Lusaka, Zambia Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Lusaka, Zambia

Lusaka, Zambia 02/24/18

Background:

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

No, I have previously lived in Seoul and Istanbul.

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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?

Baltimore, MD, USA. There are several routes but we prefer the DC-Addis-Lusaka route on Ethiopian airlines. Other people use South African Airways through Joburg or Emirates through Dubai.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1.5 years.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Large, mostly with pools and fenced yards.

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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 more expensive but a good variety is available at the local supermarkets. If you are with the US mission (and soon EU missions as well) the commissary makes up for most anything you can't find at the grocery. Produce is mostly good but not everything is available year round. There are no meat cold cuts.

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

We ship paper towels because we can't seem to find ones here that don't disintegrate as soon as you touch them.

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

A surprising number! Korean, Thai, Indian, Chinese, brick oven pizza, and a few places that serve nice salads and continental dishes. We miss deli sandwiches and good ice cream.

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

You get used to the bugs. We haven't had any major issues in our house, just a few ants and wall spiders. We also get lizards in the house. Other people have had putsi fly issues. Mosquitos are less common in Lusaka but definitely a concern in the provinces, and malaria is prevalent.

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Daily Life:

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

Local post--no way.

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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 nanny that we pay about $300 a month and she is fabulous. I think that's a pretty standard wage, at least within the US community.

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

The CrossFit gym is very popular and there's also a few other gym facilities. You can find yoga around town a few days a week. Similar to US prices.

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

I've never had trouble with the ATMs. The big supermarkets and some restaurants accept credit cards but there are still a lot of places that take cash only. Any of the safari lodges will take a credit card.

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

Tons. Anything you could want really.

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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. English is widely spoken and the official language.

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

Yes.

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Transportation:

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

Not particularly. Taxis are OK but it's hard to find an official company taxi. I think there are a couple of taxi companies but I have never used them. A lot of people just have the phone number of a guy who has a car.

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

High clearance. Toyotas are easy to get fixed. Don't bring anything fancy.

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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?

Not great internet options- we are lucky enough to be in Kabulonga where there is very expensive fiber optic, which is mostly reliable. We can stream Netflix most of the time. But like I said very expensive. Other parts of town have fewer options. You can get a SIM card and router box from MTN and use that anywhere but the data for that can get expensive 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?

No quarantine. We have a vet that we like at Showgrounds and from what I hear there are a few more. Most of them also board pets inexpensively.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

A lot of people volunteer with women's livelihood groups. The animal shelter in Lusaka also takes volunteers.

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

Zambians dress well. Definitely dress sharp at work, particularly if you work with the Zambian government in any capacity. Field work is obviously going to be much more casual. School teachers are also pretty casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

In my time here we've heard of numerous robberies and a couple of sexual assaults. On the whole it's not common--if you experience anything it will probably be petty theft. Lock your car doors at stoplights and don't leave a purse on the front seat of your car in a mall parking lot. This police do their best but, particularly outside Lusaka, their capacity can be really limited. If you want someone to come out and investigate a robbery you'll probably have to go pick them up in your car.



Our main safety concern is driving after dark so we don't to a ton of it. The roads are narrow and unlit, tons of people are walking on them, other drivers have either no lights or drive around with high beams, and there are a lot of drunk drivers on the road.

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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?

We have medical evacuation for a lot of different things. Generally the med unit or local docs can diagnose and recommend medevac if the care can't be provided locally. Doctors here are good but limited in what they can do with their facilities. For example a hospital may have a CT scanner but not have the fluid required to run the scan. As for major health issues--we take precautions agains malaria, cholera, and other water-borne illnesses.

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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?

Overall the air quality is good, although I've never seen an AQI reading for Lusaka. The problems are localized to trash-burning neighbors. I wouldn't say it's bad enough to affect your health.

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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?

Three seasons: cool dry, hot dry, and rainy season. It doesn't rain from May to October. Not one drop. The hottest season temps are in the 90s and during the coolest months you'll find highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s.

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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 a number of international schools in Lusaka. We don't have school-age kids but my husband works at AISL and has been very happy with it. They have good facilities and lots of extracurriculars.

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

Yes, a lot of our friends' kids are on sports teams or participate in various 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?

There are tons of expats around Lusaka. In the US community morale is very good.

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

Great for families- everywhere you go is designed for kids. Almost every restaurant has a playground. Safari opportunities abound and are usually kid-friendly. The weather is good year round.



Also fine for couples. I'm not as sure about single people but I don't think it's an easy place to meet other singles. That said I do meet a lot of Zambian-foreigner couples so I guess it is possible!

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

Nope. Homosexuality is illegal here. I don't think there have been any instances of Zambia prosecuting foreigners on this, but it's certainly not a welcoming culture for gays. Coming here for a vacation you'd have no problems but long-term it would be very challenging.

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

In general Zambia is welcoming to outsiders, so there are many refugees from the region here in addition to large Indian and Chinese communities, plus people of European descent who often have roots in Zimbabwe or South Africa. I'm clearly a foreigner here but I don't ever feel that I'm being stared at or treated differently (I do spend most of my time in Lusaka). If anything people go out of their way to be respectful and even deferential to foreigners.



As a woman I have never been harassed, although I know it happens occasionally. I don't feel unsafe or uncomfortable going around alone. And although most Zambian families are traditional in structure, in Lusaka many women work in professional jobs and in the government.

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

Safaris, safaris, safaris. And Victoria Falls. South Luangwa is incredible for game drives, as are Lower Zambezi and Kafue. Also loved Liuwa Plains. Zambia is a wildlife lover's dream.

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

The wildebeest migration at Liuwa Plains! Or the bat migration at Kasanka national park!

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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 a ton of shopping but there are nice handicrafts including baskets, masks, etc. Also great for buying "chitenge" fabric.

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

Kid-friendly, relatively safe, great travel opportunities.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely.

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Lusaka, Zambia 11/16/17

Background:

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

No, this is not our first post. We have previously served in Quito, Ecuador, Sofia, Bulgaria, Caracas, Venezuela and Vilnius, Lithuania.

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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?

Our home is Northern Virginia and Denver, Colorado. If you are traveling without pets, the most direct route is through Johannesburg, South Africa (26 hours approximately). Otherwise, with pets, we go through Frankfurt or Dubai which increases the time significantly (+10 hours).

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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?

We have a single family house and it is a bit older but with a huge yard. Most homes are either older and bigger or smaller homes in compounds.

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

As so much is imported from South Africa with high tariffs, groceries can be quite expensive (certainly more expensive than the U.S. with lower quality). Better produce can be found at the smaller markets.

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

I order so much more through Amazon than I have ever done at any other post. As my kids and husband really enjoy cereal, I wished I had shipped more varieties of cereal from Trader Joes, maple syrup and peanut butter (although, I manage to get the syrup and peanut butter through the DPO).

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

Fast food: KFC, Pizza Hut, and some South African chains. There are a few good restaurants here, but nothing really spectacular.

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

Lots of ants, flying termites for the first couple of weeks of the rainy season and 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 and diplomatic pouch through the embassy.

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

Household help is very inexpensive ($1-$2 per hour). We have a gardener, because our yard is the size of a small city park. Everyone is required to have a guard, but the embassy pays for the guards. We have a housekeeper that comes once a week. Quality really varies.

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

The embassy has a very good gym as does the international school. There are others available around town, but I do not know their rates.

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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 safe to use. There are ATM's, and they work most of the time. We usually cash checks at the embassy cashier as it is easiest.

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

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

English is the official language--sort of. English is not most Zambians' first language, so don't assume they understand. Numerous tribal languages spoken here.

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

Absolutely, my husband bikes to work sometimes and it is just miserable. No sidewalks, potholes in the street, etc.

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Transportation:

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

The embassy recommends specific taxis. No trains or trams here and the buses are NOT SAFE.

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

We have a small SUV, but if you are planning to drive out in the bush yourself, a Toyota Prado or something similar is probably best. I have not heard of any burglaries.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes, but internet and wi-fi can be spotty depending on where you live, and it is expensive. Constant power outages mess with the routers.

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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 brought an unlocked iphone, and use the local Zambian provider MTN. It's 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?

There is one very good American veterinarian here and no, there is no quarantine. If you come with pets, you are advised NOT to go through South Africa-weird restrictions.

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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 the school or in the embassy or have their own home businesses.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots and lots.

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

Business.

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Health & Safety:

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

Use common sense--Zambians are pretty polite and mellow people. I don't feel unsafe here at all.

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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?

Hospitals are pretty terrible. Anything mildly serious gets medically evacuated to South Africa. Mostly tummy issues when eating out or not cleaning your produce properly.

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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?

Usually, the "winter" (March-August/July) is my favorite as it is nice and cool in the mornings and evenings and is just a little warm during the day. September - November is hot, dusty and can be miserable for people with migraines/sinuses/respiratory issues. Lots of burning from September-November, then the rains come and they cannot burn anymore and it's a relief.

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

Dust and burning make some days miserable for people, especially in October and November.

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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?

October is the hottest, driest month-Rains usually go from mid-November to March, Coolest months-April-July

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Schools & Children:

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

AISL is the school that most of the embassy kids attend, and it seems to have more at the secondary level. Other embassies sometimes send their kids to ISL (International School Lusaka). My kids have acclimated well, 10 year old and 16 year old (older one is in IB Diploma).



I will say that the IB teachers at the 11th and 12th grade level seem to be really knowledgeable and competent. At the elementary and middle school level, it seems more difficult for the school to meet the needs of the more advanced kids. My younger son was only a little above average in Falls Church City, Virginia but here, he is the youngest the school sometimes seems about a semester behind the U.S.. We haven't been the only parents to experience this. The school has promised they have certain programs for advanced kids, then when they arrive, the school has nothing ready. It's been an ongoing process of staying on top of the school and the teachers. I give my son some extra work outside of school to keep him from getting behind.

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

AISL says they have accomodations but as far as elementary and middle school kids who are a little more advanced, they don't really have anything--no matter what they say.

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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?

Pre-schools are available but I don't have experience with them.

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

Several within the schools.

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Expat Life:

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

Most expatriates are from the UK and South Africa and they seem to run AISL.

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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?

"Braiis" (barbecues), outdoor get-togethers.

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

Some people really like it, because the weather is nice most of the time, the people are very nice and it is quiet. The people who seem to like it most are those that have full time jobs and do trips on their time off. For spouses and older kids, it can be a little too quiet and boring. There is not much to do here, not city to explore, no place to really "walk."

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

Probably not best for LGBT--still a lot of stigma and belief in witchcraft, religious beliefs against LGBT lifestyle.

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

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

We have been bad about exploring Zambia as it is so prohibitively expensive for families (often $1000 or more/night for a family of 4) to safari or anything. We are planning a trip for the spring. We have actually gone to Europe, because it's crazy cheaper then doing things in Zambia. People who have done safaris have loved it.

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

We are not big into camping, but if you are, you might love it here. Lots of campers really love it.

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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 really depends on your preferences: some women here really like the local, chitenge fabric (very colorful but a bit busy for me), lots of carved wood animals, etc... Not really my kind of stuff, but art is always subjective.

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

For 6 months out of the year, the weather is pretty nice without too many bug issues. The people are very polite.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How much I miss having a city to walk in-and how expensive it was to travel within Zambia.

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

No--it's not horrible, it's just not my preference and it's just too boring for me.

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

Expectations of reasonably priced travel throughout Zambia (example: hotel in Munich, Germany for 4 is cheaper than lodge room for one along the Zambezi). Expect to pay $150+/per person per night at almost any place. And make sure you have some hobbies you can do at home--without mine, I would go crazy here.

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4. But don't forget your:

High-clearance vehicle and patience.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

For people who seem to only go to African posts, Zambia seems to be quite a paradise; it's just not mine.

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Lusaka, Zambia 01/04/17

Background:

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

No. I have also lived in Vienna, Austria and Chennai, India.

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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?

St. Petersburg, FL. Trip is about 24 hours, with connections through Atlanta and Johannesburg or 27 hours through DC/NY and Joburg (via Dakar/Accra). There are no direct flights from Zambia to Europe or the States.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3.5 years.

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

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 here is quite nice, but can run the gamut from old and charming to new and a bit sterile. Most residences are standalone with decent-sized yards. Our house is on the older end in Kabulonga with a good-sized yard. Most Embassy housing is near supermarkets, malls, and restaurants, though nearly all of these require a car to access due to poor pedestrian conditions.

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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 is cheap and of good quality, but you have to know where to go to get it. There are a few markets that sell farm-fresh products, along with a couple grocery stores. The higher-end supermarkets cost a bit more, but even with added import costs from SA, often run a little lower than U.S. prices, given the Rand's continued poor performance. Actual American products are often expensive, as are sports equipment, building supplies, and finished/tech products.

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

Between the commissary, DPO, and local market, we haven't really needed much else.

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

Indian restaurants are very good here and there are quite a number of them, including in the areas in which Embassy families reside. Chinese, Korean, and Thai restaurants also exist, but are of varying quality. There are a few continental places, as well, but they tend to be pretty pricey. Service can be slow and inefficient, but the food is generally good.

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

Bugs are everywhere, but usually not a problem! Ants will come marching in during cold season. Mosquitoes and flies are annoying during the rainy season, so make sure to use that bed net and wear repellent. Big wall crab spiders (called "flatties," here) can be jarring but are harmless. Roaches will show up in rainy season, but can be managed. Six-inch centipedes (called chongololos and kind of cute), crickets, mole crickets, toe-pinchers, locusts, and other small insects will wander or fly into your house from time to time, but aren't issues.



We've also had a dog, a cat, several birds, lizards, and a very small snake in our house, but they disappeared quickly when our dog saw them. Termites show up during the first rains and can be quite beautiful flying around in twilight, as long as you keep your screens shut!

Snakes can be a problem, so make sure your gardener knows how to identify and deal with the bad ones (mambas, puff adders, boomslang, and cobras). Owls are also good to have around to control snakes and rodents, but they come and go as they please. There are fantastic birds in Lusaka, so keep an eye out for colorful fly-catchers, rollers, kingfishers, widowbirds, cordon bleu, red bishops, turacos, peacocks, hornbills, raptors, and more!

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Daily Life:

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

Almost always through DPO. Local post is unreliable and slow.

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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. Housekeepers, nannies, and gardeners tend to be professional and hard-working, though there are a few bad eggs here and there. It helps to set priorities early on and to suggest work improvements throughout. Salaries are quite low (around $100-$150/month). Add-ons like transport, meal supplements, and even school fees bring the price up, but still keep help very affordable. Being compassionate and engaged with household staff greatly improves communication and quality of work.

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

The (free) NEC has a small gym with cardio equipment, weights, machines, and yoga materials. CDC has a very small gym. There are local gyms - including at least one cross-fit studio - but they are on the expensive end, locally. A few folks run, as well (CLO has more information about that, as it's rewarding, but requires caution).

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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?

Increasingly so. Some credits American cards, however, only work on certain bank machines (Barclays and StandChart, not Zanaco). Many restaurants and stores have card readers, but power outages can knock out the network frequently, so having cash is never a bad idea. ATMs are accessible, but often run out of money. They can also charge large fees, especially when coupled with your own bank's FTFs. Avoid using ATMs at night, as petty criminals can stake them out. The Embassy has a CitiBank cashier, at which official Americans may withdraw kwacha or dollars.

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

Zambia is predominately Christian, so there are innumerable churches around town. Some Americans frequent South City Church in Roma (nondemoninational protestant), Abundant Life Church in Kabulonga (same), St. Columba's in Long Acres (UCZ, similar to PCA), St. Ignatius (Catholic), or the Cathedral of the Holy Cross (Anglican). Zambian churches tend to hold very long services, but some Americans - including missionaries - attend these, as well. There are very small Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, and other denominations, but I'm not aware of Mission folks attending them.



There are a handful of Hindu temples and an increasing number of mosques around town, as well. The Baha'i community is rather large. There is an LDS community here, but no temple. The local Jewish community is miniscule; a rabbi travels up from SA for high holy days.

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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?

Almost none. A few words in Bemba, Nyanja, or Tonga can help to show respect (though you should know when to use which). There are local language teachers; I'm not sure how expensive they are.

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

In many ways, yes. There are precious few sidewalks and drivers have very little regard for people with disabilities in parking lots or on the road. Some buildings are constructing ramps and an increasing number of companies (like Pick n Pay) go out of their way to employee deaf, mute, or learning disabled persons.

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Transportation:

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

Buses are very unsafe. Trains barely operate. Taxis are OK, as long as they're official and trusted. Some Americans contract with local drivers, but they can be unreliable, though their rates are usually reasonable.

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

A high-clearance SUV is a must for traveling outside Lusaka, where roads can be particularly bad. We have a Honda CR-V and a Corolla, the latter of which is adequate for jetting around Lusaka. Please speak with the RSO about vehicle and other crime, which exists at somewhat high levels and can affect foreigners. The vast majority of Mission Americans, however, have avoided issues by using common sense defensive driving techniques and avoiding night driving outside town and late at night within Lusaka.

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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 relative term. You can get 20-40 GB packages with decent download and streaming speeds for $60-$100/month, depending on your usage. Zamtel has the best rates, but is fraught with service issues. MTN and Airtel tend to have better reputations. There are small providers, as well, but they can be more expensive and harder to access support.

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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?

The Embassy has issued us BBs/iPhones, which work pretty well on MTN. You can also purchase a local SIM easily and top off "air time" as you go, including from vendors on most busy street corners.

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Pets:

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

There are a few, including one foreign vet at Showgrounds, one in Kabulonga, and one out on Leopard's Hill Road, all near various housing areas. No quarantine. GSO Shipping/Customs is great with importing pets.



Keep in mind Zambians are often skittish around dogs, so never take them off leash. Drivers can also be reckless. It's not worth it.

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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?

The Embassy has quite a few jobs for EFMs, including several in USAID, PEPFAR, P/E, PAS, Consular, MGMT, and elsewhere. Local employment can be spotty, with most spouses working for international schools or NGOs. My spouse worked full-time at an international school (not AISL). Pay wasn't great, but the experience was good.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots, especially through church groups and NGOs like Habitat. CLO will have better information on how to get involved, if desired.

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

Zambians tend to dress up a bit, even in hot or rainy weather. Men often wear suits and women dresses and heels. Formal dress is a good idea for the USMC ball and a smattering of other events, but business usually does the trick.

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Health & Safety:

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

You should approach RSO about this. Lusaka has a high crime rate, though most of these incidents affect people outside the American community. That said, there have been home invasions, robberies, assaults, and other issues in recent years.



Car accidents are a major concern, as well. Zambian drivers can be poorly trained and make confusing traffic decisions, so you need to keep your wits about you at all times. Especially after dark and on weekends, drunk drivers are a constant and dangerous issue.

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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?

You should always wash your food in DI water and some sort of solvent (we use vinegar, others bleach). Airborne issues are common, given the poor air quality during the dry season, as are stomach bugs. Malaria is a big concern outside Lusaka (and recently within it, though on a very limited basis). The Health Unit stocks prophylaxis and can advise on medical care. Urgent care facilities are very poor; most people are medevaced to SA for serious 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?

During the rainy season, it's usually pretty good, with the wind and rain sweeping pollutants out of the air from November to March/April. Dry season can bring up lots of dust and swirl around smoke from persistent trash-burning, causing respiratory problems for some folks. Outside Lusaka, there are few issues.

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

Not sure. Please check with the Health Unit, if you're a Mission American.

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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)?

SAD is not an issue here - there's lots of sun, even during rainy season! Folks stay fit, by and large, and have an easy time getting around town (with some precautions), visiting each other, and attending other events.

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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?

No extremes in Zambian weather! Temps are usually 60-75F during the day and 40-55F at night May through early August (cold season); 85-95F during the day and 65-75F at night late August through early November (hot/dry season); and 70-85F during the day and 60-65 at night mid-November through April (rainy season). As you might have guessed, it rains during rainy season, but usually only a few downpours a day, punctuated by sun. There can be more severe thunderstorms during late rainy season (Jan-April). It rarely rains outside the rainy season.

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Schools & Children:

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

AISL is where nearly all American kids attend. ISL is decent, but much better for elementary school children (the secondary school is not as well-managed). LICS is very small. Baobab and Banani have decent reputations, but are pretty far out of town, on the southern and northern outskirts of Lusaka, respectively. There are tiny Swedish, Italian, French, and Chinese schools, too, but they tend to cater to mostly language study.

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

AISL has some accommodations; others are inadequate.

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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 - many Mission folks like Casa gli Bambini - and they are not very expensive, as I understand it. Don't know about before/after-school care.

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

Cross-fit is growing here. There are local soccer, running, rugby, and a few other sports clubs. Tennis lessons are pretty easy to find. AISL is usually the locus for kids' sporting 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?

It's decent, maybe a few thousand in Lusaka. The Chinese, Indian, and Lebanese communities tend to keep to themselves. Western expats are pretty well mixed; there are somewhat frequent food-focused events around town. Music and dance are very rare (though Zimbabwe has a great annual festival, HIFA).

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

There are a few expat groups (Expat Zambia among them) that plan and coordinate events on Facebook. Waterfalls holds night markets from time to time, as does Sugarbush Restaurant. It's best to combine these with your own social interactions, though, as they're not super common. A market at the Dutch Reformed Church in Kabulonga attracts lots of expats, but it's dwindled in popularity since our arrival in 2013 (when it was kind of the only game in town).

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

Lusaka is tough on singles looking for relationships, I understand, but not bad outside that rubric. Couples and singles mix often in social gatherings. Families very much stick to other families, especially on American compounds and surrounding AISL events.

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

Absolutely not. Consensual same sex sexual activity is illegal in Zambia and non-cis/heteronormative gender identity or sexual orientation are highly stigmatized, sometimes violently so. While LGBTI Americans - including some families - have served here, they have to be discreet.There are local LGBTI support groups, but they keep a very low profile.

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

Zambians are generally very welcoming to foreigners and people of different religions and ethnicities (though, as mentioned above, they can be extremely hostile to LGBTI persons). Gender equality remains a hot-button issue for the Mission, Zambian government, and civil society. Gender-based violence - most often domestic - is unfortunately common.

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

The weather is fantastic; people are warm and willing to talk; trips for safari viewing (though expensive) are can't-miss experiences.

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

Spending time in safari parks or nearby areas at different seasons offers new perspectives on each visit. I'd recommend seeing Vic Falls during both the rainy and dry seasons - totally different experiences. Zambia has some fall and spring colors, so areas along the Zambezi escarpment can be quite picturesque. There is a chimp park near Solwezi that lots of people really like. Mutondo Wilderness and Shiwa'ngadu hot springs in Muchinga Province are neat (featuring some neolithic drawings, too). Bird watching is fantastic, all over the country. If you can make it, tribal ceremonies like the Nc'wala in Eastern Province and Kuomboka and Western are sights in and of themselves.



There's Japanese sushi rice growing wild in Western Province, mangoes everywhere. Avocadoes are plentiful, cheap, and good in rainy season. Central/Northern Province have huge, tasty mushrooms during certain times of the year, too. If you're adventurous, you can also try finkubala (mopani worms) or inswa (termites), when they're available!

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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 some general African crafts available, but unfortunately many are imported from DRC, Tanzania, and Zim. Local artists, however, have reformed some of these products - like colorful chitenge cloth - into fun new styles and are worth supporting. Masks are everywhere, but of dubious provenance. Cool if you like them, but don't expect anything unique or old.



You must bargain for some things, but don't be too stingy!

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

Weather, closeness of the community, and bird-watching.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That I needed sweaters for cold season!

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

Yep!

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

Rigidity with time. Just be a bit flexible and kind to people and you'll have a great time. Zambians will feel disrespected if you're too demanding, though they likely won't tell you that.

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

There is precious little written on Zambia. Check out The Africa House by Christina Lamb for something set in (but not about) Zambia. Maybe avoid Louise Linton's memoir, as it really gets a lot of facts and atmospherics about Zambia wrong (and Zambians really resented the book).

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Lusaka, Zambia 06/08/16

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?

Orlando, Florida. It takes about 21 hours from Orlando through Dubai to Lusaka.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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

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?

Large and very modern. The layout is perfect with large bathrooms and kitchen. It is in a prime location in the Kabulonga area, close to supermarkets, schools, and work.

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

Groceries can be pretty expensive, and what you want is not always available when you want it. For instance, cream cheese is easy to find sometimes, and then it disappears for months. Our supermarket has quite a lot of items, so there is always a substitute. But it might taste a little different since they are mostly South African brands and are made differently.

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

Nothing really, I've been able to get almost everything I've needed and can order from the States when necessary. Packages come rather quickly to the DPO.

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

There are lots of restaurants here, and although they are slow, there is delivery. There's a Pizza Hut, a Hungry Lion (something like KFC), there's a real KFC, Fishaways (something like Captain D's), Nando's (similar to Boston Market), and plenty of nice sit-down restaurants to choose from. Loads of steakhouses, Chinese, and Italian options, too. There's even sushi. And the coffee here is amazing. Practically every store has a cappuccino machine. The hotels also serve breakfast and dinner --- a little pricey, but really nice ambiance, and the food is good.

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

Ants, ants everywhere, especially when it starts to get cold.

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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 mail at the Embassy. The local staff have expressed their frustration with the post office here. Everything mysteriously "disappears" if they attempt to use it. There are some companies that people can ship through, but there is a fee for that.

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

Help here is cheap. A live-in maid may be anywhere from 1000 - 1500 kwacha ($100 - $150) monthly. Live-out help may be about $150 to $250 monthly, and you are expected to pay transport. Transport is about 60 kwacha ($6) a month, but some people will try to claim it's more. It's not a requirement, though, so it doesn't have to be offered. Some people pay school fees (or a portion of it) for staff with receipts. Help is mediocre at best. Zambians do not like confrontation, so they will say they understand your requests when they don't, and do the wrong thing, which is frustrating. Also, do not assume that they know how to do something. You must be specific. Their living conditions are different from ours, so what might be obvious to you is foreign to them.

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

There is a nice gym at the Embassy. It's small but adequate. There are also other gyms around town that are bigger but I understand they are expensive. Some hotels offer the use of their gyms for a fee, and those seem to be a little cheaper.

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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 use my credit cards at the supermarket and at restaurants without any trouble. There are quite a few ATMs around town, too, but I don't use them. I withdraw money at the Embassy.

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

Zambia is English-speaking, so there are plenty of religious services and churches around. It is heavily Roman Catholic, but I've also seen Apostolic, Jehovah's Witness, and Muslim places to worship.

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

None, but it wouldn't hurt to learn the common greetings.

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Transportation:

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

DO NOT TAKE THE BUSES - EVER. Taxis are okay, and the Embassy has a list of safe ones to use.

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

A high-clearance vehicle is best, but you can get around with a small car. I drive a Corolla. Most of the roads are paved. Some dirt roads might be an issue when it rains.

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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 it is expensive and unreliable. It is pretty much guaranteed to be out on the weekends and at night, when everyone is at home and using it. Frustrating for sure.

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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?

Whatever you do, don't get Zamtel; you will lose money and never get the full amount of time that you bought. There is also MTN and Airtel. Right now MTN seems to be working pretty well.

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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 Embassy spouses are able to get work at the Embassy or at the international schools. I have no knowledge of the local salary scale.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots of them, and the CLO has info on that. Zambia is beefing up its fight against gender-based violence, and as a result there are lots of opportunities to work within the local economy.

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

Definitely business casual. Formal dress is only required at the ball or if there is a high-level visitor

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Health & Safety:

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

Pickpocketing and breaking into cars seem to be the main things here, so use common sense and you should be fine.

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

Medical care is not so great. Lusaka was considered malaria-free for a while but not any more. It's rare, but you can get it. Stomach bugs are common, especially for those just arriving.

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

The air quality is pretty bad. Folks burn trash all day long, and the dust from the dirt roads is horrible. If you're a walker or runner, you will be affected more.

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

Bring your zyrtec/benadryl/claritin or whatever you use, because you will certainly need it.

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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)?

Haven't seen any. The weather here is divine - which really helps your mood.

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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?

Hot during the summer and chilly at night during the African winter (June through September).

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Schools & Children:

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

AISL is the most popular. There is also ISL and LICS. My kids attend AISL, and the jury is still out on the level of learning that goes on. That school eems more geared to playing and building friendships.

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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 lots of pre-schools and day-cares around. Cost can run around K4000 ($400) per term. Not bad at all.

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

Yes. There is swimming at the Italian school, tennis at the sports center, soccer, horseback riding. You name, it it's here.

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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 the morale is pretty good and the community is pretty large. Zambia is "Africa light", so there's not much to hate.

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

There are lots of running clubs and quiz nights. Get to know the local staff. They will take you to kitchen parties, Zambian weddings, Chizelas (be prepared for that one), etc.

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

It is probably better for families. It might be boring for singles.

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

Homosexuality is illegal in Zambia, but the folks I know of who are posted here do not seem to have a problem.

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

Gender equality is a concern, but Zambia is moving to correct that. Which is more than can be said for some other countries.

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

The weather and the people. Both are awesome and can't be beat.

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

Game drives.

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

Some crafts at the market are nice, but if you've seen one you've seen them all.

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

You can find almost anything you want, and it is easy to get around.

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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 known that I would be able to find some of my favorite things here, so there was no need to stock up like a mad woman.

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

Absolutely! In a heart beat.

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

Expectations of exceptional customer service or efficiency. Also, your need to hurry. It will just frustrate you.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and sunglasses.

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Lusaka, Zambia 05/17/16

Background:

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

Paris, France; Chennai, India.

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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. No direct flights, connections in Amsterdam, Dubai, or Johannesburg. The Johannesburg route is faster but the flight from the U.S. is long. Expect the trip to take 18-26 hours.

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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.)?

Spouse of U.S. government employee.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most of the housing is on the side of town near the embassy and the American International School. Houses are either stand-alone with their own walled-in gardens or on small compounds with shared grounds. I believe that all current properties come with some private garden space. Commute times to the embassy range from walking distance to 20 minutes by car.

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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 is good and cheap. Everything else is imported from South Africa and the cost varies based on the exchange rate. Most things are available, except black beans, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes.

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

Since we have DPO and many items available in the commissary or on the local market, I can't think of anything other than certain kinds of produce we can't get.

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

Pizza Hut, KFC, Nandos Peri-Peri. There are also quite a few good Indian and Chinese restaurants in town given the sizes of those two expatriate communities. You can also find good Ethiopian and Thai. Prices are comparable with those of similar restaurants in the U.S. If you want local food, it will be steak with nshima (similar to thick grits) or grilled chicken.

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

Mosquitoes are prevalent but many only take anti-malarial drugs when traveling outside of the city. Otherwise, ants and cockroaches can pop up at certain times of the year.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic Post Office (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?

Widely available and fairly cheap. Full-time housekeepers and gardeners charge anywhere from $150-250 per month.

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

Gyms are available (not sure of the cost) as well as tennis and golf clubs. The embassy has a very nice gym that is free to use if you are affiliated with the U.S. mission.

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

ATMs often run out of money but are typically safe to use. Some of the larger grocery stores and restaurants accept credit cards, but Lusaka is a mostly cash-based economy.

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

Several Christian denominations and community churches, but there are not many options for more progressive Christians.

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

None, but a couple of words in either Bemba or Nyanja will get you smiles.

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

Definitely. There are few sidewalks and even fewer ramps in the city.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are available and safe as long as you have the number for a reliable driver. I would not trust any other form of local transportation as minibus drivers are reckless and often drunk.

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

Small SUVs tend to be the best due to poor roads, especially if you plan to self-drive in the national parks. There also many tall speed bumps around town, so anything with a low clearance might have difficulties. That being said, try to avoid large SUVs because parking spots are tight.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Available but expensive: $100-$200 per month.

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

Bring an unlocked phone and you will have several options for pay-as-you-go or monthly plans.

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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 for pets but make sure you have all of your documents in order before you arrive. Customs officials do not shy away from euthanizing pets that are not properly cleared in advance. There are several good veterinarians in town and they offer kennel services at a very reasonable rate. Also, if you have any household staff you trust, they will often be happy to pet-sit while you are away.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

There are good opportunities in public health, NGOs, and education. Other than that, many people telecommute.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many: wildlife, children's services, health, teaching.

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

Dress in Lusaka is fairly conservative, with women tending not to wear skirts or shorts above the knee. In general, Zambians dress more formally than Americans so you will see many people in suits or business casual attire out and about.

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Health & Safety:

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

Lusaka is rated as having a high threat of crime, which seems hard to believe when you are out during the day. That being said, it has this rating for a reason. Apart from petty crime, burglaries are on the rise, and there have been several instances of violent crime targeting expats. If you take the same sorts of precautions you would in Washington, D.C., you should be just fine. Lock your car doors and use your alarm system.

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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 health care available in the country is consistently bad. Even at the expensive hospitals, patients are not satisfied that they are receiving correct diagnoses. Anything more than routine care requires a medical evacuation to Pretoria. That being said, the embassy has an excellent health unit that helps staff and their families navigate the system.

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

The air quality is good during the rainy season but can be quite dusty during the dry season. The air can also get smoky when the temperature dips below the 60s as local people burn garbage.

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

Some seasonal allergies when the trees bloom. Otherwise, nothing of note.

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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 climate is fairly temperate ranging from 40s-70s F during the Northern Hemisphere summer and 60-90s during the rest 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?

There are several international schools in town, but most embassy families send their children to the American International School of Lusaka. The school has a close-knit community and nice facilities. I have worked there as a substitute teacher as well as at the International School of Lusaka as a middle and high school teacher. While ISL has a great primary school, I wouldn't recommend it for secondary students as there is high turnover among the upper-level teachers. It is just difficult to predict what the quality of teaching will be like from year to year.

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

There are options for learning support at the international schools, but not for any severe learning disabilities. Kids with physical disabilities will have difficulty getting around given the layout of the campuses.

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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?

Some preschools are available but I am not sure of the cost. Many people also employ nannies to help with child care.

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

Soccer, swimming, horseback riding, basketball, volleyball.

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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 expatriate community seems fairly large; we have been here for three years and are still amazed at how many people we don't recognize at big expatriate events. Morale greatly depends on your flexibility and how well you can entertain yourself. Some people really like it here (we extended for a fourth year) while others can't stand it!

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

Going out to dinner, "night markets" with local food vendors, cook-outs, travel.

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

Good for anyone who enjoys the outdoors and doesn't mind making their own fun. Families and couples seem to have a better time than singles, but there are communities for everyone. The options for nightlife are quite limited but seem to be increasing.

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

No. Zambians tend to be very homophobic and will openly express their prejudice without a second thought. People suspected of homosexual acts continue to be jailed and put on trial. This would be a very difficult place to be "out."

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

Zambia calls itself a Christian country but there are also sizable portions of the population who are Muslim or Hindu. I have not witnessed any religious prejudice but have a sense it might be lurking just beneath the surface. While there is not overt gender prejudice, many Zambians (and Southern Africans in general) tend to default to traditional gender roles. For example, in a staff meeting, I was told that the department was happy to have a woman on the team to make the tea...

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

Visiting the elephant orphanage, walking with cheetahs, fishing on Lake Kariba, game drives in South Luangwa National Park (and having a whole pride of lions walk right through camp), visiting Victoria Falls.

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

Lilayi Lodge just outside of town offers an excellent restaurant with special events during which they bring winemakers up from South Africa. They also boast an elephant orphanage and low-key, predator-free game drives and walks.

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

Mud cloths, baskets, "chitenge" fabric, and other local curios.

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

The weather is nice most of the year, with one rainy season lasting from November/December to April. The rainy season is not like a monsoon, but more like Florida thunderstorms that roll in every afternoon for an hour or two. Another advantage is qualifying for the local rates at safari lodges and in national parks. This can make the occasional safari affordable enough for families. The housing is also a nice advantage: mostly stand-alone homes with pools.

Avocados everywhere! We even have two trees in our yard.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, as long as you take advantage of local rates when you travel and don't buy too many imported products.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How expensive it would be to travel within the region. Plane tickets to any of the neighboring countries will cost at least $500-900.

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

In a heartbeat!

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

Expectations of traffic laws: two people in a row will always go at the stop sign and after 6 PM a sizable number of drivers will be intoxicated.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience: people here are usually friendly and always want to know how you are doing before getting down to business.

Mosquito repellent and camping gear. (If that's your thing; if not, bring extra money to go "glamping" at game lodges!)

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

Unfortunately, there aren't too many books written about Zambia. "Don't Let Us Go to the Dogs Tonight" by Alexandra Fuller is a compelling read but takes place several decades ago.

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Lusaka, Zambia 03/03/15

Background:

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

Seventh expat experience. Lived in Europe, Middle East, far East, Africa, Indian sub-continent...but never in Central or South America.

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

East coast. Most people either fly to/through South Africa and onward to Europe and then to the U.S. or to/through South Africa (Jo'burg) on a non-stop to Atlanta, which is one of the longest flights around. It's a brutal 16 hours and 55 minutes, but it does get you to the U.S. earlier by a few hours. It's a toss-up as to which is the less uncomfortable route and everyone has an opinion. Either way, it will be well over 24 hours, easy.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is less than ideal. Many homes are somewhat dilapidated and old-fashioned and more than a few are small and most are dark. Nicer more modern housing is on some of the compounds, but they tend to have smaller yards and little privacy. As the weather is so nice much of the time having outdoor space is really a good thing. The housing isn't terrible, but it isn't great either. You'll be happy enough as long as you don't have too high of expectations for your housing.

Also the roads are getting busier by the month and as there are no sidewalks you will be sharing that very narrow road with pedestrians, bicycles, mini-busses, school kids and slow moving trucks by the thousands....it can be quite scary at times, trying to avoid them all. For embassy people the commute isn't too bad as you will be going the opposite way of most traffic in the mornings and evenings. Driving through downtown, though, is typically slow and should be taken into consideration when planning to go south or west of Lusaka. It's worth it to leave before 6:00am to avoid the traffic if you are able to.

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

I think groceries and supplies are expensive, but at least everything is available and of decent quality.

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

Pizza Hut just opened! Every other pizza place in town is wood-fired thin crust or very mediocre South African chains so this is kind of a big deal. Subway is here too, although I have never been. There are also other South African fast food joints: Wimpy, Nandos, Fishaways, etc., and several independent restaurants of every variety. The restaurant options are many but only a few are standouts. There are excellent Indian and Thai restaurants, some really good steak places, a fusion/fresh/organic restaurant that's good (but lacking in ambience) and a few other restaurants that are a notch above good but Lusaka is not a town for great dining.

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

In Lusaka there isn't malaria, but outside of Lusaka (where all the activities are) there is malaria so prophylaxis is recommended when traveling. Also, the tse-tse flies can be really really awful in some parks. If you are not familiar with tse-tses, they are similar to horseflies in that they bite. But somehow the bites seem much more painful. Many people have distinct reactions (swelling, itching, pain, oozing) that can be quite dramatic. Tse-tses can carry sleeping sickness, although that seems very uncommon. Also, they are practically impossible to kill or repel. You may find very large cockroaches, ants, flatties (flat spiders) and various other insects in your house--and skinks and geckos trying to solve that problem for you too.

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Daily Life:

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

Most people have at least part-time domestic help and many have full-time help, especially if childcare is a factor. Not so many people have cooks, but gardeners are needed, either full-time, if you have a big yard, or part-time if you are on a compound/sharing.
Domestic help and gardeners are inexpensive in Lusaka.

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

I can't say, I haven't used them. I have heard (and seen) that the ATMs can misbehave by not giving you either your card back or money.

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

None. You will seldom come across a person who doesn't speak English and you never will in shops/business.

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

Yes. No sidewalks, few handicapped parking spaces, many steps and few ramps. Difficult or impossible access to many buildings and businesses for those who are physically challenged.

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Transportation:

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

None of those are recommended or safe.

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

Any type of vehicle will work in Lusaka despite potholes and speed bumps, but if you plan on going out of town many roads are dirt and especially during the rainy season more difficult to navigate.

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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 theoretically available although most people have at least occasional issues if not outage, sometimes for weeks. It is not inexpensive, but I don't know the amount/month.

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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?

Work permits are necessary and obtainable. Pay is not commesurate with pay in the US. I know of expats locally hired with NGOs and schools, but not in local businesses.

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

At work business casual is the norm. Zambians tend to dress nicely all the time, but are perfectly accepting of even the most casual of outfits. When out in the bush or visiting South Africa you may still see men wearing short-shorts. This is probably not a style you will want to adopt.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is a problem and care should be used in locking up, using your alarm, being aware of your surroundings. For the most part, crime seems to be non-violent, but not always. Carjacking does happen and you should drive with windows up and doors locked. Having said all that, we feel safe here and haven't experienced any serious problems.

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

Local medical care is not up to western standards.

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

The air quality is good for the most part. But during the dry season people burn grasses, yard debris and fields to promote new growth and the smoldering of whatever is buring can be pretty unpleasant and lingering.

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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?

Really nice weather. Lusaka is fairly high at 4,200 ft. so it doesn't get too awfully hot. Winter weather never gets to the freezing point or even near to frost. The rainy season lasts from November to March, but it seldom rains too intensely and generally not daily. Most days are really nice and weather seldom is a factor to consider when making plans. Travel outside of Lusaka will typically be to lower lying areas though, and it will be significantly hotter.

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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 with most people probably with NGOs, schools, and other non-governmental agencies. Morale is excellent, especially for those who love their job or love getting out in the bush/travel. But even the people who don't find safaris/travel particularly interesting seem to like Lusaka because it really is easy to live here.

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

Having people over or going to friends' houses for a braii (outdoor grilling), movies, school oriented events. Some families/friends travel together. There is the Hash House Harriers club, a group that bicycles, a walking club, dog-training club, polocrosse and riding, etc. etc. Lots of clubs for lots of interests.

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

Lusaka is a very quiet town and there is not a lot to do. There are many restaurants, but only a handful that are really good, and there are malls and other shopping but generally speaking it can be kind of boring if you don't like barbeques and hanging with friends. Having said that, I think the city is equally good for all. If you have a particular interest you will probably find a club or individual who shares it. Lusaka is a quiet but pleasant place to live.

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

Not that I have seen. Zambians seem to have fewer issues than many when it comes to race. There is a Christian majority here but all religions seem to be well accepted.

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

Definitely camping. It is impossible to explain just how wonderful it is to be at a campfire listening to hyenas whooping and hearing hippos tearing at the grass just outside of the glow from your fire. Or how amazing it is to quietly move to your vehicle or tent as elephants decide to make your campsite home for a while. It's weird to realize you are more comfortable hearing lions at night than silence---because at least you can judge that they are probably distant enough if you 'must' leave your tent for a potty run. Sometimes it is both exhilarating and terrifying to camp in the bush, especially when we are often the only people around for miles and miles. It is an unforgettable experience and I doubt I will ever, anywhere, enjoy camping so much as I have in Zambia. Do consider it while you are here, even if you have never camped before.

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

One must travel outside of Lusaka to do most of the "fun" things. Livingstone, where Victoria Falls is, has an endless amount of adrenaline and other activities such as bungee jumping, white water rafting, the gorge swing, helicopter and microlight rides, walking with cheetah, etc. etc. but Livingstone is a 6-7 hour drive or a plane flight away so I am not sure you can count it as being in the area. Going to the game (National) parks is an absolute must and you should go as frequently as possible if you find you love it, but prices are spectacularly high. Camping, as mentioned above, will allow you to get out more frequently without going bankrupt. And although scary and actually dangerous too I do recommend a canoe safari of at least two days' length. Tigerfishing is a big deal here too, on the Zambezi and also on Lake Kariba.

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

African handicrafts of all types, although I believe much of it actually isn't local at all but instead brought in from several other countries.

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

The Victoria Falls. South Luangwa, North Luangwa and the Lower Zambezi National Parks for safaris, the gorgeous peaceful rivers (the Zambezi and Kafue) which compel you to fish, canoe and go on sunset cruises. Camping in the national parks with nothing but nylon between you and all those loud and more-terrifying-at-night animals. How incredibly beautiful the natural world is in Zambia and how you can feel like you are the only person for miles around when you are out in the bush. Zambia doesn't have the safari destination name some other African countries do but that doesn't mean you will have a lesser experience. In fact, the lack of crowds and the intimate bush lodges will spoil you for anything else. Lots of people travel to Zanzibar, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and other "regional" cool vacation spots.

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9. Can you save money?

Probably, if you never leave Lusaka.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely and with no hesitation.

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

Hopes for a big city nightlife or intensely exotic cultural expereince.

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3. But don't forget your:

Travel guide and desire to explore this still uncrowded and unspoiled part of Africa. Willingness to stay in lodges that don't have electricity or cell phone reception (but that still manage to pamper you completely).

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Lusaka, Zambia 08/22/14

Background:

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

No, Caribbean and 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 - 20 hours with a stopover in London, Amsterdam, or South Africa.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Single family homes that are gates and maybe 7-15 minutes away. A few compounds - at least one seems to have no yard privacy and another does.

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

Availability of groceries is relatively good - but pricey. US$4-$5 for a can of tuna, US$2-$2.50 for fetuccine, US$15 for a bottle of extra virgin olive oil. If a part a of the American community, you can buy from the commissary but that is expensive too for many things and there is mostly a stock of canned and boxed "staples."

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

Olive oil, soy sauce, nut butters.

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

South African Fast food chains, a KFC, Subway. There are some okay restaurants - not a single spectacular one and prices can range from US$4 for a chicken schwarma to US$7 for fish and chips to US$20 for trout and couscous.

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

Cockroaches, ants, mosquitoes outside of Lusaka - the real risk for malaria is outside of the capital.

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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.

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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 is about US$200/month if they are experienced with American families.

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

Yes - cost varies and there is even a Cross-fit group and a former Olympian that runs multi-week boot camps.

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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 have not had an issue using my credit card in the grocery store or restaurants although I prefer to use cash. MasterCard is not easy to use in ATMs

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

Tons - Pentecostal, Baptist, Catholic, Ba'hai(sp?), even Buddhist.

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

None but people appreciate it when you can greet in local languages. English is the official language.

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

Um yes - there are no sidewalks.

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Transportation:

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

Not safe and not affordable. If using a reliable taxi driver I think the price is about US$10 each way.

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

Any type although most people have SUVs.

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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?

Not high speed and about US$80/month.

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

MTN, Zamtel, or Airtel are fine.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

No.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Tons - especially with HIV affected people.

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

At work - business casual to business and in public - casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not really although there have been reports of carjackings and thefts from homes - not the violent crime you hear about in Nairobi or Johannesburg.

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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?

Quality of medical care is low.

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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 dry and dusty - it bothers some of my family members but not all; It is bad when people start burning grass.

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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?

In May it starts getting cool and in June and July it is maybe 70s F during the day and 40s F at night. August is windy and the temperature ranges from 50-80F maybe, September it warms up, October is super hot, November the rain comes and lasts until March/April with 80s F for highs and 70s F for lows.

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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 a few schools - for ease my children are at AISL. The elementary schools is using the IB program and many American parents complain that their children aren't learning enough. I always wonder what those same parents would say if their children were strictly being taught to pass tests and not much critical thinking or creativity encouraged. That said, I wish the math curriculum was more rigorous and incorporated more rote learning.

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

Not 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?

There are not many options but I've heard of three who people really like it and the cost is about US$4,000/year.

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

Yes through the school and outside - soccer, tennis, basketball, volleyball.

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Expat Life:

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

Fairly large and generally 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?

BBQs and getting together with friends.

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

Good for everyone although kind of boring.

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

Not at all.

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

Not overwhelming issues.

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

Lots of families with young children.

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

Many expats like to go camping or on safari. There is the Hash group, BBQs, movie theatres, Alliance Francais.

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

Purses made from plastic bags.

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

Weather.

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10. Can you save money?

Yeah unless you're traveling all the time or just HAVE to eat like "typical" Americans with all the processed food.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That the art scene is essentially non-existent and it is so expensive to go to nice lodges and most safari stuff requires 6+ hour drives.

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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:

Preconceived notion that you will be living in a culturally rich African country.

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4. But don't forget your:

Good manners and patience - Zambians are into greetings (long ones!).

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Lusaka, Zambia 01/29/14

Background:

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

This is not our first expat experience. We have lived in South Africa and a number of countries in the Middle East.

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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. There are a number of options but the two most used are the Delta Flight from Washington to Amsterdam (8 hrs), with a 6 hour lay over before the flight from Amsterdam to Lusaka (9-10 hrs). This seems to be the preferred flight. You can also do Washington-Johannesburg-Lusaka which takes about 28 hours total time with layovers.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have lived in Lusaka for the past year and a half.

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

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Stand-alone housing is older but wonderful. Large yards with swimming pools and housekeeper quarters. The houses are quite nice and mostly spacious. We love our house and will be sorry to let it go. Some personnel are assigned to compounds which don't have as much privacy or yard size but are newer and very nice.

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

A little pricey if you order everything from one store. If you're willing to shop around and know the different stores to go to you can save a little money.

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

Surge protectors, electricity surges a lot.

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

One of the best Thai restaurants. Great steak houses and wonderful Indian food.

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

Small ants, spiders and geckos. Very easy to manage.

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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?

Less than US$200 a month. Don't be like other Americans and not train them, they become lazy (I once found mine asleep on the couch, she's no longer with us) and make comments about how their last employer didn't make them do that.

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

Yes - there is one very nice public gym out by the school. The Embassy has a small but nice gym.

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

I've never had any problems but I keep my hand blocking when typing in my pin.

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

Christian, Catholic.

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

None, most speak English.

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

Yes, would be very difficult. No real sidewalks, etc...

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Transportation:

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

No and we are not authorized to use them 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 for city and outside city 4x4 is necessary for bush driving.

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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, very expensive up to US$200 a month and goes down frequently.

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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, they are expensive here.

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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. A few very good vets.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Many in the Embassy. Unknown out in town.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many...rebuild schools, volunteer at SPCA, etc...

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

First place I've been to where everyone is in suits and tie all day. You go to one of our neighboring countries and no one has ties on unless they're going to an external meeting.

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Health & Safety:

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

Lusaka is rated high for crime. Follow the RSO security directives and notices and you shouldn't have any problems. Worst cases are pick-pocket stories from the malls or not locking your car doors and someone stealing a purse at a traffic light.

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

Medical care is not good. We are sent to South Africa for anything serious.

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

Unhealthy to moderate. Locals are burning trash all the time...the Blue Taxi's are spitting crud out non-stop.

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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?

Best weather year round that I have ever experienced. It stays between 80-85F degrees almost year round. One of the biggest things I'm going to miss about Lusaka.

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Schools & Children:

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

American International School of Lusaka...I've heard good and bad things. About the same things we hear about other schools in the world. I know they upset a number of embassy families by getting rid of their two/three-year old preschool program without consulting parents; they just made a decision and that was it.

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

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

Yes, but most just have a full-time nanny now that the American School doesnt offer it anymore. Most parents have come together to form play groups that meet at different homes two or three times a week.

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

Yes, many.

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Expat Life:

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

Quite large (around 100) and morale has been improving since last summer's turn-over when a number of negative Nellies finally left. We had a really good front office that left last summer and many are worried about some of the new changes and perception that have been taking place. The new Ambassador has not arrived so that perception may get wiped when he arrives.

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

Restaurants, bars, movie theaters, entertaining at home.

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

Very good for all. Families really enjoy to get out of town and seem to be hosting parties all the time. Couples seem to hang with the families. Single males seem to have a great time here. Zambian women are extremely aggressive and even the ugly duckling will leave here married. That being said, Zambia has an extremely high HIV positive rate and all need to be careful. I have heard that it is not as easy for single women to enjoy themselves.

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

NOOOOOOO....It is against the law to be in a gay or lesbian relationship. There have been a number of arrests in the past 12 months. The government has left one couple who were accused of being gay in jail for months now.

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

We havent experienced any.

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

Seeing Livingstone and the falls. Just realizing how "Africa light" this is has been a highlight.

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

Obviously going to Victoria Falls in Livingstone, Zambia is a must. Safaris are great and there are plenty. Plenty of hunting and fishing opportunities. Many enjoy doing the bat migration. Others love doing trips to Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mauritius and Mozambique.

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

Same African stuff you get all over the continent. There's good wood patio furniture (bush style) and nice wood/charcoal bbq's or braii's.

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

It is quite easy to save money but it might take going to a few grocery stores for different items. Restaurants are very good and about on par with Washington DC. Being able to go on safaris as residents of the country makes it so cheap. We have gone on a number of 3-day safaris that cost less than US1,000 total for all.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Should have sent more canned goods, brought fewer winter clothes and more surge protectors.

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

Yes, in a heartbeat.

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

Winter clothes and any winter sports items.

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4. But don't forget your:

Swim trunks and bug spray. Mosquitoes are quite nasty here.

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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?

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Lusaka, Zambia 04/25/13

Background:

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

Not a first expat experience. Wurzburg, Germany. Islamabad, Pakistan. Cairo, Egypt. Harare, Zimbabwe. New Delhi, India. Bangkok, Thailand.

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

Home base is Florida. It is a long trip whether one flies through Europe or straight to South Africa first then onward to Lusaka. There are more than a few options for connections and flights, so time to post depends on your choice of airlines and flights.

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3. How long have you lived here?

9 months.

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

Spouse of government employee of 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?

Commute time is short for embassy employees, no one lives more than 10-15 minutes away from work. Housing is roughly broken up into two types: Single family homes on walled grounds which are generally, but not always, older and perhaps not very attractive, and newer stand-alone houses or townhouses on small compounds. Generally, people seem happy enough with their homes, and some are very happy. Some of the older homes have maintenence issues, of course, but GSO works hard to keep things up and do repairs.

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

Groceries and household supplies seem to be expensive here as so much is imported. Local fruits and vegetables are reasonably priced and of good quality. A trip to the grocery store always seems to cost a surprisingly high amount, but by being a better shopper the totals could be lower with care. Things like irons, coffee makers, TVs, outdoor furniture are very expensive and/or of poor quality.

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

I recommend shipping anything to do with camping, outdoor furniture, sunblock, all shoes/clothing, gifts for children's birthday parties, holiday supplies/wrapping paper. Bring a TV and other electronic devices with you for sure, as they are very very pricey here. Sun hats and sunglasses, too.

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

The only American fast food is Subway, but I can't speak to it as I haven't been. South African fast food like Nando's chicken, Pizza Inn, Steers, etc., are here. I've had Pizza Inn and it was awful, I haven't tried other fast food. There are very many restaurants available serving almost every cuisine: Mediterranean, Ethiopian, Thai, Mexican, Indian, European, Chinese, Fusion, Steaks, etc. etc. Almost all the Indian restaurants are very good, and one steak place is excellent, as well as a modern American restaurant (albeit pricey). The Thai restaurant is very good too, and one or two fusion restaurants, but for the most part the food tends towards bland/mediocre and ambiance is lacking. Still, we haven't fallen ill, so the food must be prepared well, and nothing has been truly awful. Restaurants are pretty pricey, at least what one would pay in the US and often more.

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

Outside of Lusaka malaria prophylaxis is necessary in most of the country. Ants, termites, cockroaches, spiders...all sorts of insects are here, but with luck and a clean house, hopefully not too much of a problem indoors. Putsi flies (or mango flies or tumbu flies) are also a problem in the wet season if one is not careful. These flies lay their eggs on wet materal like towels damp from swimming or seat cushions left in the rain. When the eggs come in contact with skin they can burrow right on in, resulting in some pretty large maggots within a week or so right there in one's leg, scalp, shoulder or any other body part. Totally and completely disgusting, but easy to treat and not dangerous. Also avoidable if one is careful to use a clothes dryer rather than a line, fresh towels, and one brings in cushions, etc., at night and when not in use. Despite the way this all sounds, insects are not a huge or particular problem here, really!

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Daily Life:

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

Through the 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?

Domestic help is widely available and very reasonably priced.

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

Yes. Not a lot of selection, but availalbe.

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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 haven't used credit cards outside of accomodations, which has been fine, but the use of ATMs seems perfectly safe. Most people do use the ATMs.

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

Yes, available and seemingly of every denomination

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

English-language newspapers are available, but they seem very sensationalist. DSTV is widely available, but I am not sure of the cost. DSTV is out of South Africa and offers a very wide variety of stations including Discovery, History, childrens, movie channels, sports, et al.

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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?

Although Zambia has over 60 local languages, English is the official language and everyone speaks it well, although with an inflection you may need some time to become famliar with.

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

There are few accomodations for physical disablities other than the occasional reserved parking slot. Public buildings don't have ramps. Sidewalks, when they exist, are rough and broken. Lusaka would be difficult for people with disablities.

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Transportation:

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

It is not advised to use any of the above, with the possible exception of some longer-distance bus companies that focus on providing transport to tourist areas like Livingstone (Victoria Falls). Other buses, and taxis, are poorly maintained and most drivers of them seem insane, criminal or at the very least daredevils with deathwishes.

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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?

Driving is on the left (opposite) side of the road, so an automobile brought from the US will be more difficult to drive. Vehicles with higher clearances are advisable, as even in town there are dirt roads with very large potholes, as well as paved roads with more dirt than macadam. If you plan to explore the country at al,l you should bring a 4-wheel drive. Parts may be available, but expensive, for most vehicles, although you may have to wait for parts to be brought into the country from elsewhere.

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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?

Quasi high-speed internet is available. Some days it works better than others; some days it doesn's seem to work well at all. We can usually skype, although we do so without cameras, but streaming and downloading can be very frustrating.

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

Get one here. There are many options/companies, cheaper than US plans.

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Pets:

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

No.

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

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

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

Shorts aren't widely worn. Other than that, public dress tends towards relaxed but well put together. At work people tend to dress nicely, but still casually.

Tradition and practicality calls for muted colors like olive greens and tans for wear on games drives and in the bush. This is especially important on game walks, where whites and bright colors stand out from miles away. Safari clothes are made for comfort and sun protection and are always a good choice for out of town-game areas.

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Health & Safety:

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

When driving, car doors should be locked and windows up. Don't show obvious wealth or leave items in plain site in a vehicle. Need I say lock doors at night? Twenty-four hour guards at homes are standard, and homes have alarm systems, too, at least within the embassy community. Walking at night is not advisable, anywhere, and certain areas of town (like anywhere else in the world) are probably best avoided altogether. Carjackings do occur. However I have never felt in danger and haven't had a personal expereince with crime (knock on wood). Use common sense and caution, as you would anywhere.

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

No particular health concerns, other than malaria outside of Lusaka, esp. during and right after the rainy season. The sun is very strong, so adequate protection is extremely important, especially for fair-skinned people. Some areas have tse-tse flies, whose bite is tremendously painful; avoid exiting your car when in a tse-tse fly area (you will see them on your car, moving vehicles attract them), and don't wear the color blue, as it seems to attract them. Most areas do not have tse-tse flies, they tend to congregate in belts and sections, but I am not sure under what conditions---I think elevation has something to do with it.
Local medical care is not up to standard for serious medical conditions or accidents.

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

Air quality is generally good, but during the dry season it can be very dusty and very arid. Those with hayfever and pollen allergies seem to have some difficulty during certain times of the year.

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

The climate is mild due to elevation (4200ft) and latitude. Winter, which is June and July, can be very chilly at night, but it generally warms up during the day. September through November can be hot. The rainy season is from late November into April, and during that time it is green and pretty. It seldom rains all day, more likely storms are just passing through. Overall, the weather is so good one rarely makes note of it because it is pleasant and reliably sunny.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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

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

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty large, especially for a capital of this size. One tends to run into acquaintances all over town.

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2. Morale among expats:

I would say very high. Most people seem to love it, and those that don't are happy enough to be here and then move on when they can. I haven't talked to anyone who hates the place.

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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?

In the home, at restaurants, parties, hotels and clubs---there always seems to be something going on within the next week or two. Entertaining runs towards the casual and laid-back and often includes the whole family.

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

Lusaka is a good city for all, it seems. Personal preferences have a bigger impact on how one views Lusaka more than being single, married, a family member or here without kids does.

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

No, I don't think Lusaka is a good city for gay or lesbian expats. Homosexuality is decidedly frowned upon, seemingly universally and nastily. Perhaps there is a quiet but flourishing gay/lesbian community, but if so it may be difficult to find, and it may not be enough to counter the negativity.

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

On the surface, at least, there seem to be few racial issues---interracial couples seem well accepted, for instance. As an outsider I am sure I don't understand or am privy to everything, though. Zambia has small but significant populations of Arabs, Indians, whites and others. Although Christianity is dominant, and Zambia considers itself a Christian country, other religions are free to practice. There are gender prejudicies, and it is most definitely easier to be a male in Zambian society.

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

Crossing the knife-edge bridge at Victoria Falls and getting drenched by "upside down" rain (the millions of gallons of water pound down with such force some of it shoots stright back up during the very highest flow of the Zambezi), seeing the many millions of bats leave their roosting site in Kasanka National Park in what may be the world's largest mammal migration, game drives when a curve in the trail reveals one of Africa's tremendous animals or gorgeous landscapes.

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

Lusaka is a quiet town with little to offer in the way of attractions. Most of what makes Zambia a great place to live lies outside of the city. There are, though, movie theaters and malls, and the school does various things with the larger community. Available to watch are Polocrosse matches, football (soccer) matches, and there is a Hash House Harriers club, biking groups, Quiz nights, golf, and other clubs and groups too. Just don't look for, say, mini-golf, parks for hiking or frisbee, lakes for swimming, a pedestrian zone, etc.
A little outside of town is a so-so reptile farm, a couple of nice, if expensive, lodges with some game animals, a boat trip on the Kafue river, and probably a few more activities. But again, it is a quiet city and most people entertain themselves either at home, with friends, at school, or with travel. To experience the really special aspects of Zambia you would need to go to Lake Kariba, any of the national parks, Livingstone....lots of places outside of the city, with the closest of these about 2 1/2 hours away.

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

I'm so-so about local handicrafts. What I see seems very much like what is everywhere else in the region. Prices seem much higher, too, than in Zimbabwe or South Africa. I don't get a sense that distinct Zambian handicrafts have developed.

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

Lusaka is a pleasant smaller city with great weather and plenty of restaurants and shopping available. But by far the most wonderful aspect of living here is the relative ease with which one can get out into the bush. While travel can be expensive, sometimes ridiculously so, the truly transcendant experiences of open-vehicle game drives, walking safaris with well-informed guides, and sleeping (or not!) in tents with elephants walking by and lions grumbling in the distance is wonderful beyond belief. Hearing a hyena manically laughing while you sit at a fire and wonder how far away they actually are is one of those ultimate experiences that make travel so worthwhile.

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11. Can you save money?

I highly doubt it. If you never go out to eat, travel, or explore, you probably could, but that seems a miserable way to spend your time in such an incredible part of the world.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely.

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

heavy winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Bradt Guide to Zambia, "Birds of Sub-Saharan Africa", GPS with southern Africa downloaded (Garmin Nuvi), camping gear, children's life vests if you think you might need them.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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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?

Zambia seems energetic and on the rise. Its profile as a travel destination has risen dramatically in recent years, and it's not surprising---given how much there is to see and do. Zambia has 17 major waterfalls, some of the best game parks in Africa, Lake Kariba for houseboating, fishing, and animal viewing, Victoria Falls and all the adreneline activities there, canoeing, fantastic fishing to include tigerfish, beautiful weather, unspoiled wetlands and savannahs and an opurtunity to travel to places few people ever get a chance to visit. One park in the western part of the country, for instance, is so far from anywhere that less than a few hundred people visit a year. And yet it has tens of thousands of wildebeast and other grazing animals and amazing birdlife, among other features. For old Africa hands it's one of those bucket-list destinations made even better by the difficulty in getting there and the lack of those who have managed it.
Many expats take full advantage of their time here, and for those that do, I think they find it to be a special, remarkable place that they will never forget.

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Lusaka, Zambia 07/09/10

Background:

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

No, we were posted in Ghana before this.

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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?

Takes approximately 36 hours to fly from Lusaka to the USA, either via South Africa or via Europe. Air travel from here is expensive - about $2000 round trip to get back to the USA.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We've lived here 4 years and have one more to go.

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

Husband is with USAID.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

reasonable housing exists but it's surprisingly expensive - average rent on a reasonable property is $2500-$3000 per month. Commute times depend on which parts of town you live in and are commuting to - but on average we only spend about 10 minutes in the car going to and from work. Now, trying to get in and out of the Manda Hill Shopping Center - that's another story entirely! Partly because it's under construction, this traffic is ALWAYS bad.

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

Nearly everything you can think of is now available through the various South African grocery chains in Lusaka. Outside Lusaka it's a different story, although Shop-rite and Spar can be found in the other large towns. Groceries and supplies are about 1/3 more costly on average than in the USA and some things - like cheese - are very expensive. There's limited seafood as we're landlocked - basically talapia and ever smaller nile perch. Not much variety of fruits but not as bad as some places - if you want strawberries you can get them one month of the year and they'll cost $10/pint. No blueberries! But you can get great nectarines and bananas year-round and pinapple and mango part of the year.

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

Camping gear (which we did bring) is highly recommended! Most everything is available here though.

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

Subway is the only familiar American brand, but there are the South African chains of pizza, burgers and chicken that are all decent but a bit higher priced than American fast food, and it's not fast. No drive through - it can take about 15 minutes to get your take-away or even longer.

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

The mosquitos carry malaria - fortunately there aren't many of them in Lusaka itself. Outside the city, be prepared for this. There are tse-tse flies in parts of the country, particularly in Kafue National Park - even 100% deet won't repel these so wear long clothes - just don't wear white or blue, as these seem especially yummy to tse-tse!

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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 a diplomatic pouch. Without that you can't count on things being delivered at all, much stealing and long delays. FedEx and DHL available but very expensive.

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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, though of variable abilities and english skills. Check around first and have a probationary period with a signed contract to prevent unhappy recriminations if termination needed. About $100 - $150/month for housekeepers, gardeners and nannies.

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

Yes - decent ones recently opened.

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

ATM's are sprouting up all over the country to the point where even small towns might have one. REASONABLY safe compared to South Africa - especially during the day. We rarely use credit cards - not accepted outside the grocery and major hotels - but lots of people use them for the weekly shopping.

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

Yes - all.

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

Yes - about $1/day.

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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, but it's so appreciated. English is the official language.

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

It's a difficult city to get around in for people with disabilities. Buses are not enabled, there are few sidewalks.

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Transportation:

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

Buses in town are probably ok, but not comfy - as they usually squeeze 18 people into one minibus designed for 8-10. They are very affordable, but often take a long time to depart from the stop if they aren't full, and all go through a local downtown hub system. Taxis are generally ok, if you stick with official blue ones but they're $10 minimum from anywhere to anywhere and can go up from there. no trains, except from Lusaka to Daar Es Salaam.

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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?

Good to have a 4-wheel, so that you can go exploring - but not needed in town for going to work. No need to bring one, there are decent values on the local market and it's drive from the right seat on the left side. Nissan and Toyota are the easiest to get parts for and to repair. American car parts are unavailable locally. If you have access to a newsletter prior to your arrival, you should consider buying an inexpensive mode of transport prior to your arrival if you're planning to get a vehicle shipped from Japan, because this can take 6 months. That said, there are good deals to be had going that route. Car jackings don't seem to be based on the type of car, although toyota camry style cars do seem to be popular - car jackings just aren't THAT 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?

Yes and no - not what you'd call high-speed, but better than dial-up. Price varies with service - ranges from $40/month to $135/month.

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

Buy local. Phones brought from the US that are supposed to work rarely get as good reception as the cheap local ones. There's both pre and post pay available and it's reasonably priced.

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Pets:

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

No, but an import permit is required. Showgrounds Vet Clinic can make it all happen. liza@zamnet.zm

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

There are two AMAZING vets in town - both locals. Ask around and you'll find them easily (i don't know if i can promote one here - Dr. Liza Oparaocha at Showgrounds Vet is world class). There is very good help available for pet transport as well. Very good kennels at Showgrounds Vet Clinic

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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'd say yes - some. Particularly in development.

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

Casual and business casual. Minimal "modesty" issues.

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Health & Safety:

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

we hear about the occassional car jacking and they do happen, but not with the regularity or violence of South Africa (at least right now). There are common snatch-purses downtown, and home burgerlies are a common concern, but most reasonable housing comes with security walls.

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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 HIV are common. Good health care for basic stuff - surgery is sending you 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 varies with the season. Sometimes it's fine, but during the burning season (June, July) it can be really smoky in places. Also, many cars and apparently all buses are completely without proper exhaust systems so there's alot of car exhaust in the air downtown.

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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?

Beautiful weather. Can't say enough great things about it. Winter months (May-Sept) are cool at night (mid-50's) and mostly sunny during the day (high's in the 70's). The hottest it gets in Lusaka is in October, when it may hit the high 80's and an occassional 90's day. Rains start in November and keep the place a bit cooler, and it rains through April. Outside the city it tends to be warmer in most places, as Lusaka is about 1000 feet higher in altitude than most other destinations.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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

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

Yes - particularly, but not exclusively, through the school. Great horseback riding lessons. Good swimming.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good.

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

Lots!

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

As always, it seems that singles often have a hard time socially, but here that really shouldn't happen. There's lots of expats, and the locals community is also very welcoming. As for raising kids here, can't really say.

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

I get mixed signals. This part of Africa is in the midst of an anti-homosexual agenda, with Malawi actually jailing a male couple, and our local politicians are speaking out against it fairly routinely. That said, there are several "known" couples in the expat community who seem happy, and my gay single friends seem to be enjoying the stay. It's definately on the down-low, though, not an open culture for being gay.

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

Yes and no. There is an overtly Christian mentality in the sense that even the government refers to this as a Christian nation, however there doesn't seem to be any tension at all between Christians and Muslims or Hindus. There are some Buddhists as well. Atheism is NOT understood, and there are TONS of missionaries all here with the goal of saving your soul from Satan.

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

Seeing baby lions playing in a tree, riding my local horse at sunset with monkeys in the trees, walking through tall grass to see elephants and getting to know local Zambians.

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

Great horseback riding - polo and polocrosse. Great off-road bicycling and motorcycling off-road club is very active. Of cousre, tons of camping, fishing, safari at locals prices. There's a good, first run movie theatre, some moderately decent restaurants and sports clubs. There's an active Hash Chapter. There are lots of clubs like bridge, salsa dancing, yoga

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

Nothing really jumps out - but you can get nice congolese fabrics.

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

The weather in Lusaka is spectacular, its like a sweet June day most of the year with lots of sunshine. Never to hot, rarely too chilly. The outdoor activities are many - with world class safari opportunities, great hiking and camping, superb fishing. Touring other neighboring nations is also great, with Namibia's dunes and Botswana's Okavango delta within driving distance, as are the beaches of Mozambique. And of course, Victoria Falls!

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11. Can you save money?

Depends on how frugal you are - maybe.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yep - in a heartbeat.

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

heavy winter coat.

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3. But don't forget your:

sense of humor, sunscreen and bug dope, and good hiking shoes.

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

"Don't let's go to the dogs tonight." "When a crocodile eats the sun."

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Lusaka, Zambia 03/19/09

Background:

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

Kiev, Moscow, Bangkok, Santiago, and Dakar.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Still here; it's been two years.

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

NGO spouse.

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

12 to 20 hours, usually either through London or Joburg/Dakar.

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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 expats live behind large walls with guards. Most houses have pools and some have tennis courts as well. If you don't have a new house, chances are it's got an old fashioned layout, with a toilet across from the sink and tub. It's hard with kids. The rationale for the less than wonderful housing is that you spend all your time outside, so who cares?!

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

Same--if not more--than groceries in the U.S. There are no developing world prices here!

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

Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, books and stationery supplies, anything your kids need; we joke it's like the old days in the USSR, when you can't find an item for months on end, then suddenly it appears and you need to buy a gross to prevent it from happening again...

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

Very little fast food; most restaurants are expensive and quality is unreliable, so most expat families can't affort to eat out.

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

None in Lusaka.

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Daily Life:

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

Employer.

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

Domestic help is easy and relatively cheap--about US$150/month.

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

Nominal.

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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 seems ok, but several times the receipt has indicated money came out and it didn't; our bank was able to resolve it, but you need to stay on top of it

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

Yes.

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

We don't have tv service; it's close to US$100 month. Newspapers are more expensive than in the U.S., and print crap: what Zambian can afford 75 cents a day for a paper?!

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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.

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

Even the American School (AIS) isn't accessible!nothing is accessible.

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Transportation:

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

It's not encouraged and very expensive to take a private taxi.

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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 need a SUV--even in Lusaka. There are many roads that are unpaved or so damaged that you will seriously damage a sedan.

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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?

More than US$100 month, and that;s after installation and equipment and turn-on fees. All providers have problems, don't be fooled. Until zambia invests in improving capacity, it won't change or get any cheaper.

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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?

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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)?

It seems ok, but I hear bringing pets OUT of Zambia is prohibitively expensive!

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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?

VERY difficult to get work permit.

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

Casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Relatively good.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

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

Carjackings happen, but mostly Zambian on Zambian. Expats are generally exempt. Phones are regularly pinched, and you need to be cautious generally, as you would anywhere, and esp in a market.

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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?

All medical care is through South Africa; the facilities here have terrible reputations of misdiagnosis and treatment.

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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?

Five months of rain, seven months dry; climate is pleasant for the most part.

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Schools & Children:

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

AIS, where my 3 kids are, is not at all American, in fact it is anti-American.there are no tests, no standards, no sense of transparency in anything the school does. Very sports-oriented and indifferent to academics. Poor preparation for older students; many teachers woefully unqualified.if you question anything or anyone there, you immediately are blacklisted by the school, and they become more uncooperative than ever.

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

None at AIS; very unhelpful in accommodating their customers--sorry, students and parents.

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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, AIS is most expensive in town, and other schools don't want Americans because they think our kids should be at AIS!

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

Big sports emphasis at AIS; also various independent leagues in town you will hear about.

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Expat Life:

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

Medium.

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2. Morale among expats:

Low--can't get over how many are anxious to get out!expensive living, poor schools, lack of options...

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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?

Mostly revolves around kids and home.

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

If you like to be outside; if you like culture and the arts, you are in the wrong country!

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

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

I don't think so.

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

Most people socialize at home

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

Typical African tchokas.

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9. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No.

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

Expectations, or lower them. This is Africa lite, the expensive version.

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3. But don't forget your:

Workbooks for kids to compensate for poor school, your books as shops are expensive and there are no decent libraries...

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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?

Someone has to speak the truth about life here! It's incredibly expensive--travel is tough and expensive--Zambia is overrated.

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Lusaka, Zambia 03/07/09

Background:

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

No, we have lived in Accra, Cairo, and Bangladesh.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

NGO.

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

Through Europe; going through South Africa risks losing your luggage to thieves.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There is not a great deal of traffic here. Some people complain that it took 20 minutes to get to work. Housing is generally within 5 to 15 kilometers of anything you need.

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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 very expensive. Meat and cheese especially are expensive. Sometimes the country will go through a several month spell where you cannot get certain items, and magically they reappear again. Everything, when available, is for a price.

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

A few more sweaters and specific foods that we like

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

There is a burger place and a few pizza places. No Western fast food places, though.

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

Mosquitos, putsifly, the normal African dudus.

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Daily Life:

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

We get our mail through our employer. Otherwise, I would not trust local mail 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?

US$150-200.

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

Very few.

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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 ATMs around and generally seem safe to use.

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

Yes, there are a number of churches.

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

Yes, newspapers are cheap and DSTV is a bit more than US$100 a month.

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

None.

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

There are few sidewalks, no ramps, and I imagine it would be very difficult for someone with physical disabilities to get around.

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Transportation:

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

They are affordable, but really should not be used for safety and security 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?

Some of the roads are poor and have potholes, especially outside of Lusaka. There is no reason to have an SUV inside Lusaka unless yo want it. For traveling outside Lusaka, and SUV is necessary.

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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 here is a dream. Internet access is expensive and slow when it is working, which is about 75% of the time.

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

They are available and tend to be pricey to use.

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Pets:

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

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

There are a few veterinarians that are recommended by the community with no complaints.

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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, absolutely not. Work permits are a nightmare as well.

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

Casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Pollution is generally good with the dry season having spells of mass trash burnings.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

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

Lusaka is as safe as Africa can get. That being said, economic crimes are on the rise.

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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?

Medical care here is poor. Have all checkups done in South Africa.

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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?

There is a long rainy season where rains tend to happen in the late afternoon. June-August is very chilly. September to December is very warm.

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Schools & Children:

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

The American International School of Lusaka is a decent school for children in elementary school. Above that, you will really find a problem with the curriculum and lack of challenges for children and teens. People not accredited to teach IB are filling the teaching spots. The IB program is quite weak at AIS as well. All in all, this is not a school to bring older children. There is also another international school, ISL.

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

None except for extremely mild cases.

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

No experience here, though there are plenty of places with waiting lists.

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

There are a few programs available, though not a good variety and not well-organized. Again, if you have older children, this is not the place to come for opportunities for them.

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Expat Life:

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

Medium.

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2. Morale among expats:

Morale is low, especially now since the copper prices have fallen. This has not been the happiest of places, and most people seem very ready, even anxious, to leave.

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

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

Yes, for couples. For families, if your children are very young, it is a sleepy post, but can be okay. For families with older children, school options are really poor.

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

Yes, though night life is limited.

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

Not really.

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

Safaris, Victoria Falls, South Africa. Zambia itself has very few things that are affordable. The safaris are expensive, and if you have been to South Africa, Kenya, or Tanzania, they will also be very disappointing.

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

Typical African items.

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9. Can you save money?

No, not really. The cost of basic living is high enough that it is uncomfortable, and traveling is very expensive.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No, education is important, and the school is not good.

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

Expectations for school.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience.

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

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Lusaka, Zambia 10/05/08

Background:

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

5 other cities on 4 continents.

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2. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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

Educator.

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

14 hours via Joburg.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most people live in houses, though flats are available. Roma and Kabalonga are the larger expat areas. Commute time varies from 5 minutes and up .

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

High.

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

Most things are available, just expensive due to the high duties and VAT.

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

Some good places, many expensive places.

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Daily Life:

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

You can use the regular Zambian mail and things usually get there. DHL, etc are available.

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

No problem. About US$100 a month will get you someone.

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

In Lusaka it is possible. Mastercard is only accepted at Stanbic.

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

All available

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

All available. DSTV has crappy programs at US$70 per month.

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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?

No accommodation for disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

Left.

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

Affordable, reasonably safe and quite smelly.

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

Toyotas are populuar. In town you can use anything. In the bush get an 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?

Available and 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?

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

Call back or VOIP.

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Pets:

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

Liza at the Showgrounds is excellent, albeit not cheap.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

There are, but the Zambians are ridiculous on work permits. You never know if or when one will be issued. You need a work permit to volunteer.

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

Smart casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

Good.

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

Not really, just be smart.

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

CFB is the best provider and they are mediocre at best. Most people fly to South Africa.

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

Warm, hot, moist. Weather is generally excellent 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?

International School of Lusaka has come a long way in the past two years. The American School is also popular. LICS offers the British National Curriculum and Baobab is distinctly South African/Zimbabwean.

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

Most schools make accommodations for mild 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?

Available. ISL and AIS have them. There are many others, check on quality.

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Okay, but many are unhappy about the crazy prices on things.

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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?

Homes, bars, movies...

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

Seems okay.

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

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

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

Game parks.

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

Wood products.

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9. Can you save money?

Maybe, but don't have any doubts this is an expensive country.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No. Too expensive, government is wrought with corruption and hard to deal with.

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

Skis.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sun tan lotion.

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

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Lusaka, Zambia 08/23/08

Background:

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

No, I lived in Accra, Ghana and Lund, Sweden.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

USAID.

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

From the USA it is a very long trip. There are direct flights to Jo'burg from Washington DC - otherwise you'll have to go through Europe first. London has direct flights into Lusaka on BA, but that's the only direct flight.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Reasonably nice in the U.S. government housing pool - but expensive to rent if you aren't supported. All houses have a wall around them for protection. Most have pools BUT they are unheated, so it's worth investing in a solar pool cover if you are a swimmer. If you live in the Sunningdale area you can walk or bike to Melissa's grocery. Commutes are short and traffic jams are brief.

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

Expensive. you can buy ALMOST anything here now - but some stuff (like cheese) is ridiculously expensive, and there isn't much seafood available. Strangely there IS pretty good availability of vegetarian frozen foods like faux burgers etc. There is good veg, but not alot of fruit choices. You can also get a good array of chinese/japanese/thai ingredients, and some Lebanese stuff. limited brands though. Almost no diet soda available though - only occassionally coke lite. meat kind of pricey, and you won't find american styles of lunch meat and sausages.

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

Pet food. Locally available tends to either be limited to Pedigree and Alpo of indeterminant age, or a locally available vet line that is good but expensive. Bring your camping gear and fishing gear. canned salmon. good rechargable batteries. Bring koolaid and splenda if you drink diet, because there's almost no diet soda. Good ground coffee. flavored creamer. Books.

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

Restaurants here are disappointing if you're a gourmet, but there are plenty of places.

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Daily Life:

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

You can get mail through FedEx and DHL, but be prepared for a seriously high cost. Local mail is unreliable, and prone to theft.

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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, costs about US$150/month for good help. You can find experienced staff through the U.S. embassy newsletter or via the CLO.

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

Do-able. Our cards only work in one or two different machines, but they do work. Check your reciept and the amount before you leave. You wouldn't use them at too many places, but you can use them at the high end safaris and to buy airline travel at Voyagers. It's a pain in the butt to open a local account (requires an application and letter from employer) but it does make life easier to have a local account, so that you can have a local ATM card, which is accepted at all the major grocery stores.

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

Yep.

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

Yep - DSTV is about US$100/month and the local paper is about US$1/day - but no home delivery.

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

None, but people LOVE IT when you learn a little,

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

Probably - no sidewalks and all the damn doors open inward.

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Transportation:

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

Left side of the road, so our steering wheel is on the right side of the car.

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

There are few local trains. buses are safe from assault, but are risky from a driver's skill perspective. They are however pretty cheap. There are larger aircon buses that run to livingstone, but they crash too occassionally. Taxis are safe during the day.

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

You'll want something that can travel on rough gravel roads and maybe off roads. Japanese made vehicles are the easiest to repair here, but parts availability isn't as bad as some other countries. There are some car jackings - seems like the latest tasty morsel is the new Toyota Land Cruiser. You have to get a newer model if you want airbags, and many new cars do not come with them 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?

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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?

Celtel just became Zain (strange name that) they have the best coverage nationwide. All the companies are about the same price - which is more than you'd expect. we text instead of chat quite a lot. Don't bother bringing a fancy phone from the USA - the reception tends to be better on the ZK150,000 (US$35) local motorola phone available all over town, but it doesn't have too many bells and whistles.

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

Difficult to use calling cards from home, because the phone lines are too poor. Skype is technically illegal, but people do it. The internet connection is very slow though, depending on which service you have, so you may be limited to Skype chat.

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Pets:

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

Showgrounds Vet Clinic and PetVet are both EXCELLENT, first world quality clinics and can help you bring pets into and out of Zambia. Showgrounds runs a beautiful kennel service. PLEASE be careful with your pets though - we see alot of poison thrown over walls by would-be thieves in certain parts of town. Ticks are really bad, and almost all carry tick fever so you should also use monthly spot on tick repellent. on the up side, there's no local heartworm.

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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?

Yep, if you're flexible, good at networking and IF you can get a work permit. they are pretty tough about those, and I know several people who have been turned down for permits despite desperately needs skills (such as nursing). I'm working on the local economy as a vet without problem.

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

Zambians dress fairly conservatively, but its not as rigid here as say Accra was. I can comfortably wear shorts to go to the mall, but i wouldn't wear them in the city center market where the local's shop. Most businesses are smart casual or shirt and tie, and Zambian business people dress in suits.

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Health & Safety:

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

Good, considering that half the country seems to be on fire during the dry season.

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

In the expat housing areas, crime is pretty low, but not non-existant. Mostly break-ins. Theft by staff is common. Dog poisoning is a common event - thieves planning to break into the yard will often kill the dogs first, so be sure to keep dogs inside at night if you love your pets. Also, thieves do watch to see if you are leaving home, and plan their break-ins for your absence - so house sitters are not a bad idea. Having said all that - we feel VERY safe here and often walk to parties after dark (of course, we don't take money with us...)

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

Malaria isn't as bad here as it was in Ghana, but HIV/AIDs rate is very high, so don't fool around without thinking. There is good medical care here though, if you can pay for private care, and you can always fly over to Jo'burg for specialty care. most common prescriptions are available (except some psychotherapeutics) and there are lots of generics - although some are crap.

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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?

Wet season lasts about 5 months, dry season about 7. Its always about 75-85F day/55-75F night here in Lusaka, but it can occassionally be quite chilly at night. Rainy season isn't the deluge that monsoon is elsewhere, but it will make dirt roads into the safari parks impassable

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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

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Expat Life:

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

Not sure, but it seems pretty big - depending what embassies you include in your world

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2. Morale among expats:

Seems pretty good.

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

There are several good evening spots for dancing, there's a bowling alley and several places to play billards. lots of clubs, and there's a fun quiz night. Someone would be welcome to revive the X-mas Panto!

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

The more outgoing you are, the more friends you'll make - its that simple. there is a large population of expats here and there isn't a big gap between locals and those of us on post.

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

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

Not that we've experienced.

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

Safari of course, fishing, camping. There are also lots of club activities. This is also the place to take up outdoor exercising like tennis and golf, because it isn't pricey and the weather is always perfect. This is also the place to learn to ride dressage or jump.

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

Not much really - not the craft culture that West Africa was. You can get some things from Congo at the monthly craft fair, but there's really not much that's unique. You might spend it on locally made artisan cheese from one dairy though!

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9. Can you save money?

It depends on how frugal you want to be. If you eat the local diet, and have your housing supported, maybe.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yep - in a heartbeat. We really like it here.

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

Surfboard, scuba gear, and winter coat.

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3. But don't forget your:

Binoculars, sweaters and fleece, good digital camera, money! Bring your horse riding gear! There are several really good stables.

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

Bitterness, by Malama Katulwende

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

Bitterness, by Malama Katulwende

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Best weather in the known world!!

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Lusaka, Zambia 05/18/08

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. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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

I work for the U.S. Government.

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

Direct flights from Lusaka to Heathrow on British Airways -- about 10 hours. Have to connect in Johannesburg, South Africa or London to fly to the U.S. - takes about 30 hours.

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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 expat houses have large yards, swimming pools, and service quarters. Commutes tend to be 5 - 15 minutes from most expat neighborhoods to most of the embassy and NGO offices. If you have the misfortune of working downtown, you will encounter unpleasant traffic and might have a 30-45 minute commute.

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

You can find most everything you need here. Prices tend to be higher than the U.S. (a liter of milk currently runs $2.50 -- roughly US$5 for 1/2 gallon) and the most common brands are produced in South Africa.

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

By and large, we shipped in what we needed. Kids' presents are expensive and poor quality, so we would ship in more of those. We've had to order a variety of camping gear (local prices are high and quality is not comparable to the gear we're used to in the U.S.).

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

Dining options are limited and expensive. There are a variety of South African fast food chains, a handful of decent Indian restaurants, about the same number but slightly lower quality Chinese restaurants, and a variety of other local restaurants. Dinner for 4 (without drinks) at one of the Indian restaurants runs about US$100.

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Daily Life:

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

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

Skill levels vary widely, but there are plenty of people willing to work in your home. You can get decent household help for around US$175 - $200/month.

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

We've had difficulty getting our US ATM cards to work in most of the ATM machines here. We generally don't use our credit cards (even with tourism operators) because the possibility of credit card theft is very real.

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

Yes.

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

Local TV and papers are in English. Papers run about 75 cents. Subscription to South African DSTV service runs about US$70/month and you can get both BBC and CNN in addition to a range of entertainment and sports channels.

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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?

It would not be easy to get around.

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Transportation:

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

You drive on the left-hand side of the road (like in the U.K.).

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

Most people do not hail cabs on the street, although the tourist hotels are able to call cabs for service.

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

If you want to do any traveling, I'd recommend buying a diesel 4x4 equipped with an expedition roofrack. If you can, invest in a vehicle with an auxillary fuel tank as gas and diesel prices are significantly higher in the provinces than in Lusaka. Outside the major cities, it is far easier to get diesel than gasoline. Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi are all very popular. You can import left-hand drive vehicles.

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Phone & Internet:

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

There are a handful of ISPs -- Zamnet tends to be the cheapest and least reliable. Microlink and AfricaConnect (doing business as iConnect) offer better service at about US$75-$100/month for limited bandwidth. We tend to use our Internet only at night and on the weekends -- most of the time we have no problem using video-conferencing services. Upload speeds run about 85 kbps, download speeds are about 275 kbps.

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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?

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

We use skype.

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Pets:

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

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Government of Zambia appears to be increasingly concerned about the number of expats holding NGO jobs. As a result, the work permit process can be a major hassle.

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

Most expats tend to dress in business casual at the office and for entertaining. Professional Zambians tend to dress a bit more formally.

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Health & Safety:

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

Compared to other places we've lived and taking into consideration developing country standards, I think it is good. Vehicle pollution is a problem as is unrestricted burning of trash and yard waste.

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

Carjackings in Lusaka are not uncommon (although nothing compared to South Africa). Thieves don't hesitate to reach into an open car window if you're stopped at a light and leave something valuable open (but unlike South America, thieves don't routinely smash your windows to get at your possessions). In the expat areas of the city, women feel safe enough that they will go out running between sunrise and sunset without a second thought (although runners tend to try and stay off the busier streets given the absence of shoulders and sidewalks and the poor driving of many Zambians). If you exercise basic common sense, you can probably live here for two - three years without being a victim.

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

Outside of the rainy season, most expats don't worry too much about malaria in Lusaka. At the same time, it makes sense even in Lusaka to sleep inside malaria nets. There are a few American doctors in private practice in Lusaka (lots more are involved in aid work), but most people go to South Africa for anything other than routine check-ups.

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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?

Rainy season runs from December to March -- this year, the rains seemed to last 5-10 days in a row.

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Schools & Children:

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

Most Americans (in the NGO and the embassy community) send their kids to the American International School of Lusaka (AISL) from kindergarten on. However, many embassy Americans send their kids to preschool and pre-K at the International School of Lusaka (ISL) because ISL's fees are significantly lower than AISL and the Embassy doesn't pay for education before kindergarten.

ISL tends to be very popular with Indian families that have been resident in Lusaka for years -- while it's true that many of the brightest kids at ISL obtain spots in very competitive US and other international universities, I think most American parents would find AISL's facilities, staff, and resources better than ISL's. LICS has a devoted following because of its community-oriented approach to early education -- unfortunately, it is not conveniently located for most of the American expat community.

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

I'm not sure.

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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?

See above.

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Expat Life:

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

A couple hundred Americans in Lusaka between U.S. government, aid organizations, and missionaries. Large number of Europeans engaged in government and aid work. Lots of long-time Indian residents.

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2. Morale among expats:

I think most people are happy with the pace of life and climate. The lack of dining options and the high prices are a bit of a downer at times, but most people find ways to deal with those complaints.

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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?

With the pleasant climate, there are lots of outdoor receptions, barbeques, etc.

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

Lusaka has a comfortable climate that allows families to take advantage of their yards most of the year. Between the cost of living and the slow pace of life, I'm not so sure this is a great assignment for singles or couples.

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

Don't know.

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

Don't think so.

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

Lots of amazing safari opportunities. However, even mid-range safari companies currently charge US$120-150 per person per day for fully inclusive safari packages, so don't expect to be going on a safari every long weekend.

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

Zambia doesn't appear to have much indigenous crafts -- most of the crafts on sale here are actually made in Zimbabwe.

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9. Can you save money?

NO.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Sure.

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

Belief that life in Africa is inexpensive.

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3. But don't forget your:

Camping gear, kids birthday presents.

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

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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