Pros and Cons of Moving to Luanda

Expats moving to Angola’s capital may have much to consider and plan for. Although elements of culture shock may be felt and visa processes can be stressful, Luanda has much to offer in terms of its people, cuisine, climate and natural beauty. No doubt expats will experience ups and downs when moving to this city and here is a list of some of the pros and cons of living in Luanda. 

Lifestyle and living in Luanda

+ PRO: Beautiful people and culture

Angolans are known to be extroverted and friendly. Although expats may experience culture shock, once they put in the effort to understand the customs and language, making friends in Angola will be easy enough. This will not only help expat’s social life but also help them settle in and see the city from a different view. 

+ PRO: Vibrant food scene

Both Luanda’s cuisine and restaurant scene are mouth-watering and vibrant. Angola’s cuisine has deep connections with that of Portuguese and Brazilian food but of course with its own flair, including steak, beans, chicken and fish. Meanwhile, where Luanda lacks in museums, it makes up for in restaurants. Expats can take their pick from a wide selection.

+ PRO: Animated nightlife

Expats may be surprised to hear that Luanda’s nightlife is eclectic and vibey. Given its extraverted culture, it’s easy to see Angolans revel in a good party where they can show off their stylish fashion sense and killer dance moves.

- CON: Expats should learn Portuguese

This could be a pro or a con depending on expat’s ability and desire to learn a foreign language, while those from Portuguese speaking backgrounds are in luck. English is not spoken widely in Angola as a whole, so there may be language barriers. Learning a few basic words can help integrate expats into their new homes and show they are putting in an effort. A little goes a long way.

- CON: Inequality is shocking

There is a stark juxtaposition between the wealthy elite who dress in designer labels, travel in expensive vehicles and own luxurious property, and the Angolan majority who live in informal settlements and lower quality accommodation. This may shock expats who are unfamiliar with this extreme inequality.

Safety in Luanda

+ PRO: 24-hour security

Expats should not worry too much going about their general workdays and lives. Many international organisations that expats are likely to work for have strict safety regulations and organise secure accommodation for their employees whilst employing 24-hour guards to monitor workplaces and residences.

- CON: Be aware of crime

Undeniably, safety is an issue in Luanda. Muggings and robberies do happen, and so travelling alone at night and especially as a woman can be dangerous. Expats should be aware of high-risk areas. Read about Safety in Angola for more.

Weather in Luanda

+ PRO: Pleasant, tropical climate

Climate can have a major impact on one’s well being if it’s too cold or too hot for one’s liking. Fortunately, Luanda’s weather is ideal for most expats. Angola’s geographic location means it has a perfect tropical climate, all year round. Luanda is situated right on the coast, meaning access to beaches nearby is enjoyed by foreigners and locals alike.

- CON: High humidity

Luanda is a humid city and can leave one feeling sweaty and uncomfortable. But, the exceptionally hot summers are short, while most of the year the temperatures are pleasant.

Healthcare in Luanda

+ PRO: Many healthcare facilities

Being the capital of Angola, Luanda has the most healthcare facilities and there are some good private clinics and 24-hour hospitals. Here, many doctors and health specialists can communicate in English and help expats.

- CON: Inadequate healthcare in general

Healthcare does not compare well to the standards expats may be used to. It is advised to get private healthcare and organise health insurance that covers costs abroad such as in South Africa or Namibia in case of emergency and complicated procedures.

- CON: Mosquitoes are a nightmare

Not only do these bugs have an annoying buzz and an itchy bite, but they carry disease too. Expats should generally make sure they have up-to-date vaccinations, use insect repellent and learn about the risk of malaria and yellow fever from their healthcare advisors.

Working in Luanda

+ PRO: Secure and attractive salaries and work packages

Expats are likely to move to Luanda due to their work as part of a multinational company often involved in the oil or diamond industry. Because of this, they already have secured high salaries and so can afford the luxuries available.

- CON: Exorbitant cost of living

Don’t assume Luanda is cheap just because it is an African city – it has one of the highest costs of living in the world. Rent, shopping and many other basic goods can be compared to Europe and the US. It may be difficult to afford to live in Luanda without a job in place. For those that are employed, of course, their salaries are likely to absorb the costs, but expats must be prepared to manage their finances carefully. 

- CON: Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork

Bureaucracy seems to be the word on Angola’s agenda. The visa and work permit processes are time-consuming and complicated with different embassy consultants informing expats different things about required documents.

Education in Luanda

+ PRO: International school options

Although public education in Angola may be lacking, schooling should not be a worry for expats with children. There are private, international schools in Luanda that can help smooth a transition for families. A familiar curriculum can be continued without language barriers as there are options for Portuguese, American and British curricula.

- CON: Expats must plan ahead

Tuition is expensive and adds to the already high cost of living in Luanda. Along with this and the competition for space in international schools, expats must ensure to contact the schools in advance to secure a place for their children.

Getting around in Luanda

+ PRO: Expats can travel out of the capital

Although getting around in the city itself can be difficult, expats should remember they can travel outside the city too for some stunning getaways. This is possible provided that expats are well informed of the road standards and a potential need for a four-wheel-drive vehicle, as well as safety and security issues to know which areas to avoid. Angola has much to offer with its warm coastlines, lush rainforests, expansive deserts and savannah environments. These are unmissable for an expat’s stay in the country. 

- CON: Traffic is a nightmare

Like life in any other big city, congestion is a major issue and expats are advised to avoid rush hours if possible. Most expats will need a car but may be able to organise a driver through their company so that the stress is out of their hands. 

- CON: Reckless vehicles on the road

Whilst slow-moving traffic is one thing, Luanda’s wild minibus taxis, candongueiro, are another. These white and blue vans zip through the streets. Perhaps expats up for an adventure may be willing to take this risky form of transport accompanied by a local friend for a cheap trip and an interesting story to tell afterwards. However, they are best avoided and they wreak havoc for other vehicles on the road.

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