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Submitted by an expat woman living in Namibia, Windhoek

City: Namibia
Country: Windhoek
Submitter's Name: Lorraine
Nationality: United Kingdom
Arrival Date: May, 2008
Date Submitted: June 12, 2009
 
 
 
Expand/ContractCity Description
Windhoek has a very European feel due to it's historical links with Germany. It is very easy to navigate and Namibia generally is often referred to as 'Africa for beginners' because it really is quite easy to live here. Winter has very cold mornings and evenings but is very pleasant during the day, Summer is the rainy season (Jan - Apr) but that gernerally means that it rains for a few hours, not necessarily each day. Best months are Sept / Oct / Nov / Dec when it is very hot and dry.
Expand/ContractPros and Cons
Generally the people are very friendly, though it pays to be streetwise. Dress is very casual. Crime tends to be opportunistic, car break-ins etc, though most homes have electric fences, security gates and access to private security services. There is no public transport to speak of so people are very car-dependant to get around, though taxis are easy to come by and generally safe to use. It is a small city and easy to navigate, traffic is light and just 15 minutes from the city you are out in the bush. Although there are theaters, cinemas and restaurants of various cuisines, you do have to make an effort to make your own entertainment.
Expand/ContractImmigration / Visas / Work Permits
It is advisable to register with your embassy or consulate on arrival. Work permits and visas, in fact any administration work, is very, very slow! Lots of patience is required.
 
Expand/ContractAccomodation
Compared to European rents, housing here is good value for money. Most expats on long-term contracts live in 3/4 bedroom homes, most have a pool. The suburbs of Eros, Ludwigsdorf and Klein Windhoek are very nice places to live. Rents range from N$10000 - 20000 a month. If you are on a short-term contract, you can rent corporate serviced apartments for one month or six months at a time.
Expand/ContractHousehold Help
It is very common to have help, though few have full-time help. Most 'pool' services of a gardener and cleaner. Costs for 12 hours per week (3 mornings) are N$1200 per month.
Expand/ContractCommunication
Internet connection is generally stable but can be slow.
Wireless is available.
Skype is very popular for long-distance calls. Mobile (cell) phone coverage is good country-wide. MTC / cell One are the two network providers. You can get contract or pay-as-you-go phones. There are two English, one German and one Afrikaans newspaper, plus the SA times. DSTV is the SA cable TV network. Post is not hugely reliable. Best to insure anything posted. Post is delivered to your PO BOX number available at your local post office.
 
Expand/ContractLocal Language
English and German are readily spoken. Afrikaans would be an advantage. There is also a French National Cultural centre if you would like to learn French.
Expand/ContractUtilities for the Home
Tap water is safe to drink, though contains large amounts of chlorine. Bottled water tastes better. Electricity is on a pay-per-use basis. You have to buy electricity credit and punch a number in a box on the wall to top it up, but it is not hugely expensive.
Expand/ContractLocal Employment
Most expat women are unable to work. They are simply 'accompanying spouses'.
Expand/ContractMoney and Banks
Local currency is Namibian dollars. Equivilent to SA rand. Approximately 14-15 dollars to 1 UK Pound, at the time of writing.
Expand/ContractHealthcare
Most expats have Private Medical care and the quality is generally very high. Fortunately I have not yet had cause to need it.
Expand/ContractEducation
There are Montessori-style schools, Afrikaans schools, private schools, a German and an International school. There is also UNAM, the Namibian University.
Expand/ContractTransportation
It is easy to own a car, though they are expensive. The city is very easy to navigate and traffic is light.
Expand/ContractShopping & Beauty Care
Windhoek generally has everything you could want but not necessarily much choice. There are several Woermann and Bock supermarkets, a large SPAR which sells lots of European-branded items and a large Pick & Pay. There is a large fruit and veg city.

There is not much choice when buying furniture and lot of people have things shipped up from SA. It is easy to have furniture and items made here though. There are some great carpenters and metal workers here. There are two large shopping malls that are home to Edgars and Woolworths (SA), @Home, Mr Price, Foschini, beauty salons etc.
Expand/ContractSports and Entertainment
There are lots of options for sport. Tennis, golf, skating, football, running, paint balling, swimming and a large Virgin active gym for squash, yoga, Pilates etc.
Expand/ContractPets
There are lots of dogs here. Vets and kennels are available.
Expand/ContractUseful Resources
Bradt Guide to Namibia http://www.whatsonWindhoek.com
Expand/ContractOthers
 
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