Bissau, Guinea Bissau Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Bissau, Guinea Bissau

Bissau, Guinea Bissau 07/03/06

Background:

1. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

View All Answers


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

Working for UN agency.

View All Answers


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

4 hours from Europe (Portugal).

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Very hard to find a house with electricity and water. For International organization staff, they usually stay in ex-Swedish camp where running water and generator is available. But there is long waiting list and it's expensive (For instance, a tiny flat costs US$800, a flat with 2 rooms US$1,300 a month).

View All Answers


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

It's very expensive since most of goods are imported + tax. Twice as expensive as Europe.

View All Answers


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

Everything and as much as possible. It's expensive and not many things are available.

View All Answers


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

There are a few restaurants. UN cafeteria is a good place to meet expats.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

The unemployment rate is very high and you can get domestic help easily, starting from US$50-100 per month. But you have to select one carefully, as many expats complain of petty thefts.

View All Answers


2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

No credit card/ATM exists. (I saw only one at TAP office.)

View All Answers


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

No.

View All Answers


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

If you purchase Canal +, you may get CNN but mostly French channels.

View All Answers


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

The official language is Portuguese, but French is widely spoken. Few people speak English.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right hand side.

View All Answers


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

There's no train. Local minibus.

View All Answers


3. 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 definitely. The road conditions are terrible and you should have a strong car.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

US$2 per hour. It's slow and quality is not to Int'l standard.

View All Answers


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

There is two mobile companies - Guinetel and Areeba. I recommend Areeba as it has extensive coverage and better quality of service.

View All Answers


3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Use Skype. Phone calls tend to be very expensive.

View All Answers


Pets:

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

People eat monkey, dogs.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Some NGOs may need help. You should ask around.

View All Answers


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

Casual.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

Moderate.

View All Answers


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

Generally safe for daytime. Nighttime should be avoided since there's erratic supply of public electricity and it's very dark.

View All Answers


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

Malaria & Cholera. I had malaria 3 times and my wife 4 times. UN doctor is generally good at treating it. Medical facility is almost non-existent and you should go to Senegal or Europe if it gets serious.

View All Answers


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

Rainy seasons - May to October. Rest of time is dry season. It rains very hard during August, so try to avoid then.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

There are a handful of French and Portuguese schools. You may contact Embassy for more details.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Mostly UN, NGO staff, and a few Embassies. It's a small community.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Can't tell. It often goes extreme.

View All Answers


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 a few discos and restaurants where you will see the whole expat community.

View All Answers


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

It's very hardship duty-station. But you will still find something to do. There's a small expat community and two places to visit for the weekend. A cruise with mainly French tourists, leaving Friday and returning Monday morning is worth trying. It visits various Bijago islands and they are untouched and beautiful. (Before the rainy season only: Jan - May.)

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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

Meditation. Reflect yourself and your life.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


9. Can you save money?

Not really. The cost of living is quite high. But you also have incentives if you work for anInternational organization.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

I love the country, nature, and people despite all the horrible facts. I definitely would like to go again.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

View All Answers


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

Read More