Dakar, Senegal Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Dakar, Senegal

Dakar, Senegal 12/28/18

Background:

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

No. Cairo, Dar es Salaam, and Dakar.

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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?

Austin, TX. About 15 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three and a half years.

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

USAID.

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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 live in an apartment. We have a three bedroom apartment and each bedroom has a full bathroom each. There is a half bath for guests and a full wetroom for household help, a large living area, and a large-ish kitchen. We got lucky with it being a newer apartment and have great neighbors. We have a small backyard and small front yard, but it's enough for toddlers to run around in circles. We can walk to the main grocery store.



In Almadiesl housing is a mix; if you are closer to ISD school then you'll have a house. Houses are mostly older homes but everyone will have issues with leaks, A/C units breaking or leaking, sewage issues when the rains come, etc. Some apartments have an ocean view. some houses have pools. You can't have it all.

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

nearly everything is available here, but you are paying handsomely for it. I use Amazon/Walmart for most of the dry goods. I buy meats from Casino and for produce there is a fellow that comes to the embassy from the downtown market with produce on Tuesday and Friday. There are plenty of street stalls and of course, Casino, if you don't mind their mark-up. Oh, FRENCH CHEESE and bread, but cheddar is hard to come by.

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

I stocked up on black beans, petite diced tomatoes, chicken stock, sweetened condensed milk, glass-jar items, beer, and corn tortillas.

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

JUMIA works pretty good, but selection is limited. I have written instructions to our place on the "notes" section of my phone so I can quickly send to delivery people. Food is good, but it's overhyped. Indian food is enough to get you by, but doesn't hit the comfort food level of East Africa! Lebanese is pretty good, but I expected better given the large Leb community here. No fast food chains, though I keep hearing KFC/pizza hut are coming soon...

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

Ants and cockroaches; not much you can do about it other than keep things clean and having spray within reach.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO/Pouch. Local post is fine, just more expensive, and non-embassy expats use it.

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

Affordable. Our maid tends to be a little on the slower side, but I think it's just cultural. She is eager to learn and will take instruction gladly. All the maids/nannies I have met are very sweet; ours is part of the family! There are plenty of shared drivers, most have full-time nanny and part time house-help.

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

Embassy has a small but adequate gym and their pool is great! there is Club Olimpique with private classes and instructors. Plenty of runners all over the place.

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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?

Every now and again I'll use credit cards at the main grocery store or at the American food store. Embassy has an ATM but it breaks down often it seems.

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

There is a multi-denominational service at ISD (school), and an LDS service, but I don't know where they meet.

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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 without it, but life is waaay easier if you speak some French.

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

Yes.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis, yes. Nothing else is advised.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

4x4, though some have sedans and get around town without a problem.

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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?

Fiberoptics is popping up slowly. There are several other providers with Orange being the most common one. It's ok. I have data on my phone at all times, and end up using it often as hotspot for our home computer. Regular internet will take you about 2-3 weeks to set up.

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

Unlocked phone, use local provider and always have extra card refills.

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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?

Yes on vets.

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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?

Teachers, nurses, contractors. EFM jobs at embassy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Clinics and orphanages mostly.

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

Business or smart casual. Senegalese love to dress well! While you can wear pretty much anything out and about if you are toubab/foreigner, it's a conservative country and they appreciate modesty.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not many. Follow RSO's instructions and you should be ok.

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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?

Med care is fine. There's a couple OBGYNs, several dentists, and awesome osteopath and a physical therapist. I would say broken bones would require a medevac. There is SOS Medecin that comes to your home; we've used them several times for (strep throat/malaria scares) rather than lugging the whole household to the med unit. Med unit at embassy is 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?

Air is really bad; that's been the hardest for our family. On clear days it's just beautiful you almost forget the bad days!

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

There are peanuts everywhere.

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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)?

The dusty blues, maybe??

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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?

August/September can be very hot. Dec/March can be pleasant and a little cool in the evenings. Gets dry and and 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?

Parents seem to really like ISD. There is the French Lycee which has some embassy families and they seem to like it if the French system is your thing.

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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?

Plenty of preschools and creshes. They all vary, just have to do research on what suits you best. School teachers and principals can change often and then you're back at square one!

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

Yes, yoga, ballet, capoeira, surf, and swimming.

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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 expat community. Embassy community is ok and I'd say morale is ok, too. You gotta make friends on your own, rather than expect the CLO, for instance, to help and/or provide opportunities for getting to know people.

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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?

The American club/association has activities; usually same MO, they rotate between Ebbet's field/pool/atrium.

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

Yes for all.

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

Yes, senegalese are very friendly people. It's one of the best things here!

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

If you're a toubab it's fine. However, it's illegal and it's a Muslim country so I think maybe not if you are Senegalese.

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

Friendships made are the highlights. It's a nice enough country if you get out. Dakar is what you make it and you have to look deep to see the beauty of the city.

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

Music, art, and surf.

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

Lots of wax fabric and baskets. keep in mind the color in the baskets is plastic and not fabric. There is a bienale as well as an art show every year that gets lots of attention. There is a jazz festival in St Louis.

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

French products from the grocery store! Easy access to Europe! Home services: hair, mani/pedis, massages, chicken, vegetables, milk, etc!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I guess that the air quality was so bad.

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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:

Fancy shoes.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience, dehumidifier, humidifier, air purifiers, and sense of style!

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Dakar, Senegal 12/12/18

Background:

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

Yes.

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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?

Dallas, TX. Flights leaving Dakar are always late at night, 13-16 hours, layover in NY or Paris.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One and a half years.

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

Expat due to husband's job (diplomat).

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

The house is huge, each bedroom has its own , which makes it hard to rearrange furniture to make it comfortable. The houses have leaks, things are always happening that are very irritating. We have no yard, a huge generator thats an eyesore, so nothing to see outside. The house is surrounded by a wall and personal guards.

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

The food here is super expensive, think two to three as much as the States. For example, bread can cost about US$8-$10. Fruit, when out of season, seems ridiculous; I just purchased celery for $15. However, if you really want something bad enough you will pay. The tax is 18%. There is an American store here with the comforts of home, food-wise, however it is very expensive. A normal small box of cereal is about $10, meat, which is frozen and imported, is about $12 for two pounds. You will need to get used to paying high prices, don't know why anyone would say its comparable, it doesn't seem that way to me. Eating out is outrageous so I don't do it often.

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

I wish I had brought more ingredients for baked goods, e.g., flour, sugar, vanilla extract ($18) etc. You will find that a lot of ingredients aren't sold here, so you will definitely learn to cook from scratch if you don't already know how. Also, bring lots of toilet paper! The toilet paper sold here has a perfume smell to it, which is not good for women. I purchased 10 packages of a 20-roll sets (200 rolls). This has lasted me so far with a family of five. I should have just purchased 20 of them.

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

There is actually a great Sushi restaurant here O Sushi Bar! There are a few pizza places. You can download the JUMIA app, which is a great resource. The restaurants here all seem amazingly bland and expensive; so you pretty much go for the beach view. Service is pretty good, but it's a laid-back mentality so get used to waiting.

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

This seems to be the worst here to me. Its summer here 24/7 so you will have mice, roaches, flying huge roaches, water bugs, ants, and centipedes all year long. You do get Lizards and geckos, but let them be, they help to eat the bugs. Just clean and spray, it's kind of like you live with them. Don't have a lot of things on the floor to avoid hiding spaces for rodents and bugs, ants. Do invest in a Dynatrap in each of your rooms, mosquitoes will get in your house no matter how hard you try to keep them out. The Dynatrap has helped tremendously. Vapor Rub will help for the bites.

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Daily Life:

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

We have DPO or pouch. Amazon is pretty quick and usually takes about two weeks.

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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 easy to find, but quality in the person is another story. It's cheaper in the States. I pay a housekeeper US$270 for 3 full time days - 9-3:30. She does an okay job, but I feel like I need to pay attention to the work being done. I have heard there is some theft, so always get someone that has been referred.

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

The embassy has a gym for a fee and other gyms in the area for fee. There is no A/C, so the odor can be strong in the summer.

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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?

This is more of a cash-carrying country, just be vigilant when using your card.

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

Alot of people speak English here, but always try and learn French. It's polite to always try, the locals appreciate it.

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

A lot of people speak English, but French is recommended. Tutoring for free at that Embassy or for a fee downtown at the Institute.

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

They do not seem to accommodate.

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Transportation:

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

Do not take local transportation, maybe a taxi but that's it. I feel like the taxis will try and take advantage of you if you let them. Always negotiate price before entering, and if you aren't happy, go on to the next. Taxis galore here. They smell, are dirty and falling apart; duct tape holding on doors, no brake lights. The do not seem to look where they are going, so always watch where you walk.

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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 four-wheel drive, but don't bring nice or new, as your car will likely get hit. It seems to be a matter of when, not if. My car was hit just sitting outside of my house. Getting insurance settled here for anything will take about a year, and it's a headache. If you are involved in an accident it could take three to five hours to finalize everything. Make sure you bring spare parts for you vehicle as well, such as tires, freon, windshield wipers... anything you can think to bring, bring it. Make sure to go to a recommended mechanic, luckily we have an expat at the embassy for now, but not always the case.

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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 here is touch and go. The embassy will help you set up service, but expect to be without service for a couple of weeks when you first arrive.

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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?

We use Orange, which is the best service out of all here. Just refill your card, as vendors are all over the streets.

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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?

You can work at the embassy or home business.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

I haven't really found any.

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

You can dress pretty American here, shorts, dresses, tank tops, rompers; I brought tons of shoes and wear flip flops or bobs. The roads are pretty dirty and rocky, so don't wear shoes you don't want ruined in one day .

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Health & Safety:

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

Always be vigilante, there are always crimes of opportunity. Be aware of your surroundings, I've encountered a lot of nice people here, but you always have to be careful. Don't wear flashy jewelry and don't carry your life around in your bag. Just keep your small cash on you and thats about it.

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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! Take your meds. The Embassy is available, but if it's a holiday or weekend make sure you have cash on hand for the med unit here, the cash up front before anything is done. Bring lots of immodium!

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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 is super dirty here, smog and dust, and poop particles in the air. I think you will get sick, as it just seems to happen.

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

Have meds.

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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)?

Yes!! Try and leave every three to four months. Summer here is lonely, everyone seems leaves, and theres not a lot to do. It can be stressful at times, maybe due to communication, lack of supplies, groceries you can't find, just having a bad day; just always have trip planned and that usually helps. Lisbon is a four hour flight, and it's beautiful. .

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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?

Summer is hot, but October - December is the worst, as it's the hottest time of the year. The temp is humid and can reach to over 100 degrees. Mid December - May is nice... kind of like a fall or cool summer.

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Schools & Children:

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

My children attend Dakar International School. This is an excellent school, with a wonderful support system. The ages are prek 3 - 12th grade. IB program is available. They have a website.

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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 had my youngest in a preschool and to me, it was a terrible experience. It was a local school called Kindergarten Bilingual. I had an issue with the way one of the teachers treated my child. I would stick to having your child go to the ISD for preschool or one thats well recommended by a lot of parents. EAB is pretty good from what I hear. Just stay away from local schools with super cheap prices.

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

Yes for kids at the ISD.

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Expat Life:

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

The expat community is pretty big and you have to find a group that's right for you. Personally, I find it to be clique-ish, but face-to-face people are pretty nice.

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

Good for both.

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

The locals are pretty friendly, but again be vigilant.

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

No, its illegal to be gay in this country. This is a Muslim country

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

Not that I have noticed, some people are Muslim, Catholic, Christian, etc.

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

I haven't really experienced any highlights.

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

Surfing is available, but you would be swimming in dirty water. Saly is a place to visit.

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

Lots of local crafts to buy.

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

None.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How expensive it is to live and leave. There's not a lot to do and I would have picked another post.

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

No.

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

Take it all, you never know where you will visit and will end up purchasing what you already threw in storage.

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4. But don't forget your:

Vapo rub!! Great for mosquito bites, takes away the itch!!

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5. Do you have any other comments?

If you must live here, be sure to make friends and get out of the house. Plan trips outside of Senegal to escape Africa. Many kids begging for money, at first you want to give, but as I understand, they don't get to keep the money. I would never give money, just food. The kids are hungry and dirty. To me, it's a sad life for them.

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Dakar, Senegal 06/08/17

Background:

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

No. I've lived in Africa, Europe, and 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, DC is home base. 8 hours direct flight to Washington or New York.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three 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?

Most people live in apartments, though they can be extremely large. My apartment here is larger than several stand-alone houses I've lived in previously. Families with kids at the international school tend to live in stand-alone houses there. Housing is pretty nice, but space is at a premium in Dakar so gardens and pools are rare. My commute is about three minutes, but it's important to live near your work, or drive against the rush hour traffic.

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

Anything you need is available, there are large French and Spanish chain grocery stores. If you buy everything in the supermarket, prices are comparable to the U.S. If you shop in local markets (or have a cook or housekeeper who does), then food prices come down considerably. Dakar isn't cheap, though.

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

I was glad I shipped pet food and some packaged products. But honestly everything is available, there is even a self-styled "American Food Store" with American products.

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

Dakar has great restaurants at reasonable prices. Seafood galore, African fare, grilled everything, and then decent other options. Food delivery is increasingly available, beyond just pizza/sushi. There are no chain restaurants, which I consider a blessing.

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

The humidity levels are very high, so keeping housing dry is essential to prevent mold. Bring dehumidifiers, they're not available here.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO or the diplomatic pouch. Local post is available, but customs is a headache.

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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, however you need to speak French to communicate.

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

Everything is available: gyms, pools, yoga, tennis, golf. Moderately priced.

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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 is fairly widely accepted, and ATMs are common. There are some fraud concerns, but they can be managed.

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

Only one inter-denominational church that I'm aware 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?

French is essential. The clearest indicator I see in whether my co-workers enjoy Dakar or not is whether they speak French. You can survive without it, but it will be a constant challenge. Household staff and people in the service industry don't speak English, and there is a large Francophone expat community who are happy to welcome non-native speakers, but won't accommodate people who don't speak French at all. I don't speak Wolof or other local languages, and have no problem without that.

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

Yes, it would be extremely difficult. Nothing is handicapped-accessible.

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Transportation:

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

Affordable - yes. Safe - sometimes. Taxis are easy, they're cheap and it's just a matter of finding one with working brakes, seat belts, doors, etc. No trains, and the buses are scary.

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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?

For Dakar, a sedan is fine. I brought a medium-sized SUV and am glad I did, as it's easier to get around on rough roads and absolutely necessary for traveling around the country.

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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 of my colleagues complain about the speed, but I have no problems and find it very cheap.

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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 a few dependable vets, though it can be a challenge. There is no quarantine. For dog owners, the biggest challenge is the lack of green space. If you have a big dog, make point of requesting a house or apartment with a garden.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Business casual at work. Beach attire is common. Though dress overall is fairly conservative.

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Health & Safety:

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

I've felt extremely safe in Dakar. With the threat of extremist attacks around West Africa (and the continuing war next door in Mali) there is a fairly high alert level, but the Senegalese seem to be taking it very seriously. You will see "gendarmes" with rifles commonly.

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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?

Good healthcare is available, at least for routine needs. I have an excellent dentist and have had significant dental work done, for example. Though for serious issues medical evacuation is necessary.

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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?

Terrible, but it's a geographic issue. There is dust and sand everywhere, and dust storms are terrible at some times of the year. It's been difficult to manage my allergies here, and some childhood asthma has resurfaced after being dormant for decades. There is mold as well. You have to be careful.

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

See above re: dust and mold.

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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?

July-October is very hot, 90s is common, with high humidity. August and September are the rainiest, but it can rain earlier too. November-June is very comfortable, though we have 3-4 months when it's particularly dusty.

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Schools & Children:

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

I don't have children, but people rave about the International School of Dakar. As in, I've had multiple co-workers extend their stay in Dakar by several years because they were so pleased with the school.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge. But Francophone.

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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?

Days at the beach, surfing, fishing, dining or hanging out at bars and cafes along the ocean. Shopping, including markets, the farmers' market, art and fashion shows, etc. Dining out, live music venues, dinner parties. There are bars and there is a nightlife scene, very late. Picnics and sports. There really is tons to do.

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

Yes for all. Dakar is extremely family-friendly, but also great for couples and singles.

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

Yes, to a degree. Homosexuality is taboo (and illegal) in Senegal, and there is no local LGBT scene. But Senegal is also an extremely private, conservative country, and "don't ask, don't tell" goes a long way here. I know several LGBT expats who are very happy here.

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

Dakar is overwhelmingly Muslim and you need to adapt to that, but the Senegalese are very open and accepting of other religious traditions. There are a variety of religious communities and services available. Gender equality isn't a huge issue in the expat community, though it certainly is among the host community.

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

The beach, the ocean, running at the beach, eating fish at the beach, having coffee at sunrise or cocktails at sunset, dancing on the beach, playing with the dogs at the beach... You get the idea. The Sine-Saloum delta, the Casamance, the Saint-Louis Jazz Festival - there are lots of nice short trips. And Europe, Morocco, and the U.S. are fairly cheap and easy to get to.

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

People go crazy for baskets, fabric, masks, and tapestries. The art is amazing!

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

Dakar is safe, easy to get around, fairly cosmopolitan, has good supermarkets, a major airport, amazing beaches... It's pretty cool.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Not much. I didn't realize how great Dakar was. I extended my tour!

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

Absolutely.

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Dakar, Senegal 04/08/16

Background:

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

No, 5th overseas post

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Virginia. Depending on the contract agreement, either a 7 1/2 hour flight from DC, or same from NYC. You can go via Paris, Brussels, Casablanca and Lisbon, too.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 1/2 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?

Houses, townhouses and apartments. Very few houses have yard space. Apartments have newer and generally nicer amenities than do the houses. Houses can be large and with awkward spaces, or they can be too small to actually be comfortable.

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

Dakar is expensive. Almost all fruit and veg are imported, so are pricey. Prices are on par with DC.

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

You can pretty much get everything here. You just have to pay a lot for it.

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

No known franchises, but plenty of burger and chicken places. Good seafood. No restaurant is inexpensive, though, and service typically does not match the price asked.

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

Mosquitoes, especially in Almadies and Ngor areas. Ants, ants, ants everywhere. Big ones, little ones... some are just annoying, others bite. Roaches are quite large, too.

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Daily Life:

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

Dip pouch and 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?

US$150 - $200/month for full time help. Easy to find, but most don't speak English.

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

There is a gym and pool at the embassy. Cost is US$200/year for families plus start up membership fee. The other athletic club frequented by expats is CLub Olympique and pricing depends on what services you use.

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

You can use them at some of the larger grocery stores and at the hotels. We use our ATM card at the embassy instead of cashing checks.

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

Non-denominational Christian, LDS, and Catholic services. There is a number of Jewish families, too, but they just get together for holidays and important events.

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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?

French. Wolof helps for negotiating for things like fruit and veg, but French will definitely get you by.

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

It would be extraordinarily difficult for someone in a wheelchair to access most part of the city. The embassy itself is handicap accessible but it stands alone. Sidewalks are uneven, pitted, and sometimes even 1 1/2 feet tall in places. Steps and stairs are almost 100% of the time uneven.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are fine. Agree on a price before getting in.

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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 something with higher clearance, if possible. The main roads are paved, sure, but anything off will have large potholes, and excessively-high speed bumps. Toyota is your best bet. The less automated the car, the better for your pocketbook to get replacement 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?

I wouldn't call it 'high-speed' but it is available. US$60/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?

Bring an unlocked phone and get a local SIM.

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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, but valid rabies vaccine. Good vet care. No kennels, but most people can find a friend to take care of their pet while on trips.

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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 a number of good jobs, but without fluent professional-level French, you won't get your foot in the door. one of the biggest EFM frustrations, actually.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty! So many hospitals, orphanages, animal rescue, etc. With a good frame of mind, you can really get and stay active. There are two women's groups who do a lot of volunteering and organizing.

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

Generally, when at school or the field, it's pretty casual. If one is headed to the plateau (downtown) or where it will be predominantly Senegalese, or out to the village, it is generally better to be more conservative (long skirt or pants for women). Dress code at work typically is a suit or a jacket. Most men keep a jacket at work so they can have it regardless what they wore to work that day.

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Health & Safety:

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

There are some areas we are not allowed to go during hours of darkness. But otherwise, it's a large city, and so it's important to follow smart suggestions for large cities: don't carry a lot of cash, no flashy jewelry, stay in a group, be mindful, etc.

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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?

Allergies and asthma can be issues, especially during the windy harmattan months (Jan - late March). Mildew and mold are issues during the higher humidity months (July - October).

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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 fine except when the harmattan and winds are blowing. So January - March or April, the sky can be filled with dust for days at a time.

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

Lactose and dairy are hard to avoid. Dust and mold are prevalent (see above). French love their bread. Soy and rice milk are available but can be hard to find consistently. Coconut milk is available but expensive.

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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?

December - March is the cooler and windier season, with low humidity but 15 - 20 mph winds every day. Temps are around 70F. April - early July is beautiful with breezes and upper 70s to lower 80s F. The rains can start in July, but don't really get going until August. Then it is hot and humid, with temperatures creeping up to peak in September and October (upper 80s and lower 90s with high humidity). October is just sticky hot and kindof uncomfortable. November is amazing again.

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Schools & Children:

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

We have 3 kids in elementary at the International school of Dakar. Amazing school community, great experience. Plethora of after school activity choices, plenty of opportunities for parental involvement, great staff. We've been really happy with the experience. IB Diploma has been in place now for 3 years, and most students and parents are very happy with the program.

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

Very few. ISD would have the largest breadth of assistance; Dakar Academy would have the smaller class sizes. I would suggest that families with kids who have special needs think long and hard about coming to Dakar, as it would be a stretch for either school to meet the needs of anyone beyond a very mild situation. I don't think the French Lycee offers any special needs assistance.

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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?

Plenty available, most are French-speaking. Costs vary from US$200/month to US$450. Most of the 'good' ones have long wait-lists. Most of the creches are M-F, all day, but some of the more structured programs follow the French school calendar.

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

The international school offers soccer, basketball, volleyball, etc. There are local swimming instructors and an equestrian club. One of the local hotels offers a sports class. Dance classes are available, as are karate, tae kwan do, tennis, fencing, and other sports. Senegalese love their sports, and they love 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, and good. You can really meet a lot of amazing people 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?

Softball is big big big October - February. Otherwise, BBqs and gatherings at our embassy field, Ebbets, CLO is active in planning events and activities.

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

Excellent for Families and couples. Even singles, as often everyone is included in activities. It is not a post with a huge number of activities and events, unless you like the restaurant/bar scene and then you'd have to be pretty fluent in French for it to be fully enjoyable.

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

It's not where I would suggest to go, as it is illegal in Senegal. That said, we do have some folks associated with the mission who are gay, and they have found a great niche here.

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

No. Although it is predominantly Muslim here, Senegalese are very accepting for other religious pratices.

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

We've loved getting into surfing.

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

Beach beach beach. Surfing is outstanding. There are a number of hidden gem trips to take. You just have to be patient with the traffic and the roads. And then when you get to your destination, know that you'll be speaking French, not English with the hosts.

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

Onions and peanuts. And imported French wine. Trips to visit nearby countries.

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

You can save some money, although travel out of Senegal is expensive. Weather is amazing 8 months out of the year. People are generally nice and accepting. School is excellent.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How important french is to daily life.

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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:

rushed attitude and high-end vehicles

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4. But don't forget your:

Cooler weather clothing, especially if you want to go to South Africa or Europe for skiing or a winter vacation. Surf gear, and wet suits for when the water is a little cooler.

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

"However long the night" by Aimee Molloy and "So Long a Letter" by Mariama Ba.

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Dakar, Senegal 08/07/15

Background:

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

No. Various other postings.

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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?

DC. There is currently a South Africa Airways direct flight from Dakar to DC. The eight-hour flight is a codeshare with Jet Blue, so embassy employees can take it. There are rumors the flight will go away. In that case, there's a Delta flight to JFK. You can always transit through Paris as well.

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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.)?

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?

Disappointing if you are expecting an African villa. Lots of apartments. Some houses, most of which have small yards. Most people have really short commutes though, and some walk to work.

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

Most stuff is available but will be more expensive than in the U.S. I think the COLA is probably fair.

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

There are no American or European chains in the country. There are plenty of good restaurants, some run by French expats. I find the cost is similar to DC or Northern Virginia.

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

Mosquitoes, but it's not that bad. We only started using a net during the time it rains (I hesitate to call it a rainy season, since it's not a lot of rain).

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch. Quite fast, too.

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

It's very available and cheap. We have an excellent nanny and also have a part-time gardener.

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

There is a gym at the Embassy you can join through the employee association.

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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's an ATM in the Embassy. I wouldn't any other ATM. Credit cards are rarely accepted outside of the major grocery stores.

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

There is Catholic mass in English and a few Bible study groups, as well.

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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 speakers are rare. French is needed if you plan to do anything outside the embassy.

The Embassy is home to a lot of agencies other than DOS and I'm always amazed that so many people from other agencies are assigned here with no language training or skills.

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

Yes. Sidewalks are rare and poorly maintained.

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Transportation:

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

Local buses are off limits. Taxis are cheap. I wouldn't say they are safe - accidents are frequent - but you aren't likely to be robbed.

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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?

An SUV with clearance (not necessarily 4wd, though) would be preferable for the streets. Few restrictions on bringing in a vehicle. So I'd bring a reliable beater.

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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'd say medium speed. US $50 a month. This is Africa. Of course your internet isn't going to be as reliable as the U.S.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine. There's a vet who makes house calls.

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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?

I hear some EFMs have trouble finding positions in the Embassy. USAID has a huge presence and they don't have EFM jobs. Yet spouses of USAID employees do compete for EFM jobs. I'd guess there are disproportionately fewer EFM spots in Dakar compared to a similar sized embassy elsewhere.

Spouse might get hired by NGOs if the person speaks French. That's about it.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Animal rescue organization, for one. I'm suspect there are others.

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

Business casual at work. Casual in public.

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Health & Safety:

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

No. It's rated critical for crime, but it's probably overrated. There are few violent crimes. You have the usually purse snatching and there have been some houses robbed when the residents left the doors 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?

The RMO is based here and he will sometimes refer you to local specialists. But you are going to get medevaced for anything serious.

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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?

Fair to good. For a few weeks a year, winds from Mali/Mauritania bring a lot of dust. Other times its fine.

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

Weather is nice. It's hot and humid for a few months in the Northern Hemisphere summer, but probably milder than you would think the other months. Occasionally in the winter you might need a long sleeve shirt at night. It's semi-arid, so there's lots of sun and little rain.

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Schools & Children:

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

ISD gets good marks from everyone. A few families send there kids to the French school. There's also a Christian academy (Dakar Academy) but it's a bit of a commute and isn't as popular.

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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?

Plenty of preschools for around the 4 year age. Younger than that and most families choose to hire a full-time nanny.

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

Soccer, of course. ISD also has swim teams. There are a couple of after-school surf classes. The instructors pick up kids, take them to the beach, and then bring them back.

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Expat Life:

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

This is a big embassy (regional hub for lots of agencies). I'd say morale is good but not great. Some singles have curtailed.

There are not that many English speaking expats in the local economy.

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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?

Cook-outs at Ebbets Field. Getting together with friends. There's a small music scene but I have not explored it.

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

Great for families. Lots of babies and kids. The Embassy owns a green space (Ebbets Field) that has a big playground and sandlot.

Some singles, especially females, seem a little disappointed with dating options. Nightlife exists, if you like the late night dance club scene. Happy hour scene doesn't really exist.

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

If you want to put on a speedo and march in a gay pride parade, then no, Senegal is not a good place. But there are gay couples here that make it just fine.

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

Vast majority of the country is Muslim but there are also Catholics. Everyone gets along.

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

Softball season is popular with the American diplomats and expats. Plenty of beach get-aways two hours south of Dakar.

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

Baskets. Wax, fabric.

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

People are friendly. Senegal is known for its hospitality.



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9. Can you save money?

Yes. Groceries are the only thing that I would call expensive but with DPO and pouch and consumables you can ship a lot of your staples here.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. It's been a good post. I don't think it's a hidden gem though.

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Dakar, Senegal 08/24/14

Background:

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

Yes.

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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?

There is a direct flight from DC to Dakar that is just over 8 hours long, but it is on South African Airways. It has changed a bit over the past 2 years as to whether or not this flight complies with the Fly America Act. It depends on other airlines participating in the code share. We were able to take it over to Dakar, but had to take a Delta flight going from Dakar - JFK - IAD on the way back to the states.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years; 2012-2014.

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

U.S. 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?

A mixture of single family residences and large, spacious apartments. The houses have very small yards, and some of the apartment complexes have small courtyards. Most are either in Mermoz (middle of town) or in Almadies (close to 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?

Fresh produce is readily available and very cheap, though you would be wise to have your household help shop for it. They can get a better price than the expat price. Meat can be pretty pricey, and the beef is rather tough. It just needs to be cooked a bit longer to make it more tender. Household supplies are readily available though the price will be higher than what you would expect to pay in the U.S. Pretty much everything except for locally grown fruits and veggies are imported.

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

Lots of sunscreen, insect repellent, ingredients to make Mexican food, and soap/detergent. The local dishwashing soap was very thin and not what we are use to. We also ordered paper towels since the local stuff wouldn't hold up. There are now 3 "American Stores" in town that carry many items from Costco. They are expensive, but it's nice that comfort items from home are there and you don't have to wait for a week to come through the mail!

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

There are lots of new restaurants popping up in Dakar. The only "fast food" kind of places are at the mall or at Caesers which touts itself as the KFC of Africa. You can find Ethiopian, Italian, Lebanese, Argentinean, Brazilian, and lots of places serving local dishes. Dinners out can be a bit pricey, but it's a nice change of pace. There are several really great restaurants right on the ocean.

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

Mosquitos and malaria are a real concern. You must wear insect repellent when outside, especially during the rainy season. We did not use mosquito nets in our house, but we kept is pretty chilly and did not have any issues. Ants are also an annoyance. Just make sure to stock up on air-tight containers and remember to not leave any food out on the counter and you don't have any trouble.

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Daily Life:

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

Post became a DPO just after we left, so I cannot comment on that. We only had the pouch for the 2 years that we were there, and it was fine. I also received several packages through DHL, though the pick-up process was a pain. We did not mail anything due to the restrictions of outgoing mail through 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 of all kinds is readily available and very reasonably priced. A full time housekeeper/cook would be about US$250 - $300/month. Part time gardeners run about US$100-$150/month. Several families (especially tandem couples) had drivers, but I do not know the cost. CLO posts recommendations on their blog (clodakar.wordpress.com).

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

There is a small gym at the Embassy and the Marines host regular bootcamps. There are also options for yoga and pilates as well as swimming and playing tennis and golf. Club Olympique is in the middle of the city, but I do not know the cost. I have heard it is very pricey though.

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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?

This is a cash based country. You could probably use your Debit/Credit cards at the larger grocery store chains, but everywhere else is cash only. There is a bank at the Embassy and only 2 ATMs are deemed as being safe (at the large hotels).

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

There is an English church service at ISD.

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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?

French definitely makes your daily life easier. Very few locals speak English, so speaking even the most basic French would help you get around town and negotiate with taxis.

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

Dakar would be very difficult for someone with disabilities to navigate, however one of our very good friends is in a wheelchair, and she survived just fine in Dakar. There were some places that she was not able to go, due to a lack of sidewalks. It was not always easy but she made it.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are ok to use, though you must negotiate the price before you get in (no meters). It is not safe to take the brightly colored buses called Car Rapides. Pick-pocketing is a major concern on those. I don't know of anyone who used the local bus system.

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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?

4X4s will definitely be better suited for driving outside of the city, though smaller cars will do fine in Dakar. Some of the roads flood a bit during rainy season, so an SUV or something with more clearance will be better. The main roads are paved, but some of the residential roads are very rough.

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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?

The internet is fairly reliable, but it does go out from time to time. We paid for a 2Mbps service, which ran about US$100 a month. With this, we were able to stream TV and movies as well as easily use Skype, Facetime and Vonage.

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

Bring an unlocked cell phone and buy a local SIM card for use. Credits are done by scratch off cards which are sold on literally every street corner.

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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?

Nope! There are many pets at post. The roads are not great for walking, as there are many stray dogs that would come up. The Embassy owns a large softball field and play area called Ebbettâs Field which is a wonderful space for pets to run and play. There are weekly play dates for dogs. There are also a number of great vets (French trained, a few speak English) that will also make house calls. There are no kennels, so we would have friends or our housekeeper stay at the house when we traveled. We were very happy to have our dogs with us.

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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 were some spouses that tele-commuted for various NGOs and US based companies. I think you have to have approval from the Embassy to work on the local market though.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are several orphanages in town that love to have volunteers. I'm sure there are other opportunities to help with teaching English to locals. They are very interested in learning and like to try to speak English if they know just a small amount.

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

Business casual to casual. The Senegalese dress VERY nicely on Fridays since this is the day they go to the Mosque. It's so neat to see their beautiful boubous. The women are always very dressed up, even just to go to the store. For around town, shorts and t-shirts are fine, though it's nice to be respectful and cover the shoulders. I haven't seen anyone react negatively to someone's attire though.

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Health & Safety:

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

We always felt very safe in the city, though caution and common sense must be used at all times. Do not leave valuables out in the open in your car, make sure bags are zipped and not easily accessible to others, stay in groups when out after dark. Pick-pocketing is a concern, especially in the markets or downtown where there are larger crowds.

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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 a concern so make sure to take your anti-malarial medication. The med unit at the Embassy is wonderful! There are also several clinics and local doctors that are trustworthy. For true emergencies, London is the medevac point.

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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 not the best because of burning trash and car 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?

There is one rainy season which typically lasts from June to September (occasionally into October). It's pretty warm (upper 80s F) and humid during this time. The hottest month of the year is October making Halloween a bit of a sweaty mess. Mid-November, the humidity breaks and the weather turns beautiful until the rains start again. The highs are upper 70s (maybe 80 on a warm day) and the nights are cool, especially when you are near the ocean. The Harmattan winds start in January, but they aren't bad. You may just notice some extra dust on the furniture.

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Schools & Children:

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

Many preschools and several upper level schools. Most students went to the International School of Dakar, but some opted for Lycee Jean Mermoz, the French school. Dakar Academy would probably be the only school that could accommodate special needs, as it is much smaller than ISD.

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

Dakar Academy, a smaller, religious based school, would probably be the only school that could accommodate special needs.

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

There are several preschool options but I did not have any school-aged children, so I don't know about the costs.

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

The local school has a great swimming team as well as soccer. There are also two adult softball teams at the Embassy that play other teams. The season starts in October and runs through February. It's a wonderful past-time and a great way to meet other expats in Dakar.

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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 nearly 200 direct hires plus all of their families, so it's actually a pretty large post. Most everyone lives in areas of town with other American expats, which makes it easy for carpooling, planning parties and events, and getting to know your neighbors. I would say that morale is really good as the city is constantly improving.

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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?

Again, lots of BBQs, gatherings at Ebbets Field, day trips around the city and just outside of town, going out to restaurants, etc.

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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 good city for families and singles. There are MANY kids at post right now, so there would be a good expat group to hang with. I think singles also find many things to do around town. Many will go out for the evening together, as do the families (with and without kiddos).

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

I cannot comment too much on this. Senegalese do not approve of homosexuality but they are a very open country and I don't know that they would react in a negative way.

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

No. Senegal is primarily Muslim, but it is such a tolerant and peaceful country. The mosques will even put up Christmas lights in December! You will encounter many local families that have both Muslim and Christian family members.

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

It's a "make your own fun" kind of post, so we spent many weekends developing new, lifelong friendships. There were countless BBQs, evenings spent at the Embassy owned softball field and playground, and hanging out in Saly (beach town about 1.5 hours away). We drove 11 hours down to see the waterfall and spent a day going through the game park. It was so much fun!

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

Dakar has some neat, historical sites, but make sure to leave the city. Senegal has some very interesting places to visit like Lampoul (desert camping and camel riding), Sine Saloum (sleep in a tree house or over the lagoon), Niokola Koba game park in Tambacounda, and Dindefelo water falls down in Kedougou. Link up with a peace corp volunteer to learn more about their village and possibly go visit!

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

Baskets, wax print fabric, wood carvings, jewelry

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

The Senegalese are very kind and welcoming. They make it easy to live in the country and are always very willing to help with things. Groceries were much more expensive than we expected, and gas is pricey, but when you aren't spending money on many outside activities, you could definitely save some money.

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10. Can you save money?

I think so, just don't spend too much time at the American stores. It's tempting to go shopping, just as you would at home, but it's going to cost a LOT more money!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How much French would have helped. I knew a bit, but I wish I had learned more, as it would have made those first few weeks much easier, especially when going to the grocery store and trying to identify different things.

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

Definitely. We enjoyed our time at post and would go back again. I think we kept a fairly open mind throughout our tour which helped to keep things in perspective. Yes, the main water supply was out for 3 weeks, but at the end of the day, it wasn't hard for the Embassy community who had round the clock water deliveries.

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

Germophobia - you are moving to west Africa after all. Also, don't come expecting a fully developed country. There are still many parts of the infrastructure that need major work, but an expat's life is relatively easy.

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4. But don't forget your:

PATIENCE! The Senegalese do not rush for anything (meetings, meals, driving, walking, etc). Also, remember to keep a sense of adventure. Dakar is not without it's difficulties, but it's a good city and you will see many things that make you shake your head. At the end of the tour, you will look at the horse-cart fondly. :)

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Dakar, Senegal 04/22/14

Background:

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

Not my first experience. Have also lived in Phnom Penh, Colombo, Ouagadougou, and 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 area; trip is about 8 hours. Delta and SAA have direct flights. SAA is way better and worth the price difference.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Five years.

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

UN agency staff member.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Wide range of housing, mostly expensive unless you are from another country in this region. Apartments are furnished and unfurnished, single family homes, homes in a cite (gated community). Can be quite nice but it is expensive. Commute time depends on which part of town you live in and where your office is. Some offices have earlier official hours so people leave the office before 5pm rush hour. Friday afternoon traffic particularly at the end of the month is excessive and annoying.

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

Food is expensive. We spend US$400 a week for a family of 3. We also pay less than many because I buy all my vegetables, fruit, seafood, beef and chicken from the local markets which most expats don't do as they find it unclean (not so bad, really!) and intimidating (only in the beginning when you don't know the prices of things and you haven't yet developed your bargaining skills). Two grocery chains - Casino and City Dia - but their products are limited and expensive. However, if you are longing for broccoli or salmon (both imported) Casino will have it - periodically.

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

Laundry detergent, stain remover, febreze, insect control products, some cosmetics, shoes (available but either poor quality and cheap, or decent quality and expensive). Kids' toys and birthday present items. Ziplocs (keeping the humidity out of your stuff is an ongoing battle).

Bring all your computer and camera equipment with you; it's expensive to get it here.

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

Fast food imitates American/European fast food but is quite expensive. Times Cafe is like an American diner and less expensive. Serious dining (gastronomic) available, lovely, expensive.

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

Ants, roaches (regular kind and large flying kind). Bring Combat products from the U.S. because you won't find them here. They work well though!

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Daily Life:

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

Not being U.S. Embassy, have to use real mail (which is ok for letters but less so for packages), or UN mail for official dox, or colleagues and friends who travel to mail stuff for us or bring stuff back.

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

Widely available, varying quality. We pay a cook about US$250 per month. Nannies make about the same. Drivers make more.

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

Definitely available. From the "Curves" chain to the ritzy Health Club at the Radisson Blu Hotel. 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?

ATMS are widely available. Credit cards are accepted in some places, but they have the old fashioned machines that print out your whole number and there is credit card pirating so....skip it if you can.

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

Wolof - The more you know, the better off you will be. Speak good French, at least!

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

Yes. Most businesses are not handicap-friendly, many buildings have steps and no elevators. Sidewalks are a mess.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are available, not necessarily safe (falling apart, drivers who drink and do drugs), totally unregulated, no meters. However, some are ok, and you have to pay attention when picking them. If you speak Wolof a bit, you can get a good price. There are buses, they are ok but overcrowded; most expats don't use them. Trains look like they are from the 1940s. Skip them.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

4 x 4. Ground clearance, flooding, non-major roads are often not paved or were paved 20 years ago and are in terrible condition. Automatic may save you some hassle if you have to sit in traffic over a manual transmission. Cars must be four years old or less, no tinted glass allowed anymore.

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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, quality and speed varies, sometimes it disappears for a few hours randomly. Pretty reasonable in cost.

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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?

Widely available, not necessarily cheap. Network gets quirky at times but is reasonably reliable.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine. There is vet care. Don't think there are 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?

Again, some. It depends on your skills and what you're willing to accept as salary. If you want a U.S. or European type of salary, you either have to work for a large hotel or commercial business, or an aid agency/NGO.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Some....you have to have connections.

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

Widely varied. It is a Muslim country but liberal....meaning, maybe kids can get away with shorts but adult women, less so. Plus both Senegalese and French dress very well so if you don't, you'll stick out.

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Health & Safety:

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

As in any large city, there are security concerns. People drive poorly. Pedestrians do not look where they are going when you are driving. There is petty theft if you don't pay attention, and jogging on the corniche after 6 pm is dangerous (machete-armed muggers). Household thefts do happen, but mostly if one is careless. Some household thefts target laptops and other things that can be easily sold rather than jewelry or credit cards.

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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 the major concern. Dakar is a regional medevac point for the UN so medical care is pretty good. Private clinics. U.S. Embassy folks have babies here. There are dentists, optometrists and eye doctors, glasses shops. But those are expensive....bring eye wear and contact lenses from elsewhere.

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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 relatively poor, many old vehicles, no emissions control. Very dusty. Sea air and humidity means some things deteriorate relatively quickly.

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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?

It's always warm. However, part of the time (August-November), warm becomes hellishly hot. Sweat standing still kind of hot. It rains in July-September or October and then the dust gets washed away, things become green...however, part of the road drainage system was built a century ago, so roads flood. Once it rains, it's briefly cooler, then very humid. Once it stops raining, it's humid and hot. However - in mid November or so, it starts to cool down, then eventually, the wind picks up and it really cools off. You can wear long sleeves and sweaters. Senegalese wear parkas!

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Schools & Children:

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

French system international school (Lycee Jean Mermoz) is quite newly renovated and very large, excellent quality education at reasonable price. If your kid is bilingual/entirely fluent in French, it's a fabulous option. The American system school is quite expensive, and quality varies with the grade of the class and the teachers. Both have excellent facilities. I had one child complete high school at ISD (American School) and while it was good, and she took APs and got college credit, I've been much more impressed with schools elsewhere. There are a few bilingual schools but the quality is not as good except perhaps at the Ecole Actuelle Bilangue which only goes through grade 6.

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

Both the French and American school have some ability to support special needs kids, but it is fairly limited.

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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, they are available; my kids are older, I can't really comment on them.

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

Schools offer sports teams (particularly ISD the American school) where they travel to other countries to complete against other regional schools in swimming, volleyball, soccer, basketball, etc. The French school offers various afterschool activities that run all year long.

Surfing, sailing, horseback riding available for kids as well (not school related). Ballet but not modern dance.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge expat community, morale is good except for those who stick to their own kind and don't get into the local culture/language. People who don't speak French will be miserable until they learn.

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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?

Dining out. Going dancing. Listening to music. Entertaining at home. Concerts/films etc at the French Cultural Center.

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

Good for everyone!

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

Less so. Homosexuality is illegal here. It exists, but one needs to be discreet.

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

Not really.

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

Bandia Game Reserve. Accrobaobab. Lac Rose. Visits to St. Louis, Sine Saloum, Saly/Mbour, Cap Skirring (Club Med!). If you love the ocean, you can fish and sail or surf. Excellent horseback riding. Tennis. Beauty salons and health spas.

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

Boating (sail and motor boats), fishing, surfing, horseback riding, clubs with pools and fitness classes. Historical places to visit (not necessarily clean or well maintained). African drumming and dance classes. You can even scuba dive.

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

Made to order clothing. Baskets. Bronze statues. Locally made silver jewelry and drums.

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

Dakar being a peninsula, you are surrounded by the sea. Weekend get-aways to the nicer coastal beaches are easy (but not cheap!). Fabulous (but expensive) restaurants. Night life. Music.

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10. Can you save money?

Nope.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

About the flooding. I would have not stored certain things so close to the ground.....

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

Definitely, I will be sorry to go....

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

Cold weather clothes.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunblock, hats, windbreakers/sweatshirts (cold season), dressy clothes for holidays and dining out or dancing.

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

Sénégal 2003,

Lonely Planet The Gambia & Senegal (Multi Country Travel Guide), and the "Dakar Women's Group Dakar City Guide."

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Senegalese are fun people, and tolerant of foreigners. If you try to understand them, have a sense of humor, you'll love it here.

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Dakar, Senegal 06/17/13

Background:

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

Yes.

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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?

There are two 8-hour direct flights from the USA. Delta via JFK or South African out of Dulles. I highly recommend the SA flight, as it is comfortable and efficient. Delta sends their oldest 757 (single aisle) to Dakar, and it is teeming with people, babies, and bags. It is uncomfortable, smelly, and frustrating. So this is a good introduction as to what to expect in Dakar Airport. Some people also take Air France through Paris, which is fine, but then you have to deal with CDG.

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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.)?

U.S. .

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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 very expensive and of low quality. Please, if you are with the US Government, throw away the idea that you will be living in the big, nice "Africa House." You will not. Over half of the mission community lives in apartments which range in quality but all have their issues (leaking, bad wiring causing electrical fires, walls falling down, and so on). Apartment complexes have no amenities, no green space, and you will be confined inside. Houses vary and are generally considered mediocre with a handful of exceptions. I have had many senior officers tell me that this is the worst housing pool they have seen in their career.

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

EXPENSIVE. We were shocked by the prices here. Milk comes out to $8/gallon. Chicken is $14+ per pound. Gas is $8/gallon. Bring what you can. Most things are available but are outrageously expensive and sometimes of questionable quality. Shredded mozzarella, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream cannot be found.

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

Any consumables you want/can. You will save yourself a ton of money and will have better quality.

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

Yes, there are some good restaurants and beach-front places. Their cost is about like US prices. You will find that the nice restaurants cost just about the same as the shacks on the beach, however.

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

Lots of malaria-carrying mosquitoes that are everywhere. Pets and children (yes) will also likely pick up ticks. Then there are the mango worms (fly maggots in the skin) , roaches, and a variety of other bugs.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch. 2 weeks generally.

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

Generally pretty good. Full-time help will around $16/day for someone recommended with experience.

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

The new embassy should have a gym. Also, some people join Club Olympique, which is a decent gym club with tennis courts, lap pool, and a variety of exercise classes with very good instructors.

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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?

Be careful. Some places will accept them, but many people end up getting their cards skimmed.

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

Yes, ISD has a fairly popular Sunday service in English that many attend. It is non-denominational. There is also an English mass at one of the catholic churches, but is difficult to understand.

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

A lot. English is not spoken here -- nor is it understood. Come with French; you will need it.

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

Don't come. When there are sidewalks, the curb is about 18 inches off the road, and you will find yourself constantly climbing up and down them. Elevators are rare and few apartment buildings have them.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis generally cost $3-8 to get anywhere in town after negotiation. Most of them are literally held together with string and tape and give you a good dose of exhaust fumes.

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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?

Most people bring a 4x4. Four-wheel drive is not really necessary in the city, but the high clearance is. Roads will flood during the wet season, and you will be forced to drive over the huge curbs to park. Do not bring something new, because it will get beat up. Bring a $5-10k SUV and you will be able to sell it for what you paid, no problem.

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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 available, however it is slow and expensive. 1MB service will cost about $70/mo, and the actual speed will be about 80-100KB. 2MB service will cost over $100/mo, and again the actual speeds will only be a fraction of what is advertised.

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

Bring something simple and buy a $5 SIM card when you get here. Credit can be bought on every street corner and is pretty cheap. The data plans for smart phones are much cheaper than in the US.

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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 some French-speaking vets who can do some basic things. Visits are cheap and there is not a big markup on medications such as ear-infection meds.

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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 fluent in French and have experience in foreign aid. Otherwise you will be limited to EFM opportunities at the embassy -- which are actually pretty plentiful.

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

Business casual. Tie depends on your office. You can wear anything in public, though most Senegalese dress conservatively.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not really. I felt as safe here as I did in the small town I grew up in the USA. I would walk home at 2 A.M. in our neighborhood and was never concerned. There have, however, been some robberies on the main road from north to south. There are occasionally some home break-ins, but most of them occur when people are out of town.

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

Yes. Several expats have died from malaria. Hospital care is not very good, but there are a few specialists in town that are sufficient. Most illnesses will result in a medevac trip to London or the USA.

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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?

Ranges from fair to horrible. There are zero emission standards here, and taxis and buses have some of the blackest smoke you have ever seen coming out of them. This is added to plumes of burning trash -- which is their method of waste removal. Also, Dakar is subject to dust storms at times, which will nearly block sunlight for days.

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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?

October to April is pretty good in the 70's or 80's. Occasionally at night you may need a jacket. Starting in May, the heat and humidity really pick up, and you can't be outside for 5 minutes without developing a serious case of back sweat. Storms start in July and will cause flooding on the streets and in your home/apartment.

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Schools & Children:

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

90% of embassy families send their kids to ISD (International School of Dakar), and people are generally satisfied there. Some send their kids to Dakar Academy, which is a smaller, christian school with more limited resources.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge. There are big UN offices here, and lots of regional aid organizations have headquarters here. Also, lots of French retirees -- which I still do not understand.

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2. Morale among expats:

Varies. Those coming with high expectations are disappointed. Those who develop a good network of friends will find the tour manageable. There are a few who absolutely love it here and those who hate it and curtail.

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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?

House parties, Marine house parties, and restaurants.

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

Some singles really get involved in the expat scene (which is huge) and make a lot of friends and have a good time. If not, they will struggle finding things to do. There is a pretty good club scene if that is your thing, but you will need to stay up most of the night to experience it, since nothing starts until 1 a.m. Couples and families take advantage of some of the good restaurants in town and the sense of community within the mission community. Think lots of house parties and play dates. The French Cultural Center holds concerts regularly that can be attended for a decent price.

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

If you are white, expect to get ripped off in any type of transaction. Also, taxis will be obnoxious, constantly honking their horn at you and nearly hitting you on the side of the road trying to get a fare. While the country is 90% muslim, they are extremely accepting of other religions and customs. Americans can wear any type of clothing and not be harassed or feel uncomfortable. Women will even be encouraged by natives if they are out running.

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

Meeting new people and trying new things.

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

Desert camping, visiting some of the other towns in the country, taking a boat out to the islands off Dakar. Before coming here, I thought the beaches would be the highlight of our tour. They are not. They are usually polluted to the point that wading in the water is actually wading through trash.

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

Locally-made baskets, which sell for 20 times their cost in the US. There is the typical Africa stuff, but I think most of it is from China. They have some fun jewelry and art. Local instruments (djembe & Cora) are also very popular and beautiful.

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

Getting to say that you lived in Africa and getting some of the best mangoes for cheap.

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10. Can you save money?

Generally, yes, since there are not many things to spend it on other than overpriced groceries. If you travel outside of Senegal, however, you will pay dearly, as flights are extremely expensive and inconvenient.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Not voluntarily. It was a challenging tour that will likely make our adjustment to subsequent tours seem very easy.

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

expectations that this is the Paris of Africa with beautiful beaches. While Dakar is nicer than some of the other countries in West Africa, it will still be a challenging tour.

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3. But don't forget your:

patience, any liquid products that cannot be shipped via pouch, and your ability to adapt.

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4. Do you have any other comments?

The perceptions about Dakar in Washington and elsewhere within the foreign service are outdated and misguided. Everyone who calls this the Paris of West Africa has 1) not been here or 2) has served in even harder parts of West Africa (think Guinea). If you come with reasonable expectations, though, this can be a good and adventurous tour.

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Dakar, Senegal 03/21/13

Background:

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

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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?

New York City. It's an 8-and-a-half hour direct flight. Or, you can fly through Europe (usually Paris).

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3. How long have you lived here?

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

(The contributor is affiliated with the U.S. Government and lived in Dakar from 2011 to 2013, a fourth expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

My commute to work is about a 20-minute walk. If you're working in Dakar, it's usually no more than 20 to 30 minutes --- although, of course, there are some days when it's worse. Housing is a mix of houses and apartments, which are newer. There is lots of new construction, mostly houses.

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

Most stuff is available, but not if you're loyal to a particular brand. Definitely a lot of specific things you have to hunt for a bit more or make yourself (such as corn tortillas). Prices for some stuff can be on the high side --- especially for quality cleaning goods and anything that really only appeals to expats.

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

Hair conditioner and peanut butter. Yes to all. Taxis are usually never more than $6.

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

There is a range of restaurants and fast-food places, but they are not really familiar chains. Restaurants can be expensive here. You can spend anywhere from $2 to $45 on a meal.

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

Malarial mosquitoes. I keep a lot of food in the freezer.

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Daily Life:

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

Through the diplomatic pouch at the US 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?

Easily available. Costs range from $20 to $200 month, depending.

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

Yes. There's one main gym (Club Olympique) and lots of smaller gyms all over the city. Lots of other exercise options from yoga to tennis. Lots of running.

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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?

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

There seem to be a few non-denominational ones as well as at least one Baptist service.

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

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

You need French. The more the better.

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

It's not a city set up well for people with disabilities. Lots of buildings with stairs and no elevators. Lots of narrow aisles.

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Transportation:

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

Yes to all. Taxis are usually never more than $6.

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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?

I don't drive here and take cabs everywhere. Most people seem to have 4X4's (not strictly necessary for Dakar but nice for when you're out of the city). I've gotten stuck in the sand a few times when out with friends who weren't in a 4X4.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes, but the speed can vary. I pay about $70 a month, although I know there are more expensive, faster options out there.

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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?

Easy to buy and cheap, as is phone credit.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

They seem to come and go in waves. It's much easier if you speak French. If you don't, you'll mostly be looking at jobs at the U.S. Embassy --- and those can be hit or miss.

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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. Business formal for more formal and public events. You can wear shorts on weekends.

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Health & Safety:

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

Down south in the Casamance, there are some concerns but nothing in Dakar. There have been protests, especially during the 2012 elections and near the university, but it's rarely more than a few burned tires.

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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's probably the biggest, and diarrheal diseases. I've been fortunate to not have either and I don't take malaria meds .

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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?

Probably moderate to unhealthy. During harmattan, there's just a haze/cloud of inescapable dust, and it seems like there are more and more cars; so it's unlikely to get better.

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

Hot to warm to mild. Humid. There are a few months a year when it's downright pleasant --- and even chilly at night (definitely bring a few sweaters and a jacket). But it's never cold and in the warm months, it's very hot. This is all for Dakar. Outside of Dakar it can be unbearable. Rainy season generally lasts just a few months, but this past year, it seemed like it hardly rained at all.

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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.

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2. Morale among expats:

High.

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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. Parties. Music. Nightclubs. Dinner parties.

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

It's a great post for singles. There are lots of singles in the expat community, so there's always something to do --- and there are tons of restaurants and clubs. This is a good post for families, in the sense that it's safe, easy travel to the States and Europe, and there are lots of other families here. That said, I'm not sure there's much for kids to do on weekends (not a lot of parks, for example), and spouses who don't speak French are at a real disadvantage.

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

It is good in the sense that Senegalese don't really discuss those matters and don't really ask about your personal life, so you can kind of live and let live. There's a large expat gay/lesbian scene but I'm not sure how comfortable many of them are being out to their host country counterparts. There is no physical affection shown in public, but men and women don't do that either.

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

Race: No. Religion: No. It's a majority Muslim population but there's a lot of tolerance. Gender: I haven't had any issues, but I work in public health and am well aware of the many gender issues that do exist here.

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

The food, the music and the people who are amazing to work with.

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

As mentioned above, there is the restaurant and music scene. Beach weekends are a quick getaway. There's the resort with baobob treehouses. St. Louis for the architecture and jazz festival. Craft and art shopping. Accrobaobab for ziplining. Bandia reserve is not that exciting if you've done safaris in East and Southern Africa, but it is still fun. Goree.

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

Art. Recycled art. Fabric.

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

Living right on the ocean. Amazing music scene. Interesting and diverse art scene. Great food (my favorite is mafe poulet). Amazing bread and pastries. Easy travel to Europe and to the U.S. Incredibly kind people. Safe. A culture that prizes hospitality. Warm (okay, hot for a few months a year, but I prefer that to cold).

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, though it's not the cheapest place. Travel is easy in the region, but it's not cheap.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Of course! I wish I was staying longer.

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

Winter coats.

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3. But don't forget your:

Anything you are brand loyal to.

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

Eh, the Lonely Planet guide book is available, but it could use a serious update.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

I haven't seen it but have heard good things aboutLittle Senegal and Tey. You can skip Black Girl.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Senegal is amazing. It doesn't move at the pace of some other cities and it doesn't have the same amenities as a Nairobi or a Jo'burg but it has so much to offer once you're comfortable with its pace and rhythms. It's also rapidly growing and there seems to be a lot of positive energy around the current government.

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Dakar, Senegal 10/22/12

Background:

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

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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?

Midwest, USA. Flight to JFK or Dulles and then an 8 hour direct flight to Dakar.

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3. How long have you lived here?

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

(The contributor was in Dakar for three years as a representative of the U.S. Government, a first expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

The U.S. Embassy housing is mostly either in the northern part of the city near the NEC or the international school, or downtown near the old embassy (closing in Spring 2013). None of the housing is close to Dakar Academy.

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

Most things are available, but they can be really expensive. Things that you could find in France might be more reasonable (1-2x DC prices), but things you find only in the U.S. (sliced sandwich meat, sliced loaves of bread) are outrageous.

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

Anything with protein, since meat is really expensive.

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

There is no fast food. It is pretty difficult to go out to eat for less than about $12 per person, but usually closer to $15. You can get some great international food in Dakar - Italian, French, Lebanese, Argentinian, Moroccan, etc. There is no Mexican food.

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

Lots of bugs. We kept pretty much any unsealed food in the fridge. Mosquitoes are around all year, and malaria is a risk.

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Daily Life:

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

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

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

USAID has a nice (by Senegalese standards) gym, but I'm not sure what will happen to it when the NEC opens.

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

I used lots of ATMs and never had problems, but I heard or people having issues with it. Most transactions are done in cash.

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

There's a good non-denominational service called ICF Dakar. There is an African-style English-language Baptist church. There is a Catholic mass in English, but it's African English, and some people have a hard time understanding it.

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

DSTV (South Africa) is about $60/month. Some people have 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?

No one speaks English. You can deal with most commercial establishments in French. If you want to go to the local market, you'll need Wolof (and an inhuman amount of patience).

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

Too many to name.

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Transportation:

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

No trains. Most expats other than Peace Corps people don't take buses. Taxis are affordable but are in terrible condition. Negotiate the price before you go anywhere. Most rides go for $2-$6.

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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?

People usually bring SUVs, but it's not an absolute necessity. A vehicle that doesn't have high clearance can go pretty much anywhere in Dakar, but you might have to stay home on rainy days because of flooded roads, and you might have to take longer routes to avoid very rough roads. If you want to explore Senegal outside of Dakar, an SUV would be more handy.

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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 $70/month for the basic package (1mb/sec) and twice that for the "high speed" package (up to 10mb/sec). I had the basic package for 3 years and I don't think it ever went over half the speed of what it was supposed to be.

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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?

An unlocked quad-\ band phone will work fine. Some people were able to get reasonable monthly rates for data plans for smart phones. I think they have 3G.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Not on the local economy. Maybe with the U.S. Embassy. If you are a U.S. EFM, you should have an easy time getting an Embassy job.

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

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Health & Safety:

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

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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.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Unhealthy. Some people picked up a cough that lasted for months, or even their entire tour. I rarely get sick, but during the dusty months I was sick all the time.

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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?

During the months from Nov to March/April, it is usually 70s F. and zero chance of rain. From April/May to October, it is really hot, and it rains every day or so from July to September. You get some really exciting thunderstorms, but they're not much fun if you have a ground floor apartment or house and it floods.

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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 international school (ISD) and Dakar Academy are the main schools used by U.S. Embassy families. There are also French-style private 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?

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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?

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2. Morale among expats:

It varies. Lower your expectations and you will start enjoying it sooner.

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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?

Lots of get-togethers in homes.

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

I can speak best for couples without kids since that what I was during my tour. There are lots of restaurants to try, and you can make your own fun on the weekends getting together with friends or trying to find a clean/fun beach, but it can be a struggle to fill up free time.

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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?

Expats are exploited for every possible penny in any interaction, whether it's meant to be commercial or not.

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

Trying surfing for the first time. Other than that, not much. I also enjoyed leaving to go to Cape Verde, which was only a 1 hour flight away.

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

Fly to Cape Verde.

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

Peanuts and baguettes.

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

Some pretty good restaurants. Great weather 7-8 months each year.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes. There's not too much to do, so you can splurge once in a while and still put some away.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Not voluntarily.

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

perceptions of Dakar based on the opinions of those who were here 20 years ago. It's not the "Paris" of anywhere.

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3. But don't forget your:

psychiatrist.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Dakar, Senegal 03/20/12

Background:

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

Not a first expat experience. My husband and I have lived, respectively, in Peru, Kenya and Egypt.

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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?

East Coast. It is a 9-hour direct flight to JFK on Delta and the same to DC on South African.

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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.)?

U.S 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 spread out from the downtown area near the current U.S. Embassy (mostly apartments) all the way up the Courniche toward Ngor and Almadies, where the new Embassy will open in 2013. Housing is a real mix of 70's style "contemporary" to newer homes. Some have small yards and gardens, many do not. Construction is often of poor quality, especially in the newer areas.

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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 astronomically expensive as most everything is imported and has an 18% VAT tax. Tuna fish for US$5.00 per can, cereal US$7.00 per box, Chicken Breasts US$9.00 per pound... Local produce is plentiful in the winter months and prices are not fixed at the street stalls. Local fish is also cheap and pretty good. There are an ever-increasing number of Western style grocery chains- Casino, Hypermarche, CityDia, but again, they are very pricy.

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

Liquids, laundry detergent, cleaning products, peanut butter, paper products, and printer ink!

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

Some nicer upscale restaurants with DC prices, some casual pizza-type places, lots of French bakeries. Some ethnic restaurants (Thai, Chinese, Indian, Lebanese, Moroccan).

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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?

Few, if any meat, substitution products, tofu, etc. I have not seen gluten-free, but it may be available. Organic processed foods are appearing, but are even more expensive -- I accidently paid US$26 for 6 liters of Organic long life milk.

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

Mosquitoes, palmetto bugs, gekko's, snakes, ants, all kinds of critters.

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Daily Life:

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

We can use the Diplomatic Pouch, but it is very difficult otherwise. DHL provides express service but is extremely expensive (US$40 for a three page document to the US)

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

Inexpensive -- US$200 per month for a full-time housekeeper. Many also cook. Gardeners and drivers are also cheap.

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

There are a few private clubs and they are quite expensive.

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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?

Do not use them. Skimming is a big problem, except at some of the nicer hotels which have safe ATM's next to the front desk. This is a cash economy.

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

Some. ISD has a weekly non-denominational service in English

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

DSTV out of South Africa is mostly in English, no newspapers that I am aware of. DSTV is @ US$80/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?

Some French is essential. Most people speak Wolof, Puular, or other native dialects, the educated speak French. Some people know English.

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

Many -- the vast majority of roads are rutted and unpaved, sidewalks are either non-existent or used to park cars on (especially downtown). There are no ramps, and often no elevators in buildings.

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Transportation:

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

Local busses are crowded and unsafe. Taxis are prevalent, but often in very poor repair (spewing black smoke, shattered windshields, no seat belts) and driven by someone who never went to drivers ed. Prices must be negotiated before entering the cab. There are no meters.

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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 something durable and prepare to get it banged up a bit. Flat tires are common due to nails and Rybar sticking up on dirt roads, large potholes, and oddly configures detours. Bring extra air filters -- the amount of dust is astonishing. Something with high clearance is better, especially if there is flooding in the rainy season. It takes very little rain to wash away and flood the streets of Dakar. Air conditioning is essential during the hot months.

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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 service is available, but not very high-speed and easily disrupted by power outages and spikes. We pay US$80 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?

Buy a cheap phone on the street and purchase minutes as you need them. You can buy minute cards easily from vendors on every street corner.

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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)?

Some very good English-speaking vets, but their options are limited for seriously ill animals.

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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?

Possibly, if you speak French. Lots of NGO's.

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

Pretty casual for everyday -- light weight cottons, sandals. Mmore dressy for official functions. This is a Muslim culture so modesty prevails- knee length shorts and skirts are OK, nothing too revealing.

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Health & Safety:

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

Recent election-related violence, but contained to certain areas. There are an increasing number of violent robberies along the Cornish near the expat neighborhood of Mermoz. Some house break-ins, purse snatching, etc. Guns are illegal and this really makes a difference.

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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, food-born illnesses. Local medical care is far from Western standards with a few exceptions. There are a few good English-speaking dentists. There are private ambulances, but emergency response is a crapshoot. Traffic accidents are frequent and serious.

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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?

Mixed -- some days are clear and sunny, others hazy with airborne dust. Many cars use diesel and the fumes can be awful. Some area have sewage problems and trash burning is a daily event.

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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?

Sunny with low humidity from November-May. January and February can be very windy and, thus, dusty. Summer is very humid and there are some infrequent downpours during the "rainy" season -- often it looks like it will rain any minute, but does not. September, and especially October, are unbearably hot and humid, and then it just magically improves.

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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 International School of Dakar serves grades Pre-k through grade 12. We have had a very positive experience at ISD. They offer AP courses at the High School level and are moving toward a new IB program in 2013. The new high school is due to open later this year. Many expats also use local bi-lingual schools, as well as Dakar Academy, which also serves children all the way through High School with a Christian perspective.

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

Some, but there are limited services available.

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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 local preschools, mostly French-speaking and I do not have personal experience, but many people use them.

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

Usually through the school, and there is a soccer club organized by a Brazilian family.

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Expat Life:

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

Not huge -- many Europeans, and a smaller number of Americans and Chinese.

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2. Morale among expats:

Mixed- it takes a lot of effort to find your niche, or carve out a new one. There is very little to do that is easy and accessible, virtually no public gathering space aside from aforementioned beaches, no parks, green space or gardens, it is not by any means a walking city and it is very difficult to ride a bike. Those who do well find a hobby. It is prohibitively expensive to fly out of Dakar due to a large surcharge on every ticket, thus it is not easily affordable for families to see other parts of Africa.

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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, live music, The French Cultural Center. A lot of entertaining takes place at home.

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

It is probably difficult for single people, as there are limited public venues in which to socialize (i.e. bars, cafes...) Most socialization takes place informally and in private homes and school functions,

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

The Senegalese are pretty tolerant, although there are no public displays of affection. Senegalese men, however, do hold hands in public.

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

Very few that I am aware of. Although predominantly Muslim, there are many Catholics. Sexual harassment rarely, if ever, occurs. White people are referred to a Toubobs and the Senegalese seem to have a positive regard for the U.S.

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

Seeing Youssou Ndour at his club, witnessing an African election, visiting Goree Island.

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

This is a "make your own fun" kind of place. People enjoy the beach (some are OK, many are littered or used for goat grooming), fishing, haggling in the markets. Outside of Dakar you can visit Accrobaobab, Bandia, the resorts of the Petite Cote and Sine Saloum, bird watching, sports, watching African Cup soccer, Lampoul, Lac Rose.

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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, jewelry, beautiful wax fabric, African art.

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

On the ocean, beautiful sunsets. The Senegalese and very warm and friendly and the weather is picture-perfect from November-June. The music is world-class, but begins in the wee hours of the morning.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, and no. There are not a lot of things to spend money on, but the things you do buy (food, household products, gasoline) are outrageous.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I'm glad we had the experience to live in this part of the world, but the "Paris of West Africa" thing is very deceiving, and just not true. This is urban Africa -- very poor, very chaotic at times, a very unattractive city. The dignified spirit of the Senegalese, despite these conditions, is very moving.

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

Winter clothes, high heels, roller blades, impatience, control issues, and high expectations.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor, camera, bathing suit, sunscreen, sunglasses, and flexibility.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Dakar, Senegal 08/07/11

Background:

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

Fifth expat experience - Christchurch, Paris, Manila, Maseru

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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?

Direct flights to the US - 8 hour trip, though flights arrive and depart at ungodly hours of the morning. All flights from here to either Europe or the U.S. seem to require an early morning departure, so be prepared!

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3. How long have you lived here?

11 months

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

Government 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?

Houses are mansions but the electricty infrastructure is so bad that it can't support the massive mansions, so be prepared. The accommodation is often shoddily built so repairs are constantly needed. Dakar wasn't built for the rainy season, so be prepared for flooding when a storm comes.

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

Imported foods from Europe, other African countries and the US are expensive. The only things which are not are local fruits and vegetables. Mangoes are delicious and everywhere.household supplies are also expensive. Be prepared that your shopping basket costs significantly more here.

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

Car parts, sun screen, whole meal flour and anything that you like that is imported. A pity you can't import cheese as the choice here is limited and super expensive.

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

A former French colony so the emphasis is on culinary experiences and not mass produced food. However mixing the French food flair with the West African approach means that you can expect to have a long wait, mediocre service for potentially good food. Everything here is expensive and restaurants are no exception. Be prepared to wait and pay a lot.don't forget lots of patience. Once you find a good restaurant with the right mix of food, service and price share it, as they are hard to find!

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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?

Good luck. It is hard enough trying to find meat that doesn't require a jaw workout. For those inclined to be vegetarians, the bicycle chicken and tough beef may well be the final straw. But don't expect to find any alternatives here, unless you are prepared to pay through the nose for it.

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

Mosquitoes - lots of them. You can't escape them - they are inside and out.

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Daily Life:

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

We haven't used the local mail system. The pouch takes about two weeks from the U.S.

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

Our cook is fantastic and makes amazing food for $350 per month. There are always lots of people wanting to be nannies and finding a good one is the trick.

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

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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?

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

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

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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?

French is strongly recommended. Wolof, the local language would be beneficial but it is not needed as long as you can speak French.

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

A lot! The footpaths, if they exist, often end inexplicably with a huge drop to the road.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are cheap, though with everything you have to bargain. Non-Senegalese pay a premium but it is still cheap. However the quality of the ride is something to be desired. You are lucky if the car seat still has its springs in and doesn't jab you in the bottom as you fly over the speed bumps or the potholes in the road. If the taxi door closes, great - at least you won't fall out but you may not be able to open the door to get out either.

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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 vehicle that can endure the car-sized pot holes that can exist on the roads in the country side. Often potholes are filled in with dirt and so they quickly become pot holes again. Make sure you bring car parts with you as they are expensive here - tyres, oil filters, spark plugs etc. You can find mechanics to fix problems, though modern cars with electronic systems mean your choice of mechanics is limited. The most common tool for local mechanics is the hammer as they believe there is nothing a hammer can't bang into submission!

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes it is available, but service is spotty. Service dies inexplicably and it takes forever to find somebody in the service provider who can identify the problem and fix it.

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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 one but please don't drive when talking. You can get promotional deals for credit on every corner, as there is always somebody selling you a phone card.

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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. Bring 'em over.

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

There is a good vet in mamelles which I have heard many people talk about. No idea about 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?

If you are a teacher, then you will have options available to you.

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

Public dress is conservative - this is a Muslim society. Shorts and t-shirts are for exercise or foreigners. Work dress is business neat.

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Health & Safety:

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

Those mosquitoes know there way in anywhere - beware of malaria. With the exception of advice against running on the Corniche when the light is fading or has faded as you could get mugged, there are generally no security concerns, though this is changing. With the general dissatisfaction about extensive power outages, the public are rebelling and this is manifesting into riots and random acts of wanton damage especially by young males. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, your car might be pelted with construction debris or you could be too.

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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 a big concern here. Locals often report getting malaria. Westerners who don't take prophylaxis have also gotten Malaria. I would prefer not to stay in any hospitals here as i am not sure that they are air conditioned and able to keep the Malaria-carrying mosquitoes 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?

Dusty. Allergies are common prior to the start of the non-dry season. Our potentially asthmatic son has a harder time here with all the dust in the air. With so little rain and so much construction taking place there is inevitably sand blowing about. You can see the blue sky essentially every day of the year.

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

Hot with blue skies for most of the year or hot and humid for the 'rainy' season. The locals wear jackets in winter but i have never had to wear anything more than a shirt even in 'winter'.It is hot here - even in winter the temperatures exceed 30C during the 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?

ISD is a fantastic international school with excellent teachers and great conditions. Other options are available including the very popular Ecole Actuelle Bilingue (French bilingual school).

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

ISD tries to assist how they can. I am not aware of other attempts.

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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?

We have used Ecole en Couleurs which is a French ecole maternelle. It is ok, though typical of French schools, lacks green grass for children to play on. Green grass in Dakar is hard to find in general.

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

Limited but you can find them. Soccer is a favourite Senegalese past time.

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Expat Life:

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

large

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2. Morale among expats:

Two groups - either you hate it and can't wait to leave or you like 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?

If you like clubbing or the late night music scene, Dakar is for you.

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

NO.Maybe for single males it is good, as there are many late night activities to do here. Though the night clubs and music scene open late, so if you are someone who can go out at 1am then this place is for you!Families with children have very limited entertainment options unless you make them yourself. It is so hot here, that activities are constrained to either air conditioned houses or water activities at a pool.

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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?

Muslims and catholics co-exist without any problems that I am aware of. This is a paternal polygamous society where gender roles are well defined.

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

For us the highlight is our cook who prepares amazing Western dishes without direction or a receipe book. The bakeries are great. The resorts in la petite cote south of Dakar can be worth escaping to. Depending on where you go, the locations are beautiful and you don't get hassled by locals trying to get you to buy something. The scrummy mangoes here are fantastic.

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

Hmm. Clubbing, music scene.visit a resort in la petite cote. Visit the former slave colony - Gore Island or swim across to it for the annual swim (5km).You should try to see a wrestling match with all the mysticism and spiritualism associated with this national past time.

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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, glass art work, butterfly wing artwork (yes art work made from the wings of butterflies who allegedly were already dead!)

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

If you like hot weather, Dakar is for you. It is generally a safe city, and so if you like clubbing it is safe enough to go out at 1am when the clubs open. If you like the sea, you can access it but be prepared to deal with the national 'bird' - the ubiquitous black plastic bag, which is everywhere.

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11. Can you save money?

if you don't go anywhere or do anything, then sure.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

NO. It is too hot and there are no outdoor activitiesunless you want to swim with the national bird (black plastic bag) in polluted seas.

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

service expectations, winter clothes, road rules and sense of time.

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3. But don't forget your:

patience - you will need lots. This is West Africa where the heat makes everything gos l o w e r. Don't forget your sun screen too as sun screen is expensive here.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Think carefully before coming here - it is expensive and outdoor enthusiastics will struggle to be happy here.

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Dakar, Senegal 01/29/11

Background:

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

No - previously lived in Panama for 15 months while serving in the military. Multiple extended TDY trips to Germany as well

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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?

Central Florida - 9 hours to JFK, 2 hours to Atlanta, 1 hour to home

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3. How long have you lived here?

20 months (Jun 2009 - Dec 2010)

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

Employed by the US Dept of State

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There are 3 housing areas for Americans. 1. Downtown - this is close to the embassy (5-10 min walk) but older properties. When the new embassy is completed in 2013 this will likely be phased out. 2. Mermoz - about halfway up the peninsula - this is close to the school - so most families with kids live here. 3. Almadies - out on the point - a 35-50 min commute depending on traffic. Nicest area and location of new embassy.

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

Expensive - and a lot of things are not available. As stated above - bring any consumables you are allowed to bring. Fresh produce is readily available and cheaper than at Casino. The meat is often sketch - red meat could be beef or goat. There is a good butcher Chez Gabby - probably the best, safest meat.

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

Canned soup, peanut butter, paper products. Anything you really like - because its unlikely you can get exactly the same thing in Dakar. Chocolates, cakes, and pastries are VERY good here - but expensive

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

There are a number of good restaurants. Dinner for 2 with drinks can run $50 or higher. New Argentinian restaurant a few blocks from the embassy is excellent. No American fast food restaurants here at all.

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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 supply is very limited. Most Senegalese would have no idea what you were asking for. Poverty and hunger are common - they don't worry about organic produce. That said - there are some products at Casino. All produce has to be rinsed in bleach to avoid parasites, food poisoning etc.

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

Mosquitoes are a big problem - they carry malaria and dengue. Although many expats choose not to take antimalarials - this is a mistake. There was a big spike in malaria in Dakar this last year - and there were westerners who died from it. One high profile embassy employee had to be air ambulanced to London where he eventually recovered after several days in the ICU. There are also ants, cockroaches, and in early dry season - crickets (it's like biblical with the crickets!! They are everywhere and deafening at night! bring earplugs!!)

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch only - no DPO here - a real drag because the pouch has lots of restrictions

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

widely available - full time maid $80/week. Make sure you know a little bit about Senegalese labor laws (you are required to provide paid vacation and severance pay for example)

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

The embassy has a very small, dank workout room - which a number of people use. There are gyms - but they tend to be expensive and often not air conditioned. Bring a treadmill and weights if you want to work out

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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?

some people do - but there are stories of numbers being stolen. User beware. We mostly used cash. No street vendors take plastic anyway.

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

There is a Catholic cathedral near the embassy (i think they have one mass in English). Otherwise the majority of the country is Muslim and there are numerous Mosques

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

None. People use AFN or slingboxes.

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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?

French is pretty critical - there is very little English

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

A lot. The sidewalks are often broken and in poor repair - and people park on them. There are no handicapped laws/allowances, etc.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are everywhere and generally safe (though many are in horrible repair). The price MUST be negotiated before getting in the cab - no meters. You can get almost anywhere for 2-4K cfa (4-8 USD). The touba buses are NOT safe and should not be used

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

SUVs are nice - but many people get by with regular cars. Would recommend something that is relatively easy to repair and sits up high. A Prius would NOT be a good car here for example.

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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, $60/month, quality is ok, but it goes in and out and sometimes is out for days without explanation.

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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?

they are everywhere and pretty cheap. Get a cell that you can put a sim card in. You buy the card there and replenish via cards sold on the street (cell phone card vendors are everywhere). Use Orange - not Tigo.

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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)?

Moderately ok. But they don't use anesthesia much and are not available on call. Bring all your pet meds with you.

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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?

Dress is pretty casual at the embassy - most of the men do not wear ties every day. Women tend not to show thighs in public - so most Western women don't wear shorts (they tend to wear capri pants and skirts).

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Health & Safety:

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

As stated - there have been robberies at machete point on the Corniche - victims have been Americans and Europeans. Lots of pickpocketing and petty theft - you have to really keep an eye on your belongings and avoid flashy jewelry, purses, Iphones etc. That said - we walked freely through the city and had no problem outside of beggars

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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?

Despite the previous poster's assertion - medical care is actually quite inconsistent in Dakar. Yes, there are clinics - but the level of expertise and availability of treatment varies tremendously. There is almost no ICU capability, for instance. The SOS Medcin group probably offers the best emergency care. If you get sick in Dakar and have the chance to be medevac'd out - take it. There were numerous stories of misdiagnosis and bad medical outcomes during our time in Senegal.

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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?

Quite nice good during dry season, very hot and sticky with low-quality air during rainy season

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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?

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Schools & Children:

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

ISD is one of the biggest draws for bidders here. It has an excellent program much like US middle and high school. Well managed with excellent resources. Dakar Academy is primarily a school for mission kids - also nice but not as well funded as ISD. There are also French schools and a lot of parents of younger kids send their kids to them.

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

they do their best - but there is no program for special needs kids and the school is very clear on this. In reality they do accommodate these children and try hard to make it work (they have a special ed coordinator for the younger grades and will allow shadow teachers etc) but if the child cannot make it they will act and inform the parents that the child isn't appropriate. Think hard before bringing a special needs kid to W Africa (no child psychiatry, neurology, or availability of stimulant meds). Parents who try and shoehorn problem children into these schools usually end up regretting it.

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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?

household help (nannies) very common here and affordable

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

Yes - there are programs in soccer and other sports available through the schools and Club Atlantique - generally open to both local and expat 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?

Small to moderate. USAID has a big presence, and there are UN people as well. There are few American tourists or visitors.

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2. Morale among expats:

Fair to 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?

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

Yes and no. Families seem very happy - but there isn't much to do unless you are adventurous and speak good french. Club Atlantique has a nice pool and a lot of families spend weekends there. There are other places to take kids for recreation - but traffic makes things like cycling very sketchy. Singles who want to meet other expats will find them in very short supply. You hear a lot about the club scene - but it really doesn't get going until 1-2 AM and closes at 5 AM - not great hours for anyone with a job. Prostitution is rampant and the Senegalese are very attractive - but this usually just results in trouble for the young men posted here. Many singles feel lonely - but things like the DWG (Dakar Women's Group) make it easier. Senegalese culture is VERY different - so dating the locals usually comes with many barriers (and often unspoken but significant expectations)

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

It is a Muslim country - albeit very non-militaristic. Homosexuality is known - but not displayed openly.

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

Not that I could see.

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

The local restaurants are quite good - but take time to find as there are also bad ones in the mix. Walking out to dinner on a warm, breezy night was very nice indeed. The ferry to Goree Island is a must. Other people took advantage of beaches, sailing, and travel within Senegal

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

Dining, beaches, outdoor bars, ferries to local islands, sailing clubs, and trips inland

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

local art (glass paintings) very unique and pretty. In general local artisans have many items for sale. Peanuts!

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

The weather is fantastic 7-8 months a year - literally never rains from November through June and warm, low humid days and breezy nights. Rainy season is a whole different story - very tropical and hot with high humidity. Local plumbing infrastructure is very poor - there is flooding in many areas including expat housing. The Senegalese are friendly and open, they are curious about Americans and generally we felt very safe - though there were a number of high profile muggings/attacks during our time there. You can definitely save money - though groceries are expensive - especially for families with children. Getting things from the US takes time and is usually quite expensive as well. If possible - ship as much as you can (cereal, paper products, canned goods etc)

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11. Can you save money?

yes - if you have subsidized housing. But its easy to spend here - especially if you have kids. People who ship a lot of stuff from the US were always complaining about money

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Words of Wisdom:

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

probably

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

winter clothes

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3. But don't forget your:

sunscreen, insect repellent, antimalarial drugs, and pepto bismol

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

African Friends and Money Matters is an absolute MUST read for anyone living in Western Africa

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Overall we had a good experience. Sadly, the Senegalese government is veering towards a crisis - and the result has been increasing infrastructure erosion and unrest among the population (power outages for example have become increasingly common). If President Wade refuses to step down in 2012 it could get ugly.

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Dakar, Senegal 02/11/10

Background:

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

Yes.

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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. Direct flights from Dulles on United/South African Airways and from JFK on Delta.

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3. How long have you lived here?

20 months

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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?

Housing pool is OK. Not great though it does appear to be getting better. Very few house have yards and Senegalese construction is very poor. Post is growing very, very fast and GSO housing is having a difficult time keeping pace.

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

Very, very expensive. Neither everything is imported. You can get cheap fish, bread and peanuts but that is about it.

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

Peanut butter, yellow mustard (neither exist here).

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

Closest thing to fast food would be Pizza Inn and Caesar's Chicken and Pizza.

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

Mosquitoes but some parts of town are worse than others. Almadies seems to have the worst of it. Fann and Fenetre Mermoz seem to be better.

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Daily Life:

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

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

We pay on the high side but it's still affordable. We pay our househelp 150,000CFA/month (approx. $300) for 40 hours a week and our live-in gardener/day guard 125,000CFA/month ($250).

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

No, not really.

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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?

ATM's are popping up all over and I have yet ti hear of any problems during my tenure.

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

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

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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?

Plenty. Some basic french is essential and some basic Wolof goes along way.

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

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Transportation:

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

Taxi are affordable and 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?

Any kind will work just fine. A 4X4 is the best option but not necessary by any means.

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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?

You never get the bandwith you pay for - know this going in. It's about double what we pay in the states.

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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?

Orange and Tigo are the two big carriers. I have add experience with both and prefer Orange.

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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)?

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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?

Business to business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

High crime post by US State Department definition is accurate. We have all manner of crime affecting the diplomatic community minus the big three: rapes murders and car-jacking.

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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 a good German doctor in town many Embassy officials use.

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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. Some bad days during the winter as the Harmaton winds blow dust and sand from the Sahara.

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

Hot and humid from June-October/November. Cools down with very little himidity from December-April/May.

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Schools & Children:

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

INternational School of Dakar (ISD) is a good school. No major conplaints. Have 2 children who are students at ISD and a spouse working there. Like any school, a lot depends on the teachers. There are some exceptional ones at ISD and some that make you shske your head in frustration.

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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?

Yes. There are a fair amount of sports and other after-school activities available for kids at ISD.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Overall - good, but not great. It's West Africa and while Senegal is the best thing going in this part of the world, it's still West Africa.

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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?

Good for families and singles.

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

Have not heard either way.

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

While a Muslim nation, Senegal is incredibly moderate and welcoming of other religious expressions.

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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"?

Not much really. You've got Goree Island, Bandia Animal Reserve, a couple respectable beaches, Saly.....this is no East Africa. Nothing close to what you'd get in Kenya, Tanzanior South Africa.

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

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

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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:

Winter clothes. It cools down during winter but never gets cold.

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3. But don't forget your:

Peanut butter.....seriously, bring lots of it!!!

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Dakar, Senegal 02/05/10

Background:

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

No three other countries in Africa

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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?

To get back to the U.S. there are two major airlines with direct flights, South African Airlines/United (Dulles and JFK) and Delta (JFK).

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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.)?

Associated with the 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?

Single family homes and apartments - yards aren't that much. Difficult to get big cars into the garages so many people park on the street.

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

Groceries and paper products are pretty expensive - especially Casino. Quite a lot of things are imported. The one exception is probably seafood. Shopping usually involves going to more than one store.

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

Paper products, dog food, U.S. products that aren't available here.(French products are available.)

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

There are lots of restaurants - some of what could be called fast food here would cost about twice the amount as the US.Higher end restaurants - probably the same cost as higher end restaurants in the US.Nice cream downtown has 40 flavors or so of homemade ice cream.

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

Some mosquitoes and a lot of flies. There is one type of fly lays eggs in the ground and can cause little worms in pets.(Be careful of these insects in locally bought fertilizer.)

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Daily Life:

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

U.S. government system for mail but they don't send out packages.

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

Often more than $200/month - at least in diplomatic community.

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

Yes. Women and some men wear longer pants when running. In some months - this is also due to the weather.

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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?

It is probably OK - but we avoid using these here.

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

I know about the Catholic, Baptist, and Interdenominational (one at Dakar Academy and one at ISD).

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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?

The more French and local language you know the better.

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

Not sure . . . should look at this carefully.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe and affordable - but be warned taxi drivers don't know French very well. And sometimes they will let you get into the car without really understanding where you want to go.

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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?

For most of the year a smaller vehicle would be nice for Dakar. But when the flooding was occurring it was really nice to have a higher car - also better for outside of Dakar. Quite a few motorcycles who can zip through traffic - but it's dangerous as cars often swerve left or right unexpectedly to go around taxis, horse and carts, and other obstacles.

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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 - I think it's $40 to $60/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?

Widely used and they work.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No

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

Yes for vets - not sure that there are kennels - so important to have house help that are good withpets.

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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?

View All Answers


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

Senegalese dress very well - usually Fridays is a dress up day for them (especially for women) - with very beautiful traditional outfits.

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Health & Safety:

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

Nothing unusual - be cautious right around the time it gets dark when walking or running.

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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?

Not an expert on this. Medical care seems pretty good.

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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 that bad - but at certain points of the year it is quite dusty.

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

Hot at one point but then it cools down. Considered very nice by most people. However, the rainy season resulted in pretty severe flooding in Dakar. The flooding required cars to go through pretty deep water on some streets.

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Schools & Children:

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

ISD, French School, Bilingual School?, Dakar Academy. We chose Dakar Academy (Christian school) based on references from friends who found the elementary academics better and liked the less materialistic, value based education. The school is helping our child catch up on the basics - things that were not taughtsufficiently through an elementary IB program in another country. There is emphasis on community, kindness, and religion. Kids are very happy. It's like a family - they have a Best Bud program matching high schoolers with elementary kids and have pretty good sports. Library is big but some of facilities like soccer field are not as good. They have boarding kids starting in 6th grade.

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

There is some - should contact school directly to find out more.

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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?

No experience - but heard there is a Montessori school.

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

Yes - clubs host things for kids - even for non-members and schools. Horseback riding.

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Expat Life:

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

Large

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2. Morale among expats:

High - because people are nice and hardworking and there are things to do.

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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, nightclubs, music, and various cultural events.

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

Yes - Lots to do for everyone and good food.

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

People in Senegal are conservative and religious - but they are also pretty tolerant of people who are different.

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

The country is over 90% Moslim - nevertheless, there is a lot of tolerance.

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

The beaches and the islands: Ngor and Goree and the restaurants.

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

Beaches, Islands, nature reserves, restaurants, and sports. Music is suppose to be good too.

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

Having clothes made here, jewelry,

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

The weather is very nice. Culture is fascinating. Senegalese are typically conservative and religious and very hospitable. Exercise is very popular here - with lots of runners, walkers, and some biking.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes. But costs could add up quickly with house help and eating out a lot.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely.

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

Very cold winter clothes

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3. But don't forget your:

Beach gear, kayak might be nice, bikes

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

Quite a few.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Dakar, Senegal 01/06/10

Background:

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

Washington DC

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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?

From DC /New York: 8 to 9 hoursFrom Europe: 5 to 6 hours

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3. How long have you lived here?

19 months so far

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

Diplomat

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most houses are poorly built. Need repairs & maintenance constantly.

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

All is available and all is very costly coming from the US with a weak dollar. Since the franc CFA is pegged to the Euro, coming from Europe, the prices are not as bad. All French brands are here displayed in several Casino supermarkets.

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

Liquids (not allowed in Embassy mail).

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

Food is never fast here but very good restaurants are everywhere for very good prices.$5 to 10 for lunch, $10-20 and above for dinner. Not strong in Mexican nor Indian restaurant. Lots of French, italian, Chinese, African restaurants.

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

Mosquitoes to avoid malaria. More present in Almadies than in Mermoz and depending on seasons.

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Daily Life:

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

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

Available everywhere. Expats tend to pay at least 100-120,000 CFA a month ($250) for a qualified maid.

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

Yes, plenty.

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

I am not using any visa card.

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

Not much.

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

Available.

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

Much better to know at least French and also some Wolof (10 sentences will make them very happy already) to enjoy your stay.

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

Dakar and the entire Senegal is not for disabled. Bad roads and broken or inexisting sidewalks. No ramps or bigger bathrooms.

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Transportation:

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

No safe train. Local buses are not practical except to go on a straight line. Taxis are everywhere, some look like a garbage, some are brand new (same price!). Airport to downtown is no more than $10.

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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, even if you only stay in Dakar because the roads are bad here too (sometimes even nice expat houses are at the end of a stony dirt way).

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Phone & Internet:

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

Available. $20 and above/month depending on bandwith.

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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?

Very used here. Phone cards are sold at any time of the day/night everywhere. Not cheap. Better to get a subscription depending on your usage.

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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)?

Vets are good. I don't know about kennels, people use staff or friends.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

None. Jobs exists for expats but few and very poorly paid.

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

Simple among expat. Senegalese women are very well dressed (feels over dressed sometimes).

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Health & Safety:

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

Seems good because we are near the ocean, otherwise cars are not well tuned.

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

Theft.

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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?

Avoid malaria mosquitos. Very good French & Lebanese doctors, or Senegalese doctors trained & certified in France.

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

Very good climate. Rainy season (July to Oct) means it MIGHT rain! It can take 7 days between each rain even in the rainy season. Strong wind (Harmattan) in January and February. October is the hottest month. December/January are the coldest (15 to 25 degree celsius depending on the years)

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Schools & Children:

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

Good experience with the Lycée Français (hard to get in if not previously in a French school or a French citizen). They will have brand new premises in September 2010.

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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?

Lots: French, bilingual or English.

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

Yes.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Easy and common.

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3. Morale among expats:

Fine.

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

Very good city for all since there are lots of disco/restaurants and cheap nannies. But bad for the cultural minds: no cinema (some movies at French cultural center), one theater but programming is excessively weak.

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

Senegal does not want to recognize homosexuality. That said homo colleagues had no problems at all (as long as you don't kiss in the streets).

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

Very tolerant society for religion.

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

Bandia, Accrobaobab, buggies, horseback riding, swimming, tennis. Visit St Louis, Lac Rose, Bassari country, Casamance, Sine Saloum, etc.

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

Wood or leather items. Custom made clothing.

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9. 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 but 2 years is enough to get the picture.

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

Taste for cleanliness and timely matters.

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3. But don't forget your:

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?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Dakar, Senegal 05/03/09

Background:

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

Not a first experience. We have been living overseas for 19 years.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Three years, from 2006 -09. My wife taught at the International School -- a school that has improved greatly since 2008.

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

U.S. Embassy.

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

Direct fights to U.S.

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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; some are poorly constructed.

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

More expensive than the US. French items are readily available.

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

Liquids from the US. Everything here is imported from France.

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

African versions of fast food places in US. Adequate. A bit higher in price than in the US.

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

Mosquitoes and ants.

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Daily Life:

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

Via USG.

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

We pay our housekeeper about US$250, including benefits. Help is available

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

Yes.

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

We never use our credit cards overseas due to having the images stolen twice.

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

Not a lot.

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

Yes, South African TV. No papers.

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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?

French is the language of the country. Few people speak English.

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

Poor roads, homes aren't built for the disabled.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis, yes. Affordable. Buses are crowded.

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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 with high clearance. Japanese-made vehicles usually have 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?

Yes, about $50/month, and it works. Can have VOIP.

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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?

They work most of the time.

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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)?

Yes, there are good vets.

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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?

Tie for men.

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Health & Safety:

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

Moderate.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

Malaria, yellow fever, etc.

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

Thefts are not unusual.

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

Malaria.

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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?

The rainy season is July - Oct. The rest of time the climate is great.

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Schools & Children:

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

International School of Dakar, Dakar Academy. Our teen-aged children attended for three years. Above US standards.

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

Both ISD and Dakar Academy have provisions.

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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.

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

Yes, we played tennis and swam year around.

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Expat Life:

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

Expats are here but you don't see them a lot.

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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?

If you make the effort.

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3. Morale among expats:

Improving. Traffic used to be horrible, but this improved in 2008. Now we have a freeway of sorts called a corniche.

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

For families, yes.

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

Yes, we have several gay/lesbian friends who have liked it here.

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

No.

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

Sports and the outdoors. Knowing French helps.

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

Artwork.

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9. Can you save money?

Not a lot. The cost of living is higher than in DC.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, now that the cornice is done and you can move about the City. Before, it was not the place to live.

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

Warm coats.

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3. But don't forget your:

Humidifiers. It gets very dry. UPSes to support electrical equipment.

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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?

This used to be a place to be avoided due to the traffic, beggars, etc. Since 2008, though, Dakar has become a nice place to work and live.

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