In Today’s world, people are constantly looking to make the most of their existence by travelling more and visiting other parts of the world.
People decide to move or relocate for different reasons. It could be for a new job, a change of environment, to be close to family, for the sake of their children, for better climes with better opportunities, or to experience the culture and way of life of people that are different from what they know or are used to.
Whatever the case may be, more people are now choosing to travel more and live in foreign countries.
Africa has gradually become a destination for some people across the world in recent times for various reasons. However with Africa being a developing continent and not as advanced as some western countries, and bad media. There certainly will be concerns on people’s minds about relocating to Africa.
In this blog post I will discuss 16 major factors to consider before relocating to any country or region in Africa.
1. Safety and Security
One of the major factors that people consider before relocating is safety. Where people don’t feel safe, they seek to leave. Security is easily my first consideration when deciding which country to move to or travel to as the case may be.
Security involves steps taken by the government or society to ensure that the people feel safe and remain safe. Safety on the other hand implies a physical and emotional feeling of being safe from any form of harm.
In most African countries people are safe and go about their daily lives without fear of impending danger or uncertainty. Granted there are emergencies, and accidents that could happen as with anywhere in the world.
How to determine if a country you want to relocate to is safe?
- Do research online to see if there has been any war or political unrest in the country in recent times, the degree of this unrest, and the effect on the citizens.
- Are women and children safe in the country or is there an unfair bias towards women and children?
- What is the tourism industry like in the country? Are there tourist organisations? Are they foreigner friendly?
- Look for a community with people from the country you want to relocate to (might be online too). This way you can hear from the horse’s mouth all you need to know about the country.
- Following this closely is to look for expats currently residing in the country and connect with them to learn more about the country. What do they have to say about the country in question?
- Take a trip to the country prior to moving. Visiting a country to experience first hand what it is like living there will give you an idea on how safe the country is.
- Do they speak a language that you understand. Language can quickly become a safety factor. If you are new to a country, understanding the language spoken can help you in a lot of ways. This is why it is something you should consider in moving to a new country.
Generally speaking, there are many countries in Africa with low income earners who still live peacefully and are very safe.
Countries you should avoid are countries with high political unrest, wars, kidnapping and bombings by religious extremists.
Some of the countries in Africa that have been ranked the safest are; Morocco, Mauritania in Northern Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho in Southern Africa, Senegal, Ghana, in Western Africa, and Ethiopia and Rwanda in Eastern Africa.
Other expat friendly countries that people have moved to in recent times are Gambia, Tanzania, South Africa, Uganda, Seychelles and Cape Verde.
2. Stable electricity and water supply
Some countries in Africa especially sub Saharan Africa still have the challenge of epileptic power supply and sufficient water supply. However some countries are better than others.
If you are someone who needs to have constant electricity for your day to day activities. There is easily a way around this persistent challenge.
Most people have alternatives to the main electric supply so that when it is disrupted they can use other available options.
People have diesel generators in their homes that they use when the electricity goes out and some have solar panels or inverters to provide electricity.
These other means of electricity can be expensive because you have to always buy diesel for your generator, or to get a Solar Panel.
In the case of water supply people have boreholes set up for them from the water under the soil. They do not pay for water use from their borehole.
Countries with stable electricity in Africa include; Ghana, Uganda, Gabon, South Africa and Seychelles in sub Saharan Africa, and Mauritius, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria in Northern Africa.
3. Clean city and planned structure
If you consider cleanliness and organisation as a must have for a country you want to relocate to, then you should consider looking into countries in Esatern and Southern Africa. Africa has an issue with properly planning their Urban and Rural developments however some countries have it better.
Some of the cleanest and well structured cities in sub Saharan Africa I have seen are Namibia, Kenya, Seychelles, South Africa, Gabon, south Sudan, Botswana. Rwanda tops them all.
4. Housing Cost
Housing in Africa will not be much of a challenge for expats coming from western countries with foreign currencies. Housing in African countries can be affordable compared to the prices of housing in western countries.
Although with a lot of people investing in Real Estate in Africa, and a growing population. There is a gradual increase in housing cost.
However, with your foreign currency you can afford to live in an apartment within an estate. An estate or gated community comes with high security, stable electricity, good water supply and a good environment. There are several good options for you if you are on a budget.
You should note that houses in the city centres are more expensive than houses in less populated areas. The same as anywhere else in the world.
5. Healthcare Systems
A good healthcare system implies access to affordable and high quality health care services for citizens.
Staying healthy, both physically and mentally is paramount to our continuous existence. This is why before relocating to an African country you should find out about your options for good healthcare services.
Generally speaking, the health care systems in subSaharan Africa are sub par compared to developed nations who have invested massively in research and development, have top notch medical equipment, and are constantly using technology to solve health related issues.
Oftentimes the private sector steps in to fill the deficiencies of government owned or public health care systems. Therefore, there are lots of private hospitals that provide personal and quality health care services to people. However the fees for private health care services are not subsidised like that of the public health care systems and will be paid for completely by you.
For expats, your best bet will be to patronize private healthcare hospital services in the country that you live in.
Also, get private medical insurance that covers any emergency that requires evacuation to a better hospital outside the country if the need arises.
6. Infrastructure Development
Infrastructures like transport systems, good roads, hospitals facilities, proper waste management, Information and communication technology, schools and so on are what makes our daily living convenient.
It is also a key sustainer for the economic growth of the country. When the roads and transport systems are good you can avoid wasting productive hours on the road due to avoidable traffic.
Countries like Gabon, South Sudan, Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda, Kenya, Seychelles, and South Africa have done pretty well with their level of infrastructural development and maintenance.
Every country in Africa has its own indegenous language. Some countries have as many as 300 local dialects spoken by indigenes across the country. However, most countries in Africa speak the language they adopted when they were colonized.
Countries in sub-Saharan Africa speak either English, or French, and countries in Northern Africa speak Arabic or French as their official language.
Language is a very important factor to consider while choosing a country to relocate to.
Granted, you can learn the language spoken in the country over time, but it will be a very unpleasant experience struggling to communicate with people when you just relocated.
If you are a native English speaker, there are several countries in Africa that speak English. Some of these countries are; The Gambia, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Saint Helena, Zambia, Sudan, South Africa among others.
The French speaking countries in Africa are Morocco, Senegal, Togo, Congo, Gabon, Burkina Faso and so on.
8. Cultural and Religious Beliefs
In most countries the religious and cultural beliefs predominant in the country influences their way of life and approach to things. For Instance, There are countries in Africa that are predominantly Muslim. While other countries have both Muslim and Christian citizens.
For example, in some African countries, Sundays is religious holiday for the Christians and you will notice that quickly, because most small businesses, malls, and markets would be closed on Sunday. People go to church on Sundays and spend the rest of the day at home with their families or to visit friends.
Before relocating you should consider the cultural and religious beliefs of the country you want to move to in order to determine if you can quickly integrate and settle in easily and also if they can accommodate you.
9. Living Costs
Some countries have good standards of living which means that you can have access to basic needs at little cost. To determine the economic stability of a country, look into the rate at which inflation rises, cost of goods and services, foreign exchange rate among others.
For example, I am currently living in Lagos Nigeria. The inflation rate in Nigeria has been rising consistently for years by at least 1%. The effect of this is that the prices of goods and services keep going up. Also, In the foreign market you need more Naira to purchase a Dollar. This automatically raises the prices of goods being imported into the country. Since Nigeria Imports a lot of her goods from western countries. This increases the prices of good and services. Thereby, simultaneously increasing the cost of living.
10. Urban or Rural Lifestyle. What is your taste?
Do you like living in big cities? Then you can look into countries with populous cities in Africa. Usually, populous cities have better infrastructures and offer quality services. If you want a more laid back lifestyle there are several options of cities you can live, in the country you finally decide to move to.
Every country has its rural or urban areas.
11. Fun places and attraction sites
Although this might not be a deal breaker for you. it is worth considering if you want to relocate, especially if you have kids. Consider if the country has fun places, relaxations spots, nightlife, restaurants (maybe some of the popular ones like McDonalds), Pizza spots, shopping malls, parks, recreational centres and so on.
I bet you that there are loads of places you can visit in whatever country to choose to visit in Africa.
12. Crime rate
Crime rate is oftentimes influenced by other factors like unemployment, lack of education, economic instability amongst others.
However, it is not always the case as people who are out of school or without white collar jobs have other informal jobs that they do. A good way to understand the level of crime rate in a country is to seek the advice of expats who have lived in the country or make findings online
13. Employment opportunities for Expats
There is a large pool of expats working in various parts of Africa. In fact many expats who move to African countries move for work purposes. In most cases, they work for Multinationals with branches in various African countries.
Africa is still developing and there is a high demand for skills in various industries.
I believe that if you have in demand skills your services will definitely be needed in Africa. The key is to have a needed skill, build your networks before you arrive in the country of your choice and more so when you arrive.
Connect with businesses or professionals in your area of specialisation via LinkedIn when you are in the country, volunteer, and be strategic about your move.
Try to get a job offer from employers when you have decided which country you will like to move to prior to moving or save up about 6- 12 months worth of living expenses before you move and then build out your network and seek employment when you arrive during that period. Usually employers value the input from expats and see you as valuable to their organisation.
14. Visa Options
Before relocating to any country in Africa you will definitely need to have a visa. There are several visa types available for foreigners for respective countries.
Depending on how you are coming into the country, whether as a student, tourist, worker or business owner look into which country offers a more favourable visa option.
15. Ease of doing business or Investment as an Expat
Is the economic climate suitable for investing or doing business? This is a factor you should consider if you intend to start a business in the African country you relocate to.
For instance, in countries like Tanzania, and Rwanda you can’t own or register a business unless you are in a partnership with a local.
Find out about the industry you want to go into in the country and the country’s requirement for foreigners who want to start a business in their country.
Some countries have it easier to go in and do business than others. Do not forget to involve the services of a lawyer from the country right from the get go. They are in the best position to help you navigate through the process of starting a business as an expat in the country you relocate to. Also get your Tax right from the get go.
16. Political Clime and Leadership of the country
Some African countries in the last 10- 15 years have experienced political instability. Many of the leaders have been in power for over 20 years and counting.
There is also the issue of external influence of former colonial countries with ties and interests in the country. These factors play a role in influencing the political and economic outlook of these affected countries.
Most African countries are barely 60 years old after independence and are still in the process of self discovery and growth.
Some questions you should ask about the country you want to relocate to are;
What is the state of the country during the election? What type of president do they currently have and what is his leadership style? Is the political climate favourable to the masses or do people dislike their current leadership?
Note that a country going through a certain political crisis doesn’t necessarily make it unsuitable for tourists or expats. The country is generally safe and people are comfortable. These challenges occur particularly during elections.
17. Citizenship criteria
For those who consider being a citizen of the country they relocate to of importance. You would place this criteria amongst your top must have for the country you want to relocate to.
Before you decide which country to move to, you should ask these questions about citizenship; How can I become a citizen? What are the options for possible citizenship? How long will it take me to become a citizen in this country?
18. What country suits your lifestyle and current need the time
Africa is a beautiful and amazing continent but it has its challenges and is still growing in a lot of ways. It doesn’t promise to give you everything you want.
If you want to relocate to an African country there are certain things you will definitely miss about your home country. However I believe that there are so many beautiful things about Africa that you will benefit from as well.
After considering all the above factors, you can decide which country holds more promise to you based on what you want.
As much as you want to step out of your comfort zone and experience life outside what you know, you definitely want something that will suit you. You want to have a comfortable life and experience in Africa and that is totally achievable.
You just need to dot the I’s and cross the T’s before your big move so that you will have a good experience in your new country.
And you can always country hop if you want, to explore and see more of the continent.
You most likely will not figure everything out before you come to Africa. You will understand better when you visit.