Things to Know Before Moving to Africa
Africa is an exciting place to be, these days. In spite of the negative publicity it sometimes receives, many of its economies are thriving. Moving abroad to Africa offers wonderful new horizons, but its diverse cultures are very different from Britain. Your relocation will go a lot more smoothly if you bear a few things in mind.
In most African countries, you’ll need a visa or permit if you’re proposing to work or settle. If you’re being relocated by your employer, HR should guide you through the process. If you’re doing it yourself, find out the requirements as soon as possible from the country’s embassy or high commission. And make sure you’re going to be allowed in before committing yourself.
With international removals, it’s even more important than usual to ensure the removal companies you consider are not only reputable, but also have experience of your destination. Other things to check include whether they’re fully insured and what help they offer with customs documentation.
Even if the removal company does help with customs, though, it’s important to check requirements yourself and keep strictly to them.
- For most countries, it’s advisable to set up a bank account from the UK, if possible through your current bank, ensuring that your credit rating is continuous. Many UK banks operate in major African countries.
- It’s usually best to rent a home initially before you find your feet, but check costs and availability first.
- Few African countries have free health services, so make sure you have comprehensive health insurance.
- Arrange a school for your children. Some employers offer schooling, but if you’re in a major city, your children might adapt better in a local school.
Know the Culture
If you’re going to a Commonwealth country like South Africa, Kenya or Nigeria, English may be widely spoken, but it’s still good to learn something of the predominant local language, such as Swahili in Kenya. This gives you more chance of immersing yourself in the culture.
African cultures are extremely diverse, and often very different from the UK. Some areas, for instance, may be predominantly Muslim, such as northern Nigeria or the Gambia. Even where there aren’t legal requirements, you can avoid causing offence by precautions such as dressing conservatively and not drinking alcohol in public.
As always when moving abroad, find out as much as possible about the culture before leaving and make it a priority to learn more from the moment you land. That way, you can enjoy the rich adventure that Africa offers.