Kigali, Rwanda Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Kigali, Rwanda

Kigali, Rwanda 09/10/19

Background:

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

Mostly in Asia before Kigali.

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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?

United States. Trip takes 18+ hours.

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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.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Some housing is available that mostly meets western standards at the same prices as big Western cities, but chances are you will have problems with something, maybe the electricity, maybe the water, maybe mold, etc. For travelers on a budget, cheaper options are also available, but it's not a particularly cheap city.

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

Local products are limited, seasonal, but very affordable. Imported products often arrive via airplane from Europe, making for very expensive costs. We would often bring home meat, cheese, frozen items when on vacation in South Africa, Europe, or even Nairobi.

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

Anything where you have dietary needs or care about the brand. If you aren't picky, you will find it somewhere in town from time to time (but not always) at high costs.

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

For a poor landlocked country, the variety of restaurants available is quite impressive. Good Indian, good Chinese, some Korean, a burrito restaurant in addition to way too many pizza and burger joints. Fish is hard to find, I didn't like the only Thai food, but honestly, that would be expecting a lot for a place like Kigali. Jumia is popular for delivery, but many of the best restaurants don't participate (often you can call those directly for delivery).

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

Malaria is a serious risk here. We often had ants, and an occasional cockroach.

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Daily Life:

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

Local mail is poor and spotty, but it is possible to FedEx or DHL something. As a diplomat, I could use pouch mail, but it takes three airplane hops at low priority, so one year we had zero packages delivered in December.

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

I was happy with our household help. Gardener/guard and nanny/housekeeper are common. A few great cooks are available, but not many. Drivers are very rare.

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

Waka Fitness or the Marriott gym. Mostly I stayed in shape by walking up and down hills.

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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 only accepted at high end tourism locations like hotels and restaurants in Kigali, and even fewer in the rest of the country. ATMs are more likely to be safe here than other African countries, but still think carefully about which ones you use as you will be walking away with a stack of money so big it doesn't fit in your wallet, as the largest bill is $5-$6 depending on exchange rate.

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

Lots of expats here and a fair number of local services in Kigali are in English.

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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?

English is widely spoken at varying levels of fluency. With the old, West, rural, poor, or political opposition, French is sometimes useful. Every Rwandan will greatly appreciate even a few polite Kinyarwanda phrases.

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

This is a very hilly country least developed country at high elevation. That said, surprisingly good sidewalks, and modern luxury buildings are usually quite accommodating.

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Transportation:

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

Mostly yes. For safety reasons, I suggest avoiding moto-taxis. Buses are fine, regular or private taxis are good.

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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?

A light 4v4 like a Rav4 will be good for the times you want to go to a National Park or your or your friends house is on a street that isn't paved yet. Major highways and urban roads are high quality.

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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 was very happy with Liquid fiber optic, but it isn't available in all neighborhoods and the lowest price starts at about $100/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?

Both companies (MTN and Airtel/Tigo) are pretty good, especiallly considering being a hilly landlocked country. The 4G LTE coverage of bothuses the same Korean-built towers. Very cheap service options available if you are on a budget.

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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?

Lots of great volunteer options. Not many where you can paid Western rates, but Western expertise is welcome.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots of great volunteer options. Rwanda attracts lots of volun-tourists, missionaries, and student travelers.

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3. 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.

The safest country in Africa thanks to a highly effective security state and pliant public. I felt safer here than I do in Washington DC. Be mindful about malaria; hopefully Ebola doesn't come over from DRC. A very rare attack by militants, but you are at least an order of magnitude less likely to be shot here on any given day than you would be in the United States.

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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 care is limited. The system does really well for basic things, even at the rural village level, but if your problem requires an expensive piece of machinery, there's probably only one device in the whole country. There are some options that can decently cater to Westerners. A friend broke a collarbone and had emergency surgery here and recovered fine. Several friends got malaria and recovered fine.

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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?

Good to moderate. Almost no industry in Rwanda and while some cars are very polluting, traffic is only light to moderate. During the long dry season, some bad air can blow in, so my favorite time of year is the short dry season (northern winter).

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

If you have a special diet, it can be hard to find those items locally. If you are sensitive to mold, be thoughtful about where you live.

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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. This is the sort of place you would go to relax and convalesce if you had been born a hundred years ago.

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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?

This might possibly be the world's best climate. The weather is wonderful year-round. The temperate is basically the same every day, a high of 80 and low of 60. Even in the rainy season, the rain will be intense and brief, with the sun coming back again in a couple 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?

Decent variety of small elementary schools teaching to international standards. The small sizes can become a problem in high school, where you grade probably won't be able to pull together a basketball team between you all, pushing some of your peers to avoid this post or go to boarding school, ensuring the problem continues.

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

I found our school was very patient and had the resources for individual attention for all students.

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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. You could hire a nanny, do preschool+nanny, or put older kids into activities after school.

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

Limited options available, many championed by one or more dedicated parents or locals.

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Expat Life:

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

Thousands of expats for development, charity, religion, business, conservation, or retirement. Many of whom have been here a decade longer. Some seem to burn out on political issues or least developed country problems (but this is Africa-lite), but many find this is a hidden treasure.

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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?

Kigali has a small town feel. No two locations are more than 30 minutes away from each other. Small-to-medium gathering are often at restaurants or houses. There aren't clubs like you find in some other international cities, so you'll have to make friends to get into circles.

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

Kigali is, in my opinion, best for families with younger kids. Couples who want to spend time in Africa but aren't sure they can handle Africa will also find Kigali is a great home base. The life is relaxing, things are safe, the weather is great. Singles might find it a bit boring. Older kids might find high school doesn't give them the activities they want.

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

Less bad than other African countries, but small enough that it might be hard to find what you want.

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

Rwandans are, on average, hard to make friends with. Perhaps it's always been this way; perhaps it's because of 1994. They will be polite and make for good acquaintances, but if it rare you will visit a home and become a meaningful part of their life.

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

Lately Rwanda and Uganda have been feuding. It's arguably the cause that several Ugandan-owned businesses have closed. White people seem to draw more interest from young kids, but not really ever a problem.

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

Being a small country, you can head east and spend your weekend with elephants and giraffes in the savannah. Or you can head west and spend your weekend with monkeys and birds in the cloud forest or the shores of a lake. It's a fantastic country for those kids of little trips.

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

The National Parks, Lake Kivu. My favorite place is Ruzizi Lodge in Akagera Park, watching the hippos while having my morning tea. Drive across the border to Uganda for even more beautiful scenery at Lake Bunyonyi, Bwindi, etc. Reasonably well connected airport.

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

A solid location for good quality handicrafts at much lower prices than available in the United States, but by the second of year of Christmas shopping, I was starting to run out of ideas.

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

The world's best weather, easy living, decent restaurant variety, great weekend trips.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

If you are considering Kigali, I encourage you to come!

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

Absolutely yes.

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

Sense of urgency.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, mosquito repellent. Surprisingly thought you are on the equator, you might still occasionally need a jacket for high elevation trips to the Western part of the country.

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

Land of A Thousand Hills by Rosamond Carr. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed. Hotel Rwanda.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Luxury safari travel is really expensive, so don't think you are coming here to save money unless you can be disciplined with the activities you do on the weekend.

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Kigali, Rwanda 06/07/18

Background:

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

No, I've also lived in Bamako.

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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. It can take 24 -29 hours to get from there to here.

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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.)?

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?

We have a large open layout house on a double lot. Our house is not common, as most are very sectioned off and are on small parcels of land. Most houses are very large, and the ones in the housing pool tend to be newer construction. It is hard to drive 30 minutes and still be in Kigali; most commute times are 15 minutes.

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

If you buy locally food is less expensive, though meat is still close to American prices. Chicken is more expensive than beef, and beef tends to be the least expensive of the meats. This is likely cultural, as historically Rwandans used to only eat beef.

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

Pouches for kids, but most things you can get here. We often freeze meat (e.g., bacon and specialty meats) and cheese when we are traveling back to Rwanda. Wine is very expensive, and the local beer options, though plentiful, leave a bit to be desired.

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

Repub, L'Epicurien, Kiseki, Poivre Noire, Pili Pili, RZ Mana, Zen, The Great Wall, The Hut, Sol Le Luna, and Habesha. Most food options are available for delivery on Jumia Food.

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

Roaches and millipedes. There are also lots of termites during dry season.

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Daily Life:

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

Yes, through the diplomatic pouch, though sending is much more restricted. I have never tried to use the local postal facilities.

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

A gardener's salary is about US$170/month, a housekeeper's is US$170/month, and a nanny is US$250/month.

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

Waka fitness in Kimihurura.

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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 widely accepted in Kigali, and are generally safe to use. I have used them a few times, but often use accommodation exchange and pay in cash.

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

Catholic and Christian Life Assembly.

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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?

None, but you should learn the greetings.

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

Yes. OSHA does not exist here.

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Transportation:

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

I have never used them. They are reliable, but in my opinion, the drivers are not great.

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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?

The cars that you can find, and fix relatively cheaply, are Toyota Rav 4 and Suzuki Grand Vitara. In general bring a Toyota, as many other vehicles cannot be serviced, or will be very expensive to fix. Kigali is paved, but if you want to go to Akagera, or hiking Mt. Bisoke, you will need something with higher clearance. No issues of burglary/carjacking, but small pieces of your car may go missing (e.g., lights and mirrors).

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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?

We have not had good customer service with Liquid, but the actual product is great (fiber). The installation happened within a week. There is also Axiom, which has great customer service and the product is great, but it is super expensive.

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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?

MTN is the largest provider. There is also TIGO, and some other options.

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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?

This is really spotty. There is a vet named Jode who is good. No quarantine. In general, Rwandans do not seem fond of dogs due to the role that they played during the genocide.

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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?

Many USG expats are employed by the embassy, though there was a recent hiring freeze. Getting a job on the local market is harder as Rwanda is promoting the hiring of Rwandans.

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

The embassy requires business dress, and business casual on Friday. In general, Rwandans in professional settings are well-dressed. Women shouldn't wear short shorts or spaghetti straps.

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Health & Safety:

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

There are police on nearly every street corner in Kigali. With that being said there are still seem to be issues of pickpocketing and theft. I have heard that one thing that thieves like to do is troll conferences, and pretend to be participants in order to steal things on breaks.

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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?

King Faisal Hospital is the premier hospital in Kigali, and they have many issues. Most everything requires a med evac.

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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?

Good.

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

You can find some gluten free in the German Butcher and other specialty grocery stores. Expats seem to be able to live here with peanut allergies.

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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?

Mild year round; the perfect weather.

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Schools & Children:

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

ISK, KICS, and Green Hills. I haven't had any experience with them, though many expats send their kids there. There are not many good senior high options.

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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?

Lots of preschools and daycares are available for moderate cost (e.g., US$500 per term). There are many Montessori options, and we love Happy Hearts.

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Expat Life:

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

Medium, as it depends which organization they work for. We love it here!!!

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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 many play dates for kids, there is a local trivia night at a pizza place, HASH, etc., though we have only taken advantage of play dates.

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

It is great for families! There are so many school options, and activities for kids to do.

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

Yes. We haven't had any issues.

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

I have not heard of any.

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

Fish Farm, Hiking Mt. Bisoke, Kings Palace, National Art Gallery, trip to Lake Kivu, easy access trip to Uganda to see the gorillas, Nyungwe forest, Nyamirambo Women's Center and Walking Tour, Genocide Memorial and many up country memorials.

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

See above.

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Kigali, Rwanda 12/13/17

Background:

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

No - Bamako, Colombo.

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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?

Idaho - takes at least 30 hours (stopping in Amsterdam or Brussels, then usually Chicago or Minneapolis)

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have been here almost 2.5 years so far.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Our house is a single level detached family home. Most houses are fairly large and multi-leveled. Floors are always tile (usually of varying styles, sometimes varying styles in the same room!) - houses are not of the "open floor plan" design; they are very cut up often with unusable spaces, but this is typical in most places we've been. Most families are in Kagugu, which is a newer neighborhood with dirt roads, large houses, and smaller yards. Some families are in Kimihurura, Kacyiru, or Kiyovu...these neighborhoods mostly have smaller, older homes with larger yards (with some exceptions).

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

Anything imported (ie cheese,yogurt, chocolate, non-tropical fruits, cured meats, etc) are quite expensive and not always available. Recently, the price of decent butter shot up significantly. Sometimes there will be weeks when butter and milk can't be found...but not too often. There are some good grocery delivery services (Get It, an American run business; Frank at Garden of Eden; GroceWheels to name a few) and produce is generally pretty good and not too expensive. I do feel like we spend a lot on groceries though.

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

As a consumables post, we always ship oils, vinegars, peanut butter, jams, jarred sauces, laundry detergent, soaps, toiletries in general, paper products, ethnic foods/sauces/seasonings. Amazon covers a lot of the dry goods.

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

No chain restaurants. There are a good number of decent restaurants though; Korean, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, salads. Jumia foods is a delivery service and they will delivery for most of the restaurants in the city for a nominal fee.

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

Termites after heavy rains, cockroaches, centipedes...nothing outrageous.

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Daily Life:

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

We don't send mail unless they are letters or small envelopes...the mail room will only send very small packages. Receive mail through diplomatic pouch. I've never used the local post.

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

Readily available and inexpensive. It can be challenging to find one person who can "do it all" - most household staff generally prefer to do one thing; cleaning, cooking, nannying, gardening, etc. A part time housekeeper (2-3 days per week) can be found for 60,000 - 80,000 rwf (less than $100 per month). Nannies are a bit more.

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

The embassy has a small gym. There are several gyms in the city, a bit pricey. Some expats do cross-fit in their homes.

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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?

We never use them - people have issues with being double charged. Only expat friendly places have card readers.

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

Several Christian denominations including Anglican, Mormon, Catholic....

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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 don't need to know Kinyarwanda to get around. English is good, and if you know French it is even better as much of the older population speak more French than English. Rwandans love it if you try to speak Kinyarwanda though.

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

Probably.

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Transportation:

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

No trams or trains. Buses aren't well regarded and drive like maniacs. Taxis are shoddy and not cheap. Motos are cheap but dangerous and not allowed by the embassy security office. You really do need your own vehicle.

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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, with decent clearance. The roads in Rwanda are pretty good but if you do go off the paved roads they get bad in a hurry. Some neighborhoods aren't paved and get bad in the wet season. There are a few semi-reliable mechanics but stick with the usual brands for the region like Toyota, Nissan...
Don't bring a sedan.



Burglary is pretty common. Don't leave anything of value in your car. People often have random exterior parts stolen (logos, mirrors, lights) if parked in an unsupervised area...don't bring a car you're super attached to!

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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?

Decent internet is available - Liquid Telecom has been installing fiber optic internet throughout the city and it starts at about 70,000rwf per month (this is the best option - we stream Netflix without too many problems this way). Axiom is a broadband company - their service is about double the price and service is slower, but for areas without fiber optic this is the best alternative.

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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?

MTN is the best local provider. Not too expensive; bring an unlocked phone, buy a sim card, and load your phone as you need it from street vendors.

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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?

There are some OK veterinarian options....not great but passable. No quarantine. People here don't like dogs at all and there aren't many street dogs because the population is frequently culled. WAG is a semi-shelter/adoption service.

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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?

Most who want to work do so at the Embassy or USAID. There are several though who work on the local economy successfully, though local salaries aren't much.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are several opportunities; schools, orphanages, English language programs, WAG.

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

Business attire, not overly formal. Casual Fridays.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not really. Break ins, muggings, and burglaries seem to be on the rise and the embassy no longer provides night guards (just a roving patrol) - make use of alarms, exterior lighting, etc. Most crime is petty and non-violent.

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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?

There is some medical care, but most serious situations require a medevac to Pretoria. Malaria is a risk, though not terrible in Kigali. Bilharzia is present in fresh water.



There is an Indian run optometry set up that is ok, and several foreign and local dentists though many people medically evacuate for dental issues.

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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?

Pretty good. In the dry season (June through September) the dust can get bad. I haven't felt affected by bad air quality though!

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

Some mild seasonal allergies, nothing serious.

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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)?

Not really.

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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?

Really wonderful. Kigali is at a decent elevation so it doesn't get TOO hot, cools off nicely in the evenings, and is sunny a lot of the time. Even in the rainy seasons (October-December, February-May) it doesn't rain all day, just in short bursts.

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Schools & Children:

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

ISKR is the accredited school (PreK-12) and is pretty good, especially for the younger kids. Starting around middle school the number of students dwindles a bit, but the numbers have picked up more and more since we arrived. They are trying to expand and they do after school activities including soccer, swimming, art, gymnastics, etc. It is all very amateur but the kids enjoy it!



Other families send their kids to the Belgian School, Kigali International Community School (Christian), or the Earth School (Montessori based)

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

I can't say I know much about this...there aren't many special needs kids here.

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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?

There are expensive and inexpensive preschools and day cares. We sent our son to a local, French preschool for two years and he picked up French very quickly and it was very inexpensive.

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

Soccer, swimming, tennis....

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Expat Life:

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

Mid-sized. There are a lot of NGOs here too. Morale within the embassy is ok... a lot of people try to socialize outside of the embassy community as well.

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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 isn't a lot to do in Kigali, so there are a lot of birthday parties, house get togethers, pot lucks, bbqs. People meet at kid friendly restaurants like Pili-Pili, Heaven, J-Lynn's, Century Park on the weekends to socialize. There is an improv group, an art group, an orchestra...

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

Singles don't seem to love it here. There just isn't enough to entertain them. Couples do ok, but not great. Kigali is really a family post. There are tons of kids and a lot of the social activities center around getting kids together.

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

I am not entirely sure. I think the LGBT community is pretty hush-hush, but there are a number of LGBT mission employees.

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

There are some remaining, underlying ethnic prejudices in Rwanda, but they aren't always obvious. While Rwanda ranks very high on the gender equality scale in some articles you might find, the reality is quite different. Women here still have it rough.

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

Rwanda is small so we get out a lot; trips to Uganda (Queen Elizabeth National Park, the Rwenzoris, Lake Bunyoni, Lake Mutanda, etc), Tanzania (drive to Serengeti, Kigoma, or Katavi, for the adventurous). Within Rwanda, Akagera is a nice little getaway, especially if you enjoy camping. Lake Kivu is relaxing (though not a lot to do with kids, since you can't swim). Chimp or gorilla tracking in Nyungwe or Volcanoes National Parks.

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

Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda is a "hidden gem"...the vibe in Uganda is different than Rwanda and can be a welcome change.

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

A lot of the good wood handicrafts are from the Congo.



Rwanda is famous for woven baskets; they are beautiful and inexpensive. Abraham Konga does some nice jewelry and handicrafts at fixed prices. More than Sparrows does some nice needlework runners, pillow covers, dishtowels.

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

It is relatively safe. It is quiet and traffic isn't bad, short commutes. The weather is really nice.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

It can be hard to get to know locals.

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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:

Winter gear. Strict timetable. Intolerance for bad customer service.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience. Sunscreen.

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Kigali, Rwanda 01/25/17

Background:

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

No, I have previously lived in Ontario (Canada), Taiwan, Bangladesh, Austria, Lebanon, and Serbia.

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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 city is Salt Lake City (USA). The trip is two 10-hour flights - Kigali - Amsterdam - Salt Lake City.

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3. How long have you lived here?

6 months.

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

I work at the 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?

I have a four bedroom, 3.5 bath house with a lovely garden. Most people have houses, although there are now also a few apartments in the housing pool. The apartments are small compared to the houses, but large compared to DC. Housing is located around the city.



I live about 10-15 minutes from work. Most people commute about that long, maybe a little more. The city isn't large, and traffic isn't terrible, but the roads are very winding, so movement from one side of the city to the other takes about 30 minutes.

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

This is a landlocked, agricultural, African country. There is fresh produce, but quality is occasionally a miss. Any familiar food is imported, and you pay for it. A lot of items come from Kenya, and aren't terribly priced, but products/brands you are familiar with come from far away and cost a lot.

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

Cleaning supplies and liquid food items should be shipped. Thanks to Amazon and the pouch, you can get almost anything else you need. But take advantage of that consumables shipment. Just beware of bringing too much. A lot of people find themselves trying to sell off their extra before departing post.

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

There are a bunch of good restaurants, and almost all of them participate in Jumia Food, a food delivery app service. Your food won't arrive quickly and usually isn't hot, but it is super convenient, and there's plenty of time for having the oven ready for reheating.

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

I haven't had any problems.

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Daily Life:

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

There is not a DPO here, although the process for getting one has been started, for what that's worth. We use the Embassy pouch mail. The downside is that you can't send packages out, only bring them in. Also, the pouch has some more strict regulations than the DPO.

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

Everybody has it, and it's cheap. I pay 120,000 RWF (about $150/month) for a full time employee who does both housecleaning and yard work. Most people will hire housekeepers and gardeners (often part time/sharing), as well as nannies.

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

The embassy has one that employees use for free. The big hotels have them, and sell memberships. Not cheap.

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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?

Although some places do take credit cards, and there isn't a large amount of fraud, I prefer to use cash. I get it from the Embassy or from the ATM on the embassy compound. I think others do use the ATMs locally, but I choose not to.

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

Mormon, Catholic, Congregational, non-denominational, perhaps some others.

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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 don't need the local language, but learning a little will expand your experience here. You can take lessons locally.

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

Yes, I think it would be challenging.

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Transportation:

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

You can take taxis, but not the moto-taxis. The cost isn't really cheap, and I mostly prefer to drive. You have to have a car here, although it takes 4-6 months to get it. People have relied on the embassy, bought a car here and sold it upon leaving.

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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?

You'll want some variety of SUV. I have a Toyota RAV4 which I love. Public roads are paved, but even a lot of neighborhoods aren't and have deep potholes. Driving out of the city means a lot of rough road. Toyota is a good brand to have. No real risk of carjacking.

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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?

One company has started providing fiber-optic internet, which is cheaper and more reliable. They aren't yet available all over the city, but I think that is their goal. I use them and pay just under $100/month for good internet. My colleague lives where they aren't yet available and pays around $200/month for not-as-good internet.



Installation is reasonably fast and easy. You can also buy reasonably priced wireless hotspots that can provide home internet until you get it installed.

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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?

Most people bring an unlocked phone and buy a local sim card. There are a variety of options depending on how much data you want. My only complaint is that you have to go into the office each month (or week) to renew the plan. It's basically pay as you go.

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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?

There are veterinarians. Not as well trained, but still OK. Animals do not need to be quarantined. You just need to make sure you provide the relevant info to the Embassy and they will prepare the import papers. People here are generally afraid of dogs, but not aggressive to them. There are strays, but not many.

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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?

Some work at the embassy, some work locally for NGOs. I don't know much more.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots if you look for them.

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

Rwandans dress well. You'll see business or business casual. Formal dress is only needed on rare occasions.

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Health & Safety:

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

This is a very safe place to live. You can walk around after dark. There's no fear of being alone as a woman. We can't drive out of the city after dark, which is more a reflection of driving/lighting than anything else.

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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?

Local health care is very limited. Most medical conditions that can't be treated at the embassy health unit require evacuation. Malaria is a concern here, and most people take a prophylaxis.

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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 fluctuates. There's lots of dust, sometimes debris from burning (either for warmth or disposal), and some seasonal plant-related problems. I haven't found the air quality to impact my daily life.

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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)?

Just general frustration with the difficulty of getting anything done or finding what you want. But people are generally happy 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?

It is very temperate here. Located just below the equator, and at nearly mile-high elevation, we have temperatures ranging from 70F-85F daytime and 55F-70F at night. It is wonderful. I have an A/C in my bedroom, but never use it. There are two rainy seasons, each lasting a couple of months, when it will rain for a couple of hours nearly every day.

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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 an American school, which most families use. Also a Belgian school, and an English-based Christian school, both of which are used by a couple of families.

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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?

Yes, there are preschools. For day care, most people have nannies. I'm not familiar with any in-depth info.

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

There are some.

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Expat Life:

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

There is a large expat community, mostly made up of people working with NGOs. People are generally really happy here.

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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?

Restaurants/bars/nightclubs. There's a weekly quiz night at one restaurant. Lots of cultural events. You can socialize as much as you want.

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

I think it is good for anybody. There's a good young crowd, and also a good school community.

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

I don't think there's much of an LGBT scene, unless it's underground. LGBT diplomatic couples can come to post.

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

There is much room for improvement, but few outright problems.

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

This is a beautiful country. I've had the chance to visit a few game parks in the region, and have had amazing up-close animal experiences. There are also lovely places to stay in the country - lakeside, in a rainforest, etc. Also good regional travel.

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

I don't know about hidden gems, but you should do a gorilla trek, visit Akagera game park, and generally get out of the city.

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

Yes, lots of great handicrafts. Baskets are a big item, but also fabric crafts, wood crafts, and jewelry. Great shopping opportunities, and very reasonable prices.

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

Lots of nature here, and with easy access in surrounding countries. Easy access to things in the city, very safe, kind people.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

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

Absolutely.

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

Winter gear.

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4. But don't forget your:

Hiking boots, camping gear (if you do that kind of thing), shopping bags, and hammock (great for patio especially on lazy mornings when the air is cool and lovely).

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

I loved "A Thousand Hills" by Stephen Kinzer. The movie "Hotel Rwanda" is a good insight into the 1994 genocide. The ripple effect of that is still felt in some aspects, and it is good to understand it. It is also interesting to watch "Gorillas in the Mist" about Dian Fossey who founded the gorilla preserve, and "Rising from Ashes" about the creation and growth of the Rwandan national cycling team.

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Kigali, Rwanda 04/05/16

Background:

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

No

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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?

Kigali to DC via Amsterdam on KLM usually which is about 24 for the whole trip door to door.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1.5 years

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

Embassy work

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Commute is quite short - 10-15 mins max, and there's rarely what Americans would consider traffic.

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

Groceries that are for the Western market can be quite pricey so most people order their dry groceries from the pouch. Selection also varies and therefore it's better to plan your consumables shipment wisely, especially items like wine and olive oil.

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

Just bring liquids in your consumbles as you can't ship them to post. Bring plenty of laundry detergent and dish soap too -- our housekeeper has commented on how diluted the dish soap is here compared to the concentration of the ones from the U.S. so we go through the local stuff like crazy. People tend to host parties/bbqs a lot so bring things for grilling, outdoor toys, local beers, etc. Would also bring more bug repellents like candles or lights that can hang outside as well as all natural roach spray.

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

Fast food can be found at Mr. Chips where you can get a burger and fries for about US$6.

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

There has been an increase in malaria during my time here among the expat community, though not many cases (that I know of) within the Embassy community.

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Daily Life:

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

We get mail through the pouch. There's been talk of a DPO for some time but as of now, can't mail anything out except returns.

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

Availability is not an issue -- cost varies from US$100-160 on average for an expat full time housekeeper which may or may not include extra money for their lunch food, all depending on the hours/days you have them working. However, you tend to get what you pay for so for a housekeeper with better English and experience, who can maybe do some cooking too, expect to pay in the US$140 and up range.

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

Yes but the Embassy gym is decent enough and free, not usually too many people there if any.

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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?

We only use them at larger hotels when traveling around the country but never in Kigali. Others do without an issue from what I've seen but we choose not to.

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

There are Catholic, Christian (non-denominational), Mormon services available that I know of.

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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?

None, but always nice to learn the basics.

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

Yes, it is not ADA friendly as it is very hilly and many cafes have steps leading to the main door.

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Transportation:

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

No trains, buses and motos are not safe and off limits for Embassy personnel and taxis are hit or miss. The latter are not at all affordable for daily use.

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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 4 wheel drive for sure, extra tires, and whatever spare car parts you may need like air filters, an extra set of wipers, oil for oil changes.

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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, with more options on the scene all the time. Internet has changed a lot in our time here and we currently pay US$200 for unlimited 4g. A lot depends on your neighborhood as far as which provider has the best service in your area.

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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 one that is unlocked.

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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?

Lots of NGOs though surprisingly, I've heard it can be hard for some to find something locally. However, if an EFM, the Embassy has a lot of options.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plentiful through orphanages, schools, churches, NGOs.

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

Work is business casual to business -- public is more casual but conservative. You don't see a lot of women in shorts but rathar, longer skirts or pants.

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Health & Safety:

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

There has been an increase in crime in the last year (2015-2016) in Kigali in the expat community but again, not that I'm aware of among the Embassy community.

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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 care on local market is not good at all so if med unit can't help you, you are medevac'd to Pretoria.

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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?

Though the air looks clean, according to the med unit, the air in Kigali can sometimes be 3x worse than the worse air quality in the U.S. due to lack of controls over emissions and all the motos.

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

Rainy season brings in all sorts of fun allergens so bring your meds & inhalers.

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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?

Two rainy seasons, otherwise moderate with warm to hot weather. Usually pleasant in the early mornings and late evenings.

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Schools & Children:

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

The two main international schools are ISK and KICS, both of which are great and at which people seem to have had good experiences. It mostly depends on whether or not you are looking for the Christian aspect of the education. However, there are Muslims and other faiths at KICS which have not had any issues that I know of.

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

KICS has a special needs program that is just starting.

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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, preschools are plentiful but quality can vary. Many people opt for ISK but it's pricey. KICS will be starting a preschool next year.

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

Yes, soccer is quite popular as is ballet. There are some martial arts options too.

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Expat Life:

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

Smallish Embassy - maybe 80 Americans at post? Morale varies greatly by section but like anyplace, it's all about what you make out of it. Always a good idea to make friends outside of the Embassy bubble, especially as this is a smaller post.

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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?

BBQs are the big thing, as are events at the Marine House.

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

Good for families; I think it might be quiet for singles, though the singles at the Embassies do seem to hang out together and have built a community.

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

I'm not sure as it seems to be a pretty conservative culture.

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

Not that I've seen.

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

Gorilla trekking, tea plantations, enjoying nature

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

There's the Gasagara pottery place where you can get a hands on lesson and buy pottery circa 90 mins from Kigali. Sorwathe Tea plantation is also that same distance and is very scenic for a day trip to learn about how tea is processed. Azizi life offers cultural excursions where you can see what life in the village is like and that is just over an hour away. There is trekking the Congo Nile trail for those interested.

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

Easy to get clothes tailor made here, textiles, baskets, and dung art.

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

Quiet city, moderate weather year round, very green.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes though traveling out of Rwanda can be expensive.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

You will have to make your own fun so plan accordingly. The homes can be massive so bring plenty of wall art and/or pictures so they don't feel so sterile. You can find paint locally and the houses that are painted have so much more character than those without. Easy and inexpensive to hire a painter on the local market.

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

Yes -- not always easy living here for sure, as the culture can feel closed off and does not open up to try to get to know you or to let you know them.

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

Fish aquarium, loud music.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen & bug spray.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Gorillas in the Mist

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

Land of a Thousand Hills, Rosamond Carr
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch
God Sleeps in Rwanda by Joseph Sebarenzi

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Kigali, Rwanda 10/16/14

Background:

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

This is my first expat experience in Africa. Most refer to Kigali as "Africa Lite." My only other experience has been in 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?

Washington, DC is home The trip takes 23-30 hours generally with a layover in either Brussels or Amsterdam.

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3. How long have you lived here?

A year and a half.

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

I am the spouse of a State Department employee.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is often oversized with nice yards for gardening. Typical commute is about 10 minutes driving. Most expats live in Kagugu, but the other neighborhoods each have wonderful offerings and expats as well. Everything is pretty close so you're never too far away from anyone.

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

Local prices are not too bad, but imports are very expensive. Cream cheese can set you back US$10 or more.

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

More liquid and canned items.

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

There is a Chipotle like restaurant called Meze Fresh that is fantastic and Mr. Chips for fast food. Decent prices there being less than US$10 for a full meal. Other restaurants are available too and have great food! Indian, Italian, Asian, and a weekly Mongolian BBQ special at the Serena Hotel...all are there. It's less than DC pricing but not by much.

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

Mosquitos and ants are what we've mostly combated. Ants are big in the dry season, but FM has a gel that is helpful. Bring spray for hanging out outdoors and you're generally ok.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch.

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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 easy to hire and generally low cost. A housekeeper could be anywhere from US$150-$300/month depending if they also nanny for you. A gardener could be about US$100/month part time. Things can grow quite easily in Rwanda so bring seeds!

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

Yes - the larger ones are expensive (Waka and Serena hotel), upwards of almost US$200/month. Cali Fitness near Kagugu has decent equipment, classes, and pricing. The embassy gym is a bit small, but there are plans to expand/improve I believe/hope.

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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?

ATMS only take Visa cards. Visa is the only card you'll be able to use in country. And it's unreliable and not the most secure. Bring your check book and use local cash.

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

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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?

English is one of the main languages but learn a few Kinyarwanda phrases and it'll go a long way with the locals.

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

Yes, unfortunately. The majority of places are not handicap friendly.

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Transportation:

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

Embassy staff may not use 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?

No restrictions on location, no issues with carjackings, but do lock your doors when you leave your vehicle. A high clearance vehicle is best as residential roads are generally not paved.

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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 access is available for about US$40/month. I can't quite say it's high speed though. Investing in a VPN (like WiTopia) is a good idea if you want to try and use Amazon Prime videos or similar.

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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?

Generally fairly easy to get and cheap. To call the U.S. is usually about 10 cents/minute.

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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 coming in. There is an American vet in town as well a good local vet who trained in South Africa. Come with most things because pet supplies in country generally do not exist.

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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?

Jobs on the local economy are possible but it is low paying generally.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

MANY! Get involved and it'll make a difference in your tour to be a part of the local community.

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

Work is business casual, although some do wear suits. Locals are pretty stylish. Shorts are generally not accepted, although you see Kigali becoming more and more westernized. It seems to be worse to show your knees than it is to show your shoulders or cleavage. Still, err on the side of slightly conservative.

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Health & Safety:

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

No big security threat here. You can walk around freely - just be prepared to be starred at. It's harmless. Petty crime/theft is possible in crowded areas or if things are left unlocked.

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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 real health concerns. It is a malaria post and the health unit supplies those meds. Come stocked with neosporin and other over the counter stuff as you won't find American brands locally.

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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 generally good, but in the dry season it can be dusty and those with allergies should come prepared.

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

Bring your meds and kleenex.

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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?

I've heard some liken the climate to San Diego. It's usually 70's-80's F year round with two dry/rainy seasons. The rain storms are reminiscent of Florida where they last an hour or so and then it's dry the rest of the day most of the time.

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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 are about four or five schools that are most commonly used including a Montessori option. We do not have kids so my knowledge on this is limited. High schools do not have much too offer for AP courses other than online offerings, although Green Hills Academy offers an IB Program. This is continually being improved so talk to the CLO as things will likely change!

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

Unfortunately there is no great option for this.

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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?

There are several although many use domestic staff for daycare.

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

Yes - soccer as well as City Arts has a variety of dance and other classes.

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Expat Life:

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

Expat community as a whole is a decent size. Get out there and meet folks! Morale is good.

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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?

Kigali has a movie theater that is decent; restaurants; house parties and bbqs; embassy events; night clubs and bars - there is plenty to do if you look for it.

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

All of the above although nightlife can be a bit sleepy.

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

It isn't widely accepted; it isn't widely accepted in general to show public affection. There are groups working on better acceptance so again, this may be something to change as time goes on. There are not dedicated nightlife places though as you may see in other locations.

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

Not that I noticed.

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

Nyungwe National Forest is a great getaway. My husband is much better traveled than me, and he said this is his favorite place in the world. It's a peaceful and serene getaway. More and more great restaurants are popping up around the city. I've also enjoyed the shopping in Kigali - finding various co-ops and their specialty - jewelry (some which is sold to Anthropologie and another to Ralph Lauren), quilts, pillow cases and linens, furniture, and more...

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

If you look for it, you can find it. I heard of a moto-polo match happening weekly but never took the time to go and find it. Kigali Life is a great resource as are the Living in Kigali and Eating in Kigali sites.

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

The bead work with jewelry is particularly beautiful.

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

Kigali is a fantastic post! The country is the size of Maryland and there are no security restrictions (other than you cannot drive outside of the city after dark - because of trouble seeing people on the roads), so you can travel around the country quite freely. There is something to see in every corner - easy weekend trips, day trips, you name it. You can definitely save money here, although if you eat out most nights, it can be expensive. Kigali has no shortage of great restaurants! And the weather is unbeatable. Even during the two rainy seasons, it is rare that rain lasts all day - often it's shorter storms passing through.

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10. Can you save money?

Absolutely.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Imports are VERY expensive, so prepare your consumables well. Liquids can't come through the Pouch so prepare accordingly. And it's a cash based economy, so don't forget your checkbook to get money out from the embassy cashier.

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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:

Expectations - just enjoy the beautiful country around you.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and bug spray. Also olive oil - it's quite expensive locally!

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

There is a YouTube video on Rwanda by Mammoth Productions that is incredible. Great way to see the different parts of the country. CLO will send this with a welcome/recruiting letter.

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

The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World is a great book that includes Rwanda.

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Kigali, Rwanda 07/23/14

Background:

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

This is our fourth tour: Haiti, Zambia, D.C.

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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. It takes between 20-24 hours to get to the east coast. KLM/Delta: KIG-Amsterdam-DC.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One Year.

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

Spouse of State Department employee.

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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 people live in single family homes and have a 15-minute commute to work. Traffic is nonexistent in Kigali. Houses are large with big yards. We really love our home here! Kimihurura is a fabulous neighborhood to live in!

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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 grocery stores in the area, availability depends on the day. Items come and go. Produce is cheap and you get the best deal if your housekeeper gets the produce. Groceries cost a bit more as Rwanda is landlocked.

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

Toiletries, cleaning products, peanut butter, chocolate chips, canned chicken, canned fish, canned salmon, maple syrup, any specialty flours or grains.

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

There are fast food and restaurants in Kigali with a wide range of food. Food is decent and relatively cheap. But there isn't a lot of truly excellent food options.

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

There are some mosquitos, ants, roaches. However, we didn't take malaria meds while we were on the ground as incidents of malaria in Kigali are minimal. If you travel to the west then malaria meds are recommended. We had some roaches and ants at our place when we first arrived but facilities maintenance got on it right away and we haven't had issues since.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch. Supposedly getting DPO soon.

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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 readily available and very good. A bit pricer than than some African countries but pretty great.

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

Yes. There are 2 larger gyms at The Serena and Waka fitness. They are pricey!

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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?

Visa can be used at most restaurants and grocery stores.

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

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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 can get by fine with English. The population under 30 mostly speak English/Kinyarwanda. Over 30 French/Kinyarwanda.

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

Likely yes. There are lots of sidewalks in Kigali but the city is hilly and is difficult to get around. Most business are not handicap equipped.

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Transportation:

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

Buses/Motos are not safe. There are a few trusted taxis companies that you can take here.

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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?

You want a four-wheel drive with clearance so that you can go to Akagera. Bring parts!

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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 is. But it's expensive. We've been through 5 internet services in our first year. I run my own business from home so internet is vital. We now have 4G which is in trial but appears to be working.

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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 cell phone companies TIGO and MTN. You can bring an unlocked phone. Phones are expensive here so better to bring one from the states.

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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?

Pets don't need to be quarantined. We brought over our cat. The vet care is ok but not U.S. quality. There is an American veterinarian in country but she's been here for a long time and was originally a gorilla doctor. She can be a bit rough but she shows up in a pinch. There are also two Rwandan vets in town but I haven't used them.

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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 can definitely work on the local market. Most of the jobs are in development. In addition, it's relatively easy to start your own business here. The front office is incredibly supportive of spouses and it's is the best supported embassy I've ever been in in terms of proactively creating jobs both inside and outside of the embassy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are quite a few opportunities out there.

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

Slightly dressier than the U.S. Wouldn't recommend shorts or short skirts in public unless you like getting a lots of attention.

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Health & Safety:

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

There are very few safety concerns in Kigali. Very little petty crime. There are grenade attacks occasionally in the markets, these are generally centered around political shake-ups in country and happen a couple times a year.

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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 care is not good here. If anything happens you'll be medevac'd out.

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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 good for the most part. In the dry season there is a lot dust so that can affect air quality.

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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?

AMAZING! The weather is great here! There are 2 dry seasons and 2 wet season. The weather is 60-80F degrees all year round.

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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 are several international schools but I don't have children so I am not well versed in the schools.

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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?

There are preschools/daycare but once again I'm not a good reference.

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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?

Good size community and most people seem really happy here.

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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 in home entertainment, eating out, house parties, a few bars at night.

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

I think it's a great place for everyone. But it might be a bit sleepy for singles looking a nightlife scene.

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

The city doesn't seem to to be pro or anti. You don't see open affection and there isn't a locally "out" population as homosexually is culturally frowned upon but we have a couple at the embassy and they've never mentioned harassment.

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

There are racial undercurrents that run back to the 1990's genocide and it is a paternal society so men hold the power in most households. Expats are approached with curiosity, so it's likely that you will be stared/yelled at when you are in public. The gender prejudice doesn't seem to spill over onto expats.

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

Tourism includes seeing the gorillas, volcanoes, and Nyungwe forest.

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

Visiting Rosamond Carr's plantation and orphanage Imbabazi where Diane Fossi often stayed. Lots of beautiful crafts especially with weaving and African products---my favorite is the Nyamirambo women's center!

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

Rwandan crafts-- baskets, fabric products.

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

Rwanda is incredibly clean and organized. It's a small country so you can see all of it in a short amount of time. The weather is perfect here, 60-80F degrees all year round as a perk of living near the equator.

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10. Can you save money?

Absolutely!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

It's a bit sleepy. So be prepared to make your own fun! It is what you make of it!

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

Yes! It's been a great tour!

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

Jackets!

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen!

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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?

Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda,

A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda,

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Rwanda has been an amazing tour!

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Kigali, Rwanda 09/13/13

Background:

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

First experience.

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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?

Atlanta, about 19 hours of flying time with a layover in Amsterdam.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

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?

Large houses close to the embassy. Traffic on its worse day in Kigali is still not that bad.

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

We spend around US$150 a week on a family of four. It all depends on if you are buying and eating like a Rwandan, or if you are purchasing a lot of imported goods. Chicken breast cost about US$10 for 1 kilo, milk is about US$5 for 5 liters, and produce is reasonable at the market, but expensive at the grocery store.

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

We actually did do it again and we shipped a lot of canned vegetables, and other canned type items. We also shipped some of our favorite dipping sauces. We are always ordering all our dry goods on Amazon. My recommendation is use your consumables only for liquids.

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

Fast food does not exist here. Even if there were a McDonald's, it would still take you an hour to get your food.

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

Mosquitoes and ants are my biggest complaint. And they are not even really a complaint so much as they are just two little facts of life.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch.

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

Cost is rising because once help goes from one American to another they do not make less, and they typically get a raise. We pay US$580 a month for: a full time nanny (US$220/month), a full time housekeeper (US$200/month), a part time housekeeper on Saturday (US$60/month), and a part time gardener (US$100/month).

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

I think there are some at the nicer hotels, and at the Embassy. I just jog and do some push ups.

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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?

We use ours at the largest chain grocery store in the region, but that is it.

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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?

TV is available. The best English package costs about US$100 a 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?

It would definitely help, but everyone gets by OK without knowing anything beyond pleasantries. Most Rwandans speak some English.

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

Many - I have difficulties pushing a stroller around.

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Transportation:

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

I think all local transportation is safe. Embassy staff are not allowed to take motos because the drivers are careless and always crashing.

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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?

Small SUV is fine. The more exploring you wish to do the larger the vehicle you need. A sedan type car would not work here as only primary roads are paved. You will be living on a bumpy dirt road.

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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 is available, but don't expect to stream video or skype whenever you want.

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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?

Readily available.

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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)?

There are 2 vets available (I think), but I have yet to have a reason for them.

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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?

Business casual at work. Before I arrived I was told this was a conservative society, but I have not seen it. A woman has no problem wearing anything she wants. But be prepared for the stares just as you would receive them stateside.

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Health & Safety:

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

Fighting on the border region with the Congo, and random grenade attacks in the city.

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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, but my family and I do not take the meds. Knock on wood.

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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?

Not too bad, but you do have vehicles spewing black smoke from their exhaust.

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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?

Eternal Spring.

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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?

I use a nanny.

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

I don't know, but I am sure soccer would be available.

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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 decent size.

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2. Morale among expats:

In general morale is good.

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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?

Restaurants, bars, and house parties.

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

I think overall it is great for all.

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

I think it is ok, but I also feel like the Rwandans appreciate a little don't ask don't tell. With that being said there are gay and lesbian expats here and they do fine.

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

None that I have noticed.

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

Having a large house during the nesting phase of being new parents, nice restaurants, and weather.

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

Go see the gorillas, a weekend on Lake Kivu, a safari in Akagera, or just relax in the wonderful weather.

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

Cheap carved wooden stuff that breaks easily. There is a small art scene.

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

The city is safe and clean, although there have been 3 grenade attacks in the last 8 months. I still go for runs, and my family and I take walks with no issues.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't spend it.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I let the whole being landlocked thing get to me, so probably not. It would depend on my choices though. Rwanda is higher on the list than many other options.

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

Impatience.

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3. But don't forget your:

Pet grooming tools.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Hotel Rwanda of course!

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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. Do you have any other comments?

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

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Kigali, Rwanda 05/06/12

Background:

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

Multiple prior expat experiences.

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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?

Flights from the U.S. connecting through Europe (10 hours) and South Africa (5 hours) take a day.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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

Affiliated with 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?

Houses are large and pretty, but of poor quality construction. Most have decent yards. You are never more than 20 minutes away from any destination in Kigali.

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

Household supplies are available, typically of the South African variety. Groceries have improved a lot in the past year, but items like cheese, butter, or chicken can disappear for months at a time. The produce is generally good, as is the beef. You can save money and add variety if you shop the local markets.

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

We're glad we brought pasta sauce, BBQ sauces, spices, Asian cooking supplies, quality toilet paper and other paper products, personal and feminine products, and liquid laundry detergent. Pet supplies are indispensable.

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

The only fast food restaurant in Rwanda is Mr. Chips, which serves good burgers. Other than that, service is slow even by African standards and costs are on par with Washington, DC. If you can accept poor service, then you can get great food in many restaurants. Genuinely good Italian, Indian, Korean, Ethiopian, and French are easy to find. Rwandan food consists mostly of meat brochettes, starches, and beans.

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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?

Organic food and speciality products per se are difficult to come by. Rwandans get very little meat in their diet, and it is possible to eat decently as a vegetarian in Rwanda. Dining out is easy for vegetarians, with several excellent Indian, Korean, and Ethiopian options in Kigali.

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

Malarial mosquitoes are here and there. You roll the dice if you skip your anti-malarials.

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Daily Life:

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

Rwandan mail is not reliable. DHL, UPS, and FedEx are in town, but be prepared to spend hundreds of dollars to send a small package. The Embassy is limited to diplomatic pouch, which means you can receive decent size packages, but only send letters out.

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

Household help is available, but of generally low capabilities. I would not trust a Rwandan driver with my car, period. Knowledgeable gardeners are few and far between, but decent nannies and housekeepers are a bit easier to find. They average a $150-200 per month for full time.

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

Yes, the major hotels have gyms offering memberships at U.S. prices.

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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?

If you have a Visa bank card (sorry, no MasterCard), then you can use the ATMs that cropped up this year. Credit cards can only be used at major hotels. Rwanda is a cash-based country.

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

There are churches of many different Christian denominations, as well as Sunni Muslim mosques. Some have services in English.

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

Truth in journalism is not Rwanda's strong suit, but there are a couple of English language newspapers and many Kinyarwanda tabloids available. TV is extremely limited in Rwanda, so bring your AFN decoder or South African DSTV.

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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?

English will get you far, French will help, and Kinyarwanda will get you smiles.

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

Kigali is a hilly place and the sidewalks are not graded, where they exist. Elevators are few and far between. Seeing-eye dogs could pose a problem, as Rwandans are almost universally terrified of dogs and sometimes act aggressively when they see one.

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Transportation:

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

Moto taxis and buses are cheap ($3 to cross the city), but they drive like mad. Regular taxis are more expensive ($15 to cross the city) and generally safer. Be prepared to negotiate unless you find one of the few metered cabs.

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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?

Toyota SUV. Good luck getting any other brand repaired. All of the major roads in Rwanda are paved, but secondary and tertiary roads even in Kigali are unpaved dirt tracks that wash out in the rain.

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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 runs $100-200 per month and is barely sufficient for Skype voice calls. Give up on video or anything streaming.

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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?

Cell phone service is reliable and inexpensive. It is very easy to buy a SIM card and airtime. MTN, Tigo, and Airtel all have footholds in the Rwandan market.

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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, but get all their shots in order.

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

There is one pretty good American vet in Rwanda. Kennels are non-existant, as are pet supplies. Rwandans are terrified of dogs and most housekeepers will not want to work in the same house as one, however small and cute.

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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?

Yes, if you are qualified for development sector or teaching jobs and can convince the Rwandan government to give you a treasured work permit.

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

Business to business casual at work, casual in public. Rwandans are receptive to a wide range of clothing.

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Health & Safety:

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

Just petty crime. Kigali is much, much safer than big cities in neighboring countries.

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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?

Health care is extremely limited. For anything worse than the flu or a sprained ankle, expect to spend time in Johannesburg or Nairobi.

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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?

Great!

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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?

The weather is beautiful year around. There are two rainy seasons and two dry seasons, totaling about 8 months of rain. Temperatures in Kigali seem to range from 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55-70 at night.

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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 are several international schools in Kigali, with variable quality.

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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?

Again there are several options. The Belgians seem to run the most popular choice.

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

Yes, but limited.

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Expat Life:

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

Several thousand. The Americans, Brits, Belgians, French, and Dutch are here in numbers, mostly due to development work.

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2. Morale among expats:

Moderate to good. Kigali is Africa lite and many people enjoy a few years here. The biggest drains on morale tend to be boredom, stressful jobs, and, especially in the development sector, over-demanding and under=performing Rwandan partners.

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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?

Home entertainment and dinner out are the two mainstays in Rwanda. Other than that, there are few bars, fewer clubs, and no movie theatres or the like. There is one small bowling alley that recently opened.

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

Kigali is best for families with small children. There is always a family BBQ on the weekends, and room for kids to play. Families with older kids will have a more difficult time, as extracurriculars are limited and Kigali is a quiet place. Couples will do well with dinner parties and the restaurant scene, but it can definitely get boring if you want a variety of other things to do. Male and female singles seem to fare very well here, dating both locals and expats, despite there only being half a dozen or so bar/clubs in town.

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

The Rwandan government is more tolerant of LGBT than governments of neighboring countries, but society is conservative. It is much more difficult to be an LGBT Rwandan than an LGBT expat.

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

The 1994 genocide left deep scars on Rwandan society, and surface behavior aside, the tensions between Hutu and Tusti will persist for decades, in spite of earnest government efforts to cast aside ethnic differences and unite as Rwandans. Rwandans blame the international community for abandoning them during the genocide, and they are not afraid to let "muzungus" know they are not welcome.

There are no real religious tensions between religious groups in Rwanda, only schisms within religious groups for political reasons. Gender remains an issue in Rwanda, even though many women occupy high government positions. Gender-based violence is far too common, and Rwandan men visibly try to dominate Rwandan and expat women in the workplace. It's like the U.S. in the 1950s.

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

Seeing the gorillas is the highlight of any stay in Rwanda. Resorts on Lake Kivu are a nice getaway, as is Nyungwe Forest. Akagera makes for a nice day-trip safari. Other than that, it's all about time with friends.

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

BBQs on the weekend, soccer matches at the national stadium, the dining scene, weekend getaways to Lake Kivu, safaris in Akagera, gorilla tracking, other hiking opportunities.

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

Baskets, patterned fabrics, East African handicrafts, and Congolese statues (if they don't scare you).

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

Rwanda is a beautiful country with a constant spring climate. Kigali is safe, pleasant, and clean -- not a common combination in Africa.

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11. Can you save money?

It's possible, but not easy. Kigali is about as expensive as Washington, DC. Travel is extremely expensive, and gorilla-tracking is outrageously priced.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. We have been pleasantly surprised with Kigali, and are content with having a two-year tour here. More than two years would be too long; less than a year would be too short.

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

Heaviest winter clothes and need for the latest electronics or entertainment.

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3. But don't forget your:

Hiking boots, umbrella, and patience.

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

Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
and Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
by Jean Hatzfield, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda
by Philip Gourevitch, and Land of a Thousand Hills by Rosamond Halsey Carr.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Gorillas in the Mist, Sometimes in April, and Hotel Rwanda.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Come for the weather, stay for the friendship, and leave before the boredom and Rwandan arrogance ruin your stay.

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Kigali, Rwanda 04/02/12

Background:

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

No - Middle East, Africa, South America

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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, D.C. - 20hours with a layover in Europe (Brussels or Amsterdam).

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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.)?

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?

Mostly single family homes, some apartments and a few duplexes where you'll share a wall with your neighbor. Housing size is usually oversized and many end up in housing way to big for their position - many times it is all about timing. The Embassy is centrally located to all the housing neighborhoods - commute time is anywhere from 5 minutes (in the Embassy's neighborhood) to 20 minutes in the outer neighborhoods.

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

Groceries are available but pricey. Items are grown and made here, but many are also imported from Uganda, Kenya, UAE, South Africa, Belgium.

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

I've been around, so I know: anything liquid, put in your consumables. But for everyone else, must haves are: coolers, camping equipment, booze and wine (expensive!), ragu, salad dressing, mustard, vanilla extract.

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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 here - Italian, BBQ, Chinese, Indian, Japanese. The cost is comparable to a mid-priced restaurant in the U.S.

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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?

There is no "Trader Joes" here and finding those products can be difficult. Most people bring specialty items in their consumable shipment.

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

During the rainy season, mosquitoes. And they carry malaria.

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Daily Life:

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

The Embassy has its own mail facilities. DHL is available to use, but pricey.

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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 readily available, but quality varies so greatly you may end up hiring and firing a number of times before finding "the one." Don't be surprised if you are asked for loans over and over, the laundry detergent disappears and items break on their own in place with no explaination. Also, you will lose clothes to bleach stains, iron burns and rips. Good luck!

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

Yes. The Embassy has a small gym for employees. There are a number of hotels with gyms that can be used for a fee.

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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?

Use credit cards only at the major hotels, and even then, I would still use cash. ATMs are available only if you have an account with a local bank.

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

There are a number of religions practiced here - Catholic, Jehovah's Witness, Islam.

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

Most Embassy employees have AFN.We have to pay for the decoder box, but the Embassy provides the satellite.

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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'll do fine with only English, be at an advantage with some French and be an amusement with Kinyarwanda.

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

This would be a difficult city with people with physical disabilities. Sidewalks are not guaranteed. Many roads are unpaved and are a mess when it rains. Drivers are inconsiderate and do not stop for cross walks.

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Transportation:

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

There are strict restrictions on riding many of the public transportation options, particularly the mopeds. They are a real hazard on the road with no regard to their own safety, their passengers or anyone else.

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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?

S-U-V.Some housing neighborhoods are on dirt roads and are a mess when it rains. You also need a car with some power - you'll need it when overtaking slow moving trucks on the hills.

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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?

High speed! What a joke."Fast" is relative to the neighborhood you live in and what internet provider services that area. For example, in Kagugu, where only Altech is available, 512K will cost you $130 a month. When up, one can Skype and download a Kindle book pretty good. When down, which is often... well, what can you do?

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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 a cell phone. Pre-paid minutes are cheap and this is very much a text messaging country.

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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, but make sure you have all your ducks in a row. Chips, rabies shots, cargo vs. baggage. Make sure you have all your paperwork with you.

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

There are a few vets available, and care is "okay."

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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?

Depends on your qualifications. The Embassy offers employment to family members, but it is all about arrival time. Outside of the Embassy, if you don't have the qualifications to work at one of the NGOs or the schools, you won't be working.

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

Business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Just bring your street smarts and you'll be fine. Make sure all your car doors are locked before walking off. Hitting the button on your remote lock isn't good enought.

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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 is present, but I know of many people who do not take the meds. There are a few dentists who are decent for basic care. Other than that, outside of our Health Unit... good luck. There are frequent medevacs 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?

The air quality is good.

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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?

The weather is always in the 80s. The dry season is during the summer. The rains come and go, sometimes with severe thunder and lightning storms you can see approaching from a distance. Other days are dreary and overcast, but for the most part, beautiful.

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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 are quite a few schools available, however most children attend the same schools.

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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?

There are a number of preschools both in English and French, some half day and some for the full day. They are okay - good enough for socializing the little ones with other children.

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

Through the schools and there is a private swim instructor that some of the Embassy parents use.

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Expat Life:

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

Relatively large. There are a number of other diplomatic missions, as well as USAID implementing partners. Quite a few young adults involved in their NGO projects.

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2. Morale among expats:

Depends on who you talk to. It varies in the American Embassy community, but I would say low to medium. The sadness and PTSD from the Genocide lingers even now - 18 years later. You often here the Rwandans blame the internatinal community for not intervening. It is exhausting. At work, the hours are surprisingly long, certain employees make the work life difficult, and working with the government can be tedious, at best. As one colleague put it best, "this place sucks the soul out of you."

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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 is a lot of entertaining in homes and people frequently go out to restaurants. There is also a bowling alley.

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

This is a very, very boring city. There are no parks for families, no movie theaters.

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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?

The Genocide was 18 years ago and the Government of Rwanda makes a real effort to promote"Rwandans" versus the Hutus or Tutsis. If you are white, you will be stared at, made fun of in Kinyarwanda and people are generally standoffish and can be very rude. They do not care for muzungus and they let you know it.

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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"?

There is not much to do here.

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

Macy's baskets, jewelry, paintings, fabric, bags. You'll buy this in the first 4 months you are here, and then will be done.

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

The weather is always in the 80s.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes and No, but you can't go anywhere. Gas is EXPENSIVE.Gorillas are expensive. Zanzibar and Safaris are expensive.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No, no, and no. This is the most boring Post I've been to, and the perpetual sadness is depressing. Add no beach and you can't get in the lakes due to bilharzia...

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

Expectations... yes, it is very clean here, but it is a surface clean. You are still in Africa.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, bug spray and DVDs. Anything with a lithium battery (can't send these through the dip pouch).

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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 Bishop of Rwanda

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Hotel Rwanda

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Kigali, Rwanda 07/28/11

Background:

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

3rd overseas tour. Been to Accra, Ghana and Geneva, Switzerland.

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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?

Seattle, Washington. About 16 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years

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

US government work

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

It varies. But no matter what house you get, it is a maintenance nightmare. There are no rules or regulations governing construction, so don't be surprised if things break immediately after moving in.

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

Food prices are increasing here. Inflation is hurting the average citizen.

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

You can buy almost everything here if you are willing to pay the price. But bring olive oil (expensive here), mexican spices, paper products, air tight containers to protect food from unwanted critters, brown sugar

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

No fast food restaurants. If you get your meal within 30 minutes, that is considered fast.

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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?

I have not looked for gluten free products, but it is probably difficult to find. If your vegetarian, you can get by. There is tofu (have to look for it), beans and paneer cheese. Organic - varies. Pesticides are used, so you have to be careful.

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

Not too buggy in comparison to other Africa countries. There are mosquitoes, roaches, ants, but not soo bad that you are constantly battling them.

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Daily Life:

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

Send mail through the Embassy.

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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 get what you pay for. If you are trying to go cheap, expect the house hold help to steal from you. On the average, one should pay at least $200 a month for a full time help or nanny. Cost of living is increasing and these people have families to provide for as well.

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

The Serena and The Manor hotel have gyms. The Serena is expensive, but it includes the use of the pool.

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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?

There is an ATM machine at the airport and one at the Nakumatt center. However, both do not take all cards. Don't bother bringing in traveler's checks. No one takes these, not even the banks.

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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?

Yes.

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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?

If you have Kinyarwanda, you will go far. But you can get by in english for most of the time.

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

Very few buildings are handicap friendly and very few have elevators that are operational.

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Transportation:

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

No. The drivers for the motorcycle taxis and small buses are horrible drivers and traffic accidents are increasing. The buses that drive between the cities can be dangerous as the drivers pass on curves and speed down the curvy mountain roads. However, if it is your option for transportation, it is affordable.

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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?

You can get by with a sedan as roads are nicely paved. The only place that I have needed an SUV is for the gorilla trekking.

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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. cost unknown.

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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?

Cell phones are the norm here. You can obtain a cell phone easily.

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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, but you must have the vaccination paperwork available when you first arrive.

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

No kennels. There are 2 vets in 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?

There are jobs available.

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

For the embassy it is business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

It is one of the safest countries in Africa. There is petty theft and electronic items are highly sought after. The grenade attacks were of concern, but the police are doing what they can to address the problem.

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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?

If you swim in the lake water, make sure you get tested for schisto. Malaria is still around, and people tend to get complacent about taking their meds. King Faisel Hospital is the largest one in Kigali, and I think they are accredited now. There are various clinics throughout the country that are doing the best they can, but they would not be able to take care of a large problem, such as a traffic accident, heart attack, etc.

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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?

Most of the time it is good. During the dry season it is dusty and hot.

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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?

Nice and cool during the rainy season. Dusty and hot during the dry season. However, even during the dry season, the evening hours is lovely.

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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?

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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. Between the NGOs and faith-based organizations, there are alot of expats all over the country.

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2. Morale among expats:

Mostly good. It is a beautiful place. It is not hard to live here, but you are far away from home and family.

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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 bars/dancing clubs, but it starts up late (around midnight). For people who have to work early the next day, it tends to be dinner at a local restaurant or entertaining at the house.

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

Yes. Not alot of night life for singles, but there are many things to do depending how outgoing you are.

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

So-so. There are no gay clubs, and it is frowned upon by the local population. Have not heard of any gay bashing here though.

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

The local women are not treated very well by the Rwandan men.

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

Nyungwe Forest, gorilla trekking, climbing Mt. Karisimbi

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

Kigali - the memorial, exploring the various neighborhoodsOutside of Kigali - make a trip to Nyungwe Forest. Don't just see the gorillas, the golden monkeys, Dian Fossey trail, Mt Karisimbi hike are wonderful as well.

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

Rwanda baskets, beads made from magazine pages.

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

Kigali is growing rapidly and new restaurants are opening up all the time. Rwanda is a beautiful country with rolling hills, tea and coffee plantations, and mountains.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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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:

canned green beans, winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

sense of adventure, irony, and 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?

Shake Hands with the Devil

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Sometimes in April, Kinyarwanda, Shoot the Dogs.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Kigali's art scene is improving and more students in the film industry are producing films. Every year there is a film festival and Rwanda films are shown. Make sure you go to "Kwita Izina" that occurs in June. It is the annual naming of the baby gorillas ceremony and it is a big deal.

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Kigali, Rwanda 10/20/10

Background:

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

My fourth.
Asuncion, Paraguay; Nicosia, Cyprus; Antananarivo, Madagascar

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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?

9 months April 09-Jan10

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

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?

Most of the housing is five to ten minutes away in the morning, and if you're lucky, you'll get the one of the houses less than a mile from the embassy.

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

Get your consumable goods into the country asap. There is a small commissary at post, but that is only supported by using other peoples' consumables rate. If you don't bring it, it won't exist in your house.

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

Toilet paper, paper towels, chocolate syrup, more cereal, all babyfood items and diaper-relatd items.

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

Zero. This country is austere. Don't let the green canopy fool you. The restaurants pride themselves in taking forever to bring your food out. They think that it's a sign of good quality if it takes them an hour and a half to bring you some meat on a stick.

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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?

The fruits and vegetables in the markets are as fresh as it gets. You just need to wash them in a mild bleach solution.

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

Locusts attack the embassy twice a year. Don't worry, though, the guards and local children come and conduct a counter-offensive, collecting the insects in plastic bottles to take home to cook. Malaria meds are needed in country

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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 only.

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

Eight dollars a day per helper. You could have a full-time maid, a cook, and a part-time gardner and live without lifting a finger while at home.

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

The U.S. Embassy has a gym. Novotel and Serena have workout facilities.

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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?

No ATMs in country. Don't do it. Use the embassy cashier.

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

There are a couple of english christian services that you have to dig around to find. Haven't seen any other religious sects having services in english.

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

None. Find an AFN dish.

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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?

Just like in the rest of Africa, the more local language you know, the cooler you are to the locals. But, english is an official language, and a decent amount of people speak it, as well as french.

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

Shopping for fruits and vegetables in the open market will be difficult. Also, unless you are in a vehicle, getting up and down all the hills will be difficult. Rwanda is the land of a thousand hills.

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Transportation:

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

All buses and moto-taxis are off-limits, but there are some other sedan type taxis that cost a decent amount but are safe.

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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?

SUV all the way. You should get no smaller than a RAV4, but make sure to bring parts. Don't bring your brand new Humvee with titanium rims, you'll just get your feelings hurt. Saftey concern - Never stop for anyone at night.

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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 is a pain. You'll pay at least $100 a month for internet that you can at least skype or vonage back to the states on.

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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?

Hopefully you get issued one. BlackBerry's aren't a top of the line item in country yet.

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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)?

You can bring your pets. There are no kennels here.

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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?

Polo slacks, ties/slacks

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Health & Safety:

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

None that I am aware of.

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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 yellow fever shots are needed. Watch out for the schistosomaisis, it will kill you dead.

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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 pretty poor during the day in the capital, but at night and outside of town there are zero problems.

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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?

There are two seasons, a hot summer where it rains in the afternoon only, and then the dry hotter months, where it gets a bit cool at night.

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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 are (2) shcools I can remember. They have programs for all ages, but cater mainly to mid-school and younger. Teens will have adequate schooling here.

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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?

Just use a maid/nanny to take care of this need. Eight USD a day

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

There are minimal organized sports available for students.

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Expat Life:

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

There are a lot of NGOs but they are all about their own business, so you have to dig around to find them and make friends outside of the embassy. They're all over the place, though.

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2. Morale among expats:

Very good. Rwanda is probably the best-kept secret of East Africa in regards to good security and is a safe haven of peace.

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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?

This is a good city for adventurous people, whether with or without children. You should definitely get out of the city every weekend to see something exotic.

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

Last I heard the government was trying to join Uganda in banning homosexual activity, but I haven't seen any anti-homosexual sentiment coming from the local populace

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

There are still underlying racial divisions with the Hutus and Tutsis from the 1994 genocide, but for the most part, you could spend your whole tour here and not even notice. It is a mainly Christian country with a surprising number of muslims on the fringe of the city and in some of the rural areas. You'll see a mosque or two. Women are slowly getting more rights here, but prostitution does still exist in some parts of town.

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

I have enjoyed visiting the wildlife at the Gensenyi and National Parks. Also: rafting down the large lazy river just outside of the capital city, and visiting Lake Kivu for a weekend.

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

A few food spots. There are some nightclubs that are filled with a lot of stinky locals that love to dance and sweat. Most fun is had outside of the capital, checking out the jungle to the south west or the parks in the North and East.

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

Wood carvings, or go down to Burundi and get a custom-carved drum for little money.

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

Tourism, terrain appreciation, safety, saving money.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely, if I had to get posted in Africa.

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

Xbox Live membership. I heard WoWC is playable though.

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3. But don't forget your:

Hiking shoes, bug spray, outdoor equipment, and a nice inflatable boat - if you have one. People will kill you for it. Those are hard to find and very coveted.

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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:

Gorillas in the Mist

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Appreciate this place. Other African posts suck in comparison.

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Kigali, Rwanda 01/23/10

Background:

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

No, also Beijing China 2005-2007 and Shekou China 1994

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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?

West Coast, 36 Hours. Most flights come through Brussels.

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3. How long have you lived here?

August 2007-June 2010

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

U.S. State Department

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Everything is about 15 miutes from everywhere else. Traffic is near non-existant. Expat housing ranges from very large to condos.

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

There is a lot of fresh produce, however as Rwanda is a landlocked country most imported things are expensive and American brands are scarce. Dairy and chicken are also very expensive. Unless you are willing to pasteurize your own milk long life is the only milk available. I think the long life milk is good.

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

Basically most food you like you can't get here, so pack it. Anything liquid or glass can't come through the pouch. We’d also bring a ton more books, movies and video games, there isn’t a movie theater here, or too much to do once you've done what little that is here. Also canned chicken The chicken here is tough and tastes... okay.

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

There is no fast food restaurants or restaurants that serve food fast. However decent restaurants are availble. There are multiple pizza parlours, Chinese, Indian, African, a nice coffee shop (Bourbon), also Heaven which is a restaurant with a nice atmosphere and serves "international fusion cuisine". They are also strongly involved with community projects. Meals range in cost from 3 bucks (african and the like) to 20 dollars. Most meals tend to be at the more expensive end.

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

There are some mosquitoes during the rainy seasons, but as long as you sleep with a net it's fine. They only come out at night and they don't carry malaria.

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Daily Life:

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

Rwanda has no APO, we use the pouch.

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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 available. In fact, if you can hire help and you don't it is considered very rude and selfish. We have a maid, gardener and guard. A maid costs around $160/month at 5 days a week 8 hours a day for a gardener it's around $120. The price of guards vary.

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

Yes, at hotel Serena, Laico Umubano Hotel (Previously called the Novotel), and also at the local sport clubs Nyarutarama and Cercle Sportif.

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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?

There aren't any, unless you use a Rwandan bank.

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

Catholic, Protestant, LDS (Mormon)

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

Yes, both are available in English. I do not know the cost, we use AFN.

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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?

None really. President Kagame is moving Rwanda away from French and to English. However market shopping is better if you speak the language, and of course it is always good for relations if you know friendly greetings and the like. Rwandans respect expats who can speak even a little of their language.

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

There are no wheelchair ramps and very few elevators while there are very many stairs. It could be a difficult city to live in.

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Transportation:

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

There are no local trains. Taxis are safe, and both metered and bargained priced taxis are available. There are motorcycle taxis, which are reasonable safe, but the U.S. embassy does not advise people to use them. There is a local bus (van, more like it) system, the buses are very old though, and the drivers questionable. The U.S. Embassy has also spoken out against them due to safety. International bus travel is also 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?

The best car to bring is come sort of SUV. Although most main roads are now paved or cobbled secondary roads are still dirt and driving on them can be quiet and experience. The rainy season does a number on them. Toyota is the most common car and so parts are more readily accessible as is repair. It is not allowed to import right hand drive cars (British style). In early 2006 there was a carjacking, it was quickly addressed, and since then there have been no carjackings.

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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, some days are better than others, but it's much better since we first got here. It costs aroud $140 a 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?

Cell phones are reliable and readily available. There are three phone companies, MTN and Tigo are pay as you go and Rwandatell offers packages. I am very happy with my MTN phone.

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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)?

There's Alphonse the one armed vet. I don't know how he does it, but he does a good job. And knows all the information you need to export animals. There are no 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?

Not really, unless you speak Kinyarwanda.

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

Smart casual, professional Rwandans dress quiet well. Slacks and button down shirts. If you are a woman in public be sure to cover up your thighs. The men here will go gaga for them.

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Health & Safety:

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

Petty theft. Be sure to use common sense as you would in any city. As long as you don't give anyone the opportunity to rob you, you will be fine.

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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?

Health Concerns? After three years we aren't sure what we have. But we are a lot more tired and worn out than when we arrived. Oh and stay out of the fresh water lakes, they carry Schistomiasis. At least Malaria isn't much of a concern. Don't drink the tap water, of course.

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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?

Good, there is some garbage burning but not often and not much and the rain takes care of anything that gets too bad.

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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?

Paradisiacal. Not to hot, not to cold, not humid, not dry. Just wonderful. There are two rainy seasons, one in the spring and one in the fall. But the season isn’t a nonstop rain more like an hour or so daily.

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Schools & Children:

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

The two American Curriculum Schools are International School of Kigali and Kigali International Community School. ISK is fairly new but is growing and working on becoming a part of the greater international school community. www.isk-rwanda.org. KICS is a Christian School, that targets Rwandan and missionary families. www.kicsrw.org . Green Hills Academy is a British Curriculum school. There is also Ecole Belge which is a French speaking school following Belgian Curriculum. We chose to pull our children out of KICS after two years because they were not actively pursuing accreditation and because of their required religion classes. We are happy with ISK, a secular private school, and are happy to see ISK strive towards accreditation and quality education. However, we know people who are happily enrolled in KICS.

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

There are not any accomadations, or special needs kids, at this time.

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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?

ISK, KICS and Greenhills offer Preschool at age three.

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

Yes: Soccer, Tae Kwon Do, tennis, also ballet which is a new development.

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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?

Our family has enjoyed our posting here, lately the dynamics of the expat community have changed, leaving less youth and more young families, couples and singles. There is very little night life, but it can be found.

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

Recently the government attempted to outlaw homosexuality, in the end it fell through. Nonetheless homosexuality is not readily accepted amongst the local population. A very common sight is men holding hands. However, they are not gay. It's just a culture thing. You can even see policemen who are holding a gun with one hand and another man's hand in the other. They're friends, that’s all. Women do it, too. What’s rare is to see men and women holding hands.

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

Rwanda is actively working to overcome its racial prejudices from the nineties.

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

Getting to know the Rwandan people has been wonderful, as they are open and welcoming. Travel is our love and Rwanda's location offers a good base to do this from. The Gorillas were amazing; we were able to get so close. Rafting the Nile is just 10 hours away and it is fantastic.

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

Interesting:Butare's National Museum and Kigali's Genocide Memorial. Fun: Lake Kivu, with beautiful Kibuye and Gisenyi town. Also many other small road trips throughout the country. Akagera is a small game park in the east of Rwanda and is a good starter park. You can camp or stay in a hotel there. Nyungwe forest is an often over looked park here in Rwanda. It is full of monkeys, hiking and a general rainforest habitat. Oh and of course Gorilla Trekking.

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

See above. There is also some jewelry, woven peace baskets, masks, and various fabric crafts. It is also possible to get limited quality tailored clothes.

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

Amazing Weather, on average its 62F-82F year round. Very Clean, much cleaner than any other African nation we have visited, also much safer. There is Gorilla Trekking in the North and chimpanzee trekking in the South. Rwanda is located near many other great safari countries, but only has a small park itself. We save a lot of money here due to the fact that there's nothing to buy. The people are very welcoming and friendly, be sure to wave.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, because there is nothing to buy after you have bought your banana leaf crafts, carvings and placemates.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, perhaps a shorter tour though. Two years, not three.

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

Coats, preconceived ideas from of Rwanda, your bike (remember this IS the land of 1000 hills).

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience, Sense of Humor, Movies, Books - especially the guide book, Maps, Sense of Adventure, and soft toilet paper. The stuff they sell here is like newspaper!

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

Brandt Rwanda guide book, Land of a Thousand hills, A Small Pebble in a Big Pond.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Sometimes in April, Shake hands with the devil, NOT Hotel Rwanda.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

We love Rwanda and the people. This is mosly the warnings, don't let them scare you off. It is a great experience.

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Kigali, Rwanda 09/16/08

Background:

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

Yes, though half of my family lives in Mexico, so I have spent a lot of time there.

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2. How long have you lived here?

3.5 years.

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

SN Through Brussels.

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

Worked at clinical research site.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

From small dumpy, but very cheap (10,000 Rwf/month) locals apartments to hugh homes for several thousand dollars a month.

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

Imported items extremely expensive, maybe they will come down a bit when Nuki Mat (Kenyan grocery chain) opens. Local meats and produce was cheap. Don't bother buying the overpriced seafood that was always freezer burned.

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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?

No fast food, cheap Rwandan resturants and quite a few over priced expat resturants. The pizza at Sole Luna was the best and they also had a very reasonably priced lunch buffet. Bourbon coffee offers excellent coffee in a Starbucks style atmosphere.

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Daily Life:

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

Local is actually pretty good. Though don't expect them to deliver your packages. You need to go to the post office and look through their log book to find your package. Also there are several different logbooks depending on the size and weight of your package.

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

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3. 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 ATMs, though it looks like it, they are actually prepaid card for access to money. I think they are working on it though. I used my credit card for cash advances though the exchange was poor. Better to bring 2003 and newer US$100 bills for exchange.

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

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

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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?

People really like it and you gain a lot of respect if you use even just the slightest bit of kinyarwanda. Rwanda is also now becoming somewhat anglophone.

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

It would be very difficult not many elevator in building, curbs are quite high, no automated doors, people rush and cut lines. They are installing a lot of sidewalks, but no ramp to get on or off sidewalks.

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Transportation:

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

Right.

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

No trains. Bus service is cheap. Mutatus (mini bus even cheaper. Non metered taxis negotiate on the price before getting in. Motor bikes were always available and cheap.

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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?

4-wheel drive, Toyota. No car jackings that I ever heard of. No driving on the last saturday of each month from 8am-12 because of Umaganda (national work day).

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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?

Expect landline quality with the high speed internet that is available in country.

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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 prepaid phone if your work does not provide you on. Billed service can be expensive and getting the deposit back at the end of your stay can take a while.

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

Skype.

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Pets:

1. 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?

There are depending on your skillset.

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

Casual to formal. In general Rwandan dress up in there nicest clothes for work, I was always under dressed compared to them, though if I had meeting I would dress up out of respect.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not so good because no emission control on vehicle, burning rubbish and cooking with wood.

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

Pretty safe in general, need to be concerned about thefts and home burgulary.

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

Poor services available, best to have soem sort of evac insurance if you can afford it.

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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?

Long rain, long dry, short rain, short dry and always quite plesant.

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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?

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?

A lot of them around town our daughter went to L' ptit bout, whcih she seemed to like.

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Expat Life:

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

Quite large, I was always surprised going and meeting people who had been there as long as I had that I never saw while I was there.

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2. Morale among expats:

There is a few whiners out there, but most people seemed to enjoy themselves and made the best of it.

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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?

Dinner parties, bars, nightclub, movies.

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

Yes, yes and yes. I enjoyed myself there and many people I knew enjoyed themselves as well, though there are limited activities available though it is improving.

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

I knew a few people who were gay/lesbian, though the community I guessing is quite small.

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

Yes among Hutus and Tutsis though you never hear anybody opening talk about it. Though it is nothing like it used to be, now it is mainly espressed through jelousy and accusing people of crimes. Then there is the whole racial thing being an expat or bettwer known as Muzungu. It was not threatening in any way, but it really wore on me. I probably heard people call me Muzungu on avarage of 100 times a day, somewhat tiring.

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

I really enjoyed exploring the Rwanda's 1000 hills. I mountain biked regularly, ran, hike and climbed through out the country. There is the gorillas, mountain climbs, forest hike, primate treks, small safari game park and camped. Uganda has many options which are less than a days drive. Non-U.S. mission folks can climb an active volcano in Congo. There are reasonable priced flight to Kenya and Tanzania for safaris and beaches. I wasn't bored.

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

There is a lot of nice Congolese crafts, but the local crafts were not so nice, with the exception of the drums.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes there is not much to spend your money on, unless you take a lot of trips out of country.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, the mountain biking was the good.

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

Bring your bike, unlike what someone else said earlier, I found the country to have some of the best riding I have ever done. I had three bikes there and rode them about 3-4 times a week.

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3. But don't forget your:

Bike.

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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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Kigali, Rwanda 08/09/08

Background:

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

No, San Salvador, Philippines.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 1/2 years, departed June 2, 2008.

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

SN Brussels has semi-direct flights. SN Brussels will stop in Uganda and/or Burundi to pick up passengers prior to arriving in Rwanda.

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

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?

Housing is difficult to acquire in business and expat areas of the community. Regardless of accommodation, water, electricity, and waste disposal can be problematic. City water may not be available from hours to days. Electricity to various parts of Kigali is also problematic.

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

The majority of imported items originate from Europe and South Africa. The majority of expats who live in the community will buy fruits, vegetables, meat/chicken/fish from the local markets or butcher shops. Sundry and toiletries can be costly.

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

If you have Westernized children who are picky about their food, then consider these items. For example, Pizza in Rwanda is OK, but not like what you would purchase in the US. The pizza is prepared like what would you would expect in London, and/or Italy. Flat crust, local cheese, and minimal toppings.

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

Rwandan, Indian, Chinese, Italian, and a smorgassborg of the above is available. With the exception of Rwandan food, do not expect equivalent quality and/or service. The average price for single entry items range from 5000 RWF and above (US$10 minimum).

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Daily Life:

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

DSL is available but costly. Local delivery is unrealiable. Thus if friends are travelling home and are willing to be couriers is about the most reliable method.

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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 to include household staff, cooks, nannies, gardeners, drivers and security are easy to come by. English and French speaking individuals are easier to come by. Acquring help is usually by word of mouth from friends and/or colleagues. Cost can range from 20,000 RWF (US$40) to 100,000 RWF (US$200) per month. You get what you pay for.

It is noteworthy to mention that a foot soldier in the Rwandan Army gets approximately 20,000 to 40,000 RWF per month, and a University professor at 100,000 RWF per month. 3-month probation is customary, but after that you must provide severance pay. Often you will not know the local law which requires household help to report their income and pay towards a government retirement plan. The Employer must also pay a certain amount. The majority of the people do not do this at the request of the domestic help. The domestic helpers will rationalize that the limited income they receive is barely enough to make ends meet. However, should you have problems with your employee the will be the first to report you to the local labour board. You will have problems. At the end you will pay! Also note domestic help will always have some type of emergency and request that you advance them their wages. Payment to the employers is by minimum deduction to their monthly salaries. Don't be surprise if your help has short term memory or does not return. Always have them sign a receipt that they received their wages at the end of the month. Rest assured they will go to the local board stating you never paid them in months.

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3. 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 recommend the use of Credit Cards regardless of hotel and/or restaurant. ATM machines are sparse. If you are utilizing US$ make sure the date is over 2003, and/or is free of imperfections.

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

Evangelical Christians, Catholic, Protestant, Seven Day Adventist,Jehovah Witnesses and soon the LDS: Mormons services are available in English.

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

Local English papers are limited to the scope of content and perspective probably due to governmental censorship, thus not recommended. If you want English TV you will have to have to purchase dish satellite service. Aside from the equipment and installation, monthly bills can range over US$100.

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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?

Most governmental agencies and service oriented facilities have French and English speaking individiuals. English is what is being emphasized in schools. But that will be generations before most of the people outside of Kigali can communicate effectively in English. The local Rwandan language (Kenyarwandan) is utilized in the entire country.

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

Rwanda government buildings, the private sector, and NGO's have not made significant attempts to accomodate people with physical disabilities. It is tough getting public transportation and accessing buildings if a person is utilyzing a wheelchair, crutches, and/or some form of ambulatory type of equipment.

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Transportation:

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

Right hand side of the road. Vehicle purchased in the past accomodated left side of the road driving since vehicles were purchased in Japan, the Middle East, and in neighboring countries such as Uganda that drives on the left side of the road. These vehicles are slowly being phased out. You cannot import a vehicle which drives on the left side of the road.

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

True expats who have lived in Rwanda utilize the local buses, motorcycles, and taxi's for transportation. The mini buses (vans) will accomodate a minimum of 10 passenger's and are packed like sardines in a can. Motorcycles are available throughout the city and passengers sit in the back as the driver weaves through traffic. Two types of taxis are available: 1) Metered, and 2) Pre-bargaining. The Rwandan government with the help of the private investor have now started large bus transport. It's to early to comment on this system.

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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?

The majority of roads in the city and/or in the country side are dirt roads, hilly, and in need of service. Thus good tires, gasoline efficient, and 4 wheel drive capabilities is a must. Older model toyota's with steering wheels on the left (driving on the ride side of the road) are recommended due to taxes, parts, repair, and the law. Gasoline purchase is in liters. Gasoline prices for a liter of gas is over US$2.

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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 is available via two major companies. Cost averages to US$60 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?

Cell phones can be purchased in Rwanda and/or you can import them. Landlines for the most part are limited to governmental agencies.

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

Purchase a Tri or quad band cell phone. You can purchase the phone chip for about 2000RWF (US$4)and depending on how much you want to pre-pay and where you are calling will determine the cost.

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Pets:

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

Don't expect vet care, immunizations, and/or complicated treatment plans. Rwandans do not perceive dogs as pets. During the genocide dogs ate the carcasses thus have a stigma.

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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, extremely limited with low pay and 6 day work weeks.

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

Casual to formal, depending on if you are visiting upper governmental officials.

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Health & Safety:

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

Asthmatics, COPD, and/or those with moderate allergens should be aware that petroleum based and trash burning are what result in moderate pollution in the city of Kigali.

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

As in other developing countries, standard precautions and situational awareness is the key. However, due to the large Expat community, travelling anywhere in the city of Kigali is safe.

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

King Faisal is Rwanda's main hospital for visitors. Limited specialist such as pediatrics, OB/Gyn, radiologist, dental, and general surgery. Lack specialties such as Emergency medicine, Internist, Cardiology, and Neurologist. X-rays and CT Scan is available. Malaria, TB, Gastro-intestinal diseases are the biggest concerns.

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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?

Rain, low to mid 70s F. Two-three months of hot weather but not humid.

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Schools & Children:

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

Expat options for their children include the Belgium school (French language), Green Hills Academy (English and French language, Bristish System), and Kigali International Community School (KICS) a missionary school. (English, US curriculum). My three children attended KICS. It should be noted that the school started up 1 1/2 years prior to our arrival. Math and Science curriculum was inadequate for our primary school children.

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

The schools in Rwanda do not accomodate special needs children.

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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?

Multiple preschools are available, however daycare with academic performance and/or emphasis is lacking.

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Expat Life:

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

Americans, British, Belgiums, Germans, French, Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans, Japanese,Indians, etc...comprise the expat community (Approximately 1000-4000 expats)

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2. Morale among expats:

It depends on the purpose and function for being in Rwanda. Alot of NGO's, church related visitor, and the diplomats.

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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?

If you enjoy bars, and one night stands, it's the place to be. However think HIV.

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

Kigali does not have malls, movie houses, theme parks, and/or franchise restaurants that are comprobable to that of the United States. Thus families and couples must find other venues of entertainment such as the limited sports clubs, nature hikes, and eating at the limited restaurants in town. Singles have three choices: 1) Don't date, 2) Associate with the expat community,and/or 3) Date from the local community.

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

Rwanda has a strict policy and low tolerance for outward display of same sex relationships. What you do in your own home and does not involve Rwandans is acceptable. This should not be confused with the customary practice of men holding hands with other men or of sitting on each others laps.

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

It's been 14 years since the genocide of 1994. Several generations still harbour inner feelings of the loss of family, friends and loveones. Privately many will speak of hatred, but will avoid public acknowledgment for fear of being incarcerated.

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

Everyone will talk about the Mountain Gorilla's. But remember, the cost is significant and requires reservations months ahead of time. Although various agencies can arrange impromtu reservations, large parties and cost can be a hindering factor. The expat community as well as the various embassies will have activities which are spread by word of mouth and/or email. The majority of the expat community will travel on the weekend to smaller cities, go to the various lakes, take nature walks, visit restaurants, and/or utilize hotel or private sports clubs.

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

Local exotic fruits, wood carvings, carvings, and carvings (mask).

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9. Can you save money?

No. Food, rent, and transportation alone will offset your budget.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, but not stay long term. (> 1 year).

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

Average temp is 70's year round. So bring some cold climate stuff. Upon acclimitization, you will experience low 70's as being cold. Bicycling in Rwanda is almost impossible with the hills and traffic. No weapons.

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3. But don't forget your:

Toilet paper and personal hygiene products.

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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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