Freetown, Sierra Leone Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Freetown, Sierra Leone

Freetown, Sierra Leone 05/07/18

Background:

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

No.

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

USA. 14-17 hours, two plane rides. Transit through Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam or Casablanca. Then when you arrive at the "airport" you get on a van to a boat, boat to Freetown. Add on 2-3 hours each way with all the boat business. It's a rough intro to the place.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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

Foreign service.

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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 concrete yards and 20 minute commutes in traffic where no one can drive, as a prior poster already mentioned. Others live super close to the embassy without any commute. People tend to socialize with whom they live closest, too. The houses are big, but seem to have strange layouts, and seem poorly maintained. There have been gaps in staffing, however new arrivals in Management seem to be working hard to make a difference.

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

You can find most of what you want, just might need to visit several stores. As a prior poster said, pricing doesn't seem to have rhyme or reason. Amazon makes up for anything you miss. Use consumables for specialty condiments, liquids, detergent, soy (or other specialty) milk if you need it on a regular basis, PB, good beer and wine. Good dairy is forever lacking; It's all the box shelf stable stuff. You can still make ice cream with it, but really miss greek yogurt.

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

More liquid laundry detergent and good quality (esp. 'eco') cleaners.

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

Sigh. There are few, as prior poster said, better views than food. A lot of places just are heating frozen food or making bad pizza. Smoking bun is new-ish and they have decent burgers, shakes etc. Toma has good finer dining food but expensive. There is typical Lebanese mezze avail too with all the Lebanese here. They own most of the places expats frequent. Local West African food has not been tasty to us. We have tried, so many times. It seems VERY spicy, overly salty and oily, and there is fish in your dish even when not expected or advertised. Food is a door to culture for us normally, and have been sorely disappointed here. Produce is hit or miss, sometimes good fruit. No kale or good lettuce etc., take a multivitamin. There is potato leaf and other "slippery" greens that are always mushy and bad.

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

We've been lucky but some people get ants, roaches, mice the usual.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch.

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

$10-15 a day (150-300 a month) depending on their skill level, the job itself, etc. Expect you may feel pressured to inherit your predecessor's household help. Recommend you meet a few people though before being pressured to hire someone you don't need or want. Even try to hire outside the U.S. mission, post on Freetowners on Facebook for recommendations. Household help seem to push quite a bit in terms of holidays, school payments for their kids, salary advances, bonuses etc. even if they are not full-time.

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

No idea. We work out in one of our 3 extra rooms we never 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?

No. See last poster. Bring a checkbook to constantly get cash out at embassy.

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

Not religious but there is every kind of church you can want. Mosques of course as this is majority Muslim country. one or two Hindu temples.

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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 get use to the local creole (Krio) and accents if you make an effort. There is a Krio tutor around.

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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, tuk tuks and motorbikes are very affordable yes, but we aren't allowed to use them. You'll get ripped off as a gringo anyway.

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

A high clearance SUV. Bring tires and anything you need for routine maintenance.

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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?

No, unless you want to pay through the nose. You can stream most of the time but will buffer and be of poor quality video. Don't forget your VPN!

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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 just use our embassy issued phones.

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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?

Dr. Jalloh. All we got. He's fine. No issues getting in or out of country but can be costly. As last poster said, many sad and sweet dogs in this country, please adopt if you space and can take them home to U.S. or next post 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?

Many EFM jobs now that the freeze is over. Otherwise people telecommute. You can also tutor or volunteer at the internationall schools. Salaries are likely low, no idea. Unemployed and under-employed spouses seem frustrated.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Chimp Sanctuary, Animal Welfare society, NGOS for kids, literacy, hunger...all the things.

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

Business casual. Suits if you have ministry meetings outside embassy. Formal dress only needed once a year for Marine Ball.

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Health & Safety:

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

Petty theft but nothing more than most places. You live a pretty insulated and isolated life here so no other threats you'd ever interact with or come upon on a daily basis. You can't really walk around here (nor would you want to., garbage and staring everywhere) so you aren't likely to get robbed anyway.

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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?

Harmattan brings dust, you home might bring mold. Aspen Medical is good for routine issues. Anything serious, surgical or dental requires a trip out of the country. Good med unit at embassy though.

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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?

Again, Harmattan brings dust, you home might bring mold.

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

There are nuts in local food (groundnuts, peanuts). Dust/Mold allergies can be triggered. We brought an air purifier that makes a huge difference.

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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)?

It's a hard culture to take some times and the interactions can get depressing.

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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?

Wet Jun-Sept. Then dry. Humid, warm, same temps everyday.

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Schools & Children:

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

No personal experience but good for K-8. After that, classes are tiny and require online supplemental classes or boarding school.

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

No idea.

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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. No experience. People seem to get nannies, too.

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Expat Life:

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

Small. Larger British contingency though. Morale is not great but post is what you make it.

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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?

Make your own fun. Drink, board game nights, trivia with the Brits, work on your hobbies, esp. during rainy season. There is a running group and a weekly walk/run at the embassy though.

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

Maybe for singles, previous officers have met significant others in the expat/NGO community. For couples without kids, rough. There are no places or parks to walk, no great restaurants, no cultural institutions, not a lot to do. Good for families with young kids. Safe and help is cheap.

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

No idea. Scene is likely more 'underground' for locals given how religious people are but among expats, there are LGBT and of course super accepted and not an issue at all.

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

Muslims and Christians get along pretty well, families intermarry. Gender...well women work very hard and then still are expected to do all the domestic/childcare. Traditional family units are bit hmm..complicated? women put up with their partners having many kids outside of the marriage. Local staff openly say they prefer male supervisors (even if they themselves are female!).

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

Beaches. if you are not a beach person, you will become one. It's the best thing we got and one of the only things we got.

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

Beach. Chimp Sanctuary.

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

No. When you think it is "african" it is likely made in China, even the fabrics that appear very local. Shea butter is good though, we buy that.

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

Hardship differential.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That I shouldn't and how difficult the culture can be to take at times. That when you try to make friends with locals, it feels like they just want money, a visa hookup or some other favor.

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

No. Maybe if you have small kids and need to save though. There were staffing gaps during Ebola and even after. Some jobs have had to be filled by Civil Service when FSOs won't bid. LES aren't highly skilled and since tours are just 2 years, you don't get consistent management. Some people stay for the 3rd year, we have no interest in that.

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

Expectations.

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4. But don't forget your:

Resiliency and memory of the life you used to have.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

Remember your reason for being here be it savings, or whatever else it could possibly be. Most folks here are directed entry level (AKA they had no choice) or on their last tour (mula). Those in-between think it can bring promotion, recognition, or other benefits. Remains to be seen.

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Freetown, Sierra Leone 09/03/17

Background:

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

First with US government, although not first expat experience.

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

USA, 8 hrs to Europe from east coast, 7 to Africa, then factor in time for the boat from airport to Freetown

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

US government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Larger than you could ever need, strange layouts and light switches that make no sense. You have 24 hour guards. Some residences are 20 minutes drive from embassy, while some are walking distance. Concrete yards for the most part. building quality is bad, expect some leaky roofs, mold is a big issue for some but not all.



The housing pool is a beast to manage I expect, but leadership is pretty unresponsive in helping you with housing issues, so DIY to your heart's content or pay a guy who knows a guy to help you out. The locally hired labor force do not have the skills to maintain to these homes (or base level work ethic to show up on time, if at all). They will come unprepared e.g. to paint without drop cloths, or to fix a sink without a wrench. Five guys will just stand around and look at the problem. The worst is when you take a day off for maintenance and no one shows up at all. Morale would increase infinitely if general repairs were more actively managed.

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

The selection varies store to store but honestly you can get what you need here in terms of basics. Use consumables for the specialty items, good cleaning products, and the snacks you will crave throughout the tour. You can order flours, spices, good coffee etc. all online if you can't fine what you need in stores. Sometimes things are surprisingly expensive, and then you can get fancy European jam for a buck. Can't figure out rhyme or reason in the grocery store pricing.

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

None, we shipped everything we needed and can get most things on Amazon. Some fresh/perishable items are missed but that is what R&R is for.

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

There are some decent restaurants with better views than food. Chinese food is available, also Lebanese, pizza takeout/delivery. Nothing will blow your socks off or compare to fine dining back in states but foodies DIY what they need (making bread, brewing beer) etc. Biggest happy surprise, there is good gelato!

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

Couple of roaches/waterbugs per month, only ever 2 mosquitoes in the house in two years, no mice but one house we know has had mice. Kitchen ants...be clean, do your best, and they can be managed.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic pouch only so no liquids above 16 ounces and some other restrictions. But Amazon will take 2 weeks or so after arrival to your pouch address not bad.

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

Cheap. not hard to find good cleaners, cooks, nannies that come highly recommended. $12 for a full days of work so depending on how many days a week you need someone, the cost is pretty reasonable.

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

There are gyms and pools, I have not been to them. There are a few yoga classes that are popular with expats too.

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

No, cash economy for most part. Don't use an ATM, unless at the nicest/most secure bank and still then, go to the teller, not the ATM.

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

Every kind of Christian church you can possibly think of (even Mormons!) and mosques abound. There is a Hindu temple even, just not sure of any Jewish houses of worship though.

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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?

All you really need is English though you will pick up Krio lingo and there are Krio lessons available. Other local languages include Mende, Temne, Fullah.

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

Massive difficulty yes, but there aren't many nice places to walk around generally speaking so as long as your home/workplace is accessible maybe not as bad as appears on the surface?

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Transportation:

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

No, no, and no. Bring a car/buy a car.

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

Toyota SUV of any sort. Don't bring low to the ground cars or any car you particularly care about. The rough roads will do a number on any car but SUVs do really keep their value here, you can sell for almost as much as you paid in States.

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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?

Ugh...you will pay through the nose but internet is fine though for streaming, web surfing etc.

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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?

Work provides us with phones on local lines. You can keep your cell too, get a local sim card so you have a work cell/personal cell. for whatever reason, everyone loves to use WhatsApp here so get on the bandwagon if you haven't already.

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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 is one, he is also the government vet--it's all we got. Easy to get pets here paperwork-wise but the pickup from freight/boat ride from Lungi can be harrowing. Go with help, do not let yourself get hassled by people wanting tips, and don't get shaken down by airport employees. House cats will be very helpful here in but note that some locals eat cats so don't leave them outside the compound. There are many, many, sad stray dogs so please do consider adopting when you are here as well.There is a local British dog trainer too that can help if you adopt a street dog and need help. All you need to get out really is rabies and deworming.

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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 volunteer at orphanages, the animal welfare society, a chimpanzee sanctuary, health organizations, teaching literacy etc. not sure about local schools, don't expect high (or any?) salaries. Some male spouses are known to work from home and there a few jobs for spouses at the embassy but not many.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Orphanages, animal welfare society, chimp sanctuary, health orgs, teaching English literacy, whatever your cause, you will find it. Don't let yourself get taken advantage of though by locals...

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

Business casual for work. In public places, anything goes.

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Health & Safety:

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

You stick out, people will stare and little kids ask for money, it's depressing. Guys on motorbikes beep at you constantly, with no reason why. But people on your block do get used to you and of course at food establishments. Beware of walking alone at night, crimes are of opportunity vs. targeted. Have not heard of any breaks in or violent crime, we all have 24 hr guards and gated homes. There are beggars and even people you think are your friends or hired help that will find ways to push for (extra) money or help of some sort...give an inch and locals take a mile. It sucks, we thought we'd make a ton of local friends but income disparity and the culture here make it hard. You end up hanging out with expats mostly.

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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?

Take your malaria meds, sleep under the net. Embassy health staff can help with basic needs, there is one good medical center (Aspen) and you will be medically evacuated for anything very serious. Get your dental work done before you arrive, bring allergy meds (mold anyone?).

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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 very good with the sea breezes and being up on a hill. There is a dusty season (harmattan winds) but unless you have bad asthma, can't imagine it being that much of a bother.

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

Dust, mold will bother you, even if you don't have allergies. Food allergies...know that peanuts are popular ingredients in local food but local West African food is not to our palates anyway so not hard to avoid peanuts if you need to.

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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)?

Mold, seasonal allergies.

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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?

Wet June-Oct. Lovely for a few months, then dusty for a few months. Rainy season can be depressing but the white noise is nice and if you don't have indoor hobbies to focus on, get some. learn a language, workout inside, go on vacation elsewhere.

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Schools & Children:

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

There is no high school (except online) but I heard under 8th grade age kids are happy in the American school, the British school, and the Lebanese school for kindergarten/preK. American kids have returned to post since Ebola ended in early 2015 and now other expat families have returned. Homeschooling parents I've heard are happy too. nannies are cheap. It's family friendly for young ones, a real community is starting and while us couples without kids are getting a bit stir crazy. :)

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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, but don't have kids, so can't say for sure. Kids are happy with all the beach going it seems.

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Expat Life:

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

Big with all the NGOS and CDC here. Morale...varies. Tons of dedicated NGO workers, missionaries, mostly single. Embassy community is changing to younger families. Singles have met future spouses here, I have. But then, it can be pretty lame for a young couple. Also, the embassy management is not strong so the basic things that would really benefit morale here, are not in place (you can't get around without a car, housing maintenance is poor). Ebola is over, long over, the country is bouncing back, I expect things will improve. You can't change the entire local culture though or lack of work ethic among local staff. Find your friends, find your sports/yoga/hobbies that keep you sane during rainy reasons, focus on work.

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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?

Make your own fun, quiz night, board games, BBQs, beach camping, hiking, indoor hobbies. There are no arts institutions really so if art museums/fine theater/comedy are your thing, you will be disappointed. outdoorsy types or families with young kids are happier.

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

Single, yes, NGO folks work hard/play hard, you'll meet someone. Couples...not so much, especially if you are used to urban centers and functional infrastructure or well, logic, this culture is not logical. Families are happy and getting happier as far as I can tell. high school kids would be miserable here though, no freedom with the security restrictions and only online schooling available. Those with under 12 kids are probably the happiest as long as your kids are healthy and don't need special medical services.

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

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

West African men can be macho (but not toward expat women, just local women really). Men can stare. It is not uncommon to have multiple wives, or many many kids by many different moms, family structure is hmmm fluid? FGM is very common so imagine what that does to women's psyche generally. Ethnic tensions spill into politics but overall people get along and very little to no religious prejudice as far as I can tell. Some locals resent Lebanese families that have done well here and own businesses.

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

Making new friends/meeting future spouse. beaches, of course. hikes, getting upcountry. You can rent boats for fishing trips, or eat fresh caught lobster on the beach. Chimp sanctuary is nice, banana island.

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

Beaches. hikes, getting upcountry. Renting boats for fishing trips, or eating fresh caught lobster on the beach.

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

Not really. Some fabric but be careful it isn't just reprints made in China.

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

Beaches, friends, large homes, cheap help.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That there is almost no infrastructure, it is a totally cash economy (bring bills to change!), how depressing the culture can be, how depressing the poverty can be, not being able to go for walks or go to any nice urban center like most country capitals have. No theaters, no art museums, etc.

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

Yes, but I would never stay beyond two years. Three years maybe if you had a happy spouse, young kids, and needed to save some money.

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

Expectations of functional processes, infrastructure or basic services.

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4. But don't forget your:

Resilience, positive attitude, sense of humor, exercise equipment, bathing suit and bug spray.

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

Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene, Wikipedia on the history/civil war. A long way gone by Ismael Beah.

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Freetown, Sierra Leone 09/09/14

Background:

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

Not first, I have also lived in other west African countries and in Asia and Eastern Europe.

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

Home base is USA. Flights took 16-24 hours in total, always transiting through Europe.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3.5 years.

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

U.S. government job.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Embassy houses are huge and close to work. Most expats live on the mountains overlooking downtown so the ocean breezes are lovely and the sunsets breathtaking.

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

Many western food and household supplies are imported and available but the price is at least double that of the USA. We rely heavily on the pouch and consumables shipment.

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

Gaming systems, games, beach stuff, boogie boards,

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

There is Lebanese food, pizza, burgers, local fare too. Restaurants for expats run about US$7-12 for a plate. Dinner out at the nicest restaurant for two with drink would cost about US$60.

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

Blister Beatles, ants everywhere, malaria is an issue, snakes (not rally an insect, but you should stay away from them!). Be very careful with any fever. Only Americans take anti malarial meds, other expats are just careful at dusk and dawn.

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Daily Life:

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

We used the pouch but the peace corps volunteers receive mail and packages through the Sierra Leone mail system. Most things arrive, some don't. All are delivered to the main post office in town and they have to be picked up from there.

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

There are plenty of people who would love to work for you. We pay US$125 a month for a housekeeper who comes every day from 8am-6pm.

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

There is a UN gym with a pool, reasonably priced and near the Ambassador's residence. The Embassy has a gym, pool, tennis court also. There are tennis courts in several places around town and you can hire trainers to teach you or play with you. There is a golf club on the beach in Freetown which also provides Pro's to teach you or play with you.

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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 are some ATMs at banks and a few restaurants but they release such small denominations of US$ it's hardly worth all the fees. The society itself is cash based.

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

Christian and Muslim services are available in English.

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

None, it helps to learn some Krio but English will get you to everywhere in the country.

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

Definitely. There is no accommodation for people with disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

Local travel is affordable. Taxis within Freetown don't drive fast enough to be really dangerous, traveling upcountry in a local podapoda is more risky. You should not travel outside Freetown at night, there are no street lights and people drive too fast with old cars.

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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 4wd vehicle.

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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's expensive and not very high speed. They are working on a cable connection from Europe but that will take a while longer.

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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 one from the USA. You can buy cheap Chinese phones locally if our want.

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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?

Dr Jalloh near Congo Cross in Freetown provides excellent veterinary care to pets. He was trained in the USA and continues to maintain his credentials in America. The facility is very "local," but his quality of care is excellent. There was no quarantine entering or exiting the country for our dog.

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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 lots of international NGO's so. If that is your field, you will find work. There are restaraunts owned by expats that also hire sometimes. The school also needs help occasionally. If you want to be busy you will be.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are plenty, you can volunteer in orphanages or at the American school.

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

Pretty casual all around, women should wear dresses to the knee though, not shorter.

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Health & Safety:

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

Petty theft is common on public transportation or when people leave their windows down and bags on the seats. "Grab and dash" is the most common crime I would hear about. Lock your car doors and put valuables on the car floor, not on the seat in plane view of everyone. 90% of the population lives on less than US$1 per day so don't be flashy.

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2. 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 great, the ocean breeze keeps it fresh.

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

Warm and dry and warm and wet. The rainy season is truly something to see; shuts down the country for a few months every year.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are two "international" schools, one for profit and one nonprofit. The American international school is getting better, it was neglected horribly for decades. Contrary to previous posts, all of the teachers for kindergarten through grade 8 are certified teachers, and most come from Europe or the U.S./Canada. Parental involvement is huge for the school and will continue to contribute to its success.

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

AISF accommodates children who need to learn English but there are no other special needs accommodations 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 preschools, most people with young children hire a nanny also. We had wonderful success with our household help and so did other families we knew.

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

AISF offers after-school programs that do include sports "clubs". There is nothing more organized than that. There are no parks, just the beaches for playing.

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Expat Life:

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

You have to make a decision to like it, and then you will. There are always social events and beach camping trips going on, you just have to ask and join.

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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?

Beach! Eating out, live music, dancing with friends.

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

It's great for anyone except families with highschool age children unless you want to use a boarding school. AISF only goes through grade 8. The social life is active and there are some places to listen to music at night and go dancing. Some good restaraunts too, well maybe not always "good", but fine.

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

I had several LBGT friends who seemed very holy living here. Culturally it's not acceptable, so many friends kept their orientation from the local staff or friends, but were comfortable in within the expat community.

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

You will not find a more religiously tolerant country in the world, I'm sure. Every meeting and public gathering begins with a Muslim and a Christian prayer and both prayers are often spoken by everyone attending. It is patriarchal, but professional expat women are respected. All work environments were very friendly to men and women.

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

Definitely the beaches, and the fact there wasn't much else going on allowed for very close friendships to develop.

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

Beaches, Tacugama chimpanzee sanctuary, Bunce island (an old slave fort), some upcountry lodges in small villages. The beaches are amazing!

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

Local cloth is beautiful but the quality of dressmakers varies widely.

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

The people are so friendly and welcoming, and the beaches are beautiful.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Definitely!

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2. But don't forget your:

Sense of adventure and sense of humor!

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

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier and

Black Man's Grave: Letters From Sierra Leone.

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Freetown, Sierra Leone 06/19/14

Background:

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

No, I have also lived in in Africa and Asia.

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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?

The U.S. It usually takes about 16-18 hours. There is no contract fair, so you can use BA, Air France, or Brussels Air. All involve a stop in Monrovia, or somewhere else before Freetown. Then, once you land, you have to take a bus to a boat to a car to home. After touching the ground it could be up to 3 hours to arrive at your home. Check a map to see where Lungi Airport is.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost a 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 big, 3-5 bedroom homes. The layouts are sometimes hard to figure out and the workmanship overall is sub-par. A lot of work is done to make them ready for employees. All but two are on 24-hour generator power. The others get solar power that doesn't really work so they are on generator most of the time too. All that being said, most people are happy with their homes. All are in easy distance to work, except the Ambassador's house--he is the farthest away. The next group is about 15 minutes/5 miles from the Embassy. Only a few homes have yards, the rest have cement; some have garages, but most cars don't fit inside. Currently the houses are clustered in four groups, some sharing a compound, others with individual compounds but next to each other. A few are also within walking distance.

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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 expensive, about 100% more than in the U.S., sometimes more. There are fresh fruit/vegetables, and those are cheaper. A lot of people plant a garden in their flower beds or make raised beds to grow more vegetables. Laundry soap and cleaning items are very expensive. Everything in Sierra Leone is imported, and the prices are high. We have consumables, and people use it well. Even canned goods are 100%-200% more expensive than the U.S. So while you can get pine nuts, and granola, do you want to pay US$100 for a Costco bag of them? Pre-arrival shopping is key, and then you can also order consumables from ELSO.

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

More consumables because I hate paying the high prices for things in the store; but Amazon and Netgrocer help!

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

No fast food. There are several restaurants; some good Chinese, one Indian, also good, several with continental menus on the beach and around town. Prices average about US$25/person without alcohol for a meal, sometimes more or less.

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

Malaria--it's a big problem. Take the meds.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch.

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

Lots available, cost is anywhere from US$100/month full time to US$150 for a housekeeper/cook. Some claim to cook but can't really, some are excellent cooks. Gardeners are available, most work part time at several places. Some people also have a driver.

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

Nope. The Embassy has one with lots of weights but the machines are broken. We have a half-court basketball hoop, a tennis court, and a small gym on compound.

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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 economy.

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

I think everything, if you want 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?

None, but picking up Krio helps.

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

Absolutely. There is no accomodation.

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Transportation:

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

No and yes.

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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?

There is little car theft, and no carjackings that I have heard of. Most embassy employees drive Toyota 4 runners, though there are also Jeeps, Pathfinders, Rav 4's and the like. There are only authorized Toyota and Range Rover dealers in town, however you can see almost any type of car. You do need something with clearance due to the unpaved roads and rain.

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Phone & Internet:

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

No high-speed; 2mps (I've never seen it that fast) with no download limits costs about US$120/month--more providers are coming up with packages but I don't know them.

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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 for family members, employees get a phone and blackberry. People put their SIMs in iphones and other smart phones.

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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, vet care is limited.

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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 don't think so.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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

Business casual, the POL/ECON folks wear suits, but no one else does. It's hot and humid. Leave your pantyhose at home.

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Health & Safety:

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

As a critical crime post, areas of concern are walking the streets/beaches at night, crimes of opportunity and infrequently, house break-ins. There have been two in two years here. There is no police response or reliable investigation. Otherwise most people don't worry a lot about crime.

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

Yes. Malaria is big. Ebola is too but that's not easy to catch unless you eat undercooked monkeys and bats or care for those who become ill without protection of gloves and other gear.

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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 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?

Warm and dry, and warm and wet. The rainy season is biblical. It starts in May and ends in November after dumping about 5 meters of water.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are two schools rated as acceptable for the State Department. There is no high school. The American School is not considered to be high quality, with mostly locals and third country nationals attending. There are (I think) two actual certified teachers at the American School.

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

None, as far as I know.

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

There is a Montessori school that people seem to like a lot but I do not have personal experience.

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

Soccer - I think, that's about it.

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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 community is small but people are pretty happy overall, there are of course outliers who can't stand it but most brought their sense of adventure and sense of humor. Work at the Embassy was a challenging environment. Local staff do not have access to good schooling and some (but thankfully not all) have a poor work ethic.

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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?

Dinners out, potlucks, parties, going to the beach, socializing with other expats, spending time on my own hobbies, reading.

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

This is a hard one; this is not an easy post. Those who do best are the "glass half-full" people. Families who have done well enjoy the beach, spending time together, eating the occasional meal out and visiting with friends. Couples tend to do the same, and some have been more adventurous and gone out of town to see the country. Singles find the dating scene sparse but go out together and find other expats to hang with. There are no real parks to take the kids to and no yards for kids to play in, so you have to plan some things.

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

No idea; but it's not overly troubled by rhetoric about LBGT.

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

Women are not considered on par with men but Sierra Leone has made some progress in this department compared to similar countries. Otherwise it is very religiously tolerant, with people crossing between Christian and Muslim depending on the holiday. Muslims sing in church choirs and send their kids to Christian Schools, and everyone celebrates Eid's. Most Muslim women do not wear Hajab.

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

None so far but it's not a bad place, just kind of boring.

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

Go to the beach, check out different ones each weekend, eat lobster, relax. Learn to golf, it's cheap and something to do. Go to football matches, take in some of the events on offer each week. There are trips to some of the islands off of Freetown and some camping places "up-country" as well. There is also a Chimpanzee sanctuary near the Embassy.

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

Very little, but if you've never been to Africa you can get some carvings, regional tribal stuff, and a few other items.

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

No real special advantages. This is a country with very poor infrastructure and very little development. However, there are nice beaches about 30 minutes from our housing, so most weekends people spend some time there. You can get lobster, prawns and other simple dishes at the beach which is also nice.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, unless you travel out a lot; it's expensive to leave.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I knew what I was getting into.

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

Yes, every day is different, the work is challenging, the team we have right now is working well together, and I like it.

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

Pantyhose, and winter clothes, unless you travel.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunglasses, sunscreen, and sense of adventure.

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Freetown, Sierra Leone 08/12/13

Background:

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

No, between work and holiday, we've been to every continent except Antarctica and Australia.

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

It's seems so close on the map....yet so far. To get out of Freetown, you have to take a boat, to a bus, to the airplane, to one of 3 cities they fly to, connect in a first world country then fly to the States. It takes no less than 15 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have lived here over a year since 2012.

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

My family moved here as a tour within the Department of State's Foreign Service.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Well, for Western standards, you'll pay dearly. Running water and electricity are not standard amentities. Traffic to the "suburbs" is bad during rush hour. Probably because the roads are horrible and the pot holes are massive.

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

Western items are available at a premium price.

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

Bring your own generator, solar lights and uninterrupted power sources.

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

Mosquitos kill! Malaria is a real danger of this tropical environment.

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Daily Life:

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

Negative. DHL only.

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

Cheap..but watch out for mischief and thieves.

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

AVOID AT ALL TIMES.

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

This place is not built for people living with disabilities. Strangely enough, there are many disabled people here.

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Transportation:

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

While local transport is cheap, it's dangerous.

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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?

Only AWD or FWD high clearance vehicles.

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Phone & Internet:

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

High Speed? That's the overstatment of the century. Even though a high speed cable has been coming for years, it's still not active. 512KB is about the best you can do and it's extremely expensive.

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

You can find cell phones everywhere. Everyone has one.

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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?

This is a very tolerant Muslim society. I've seen modest dress to skanky outfits on the same block.

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Health & Safety:

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

The roads and driving conditions are horrible. Drive with extreme caution. Crimes of opportunity happen all the time, just use good sense.

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2. 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 unhealthy on the roads. Most cars emit smoke and fumes. Locals love to burn trees and trash. At the beaches, it's a coastal breeze that saves the day.

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

It's a nice temperature year-round and doesn't vary much. But the humidity and rainy season causes mold, mildew and can trigger respritory issues.

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Expat Life:

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

Fairly decent. Many embassies are present.

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

I wouldn't suggest it for the faint of heart. If you don't like camping "boy scout" style, don't come here. For children, plan on a tutor or online learning modules. For singles - one word - AIDS. For couples, prostitution is cheap so watch out for the wayward spouse.

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

Highlights - the fruit and vegatables are fresh and generally cheap. Just make sure to clean/sanitize prior to eating.

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

Advantages...well, there aren't many. The dollar goes a little further than normal but that's always subject to bribery, fake tariffs and extortion. The beaches are beautiful and the mountain scenery is majestic.

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5. Can you save money?

Of course. Even with a cook and domestic help, you can still save.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No. I hope to never return.

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

Fear, shyness and benefit of doubt.

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3. But don't forget your:

Everything. Anything worth buying here is expensive.

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Freetown, Sierra Leone 09/16/10

Background:

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

No. Too many to list.

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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 Washington DC to London is about 7.5 hours with a 3 hour layover, then another 7.5 hours to Freetown.

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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.)?

Attached to the US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is OK but should be improving in the next few months as newer housing is coming on line. Most are apartments 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. Newer housing should be single family stand-alones in a compound.

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

Very limited. Imported goods will cost almost double for most items that in the DC area.

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

Anything you can not live with out. Like your own bed.

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

None.

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

Small ants.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch. Sometimes twice a week, sometimes twice a month, but has 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?

Not sure. Maybe US$150 to 200 a month.

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

The embassy has a full gym.

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

Credit cards are not accepted here. It is a cash-only system. There are some ATMs, but not sure how safe they are 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?

Embassy staff is provided AFN. You can get other cable for about US$75 a month; not sure how good it is. All lose signal during rainy season at times.

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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 english is spoken here.

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

There are no sidewalks here and the roads are small and in very poor condition.

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Transportation:

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

NOT allowed.

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

A 4x4 is great to have due to the roads, but if you stay in the city you can get by with a regular car. Nothing new because it will get damaged.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Internet is available but expensive and the high speed here is like dial up in the US.

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

Cell phone is provided by the embassy, but you pay for personal calls.

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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)?

Limited

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

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

Casual to shirt-and-tie at work. In public most anything goes except shorts.

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Health & Safety:

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

Petty Crime.

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

Health care is very limited.

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

Moderate.

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

Rains 6 months out of the year usually from May to Oct.

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Schools & Children:

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

Do not know. I have heard good and bad.

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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?

None.

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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:

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?

Within the embassy community it is OK.

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

Post is better for families and couples as there little for a single to do.

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

Not openly accepted.

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

None.

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

Nothing much to do here except for the beaches.

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

Go to the Beach.

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

Wood carving and local dress.

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

Has some nice beaches and if you good with your money you can save some. Rains six months out of the year.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you are careful.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

NO.

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

expectations.

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3. But don't forget your:

bug spray.

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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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