Located at less than 200 km from Europe, Tunisia is a rather popular destination with expats. Find, in this article, all that you need to know about this North African country if you are planning to move there.
Despite being the smallest State in the Maghreb region, Tunisia is a quite promising country, bordered by Algeria and Libya. Indeed, it welcomes many expatriates every year for various reasons, namely the various opportunities it provides, its pleasant climate, the affordable cost of living, as well as the variety of accommodation available.
Located in North Africa and at some 140 km from Europe, it enjoys its strategical position to attract foreigners, including workers and investors. In fact, Tunisia is deemed to be an economic reference for Africa. Hence, moving there shall have several advantages, regardless of your situation.
Tunisia is a unicameral parliamentary Republic. Tunis is its capital city.
Stretching over 164 155 km², Tunisia is found at the North African border, at 220.5 km South of Sicily, that is at a two hours flight from Paris, one and a half hours flight from Geneva and a 50 minutes flight from Rome. Tunisia has not less than 1,300 km of coastlines, excluding its islands. The highest point of Tunisia is the Châambi at 1,544 m.
Sfax, Sousse, Nabeul, Bizerte, Kairouan, Monastir, Mahdia, Gabes, Tozeur, El Kef, Gafsa, Beja, Jendouba, Kasserine, Siliana, Medenine, Tataouine, Kebili, Sidi Bouzid, Zaghouan, Tabarka, Hammamet, Djerba and Zarzis are the major Tunisian cities.
Tunisia enjoys a Mediterranean climate in the North and along its coastlines. In the center and in the South, the climate is semi-arid.
The average sunshine in the country is several hours a day almost all year round. Temperatures generally vary between 12°C in December and 30.6 °C in July. Hence, in winter, temperatures never go below 10°C.
Rainfall is quite scarce in the country and rather occurs during winter, accounting for 75% of the total yearly record.
In Northern Tunisia, you will find the Medjerda plains on one side between Kroumirie mountains and Mogods hills, and the "Tunisian dorsal" on the other. The East is bordered by the Tunis Gulf and the Cap Bon Peninsula, specializing in market gardening.
In the Center, mountain ranges are separated by basins and fertile valleys. Further east, near the Sahel and Sfax regions, vast plains are covered with olive trees. Finally, the South, you will find the great Chott Djerid depression and its riparian groves (Tozeur, Kebili and Douz), bordering the Sahara Desert. Djerba, which is a tourist island, is found near the coast while Matmata Mounts are further to the East.
According to official statistics, the Tunisian population comprises of 11,218,461 inhabitants as at early 2016. The national demographic growth rate accounted for 0.98%.
Most of the local population lives in the major agglomerations such as Greater Tunis including cities like Tunis, Ariana, Ben Arous and Manouba with more than 2 643 695 inhabitants in 2014.
Tunisia's official language is Arabic which, however, has a local variant known as Tunisian. In the South, you are likely to hear the Tunisian Chelha which is a Berber dialect.
Most Tunisians start learning French at the primary school level, that is as from the third year. In fact, Tunisia is a mainly French-speaking country. French is compulsory at the baccalaureate level. Official texts, for their part, are written in Arabic, and translated in French when it excludes internal and administrative communications, except in the case of those issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Justice.
As regards road traffic signs, these are displayed in both French and Arabic. So you better have a good knowledge of either of these two languages when moving there.
The Tunisian population is known for being open-minded, friendly, tolerant and hospitable. Its openness to the rest of the world might be part of its rich legacy, inherited from great civilizations, as well as African, European and Mediterranean populations.
Most of the Tunisians are of Muslim faith. In fact, Islam is the official religion, but the country also host Jew and Christian communities who practice their faith and belief in complete freedom, thus contributing to Tunisia's cultural diversity and making it a tolerant nation.
The national motto is “Horiya, Karama 'Adala, Nizam” (phonetic Arabic), meaning Freedom, Dignity, Justice and Order.
Discover Humat Al-Hima, the national anthem, here: www.youtube.com
The national currency is the Tunisian Dinar.
Tunisia is a member of the United Nations Organization, the International Criminal Court, the African Union, the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), the Arab League, the Islamic Cooperation Organisation, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, the Non-Aligned Movement, the G77 and the Union for the Mediterranean.
Cost of living
The cost of living in Tunisia is quite affordable. For instance, you will be making considerable savings on buying fresh local products. However, imported products are naturally more expensive.
Note that 1 Euro amounts to some 2.42 Tunisian Dinars (1 Tunisian Dinar = 0.41 Euros in 2016). However, unless you are earning Euros while living in Tunisia, the local cost of living in the country is one of the highest in Africa, especially for those living in the North and in coastal regions. If you are earning in local currency, you should know that the cost of labor is lower. You should thus expect around 180 to 210 Tunisian Dinars per week.
Here is an example of an average budget estimate:
- 1,000 to 1,500 Euros per month, including rent, for a single person spending rationally
- 1,500 to 2,500 Euros per month, including rent, for a couple
- 2,500 to 3,500 Euros per month, including rent, for a couple with two children (taking into account that International schools are paid).
- a single subway or bus trip costs about 1 TND
- a 10 minutes trip by taxi costs 4 TND
- a beer or soda can cost between 0.5 and 1 TND
- a cinema ticket costs 5 TND
- a menu of the day in a cheap restaurant costs between 10 and 20 TND and around 30 TND in a chic restaurant.
Good to know:
The Tunisian real estate market is quite favorable for expatriates. So if you wish to buy property, you should fairly manage to find a new and comfortable house at an attractive price.