bit for June and July. By that, it means you're not drenched in sweat by walking out the door.

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Schools & Children:

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

From what I understand, both the Luanda International School and the French school are very good.

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

None.

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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. All are Portuguese or French language. The only English language one is in Talatona.

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

Nope.

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Expat Life:

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

The expat community is scattered into separate compounds. There really is not a community outside your corporate or government one, and even that is rather loose.

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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?

There are restaurants. There are two movie theaters. There is a local night life of mainly rap/ R&B music in Portuguese, but it's at clubs where you, as an expat are in danger.

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

I don't think it's a good city for anyone.

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

Angola is very anti-gay. We know a gay expat couple here, but they do not mix at all with the local population.

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

Lots of prejudice against women and whites. Whites are just plain targets. Women, it's the domoestic violence thing.

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

Yellow fever and malaria epidemics; preparation for a zika epidemic. Economic disruption.

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

Not that we've found. There are a couple of beaches out of town (Mussolo and Cabo Ledo). Both are getting more downhill and dangerous by the month. The one national park is just sad for safaries. Most "lodges" and "resorts" are what would be considered Motel 6 level accommodation, plus the problem of malaria bearing mosquitos.

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

Almost everything is imported here.

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

I really can't see any, outside of that it's not as expensive as advertised.

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10. Can you save money?

With the unofficial exchange rate and the lack of things to do, yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That everything would be so isolating.

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

Nope.

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

Expectations of a normal life.

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4. But don't forget your:

Partner and support network. You will need them!

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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Luanda, Angola 03/28/15

Background:

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

No, lived around the world in a variety of settings.

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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 - 20 or so hours. Many possible connections in Europe, UAE, and Houston.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Over a year.

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

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

As long as you like high-rise apartment living, you will probably be very happy with your housing. The Embassy has really nice apartments for employees, almost all of them with some type of view. Many have decks and a few have pools or basic gyms. Houses are few and far between and have endless maintenance issues. None of them have yards. All housing is located within about three miles of the Embassy though the commute time is totally unpredictable.

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

Availability has improved since I arrived but has now gotten worse due to import restrictions. Costs vary widely. Seasonal tropical items aren't bad, but if really want broccoli on the wrong day you can pay US$11+. Strawberries can be US$10 for 10 berries. Cheese and ice cream are pricey. Fish is surprisingly expensive and poor quality. Bread, milk and staples are relatively reasonable. Overall, we get one of the highest COLAs in the world so it is fine.

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

Just liquids, especially cleaning products and personal care products.

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

KFC is here but unbelievably expensive. A lunch buffet is easily US$50, dinner at an average restaurant is US$80 and up. A meal out is rarely worth the money but it is nice to get out with friends.

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

You have to take malaria meds though the mosquitoes are not overwhelming; non-existent at the beaches and generally not a problem in the apartments.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch only - no liquids.

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

Available but mediocre quality and expensive for Africa. US$300-$500/month and up.

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

The Embassy has a pretty nice gym that is free. Some apartments have gyms but other than that, I have never heard of anyone going to a local gym.

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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?

Don't plan on it.

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

The more, the better.

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

Yes!

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Transportation:

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

Trains and buses - no. Taxis - Some people have started to use them.

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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?

4WD. Big. Sturdy. Able to make it over the giant potholes. The roads are terrible.

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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, and it is pretty much reliable. It stream hulu and netflix you will need the package that costs US$300/month.

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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 quarantine that I know of. I have heard that there is a relatively good vet in Talatona (suburbs) that people have used.

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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, but plenty of jobs at the Embassy.

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

Business or business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes! We never forget that this is a critical crime threat post. Lots of street crime. No walking around after dark. No walking any time in restricted areas, especially the road connecting the Marginal with the Embassy.

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

You will be med-evac'd for any significant health problems.

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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?

Moderate.

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

Hot and humid in the (Angolan) summer, cool in the winter. Short rainy season in March/April. Really nice temps in the winter though a bit gloomy because it is almost always overcast.

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Schools & Children:

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

There is only one international school and the commute can be from 1-2 hours each direction. Some people are happy with it, others aren't. Besides academic concerns, a common complaint is that there are no competitive sports.

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2. 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?

Some families are experimenting with a local daycare and have been happy. Talk to the CLO for updated information.

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

No. Nothing.

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Expat Life:

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

We are by far the biggest embassy so there are a handful of other diplomats and of course the oil people. Some people are happy, some aren't. You have to make a concerted effort to drive to the beaches, to go out to eat, to get out of the country regularly. If you make the effort you will probably have a much better experience overall.

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

It is tough for families because there aren't any activities outside of school. Some singles and couples have enjoyed the very active nightlife. Like any developing country, it is what you make of it and depends on how much effort you put into getting out of the house.

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

Not really, but members of the Angolan government do NOT like Americans. We supported the wrong side in the war. It can be exhausting.

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

Hanging out at the beaches with friends.

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

Nothing. I have not seen anything actually made here. There's some great fruits and vegetables though!

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

It has a nice, relatively safe walkway along the bay called the Marginal. Clean beaches are only 2-3 hours away. Good connections to South Africa and to Europe.

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7. Can you save money?

Yes. The COLA is super high - currently 60% - and there is nothing to buy here besides groceries and an occasional meal out. Beaches are free.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How very hard it is to do anything outside and how far away the beaches are. The people who enjoy spending time at home with alone or with family seem to be happier than the people who would like to get out of the city more.

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

No, sorry. The work at the embassy is too much, the city is too dirty, the infrastructure is too poor, and the recreational opportunities are too few.

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

Bike, winter clothes, and expectation of going on a safari in Angola (the local park - Quissama - is expensive and poorly stocked).

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and camping gear. And don't forget to get out the country regularly. You can get tickets to Cape Town for only US$700 and it is a great break.

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Luanda, Angola 08/31/14

Background:

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

No. Germany and Kosovo.

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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. Trips generally take 24 hours, however the U.S. Embassy can get seats on a charter flight run by the Petrol Industry that runs direct from Luanda to Houston, and then you can connect through there. The charter flight is populated by oil workers, and upgrades to business class are about US$700, which also allows you to check more luggage. They also take dogs - any size and breed - for about an extra US$100 to $200. Our dog was more than 100 pounds, not including the crate, and he was US$200 or less to ship. Care and attention by the airline of our dogs was great. Much easier and simpler than transiting through Johannesburg. The J-burg flight is hard -- it's about four hours to J-burg and then another 15 to either Atlanta or NYC. Another note, many travelers will check full-size coolers filled with meat and other perishable food.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2011 to 2013.

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

U.S. State Department assignment.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

The quality of housing has vastly improved for U.S. Embassy personnel. Mostly apartments, many of them quite nice. There are some free-standing homes, but do not expect yards. To have a nice yard with plants, you will need to hire a gardener to wash off the dust. Then there is the commute. Those with high school kids send them to the International School but that commute can be as much as two hours each way due to traffic; because the city is so overpopulated for its infrastructure a rain storm or a single accident can shut down traffic for hours. But traffic is a constant problem. Some of the newer housing units are, at most, three miles from the Embassy. But because of security concerns, personnel or discourage from walking. The commute is regularly more than an hour. Meanwhile most of the oil workers live in compounds on the outskirts of town near the school, so the commute does not affect them. Angolans are also known for their loud parties that go until 5 a.m.

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

This has improved greatly with several larger grocery stories opening as well as South African chains. There is a smaller grocery store near the Embassy that people use and there are individuals who resell fruits and vegetables on the street. When buying local produce that is in season, the quality is good and prices reasonable _ this would be pineapples, bananas, mangos, lettuce, avocados, onions, peppers tomatoes. Meat is very expensive, nearly all is imported and quality is hit and miss -- much of it is covered in freezer burn. Again one of the bizarre situations is if you want to buy local shrimp, it is very expensive; but a pound of shrimp imported from Mozambique is much less and will cost about US$15 per pound. American products cost about 30% more. Wine is very cheap from South Africa and Portugal and hard booze is cheap too - no tax. The U.S. Embassy has a pouch and Amazon is a lifesaver. Advice would be to pack as much liquids and cleaning products in your HHE and use Amazon for everything else.

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

Anything liquid. Pouch and Amazon work for everything else. Also whenever we would travel, we would fill our bags with meat that we would freeze and then just put in our checked luggage. Any of the goods in the local stores are very expensive (US$70 for a pair of shoes made in China; US$200 for a dress that sells at Target for US$30.)

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

There are a few KFCs and Bob's Big Burger --- a milkshake will set you back US$5. There are local restaurants with local cuisine that are decent but may not be the most sanitary. A lunch will cost about US$15. The top-end restaurants will cost about US$100 and the service is bizarre. For example at the Marine Ball, which we paid at least US$150 per ticket, the "cheese table" included Kraft singles wrapped in plastic, they ran out of silverware and the steak was cold ...oh and they ran out of wine. Or one of the upscale restaurants in luxury high rise near the Embassy had a monthly prix fix dinner for US$60 per person. But when we went in a group, they tried to charge us US$80 per person, they explained, because we were in a group and the prix fix only applied to people who were not in a group. There is a Tex-Mex restaurant that opened near the Embassy. The owner uses friends flying the petrol charter to bring in food. Food is OK; margarita is about US$10 and a dinner of tacos, burrito etc will run US$20.

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

Some ants.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch. About three weeks transit time.

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

Available but costly, quality and reliability is varied. If you are part of the diplomatic community, you will pay more. Expect to pay between US$8 and $10 an hour; there is no live-in help. Maids often arrive late due to traffic and there are regularly sicknesses and deaths. Services vary from traditional housekeeper who only clean to nannies to those who also cook and will do your shopping. Quality is a big issue. Our housekeeper was reliable and honest and had worked for other diplomats but I had several suits ruined after they were thrown in the wash.

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

Embassy has a small gym. There are private gyms but unsure of costs.

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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?

They are accepted and there are rare ATM machines. But this is primarily a cash economy.

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

Yes.

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

A lot. If you don't know Portuguese you will have a hard time.

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

Yes. The streets, even for able-bodied people, are challenging to negotiate.

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Transportation:

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

They are not safe and are off-limits. They are also very dangerous. On nearly every trip to southern Angola, I have seen a van-taxi or a vehicle that has crashed on the road and people either dead or injured.

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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?

Big and heavy with 4WD is the way to go as the roads are in poor shape and the driving is precarious. That said, some people have done absolutely fine with a Toyota Corolla. The mechanics here are quite good. But bring as many spare parts as you can --- tires, oil, filters etc. It is VERY easy to bring a car/vehicle and sell it for what you paid for it. Cars are very expensive on the local economy.

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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?

I don't know if you would call it high speed. We were unable to stream, but could regularly download videos via Apple TV, but it might take a few hours. For about US$120 per month we were able to stream music and had good success downloading movies.

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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?

Bring something unlocked. Lots of folks bring unlocked iPhones and then use pay as you go. Skype to talk with folks back in the States. You can also buy a cheap phone and use it for prepaid calling.

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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. This is a country where it is very easy to bring in and take out your pet -- just make sure you use the Houston express. No kennels, but people rely on friends. The vets are very rudimentary. That said, when my dog got some sort of pathogen and he became extremely lethargic, I went to what looked like a back-alley vet, and they fixed my dog up very, very quickly. Gave him a series of shots --- I suspect powerful antibiotics and a dewormer and he was fine. I also had a colleague who blames a vet for killing his dog because the vet could not detect his pet had tick bites. Still at another vet, they refused to treat my dog because I didn't have a muzzle for him nor did they sell or have a muzzle.

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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?

Very hard to find on local economy. Anyone in the Embassy who wants a job at the Embassy can have one.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty of opportunities if you speak Portuguese.

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

Professional. Angolans like to dress up.

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Health & Safety:

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

Lots of street crime. Runners have had their watches and shoes stolen; people have their windshields shattered with spark plugs while waiting in constantly grid-locked traffic. People visiting the bay will often get their bags stolen by motorcycle bandits. The street in front of the Embassy is off limits as people are regularly the victims of strong-armed robberies.

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

Yes. Malaria is very serious and many people take drugs to combat malaria and use mosquito nets. There were multiple people who got malaria while we were in Luanda. Other people were afflicted by other pathogens. Most people, even for minor medical issues, are medevac'd to South Africa. Although there is a private hospital run by the oil companies and well stocked with technology, the doctors, reportedly, are not well trained in the equipment. One of the reasons there are restrictions on driving is because in a serious car accident, the chances you would make it to the hospital in time due to traffic and road conditions you would not survive.

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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?

I wouldn't say unhealthy in terms of true pollution but it can be difficult due to burning of trash and constant use of generators.

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

Very short rainy season in January-April; the torrential rains are quite deadly as there is virtually no street drainage and manhole covers are often missing. Poorly constructs houses are known to collapse and many homes leak. It virtually does not rain. Lost temp are probably in the low 70s F; with temperatures during the hottest months in the low 100s F.

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Schools & Children:

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

No personal experience but people have been generally happy. There is a Portuguese school a five-minute walk to the Embassy for kids below high school age; The high school is also good but commute times for kids can be a nightmare.

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

Don't think there are any.

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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?

Most embassy families have tried to hire a live-in nanny and a very small number have used the preschools, which are suspect in quality. There was an attempt by the Embassy to get access to a daycare run by the Petrol Industry but that was unable to be brought to fruition. Tragically, one local staff member had his child die at a daycare center. The child fell into and drowned in an open, unlocked water cistern at a day care center. Nearly all house have cisterns due to lack of a reliable public water system.

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

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Expat Life:

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

The expat community is medium sized and fairly tight knit. You have the Diplomatic community and the oil company expats. If you get lucky, the oil co. expats invite you to their compounds and to use their company boats. But this is a post where you have to make the best of it. You really need to get out every three months to preserve your insanity. The environment can be daunting

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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?

Lots of staying in and hanging out with friends; going to the beach (there are private beaches linked to restaurants/clubs in Luanda), going to Embassy for picnics, the pool and to play volleyball; there is one first-run movie theatre with films in English. There is a bowling alley where it costs US$20 a game and the power often goes out.

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

This is a tough environment for everyone but probably best for couples, singles and families with holder children. This is a very difficult post for those with young and preschool kids. There are no green spaces except for one private pay-to-use park with play structures near the Embassy and the Embassy has a pool and a swing set. Those with small kids are very claustrophobic.

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

I have had several gay and lesbian friends who were quite content.

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

Angola is still emerging from its civil war, and people just treat each other poorly. I REGULARLY would see people leaving the nightclubs at 5:30 a.m. and just start throwing rocks at each other.

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

Best adventure was going to Cabo Ledo and paying a local to catch fresh lobsters that we grilled at home. Plus the Embassy community was very close with lots of socializing. A visit to "Shipwreck Beach" to see the rusting hulks. Whale watching. Although I didn't partake, Angola is known for its world-class marlin fishing. Luanda has an annual 10k run on New Year's Eve that is wonderfully intense. The prize is a car and the Angolans go all-out in a madcap race that takes place in 90F degree weather.

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

Beaches and surfing at Cabo Ledo; buying seafood that is freshly caught for you; there are few waterfront restaurants that are special but will cost several hundred dollars per person. Getting away to Cape Town, Johannesburg or Nambia are special treats. Airfare is always expensive at least US$500 per ticket. Camping at the beach.

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

Nothing.

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

You can save money; if you want to experience a true hardship post where you earn your differential, this is is. There are some local crafts but they just may be items brought in from other countries. The beachfront camping is adventurous and pristine; there is a great beach and surf break in Cabo Ledo about a 3-hour drive from Luanda, but that is about it. You are not allowed to drive at night so you have to do day trip or stay overnight. There are some very nice restaurants in Luanda but they will be expensive and in most cases the service will cause your mouth to hang open in terms of rudeness. There is one top-notch seafood restaurant _ with lobster flown in from Canada, crab legs from Alaska etc. A truly good meal for two on the water will cost about US$250. The weather is pretty good, although it can get rather hot and then being outside can be difficult due to the constant-running of generators and trash

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10. Can you save money?

Yes. The irony is that while travel outside of Angola and activities are expensive, most people just stay put and make due with what you have. You get a 50% COLA but there is just little to spend it on.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Day-to-day life is very, very hard. I have never seen a country so covered in trash and filth. People are very rude and disrespectful. Although there were many unforgettable experiences, the time and challenge to do them is taxing. Want to go to Shipwreck Beach? Plan two hours each way in stop-and-go traffic, your car may be broken into while you are there and you will be harassed into paying a "guide." Want to go to dinner across town? Expect a two-mile ride to take nearly two hours, the service to be poor and there is a chance little will be on the menu. That said, there can be some welcome discoveries and enriching experiences --- they will just be rare.

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

No.

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

Idea this is the Africa of the movies. This is a country riddled with corruption still emerging from a civil war with Luanda having been built for 300,000 people but now populated by more than 3 million. They killed off and ate all their big game animals during the civil war. You will see people passed out or dead along the road. The housing quality is very poor ... local staff regularly are dealing with the loss of power and water for days.

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4. But don't forget your:

Ability to look at the bright side.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

Day-to-day life is very difficult. The work environment and your colleagues are great but prepare yourself to be worn down.

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Luanda, Angola 07/11/13

Background:

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

Many previous expat experiences in Africa, Latin America, Europe.

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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?

Based in the United States. Travel from USA to Angola takes 24-36 hours. Most people fly to Europe (London, Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, Lisbon) and then connect to Luanda. You can also fly direct from USA to Johannesburg and connect to Luanda that way.

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3. How long have you lived here?

For about 1 year.

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

Diplomat.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most U.S. Embassy staff live in new high-rise apartments within a few kms of the embassy. We also have some single-family homes, but they are fairly rare as this is a dense urban area like Manhattan. You won't find the kind of spacious African homes (big house, big garden, pool) of other posts in the region. This is a crowded concrete jungle. The apartments are modern and quality is ok, but we all suffer with power problems (surges, outages). Generators help, but it is still tough when the power bounces up and down. Commutes here are long due to traffic. Many employees live close to work but still spend 30-90 minutes commuting. Sometimes the traffic is simply awful.

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

There are several decent grocery chains with products mostly from South Africa and/or Portugual. They may not have American brands, but the availability of basics is ok. Prices are high, which is why the USG staff get a 50% COLA. There are not as many dairy products here as in the US or Europe. You can get one or two kinds of Portuguese cheese (and it is pricey) but we miss a little more variety in that area. Ice cream is expensive and not great-- often thawed and refrozen due to power issues.

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

American comfort foods. Toiletries and cosmetic products. Beach gear-- towels, chairs, beach umbrellas, a cooler, a tent, boogie boards or surf boards. Plenty of books and DVDs.

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

The only Western fast food here is KFC. There are two locations -- one by the airport and one at Belas Shopping. A family-pack meal for 3-4 people is about $60. Like everything in Luanda, even KFC is pricey. There is a wide variety of local restaurants and some are good, though service is often slow and inefficient. Prices range from US$20-60 per entree, plus more for drinks, starters, desserts, etc. Going out is expensive, but we are paid a COLA to compensate for it. There are lots of restaurants with Portuguese and/or Brazilian food as well as some international fare (pizza, Chinese, Indian, Lebanese).

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

You need to take anti-malarial medicine-- you can contract malaria even in the city. We are also now experiencing an outbreak of dengue. Use mosquito repellant and cover up when you can with long sleeves and long pants.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic pouch. It takes about 3 weeks for mail from home.

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

Expensive, and it is hard to find someone good and reliable. No one lives in here, and all staff have transport problems. None of them want to work after dark due to (legitimate) fears about crime going home late. That makes it tough for parents to ever get a babysitter for a date night, and hard to throw a dinner party when your staff want to go home by 7pm.

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

Our embassy chancery has a small gym on site for staff. We also have a small lawn used for occasional (smaller than normal) soccer games or volleyball. We have a pool on the chancery compound too. These few amenities are a lifeline for our embassy staff, as there are virtually no green spaces or parks available in town and few recreation facilities. Many families spend hours every weekend at the chancery enjoying the pool and lawn, playing on our small playground, sometimes grilling out with friends or family. I'm not aware of commercial gyms in town you can join. There is a tennis club and you can pay by the hour to play there. There are beaches in town and down the coast which many of us enjoy in the warmer months.

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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?

I would not use them here. Full stop. Cash economy. Many places will accept U.S. dollars for payment or the local kwanza.

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

You can get DSTV (satellite TV from South Africa) with many English-language channels. You can also get English channels from TV Cabo (the local cable provider). Cost is US$50-150 month depending on package.

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

You need as much Portuguese as possible. Very few people speak any English. It is mpossible to find a domestic with any English. Spanish will get you by, but try to get as much Portuguese training for yourself and your family before you come here. It will make your life much easier.

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Transportation:

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

NO. There is no regular or safe public transport.

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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?

Bring a 4x4-- many roads are in rough condition and a 4x4 is necessary if you want to get out of town.

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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, from ISPs and also from the cable provider TV Cabo. Most people I know get TV and internet packages from TV Cabo. Speed is fine even for streaming TV shows, using VOIP phones and Vonage.

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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?

There are two good companies, with pre or post paid options. Prepaid cards are sold on the street and easy to get to add credit to your phone. You can get internet service on your phone (Iphone or other model) and there are BlackBerry plans available here too. Some people use Ipads around town and have 3G service for them. The cell phone providers also sell thumb-drive dongles that you can attach to your laptop via a USB port and get internet over the cell network. It's slower than in-home internet, but great if you are traveling, out at a cafe, etc. and need to do work.

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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)?

No kennels. One decent vet, several not-so-great vets. You can buy some pet food in stores. It is really hard to have dogs here as we are mostly in high-rises and Luanda has virtually no green space. Dogs are cooped up. Owners are not happy.

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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?

None of the diplomatic missions here have a bilateral work agreement with Angola. Nearly all embassies want one. There are jobs with schools, companies, and even the UN that our spouses are qualified to fill, but we can't work on the local economy. We continue to try to negotiate a BWA, but in the mean time several embassy spouses are doing interesting and meaningful volunteer work, and we have about 6 full time EFM jobs in our mission.

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

Office attire is formal-- suits for men, suits or dresses for women. Other than at the beach, folks generally wear long pants or skirts and relatively nice tops. This is a fairly conservative place, except at beaches and nightclubs. Angolan women are fashion conscious and have great shoes!

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Health & Safety:

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

Street crime is violent and common. It is very risky to walk alone and you should never walk around at night. This is a city of extreme poverty, which leads to desperation. There are many muggings on the street, often by armed criminals. There are also attacks on people in cars-- sometimes they try to open your car doors while you are stuck in traffic. Criminals are often armed with guns. Many embassy staff have been victims, and almost every Angolan I know has been robbed in the past year. They generally want your wallet and cell phone. Car accidents are also a real security threat. Roads are crowded, narrow and in poor condition. Minor fender-benders happen constantly in the city. On inter-city travel, be very careful about speed and be cautious when passing. There are about 3 fatal car accidents here per day according to police stats, which are likely very low.

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

Serious concerns with malaria, dengue, and water/food borne parasites and intestinal problems. You cannot drink the water. Medical care here is poor.

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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?

Air quality is moderate. There are many cars and lots of exhaust from generators and vehicles. It can be very humid.

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

Weather is warm and sunny most of the year (80s to 90s), but also quite humid. It's cooler between May and September (70s during the day, 60s at night). There are sporadic rains between say October and March. When there is a major rainstorm, the city becomes impossible to move around in. Some streets become flooded, and the traffic grinds to a halt for a few hours.

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Schools & Children:

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

Luanda has two internationally accredited English-language schools. ESCOLA is located in the city (very near the embassy) and has preschool through Grade 9. Luanda International School is located about 15 kms from the embassy south of the city and has preschool through Grade 12. It is an IB school. Embassy families currently use both schools and are happy with them, though each has pros and cons. I should be clear that neither school is an "American school," they are both proudly international and neither school allows our embassy to have a seat on the board or any say in school governance. That is pretty unusual. LIS is a school founded by the oil companies to serve the oil companies and they are explicit about that. LIS has a large, beautiful modern campus with every amenity you could want. It is however a long commute from the city due to traffic. Embassy kids spend 45-90 minutes on the bus each way, and during rainy season it can take 2-3 hours to get home due to traffic on some nights. It's tough for parents to get there for activities or to get there in case of emergency. ESCOLA has mostly South African staff and has a very small campus. It doesn't have the space or super facilities of LIS, but it is a diverse and caring environment. I've been happy with the teachers and the overall experience and glad my kids are minutes from the embassy and not suffering in traffic.

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

I don't think the schools here are at all equipped for special-needs.

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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?

Some families have used local Portuguese-language preschools and have been satisified. ESCOLA and LIS offer high-quality preschool for 3-4 year olds, but it is extremely costly. Nannies are harder to find here than in any of my previous posts, and they are more costly (US$500-700/month) and work fewer hours than anywhere else I have lived. Domestic help is not easy in Luanda.

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

Both ESCOLA and LIS have some after-school activities, but our ability to participate is limited by the commute (esp. at LIS). ESCOLA has no large athletic fields, but it does have a swimming pool and a swim team. I've never seen any community sports programs we could enroll our kids in.

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Expat Life:

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

It is a relatively small community. The diplomats tend to live downtown, and the American Embassy is the largest by far. We have some social contacts with the European embassies, which is very nice. We have very little contact with the oil company expats, who all live on gated compounds about an hour south of town (adjacent to the LIS). There is a large Portuguese-speaking expat community of Portuguese and Brazilian citizens, but they are well integrated into society here and get around much more easily than those of us from the US or rest of Europe.

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2. Morale among expats:

Morale is fair. Better I would say among adventurous singles/couples who speak at least some Portuguese. Worse among expats w/o Portuguese ability and people who have older kids (esp. teens) who get restless and bored here. Families with younger kids seem relatively happy too. Oil company morale seems much higher than diplomat morale. The company folks have better housing and better quality of life, frequent and fully paid trips home to USA, and lots of access to US products and services. The diplomats actually live in the real Luanda, which is just harder.

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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?

We have friends over for dinners and drinks, but it is harder in Luanda than my past posts because of the traffic and because we are in an apartment and so we cannot do bbqs or outdoor entertaining. Mostly, we stay home and play games or watch movies.

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

Ok for singles and couples. Ok for families with younger kids. I would not want to be here with older kids (10+) as there are very few activities for them and they would get very bored.

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

Angolans often express anti-Muslim sentiments to me in official meetings and at social events. I would worry about Muslim visitors or diplomats suffering from prejudice.

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

Trips to the beach on the Ilha or at Cabo Ledo. Provincial travel to Huambo and Benguela. Dinner on the Ilha with beautiful views of the city lights. Exercising on the Marginal (the beautiful new path along the bay).

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

Go to the beach at Cabo Ledo or Musulo or the Ilha.

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

Honestly, nothing. I've lived around the world and have seen very little here I would buy. Crafts in other countries are nicer and cheaper. Spending here is on groceries and restaurants/entertainment as well as transport/internet/basics.

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

It is nice to be on the coast and have beautiful ocean views and beaches nearby. The weather is generally pleasant, though humid. I have enjoyed learning Portuguese.

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10. Can you save money?

Probably not. Luanda is consistently ranked one of the most expensive cities in the world for expats -- and with good reason. The cost of life here is high. It's also very expensive to travel either domestically or internationally. It's about US$500-700 per person round trip just to fly to South Africa, more to Europe or other regional destinations. A "long weekend" trip for a family of 4 to South Africa will be at least US$3,500-- maybe more if you go on safari or do something special. Hotels here in Angola are expensive (US$300+ in Luanda, over US$150 in the provinces) and the provincial hotels are basic at best.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, but a qualified yes. I think that there is exciting challenging work here and that makes our stay here worthwhile. But it is important that you and your family members know what the challenges will be and come in with realistic expectations and prepared for some stress and isolation. I believe it is worth it, but life here is not always easy.

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

Binoculars-- no safaris here and no animals left to see after the 30+ year civil war.
Bicycle: streets are dangerous and no parks
BBQ Grill: You will live in an apartment and have no space to grill out
Extra stuff: Your apartment will have no storage space, so be thoughtful about what you bring

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3. But don't forget your:

Beach gear: chairs, towels, umbrellas, tent, sand toys, surf or boogie board.
Home Entertainment: Games, books, DVDs, craft projects-- you will have free time at home to fill

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

The Last Train to Zona Verde-- by Paul Theroux (2013 publication)
Angola: Promises and Lies -- Karl Maier
Another Day of Life
High Noon in Southern Africa-- Chet Crocker
Engaging Africa-- Washington and the Fall of Portugal's Colonial Empire

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Luanda, Angola 04/24/13

Background:

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

No. Asia, Europe, west coast and east coast of USA.

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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?

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3. How long have you lived here?

10 months.

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

Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Broken-down homes that are not repairable and cheaply-made high rises and condos, but they don't last.

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

Terrible quality, very expensive. Ship everything you can.

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

More canned meat.

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

There are two KFCs that people get sick at all the time.

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

Mosquitoes, lots of mosquitoes. Dengue fever. Malaria is making a come back this year in the city.

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Daily Life:

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

Fedex or DHL.

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

10-20usd an hour

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

500 USD a month at least.

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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?

Don't use them.

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

Two: Roman Catholic and non-denominational.

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

Newspapers, no. TV, yes. 100-300 USD for subscription per month

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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?

You should have Portuguese training, as local companies do not require English. English is not a national language.

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

The streets are in bad condition.

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Transportation:

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

No,they are strictly off limits to expats.

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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?

4wd SUV with bull bars and under-plate. Roads are in terrible condition, and people rear-end each other all the time.

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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... 1MB 120USD, 3 MB 360USD per month

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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?

You can't rely on them but you will anyway. Texting sometimes works when calls don't.

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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?

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

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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. Visas are nearly impossible to get.

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

Casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

It is not safe to walk more than a block in day or night except at the marginal.

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

Malaria and dengue fever in the city. For any moderate-to-serious health issue you must leave country to see doctor.

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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?

Moderate.

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

Like Florida.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

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

No.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Low due to housing, lack of goods/services, the slow-paced lifestyle, loud music all night, and traffic conditions.

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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?

There are several night clubs, but they are not very safe to enter or exit late at night. You must stay alert.

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

Okay for couples. Outdoor space is limited and unsafe. Therefore it is not good to be alone or with family.

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

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

Yes, against Chinese and South Africans.

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

Beaches.

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

Beach, restaurants, stay home.

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

Stuff you can find at any art/wine or culture festival in USA, except it is more expensive here.

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

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11. Can you save money?

No, you must leave often for sanity, goods, and relaxation.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No.

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

Expectations of a normal city life.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience and positive attitude.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

youtube luanda: see what it was like pre-1970s and the broken city it is today.

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

Check Amazon. In S. Africaan stores youll get a lot of anti USA and pro-communist propaganda.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Good luck!

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Luanda, Angola 08/04/11

Background:

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

first expatriation

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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?

Jakarta, Indonesia 8-hours flying time with Emirates from Jakarta to Dubai, plus 6 hours waiting time in Dubai, then 8 hours flying time from Dubai to Luanda.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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

Husband's assignment in corporate

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

many companies own or rent houses in seperate compunds, which is much safer in terms of security than houses rent in public condominium, which experienced a lot of robberies in spite of 24 hours guard by the condo management. for people who live in South Luanda, comute time could be a problem because traffic is terrible at rush hours (could take up to 2 hours to cover 15 km. distance from home to office)

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

fresh vegetables are often difficult to get, most grocery items are imported, which makes everything very expensive and difficult to get

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

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

some hamburger and other restaurants, but very expensive

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

very difficult to find

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

mosquitoes, malaria

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Daily Life:

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

through husband's company

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

price range from usd 250 - 400 per month, depending on area and duration of work. very easy to get, but difficult to get a 'good' one

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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?

never use due to unsecurity of system

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

yes

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

some cable TV already available with good range of choices, moderate cost

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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?

local language is portuguese, advisable to learn just the basic, to give instructions to domestic helper / driver

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

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Transportation:

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

no

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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?

4WD is highly recomended

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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?

available along with cable TV or provided by telephone coy (unitel or movicel)

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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?

unitel or movicel

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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?

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

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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?

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

casual

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Health & Safety:

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

too big a difference between the rich and the poor, people who live in 'slum' areas don't even have good access to clean water, which makes robbery/thievery a big problem, even among themselves.

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

poor medical care, better stay healthy and bring your own medicine from home

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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?

air quality is moderate, not so much industrial site, but lots of dust because the soil is sandy, not so many trees or greens

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

july is the dry, coolest month, very nice weather, whil december is the hottest with lots of rains

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Schools & Children:

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

1 french school, 2 international schools, one of them with IB curriculum, which my son (9 years old) is attending. good facilities for sport, good library, has a canteen which provides lunch against small price, but also allows students to bring their own home lunch and eat together in the same canteen. school material chosen and decided by teachers according to their own background but allign with IB curriculum. overall good teachers

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

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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?

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

or people working in oil companies, plenty of programs are provided by the company. for others, there are also plenty of programs, bu against a very high price

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Expat Life:

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

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2. Morale among expats:

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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?

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

not for families with babies or small kids, due to poor medical care

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

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

some, but not big

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

opportunity to explore more of africa

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

good beaches, moderate safari parks, plenty of interesting places to see, but not very easy to reach

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

good paintings and arts

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

weather is nice, not to cold, not to hot

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11. Can you save money?

yes, everything is so expensive, so you won't want to buy many things here

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Words of Wisdom:

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

yes

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

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3. But don't forget your:

own medicine

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

It sounds like a 'tough' city to live in, but overall, the people are nice, and if you are able to relax, accept and enjoy the situation, it's not a bad place at all!

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Luanda, Angola 08/03/11

Background:

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

No. Also lived in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Managua, Libreville and Kabul.

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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?

It's a two-day trip from Washington DC, through either Europe or Johannesburg. The "Huston Express" is a private plane that travels between Huston and Luanda, but it is much more expensive than commercial flights.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I am one year into a two-year tour.

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

US Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Apartments and houses are abundant in the city but are VERY expensive ($10,000 to $20,000/month in rent). Yards are rare. Commute times are extreme, often multiple hours -- even to go just a few miles.

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

Some products are available, but they are of low quality and are very, very, expensive (2-3 times what those products would cost in the States).

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

More cleaning supplies and anything you want to eat or use over the course of your assignment. Don't plan to buy ANYTHING in Angola.

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

There are quite a few restaurants throughout the city. Lots of pasta and pizza, but it will generally cost around US$50/meal.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

None.

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

Mosquitoes and flies are everywhere.

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Daily Life:

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

No mail in or out of Angola.

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

Very available, but poorly trained and generally not motivated to learn/work. Costs are similar to what it would be in NYC or DC.

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

Not at affordable prices (they are generally between $500 and $1,000/month).

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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?

Credit cards and ATMs are not usable in Angola.

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

There is a weekly Catholic service in English in Luanda. That's the only one I know of, but there are a lot of Missionaries in the country, so I imagine there are other options.

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

TV is available in English for about $100/month. Newspapers are not available in English.

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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?

You need a basic understanding of Portuguese or Spanish. French will work occasionally in a pinch. English is not very common.

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

Luanda would be extremely difficult for anyone with physical disabilities. Streets are in very bad shape, and many buildings have multiple stories without working elevators. Sidewalks are often pot-holed or non-existent.

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Transportation:

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

None available.

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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?

SUVs are a necessity IF you choose to drive. Many people are arriving and deciding that it's not worth the trouble to drive in the city because traffic is so horrific. If you choose to have a car, definitely ship it in, because prices are ridiculously prohibitive in Angola.

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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?

Internet will cost about $100/month, but that is in no way high speed.

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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?

Don't bother to bring one from the States. Cell phones run on a completely different system there. Buy something cheap in Angola and don't use it often -- it's expensive!

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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)?

No quality pet care available. I chose to leave my beloved dog in the States with family, and I am very glad I did so.

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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?

Fairly dressy. Similar to Miami.

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Health & Safety:

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

Street crime is frequent, but there is very little violence.

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

No good medical care is available -- we are medivac'd for almost any issue. Malaria is common.

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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?

Unhealthy. Lots of traffic, and during the dry season (~8 months out of the year) the air settles in over the city and never moves.

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

Warm and dry much of the year with 3-4 months of hot, muggy rainy season.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

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

No.

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Expat Life:

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

Large, but many expats are locked into company compounds or on oil rigs.

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2. Morale among expats:

Very low.

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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?

Nightclubs are abundant. That's about it.

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

Singles will have a good time partying, but it can get lonely. It's a tough city for families, especially with small kids.

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

Not great.

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

Not that I have experienced.

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

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

Travel outside the country to Namibia or South Africa.

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

There is some art available, but the same things are found in Namibia and South Africa (and probably throughout all of Southern Africa) at half the price.

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

There are some beaches within one to two hours of the city that are decent, though they are often packed. Nightlife is great in the city for anyone who wants to go out between 2 and 7 am, but it is very very expensive.

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11. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Never.

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

Pets. Water sports equipment. Bicycle. Car.

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3. But don't forget your:

Everyday products. All of them!

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

It's a tough place, but like anywhere else, it is what you make of it.

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Luanda, Angola 04/15/09

Background:

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

No, I have lived in Latin America (Ecuador, DR, Cuba, Mexico) Africa (Mozambique, South Africa, Ethiopia) and Asia (Philippines & Vietnam).

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2. How long have you lived here?

3 months (just got here).

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

UN.

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

21 hours (through London with one long layover).

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Apartments, small, expensive (anywhere from US$2,500 to 10,000 a month). I spend US$2,500 for a two bedroom apartment, very poor electricity and poor water supply.

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

High costs but you can find most anything (ex. Cauliflower=US$35).

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

Lots of sunscreen (1 bottle=US$30) and bathing suits for the kids.

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

Bobs burgers can get you two "value" meals for over US$50.There are other restaurants, price is high! Best place for us has been Tamariz pizzas (on the beach).

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

Mosquitoes (malaria is a problem). Other than that, we have giant flies in our apartment

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Daily Life:

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

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

US$250 for a helper (1/2 day) for 5 days a week.

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

I have seen them, price is limiting.

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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?

You can use them in the caixa Multicash but I have heard of sorted thefts.

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

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

High cost but available.

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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?

Very important! Portuguese (or at least Spanish).

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

No access.

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Transportation:

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

Not safe & price increases as a foreigner gets on board.

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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?

4x4 and bring it here! Cars are ultra-expensive.

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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?

Yep.

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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?

Bring a cell.

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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?

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

Forget your pet! There is currently a large issue with rabies in Luanda and many vagrant dogs.

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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?

You must have a permit before you come into the country.

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

People normally get dressed up for everything here.

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Health & Safety:

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

Dusty.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

Yellow fever plus the normal.

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

Mild, just be careful.

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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 is an issue. Medical services are available.

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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?

Nice, really mild weather. Great beach days, some rain.

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Schools & Children:

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

Limited (make sure you have a space before you get here!!). There are two English schools (ESCOLA and International), two Portuguese, and one French. Extremely expensive (approximately US$20,000/year). Spaces are held for children of the employees of big oil companies.

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

Don't know.

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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?

Wish I could find one, very difficult!

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

Still looking for some. I found a swim class for children so far in Miramar.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Low.

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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?

Mainly for singles (then it is great!).

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

Singles mainly. Very difficult for families. Nowhere for children to play beyond the beach.

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

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

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

Beaches are fantastic! A quick trip to Mussulo and you are in a quiet relaxing place!

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

Seafood.

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9. Can you save money?

Nope, not a chance. The most expensive city in the world.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Certainly not, wish I could be more positive but this is a rough spot. Expensive and the quality is poor.

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

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor

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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?

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