After almost 3 years of living in Angola (living in Luanda, to be precise), I think it’s time to look back a little and think about everything I have learned while an expat in Africa.
Living in Angola is living in a different and exotic place, and being exposed to reality so different from Europe made me have different perspectives about things, learn to do unexpected things, and ultimately contribute actively to my goal of enjoying life the most!
What have I learned living in Angola?
#1 To have more Patience
Luanda will test and retest your patience in every possible way! In the beginning, you will lose it a few times. When you think: there’s nothing else to happen, then something really “amazing” will surprise you! But then you get used to it… or sort of 🙂 Well, if you don’t get used to it, you will probably have a bad time during your expat years.
Many of my friends and expat colleagues tell me that they must go back every 3 or 4 months to relax and take a breath. Believe us, you will need those days out of the mad traffic, the traffic police officer, the long work hours, the few and very expensive fun activities, the constant slight feeling of insecurity, the electricity and water supply problems, the foreign currency nightmare… and so on.
We have learned to live with it and disregard most of these things constantly. After all, with a bit of patience, and flexibility, all these small things get solved, become a valuable experience, and have some cool story to tell afterward.
#2 To Appreciate Electricity
After two and a half years in Angola, I truly love electricity. I have learned the value of things I always thought were a given fact. I now know what we can’t do without electricity, and I will share this awesome insight: without electricity… WE CAN’T DO ANYTHING!
You don’t have a TV, internet, computer (at least after a few hours)… The water pump won’t work, so you can’t bathe, wash dishes or use the toilet… The fridge and freezer won’t work, and your food will get rotten; you won’t be able to charge your phone; you will have a problem even entering your building at night because you don’t see anything.
Did I ever mention that Luanda is quite hot? You won’t sleep at night because it’s too hot, and guess what? The air-conditioner doesn’t work without electricity. And that’s why in Luanda, Jorge, Claudia, and electricity have a three-way love affair 🙂
#3 Learn The Handyman Things
I may have a few qualities, but being a handyman isn’t one of them. Or wasn’t it!? You will learn about handy things in Luanda, or at least you will have many opportunities 🙂 By now, I have learned or at least improved my skills of changing a car tire, changing and charging a car or generator battery; I have even charged the generator battery using the car; I have learned how to bleed the water pump and change the water pump’s pressure tank.
I still need to learn how to do the maintenance of a generator 🙂 But we still haven’t left!
#4 The Three Companies
One thing I have learned during our life in Angola is that renting in Luanda has its own uniqueness – you need to be aware of the three companies. Meaning? You have to make sure that you can substitute the public companies: TCUL (transports) EPAL (Water), and EDEL (Electricity). Although they exist and provide the services, they are just unreliable!
So, your house will always have to have a generator, an electric water pump, and a water tank. And you will have to have a car, a service car or yours. Unfortunately, internet companies work as badly as the three above, but you have to live with it. There’s little you can do about it.
#5 Being Alert
One of the first things I learned was to be on alert due to the unfamiliar environment and constant insecurity. With time that fades away, but it’s always there. I have gotten used to double-checking if car and house doors are locked, if someone is following me, and if that neighborhood is safe to drive or walk by.
We always avoid crowded streets, walk fast or at least as if we have an important goal, and avoid having our phones and wallet in our hands.
I have learned to be safe about water and fresh food and to vigorously avoid mosquitoes due to the danger of typhoid fever, malaria, and other diseases. But don’t be too scared about this. I’ve never got typhoid or malaria (although almost everyone I know has) and only got robbed once, and it only happened because I was slightly stupid.
The funny thing is that by now when we go on holiday, my family and friends tell me to be safe… pfff please, I live in Angola! 🙂
Yes, he was robbed on stage, with everyone watching 🙂
As we have written several times before, street selling is part of Angolan culture. I have to say I’m not the biggest fan of buying things on the street, but like everyone else, I do it regularly. One of the great things about it is that you can bargain a little or a lot.
With time you will become used to it and improve as you learn more about fair prices. Just don’t expect to be able to buy at the same prices as Angolans do. Well, at least I still can’t, but now I can buy things easier and get much better value for money deals.
Luanda has its charm, and it’s important that someone from Europe or the US knows that they are in a very different place and don’t expect to have everything we have in our home country. The key to all of this is our ability to adapt and enjoy what you have.
During of life in Luanda, I have learned that I am way more adaptable and flexible than I ever thought. I believe that this ability is inherent to everyone, people just need to really want to and/or have a goal to achieve.
Further reading, if you are planning to live in Angola
50 things you need to know before going to Angola
10 fun Facts about Angola and the Angola
6 thoughts on “6 Things I learned while LIVING in Angola”
it is not difficult to live in angola, I was born in angola and I know! even white I feel black and I know how black people feel; is a matter of perspective! .. for those who do not know or a white to live among whites, it always becomes a different reality! but Angola is African; learning to live with these things mentioned in the text in angola is normal, and luanda, although angola is not all, all the same, there are differences in the provinces, however, we must be cautious, I believe that it was not easy angola to cross everything that crossed, however it is all a matter of education! I believe that Angolans can more and more exude spaces and times, and there is discipline; but life in Luanda has always been like this, Luanda is mystical, life boils, it is beautiful, however agitated, there is a symbiosis of adrenaline, and consummation of fear, but being Angolan is anyway … however the advice of this text are valued .. I understand the concerns of those who come from outside … and are advisable to give and pass them to others..is Angola .. is Luanda
The best thing of Luanda is the airport when we come back to our beloved Portugal.
I think you’re being a little too negative. The crime rate in this country is as bad as any other country. The street vendors are trying to earn a living and their products are a lot cheaper than the grocery stores or you wouldn’t be trying to buy from them and bargain with someone who clearly makes a lot less than you do.
I would like to see more posts from experts that focus on why they continue to stay in Angola inspite of many inconveniences because unlike Angolans, you have a choice to be here. So painting a negative picture is like rubbing it in every Angolans face that we are pretty much stuck with this “shitty” life.
Maybe next time focus on the beautiful people you meet, the amazing views of Angola, the great food, the music, the resilience, and all things good. Maybe focus on the reason you stayed so long. Like the good pay and the benefits. #MyThoughts #ProudlyAngolan
I don’t think the post is negative at all, or it wasn’t written with that conception. But even if it was, everything has its good and bad and focusing just on the bright side of anything isn’t going to help much either. You can be proud but still critic of what isn’t good. Take a look at the other posts about Angola 🙂 Actually we are writing a post more focused on working as expat, and what you can expect and what you are expected. I think you will like it.
I’ve been living and working in Angola for 4 years and this is what I think:
Safety: in the beginning people were just robbed, but not like in any other city! Here you are robbed with guns! I know some people that gave up being here… Now it is different, because of the economic situation. Now, instead of people just being robbed (Money, phone) can also be kidnapped and they ask for a lot of Money (up to 15.000.000 Kz). If you are a female pray not to be kidnapped… Until now this applies to asian people, but we never now what happens in the future…
About the food: you can have the same great food in Portugal. The only difference is that it is less expensive in Portugal!
Of course there are good things: the fresh fruit, the climate, some beaches (that we have to drive a lot to get there – from Luanda).
Compreendo que não se goste de ver exibidos aspectos negativos sobre um lugar de que se gosta mas, num país riquíssimo com uma taxa de mortalidade infantil de 78.26 mortes por 1,000 nascimentos ( e desceu bastante nos últimos anos) e uma esperança de vida de 55 anos ( esta parece subir pouco) deve ser díficil não ser submerso pelos aspectos negativos. Não faço ideia de qual seja a taxa de crime em Luanda mas, baseado apenas intuição, não será díficil imaginar que a afirmação de que será ” …as bad as any other country …” só poderá vir de um universo paralelo.
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