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How to save money in Cape Verde

Hello everyone,

Did you plan your budget before your move to Cape Verde? If so, how did you go about it?

How do you save money in your day to day life? Do you find there are any areas where you can't cut costs?

Do you have any tips about saving money in Cape Verde? For example, getting the best deals on accommodation, grocery shopping and dining out, the best value transportation, etc..

Are there any apps or websites that have helped you to save money?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

Saving money while living in Cape Verde is an absolute necessity as income levels are quite low and many goods are imported and thus expensive. Essentially, the answer is to live like the locals do. I will give some examples of areas where expats tend to spend unnecessarily:

TRANSPORTATION
Try not to own a car. Fuel and maintenance are very expensive. I owned a car for several years but quickly gave it up when I realized that distances you typically travel are walking distance! In some cases, a long walk, but great exercise LOL.

Seriously though, if you don't care to walk, you can take the bus if you live in either of the most populated cities of Praia or Mindelo. Bus service is frequent and cheap (24€ for a monthly pass) and will get you anywhere within the city. If there are no buses where you live, take the mini-vans. They run on fixed routes and will connect you to all points on any island.

Avoid taxis especially if you don't speak the local language. If the taxi driver knows you are a foreigner or if you ask what the fare is going to be, they will automatically double or triple the legal fare. Otherwise, taxis are relatively cheap. But use them only if you are in a hurry at a particular moment because frequent use of taxis will be almost as expensive a owning your own vehicle.

ACCOMMODATIONS
While I would not suggest you live in a ramshack in a poor or dangerous neighborhood, a lot of new arrivals try to find apartments with a contractual agreement because that's what they were used to. Avoid signing a rental contract at all costs. Why? It is a signal to the landlord that you don't know anything about finding accommodation in CV. They will double the rent and will suggest that you have to pay the entire contract up-front in cash! So you'll be stuck paying twice what you should. You can rent a decent 1-2 bedroom apartment in a good area for 150-250€ on a month to month basis. If you're paying more than 250€ for rent, you've been had.

CELLULAR PHONE SERVICE
Locals pay about 5€ per month for unlimited phone calls and 2-3GB of internet data. Most newcomers pay 200€ per month for the same service. Why? Because they don't know that the service providers sell special "packages" for much cheaper prices. Instead, they pay for phone and internet on an as-you-go basis. There are call and data packages that are advertised. But there are much cheaper packages that are NOT at all advertized that most expats never discover. I pay 20€ per month for 3 hours of call time and 25€ for 10GB of data. The ultra cheap package I initially noted is for locals under the age of 25-30 (but you can get the service for 12€ if you are older).

FOOD
Many expats are used to eating out in their home countries. If you eat out frequently in CV, it will cost you dearly relatively speaking. Instead, explore and you will find some local options that are quite cheap 2.50€ for a large lunch serving and 5€ for a great dinner. Don'frequent the restaurants that tourists go to. You'll pay 10€ for a pizza! Of course, your cheapest option is to shop at the grocery store and do your own cooking (or as frequently as you can). Be aware that the bulk of food sold in the grocery stores are imported, so it can be expensive (though cheaper than eating at restaurants). Do yourself a favor and be sure to buy the local produce which is sold at the markets.

INTER ISLAND TRAVEL
The domestic inter-island travel options are the boats/ferries (30-60€ each way) or the domestic airline (60-70€ each way). If you can wait for the airline to advertise their specials and super-specials, you will find tickets are sold at half-price or less. And the cost is even lower than the ferry when there are specials. The ferries are a good option but don't go to all the islands or may not be available at the dates you would like to travel. The airline has daily flights everywhere (except Santo Antao and Brava).

FURNITURE & APPLIANCES
You'd be surprised at how many people buy bigger ticket items, then a few months later they are forced to sell for a song because they need the money. These used items are usually advertized in the local Facebook groups that have been designed for exactly this purpose. You can typically find good quality, almost new items for about 30-50% off their new price.

If there's anything you'd like to know more about, just ask.

Angelo

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