Knowing why you want to move to Africa will be a strong motivating factor when all else fails. I’ll tell you right off the bat that you will encounter some challenges in Africa coming from a more developed place like the US or Europe. But no place in the world is perfect. Every country has its difficulties.
For you, it’s a matter of what you are willing to sacrifice for what you want. This is why I said your purpose for moving to Africa must be established. Moving to Africa is not a walk in the park.
There are a lot of things to put into consideration when planning your relocation as well as the country to move to.
Many have made the decision to move to Africa, they have embraced the challenges as well as the benefits that come with it and are happy with the decision because they have a clearly defined purpose for making that decision.
If you are one of those who have made that decision to relocate to an African country for any of the following reasons; change of scenery, lifestyle change, for a new job, to start a business, to have more of a laid back lifestyle, to retire in Africa, to be close to the motherland, to be in the midst of black people, to expose your children to the culture and language and whatever else.
There are things you need to know about Africa or the country you would be moving to.
In this post, I highlight 12 things you should know before moving to Africa if you have a family. You will find some of these points to be true in most sub Saharan African countries.
1. Quality Education in Africa will cost you
Education for kids from crèche till high school is not free.
Well there are free government schools but if you want good quality education or one similar to the standard your kids are exposed to in the West like the British curriculum, Montessori et al. You will have to pay for it.
Because there is little investment in the Public educational sector, you find that most people here prefer to send their children to private schools where they pay a lot to make sure their children have the best quality of education and exposure that they can afford.
2. Fun places for the Kids are Limited
Parks, Indoor Play spots or play areas made specially for kids to have fun are not readily available as opposed to the US or Europe.
Of course those places are available but they are not rampant. For instance there are no Kids parks where they can go and play. To go somewhere fun sometimes you might have to travel miles to find these spots.
It just hasn’t been something the government has taken time to invest in and make available for children here. But children have fun in other ways. They play football, hide and seek, police and thief(similar to hide and seek), race games and board games with their neighbour friends.
Schools, especially private schools, tend to have playgrounds for kids and they organise trips and excursions with kids.
Teenagers can hang out with their friends to go watch movies, play football and the likes.
There are several things you can do with your family. You can plan trips with your kids to fun places in the African country you are residing in.
3. Your Kids are safe and will love Africa
There are several things about Africa that the kids will love and enjoy. The beach, tales by moonlight, meeting new friends, their new school, going on safaris, and short trips to resorts.
They will love going to birthday parties, they will meet cool friends and mix up with the locals. Kids settle down quickly and adjust to a new place especially if they are younger.
There are lots of things they will learn and discover about Africa. Kids in Africa are also independent in the sense that they run errands for their parents at a really young age.
For instance a mum can send her 7 year old to go buy something for her in the convenience store close by without any concern about the child’s safety.
You will see oftentimes in Africa that children go to school themselves from a young age and their parents don’t have to take them to and from school. This is normal. However parents who have the means to take your children to school themselves also do that.
So you see that children tend to develop a sense of independence from doing these things themselves from a young age.
4. They might pick up the local Language
An average person in Africa is at least Bilingual. They speak the official colonial language which is either English or French, and they speak their native Language.
I said “Might” here because even though there is a high chance that the kids will pick up the language being spoken in the new country they are living in, which would be absolutely fantastic by the way.
They might not learn it if they are not exposed to speaking the language and if they are surrounded only by people speaking English for instance.
Sadly there are several Africans living in Africa that don’t even speak a language beside English or whatever official language they have.
If you would love for your children to learn the local language, surround them with people speaking the local language.
Some people who repatriate to Africa and are passionate about learning the language or having their children learn the language employ a local to teach their kids the language.
The good thing is that Kids learn so fast, so it will be easy for them to learn the language.
5. Visit for a short time before you finally move
Most of you probably know this.
You definitely will need to come and see for yourself where you would love to move to and get accustomed to the place before you finally move the family.
It is important to do this because you are moving with kids and you want them to be as comfortable as possible when they move.
Your purpose of visiting briefly will be to establish where you will live, the size of the house, proximity to the kids school if you want your kids to be a part of the school system, proximity to fun places, closeness to your work or business if you intend to work or start a business, availability of basic amenities in that area and so on.
You also want to figure out the available health care system in place that will be good for you and your family, you want to sort out your transportation means amongst other things.
6. You can easily get help to assist you with the Kids
As a parent with kids you might need help with your kids, you might need someone to watch them for you when you are out, prepare them food or help you clean or maintain the house.
If you are someone with a busy schedule and you wouldn’t mind getting extra hands to help you out around the house you can easily find a help or nanny to help you do these things at a very affordable cost for you and a very good and favourable salary for the nanny.
The good thing about getting local help is that they can easily teach your children the language by speaking it to them frequently for free!
Also, if you employ them to help you cook it’s great because they are in the best position to cook the local food for you, teach you how to make them, and help you eat more varieties of African foods.
When you employ a help, try to test their integrity. Show them love and pay them well, and like employees who give their best to the business that treats them well they will give their best, and become a part of your family.
7. You need a Car
Ok, I know this is an obvious thing to sort out if you are moving to Africa with kids.
Mobility is gold!
Even though taking a local Taxi or Uber when moving around with your kids is an option and won’t probably cost much, it begins to get expensive as you take the local taxis all the time. That money can be saved up or used elsewhere.
Plus nothing beats having your privacy with your family, going out anytime to anywhere and not needing to hassle prices with the driver every time you want to go somewhere with your family, or being stranded waiting for a taxi.
So you need to put this into consideration and plan to make a car available for you and your family as soon as possible.
You always have the option to purchase a car in Africa when you arrive or just ship your car from your country.
Before shipping your car or picking a car to use in Africa there are a few things to consider.
- The African landscape and terrain is rough. You need a car well equipped to move around in Africa and withstand the road.
- What’s the size of your family? If you are a family of 6 and above you need a large sized vehicle like an SUV
- Get cars that have spare parts in Africa. Certain cars are difficult to fix or repair if damaged in Africa because it’s difficult to find the spare parts. During your visit to Africa, figure out the type of car being used mostly in the country you are relocating to. This way, you can tell that those cars have spare parts and can easily be replaced if damaged. For instance, you will tend to find the Toyota brand rampant in Africa
8. Being black in Africa is empowering
The origin of Black people stems from Africa. It is the continent of black people. So mostly everyone is black especially in Sub saharan Africa.
The presidents, leaders in most institutions or organizations, celebrities, the kids in the school and their teachers are black. The issues in Africa cannot be about race.
Being in a place where Black is the majority as a person of colour can be empowering because you are not a black minority, you are not even considered black because you won’t be addressed by the colour of your skin.
The businesses are black owned, the doctors and nurses are black, the traders in the marketplace are black the sign boards and adverts have black people in them.
Being black in Africa you blend in, you are not a black man but a man, you are not a black woman but a woman, you are not a black child but a child.
9. Comfort can quickly become expensive
There is a price to pay to be comfortable. Sometimes basic amenities like water and electricity are luxuries.
I know, it’s not right for a wealthy continent like Africa to lack basic things like electricity, water I hope that these issues are solved permanently.
Some countries have it better than others so you should look into these countries when deciding what country to move to. To mitigate these problems you can dig a borehole in your house and get a backup generator or Solar Panel. That’s the route most Africans take to solve these problems.
The government doesn’t provide certain things for the people. So most times some of these things will come out of your pocket. We try to solve these problems ourselves and not wait for the government to do it for us.
For a fact Africa needs to keep up with the rest of the world.
10. Children are safe
I have established this fact in point 3. Most kids in Africa grow up independent from a young age, they are safe to walk to school themselves, they run errands for their parents and some even go sell stuff in the market.
They learn to think on their feet and make decisions.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. People look out for other people’s kids and are the first to let you know if they notice anything wrong with your kids. Some people might see it as not minding one’s business. But people mostly care and want to help.
11. No credit systems
Most African countries operate more of a pay as you go economy. It is not a credit society, so the concept of credit is foreign to them. Usually when they buy anything they buy them in cash.
You need to have your money on hand and pay for things upfront. If you have a car you paid for that car in full, if you have land or a house you paid for it in full.
No credit systems. You need to get accustomed to this when you move to Africa.
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12. Your children will pick up good habits
The experience from living in Africa as someone coming from a place where things are almost always available and plenty will help teach your kids to better appreciate what they have because they see that many people do not have as much and they are truly happy and content.
Living in Africa will definitely help your kids see things from a different perspective and most kids might decide that they want to pursue causes in life that will impact lives.
I know of a lady who repatriated to Nigeria with her family a few years ago. Prior to moving with her kids and husband, the boys were not interested in anything besides their games, they wanted what they wanted from mum and dad, no excuses. Lol!
When they moved to Nigeria the boys saw the other side of life that people lived. They stepped outside the bubble of an American kid.
They began to appreciate their parents more, they were more grateful for what they had and even started helping their mother out in the house to do stuff.
This happened because they could see kids their age who did that, they had less but were grateful and content, they saw that these kids worked hard at such a little age and that was the example they needed to turn a new leaf.
In Fact they are now talking of becoming doctors to provide care for people who are sick and need medical attention. Their vision for their lives have completely changed as they are more passionate about adding value to people around them.
Africa is not a Utopia, it has its struggles and is still trying to come out of the challenges brought about by years of colonialism. But it’s home to billions of people who would not change it for anything.
Most Africans who travel to other parts of the world, hold Africa dearly in their hearts. Most have plans of relocating or retiring in their home country or anywhere in Africa. And that is because Africa is home, it is beautiful, and full of amazing, bright and colourful people, the weather is amazing and the continent has loads of potential to create generational wealth.
If you plan to move with your kids to a country in Africa, I truly believe that you won’t regret it. Make your plans and be focused on your goal and purpose of moving to Africa. I hope you have a splendid experience.