In retrospect, would you move again to Ethiopia?

Hi all,

If you had to look back on your expat experience in Ethiopia, would you heartily say "let’s do it again"?

From the preparation stage to your actual everyday life in your new country, what did you enjoy the most?

Would you do certain things differently? Could you tell us why?

How would you describe the benefits of your expatriation in Ethiopia so far?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience. We look forward to hearing from you!


I'm still in doubt whether to move back.

I spent more than two years in Ethiopia, working in tourism & at Ethiopian universities.

Positive experiences:
- As soon as you arrive in Ethiopia, you'll feel welcome & everyone is friendly to you. I've been to a lot of countries, but I guess Ethiopia feels the most "friendly" of them all. People are shouting "hello, brother" to you, "hi my friend", "welcome to Ethiopia, we love you", and so on. When feel lonely and/or depressed and not accepted in your own country, there's big chance that you'll feel accepted and welcome in Ethiopia.

- It's very easy to make friends. People will simply come to you and ask to be your friend. Especially when you stay longer term, you'll have rich social life and also interesting sex life (multiple beautiful & young sex partners). You'll never be alone.

- Life is cheap in general, in the smaller cities like Bahir Dar, you could live in big villa with multiple servants, go to restaurant every day and go to clubs, for less than $1000 per month.

- In small cities like Bahir Dar, transport is cheap & easy

Negative experiences:
- Working in Ethiopia for an Ethiopian organisation is always worse than working in the developed world. Salaries are small & there is no social security system in place, meaning that when you loose your job, you'll have *nothing* at all. If plan to work as an expat long term in Ethiopia and get paid in Ethiopian birr, you may end up begging on the street when you are 60, because you won't get retirement from Ethiopian government.

- The bureaucracy is crazy sometimes. I already wrote a more detailed post about this here on Expat forum. In summary, nobody in Ethiopia wants to take responsibility. So when you go to a government officer they will forward you to another officer, then to another and so on. What takes a few minutes in the developed world, can easily take you many days in Ethiopia.

- There's a huge shortage of Euro/USD in Ethiopia. Imports to Ethiopia are much higher than exports, and Ethiopian government is consuming the dollars on big and sometimes useless government projects.  That means, that if you work in Ethiopia, it will be difficult and sometimes almost impossible to get your money back to your homeland. You can also change currency on black market, but you'll have to pay a commission of up to 20%.

- If you decide to open your own business in Ethiopia, you'll face the crazy bureaucracy, and in addition you may have to find your own dollars to buy imported goods. And when you sell these goods to Ethiopians in Ethiopian birr, you'll have to struggle again to change your profit back into dollar.

- The internet connection in Ethiopia we call it sometimes "Christmas light connection", since it's not stable. I can't recommend working from Ethiopia as a "digital nomad". One minute you may find yourself on a good internet connection almost like in Europe, then the next minute the connection completely stops, and everything that you were downloading is also lost. On the other hand, Christmas light connection is sufficient for Facebook.

- The electricity system is also unstable, we can call it Christmast light electricity, and in addition in certain conditions it may destroy your equipment. For example I lost a $600usd Canon video camera simply by plugging it into a hotel room socket.

- When you have medical issues, Ethiopia is also not the place to be. When you go to Ethiopian pharmacy, medicine that is common in your own country, may not be available in your local Ethiopian pharmacy.

- Because of the social life & unsanitary environments (dirty toilets because of water shortage), diseases are spreading very fast. Expect to become sick much more often in Ethiopia than in your own country.

Hi Christine,
Actually am not an expat but let me tell you some facts, if you want to know about Ethiopia. you may get power with some interruption,you may face poor internet & mobile network, you may also challenged by traffic congestion. otherwise in terms safety i can assure you are much safer than living or walking in USA, u know why here there will no mass gun fire.

Yes I should have added safety to my positive points.

When I was in Ethiopia almost going back to Europe, suddenly the terrorist attacks on Brussels airport happened. People were joking that for my personal safety, it would be better to stay in Ethiopia.

But the biggest thing that would prevent me from going back to Ethiopia, is the "ferengi" (white man) pricing.

Ethiopian Airlines is giving the bad example, by tripling the price for white people. For example, to fly from Addis to Gondar would cost around 1200 birr for an Ethiopian. If your skin is white, the price for exactly the same thing would go up to almost 4000 birr.

In almost every hotel in Ethiopia, if you have white skin, you'll also pay double or sometimes more than an Ethiopian.

It's the same thing with Ethiopian restaurants, private taxis, attractions, and almost everything for sale. Even Ethiopian prostitutes will follow the example of Ethiopian airlines and charge your double-triple (almost the same price as for a prostitute in your own country).

As a tourist, you may not immediately notice these price differences, but if you come to Ethiopia as a volunteer on a tourist visa, you'll definitely notice and become frustrated.

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