With its diverse cultures, wildlife and fantastic scenery, Zambia is a popular tourist destination. Zambia is one of the safest and friendliest places to visit and to live in Africa. In the bigger towns and cities, there are a variety of hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, shopping malls and local markets that cater for every need. A yearly agricultural show, held in Lusaka, is one of the highlights on the social calendar. If you are an outdoors or adventurous type of person, you are spoilt for choice on what to do. Quad bike courses, golf courses, horse trails, 4 x 4 excursions, white water rafting, bungee jumping, heli flips… they are all there. Measured by African standards, it is moderately expensive to live in the major cities like Lusaka, Livingstone Kitwe, Solwezi and Ndola. Malaria and AIDS are still the biggest ‘killers’ which results in most of the locals having extended families to take care for. This is one of the most endearing qualities of Zambia – they really do hold the family in high esteem and take care of each other. This is a Country that will creep into your heart with its warm, welcoming people and excellent hospitality. The Government is putting an effort into curbing bribery and corruption, but you can still expect to be stopped and “fined” for the silliest reasons . As long as all your paperwork is in order, you can argue your point and expect fair treatment. Definitely a “bucket list” experience is to enjoy the view of the Victoria Falls from the Royal Livingstone.
unlike most of its neighbours Zambia has earned itself a reputation for political stability. It is landlocked, with its direct neighbours being the DRC, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Angola and Namibia. There is even a particular border crossing where you can cross over to 4 different Countries at the same border post. Next to the DRC it is Africa’s second largest copper producer, with most of the mining activity in the rich Copper Belt area of Solwezi, Kitwe and Ndola. Despite a massive Chinese investment and the recovery of the Copper price, two thirds of the Country still lives in poverty.
Zambia has a huge expat community with mostly South Africans and Brits making a life for themselves in the agricultural, mining and hospitality sectors. The Bemba tribe is considered to be ‘royal’ and expect to be treated with more respect, even if they might be appointed in a lower ranking potion than a Tonga or Lozi tribe person.
Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and a few indigenous beliefs are the major religions practised. As in other African Countries, going to church is a major social event.
Very hot summers, 2 rainy seasons (one long and one short) with dramatic thunder storms and surprisingly cold winters can be expected. Rain is something else in Zambia…it comes down in a curtain of water, showers can last for a few minutes or a few hours and you are guaranteed to get soaked…but it is the best fun!
Zambia is slightly smaller than Chile at 752,614 square km. Two major river basins drain the country: The Zambezi/Kafue basin in the centre and the Congo basin in the north. Of course the mighty Zambesi River, Lake Kariba and the spectacular Victoria Falls are musts to see while you are in Zambia.
a. Short term accommodation: there is a lot available in lodges, hotels, apartments, and even private housing. Prices are highly negotiable and will almost always be charged in Dollars (US). The shorter the period your lease term is, the more you will pay (pro-rata)
b. Long term accommodation: housing compounds, apartments, villas, bungalows and even farm houses are readily available
c. Types of houses: if you tell an agent that you are looking for a “Western style house” or an “American kitchen”, you will get that! Check that whatever you are renting/buying has a reliable water and power supply (water tanks/reserves and back-up generators are highly recommended) as outages can be expected. Also check for fly screens since insects (especially mosquitos and mango flies) are a problem.
d. Tip: Always tumble dry your clothing and linen because of the Mango fly issue, they hide in your laundry when you hang it out to dry and then bite you, lay eggs under your skin, which can become quite a nasty experience.
e. Rental: rent will be expected to be paid a year in advance by most agencies. However, with company backing and negotiation, one can come to an agreement to make quarterly payments.
f. Sales: it is possible to buy property on the 99 year lease agreement. Before you think about buying property, make sure you have a residency permit and company backing or that you can make an investment in the Country
g. Tips on renting: agents commission will usually be the equivalent of one month’s rent, payable up front; duration of lease will be for a minimum of one year; Deposits can vary, but on average it will be 2 month’s rent. The lessee will pay the agent, deposits, admin fee and water/electricity connection fee.
h. Renting fully furnished is possible and the standard of furnishing is quite good. Furniture and appliance stores, second hand goods and beautifully crafted local furniture can be bought in any of the major centres and at craft markets.
you can recruit cleaning personnel, gardeners, drivers, nannies, via reputable recruitment agencies.
a. It is not a necessity to have a driver in Zambia since it is quite safe to drive yourself.
b. What to pay: salaries for household staff are very low. Find out from your neighbours/co-workers what they pay their staff as a guideline. Rather compensate your workers with food, clothing, charcoal, taxi fare, etc.
c. Conditions of employment: if you are unhappy with a worker it is very, very difficult to dismiss them.
a. There are many pets available in Zambia, so only import your pet if you cannot bear to leave it behind. Healthy pets will not be quarantined, but the process to bring pets into the country is quite complicated.
b. How to find locally: pet shops are everywhere, the SPCA has a variety of pets available for adoption in all the major centres and classified ads are posted weekly.
follow mostly the American or British curricula and the standard is good. Boarding facilities are also available in the major centres.
a. International school of Lusaka is one of the oldest and best established schools in Africa
b. Private schools are available for all levels in Lusaka
c. Public – there are many to choose from, depending on your budget and personal preferences
d. Entry requirements – children of all grades will be required to do an entry level exam
e. Availability – there is a large number of schools available and no waiting lists
f. Home schooling – it is up to you if you prefer to home school, depending on your child’s needs, but because of the good standard of schools around it will not be a necessity
g. Universities and colleges are well represented
h. Courses – everything is available
SECURITY, SAFETY TIPS
Zambia is very safe, but common sense should prevail. Don’t leave doors open, don’t leave mobile phones lying around (they are popular items to be stolen!) and don’t use offensive gestures or language towards other people. Always greet the oldest person first, because they deserve your respect. Ask before you take a person’s picture and don’t take pictures of Government buildings.
DRIVING IN THE COUNTRY
a. Travel: you will need a good vehicle because the country roads are full of potholes and corrugation. If you do not travel while you are in Zambia, you will be missing out. This is a wonderful place to see, with many National Parks and tourist attractions. You can walk with elephants, row the Zambezi, go Tiger fishing on Lake Kariba, explore the more remote Kafue National Park…there is just too much to mention.
b. Safe driving: they drive on the LEFT here. Watch out for heavy duty vehicles and wildlife crossing the road. Driving at night (cross Country) is not recommended due to a lack of fences keeping wildlife off the roads. Peak hour traffic and trucks can slow you down during in Lusaka and Ndola. Make sure you live close enough to your place of work to get there in a short drive or get your timing right to avoid peak hours.
c. Vehicles: purchase, lease, rent: every type of vehicle to suit your needs at every negotiable price is available. Financing can be arranged through the dealerships or banks should you consider buying a vehicle. Second hand vehicles are often imported from Japan. Expats selling their vehicles when they leave Zambia advertise on all the known forums as well as at shopping centre notice boards. Long term rental agreements can be done through all the known agencies like Avis, Budget, Eurocar, etc.
d. Transport – public transport can be a bit of a challenge since they mostly rely on minibus taxis or a local bus service, which is not in the best condition. Trains run between the major towns and tour buses will do the same, but very few expats make use of this option. Big companies, Hotels, Lodges or safari/adventure companies usually have their own vehicles which will pick you up at designated points.
e. Taxis can be expensive if you do not negotiate carefully. They are quite safe to use and will take you anywhere.
f. Fuel is expensive and often the fuel stations will run dry, so be aware of what the current situation is and fill up in time.
- Capital: Lusaka
- Major towns and cities: Livingstone (for tourism); Ndola, Kitwe, Solwezi (Mining)
- Languages: English is the official language. Bemba is the second most popular language and still often used in schools and administration. There are more than 70 local dialects spoken in Zambia
- Population: 16,212,000
- Currency: Kwacha
- Time zone: CAT (UTC +2)
- Dialling code: +260
- Popular sport: soccer and any type of outdoors/adventure activities
- Economy: Zambia’s economy relies heavily on the mining and agricultural industries, but tourism has also become a major role player. China has made huge investments in Zambia and they provide construction jobs to many locals. Despite this, factors that affect the economic growth are the rapid population growth and high mortality rates associated with AIDS and maternal mortality numbers.
- Compulsory vaccinations: proof of yellow fever injections was required (yellow card) up to 2012. It is still advisable to have it done, especially if you want to travel to neighbouring countries.
- Good to have vaccinations: Tetanus, yellow fever, typhoid and hepatitis A are recommended.
- Health risks: malaria can be contracted quite easily, but most pharmacies will sell medication over the counter for this.
- Public healthcare: There are many hospitals in Zambia with excellent facilities located in Lusaka. Doctors and specialists in all imaginable fields who have been trained Internationally will take good care of any ailments/emergencies.
- Private healthcare: there are private clinics in Lusaka but with Company Insurance policies, you will more than likely be advised/medivacked to South Africa for specialist care.
- Medical aid (insurance): your company will advise you on the best options available. Medical Insurance is a must and can be obtained from a variety of companies like Zambia Universal Health Insurance; Liberty health; Hollard, etc.
Additional tips for Expats
- On arrival at the airport, expect to be greeted with a big smile and in English. The system is effective and fast and if your paperwork is in order you will not encounter any major issues. This is a very welcoming Country.
- You do not need to travel with the local currency when you first arrive, US dollars and South African Rand will be accepted at most places. However, try to change money to Kwacha at a renowned establishment, not the street vendors, as soon as possible to make life simpler for you.
- What to pack: documents, a warm jacket (even in summer there can be unexpected cold snaps), light cotton/linen clothing for summer and warm woollies for winter. (Clothes of good quality are available at malls and boutique’s).
- If you are in Zambia on a work permit, you will need to present your paperwork to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Your employer should take care of all this on your behalf. Be careful not to overstay your visa parameters.
- Electrical supply – 220V is standard and the power sockets are of type C/D/G
- Post office and DHL services are reliable, not only between towns but also internationally.
- Internet is sometimes interrupted no matter which network you choose as your provider. MTN and Zain are the most reliable. Wifi is available everywhere.
- This is an accommodating and easy country to live in. Everything and anything is available and it can be a wonderful experience for you and your family.
- Types of visas – please check what visas you will require depending on which country you originate from
- Types of permits – work permits and an International driver’s license (preferably also get a local licence ASAP) are required.
- Additional information regarding main applicant and dependents visas: Based on the main applicants’ reason for being in Zambia, the rest of his/her family will receive their spousal/family visas without much difficulty.
- Proof of employment will be required and a high standard of education, preferably a degree or trade certificates, will be needed to get employment – this has become a bit of an issue since the local unemployment rate is so high
- The spouse/partner of the person on the work permit will not be allowed to work, unless they apply for their own work permit through their employer. Residence status will only be granted after a number of years/capital investments in Zambia