Kampala, Uganda Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Kampala, Uganda

Kampala, Uganda 11/18/19

Background:

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

Kampala is my 4th post. I have previously served in the Middle East and 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?

Getting to post from DC takes about twenty hours. From Dulles, people take either the direct flight to Brussels or to Amsterdam, layover, then to post.

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3. How long have you lived here?

18 months.

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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?

I love our house. It’s very spacious with a lush, large garden/yard. It’s Africa so we have a lot of MyService requests, but in general the house is great. I’d definitely recommend the Naguru and Kololo neighborhoods. Both have gyms and restaurants and if your kids attend KISU then their commute will be short. Your commute to the office though will be unpredictable. On average it’s 40 mins. In my opinion, the traffic here is debilitating.

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

Well, you have Amazon, so there’s that. There are a couple of other import stores where you can get good cheese, imported US breakfast cereals, spaghetti sauce, etc. The US Embassy has a Friday market where you can get fresh veggies, coffee.

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

Lysol wipes, shelf stable milk, quality pet food.

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

Kampala actually has a number of very good restaurants. Japanese, Korean, Indian, and Italian options are here - and quite good. We also have Jumia, a food delivery service which finds my house 85% of the time.

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

Ants are everywhere - residences, offices, everywhere.

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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 a DPO which is not known for its speediness. Usually takes two weeks until it’s in your hands.

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

Very available, we have a wonderful nanny and gardener/driver.

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

There are a couple of great gyms and they are expensive, but worth it if exercise is important to you. Running in Kampala is terrifying and not recommended, not only because of the horrific driving that goes on here but the air quality is very bad.

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

They are widely accepted but we are discerning in their use. We use cash mostly.

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

Uganda is an English-speaking country.

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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.

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

I think very, very difficult.

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Transportation:

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

They are not safe and we are prohibited by the Embassy from using boda bodas (motorcycle taxis). I see a boda accident or near accident almost daily.

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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?

One that you can rely on, mechanics here, in my opinion, are awful. The roads are beyond terrible and the drivers here - well, let’s just say I feel sure there is no test for a license and I don't think most drivers even have one. You can drive to a number of safari lodges and you’ll want a reliable four wheel drive SUV.

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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 available, Zuku has proven to be pretty good. It didn’t take long to install, a few days after arrival.

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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?

Definitely a local provider.

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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?

We found a good vet who makes house calls. They are not quarantined upon arrival. The pet food isn’t the best quality.

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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 work in EFM jobs in the Embassy or at the two international schools.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes, there are many all over Uganda.

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

Business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. I've heard snatch and grabs are very common. Traffic accidents seem to abound and I've heard there have been attempted home invasions and robberies.

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

Malaria is an issue, people do contract it in Kampala. Also, the air quality makes it hard for respiratory issues.

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

Terrible to me. It's been described to me like second-hand smoking all day long. All residences are given air purifiers.

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

I think it could be a challenging post for folks with food allergies.

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

Just intense anger at the traffic.

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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?

The weather is wonderful here. It’s rarely very hot. Usually about 78 during the day, 68 at night more or less every day of the 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?

We have kids at the Kampala International School of Uganda (KISU) and we love it. They’re in the primary school and the kids also love it. It’s a British curriculum. I have heard people are less happy with the Upper School but I can’t comment from first hand experience. The other school is ISU located closer to Entebbe, but if you live in Kampala, it’s a an hour commute on a good day.

My kids are too young for that and I was uneasy with them in a bus for that long knowing how people drive here. Their commute to KISU is 10-15 minutes. As like most posts, there is a fierce ISU vs. KISU debate and people feel strongly on both sides. Just make the decision based on what you know would be best for your kids. I should also note people are happy with Ambrosoli school as well and it’s also better located in Kampala.

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

Both KISU and ISU do offer accommodations.

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Expat Life:

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

I’d say it’s good overall. A lot of people really love it here.

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

Good for families, so much for kids to see and experience.

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

No, it’s actually illegal here.

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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?

Ugandans are very nice, polite people.

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

Gender equality seems to me to be light years behind.

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

Great weekend trip options like safaris and mountain waterfall hikes. These have been the highlight. The roads outside Kampala are manageable with gas stations along the way.

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

A lot of great, beautiful African crafts and art.

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

The weather and the cool art/crafts to buy.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

People say the traffic is bad. I’ve lived where I thought the traffic was bad. This is indescribable. It impacts everything.

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

Maybe. Probably.

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

Complaining. If you are a complainer you will sink into a depression. Come with a sense of adventure and a lot of patience.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience and good hiking shoes.

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Kampala, Uganda 10/07/19

Background:

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

Third expat experience. Previously lived in Harare and Hyderabad.

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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?

Northern VA. It took about 22 hours due to the layover in Amsterdam and 1-hr pit stop in Kigali.

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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?

Single family residence with guest quarters, and staff quarters. 3br 3bath + 2br 1 bath (guest) + 1br 1 shower (staff quarters). Medium-sized yard with banana, avocado, mango, and jack fruit trees. I added a few arabica coffee trees to the mix.

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

Local produce (bananas, pineapples, tomatoes, potatoes, and onions) was plentiful and cheap. The pineapples were incredibly delicious. Imports like salad greens, cheeses, and ice cream were available from specialty grocery stores at a premium price. I did not like the taste of local milk, so I ended up buying imported (more expensive) dairy products.

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

Cheese.

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

I either called the restaurant directly that would arrange a motorcycle delivery, or I would use Jumia.

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

Typical tropical infestations. Roaches, mosquitoes, and lots of ants. Keep tidy and call the exterminator!

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Daily Life:

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

We were fortunate to have diplomatic pouch and diplomatic mail (DPO). I received local mail from time to time, so I know it exists, but can't speak to its efficacy.

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

Very reasonable. About US$250-350 a month when I was there for a full-time live-in nanny. About the same for a maid. $200-$250/mo full-time driver. $100/mo part-time gardener. Add 10% for the Christmas/Eid bonus. Expect requests for loans.

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

There were a couple private-owned gyms in the neighborhood. I mostly ran/played sports at the Embassy (might not be possible during current construction).

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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 them at some grocery stores and restaurants. I even used a Barclays ATM card (I had a local bank account for petty cash needs) at gas stations. There were guards at the reputable ATMs (and they could give you a heads up if the machines ran out of money). I still used cash a fair bit, but wasn't completely reliant on it either.

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

Its an Anglophone country, so I would assume so.

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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?

Uganda was a British colony. You'll do fine with English. If you want to make a positive impression with Ugandans, you could say a few key phrases in Luganda or Swahili.

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

As with most developing countries, it would be tough to get around with physical disabilities. Not impossible though. There are sidewalks in some areas. You could walk on the road, but you really have to mind traffic if you're doing that. Some buildings (modern or government) had elevators.

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Transportation:

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

Affordable yes. Mini-buses (matatus) and motocycle taxis (boda-bodas) were poorly maintained, over stuffed, and/or operated in a dangerous manner. Local staff would complain about petty theft on the buses as well. I used Uber from time-to-time. It was cheap, but not very reliable (cancelled rides, pit stops for gas, getting lost despite the pin on the map).

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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 with clearance. The roads are in bad shape (potholes or unpaved in many areas + treacherous rain and poor drainage).

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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?

In 2015-2018 it was slow and expensive. 4mbs for US$150/mo. I was able to stream. 80-90% reliable.

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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?

Local service is cheap (MTN and Africell seemed pretty good). I used Google Fi for personal use and it worked fine.

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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?

We had a good experience with a vet that made house calls. I am the proud owner of perhaps the fattest cat (ever?) in Uganda (24 lbs). I was kindly admonished to give my cat smaller portions. I tried. He rebelled. I digress...

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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?

Telecommuting is possible, but have redundancies for internet.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Uganda is swarming with charities/religious organizations.

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

Formal/business attire expected in professional settings. Casual wear was fine in restaurants.

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Health & Safety:

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

Poor street lighting at nights, so evening travel was a little challenging. Crime in general, was an issue, I saw thieves reach into lowered windows and steal phones, so common sense and a general awareness of your surroundings is a good idea, especially in crowded places at night. Terrorists bombed a cafe during the 2010 World Cup, so its a good idea to keep your guard up. That said, I didn't have a bunker mentality - you understand the risks - mitigate them as best you can, and you go about your business.

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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 just about everywhere. Ebola/Marburg in remote areas. HIV prevalence (6% - much higher in some locals). Medical care was fine for routine examinations and issues. We had the option to medevac for baby deliveries, but we knew of expats that delivered locally. Serious medical care might require a trip to Nairobi or even South Africa.

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

You'd think being next to a lake would help, but I found air quality to be fairly poor. Lots of trash/cookstoves burning. Lots of cars stuck in traffic. I didn't suffer from allergies there though. I struggled with a noisy neighbor (outdoor church service with screaming and blown out speakers). Noise had a surprising effect on my resiliency.

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

Air pollution and peanuts (ground nuts) are common in some food items/snacks. Also watch out for aflatoxin issues in milk (its a problem with the feed supply for animals). Might want imported milk or powdered milk, especially if you have young children.

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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)?

Nearly on the equator so I didn't feel/notice anyone else with SAD. Traffic, pollution, noise can sap your resiliency. Exercise, golf, safaris were great ways to restore my resiliency.

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

It's sunny and 75-80 with a chance of rainfall year-round. Its extremely pleasant.

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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 son was too young, so I can't speak directly, but I heard good things generally speaking.

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

Play groups and preschools are available. We had a very positive experience with them and it was a great chance for our nanny to socialize with other nannies and breakup the routine a little.

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

Soccer, running. Ugandans like to jog!

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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: lots of diplomats, development partners (UN), and entrepreneurs. Overall morale seemed good.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Make your own fun. Go to kids' birthday parties with hired artists and bouncy castles. BBQs. Fun evening parties. Interesting shows at the theater downtown. Bars are plentiful and fun as well.

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

It was great for families. Lots of other families to meet and with whom one could socialize.

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

Its extremely challenging from what I observed. A LGBT Ugandan will have to be very careful as there is a large stigma in Ugandan society towards non-heterosexual behavior.

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

Ugandans are friendly and like to smile. I felt welcome.

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

There are ethnic issues within Uganda, but Ugandans overall appeared fairly comfortable with foreigners, although I understand there are lots of stereotypes held by some (e.g., white people are rich, the Chinese are up to no good, men are automatically more respected than women, etc.).

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

Safaris in Uganda were amazing. Lots of outdoor adventures in Jinja (source of the Nile River). The countryside is gorgeous and its a treat to get out of Kampala.

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

Its fun to explore the food and bar scene in town. Definitely make time to visit the gorillas and chimps in the western regions.

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

Luxury items are imported and expensive. Local crafts (clothing, baskets, paintings) are available and reasonably priced.

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

Honestly, Kampala was my least favorite part of Uganda. It was crowded and polluted. Once you're out of town, the fun begins. I suppose if you're into a nightlife scene, Kampala never sleeps.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Conditions vary drastically between neighborhoods within town. Some neighborhoods are nice, with sidewalks, and have amenities. Some are noisy/polluted.

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

Depends on the neighborhood, but, yes.

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

Coat, skis, low-clearance car, arrogance.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience, humor, malaria pills, kindness.

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

Most travel guides are a good place to start. The State of Africa is a good read, too.

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Kampala, Uganda 03/04/19

Background:

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

Not first experience. This is our fourth African country, and sixth overseas post as a family.

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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?

We call Northern Virginia our home. To get here, it takes about 18 hours flying time plus layovers. Highly recommend spending a night or two in Brussels or Amsterdam on the way to break up the trip. The flights from either land in Kigali for a 1 hour stopover and then head to Entebbe. Then you'll have 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hour drive to Kampala.

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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.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Our house is great. We live in Muyenga (one of the hills in town). Our house is not huge, but definitely adequate. Definitely the size we'd be able to afford in the States! Some houses are larger, but then usually they have smaller yards. We have a good sized yard and are lucky enough to have a small pool. Muyenga is one of the closest hills to the Embassy; our commute is about 20 minutes (can be 10 or up to 60+ depending on traffic). We even have decent little grocery stores on our hill, so can rely on those for our primary grocery options, rather than heading through the traffic to the larger chain grocery stores (Shoprite).

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

We can get pretty much anything we want. Many convenience food options (mostly from South Africa, but some from US) are available but expensive. We love the variety of fresh fruits and veggies. Cleaning supplies are all readily available. As mentioned above, we use a couple of the local, smaller grocery stores rather than making the long drive and paying higher prices for the stores with imported goods. The coffee here is great, but know that it is quite finely ground so does best in European-style stove top coffee makers or French-press style.

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

We always ship toilet paper from the US. I am not a huge fan of local dish soap, either, so get that online. The rest is all great, though.

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

There is a local restaurant delivery service that works well (Jumia). We love love love the Indian food here. Good Ethiopian too.

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

Ants are an issue. Otherwise, not too bad.

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Daily Life:

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

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?

Household help is really reasonable. Perhaps not as well-trained as in other countries, but very reasonable. Most people have at least a part-time housekeeper and part-time gardener.

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

The embassy has a tiny gym (currently located at the warehouse). There are other gyms available, but most are for locals but yes, expats use them too. The nicest gym is at Kabira Club and it is quite expensive, and probably traffic would inhibit anyone not living nearby (Kololo and Naguru and the closest areas). Otherwise, there are a few dance schools and yoga studios available and are reasonable.

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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?

Yes, especially in larger grocery stores. ATMs are available but we typically recommend using the one at the embassy or in larger hotels.

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

Yes.

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

None.

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

Absolutely. This would be a challenging post for someone with physical disabilities. That said, we had an employee here in a wheelchair and she did great (had an amazing attitude, too).

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Transportation:

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

Taxis and Uber are available. We are not permitted to use local taxis or motos.

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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?

Four-wheel drive and right-hand drive. You are permitted to bring left-hand drive but I can't imagine how one would drive a car like that on these roads with this traffic.

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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. About $200+/month. It is not really that 'high speed' though. The higher speed options often also have packages where you have a data cap which is probably one of the most frustrating things, especially when you have kids in middle or upper school (where 90% of their school work and assignments are online).

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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 your unlocked smart phone. SIM cards are super inexpensive. Airtime is really inexpensive, too.

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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?

Decent vet services available. No quarantine. Pets will need to be treated regularly for pests, and heartworm. We keep our cats inside only to not have to deal with the ticks and fleas and mango worms.

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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 get a job at the embassy, or local economy. Volunteer opportunities are definitely available. Local salaries are not great, though, and if you work on the local economy, you'll likely have to pay taxes (~30%).

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Schools, different aid groups, animal shelter, you name it.

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

It isn't overly conservative but better to not wear bare midriffs or short-shorts. We see a lot of teenagers wearing those, though. Formal dress is required only for the various evening events (e.g. Marine Ball.)

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Health & Safety:

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

Grab and runs, maybe for bags and jewelry. It is a mostly safe city, especially compared to some of our sister cities in East Africa. Like any big city, it's good to lock doors, not put your bag on the passenger seat, be aware of your surroundings.

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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 air pollution is pretty unreal. We live in Muyenga and often our air is significantly better than Bugolobi or other areas. Serious issues (heart conditions, etc) would be medevaced but broken limbs and other significant but not urgent issues can be handled at post. Good dentist and great orthodontist.

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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?

Horrible. And it isn't seasonal, it is year-round. Especially sad considering how beautiful the weather is here. We still hang out outside mostly at our house, but I think other areas of the city might not like doing that due to the air quality.

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

Bring a nasal spray or neti pot to keep sinuses clean. Food allergies are not really an issue. You can get gluten-free products here, or order them online.

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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?

Kampala has the most beautiful weather. Amazing, really. Our average is about 85, I think, and barely varies from that.

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Schools & Children:

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

Our kids go to International School of Uganda. We have been quite happy with the experience, especially with the junior school. The biggest issue is the distance: the kids are on the bus 45 minutes to 1.5+ hours each direction. But otherwise, it is a good school, and they have a fairly robust athletic array, as well as musicals and theatre, and more. The school is PYP/MYP/DP. They are expanding the arts offerings with the PAC coming online next year. And they are expanding their language offerings, too, to include Chinese, Lugandan, Japanese, Spanish, and French.

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

They do their best to differentiate in the classroom. If the student's needs cannot be met that way, they facilitate the connection to an in-class learning assistant (paid for by the parent, this person helps with the student's learning in the class). Or they facilitate connection with after school tutors.

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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 don't have young kids. After school care looks more like after school activities, and is not necessarily expensive. From ISU, kids get bussed home afterwards. arriving home around 5 or 6 depending on the activity.

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

Soccer is available but not especially well-organized.

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Expat Life:

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

THere are a lot of expats here. I think most really like their experience. Kampala is pretty easy to navigate.

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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 at restaurants or at people's homes. There is a diplomatic spouses' group. Sport-specific, too, with biking groups, and running groups (HASH house), mountain climbing club, too.

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

For families, yes, because the kids meet a lot of amazing other kids from all over the world. The school is a great place to meet other families with similar aged kids. And, luckily, most expats live in the same general areas, so it is easy to get together. I don't know about singles or couples.

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

No. LGBT-related activities are illegal and there have been recent arrests and issues surrounding the enforcement of this law.

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

Yes, but we hang out more with expats. There is a pretty big discrepancy between 'normal' Ugandans (quite poor) and the wealthy (hugely wealthy). So it is easier to find common ground with other expats.

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

Gender-based violence is definitely a problem in Uganda and one can see a difference in how men and women are treated. The tribal groups are definitely distinct, too. The current President and therefore the GoU is mostly from one region and this is definitely a sore spot for Ugandans of other ethnicities.

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

Amazing in-country trips for safaris. Loved loved loved Kidepo. And Sipi Falls was a great experience, too. We've had some really fun weekends away with other families, just to hang out at AirB&Bs. In-country travel can be expensive, but if you manage your expectations, it is a rewarding experience.

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

LakeShore Adventure park was a great experience for birthday party (middle school ages).

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

Great baskets.

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

Great weather, decent work/home balance.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

The lack of green spaces to meet has a big impact on the community cohesiveness.

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

Yes.

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

Winter coats.

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4. But don't forget your:

Umbrellas and rain boots!

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

The last king of Scotland (book and movie). The Atlas of forgotten place (Jenny D Williams) paints an excellent picture, especially of the northern part of Uganda and the heart-breaking past of that area.

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Kampala, Uganda 02/26/19

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 abroad in the various countries in the Caribbean, South America, Africa, and Asia. I've lived in small and large cities, from sleepy little podunk towns to sprawling 20 million plus inhabitant megalopolises.

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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 trip from home to post is long and difficult. Flight times aren't the best, and even the most direct connections still take two back-to-back 10+ hour flights.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Nearly 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?

Housing varies widely. Housing in Kampala varies between the extremely nice to the extremely poor, and that difference seems to cause unhappiness by those who are in not in ideal housing and have no choice. Housing sizes and layouts are do not seem standardized, and I find construction quality tends to be fairly low. Commute times vary greatly depending on location. All neighborhoods have bad traffic that can be unpredictable. It can take hours to go only a few kilometers, and there is generally no reason why that is the case.

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

What is available is generally always available, but the supply of what is available is limited. So, fresh vegetables and fruit are always available, but the varieties are limited. Imported goods are of limited availability, though one can find decent quality Chinese ingredients in the Chinese grocery stores. Local goods vary widely in quality control. Aflatoxin contamination in peanuts, corn, milk, and cheese are a real concern.

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

If you have special sauces you can't live without, ship them. With DPO, dry goods come quickly. Liquids, however, would be best shipped via consumables.

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

In my opinion, restaurants are of mediocre quality and variety. "It's good for Kampala" is not exactly high praise, but a pretty common qualifier. Fine dining just doesn't really exist, though you'll pay fine dining establishment prices in some locations. In terms of cuisines, in descending order in terms of quality and availability (first being best), the best choices are: Indian, Asian-fusion, Mediterranean, Chinese, Western-European, and local. Local food tends to be extremely bland but filling; meat is cooked till it can do no harm. Take-out is popular and available widely due to the traffic issues.

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

Yes. Insects of all kinds, including serious pests such as bed bugs. Roaches and ants common place, as are large spiders and other biting insects. Nairobi ants can be problematic, as can be mango worm and other insects (such as caterpillars) that can cause serious injury to the unaware. With proper care, these things can be managed, but ants, roaches, and mosquitoes can never successfully be eradicated.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO. DPO is life changing. First time I've ever had it, and it is simply amazing. I find it more convenient to shop for groceries on-line and have them delivered via DPO than to try crossing town to make it to the store that might carry the item I want.

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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 readily available and cheap, but the quality depends greatly on how thorough you are in your screening. Working for an expat family is a great deal, as some household staff earn more than high-ranking government officials. A typical family with children might have a driver, a nanny, and a cleaner/cook. The help usually comes as a package, though, e.g., nanny X will only work with driver Y, for example.

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

There are a few good gyms, but getting to them can be a royal PITA. Price is fairly expensive comparatively. There is a dearth of facilities, and virtually no public space available for working out (parks, jogging paths, etc.). The air quality in Kampala also seems horrendous; exercising outdoors is generally not a good idea. The air quality in Kampala is the worst in Africa, and often on par with Beijing and New Delhi. In 2017/2018, Kampala's AQI, as calculated by the EPA, exceeded that of New Delhi for about 3/4ths of the year. The spikes may not be as bad, but the average air quality is worse.

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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 accepted, but not widely. Most places will charge you an additional three to five percent if you attempt to use them. There is an ATM at the Embassy, and there are safe ATMs available in other secure locations. Credit cards are still safer than cash if you can use them, because you can always dispute a charge. You can't get back lost cash.

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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?

Very little, as English is an official language. However, any local language will substantially increase immersion, if that's what you are after. Also totally possible to live in a bubble if you so desire.

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

Absolutely. This is a very, very difficult place for people of different abilities, whether that is physical or mental. The local Embassy supported school has excellent programs for children, but otherwise resources are extremely limited.

Disability is seen as shameful, and virtually no attempt is made to accommodate the disabled. They are barred from leaving the home, prevented from going to school, and not accommodated in the workplace. There are fantastic advocates attempting to improve the quality of life for those of differing abilities, but it is a difficult struggle.

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Transportation:

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

Uber is available and cheap. My position means I am unable to take any form of local transport. There is no "public transport" system, but a loose network of private taxis and motorcycles that can get you around to any place you want to go. They are neither safe nor recommended.

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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 four-wheel drive vehicle for out of town/off-road driving, and something with sufficient ground clearance for Kampala. Sedans not recommended. The sleeping policemen and mammoth potholes will simply tear your low-clearance vehicle apart. Some of the roughest roads in the country are in the capital city.

Car jacking not yet an issue (though there have been attempts.) Smash and grab from the passenger seat while stuck in traffic seems much more common. Keep your windows up, doors locked, and awareness of your surroundings.

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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. Internet is available, but high-speed? pfffftt. It typically takes between two-six weeks to get it installed, two to six years to get the installed internet operational.

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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?

Local phone lines subjected to internet taxation and privacy may seem not as strong. That said, a U.S.-based number has some utility, particularly if you have a VPN service than can help protect your privacy.

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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 able to answer, but anecdotal evidence suggest partner employment is a major issue and/or source of tension. Local salaries are very low. An extremely high-ranking government official with several advanced degrees might officially earn as little as 700 USD a month.

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

Formal society in that people like to be well-dressed. You can get away with a bit more casual approach, but American shabby is never really acceptable.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. Crime is an increasing concern, and I've heard the number of Embassy personnel and local staff who have suffered burglaries or home invasions has risen sharply. To date the crimes have thankfully been non-violent, but just because that is the case now does not mean it will continue to be so.

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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?

Air pollution, water pollution, tropical maladies, and parasites. Air pollution is the real one, as there's little you can do to mitigate the effects on the most vulnerable. Children attend open-air schools, and there is nothing done to mitigate the effects of the toxic air on their lungs, which are much more susceptible to the deleterious effects of air pollution than adults.

Water pollution/contamination is an issue, but the air quality really has a huge impact on life. You can't enjoy any of the otherwise nice aspects of Kampala, because you can't go outside. It makes you feel like a prisoner counting down until your parole board meets. Tropical maladies (malaria, others) are a serious concern.

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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?

Awful. Seriously, seriously bad. This is a serious and ongoing health concern. It absolutely has an impact on health and many adults who come to post leave with air quality induced asthma. Many children at post have to use nebulizers on a frequent basis in order to help increase lung function to avoid chronic bronchitis and/or pneumonia.

There was zero information about this before I came, as nobody had done the monitoring or evaluation. Since that time, there has been a great effort by the Embassy to monitor and evaluate the levels of air pollution experienced in Kampala. The levels are, to put it mildly, simply unacceptable. Although efforts have been undertaken to mitigate exposure, very few facilities here are equipped to provide clean air quality, as the basic architecture of the place is centered around access to "fresh air" at all times. Windows do not shut or seal, and even when they do there are often screens above the windows to facilitate air passing into structures.

Outside of the embassy, practically no building is air tight. Schools are all open air with no climate control, which can help mitigate against air-born pollutants.

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

Peanuts are everywhere. The air quality will impact anyone with environmental allergies.

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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)?

Road/Traffic jam rage. Sitting in traffic for eight hours to go a few kilometers can make even normally mild-mannered individuals flip.

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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?

Except for the air, the climate is perfect.

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Schools & Children:

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

Generally good, and widely available. Which one you choose will depend greatly on where you live.

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

Some are better than others. ISU seems to have the best program for special needs.

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

Yes, inexpensive, but the quality may be suspect. Caveat emptor!

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

Sort of. There are practically zero spaces for these activities to occur, however. So if it isn't part of a school program, it can be hard to find.

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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 varied community. Morale is also varied. Many people are quite happy, but an equal number are miserable due to the factors that seem to complicate life. It largely depends on you.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There a numerous clubs and social activities. Your ability to participate will depend on where you live and whether or not you'll get stuck in traffic trying to get to them. You'll need to find something close to where you live.

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

In the end, it all depends on how good you are at making fun for yourself with limited resources.

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

Absolutely not. Uganda tried to make being homosexual a capital offense. The law is still on the books even though it was overturned on a technicality. I understand that members of the LGBTQ community are routinely harassed, and otherwise marginalized.

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

Not easy at all.

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

Religious prejudice seems real.

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

The safari experience here leaves just leaves you angry. The parks are good, but accommodations/management poor. That said, it is a highlight, particularly the chimps and gorillas. If I had to recommend something, it would be the birding. Uganda's a world-class destination for twitchers, ruined only by the philosophy that twitchers are targets of opportunity to be milked for all they are worth.

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

Rock climbing in the Muyenga Quarry or sailing at the Victoria Sailing Club.

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

Everything you buy here, with the exception of some basketry, is made in China and shipped in for sale.
There are a few local artists making some art of note, but it will never be "valuable."

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Air quality.

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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:

Winter clothes.

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4. But don't forget your:

Respirators and air filters.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

Did I mention the air quality yet?

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Kampala, Uganda 01/04/19

Background:

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

No, I also lived in Africa for more than eight years.

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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/Baltimore, USA. It's long, usually through Amsterdam or it's possible to take direct flight to Addis Ababa and then to Kampala.

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3. How long have you lived here?

A year.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Our house is very reasonable. The rooms are very small, such that we don't really have any floor space to put anything, but it's a cute house with a pretty yard. Commute time ranges from 15 minutes to 1.5 hrs depending on the jam.

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

Relative to USA there is not much selection and the prices are moderate to high. Relative to other African posts, there's quite a bit here and it's very reasonably-priced. A tiny bit of looking reveals locally made/produced cheeses, organic meats and produce, jams, etc. Uganda even makes its own aluminum foil and plastic wrap. It has great local coffee and chocolate, too. You just can't expect everything you want to be nicely on the shelves of the ShopRite grocery store, but it's here.

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

None. We can either find it here or we're able to ship via DPO.

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

There are plenty of restaurants in town, and a few food delivery services. Pretty good options, IMHO. Thai, Indian, Mediterranean, Greek, Italian, some good pizza, etc.

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

Not really. Lots of ants, some places have bad mosquito problems, but not much different than anywhere else (USA included, depending on where one lives).

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Daily Life:

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

DPO at the embassy. Never used local facilities.

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

Full-time live-out household help is paid around US $300-ish per month. Most folks have a housekeeper or housekeeper/cook, a p/t gardener, and a driver (or driver/gardener). Families with kids usually have a nanny as well.

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

Lots of gyms. Range from moderate to very expensive (~US $650/yr - $2000ish/yr memberships). Lots of classes (Zumba, dance, boxing, etc etc), too. The problem is that the TRAFFIC is so terrible that it's nearly impossible or just not worth it to go any distance to get to any of these. And despite wonderful weather year-round, the air pollution makes it hazardous to run or bike outside (as does the narrow roads and terrible drivers) and there are no parks. SO, lots of options but can be a hardship to figure out how to make use of them.

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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 really a cash-based place. Lots of stores and restaurants do accept credit cards, and there are lots of ATMs, and they are mostly safe to use. So I haven't really had a problem, but it's way easier and better here to just get and carry cash.

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

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

None, as English is spoken widely.

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

Yes, definitely. It's possible, but would not be easy.

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Transportation:

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

Uber is available in Kampala, and is incredibly convenient. However, the drivers constantly run out of gas and will cancel trips on you based on whether you are paying by cash or card (yes, even Uber uses cash here) or what neighborhood you are getting picked from or where you are going. Otherwise, however, there is no public transportation that I'd recommend using. No trains, other taxis besides uber are essentially non-existant, and buses and motorcycle-taxis are dangerous and uncomfortable. Most folks find a taxi or Uber driver they like and then store their number and use them as pseudo-personal taxi-drivers, which works very well.

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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. Very high ground clearance is critical. I've not used 4x4 since arrival, but I have driven through Kampala city roads so flooded the water washed over the hood of our Prado. And the potholes can swallow a bus. Even Rav4s seem to sit way too low. There is every kind of car on the road out there, and people are making it work, but I wouldn't recommend anything nice (it's like bumper cars out there, with motorcycles and whatnot always hitting and dinging your car), or anything without good ground clearance. Burglary of car mirrors, radios, dashboards, door locks, and such is very, very common.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Some neighborhoods have fiber internet, which is fast and reliable and can be installed on day 1. Everyone else suffers with moderate speeds, moderate to low reliability and "limitless" plans that actually are only limitless from 12-6am or such.

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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?

Google Fi works very well and gives you an American phone # and $10/GB data plus free texts. I also have a local number.

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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?

Folks have a very hard time. There's some volunteer stuff around but not much. Local economy doesn't pay anything worthwhile.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are opportunities, but mostly folks have to put in effort and/or make their own opportunities.

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

It's business-type or slightly dressy here both at work and in public. Ugandans like to dress 'smart'. Formal dress is rarely needed but there are embassy functions for which it's needed.

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Health & Safety:

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

Sure, like everywhere, but mostly the hazard is burglary or petty crime. It's a pretty safe city, overall, if one has typical common sense for city-life.

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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?

Lots of health concerns. Uganda has more crazy viral illnesses than possibly anywhere on earth, and even named many of the big ones. Upper respiratory illnesses and diarrheal illnesses seem to be constant. Air pollution and allergens are rampant so lots and lots or respiratory complaints. Medical care is pretty hit or miss (but mostly miss).

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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 bad, and it does impact health. Depending on what neighborhood one lives in, the air pollution can be of high concern. Respiratory ailments, asthma, allergies, etc are very common and affect negatively a good number of folks here. In the mornings one can smell burning garbage, and by afternoon on a dry week the air is smoggy. It's quite a downer, as the weather is so perfect all the time.

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

While there are plenty of folks here with allergies, I would think twice if I had a serious peanut, sesame, or egg allergy. Restaurants and locals aren't tuned into allergy problems and likely won't know or won't care about hidden allergens in the food.

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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)?

We don't have winter, and it's 12hrs daylight all year round, so no winter blues. The terrible traffic and commute times seem to lower morale and make it hard for folks to be socially engaged.

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

It's always 75-85F and 12 hours of daylight. Some times it's a bit more rainy, other times a bit more dry, but generally the weather is always nearly perfect year-round.

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Schools & Children:

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

Several good international schools available. Commute times are a problem.

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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 of preschools that are not expensive and full-time in-home care (nannies) readily available and affordable. Childcare is really not a problem here. We adore our preschool, and it offers before-and after-school care.

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

Yes, there's a lot available. The traffic makes it difficult to make use of it. Our kids like swimming lessons, horseback riding, and 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?

Lots and lots of expats. Overall morale is great; expats tend to come and stay long-term. In the USG, however, I'd say morale is moderate to low.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lots of groups and clubs. Traffic makes it hard to get to them and be social. Folks tend to be isolated to their own neighborhoods or else spend all day trying to get somewhere.

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

It's good for all of the above. Lots of single folks here, and there's a good bit going on with the music scene, outdoorsy stuff, etc. Lots of restaurants and get-aways for couples. Plenty for families. Problems are, as mentioned, traffic and air pollution (but get outside of Kampala and both go away).

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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?

Easy to make friends with locals ; it's quite integrated in Kampala. Unsure about ethnic prejudices.

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

Probably not. Uganda has a history of aggressive policies against LGBT folks.

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

Not really. Definitely not when compared to other countries in the continent.

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

Hard to say. We loved camping and hiking in the game parks. Mostly what is great about the country is how child-centered the population is. If you have a family with young kids it's wonderful. Anywhere you go the kids are very catered-for and you get lots of help from happy strangers.

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

Game parks are fun, lots of beautiful places to visit for hiking/scenic drives. Lots of the islands are fun (or at least look fun).

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

Uganda makes a lot of stuff that is nice. I wouldn't say it's a "shopping post", but it's not bad. There is locally-made everything: furniture, clothes, art, handicrafts, etc.

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

Great weather, friendly and welcoming local population, plenty of food and restaurant options, English as the main language, and good school options.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How bad the traffic and air pollution affect quality of life.

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

Possibly not. I adore it, but the long times spent in traffic make it somewhat socially isolated. The weather is amazing, but the air pollution makes it not-great to run or bike outside. Morale at the embassy is 'eh.' It's harder here to find a good work/life balance.

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

Winter clothes.

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4. But don't forget your:

Cold medication. URIs are constant.

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

The only book I've read is "the Atlas of Forgotten Places" and it was quite good but probably not the best insight to life in Kampala.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

It seems like most folks have a love/hate relationship with Kampala. It's a wonderful, warm, welcoming place that could be awesome, but traffic and pollution negatively impact quality of life to an extent that cannot be ignored. I'd still recommend it over our neighboring countries any day, though.

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Kampala, Uganda 12/27/18

Background:

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

I have also served in Bogota, San Salvador, and Accra.

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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?

My home city is Los Angeles. It takes about 24 hours to get to Kampala from the USA. On the current contract carrier, flights from the USA arrive in Brussels, then depart Brussels for Kigali (8.5 hours), then on to Kampala (Entebbe airport) (1 hour). Including layovers it is about 24 hours total. I would recommend breaking the trip in Brussels (one or two nights stay) before going on to Entebbe, if you can.

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3. How long have you lived here?

A few months.

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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?

Housing is largely single family homes scattered across seven neighborhoods. The commute is pretty long, unpredictable, and the pollution from vehicles and motorcycles is choking. Some (rare) days a normal 15 minute commute can turn into two hours. There is no traffic management plan and the roads are full of potholes. If you bring a vehicle, it should be an SUV.

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

Groceries are available, but expensive (e.g., whipped cream and beef bacon are the equivalent of US$10.00). Mostly European products available in stores and boutique shops. Items are available, but you will pay for it. There is no commissary at post, so if there are particular American items you like they should be sent via CNS.

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

There are a few American fast food chains (Pizza Hut, KFC) and food delivery is plentiful and inexpensive. Most nice restaurants are located in the greater Kampala area with good/varied food options.

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

Mosquitos are very prevalent, some are malarial.

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Daily Life:

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

Via the Embassy. There is a local post office in town, but I have never been to 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?

Household help is about US$200.00 to $400.00 per month, depending upon how generous one is.

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

There are a number of gyms throughout the city and prices vary from moderate to ridiculous.

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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?

Cash is the primary form of payment. The main supermarkets (Shoprite and Game) take credit cards. Hotels take credit cards, but many assess a surcharge for their use. Gas stations, taxis (including Uber) are on a cash basis. It is best to pay with cash.

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

Many religions cater to English-speaking audiences (Anglican, Seventh-day Adventist, Church of Latter Day Saints, Catholic, etc.).

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

English is widely spoken.

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Transportation:

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

Driving in Kampala (and Uganda in general) seems perilous. A driver must always pay attention to driving due to bad roads, animals, erratic drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians all jockeying for space on the roads. Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way on the roads and hit-and-run cases are not uncommon. It is not advisable to take buses or local vans for transportation needs.

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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, Land Rover, and Mitsubishi are the most common vehicles. It would be best to bring/purchase an SUV of one of these brands.

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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.

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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?

Local phones can be purchased for as little as US$20, but those are not smart phones. The more expensive phones (iPhones, etc.) can be very expensive to purchase locally as well as other electronic products. It would be better to obtain a local plan as international (home) plans may impose roaming charges.

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Health & Safety:

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

Kampala is rated critical for 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?

Medical care is not to western standards. Many viral outbreaks (Ebola, Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever, Zika) begin in Uganda. HIV/AIDS rates are higher than in other countries.

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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?

Very bad. One can see the haze in the near distance and vehicles emit profuse amounts of exhaust to the point you cannot drive with windows down. There are 195 capital cities in the world. Kampala was ranked as the 28th worst city for air pollution in 2016 (https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/the-most-polluted-cities-in-the-world-ranked/4/).

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

A staple food of Uganda is the ground nut, which is similar to the peanut. One should be aware that this product is used extensively in local foods.

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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)?

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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?

The weather is semi-tropical in Kampala. There is no excessive humidity. I would say it is similar to southern California in the spring time but with adequate rainfall. Overall it is quite pleasant.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are several International schools. We have been very pleased with the International School of Uganda (ISU). This school is located in the Kampala suburb of Lubowa, which has less pollution than central Kampala.

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Expat Life:

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

Uganda is one of a handful of countries in the world where gorillas can be seen in their natural habitat. There are also several national parks teeming with African wildlife. Accommodations range from basic to luxurious, however the price/satisfaction ratio is not as high as what you would receive in Kenya/Tanzania/Botswana/S. Africa safaris.

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

Not really. It is best to travel to other countries in the region for ethnic shopping.

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Kampala, Uganda 12/20/18

Background:

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

We have had multiple PCS tours and this is our first Africa 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?

Washington, DC, and we usually take the direct to Amsterdam and then to Dulles from there.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Five months.

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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?

We adore our house; it’s massive with a gorgeous yard.

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

Cost is cheap. Good produce is available. You can get a lot locally but I order a lot from Amazon.

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

More kid snacks in our consumables shipment.

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

Lots of great restaurants and food delivery is easy and common.

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

Nothing unusual.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO at the Embassy.

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

Definitely available and not expensive.

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

The embassy does not have a gym which has been a bother because traffic is awful here and it’s tough to get to my gym. That said, I like my gym a lot. It’s well equipped and close to my house.

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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 mostly stick to cash here.

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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?

None.

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Transportation:

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

No, we are mostly prohibited from using the public transport here because it can be unsafe.

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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?

Definitely a high ground clearance SUV, the roads are in bad shape.

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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, we have Zuku and it’s super fast and pretty reliable.

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

I use a local provider.

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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, they’re available. We put dog food in our consumables shipment.

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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?

Mostly business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, although we haven’t had any issues personally, it’s something to always be mindful of. Bag snatches seem to be common.

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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 most people take either Malerone or Larium.

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

Pretty bad air quality.

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

No, not here.

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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 weather great all year, usually high of 80, low of 60 every day.

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Schools & Children:

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

We adore KISU, a number of embassy families go there now. My kids never want to leave and the campus is very pretty, the commute for the kids is good as well. They offer good after school programs as well, to include basketball, soccer, swimming, Zumba, art, lego, etc.

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

They do accommodate mild learning disabilities.

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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.

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

Plenty of sports are available for kids through the schools and Kabira country club offers tennis lessons and they have a gorgeous pool.

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Expat Life:

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

I’d say no to this.

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

Ugandans are very nice and polite, they tend to want to help you if they can.

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

We really like it here. Travel within Uganda is easy and there is a lot to see and do like Murchison, Sipi Falls. queen Elizabeth, and Jinja.

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

Gorgeous woven, colorful baskets.

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

Very cheap, great weather, good restaurants.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

The traffic seems quite bad to me.

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

Absolutely! It’s a great family post.

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Kampala, Uganda 10/18/18

Background:

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

This was our first overseas experience, however, both my spouse and I have traveled extensively for work in past.

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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 of the USA. Not a terrible terrible trip, as there is a layover somewhere in Europe and then another flight to the east coast.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost two years.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Our housing is amazing but not without its issues. We have four bedrooms, four bathrooms, an office and a huge and beautiful yard for my children to play in. A lot of people complain about the housing, however, I think that they do not remember that they most likely could not afford a home like the one they are assigned if they were back in US. I have visited many of the homes in the housing pool and find pretty much all of them to be more than adequate. Are some old? Sure. Do some have funky layouts? Yes. Are there issues with the houses? Absolutely, but that is normal for all houses, whether they are in Kampala or in the US. Things break and need to be repaired in housing all over the world, it's no different here. Facilities tries their best to get to issues in a timely manner.



The houses are spread out over several neighborhoods, Muyenga (closest to the embassy), Kololo (closest to restuarants and nightlife), Naguru (close to restaurants and KISU) Makindye (not really close to anything) and Lubowa (farthest from embassy, but closest to ISU which is the embassy-sponsored school). Traffic can be terrible, and you have to decide if you want your kids to be stuck in it or yourself......

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

I would say that you can pretty much find anything you want here. There are several supermarkets as well as many farmers markets around the city on varying days. If you HAVE to have a specific brand of something then DPO is the way to go. This was previously a consumables post and I feel that I unnecessarily spent a lot of money on things I could have found locally. The things I was grateful to have brought are, cleaning supplies, beer, and shampoos/soaps. While you still can get these items here, those are the things I am picky on when it comes to brands.

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

I wish I has shipped more beer that I like. Although there are several local brands, they are not to my liking. You will find yourself entertaining a lot due to the amazing weather and tons of outdoor space. This is where all your good beer will go! Either ship more beer or only offer your guests the local stuff and save the good stuff for yourself! Aside from that, you can find pretty much anything and if you can't, you supplement with DPO.

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

There are many good restaurants to choose from and it seems like more are popping up everyday. There is Italian, Japanese, Ethiopian, Pan Asian, Lebanese, Chinese, AMAZING Indian, and the list goes on. JUMIA food is an app that allows you to order food from pretty much any restaurant anywhere in Kampala. They send driver to pick it up and is usually delivered within an hour. It is extremely convenient and cheap.

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

We've only had issues with ants, and mainly in our kitchen. Quite annoying, but better than having roaches and rats.

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Daily Life:

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

There is a local postal service but I have never used it. I receive all of my packages through the embassy and have mailed a few as well. To receive packages through DPO it takes about a week, pouch usually takes about ten days.

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

Quality household help is easily available and inexpensive compared to the US. Most people have several people working for them, including myself. We have a nanny/housekeeper, a cook, a driver and gardener. Our staff has been amazing, they've made our lives easier, and have become part of our family. Some people have had issues of theft but we have been very blessed with the people we selected.

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

No experience. We brought our own equipment with us and purchased extra items locally.

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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 or local ATMS are not safe to use. RSO discourages the use of credit cards and ATMs. We pay cash for everything with the exception of our interest service, which we can pay online with Paypal.

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

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

None at all, as most Ugandans speak English very well.

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

They would have definitely have a hard time. There are no sidewalks and no building are adapted to accommodate people with disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

RSO prohibits us from using the local buses (matatus) and local taxi motorcycles(boda bodas). They seem to be extremely dangerous and seem to drive recklessly. We are not fond of either one. Uber is available and very inexpensive, however, I would not expect nice cars or air conditioning. The Uber drivers also do not seem to know how to use the map function on the app, so they will always call you for directions.

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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 vehicle is a must, as we have not found the roads in Kampala to be good. The high-clearance is also helpful for trips outside of Kampala to the national parks. Toyota Prados seem to be the most popular. You can purchase a vehicle from outgoing embassy employees for a higher price or you can order one from Japan like we did. I have heard of several stories from people who purchased cars from outgoing embassy employees and they turned out to not be worth the price; do your research and negotiate if you need to purchase a car from someone who is leaving. There are several reputable Japanese companies that ship vehicles to Uganda.

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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 hit or miss and is expensive. We have switched between three providers in our time here and finally settled on Smile. They charge about $150 a month for 100GB. We are able to stream Netflix without a problem. The service does go out from time to time but never for too long. There apparently is a new Kenyan company that offers quality internet service, but only in the Naguru neighborhood for now. Hopefully they will expand to other neighborhoods soon.

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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 brought our US phones and pay a small fee to keep our US numbers active. We also bought cheaper phones and put in a local sim card. All sim cards are prepaid and relatively cheap. There are a few companies all offering similar service at around the same price.

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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?

I don't have experience with this, but I know of many people that have pets here.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

There were no jobs for EFMS at the embassy when we arrived due to the hiring freeze. Now that it is over, several people have been hired and are actively working. The jobs are mainly administrative in nature. I have only heard of a handful of people that were able to find jobs on the local market as the salary is very low. Unless you have experience with development or NGOS or something of this nature, I suppose you can try your luck.

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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?

Dress is business casual at the embassy. Ugandans are more informal in their dress, however, ladies do seem to dress up.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, security is a concern, however, I have never really felt unsafe since we have been here. All of the compounds have 6 foot walls and are surrounded in barbed wire. The houses have bars on every window and the doors are reinforced with steel. Each house has 24-hour guard service and a roving patrol that makes rounds to the residences. All of that being said, we go out like we would in the US, to grocery stores, to restaurants, to friends houses, to parties etc. The security risk does not affect our every day lives, we take precautions as we would in any big city.

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

Yes, there are many diseases that are prevalent here. Overall it seems to be a dusty and dirty city. My children have gotten quite a few bacterial and viral infections. Malaria is a risk here as well as Bilharzia. We have found a couple of decent local pediatricians for regular check ups and minor illnesses. Medical care and facilities overall seem to be lacking. For anything above routine, you will likely need a medevac. For an emergency, you have to hope you have time to make it out of the country. This has been my biggest concern while being here.

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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 not great, all houses are given several air purifiers. We run all of ours whenever someone is home. There are issues with burning trash but luckily we haven't had that experience in our neighborhood.

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

I would not trust eating out if you have serious or life-threatening allergies.

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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)?

None that I know of; the weather in Uganda is AMAZING. It is between 75-85 all year long, some rain during rainy season, but the sun comes right back out.

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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?

Amazing all year round. 75-85 all year with no humidity. Rainy season it obviously rains a bit but clears up relatively quickly.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are several choices for international schools, and deciding factor seems to be traffic. ISU is the embassy-sponsored school and where most kids go. It is located farthest from the embassy, but has a bus system in place. Some people have their drivers take their kids to school and that seems to cut down on the commute time. Ambrosoli is in the Bugolobi neighborhood and (I believe) goes up to sixth grade. KISU is in Naguru and is similar to ISU in that it is a large campus and goes all the way through high school.

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

There are several great preschools and all seem to be very inexpensive. We have been very happy with the care our child has received in the local preschool and pay about $175 per term.

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

There are a limited amount of sports and activities outside of the school programs. One of the art teachers from one of the schools offers an art class during breaks kids have from school. I believe there are some tennis classes as well as swimming classes that can be arranged through private teachers.

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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 huge and have been a highlight of our time here. Most of our friends are outside of the embassy bubble and have made our time in Uganda very pleasant. I would say that most people are happy here. However, if you focus on all of the negative things, you will of course, make yourself and everyone else around you miserable.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There is everything here, people with kids in school have the never ending birthday party circuit to entertain themselves with. There are restaurants, bars, cafes, a couple of malls, quiz nights, dancing classes, work out classes, embassy events, the list goes on. If you want to do something you will find it, you just have to make an effort. If you stay at home and sulk about how bad you have it, well.............

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

This is a good city for all.

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

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda.

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

There definitely seem to be gender equality issues.

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

Amazing housing, excellent schools, amazing weather, accessibility to household help, wonderful friendships with expats and Ugandans, VERY easy living. The national parks are great, although they come with long drives and not so great hotels. I would say that the customer service at most hotels is average at best but expensive. Uganda is still very far behind in terms of their tourism industry and customer service. My favorite trips have been Fort Portal and gorilla tracking in Bwindi.

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

Glamping in Queen Elizabeth Park, seeing the waterfall at Murchison National Park, chimpanzee tracking in Fort Portal, zebras in Lake Mburo, lion tracking in QE, gorilla tracking in Bwindi, Ngamba chimp sanctuary... the list goes on.....

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

There are plenty of craft markets to chose from, though most have similar items. They are great for sending trinkets back home, but I wouldn't necessarily fill my home with these items.

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

Large homes, amazing weather, great people, great schools, lots of household help, interesting places to visit, EASY LIVING.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely, my family will miss Uganda.

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

Winter clothes, your expectation of things happening the way they do back home, etc.

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3. But don't forget your:

Open mind, toiletries, sunblock, patience, sense of adventure and willingness to learn.

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

God loves Uganda.

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Kampala, Uganda 09/18/18

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?

West Coast, US. I think 25 hours is the shortest but it is usually longer. You usually fly through Brussels and then have one or two stops in the US.

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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.)?

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?

Many of the houses are pretty large and look nice at first glance, but seem to have a host of issues. Depending on the random housing assignment that is thrown your way you can live anywhere from 10-30 minutes from the embassy without traffic (pro-tip there is always traffic and 20 minute drives can turn into 2+ hour drives). We have had a host of plumbing and power issues that are made worse by a housing and maintenance department who are often need multiple trips to your home to repair things. The houses just aren't built well so there always seem to be problems. We've had people shocked in their showers from electrical issues, people with constant mold in their cupboards and closets and most people have had at least one pipe burst in their home. Again, the houses and some of the yards are very big which is cool.

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

A lot of things are available in Kampala but you pay the price for having good food. Items can be available for a few weeks and then gone for months or forever. Most people stock up on things and freeze them when they're available and then order a lot through DPO. Quality of many foods like meat and dairy is questionable. The quality of meat and dairy has caused me to cut them out almost entirely.

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

Toilet paper, laundry detergents, and lots of food items. You can order a lot through Amazon or smilier places but I think it's more expensive than if you had shipped it. We also lost our consumables for this post.

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

There is a variety of food-Indian, Chinese, Italian, American ish, KFC, and Pizza Hut. The Indian food here is good and the others are ok.

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

You have to have maintenance do a semi-routine treatment for ants and cockroaches. Lizards and little jumping spiders are common but most people allow them to stay to help with mosquitoes.

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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 pouch. We only use the embassy mailing services.

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

A lot of people have gardeners, housekeepers and drivers. Average daily rate for housekeepers was US$10.50/day in 2016 and about $10.00/day for gardeners and drivers.

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

There are some gyms available but most are very expensive. For those living in the apartment there is a small gym. The warehouse has a gym but I've heard it is really dirty. Many people have trainers come to their homes or go to group classes. Group classes are usually US$6.55/class and personal training is usually around US$7.85/session.

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

We use cash for everything and only use certain ATMs. The ATM fees are close to US$8 and our embassy recently changed their check cashing so getting cash has become more expensive.

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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?

None .

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

Yes.

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Transportation:

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

We aren't allowed to use public transport. We do have uber but they won't use their map, can't find you, run out of gas and don't use air conditioning so it can be a struggle.

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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 car that is prepared to off road on city streets. We have tons of potholes and the streets flood up to 3 feet deep or so in some areas. There are a lot of car break ins and people will also steal little things from the outside of the car if they aren't riveted.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Internet is a constant topic of conversation at post. Internet is expensive, I think around US$135/month but that is not unlimited and if you stream it won't last you a month. We also have experienced outages and the company we purchase from will often downgrade the internet plan without notice.

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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?

Many people will get a phone that can take 2 sim cards. I have my US plan and also have a cheap phone with minutes that I use for local calls. Phone companies here will send spam text ads to your phone constantly.

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Pets:

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

There are some vets. Many make house call which would be convenient if they came at the scheduled time...

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Most people work at the embassy now that the hiring freeze is over. Local salaries make it so it isn't really worth it to work, but we do have a bilateral work agreement. If a spouse has experience in development or NGO work they might be able to find a decent or interesting job.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Oddly, it is very hard to find volunteer opportunities.

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

Less casual than other embassies. In public places you can wear normal clothes, but women will get some stares if they wear shorts.

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Health & Safety:

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

Absolutely!!! People have had things stolen from their homes and cars (I've heard sometimes by staff or guards).

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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?

A lot of people have constant diarrhea and/or bouts of food poisoning. Most people exercise less here because of the air quality and heat. I would say the heat and air quality also lead to a greater level of fatigue. There is a med unit which will refer people out for minor things but if you have any serious issue you would get flown 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?

BAD! Air quality absolutely has an impact on health and makes it hard to enjoy being outside within the city and hard to exercise. Not sure if the quality is seasonal but a lot of people have allergies here.

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

You can basically never eat out because places aren't accommodating of that kind of issue.

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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)?

There are definitely a fair number of people who seem to suffer from alcoholism and depression but I couldn't comment on that in comparison to other posts.

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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?

There are dry and rainy seasons here, but it's always hot.

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Schools & Children:

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

Friends with kids seem to like ISU and Ambrosoli. Our friends with young kids have little playgroups with other expats' 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?

Kampala has a big expat community because of the diplomatic missions and NGOs. Morale has been low because of the hiring freeze .

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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?

Most activities are going out for dinners and drinks with friends or to people's houses. Some people do tennis or rock climbing.

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

I think it would be tough to be single here. For couples it's boring. People with families seem to like this post best. I think for those with kids the schools, affordable help, and overall affordability is nice.

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

Definitely not.

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

Gender equality is a very serious issue. I've heard there have been serial murders of women and women kidnapped for ransom and killed and that the crimes aren't investigated properly because it isn't a priority. There are definitely some religious prejudices.

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

There are some fun regional travel opportunities. The national parks are cool but make for expensive trips.

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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:

Expectation of privacy, concept of rules on the road, and personal space bubble

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience, sense of humor, and Imodium.

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Kampala, Uganda 09/08/18

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?

USA, North Dakota, 28 hours, stop in Minneapolis, Amsterdam, Kigali, and then arrive in Entebbe.

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3. How long have you lived here?

16 long months.

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

Husband has a diplomatic position.

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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 horrible in my opinion. If we want to use our washer or dryer we have to turn everything else in the house off. We have two air conditioning units but they can’t be used at the same time or we lose power. Same goes for using the stove; everything else must be turned off in the house or we lose power. There have been times we have lost power more than five times in one day. We had water pipes burst and flood our house. We have “sliding screen” doors that haven’t worked more than a week of us being here. Constantly have repair people at the house “fixing” things but the repairs don't seem to last. We live in Naguru and the commute can be anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours to the embassy. The traffic is horrendous.

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

Awful, we typically have to drive to four different stores to complete our grocery shopping because one store has no butter or no milk or is out of something. We just bought a jar of peanut butter for $12. Certain items like fruits and vegetables can be cheap but you have to know where to go. They will try to upcharge you because you’re an expat. Household supplies are horrible. Bring all your own cleaning supplies.

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

Everything! All cleaning supplies, all beauty needs, any and every non-perishable item.

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

The only good thing here is we have a few nice places to eat. I have had had multiple cases of food poisoning (and I've heard my neighbor has, too) from these upscale and pricey places. Jumia is a food delivery system people use but by the time the food comes it’s cold.

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

Lizards and ants are common.

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Daily Life:

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

I don’t send anything. I’ve never been to a local facility. We have items shipped to the embassy. It takes two to three 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?

We have a very small home and no kids so we don’t need much help. We have a housekeeper who works two days a week and is paid US$50 every 2 weeks.

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

There are a couple nicer hotels with gyms but it’s insanely expensive, e.g., US$1200 or more for a year.

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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 need cash for most things. I have not used my card anywhere and I wouldn’t trust it. ATMs are available, but not all are trustworthy. We only use Barclays and always check to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with. Most ATMS have armed guards nearby for safety.

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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?

None, everyone speaks English.

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

Yes, wheelchair accessibility is non-existent.

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Transportation:

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

Adorable, yes, but absolutely not safe. I have heard there are people robbed and beaten on buses and I've heard the motorcycle taxis average 10 deaths a day.

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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 is the only acceptable choice. Nothing nice! It could get broken into or hit by a motorcycle tax car regularly trying to maneuver through traffic. The potholes here are the worst I’ve ever seen and roads are awful in my opinion.

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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?

LOL, high-speed again is very expensive and it goes out often.

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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’ll need a local provider.

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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 are vets but they come to your home. I’ve heard horror stories bout kennels and would never recommend using one here. Bring all your own dog food and supplies, heartworm pills, flea and tick meds with you. They don’t care for dogs here and there are many strays in bad shape. I heard the city regularly put out poisoned meat to control the stray population, and one could see the dead piled up on the roadside.

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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 spouses either stay home or work at the embassy. I work on the local economy and make $10 an hour part time at a dental office.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

None, everyone I’ve tried has said they didn’t need any help.

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

We have embassy events so yes formal is needed. Otherwise wear what you want. Women who wear shorts or dresses anove the knee will be stared at but I’ve never been bothered besides that.

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Health & Safety:

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

Oh, yes, car thefts and break-ins are common. I have not found our guard service to be satisfactory. I've heard of phones being stolen out of your hand.

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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. There is only one hospital that Tricare will let us go to here. We are being sent to Germany to see fertility docs this month.

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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?

Bad bad bad! People routinely burn garbage, and it physically hurts to breath.

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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 rainy seasons.

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Expat Life:

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

I would say morale is low.

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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?

Going out to eat. Taking a yoga class.

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

I would not recommend this city for anyone.

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

No, I do not think it's accepted here.

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

Women are treated poorly. Seem to be a lot of male chauvinists.

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

Seeing the Nile and some friendships I’ve formed

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

Fun things? There is a movie theatre and hotel pools you can use. Nothing other than outdoors. Night is bad with mosquitoes and daytime traffic is bad except for Sundays.

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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, there are cheap trinkets they will try to sell you at high prices.

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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?

Honestly, I wish I had not come here.

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

Absolutely not, nor would I ever recommend it to anyone

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

Valuables and nice cars.

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4. But don't forget your:

Don’t come here.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

I’ve literally been counting down the days since I got here. I’ve had diarrhea more times than I can count.

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Kampala, Uganda 08/22/18

Background:

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

After 23 years in the USAF, and 13 in the FS, my wife and I have lived in England, Germany, Turkey, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Egypt, South Africa, Iraq, Pakistan, Singapore and Fiji.

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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?

Kampala requires 30 hours of travel to DC, with connections in either Brussels or Amsterdam.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year into a two year tour.

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

US 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?

We are one of eight families living in an apartment building, which is not typical for Embassy housing. The apartment is nice, and the building sits high above the city above air pollution and noise. We have a swimming pool and gym. Commute to the Embassy is about 20 minutes, and anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes to go back home. A decent fully stocked grocery store in 10 minutes drive away, and a department store 15 minutes away.

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

Readily available! Several large grocery stores within 15 minutes drive.

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

We have found everything here, except perhaps some brands of breakfast cereals. The few items I have not found is real maple syrup, good quality cat liter and cat food, and Mexican dinner kits. I have not found Masa Harina flour here, nor good tortilla chips.

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

Few American fast food options, other than Pizza hut and KFC, but Kampala has many wonderful restaurants serving all types of cuisine. Chinese, Lebanese, Japanese, Greek, French and American restaurants are available, and all offer home delivery.

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

Ants will find there way in, so we use insecticide along the doors.

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Daily Life:

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

We use the embassy DPO and pouch services as well as DHL.

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

Housekeepers are plentiful. Cost ranges widely. An typical cost may be US$15-$20 for an 8 hour day.

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

The Embassy apartment building has a gym. Few others use a gym, as the cost for using the big-name hotels is too 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?

Credit cards can be used in western restaurants and at most tourist resorts, as well as the larger department and grocery stores. The Embassy has a safe ATM inside, and one can cash personal checks.

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

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

Everyone speaks English, unless you travel deep into the most rural parts of Uganda, especially in the far North.

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

Yes. No sidewalks, and few businesses have any amenities for physical challenges.

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Transportation:

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

Uber is the best option, and there are some commercial cabs. We have been advised not use buses or motorbike taxies.

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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 MUST have a rugged 4x4 vehicle. A regular car will be destroyed here. If you plan on traveling out to the national parks, and I HIGHLY recommend you do, bring a good 4x4 off road vehicle with high clearance and either all-terrain or mud tires. Most people buy locally imported vehicles such as the Toyota land cruiser or Prado. We brought our Jeep Rubicon and LOVE it here; it's perfect to explore far off road on safari in all weather. Roads in the city of Kampala are filled with deep potholes, and I have seen water up to my hood twice on the road to my home.

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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 expensive, and not super speedy. We pay US$150 per month for 4 mbps from 7PM to 7AM and all day on weekends.
There are lower cost options, but the reliability and/or speed will be slower.

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

I only use my Embassy phone, but most use an iPhone or Android with a local voice and dataplan.

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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 necessary if all pre-departure paperwork has been received by the Government of Uganda and signed off. There are vets in the city that many Embassy staff have used with good results, and they do 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?

Most eligible family members (EFMs) work in the Embassy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty. There is a large need here for help with everything.

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

Business casual is the typical Embassy dress.

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Health & Safety:

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

Uganda is fairly safe, much more so than South Africa. We have never encountered a problem in all our travels around the whole country. That said, there are reports of car and home break-ins here, so you have to keep valuables secure.

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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! Uganda is a petri dish for diseases. Several infectious diseases have outbreaks in the rural countryside every year. Malaria is endemic, and people not taking prophylaxis get infected regularly. Yellow fever and polio vaccine is required. Medivacs can be to South Africa, Dubai 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?

Bad air once a week, but worse down in the lower parts of the city. Pollution can easily exacerbate asthma or allergies. Air quality outside the city is very clean.

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

Usual precautions. We get two times a year where pollen is intense.

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

No.

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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?

The climate is wonderful. The temps (F) range from 70's and 80;'s in the day to high 50's and 60s at night. All year around. It can rain any day, but usually this lasts for less than hour then the sky gets clear. There are two rainy seasons, where the rainfall will be slightly more frequent, but even then it's not bad. The cool temperature for the equator was the biggest and best surprise about Kampala.

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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 have no experience, but I only hear good things.

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

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

Yes, I hear of school kids participating in sports and other activities.

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Expat Life:

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

Very large. Morale is very high.

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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?

Clubs, restaurants, movie theaters are common, but also there are lots of outdoor activities such as white water rafting and safaris where people gather.

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

No. Local Ugandan laws and the public lack of acceptance will make LGTB expats very uncomfortable or worse.

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

Not that I have seen, unless perhaps if you are openly Wiccan. Superstition and is rampant here, and a general ignorance of non-Christian/non-Muslim religions.

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

Uganda has amazing wildlife and the safaris are more authentic here than in more commercial parks in South Africa. My wife and I go out camping in the bush every month, hiring an armed park ranger to camp with us for just $20 a night. The big-five are here, as well as over a thousand bird species. There are none National Parks and over a dozen wildlife reserves you can explore. White water rivers, tranquil lakes, dense forests, savannahs, mountain trails, and glacier peaks! Uganda is perfect for anyone who enjoys the outdoors and African wildlife.

Our best trip so far was to Kidepo National Park, rated as the #3 best safari park in all of Africa. We drove the two days to get there, stopping at a remote little know campground at the half-way point. At Kidepo, we hired a ranger to camp with us right in the middle of the park, watching thousands of cape Buffalo run across the valley, and over 100 elephants grazing along the river. At night the stars filled the sky while lions roared in the darkness. In the morning found the lions getting ready to sleep on high rocks just 2km from our tent site. Stunning sunrises, and endless beauty. Kidepo is fantastic - and we were the only ones there in the three days we stayed there. That's the beauty of Uganda - amazing safaris and so few tourists compared to Kenya and South Africa.

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

African wildlife safaris, white water rafting down cat-five rapids in the Nile, fishing for 400 lb Nile Perch, and climbing the 14,000 foot Rwenzori mountains. Don't forget to go on a Mountain Gorilla trek into the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest - the only way to see these amazing primates as they do not exist in captivity anywhere in the world.

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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 handicrafts here.

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

Access to western foods.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That access to far off-road trails is easy, but I wish I had known that in time to outfit my jeep with a bigger lift, and roof-top tent.

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

Yes.

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

Winter clothes (except a light jacket).

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4. But don't forget your:

Non-Toyota spare car parts, long camera lens for wildlife (400mm or longer), camping gear, BBQ grill.

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

If you are a hiker, google the phrase "Rwenzori mountain 4K".

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6. Do you have any other comments?

You do not have to spend a fortune on safaris in Uganda. While there are lots of options for expensive luxury lodges, every National Park and wildlife reserve offers camping and low-cost huts to stay in. You can self-drive in the parks, or hire a guide. Bush camping is safe with inexpensive armed rangers who will join you to protect you from wildlife. Purchase a one-year National Park pass which will pay for itself if you visit the national parks more than four days per year.

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Kampala, Uganda 06/05/18

Background:

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

No, many others, but all in sub-Saharan Africa (for past 20+ yrs).

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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?

Pittsburgh, PA. We take Delta/KLM via Amsterdam - 20+ hrs.

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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.)?

USG assignment.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Great housing, great garden, nice residential neighborhood (green, fairly clean) yet close to restaurants and supermarkets. Any commute in Kampala is challenging, but that's the case in most capital cities these days...

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

Certain things are more expensive, yet other things (fresh fruits & veggies) are cheaper. Overall, it evens out. Almost everything that you need is available year-round, supermarkets are generally well-stocked, farmers markets are available at different locations, and there's even a store that important all Costco & Sams Club products from the USA (a bit more expensive due to importation/transportation cost, but still great to have!).

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

Laundry pods are not available (or at least I haven't found them).

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

Any type of food is pretty much available at different restaurants in town. Good reliable food delivery services from all these restaurants as well (Jumia food).

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

Mosquitos, termites 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?

DPO (pouch), DHL, not sure about local postal facilities, as I have not used them, but I know other expats use different companies that provide shipping services to EU and USA.

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

Household help is available, and not too costly. A full time household helper would run US$200-$300/month.
Typically people have housecleaners, cooks, drivers, nannies, and gardeners. A number of people also have staff who take on combined responsibilities.

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

Different hotels offer sports/workout facilities. They are generally of good quality but also rather 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?

Some stores, restaurants and hotels offer reliable credit card services and I generally feel it's OK, but won't use it everywhere. Same goes for ATMs, there are available in many places, but you have to be selective in where/which ones to use.

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

Yes, definitely, although I'm personally not very familiar with them.

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

English is generally fine in Kampala - upcountry local language is useful but there are so many different languages spoken that it's difficult to pick one, as every corner of the country has a different language.

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

Hills can be challenging for people in wheelchairs, as it's VERY hilly! Also, I'm not sure how wheelchair accessible restaurants are here.

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Transportation:

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

The regular public transportation options are not the best. Uber is used quite a bit (or a similar taxi service called Friendship taxi) which works fairly well, is reasonably priced to cheap, and offers better quality services than regular public transportation.

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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 - not only to get through the potholes in the city but Uganda also has some amazing game parks (anywhere from 4-8 hrs drive from kampala) where use of 4X4 is advisable. Do not bring a car that doesn't have high clearance. Do not bring an American made/brand car as you will have trouble finding 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?

High speed internet is an issue in many expat residential neighborhoods, however optic fiber is being put in different places which seems to offer higher speed internet at lower cost that existing providers. However, not everywhere available yet but the next thing over the coming year.

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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?

Use a local provider as the cost is relatively cheap (for calls and data) and there's a good number of different providers to choose from.

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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?

Reasonably OK vet services available. No quarantine necessary, need them for regular shots for cats & dogs and certificates of good health, etc.
Not very familiar with kennel services, but many people will have household staff look after animals/pets when they travel, and in same cases dog walkers (available everywhere) will also look after pets.

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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?

Any jobs - from EFM positions at the mission to local hire NGO jobs, or international/expat jobs in International Development or Private Sector. Some also do virtual jobs. Salary scales and benefit packages vary depending on type of job, and full-time or part-time assignment. Many are also involved in consultancies (either in country or elsewhere with travel to and from post)

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes, many from health to education related opportunities, to working with animals and wildlife and conservation efforts.

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

The dress is not very formal, pretty much anything goes in Kampala, but it's a bit more conservative upcountry.

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Health & Safety:

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

While there's some small crime, it's generally fairly safe in Kampala; you just have to be aware and vigilant, but that's in any large/capital city these days.

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

Malaria and bilharzia are the main health concerns.

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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 to sometimes bad, but that very much depends on the day/time of the year. It is partially because Kampala is very hilly so that bad air/exhaust from traffic sort of 'hangs' in the valleys in between the hills.

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

Some who are sensitive to certain pollen, yes, but nothing that's really specific to this country.

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

No.

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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?

Uganda has a very moderate climate year round. It's often referred to as San Diego weather all year round, as it's so very pleasant. It can rain any time of the year but there's two rainy seasons during which is will rain more than other months. That also means that it's green year round and anything grows here. Evenings and nights are comfy (60's) and during the day it gets to 75-85 max.

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Schools & Children:

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

Different accredited international schools are available, from British to French to American IB curriculum. Smaller elementary Montessori-like schools and play schools/kindergarten are also available. We are particularly pleased with ISU (Int'l School of Uganda) Pre-K thru 12 grade, American accredited IB (PYP, MYP, DP), on a great green campus (35 acres) which provides an amazing and rich learning environment for kids from over 60 different country. (see school report on ISU)

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

ISU is the best and main reason we came to Uganda for a special needs child. See more details in school report. Top priority is learning diversity and inclusion at ISU.

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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, many preschool options available, but my kids are older so not much involved, except for great pre-K/Early learning center at ISU, which also offers after school care.

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

yes local sports options, as well as music or theater/performing arts are available at post if your child is not interested in after school activities offered at 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?

It is a large expat community between American/European/Asia. Generally good morale and good 'mixing' of different expats (much of which might also related to the international school community you're part of).

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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?

Going out to restaurants, bars, movies, or upcountry camping and game parks. Biking and hiking clubs are also available and very active. They are based out of Kampala with sometimes upcountry activities/outings.

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

Good city for all! Different groups seem to all find each other.

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

No, Uganda seems to have some serious limitations of gay rights, so that's definitely something to review. I have heard that many LGBT expats are suggested to 're-closet' during their posting here (at least in public).

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

Gender based violence (combined with alcohol abuse) is a serious issue in Ugandan society and worrisome as it's not enough addressed as being an issue (particularly in rural areas). There's different ethnic groups and religions but not sure that there's a real prejudice though at that level.

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

Different national parks, camping along the Nile and crater lakes, the sheer beauty of this country and even the birdlife in the middle of the city in Kampala, the amazing vegetation year round.

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

Crater lakes (Fort Portal or Lake Bunyonyi areas), camping in the wild in national parks (Murchison Falls NP, Queen Elizabeth NP), walking with the zebra and antelopes (Lake Mburo NP), camping and biking along the Nile... the list goes on!

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

It's not bad, there's interesting cloth, baskets, wood work, and artsy jewelry. No real antiques though.

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

Climate; it's perfect year round!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

More about the different ethnic groups/local customs/cultures.

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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:

Boat/kayak - nearly all lake water (especially near Kampala) has bilharzia, so no boating or swimming to avoid contracting that.

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4. But don't forget your:

Camping gear!

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

Queen of Katwe is THE best movie made about a slum girl in Kampala, and many scenes depict Kampala. Even Black Panther has scenes filmed in Uganda. Bird of Uganda is a great book - must have if you come here.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

It's a great family post!!

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Kampala, Uganda 06/04/18

Background:

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

No. Seoul, Kyiv, and Hamilton (Bermuda).

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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, which is an 8.5 hour flight to Amsterdam and an 8.5 hour flight from Amsterdam to Entebbe.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year out of a three year tour.

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

EFM with 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?

Very nice housing with a great yard. Traffic is terrible. The embassy is two miles from our house and takes anywhere from 20 minutes to 1.5 hours to get there. Most people prefer the neighborhood that is closer to the embassy (10 minutes) but we weren't assigned to it.

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

Fruits and veggies are delicious, plentiful and very inexpensive. Meat is of poor quality and relatively expensive. Staple products (flour, oil, sugar) are available. "Bud light" quality beer, wine and other types of alcohol are available. Virtually no other snack foods besides potato chips are available. Low quality household cleaning supplies are available. I bought a breadmaker and make my own bread because I'm not fond of the bread here.

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

Kid cereal, snack foods, tortillas, chulala or other spicy food/seasoning; Ugandan food seems very mild.

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

There is a very convenient delivery service called Jumia that delivers from most restaurants. Indian is very popular here. You can also get so-so pizza, sushi, Lebanese food, and "American" food.

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

Lots of bugs, not surprising to me due to our location on the equator.

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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 at the embassy. I haven't used the local mail except for one time when we forgot something at a lodge a few hours away. We were warned that our item would never arrive, but it did, so at least in that one instance, it was useful.

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

Very available, inexpensive and relatively good. Nannies, housekeepers, cooks, gardeners and drivers. If you have a need, you can pretty much find someone here who will do it for you.

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

The embassy has a few machines. I know there are some gyms around as well but not sure of their quality or costs. Some people hire personal trainers. The embassy also has quite a few classes. Some people walk, run and/or bike but the traffic and air quality really hinders it.

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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 card use is not recommended, but I do use them at the big shops or grocery stores. I only use the ATM at the embassy. Petty crime is an issue and it is wise to guard against theft any way you can.

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

Catholic mass is held at the Vatican Embassy. Not sure about other places about lots of Protestant churches around.

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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.

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

Yes. There are no sidewalks. I am able-bodied and I find it difficult to get around in the city.

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Transportation:

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

Uber is here and widely available and safe to use. We are not allowed to use the local taxi vans (matatus) or buses for safety reasons.

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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?

If at all possible, you will want a high-clearance SUV even for in the city. There are massive potholes and major rain storms. I would bring or buy a beater that you don't mind it getting dinged up because it will no matter how careful you are. Most everyone has a Toyota, so that is probably the easiest to get serviced. Unfortunately, it seems like the brand most likely to get parts stolen off it as well. Crime is an issue. We are advised to drive with windows up and doors locked. There has been one carjacking in the embassy community in the year that I have been here.

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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?

Home internet is available; I wouldn't call it "high-speed." It is expensive and a hassle. You can't buy it by the month, you have to buy data bundles and I have found it to be confusing and difficult to decipher the packages. It doesn't take long to install. Just buy a wireless router and you are good to go.

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

I have a magicjack ap on my cell phone to call people in the U.S. and a local provider for Uganda. It is the same deal as home internet; you don't pay by the month, you just have to buy data bundles and keep re-upping when they run out.

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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?

I do not have pets, but lots of people here do. I know they are happy with the 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?

Some work as teachers at the international schools, some have jobs at the embassy, some work or volunteer with local organizations. Local salary is low compared to the US.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Uganda is very poor and there are lots of needs here. I know one spouse who volunteers with an environmental group, one with Catholic Relief Services, and others with kids with cancer. It really depends on your interests.

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

Formal dress is rarely if ever required besides the Marine Corps Ball. Work is casual Friday and other days it is nice but not "suit and tie." The weather here is gorgeous. It rarely gets hot, but you do have to contend with a lot of dust and two rainy seasons so I would plan for those.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. I do not wear any jewerly or anything else expensive. I have a purse that zips shut. I don't walk with my cell phone out and try to stay aware of my surroundings at all times. Generally Ugandans are kind and welcoming but it is a very poor country in which most subsist on $2 a day. What we have can be very tempting if we are lax 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?

Poor air quality, unsafe blood supply, lack of decent medical care, etc. We get medically evacuated for pretty much everything that isn't minor. HIV/AIDS is quite high here, so you also need to be careful about clippers at hair places and other ways you might come in contact with other's blood.

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

It seems bad to me. Some neighborhoods are worse than others. We are also at 4,000 feet so some have trouble with the elevation when they first arrive at post.

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

Lots of dust and there are ground peanuts in a lot of Ugandan food (relatively easy to avoid once you know).

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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?

Beautiful weather is one of the best things about Uganda.

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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 have kids at International School of Uganda. We are very happy with it. The commute can be difficult but it is nice that it is a bit out of the city center so the air is very clear. The campus is gorgeous. Teachers are committed and rigorous curriculum.

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

They have been able to support my two sons who need extra learning support. They have kids with extensive physical and mental challenges and integrate them well into the classroom.

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

No.

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Expat Life:

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

I am not sure of the size. It seem pretty big and people seem pretty happy here. There are the usual challenges of living in a developing country but there are a lot of advantages. A good school, great weather, good help, nice housing, good travel within Uganda, good services (food delivery, tailoring).

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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, embassy CLO, whiskey club, school activities, biking club, and climbing club.

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

I think best for couples and families; I think it is pretty difficult for singles to get out and meet others.

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

I wouldn't think so. Uganda seems pretty conservative and I feel there is hostility towards LGBT issues.

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

I do not feel Ugandans are particularly kind to women.

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

Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo, Murchison National Parks, Sipi Falls, Mountain Gorilla treking, and jinja.

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

Not really. You can get great baskets and fabrics here but I wouldn't say you would come here for shopping.

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

The weather, the cost of living, decent amenities, and relatively safe compared to other African capital cities.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, though I did need to get used to it. The roads seem crazy to me, and the poverty overwhelming, but it is very nice living here.

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

Sweaters.

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3. But don't forget your:

Malaria meds and sense of adventure.

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

The Queen of Katwe; even if you don't have kids you should watch this. Crossroads: Women Coming of Age in Today's Uganda, The Atlas of Forgotten Places, and The Impenetrable Forest: Gorilla Years in Uganda;

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Kampala, Uganda 08/12/15

Background:

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

No. London, New Delhi, Vancouver.

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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 - >24 hours via Amsterdam or London

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year completed of a two-year post

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

Trailing spouse to a 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?

Housing is good and the yards are ridiculously awesome.
Traffic is awful (not as bad as Delhi) and it often takes 45-60 minutes to drive to the Embassy from Kololo. To give some perspective, it takes my husband 30 minutes to run home. People will often not go somewhere due to the traffic annoyance.

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

Inexpensive unless you are looking for Western foods, which cost a bit more.

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

UPS devices!!!! if you want to keep your electronics functional - power is very dirty and outages are regular occurrences.

Rechargeable batteries
Transformers as they allocate only a small number
Dog crates (they sell for US$400 for small and US$700 for large ones)
Candles (can't ship)
Dog/cat food and cat litter if you don't have shipping through the Embassy

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

KFC is here. There are a range of restaurants and they are affordable.

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

Mosquitoes and ants. The ants are tiny and cute; they don't really bother us. The mosquitoes aren't too bad in the city and malaria is low in Kampala proper (there hasn't been a reported case in Kampala in 5 years). However, malaria is a serious risk as soon as you leave the city.

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Daily Life:

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

We just got DPO and the pouch is still available as well.

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

Readily available and very affordable.

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

No good, affordable gyms, unfortunately. I use myyogaonline and my husband jogs to work.

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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 do everything in cash, which we get from cashing checks at the embassy. No credit cards, though you can use them at some of the larger grocery stores.

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

Absolutely.

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Transportation:

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

We aren't allowed to use any of these for transport.

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

Toyota for parts. You need a 4wd or a 4x4. It is worth it to bring tires with you if possible. You will need to replace them while you are here. Air filters are replaced regularly too and the good mechanics seem to charge inappropriately for them.

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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?

See above in phone section

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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 all rip you off and it gets very, very frustrating. I came with an unlocked iphone and use MTN, which have been decent for the most part. Avoid Africell as I set them up and found them stealing my data (they claimed I used 1GB of data in 15 minutes and 200GB in 5 months). For home internet, I use Vodafone unlimited at 10MB speed. It is very expensive at >300,000 UGX per month, but it ends up costing the same and it is much faster than other companies (we can actually stream if we want). Vodafone (I live in Kololo) is new and I suspect they will become corrupt with time. Others like Smile too, which seems to work better for Tank Hill. Be sure to check the quality of the connection based on your neighborhood. Be mentally prepared to be very frustrated when dealing with phone/internet as there are no regulations and there is a lot of corruption.

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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. Decent veterinary care is available for maintenance care, but not surgical care. There is very poor hygiene as autoclaves are not available for sterilization. There are no gas anesthetic machines, so anesthesia is more risky. Dr. Gibson at Makerere University sterilizes his equipment with a pressure cooker and he has an American veterinary technician monitor anesthesia. However, I do not know how long he/she will be here.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Yes. I have never met so many entrepreneurs in my life.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plentiful opportunities to volunteer.
Kids Club Kampala and the USPCA are great organizations and can always use volunteers.

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Health & Safety:

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

Petty theft. Lock your doors at all times and keep your windows up. Al Shabaab is a threat, so we go to the malls/grocery stores in the morning and usually stay away on the weekends. However, we are likely being over-cautious about the latter.

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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?

Typhoid is a major issue here and the prevalence increases every year. Malaria is not a problem in Kampala proper, but it becomes a problem outside the city.

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

Not too bad compared to other developing countries.

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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?

75-85F year round. Two rainy seasons that are becoming less and less able to differentiate from the rest of the year. Even during the rainy season you will have hours of sunshine in one 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?

Our girls (2 & 3 years old) go to Kampala Community International Preschool (KCIP) in Naguru and we could not be happier. The Swan preschool in Tank Hill has similar reviews. The KICU and Ambrosoli schools have great reviews, but the waiting lists are long and they are expensive. The International School in Lubowa has a decent reputation for older kids.

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

Yes, very good and affordable

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

There is a ballet class available. There is also horseback riding outside of Kampala for ages >4. Most schools have some sort of activities.

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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 and very good morale.

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

Great for families, I'm guessing moderate for singles and great for couples.

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

No. It's a major issue here.

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

We camp about 50% of our weekends and most people don't take advantage of this opportunity. Camping makes travel affordable and you will get fantastic close encounters with the wildlife that you cannot experience staying in the hotels.

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

Kampala is really where you spend time with friends and family. Playgroups, parties, and dinners out are the main activities. The Speke resort is a nice place to spend the day, but it does get expensive. The Serena hotel will cost a family of 4 US$100 to visit for the day. There are a couple of forest walks that are good day trips. The rafting companies offer a fantastic day trip from Kampala that is worth the money.

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

Arts and crafts

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

House help, kid-friendly post, weather, wildlife/parks, cost of living.

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8. Can you save money?

Yes! If you don't stay at the resorts.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

If you plan to travel to the national parks a lot, then it is worth investing in an annual pass (US$500/365 days for a couple, US$700 for a family of 4). The payment has to be made in cash at UWA in Kampala and it pays for itself after 9 days in any of the national parks.

Bring your camping gear and be prepared for awesome adventures if you camp. Camping is the only way it is affordable to travel regularly in this country. Be sure to camp on the Delta in Murchison Falls, on the Mweya peninsula in QENP, and campsite 3 in Lake Mburo. You will have hippos brushing up against your tent, but they really do leave you alone in your tent. We always camp with our 2 & 3 year olds, so the hippos definitely know we are there and they are not bothered.

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

Yes; it's a great post and treats us well. However, we take advantage of what Uganda has to offer.

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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:

Sense of adventure and motivation to travel!
Also, don't forget to do the wildebeest migration - 11 hour drive and camping available on the river in the Mara Triangle. You need to book about a year in advance!

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

God Loves Uganda,

Call Me Kuchu,

Machine Gun Preacher,


The Last King of Scotland
(but be aware this is fiction and there is very little truth in this movie),

Gorillas in the Mist
(be sure to read the IMDB facts about the making of this movie),

The African Queen
(filmed in Murchison Falls NP), Tarzan (filmed in QENP), Kony 2012 and the Virunga documentary.

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6. 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 - about child soldiers/militia;

Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption - a look into orphanages

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Kampala, Uganda 06/18/14

Background:

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

No. We've lived in several Latin American countries.

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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. 24-36 hours--connecting through Amsterdam with a quick stop in Kigali on the way from Amsterdam to Entebbe.

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3. How long have you lived here?

10 months.

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

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 generally older but spacious and nice. Our commute is usually 15-20 minutes but sometimes traffic can turn it into an hour or two. One afternoon it took us FOUR HOURS to get home. Word was that the President was driving around and that was the issue but I never saw any real evidence to support that. Anyway, traffic in Kampala can be horrendous for no apparent reason. Despite the presence of traffic police everywhere, they are completely incompetent and do more harm than good.

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

Produce is cheap if you have your housekeeper buy it for you at the local market. Better yet, grow it in your garden! Imported items have imported prices (but are often worth it, in my opinion). Sometimes things that are plentiful in the grocery store one week completely disappear the next. We can usually get sour cream (imported from South Africa) and cheddar cheese (imported from Ireland), two luxuries I've never enjoyed at any other post.

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

More liquids--soap, cleaning supplies, salad dressing, bug spray, sunscreen, stain remover, etc. I'm glad we shipped plenty of TP, paper towels, canned goods.

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

KFC recently arrived in Uganda and now has two locations. Significantly more expensive than home but sometimes it's worth it. Korean, Japanese, Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Persian, and American food is available. As I mentioned before, none of it is fantastic, but most of it is decent. Cost is generally US$10-$15 per person, sometimes a bit higher. Coffee here is very good.

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

Malarial mosquitoes are everywhere. This post had more cases of malaria than any other in 2013. Every Ugandan I know has had malaria. That said, if you take your anti-malaria medication and use your mosquito nets, you should be fine. Also, ants are ubiquitous. You will never win that battle, no matter how clean you think your kitchen/dining room/anywhere is. You just have to get used to them and deal with them as best you can.

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Daily Life:

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

The Embassy has a pouch facility and is on the waiting list for a DPO. I don't expect the DPO to open anytime soon, however.

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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 and very reasonable, though quality varies a great deal. Between our gardener, housekeeper, and nanny, we spend about US$700 per month (quite a bit less than we spent for just our nanny at our previous post). We don't have a driver at this time but many people do. A full time driver costs about US$250 per month.

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

The Embassy has a small gym and there are some country clubs that have nice gyms. They tend to cost US$100+ per month.

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

It's generally advisable to use cash though we've used our credit card at the grocery store with no problems.

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

A variety of Christian and Muslim services. Not sure about other major religions.

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

English is widely spoken. All children are educated in English. There are over 50 ethnic languages, Luganda being the most prominent in the central region, but it is not necessary to speak any of them. You will inevitably pick up a few words here and there.

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

Extreme difficulty. They only place I know of with any sort of accessibility at all is the Embassy with the possible exception of a couple newer malls.

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Transportation:

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

Affordable, yes. Safe, no.

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

Must have a high-clearance, all-terrain vehicle. Even the roads in high-income residential areas are terrible. Potholes the size of an entire vehicle are common.

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Phone & Internet:

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

High-speed is a bit of a misnomer here, but yes it is available. You can either get DSL service hooked up at home or buy a wireless router and load it with data as needed. The latter is actually the better option these days, but the options--and which one is the best--change regularly. We did have broadband at home for about a month, and it was fantastic. But then it just completely stopped working and no one was able to fix it (par for the course here).

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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 from the States. Data is cheap and easy to buy.

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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 are a few decent vets in the area.

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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?

For teachers and people with backgrounds in development, possibly. Otherwise no.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are countless NGOs here, big and small. Every organization I know of would be glad to have some extra help.

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

Work: business. Public: casual but conservative. Ugandan women generally wear long skirts, though that is not expected of expats. The recently enacted Anti-Pornography Act could be interpreted to outlaw "sexy" clothing such as mini-skirts and low-cut tops (really, anything that a man could perceive as a turn-on--yes, that vague). That said, you'll still see plenty of revealing clothing at bars, nightclubs, concerts, etc.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. Read the report on Uganda at travel.state.gov. The terrorist threat here is very real. Crime is also an issue though not nearly as bad as other places we've lived.

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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 huge concern. Parasites are relatively common. Lots of mystery stomach bugs. We have a great clinic at the Embassy and they can recommend a good local doctor for most minor issues. Anything serious gets a medevac to South Africa.

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

It's decent during the wetter seasons but during the dry season, air quality is terrible.

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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?

Temperate in Kampala. It's dry for several months of the year and then it rains regularly for the rest of the time. Everyone here tells me something different for the exact months of the dry/rainy seasons.

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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 kids aren't in school yet but people with older kids seem happy with the schools.

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

I'm not sure but I suspect that they don't make many.

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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've had a great experience with the two nannies who have worked for us. We pay about US$300 per month. There are some preschool options here--from what I hear, they're decent but not great.

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

Limited but available.

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Expat Life:

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

Large. Besides diplomatic missions, there are many, many international NGOs here. I would say that morale is okay. This can be a really tough place to live. Some people love it, but most people I know will be really glad to finish their tours. The countless small daily frustrations wear you down after awhile.

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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?

Potlucks, dinner out, there are a few popular bars, several expat bands are quite good and play often, there is a new movie theater. You will have to create a lot of your own fun.

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

Best for families with kids who are in school, I think, especially outdoorsy type families. Okay for couples. Very tough for singles. There are NO PARKS in this city. There are some playgrounds for young kids at malls but those also tend to be the biggest targets for the (very real) terrorist threat, so it's a bit of a risk. There are a wide variety of restaurants/cuisines--most are decent, none are fantastic.

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

Absolutely not. If you are an LGBT individual/couple/family, DO NOT COME HERE. The Anti-Homosexuality Act passed recently will complicate your life endlessly and it's simply not worth it.

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

Gender, yes. Despite gains in recent years, women are NOT equal or particularly well-respected here. Racial or religious prejudices do not seem particularly strong though there are some very distinct divisions. It's actually quite incredible that so many people of different ethnic groups (over 50) live together in relative peace in such a small geographic area.

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

Great nannies, great house, great garden. Everything grows here. Just stick it in the ground, and it grows (literally). It's quite incredible.

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

We've really struggled to find fun things to do outside our home. We make our own fun at home in the yard with the kids and getting together with friends. If you like nature travel, though, and have money to burn, there are lots of opportunities to see big animals. Also, Ugandans are really nice to kids which is a huge plus. I'm not sure how my children are going to react when we go back to the U.S. and everyone ignores them...

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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 handmade jewelry, baskets, and other crafts. Impressive woodwork.

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

Household help is inexpensive and we've had great luck with nannies. Temperature is good year round. Country is beautiful outside of Kampala. We've also been able to save some money but we haven't traveled much. That's the trade-off.

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10. Can you save money?

If you don't travel much and both spouses work, yes. If you want to do several safaris and/or if one spouse doesn't work, probably not.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I wish I had a better sense of how challenging it would be to find things to do and to deal with the daily frustrations of life here--both at work and at home.

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

No. I've learned a great deal and don't regret coming here but I wouldn't do it again and I will be very glad when this tour wraps up.

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

Notions that the Pearl of Africa is idyllic. Winter clothes, sweatshirts. Sense of timeliness.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience, patience, and more patience. Sense of humor. Micromanaging abilities. Malaria medication. Good camera (as mentioned before, there is a great deal of beauty outside Kampala).

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget: Murder and Memory in Uganda (I recommend reading this after you have been here for a few months. The context is important.)

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Kampala, Uganda 10/15/13

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?

Washington DC about 24 hours. You can connect in Brussels, Frankfurt, London, and Amsterdam.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Over a year.

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

Military assignment.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most are single family homes except for a handful of apartments (8?) and those are typically assigned to singles, unless requested otherwise. Commute time can vary drastically from neighborhood to neighborhood. Also, it varies when local schools are in session. Rule: just leave before the locals get on the road.

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

Expensive. COLA has increase -fold since our arrival and it still does not cover the overage. Fuel is approximately US$6.80 per gallon. LOCAL fruits and vegetables are cheap, but it's expensive for imports.

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

With respect to the pouch, anything liquid e.g., desired toiletries, shampoo, deodorant, etc.

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

There will be KFC here in November. Plenty of restaurants to choose from. Prices can vary, but it is what it is.

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

Malaria is the biggest concern here. You will have mosquito nets and the opportunity to take malaria medication. Take it, it works!

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Daily Life:

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

Currently pouch, but DPO "should" be starting soon. Work in progress!

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

Previous Embassy help can be 300,000 to 650,000 ugx. Gardening 200,000 to 400,000 ugx depending on lot size.

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

The Embassy has a poor excuse of a gym. The MSG Det has a small one as well. Typical gyms in the area are expensive up to US$250 per month or US$1,200 a year per person!

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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?

Stanbick ATMs are the only recommended ones. Barclays does have a machine inside the Embassy. It's recommended to carry cash.

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

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

None.

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

Yes. There are no ramps, accessible parking, or elevators.

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Transportation:

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

No. No. No. Bodas are offlimits per RSO.

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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! There are pot holes galore. Uneven roads, spot flooding, and you will need an SUV type if you go on trips! Toyota, Mitsubishi, and then maybe Nissan are recommended. They do have a Jeep dealer and parts are expensive for all types. You can save by shipping the part in yourself. If bringing your own vehicle, it's recommended to bring a clean set of tires. Your vehicle WILL get dinged up in traffic. There is no stopping that.

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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?

IN and Smile are good. Depends on usage. 100,000 to 250,000 ugx.

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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?

Plenty of plans to choose from. Recommend MTN, that is the contract the Embassy has, so MTN to MTN calls are free.

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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. Get with GSO to get permits well prior to arrival. They can be slow. There are a few vets in the area, do your research; some are self-proclaimed vets with no credentials!!!

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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, local law apply so you might work for a lot less than you would want to work for.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Local orphanages, food distribution areas, etc.

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

Shorts and t-shirt.

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Health & Safety:

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

If you follow the RSO's guidelines you should be fine. Lock your car doors when traveling, keep your phone out of sight, 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?

The Embassy nurse if the first stop. After that you MIGHT get medical help outside the Embassy. Most of the time you will get EVACd to Nairobi or Pretoria. Dental work is very good and inexpensive.

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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 for the most part. You will get the occasional burning of trash/yard waste in certain neighborhoods.

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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?

There are but we decided to stick with children's groups and private teachers.

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

Very limited outside of 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?

The expat community is large. A lot of missionaries and traveling missionaries. Morale....?

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

Families yes. For singles, it can be. There is plenty of nightlife and a good singles community.

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

No. Local law states that it is illegal and forbidden.

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

Not so much. Outside of Kampala you can run into your typical tribal disputes.

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

Any "Africrap". Its actually pretty decent. If you want anything made out wood, they will make it.

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

Saving money...no. The safaris are getting more expensive than in recent past. The weather....yes! 68-82F all day everyday. On hotter months it will get to around 85F.

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7. Can you save money?

Hmmmm.....no!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I repeat again, traffic is horrible. Roads were built decades ago and they have not expanded to alleviate the traffic concerns.

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

For sure.

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

Winter gear.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen.

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


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6. Do you have any other comments?

It is what it is.....

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Kampala, Uganda 03/22/13

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?

Washington, DC, to Kampala via Amsterdam is about 22 hrs of travel time.

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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. Embassy and has been living in Kampala for two years, 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?

Large homes and apartments are available. The Tank Hill neighborhood is the closest to the US Embassy, with a commute of about 10 minutes. Traffic here can get pretty crazy, so some of the farther neighborhoods require an hour or more in traffic.

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

Depends on what you are buying. You will find tons of fresh fruits and vegetables cheap at the local markets. There are large western-style grocery stores that have everything you need, but you may pay a premium for it. Good meat is available at decent prices from the grocery store or butcher's shops....or you can get a REAL bargain at the open-air roadside butcher...YIKES! I splurge on imported cheese and occasionally important fruits (grapes and strawberries) but the local fruit (pineapples, mangoes, passion fruit, etc.) is really fantastic.

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

Not much. You can get most stuff here or order it online. Maybe just some of the bigger-ticket items for kids. Although there is a local guy who builds swing sets, clubhouses, etc., and he does a great job.

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

There are a couple local and South African chain fast food places, although I have never tried them. No McDonald's or other American brands to speak of, although there is a rumor of a KFC coming soon. There are MANY restaurants to choose from and all types of food: Italian, Indian, Asian, even a great SUSHI place. That sounds dangerous in a land-locked country, but it is safe and actually quite good. There is every type of food, and prices run the spectrum, but even the most expensive places still don't compare to DC restaurants.We always feel like we are getting a great deal. Dinner for two with apps, alcoholic drinks, dessert, the works will run about $80-$100 at the highest priced places.

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

LOTS of insects. Big ones, too. First, you will always have ants no matter what you do. I've just learned to deal with it. Some houses have roach issues. We have only found a few really big roaches --- a few too many if you ask me. Mosquitoes are an issue, we all sleep under nets and use bug repellent. Most people take an anti-malaria drug of some kind. There are spiders and a variety of other creatures. Honestly, you get used to it.

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Daily Life:

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

US Embassy folks have access to the Diplomatic Pouch. There is also FedEx and DHL, which I have not used, but I imagine they are quite pricey. But at least they are there. There is no residential mail service in Kampala, but there is a post office where you can rent a PO Box.

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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 and inexpensive. Ugandans, in general, are very warm with children, and a nanny is easy to come by. As is a gardener, driver, cook, and housekeeper. We have a housekeeper who doubles as a nanny, and we pay her about $200/mo for full-time work. We also have a gardener we pay about $100/month, also for full-time work.

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

Several of the large hotels have beautiful gym facilities, but you pay big prices for them. The US Embassy has a very basic workout facility, and the American Club has a modest gym. It gets the job done even though the larger gyms are much nicer.

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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 have only used our credit cards occasionally at the larger chains or hotels. Generally speaking this is a cash economy, most places will just get confused if you try to use a credit card, and it will take you forever to get out of there.

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

Yes, most denominations, I believe.

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

Yes. US Embassy employees have access to AFN, although there is also local satellite service (DSTV), which provides a greater variety of channels. Not sure of the price for DSTV.

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

None. That being said, though, there is still a language barrier. Accents, slang, and other factors do impart a certain degree of communication difficulty. Locals are very quick to just nod and say "yes" even though they have no idea what you are talking about. Be sure to speak clearly, and maybe make your point a couple different ways before assuming they understand.

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

MANY. Sidewalks are rare as are elevators. The malls do have ramps, though.

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Transportation:

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

There are a few good taxi services. I would not recommend taking the Matatu vans-- those are van taxis that cram as many people in as possible, and they drive like a bat out of hell. Also, do not take boda bodas: these are motorcycle taxis that have to be one of the most dangerous things you can do while in Kampala. They weave in and out of traffic, and most people don't wear helmets. It is not uncommon to see a family of five on a boda with the toddler up front holding the handle bars and mama on the back cradling an infant...crazy.

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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 was a must for us, although you see lots of sedans here. The road conditions are poor, and if you get stuck in the rain you might be in trouble with a low-clearance vehicle. Toyota (we have an old Land Cruiser Prado) is the easiest to get parts for around here. Don't get anything you won't mind getting dinged a few times. Traffic is crazy and driving is a full contact sport.

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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?

es, there are many different suppliers, and the service is getting better all the time. We pay about $100/mo for wireless service, and I have a back-up plug-in from another carrier just in case.

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

Cell phones are easy to get locally, or you can bring an unlocked phone and pop in a local SIM card. Most phones are used with prepaid minute cards that you can buy anywhere, even roadside at a stop light. Super convenient.

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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?

I believe if you have your paperwork all in order, there is no quarantine necessary.

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

Yes, good quality vets are available and make house calls. There are also several reputable dog trainers for hire who also make house calls. Kennels I don't know about, but you can generally get your household staff to care for your pets if you are out of town, or get a friend to mind them.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

I don't have first hand experience with this, but there are LOTS of NGOs here of all kinds. There are also lots of volunteer opportunities.

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

Business to business-casual at work. Super casual in social settings. Women to tend to dress more conservatively; it is just a conservative society. Perhaps leave your short shorts at home. Otherwise, bring lots of cargo pants, flip flops, and dry fit tops.

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Health & Safety:

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

This is a high-threat post for crime and terrorism. That said, most of the crimes I hear about are crimes of opportunity. Lock your doors, drive with your windows up, use your security system at your house. Most homes and businesses have guards. It took a while to get used to seeing armed guards at the grocery stores, but again, you get used to it. I feel safe here but always keep my sense of awareness and try not to do anything stupid.

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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, Bilharzia (aka Schistosomiasis-- caught from contact with fresh water sources), food-borne illnesses, and a variety of other ailments. Riding on a boda can be really bad for your health. Most major ailments at the US Embassy will get you medevac'd to South Africa. There are two approved hospitals here, and from what we hear there is good care. I have also heard, but not seen for myself, that there is a very good pediatrician in the Bugolobi neighborhood.

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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 not very good. Lots of old diesel vehicles, burning trash, and dirt in the air make it tough. Most of the neighborhoods are built on hills, and the higher up you are, the better your air quality. Unless your neighbor burns trash.

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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?

75-85 degrees year 'round, with beautiful breezes. There are two rainy seasons, and the temps go down a bit then. But you rarely get a full rainy day; the sun almost always shines at least part of 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?

International School of Uganda is the most popular with American expats, although the commute for kids there can be long. KISU (Kampala International School of Uganda) is another option. We have heard good things about both schools. We send our son to preschool at Heritage International School and are very happy there; he only goes for part-time preschool, though. But we have heard good things about the upper grades as well. It is pre-K through grade 12.

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

Most of the large international schools do make accommodations for special-needs kids, but resources can sometimes be limited. Definitely contact the schools well ahead of the move and make sure they are aware of your child's particular situation.

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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 lots of preschool options available from Christian-based programs, general day care. Rainbow School is based on a British curriculum, I believe. Most families also have a nanny for the young ones, and there are plenty of play groups to get involved with.

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

Lots available for kids 4 or over: swimming lessons, swim teams, soccer, gymnastics, dance, and horseback riding lessons for the bigger kids. Most of the international schools have their own sports programs as well.

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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. Expats from everywhere around the world are here. It is very easy to get out meet people and make friends from outside your inner work circle.

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2. Morale among expats:

Depends on who you talk to, but most people like it here. Kampala is not without its challenges and frustrations of daily life, but there is so much to do, and people are so friendly, it is really hard to complain.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Restaurants, bars, clubs, sports, movie theaters, bowling alley, paintball, resorts to hang by the pool and have a weekend 'staycation', just to name a few. Most every restaurant is family friendly, kids are welcome just about anywhere.

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

This is a great city for families. Lots to do to stay occupied, entertainment for the little ones is based on friends and getting together on weekends, birthday parties, etc. For singles and couples there is a lively nightlife here: dance clubs and bars. And great restaurants for all.

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

Homosexuality is technically illegal here. However, there is an active LGBT community here.

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

Not that I have had experience with, but I am sure they exist on some level. White people are referred to as Muzungus everywhere, but it is not meant to be offensive. Religion is about 85% Christian, 12% Muslim, and the rest is a mixture.

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

Visiting the national parks, relaxing poolside at one of several resorts in Kampala, the friends we have made.

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

Going out to eat, getting together with friends, tennis, golf, etc. Hash House Harriers (a running group) is one of the largest in the world. Jinja is about 2 hours from Kampala and has whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, ATV treks, horseback riding...the list goes on.

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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, wood carvings, artwork, jewelry. There is a large market every Friday where you can get great deals on local goods.

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

Beautiful weather year 'round, great restaurants, and fantastic safari options. You are only bored if you want to be!

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11. Can you save money?

Yes. If you don't buy all imported food goods and jet off to Zanzibar every chance you get. (But go at least once!)

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Words of Wisdom:

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

ABSOLUTELY. This has been a wonderful experience for my family. We are going to be sad to leave.

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

winter coat, snow skis, and bad attitude.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience, bathing suit, sunscreen, bug spray, and sense of adventure.

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

Uganda, 6th (Bradt Travel Guide Uganda)

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:


The Last King of Scotland

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This is not hard-living Africa. It is still a third-world country for sure, but there is so much to do here. The people here are kind and a smile goes a long way.

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Kampala, Uganda 09/12/09

Background:

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

No - Nairobi, Lusaka, Hanoi, Cote d'Ivoire

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years - 2007-2009.

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

US Government (USAID).

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

16-20 hours via Amsterdam.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Great housing - large houses, large yards, all in walled compounds with guards. Space is not a problem here. Mostly living in Kololo (recommended), Bugolobi (nice houses, but built on a swamp - mosquito issues), and now, Tank Hill (newer houses).

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

Local food is cheap, and imported food is very expensive. $10 for a block of cheddar cheese. Still, good food is available - Quality Cuts, the Belgian-owned butcher had meats, cheeses, and deli.

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

American comfort foods - mexican food, maple syrup, things in glass jars, since you can't ship them. The climate is so humid, though, that even unopened cereal-based things spoil quickly, so it does not make sense to ship a year's supply of corn flakes or potato chips. Fried snacks are readily available anyway. How did Pringles get so worldwide?

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

The usual South African fast food, like Nandos and Steers, which are ok. Great Indian food at Pavement or Khana Khazana. Great Korean food at Arirang. Good Thai food at Krua Thai. THe upscale hotels have good, but overpriced dining. Brunch at the Serena...

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

Mosquitoes. You definitely need to take precautions not to get bitten -- and sleep under a bednet.

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Daily Life:

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

Local mail is slow and unreliable. If you have pouch, use it. This post does not have APO.

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

Very available but of mixed quality. Best to interview carefully. We found lots of fraudulent references. Anyone needing a job applies to be a housekeeper or nanny or cook. Most need some training particular to your household. Invest the time early on.

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

Kabira club is expensive but good; the embassy has a one-room gym; and the American Club has a small facility.

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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 lots of ATMs and bank choices. Identity theft is a problem, so I usually cashed checks at the embassy, or used a bank-located ATM, and only paid cash for things - never a credit card.

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

Plentiful.

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

Plentiful. Local papers are good for getting to know the local climate and politics, The East African is also available, which is a little better. Newsweek and international papers are harder to come by and older. Get your news online.

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

None. English is the market language. We knew some Swahili but never used it, as it is the language of the military and sometimes has negative connotations.

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

No sidewalks, few elevators, no curb cuts, very few accommodations.

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Transportation:

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

Available - but not safe. Mostly the matatus, and lots of "boda bodas" - motorcycle taxis - a recipe for death or maiming.

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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?

High clearance 4X4. Toyota Prados are the favorite. Even in the city it is good to have 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. It's exhorbitantly expensive, but getting cheaper as competition increases. Still, expect to pay at least $200/month for "high speed." It's reasonably reliable, but nowhere near US standards.

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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?

Everything is done via cell phone. There is now good competition between providers, so costs are coming down.

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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 is a decent - but hands off - vet at the vet school at Makerere Unitversity, and sometimes an expat vet comes along. But for the most part, there's darn little. I don't know of a kennel. Leave your dog or cat with a neighbor or friend.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Not really. You can be taken on by an NGO, but this is still hard. Trailing spouses can't work on the local economy and would need to be brought on as an international hire. The embassy does a good job at trying to create jobs for spouses, but many choose not to work.

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

Conservative, business. Women always wear skirts past the knee. Men wear trousers and dress shirts as the norm. Government employees will wear full suits with jackets and ties, even when it's hot! You need a jacket for government meetings, too.

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Health & Safety:

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

Unhealthy. My whole family, including my 8-month old, got bronchitis in our first week here.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

You should have yellow fever, Hep A and Hep B, tetanus, rabies, and meningitis vaccinations.

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

Much, much safer than its neighbor, Kenya. There is petty crime - things will get stolen if you leave them out, and some theft from homes by staff/guards, but I never heard of really violent crime or felt unsafe here. Home guards are all armed, so when I first arrived and saw truckloads drive through town dropping them off, I thought it was a coup in action!

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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?

We called Uganda "the petri dish" because every disease on the planet seems to be here. Malaria is the worst, but there is also dengue, west nile, schisto, ghiardia, meningitis, ebola, marburg, plague, and the usual intenstinal fauna. Avian flu was on the border with Sudan, so they also are watching for that. It is a daily effort to try to not get sick. There is no potable water - everything needs to be treated, and uncooked vegetables or fruit - even at nice restaurants - is suspect.

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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?

Very temperate - very little change of temperature, variations in rainy or dry seasons - usually pleasant.

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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 didn't have kids there at the time, but I did hear that ISK was good, though teenagers get bored and there was a drinking/drug problem. There is also a French school, a German school, several British schools like Ambrosoli (elementary).

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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 are available; several are very good. Most people have nannies, too. Magic Mornings, Caterpillar...

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

school-sponsored only.

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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. There are lots of embassies, and every NGO or international organization comes to Uganda. Lots of missionaries, too.

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2. Morale among expats:

Generally good. It's a nice, relaxing place to live, though there is burnout after a couple of years. Most people don't stay more than 2-3 years, since there's not much to do. And if you work with the government, the corruption really wears you thin.

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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?

Night life is pitiful. Single friends were definitely bored, and there's not really a good dating scene. Entertaining is usually done at other people's houses or at some of the nice restaurants. The expat community is quite nice, though, so it can keep you going for a few years!

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

For families, yes - only because there are a lot of other families and lots of visiting each other's houses. There are some pools, but they are all COLD, some camping, but it is rustic, and some playgrounds, but they are dirty. You can make do and have fun, somehow. Each family had something special to offer the kids - one had a bouncy castle, one had a pool, one had a good jungle gym, etc. etc. Bring something over with you if you can.

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

No. Society is very homophobic and can't seem to distinguish between homosexuality and pedophilia. Media love to report on "homos" who recruit young boys from schools. It is illegal, and arrests happen and are public. Society is largely conservative Christian -- and even the well-educated can't seem to see beyond a "mortal sin" on this one. Still, there is a small community, and even some activists.

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

Not really. Women are second class, but that's true in most places. Jews are not known here and are seen as a bit of an oddity.

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

Most fun things are a 4-hour drive or more on dangerous highways, but that said - camping in Nabugabo, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for gorilla trekking, Queen Elizabeth Park or Murchison Falls for safari, Nile "float" trips (you will get a "river rash" or bilharzia, though), the sailing club at Kaazi or Entebbe (highly recommended), and for the really sturdy, hiking the Rwenzori.

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

Darned few crafts originate here. You can have mahogany furniture made - very expensive, but nice.

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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?

Probably. But I still would not stay more than 2 years.

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

watch. Everything happens slowly, if at all. Progress is fleeting. Lower your expectations.

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3. But don't forget your:

sense of humor. People are nice, and the experience is more enjoyable if you just take it day to day and enjoy the simple things 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. 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?

Traffic is abominable. Don't think that they are breaking the rules, just think that they are following a different set of rules. Cut corners when you turn. Bodas will squeeze into any inch of available space. Make eye contact and just go when you need to. Try not to hit anything. Corruption is blatant and fed by donor money. You need to approach this place with firm reality and not idealism in mind. Do what you can at the grassroots level.

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