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Though not the most conventional expat destination, Angola has plenty to offer with its wonderful tropical climate, miles of picturesque beaches and welcoming locals. The capital Luanda's relaxed lifestyle and buzzing nightlife are also big drawcards.
Living in Angola as an expat
As well as all the pros, there are a few cons to consider when moving to Angola. Safety in Angola has greatly improved but expats should still be wary and, by default, foreigners often find themselves living in the insular environments of expat compounds.
Although the country is still recovering from many years of war and inequality, Angola is rich in natural resources and is fast cultivating a dynamic business environment with plenty of opportunities. For expats with experience in the lucrative oil industry, the country offers high salaries. Expats can also earn well in mining, agriculture and manufacturing.
Most of Angola’s expats, and by extent also expat housing, can be found in Luanda. These properties tend to be large expat compounds with amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, shops and high-security features. Housing tends to be expensive, especially closer to the city centres. Further from big cities, the prices are lower, but so is the quality of accommodation.
Public transport in Angola is highly limited and private vehicles remain the main means of getting around. Cities are mostly serviced by privately-owned taxis, but cabs aren’t common. Driving is also reasonably tricky, with many potholes on the roads that are paved, and few roads paved outside cities. Traffic in the capital is extremely congested, as antiquated road networks struggle to cope with the volume of vehicles and cargo trucks. Expats should remain aware of their surroundings and drive defensively.
Healthcare is available and has improved markedly in recent years, but still isn't up to the standard many expats are used to. Expats who require complicated medical procedures usually travel to South Africa or further afield for treatment. We recommend expats invest in good international health insurance to cover the costs of expensive emergencies.
Cost of living in Angola
Angola has had a reputation as one of the most expensive cities to live in, but in recent years, the cost of living has reduced quite a bit. The biggest part of an expat’s income will most likely be devoted to schools and accommodation. Imported produce can be expensive, but locally-sourced items are much cheaper.
Expat families and children in Angola
Expats concerned about their children's education will be glad to know that there are international schools in Luanda, which are generally well supported by the companies that helped found them. With that said, the standards of these schools vary, tuition is pricey and waiting lists can be long.
Nature buffs will find Angola wonderfully rich and packed with sights and destinations for families to explore. Local organisations are working hard to rehabilitate the Iona National Park, and expats can explore its natural rock formations and plant life. Luanda also has a ton of sights to explore, including beaches, museums and other family-friendly attractions.
Climate in Angola
The country has a tropical climate with a long dry season and short rainy season. Its beaches tend to be rather arid, but in other parts of the country, the humidity spikes and many expats struggle to handle the heat.
While expats moving to Angola will likely face many challenges, those who approach the country with an open mind and adventurous spirit are sure to be richly rewarded with an exciting and unique cultural experience.
Population: 32.8 million
Capital city: Luanda (also largest city)
Neigbouring countries: Angola is bordered by Namibia to the south, Zambia to the east and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the northeast.
Geography: Angola is a southern African country with a varied terrain that encompasses tropical Atlantic beaches, a labyrinthine system of rivers and Sub-Saharan desert that extends across the border into Namibia.
Political system: Unitary dominant-party presidential constitutional republic
Major religions: Christianity
Main languages: Portuguese (official)
Money: The Kwanza (AOA), which is divided into 100 centimos.
Tipping: Standard 10 percent, unless service is included in bill.
Time: GMT +1
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz. Round-pin Euro plugs are standard.
Internet domain: .ao
International dialling code: +244
Emergency contacts: 113 (police), 112 (ambulance), 115 (fire)
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side. Much of the road infrastructure was destroyed and neglected during years of conflict, and despite efforts to rebuild, many of its roads are still riddled with potholes and few of them are paved. Most expats hire drivers who are accustomed to local driving conditions. Public transport in Angola is poorly maintained and unreliable.
►Learn about some of the Pros and Cons of Moving to Luanda
"The thing I enjoy most is getting out of Luanda for a weekend, going south along the coast and exploring the beaches. As for the quality of life: being an expat means I’m sheltered from the harsh realities of local life in Luanda." South African expat Monique shares her experience of Angola with us. Read her interview.
Are you an expat living in Angola?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Angola. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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