Sudan was once the largest country in Africa until the people of South Sudan voted for independence in July 2011, splitting the country geographically and introducing other dramatic changes. While living in the country may be challenging, expats moving to Sudan will enjoy the locals’ hospitality and immersing themselves in a new and rich culture.

Living in Sudan as an expat

There are sizeable expat communities in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, and the city of Omdurman. While most expats in Sudan are from Egypt, there are many Europeans and North Americans. Many foreigners who relocate to Sudan come to work in the country’s growing oil industry or to engage in humanitarian work.

While Khartoum is somewhat safe compared to much of the country, there are several areas of Sudan that expats should avoid. The security situation in the north and east of the country is volatile. Additionally, any area close to the Eritrean border is seen as a no-go zone for foreigners. The United States, among other governments, has released travel warnings for the regions of Darfur, Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan.

The social life in Sudan is relatively muted because of the country’s alcohol ban. Expats living in Sudan should remember that local laws reflect that it is a predominantly Islamic country. There should be limited public interaction between people of the opposite sex, and expats should dress modestly as a sign of respect for local traditions. While Sudanese Arabic is the most widely spoken language, expats shouldn't have much difficulty communicating in English, which is also an official language in Sudan.

Because of the climate and lack of public transport, expats living in Sudan will need a car, preferably an off-road vehicle, especially if they intend to explore the country. The road conditions in Sudan are hazardous due to the erratic driving behaviour, animal obstructions and a lack of signage and infrastructure.

Cost of living in Sudan

Expats will be able to maintain an excellent quality of life in Sudan, thanks to the high salaries in the oil industry. Accommodation in Khartoum comes in various forms and at different price points, including villas, modern apartments with 24-hour security and terraced as well as standalone houses.

The cost of groceries will depend on an expat’s preferences; buying imported goods will certainly be more expensive, while local produce will be pretty affordable. Expats will need to budget for a comprehensive health insurance policy that includes medical evacuation, as the country's healthcare services are subpar. Parents moving to Sudan with children will have to account for the eye-wateringly expensive cost associated with international schools.

Expat families and children in Sudan

The standard of public education in Sudan is well below what many expats are used to, so most choose to send their children to international schools. There are only a handful of international schools in Sudan, all of which are located in Khartoum. Fortunately, expats may be able to negotiate an allowance for this cost in their relocation package.

Expat parents are advised to bring extra supplies of their children’s medication. Sudan has experienced polio, meningitis and mumps outbreaks, so parents should ensure their children's immunisations are up to date. Expat families can also explore the Meroe Pyramids, Nile River or the galleries and museums in Sudan to learn more about the country’s history.

Climate in Sudan

Sudan is well known for its extreme heat and drought. The climate in the country ranges from arid to tropical, with average temperatures of between 79°F (26°C) to 89°F (32°C).

During the summer, temperatures often exceed 109°F (43°C), so expats should invest in good air conditioning and sunscreen.

Ultimately, expats moving to Sudan should be prepared for life in a developing country. They should also expect to make some significant adjustments to accommodate living under strict Islamic law. With the volatile security situation in mind, expats should take the time to make an informed decision about relocating to Sudan.

Fast facts

Population: Approximately 46 million

Major religions: Islam

Capital city: Khartoum (also the largest city)

Political system: Presidential representative democratic republic

Main languages: Arabic, English

Time: GMT+3

Electricity: 230 volts, 50 Hz. 

Currency: Sudanese pound (SDG)

International dialling code: +249

Emergency number: 999

Internet domain: .sd

Drives on the: Right

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