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Moving to Angola

More and more expats are moving to Angola in search of adventure and the generous salary packages attached to life in one of Africa's largest oil-producing countries. Although still rife with poverty and struggling to recover from many years of war, Angola is rich in natural resources and is fast cultivating a dynamic business environment with plenty of opportunity.

The tropical climate, beaches and countryside are spectacular. And the nightlife in Luanda, the capital city and the most common expat destination, is as lively as any major metropolis.

Angola’s economy has steadily grown for more than a decade. International relationships with countries like China, Portugal and South Africa are becoming more solid, and oil rights are actively being exchanged for infrastructural improvements that will benefit the country in the long-term.

There are, however, some negative aspects for expats moving to Angola. The most glaring drawback is that the cost of living in Luanda is among the highest in the world. Traffic in the capital is also extremely congested, as antiquated road networks struggle to cope with the profusion of luxury vehicles and cargo trucks.

Safety in Angola has greatly improved but expats must still be wary and, by default, often find themselves living in the insular environments of expat compounds. Foreigners are cautioned against travelling to areas outside of Luanda, especially the Cabinda region.

Expats with children will be glad to know that there are international schools in Luanda, which are generally well-supported by the companies that helped found them. However, the standard of these schools varies, tuition is pricy, and waiting lists can be long. Those moving to Angola with children should first secure a place at a school of their choice.

Healthcare is available and has improved markedly in recent years, but still isn't up to the standard many expats are used to. Most expats seeking complicated medical procedures travel to South Africa or further abroad for treatment.

Overall, expats moving to Angola will likely face many challenges, but will also be richly rewarded with an exciting cultural experience and financial benefits.


Fast facts

Population: Around 29 million

Capital city: Luanda (also largest city)

Neigbouring countries: Angola is bordered by Namibia to the south, Zambia to the east and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the northeast

Geography: Angola is a southern African country with a varied terrain that encompasses tropical Atlantic beaches, a labyrinthine system of rivers and Sub-Saharan desert that extends across the border into Namibia.

Political system: Since the adoption of a new constitution in 2010, the politics of Angola takes place in a framework of a presidential republic.

Major religions: Christianity is the dominant religion in Angola. Roman Catholics constitute about half of the population.

Main languages: Portuguese (official) and approximately 60 African languages. French, Spanish and English are often spoken in the oil industry.

Money: The Kwanza (AOA), which is divided into 100 centimos.

Tipping: Standard 10 percent, unless service is included in bill.

Time: GMT +1

Electricity: 220 volts, 50Hz. Round-pin Euro plugs are standard.

Internet domain: .ao

International dialling code: +244 plus relevant city code.

Emergency contacts: In Angola, there are three different emergency numbers. For the police call 113, for an ambulance or medical emergency contact 112, and 115 for the fire service.

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side. Much of the road infrastructure was destroyed and neglected during years of conflict, and despite efforts to rebuild, many of its roads are still riddled with potholes and few of them are paved. Most expats hire local drivers who are accustomed to local driving conditions. Public transport in Angola is poorly maintained and unreliable.

Weather in Angola

Angola has a typically tropical climate, with a short wet season and a longer dry season. Conditions across the country remain relatively uniform, but a few natural phenomena do make for some peculiarities.

Weather in Angola's coastal region is uncharacteristically dry due to the presence of the cool Benguela sea current. The region is largely desert or semi-desert as far north as Luanda. The south is especially arid on account of its proximity to the Kalahari Desert. Expats used to lush, leafy coastlines should expect otherwise.

The climate in Luanda, where most expats are located, is mildly tropical with temperatures remaining between 70°F (20°C) and 85°F (30°C) for most of the year. The so-called winter months, June, July and August, only inspire small dips in the thermometer, and expats will find temperatures quite pleasant.

On the flip side, weather in Luanda during February, March and April can be more difficult to bear. Temperatures are higher and humidity increases. Furthermore, heavy rainfall in March, and especially in April, can exasperate life in the capital city and can even damage basic infrastructure and affect road safety.

Embassy Contacts for Angola

Angolan Embassies

  • Angolan Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 785 1156

  • Angolan Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7299 9850

  • Angolan Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 234 1152 

Foreign Embassies in Angola

  • United States Embassy, Luanda: +244 222 641 000

  • British Embassy, Luanda: +244 222 330 275

  • Consulate of Canada, Luanda: +263 222 448 371

  • Australian Consulate, Luanda: +244 923 214 101

  • South African Embassy, Luanda: +244 222 460 818

  • Irish Embassy, Maputo, Mozambique (also responsible for Angola): +25 821 491 440

Public Holidays in Angola

 

2020

2021

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Liberation Day

4 February

4 February

Carnival

25 February

16 February

International Women's Day

8 March

8 March

Peace Day

4 April

4 April

Good Friday

10 April

2 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

National Heroes Day

17 September

17 September

All Souls' Day

2 November

2 November

Independence Day

11 November

11 November

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Safety in Angola

Expats are often concerned about their personal safety in Angola – which is warranted in light of the country’s war-ravaged past and present high levels of crime. Though years of intense civil strife officially came to an end in 2002, there are still concerns around poverty, disease, shattered infrastructure and landmines dotted throughout the countryside.


Crime in Angola

Muggings and robberies are common in Luanda, as well as in provincial areas, and expats are advised against travelling alone at night or travelling through areas that are known to be crime hotspots. 

Areas popular with foreigners are often targeted, so expats should be especially cautious when moving between nightclubs on the Ilha do Cabo and perusing Luanda’s marketplaces. Other high-risk areas in Luanda include the Serpentine road, Sembezanda and the Roche Pinto slum area south of the city.

Most international organisations in Luanda have strict safety regulations for their employees, which should be adhered to. In the same vein, most companies provide secure accommodation and workplaces monitored by 24-hour guards.


Terrorism and conflict in Angola

Several political groups in the northern Cabinda province have targeted foreigners in the past and there have been a number of kidnappings in recent years, as well as the much publicised 2010 attack on the Togolese national football team. Although there have been no recent significant incidents in the region, due to the insecurity, a number of foreign governments advise their nationals against travelling to the Cabinda enclave, although Cabinda city is considered safe enough to visit.

With the exception of Cabinda, the threat of terrorism and conflict in Angola is low.


Protests in Angola

Protests and demonstrations take place occasionally in Angola. Despite the country's oil wealth, most people live in poor conditions, and these have been catalysts for protests. It's best to avoid political gatherings and keep abreast of developments.


Road safety in Angola

While major networks around Luanda are improving, road conditions are still poor and a four-wheel drive vehicle is needed for longer distances – which should be done with at least two other vehicles. Drivers should make sure they have spare tyres and replacement parts. Driving is especially dangerous during the rainy season from November to April. Roads and bridges can be washed away by floods, which can leave travellers stranded for considerable amounts of time. 

Landmines left over from the civil war are also an ongoing concern in rural Angola. Landmine clearance projects are still underway and areas with suspected landmines are usually clearly marked. Expats should stick to main roads and avoid driving off the beaten track as much as possible. Expats who drive their own vehicles should be suspicious of slow-moving cars or those that try and coerce them into pulling over; these are often pretexts for robbery or hijackings.

Driving to Angola’s northern and southern Lunda provinces should only be done if absolutely necessary. The Angolan government is extremely sensitive about entering these diamond-producing areas, and failure to produce the right documentation can result in detention.

Most expats living in Luanda have private drivers. Taxis and public transport are mostly informal, and are rarely used by foreign nationals.

Working in Angola

Expats working in Angola are almost always employed by a multinational company connected to one of the country's two lucrative natural resources: oil or diamonds.

These raw materials have been responsible for both the country's economic growth as well as its long history of destruction; but regardless of which side of the story expats endorse, the fact remains that foreign investment has created a steady influx of overseas residents.

Angola's economic growth over the last decade has been among the world's fastest, and with oil revenues continuing to peak, former colonial power Portugal, China and neighbouring South Africa have all taken concrete interest.


Challenges of working in Angola

Most expats working in Angola live in insular expat communities in Luanda. Travelling outside of the city for work purposes, while otherwise potentially unsafe, is organised by employers.

Angola's war-torn past has left the surrounding countryside littered with landmines and the roads in extremely poor condition. For this reason, heavy rains can close transport routes and it isn't unusual for work to be cancelled on account of the weather.

As is often the case in countries where a small, elite group controls power, working in Angola is often characterised by corruption and crippling bureaucratic procedure.

To offset this, expat salaries in Angola are typically high on account of the "hardship quotient", but it's vital for expats to conduct the appropriate research to get an idea of the cost of living – Luanda is one of the world's most expensive expat destinations and wages should cover costs as well as allow room to save.

Doing Business in Angola

There remain many challenges when doing business in Angola, including a lack of infrastructure, bureaucracy, high costs and limited human resources. Nevertheless, with its rich natural resources, a growing economy and infrastructure development projects, there are many opportunities for expats seeking to do business in this African country. 

The oil and gas sectors still dominate the Angolan business world. However, the government is keen to diversify the economy and sectors like education and training, construction, financial services and agriculture also offer opportunities.

Although the government has worked hard to eliminate corruption, it remains a persistent problem and the country continues to rank low on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

The difficulties of doing business in Angola are reflected in its poor ranking in the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business Survey, where it was ranked 177th out of 190 countries surveyed. It was ranked at 186th for enforcing contracts, while other factors in which the country did particularly poorly included getting credit (185th) and trading across borders (174th).


Fast facts

Business hours

A typical work week in Angola runs from Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm, with a lunch break of about an hour. Many businesses close early on Fridays. 

Business language

Portuguese is the official language in Angola, but English is usually understood at senior management level in the oil and gas industry.

Dress

Business attire is usually fairly casual. Due to the hot climate, men wear lightweight suits and don’t need ties, while women wear longer jackets and skirts.

Gifts

Gifts are generally not expected, but are welcomed. Gifts will probably be opened immediately.

Greeting

A handshake is the most common greeting between both men and women. Greetings are very important in Angolan culture and it’s usual to inquire about the other person’s family or general well being. Elders should be greeted first.

Gender equality

Although women share equal rights to men, Angola remains a largely patriarchal society and few women occupy senior executive posts.


Business culture in Angola

Expats moving to Angola for business will find that the business culture will differ from that of Western societies. New arrivals will need to address these nuances and accommodate the differences in business culture if they want to be successful in the Angolan market.

Hierarchy

Angola’s business culture is formal and business structures are hierarchical. Status is important in Angolan society and decision-making typically lies with the most senior person in a company, but final decisions are often made after consultations with subordinates. This can be a slow process as all options are weighed carefully, so expats should be patient.

Building trust

Angolans, as is the case in many countries, prefer to do business with people they know and trust. It's therefore important for expats to get to know their Angolan counterparts and build trust with business associates at all levels.

Communication

With Portuguese being the primary language in Angola, it's useful to learn a few relevant key phrases. Most senior executives in the oil and gas industry speak English, but associates at lower levels may not.

Titles and greetings are very important, and introductions are initially formal and marked by handshakes. Personal space isn't that important to Angolans, so people often stand close to each other when conversing and moving away may be considered offensive.

Punctuality

Time is flexible in Angola, and although expats should arrive on time for meetings, their Angolan counterparts won't always do the same – it’s not unusual for a meeting to start late and be interrupted several times.


Dos and don’ts of business in Angola

  • Do always greet Angolan counterparts properly; elders should be greeted first

  • Do get to know Angolan associates as building trust is essential

  • Don't assume that Angolan business associates will understand English. An interpreter may be necessary for meetings.

  • Do arrive on time for meetings but don’t expect that local associates will do the same

  • Don't rush business in Angola. Expect that business decisions will take time and patience is required.

Visas for Angola

Most foreign nationals need a visa for Angola unless a reciprocal visa agreement is in place. Passports have to be valid for at least six months from date of entry, and expats will also need proof of a yellow fever vaccination.

It isn't possible to get a visa upon arrival, so expats should arrange one at an Angolan embassy or consulate abroad beforehand.

Anyone who overstays their visa, works or lives in Angola without the correct visa, changes jobs or moves without notifying the authorities will be fined. Offenders won't be allowed to leave the country until all fines have been paid.


Visitor and business visas for Angola

Those going to Angola for short-term visits for holiday or business require a visa which should be used within 60 days of being granted and is valid for a stay of 30 days.

Expats travelling on this Angolan visa aren't allowed to establish residence or engage in work for monetary gain in the country.


Short-term visas for Angola

Short-term visas are granted for urgent reasons such as attending a meeting or funeral or for seeking medical treatment in the country. They may also be granted to technicians repairing machinery in the oil sector or sailors who are joining a ship docked in Angolan ports.

Holders of short-stay visas aren't allowed to engage in any gainful activity or establish residence in Angola. Applicants need to submit an itinerary and air ticket, and the visa is only valid for a stay of seven days, with a possible extension of seven more days. 


Work visas for Angola

Work visas for Angola are granted to those who obtain a contract of temporary employment in the interest of the state or on behalf of an Angolan company. Work visas are valid for the duration of the work contract. A work visa does not allow foreigners to take up residence in Angola; if they wish to do so, they are required to apply for a residence visa.


Residence visas for Angola

Foreign nationals are allowed to set up residence in Angola with a residence visa. Residence visas allow for stays of up 120 days and can be renewed until a final decision is made for the application of a residence permit.

Residence visas allow for multiple entries and expats with a residence visa are allowed to work in Angola. Residence visa applications can be submitted in person, by a third party or through an accredited agency.

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details. 

Cost of Living in Angola

The cost of living in Angola used to be astronomical but is now slightly more affordable, at least in a relative sense. According to the Mercer Cost of Living Survey for 2019, the capital city Luanda is now the 26th most expensive city to live in out of 209 cities on the list. This is a significant drop from previous years. However, the country is still much more expensive than other African cities like Beirut (53rd) and Cape Town (180th).

The destruction and devastation caused by nearly 30 years of war have left Angola with little infrastructure to produce and manufacture goods, and even less arable land to use for basic agricultural development. As a result, nearly everything is imported and costly – even the fresh fruits and vegetables that are usually reasonably priced in even the most obscure of locations.

Transport costs are readily tacked onto anything, and as the price of petrol continues to rise, so does the cost of both basic and luxury items in Angola.

Furthermore, as large companies continue to use Luanda and its surrounds as a home base for operations that look to extract many of the country's natural resources, the demand for high-quality goods and services increases.


Cost of accommodation in Angola

The cost of accommodation in Angola has gone through the roof due to a glaring undersupply and overdemand. Low capacity and a lack of the kind of secure housing that can be used to entice expats to the country have set rental prices extraordinarily high. Nevertheless, most expats will find that their housing is provided and paid for by their company. If not, it’s important to factor this cost in and ensure that one's salary is proportionate to the high rental costs.


Cost of food in Angola

The amount of money an expat will spend on food will generally depend on their lifestyle and preferences. Fresh local produce is available at a reasonable price, however, most expats shop at the bigger supermarkets where many of the products are imported and are thus more expensive than they would be in other countries. Eating out is also quite expensive and not something that most people do regularly.


Cost of schooling in Angola

For expats with children, the cost of living in Angola looks even more lopsided. As the standards of local public and private schools are far from adequate, outrageously priced international schools are the remaining option. Annual tuition fees are extremely pricey and often don't include essentials such as textbooks, uniforms, admission and extra-curricular activities.


Transportation costs in Angola

Personal transport costs must also be taken into consideration. Although hiring a driver can be done quite cheaply, depending on daily needs, this can often be an unforeseen expense for many expats moving to Angola.


Cost of living in Angola chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Luanda in February 2020.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

AOA 5,000,000

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

AOA 960,000

Food and drink

Milk (1 litre)

AOA 1,200

Rice (1kg)

AOA 1,700

Dozen eggs

AOA 1,900

Loaf of white bread

AOA 1,800

Chicken breasts (1kg)

AOA 5,200

Eating out

Three-course meal in restaurant for two

AOA 35,000

Big Mac Meal

AOA 5,600

Cappuccino

AOA 2,800

Coca-Cola (330ml)

AOA 2,400

Bottle of beer

AOA 1,800

Utilities (monthly)

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

AOA 13.50

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable)

AOA 20,500

Utilities 

AOA 130,000 

Transport

Taxi (rate per km)

AOA 445

One-way ticket (local transport)

AOA 206

Petrol (per litre)

AOA 220

Culture Shock in Angola

Nearly three decades of civil war has left much of the country's population living below the poverty line, and despite a booming national economy and government efforts to develop post-conflict Angola, the picture remains bleak for many Angolans.

With one of the most economically unequal societies in the world, many new arrivals will find that the contrast between the 'haves' and 'have-nots' is one of the biggest causes of culture shock in Angola.


Inequality in Angola

Luanda was initially built for some 500,000 people, but is now home to almost 3 million, most of whom live without access to clean water and electricity, or adequate healthcare and schools.

That said, for the rich and connected, Luanda is an El Dorado-like place; the pot-holed streets are jammed with an astounding array of expensive cars taking their owners to exquisite restaurants overlooking a marina full of yachts and luxury speedboats.

In contrast, the streets are also home to bands of street children willing to wash cars in exchange for something to eat, and people scraping together a meagre income to survive.


Cost of living in Angola

Aside from the painful daily reminders of the country's wealth disparity, expats may be surprised to discover the extreme cost of living in Angola. Exorbitant prices are matched with surprisingly low-quality services. It's normal to pay a huge rent for accommodation and then have to buy a generator and mend the leaking roof, or to go out to eat dinner in an expensive restaurant with sub-standard service.


Language barrier in Angola

Portuguese is the official language and very few outside of the oil and gas industry are likely to speak or understand English. 

Angolan society is largely closed to foreigners and relationships are, on the whole, restricted to the workplace. Without a good command of Portuguese, attempts at interaction are often unfruitful and making friends outside of the expat community can be challenging.


Managing culture shock in Angola

Many foreigners retreat into an expat bubble until their contract is over and they can go home, or they throw themselves into trying to do something to help – volunteering at a local orphanage, organising food distributions or teaching children to read and write.

Expats arriving in Angola should come prepared to be challenged – emotionally, psychologically and professionally – and come armed with a good understanding of the complexities and challenges facing a country which, within a lifetime, has transitioned from colonisation to civil war and then oil wealth.

On a more practical note, it's strongly advised that expats review their contracts to ensure they have adequate provision for healthcare, housing, education and holiday entitlement (with an opportunity to leave the country every few months).

Accommodation in Angola

Most expat accommodation in Angola is found in Luanda, in compounds to the south of the city. With high demand and high rental rates, finding a place to live in Angola can be frustrating; however, most companies assist their expat employees with finding and paying for housing. 


Types of housing in Angola

Around a fifth of Angola’s population is crowded into the capital city, which has resulted in a housing crisis. Luanda was initially built to accommodate 500,000 people, but is now home to around six times that. Most of these are locals living in makeshift, temporary housing on the city outskirts, while many more continue to migrate to the city in hopes of a brighter future.

Though expats won't be competing for the same standard of housing as most locals, the general lack of accommodation in Angola can be problematic and has made the real estate sector one of the world's most expensive. For this reason, expats should either ensure an accommodation allowance is built into their employment package, or that their salaries are enough to cover housing.

Most expats working for large oil corporations live in compounds and their accommodation costs are sponsored by their employer. These housing estates offer a good quality of life with large houses and high security. Many also have amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and shops.

Expats staying in Luanda for short-term contracts are often housed in city-centre hotels. They're generally upmarket, but the quality of services varies.

Outside of Luanda, accommodation is just as scarce and demand can be equally high. Even lower-quality hotels can be booked months in advance at exorbitant rates.


Factors to consider when house-hunting in Angola

Safety remains a prominent concern for expats moving to Angola. Home burglaries are common, as are carjackings and robberies. Expats should therefore ensure that they have adequate security for their homes. Most compounds offer secure living with access control and security guards.

In Luanda, compounds tend to be in the affluent Luanda Sul area to the south of the city. It's close to several English-language international schools, so it's popular for expats with children. However, morning commutes into the city can take hours in the heavily congested traffic. For this reason, single expats, or those without children, often choose to live in city-centre apartments.

Electricity and water supply can be unreliable no matter where one lives in Angola and expats should ensure that their homes are equipped with back-up generators and water tanks.

Healthcare in Angola

Healthcare in Angola is generally below Western standards, and expats should ensure that they have comprehensive medical insurance that covers the cost of emergency evacuation. Although millions are being invested in improving healthcare, the country still suffers from staff shortages and a lack of facilities and equipment.

Most medical care is found in Luanda, and even here, doctors, nurses and other specialists are relatively scarce. Although conditions at facilities in Luanda have improved, treatment is limited and expats needing complicated procedures will need to seek care in a nearby country, such as South Africa, or further abroad.


Medical facilities in Angola

There is adequate care for emergencies in Luanda at a few good 24-hour private clinics operated by general practitioners and on-call specialists. Routine operations are usually performed well in these facilities, and most doctors have a basic understanding of English.

Private medical care in Angola is expensive and doctors may expect upfront payment in cash, after which expats would need to seek reimbursement from their insurance company.

Companies generally have an arrangement with a local clinic or hospital to ensure adequate care for their expat employees.


Medicines and pharmacies in Angola

Most pharmacies (farmácias) in Angola are located in Luanda. Hospitals and clinics usually have their own pharmacies, many of which are open 24/7, but many basic over-the-counter medicines may be expensive and in limited supply. Expats moving to Angola who are reliant on chronic medication are advised to bring their own supply of properly labelled medication.


Health insurance in Angola

Angola doesn't have a government-sponsored health scheme and expats should ensure that they're adequately covered by medical insurance before they arrive. Most companies provide some form of medical insurance plan for their expat staff.

As most complicated medical procedures require travel to South Africa or further abroad, expats should ensure that their medical insurance coverage includes medical evacuation and overseas treatment.


Health hazards in Angola

Malaria is endemic in most parts of Angola, so expats should consider malarial prophylaxis and take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes.

The quality of tap water in Angola varies and outbreaks of water-borne diseases are common, particularly in the poorer areas. It’s best to avoid drinking tap water and consume bottled water instead. 

Those from cooler climates may take a while to adjust to the heat in Angola; sunscreen, hats and cool cotton clothing should be worn when outdoors. The dry, dusty atmosphere of Luanda may also affect those with respiratory problems.


Pre-travel restrictions and vaccinations for Angola

Expats should ensure that all their routine vaccinations are up to date before they arrive. A yellow fever certificate is required for all travellers to Angola.


Emergency services in Angola

Emergency services in Angola can be unreliable. For a general ambulance service, expats can call 112, but response times may be extremely slow and most medical emergency services are limited to Luanda. Emergencies in more remote and rural areas will likely require air evacuation.

Education and Schools in Angola

The quality of education in Angola is a primary concern for expat parents moving to this African country. The standard of local schools is well below what most expats would be used to. Adult illiteracy remains a problem in Angola and schooling is only compulsory for the first four grades of primary school.

The consensus among expats is that the public education in Angola is not an option. The few international schools that do exist are largely concentrated in Luanda, and even the standards in these institutions can vary considerably.


International schools in Luanda

International schools in Luanda are supported by the companies and embassies that founded them. Tuition is extremely high and is usually paid by the employing company. Expats moving to Angola with children of school age must make sure that a schooling allowance is included in their contract.

Security is tight at all schools, so safety shouldn't be a concern. Classrooms are generally air-conditioned and have reasonable facilities, with reliable back-up systems for electricity, water and internet. Some schools offer cafeteria lunches, while others end the day early so students can eat lunch at home.

Finding qualified teachers willing to live and work in Angola is a challenge for all schools. There are few local staff, and most teachers are expats themselves. The quality of education can be inconsistent because teachers change from year to year. Students and teachers alike are known to have visa renewal issues, causing them to miss large blocks of school that can be difficult to make up.

The school year at Angolan international schools usually follows that of the school's home country. The school week in Angola runs from Monday to Friday, while the school day is normally from 8am to 3pm.

Children either go to school with a private car or bus provided by their parent's employer. Where companies provide a bus from expat compounds, mothers often take turns being 'bus mom'. Angolan bus drivers rarely speak English, so companies often require a parent on board to handle whatever comes up in English. The parents usually coordinate the 'bus mom' schedule amongst themselves.


International school admissions in Angola

Angolan law requires international schools to ensure that both expats and local students (usually the children of high government officials) are allowed to apply. 

Some schools give preference to the children of employees from their sponsoring companies, so expats should contact their employer to ask whether they sponsor any schools or can recommend a specific one.

As a result of the limited number of schools and further limits on class sizes, schools usually have lengthy waiting lists. Expats shouldn't accept an assignment to Luanda without first being assured of a space for their child at the school of their choice.

The documents needed to apply to an international school in Angola can include:

  • Completed registration form

  • Medical information and up-to-date vaccinations 

  • Academic records

  • Copies of the child's passport

  • Non-refundable application fee

  • References from teachers and principal of the previous school

  • English schools may require an English-language proficiency test


Homeschooling in Angola

Homeschooling is an option if parents are able to bring the curriculum with them. That said, internet service is often unreliable, while textbooks and libraries are rare outside of schools.

International Schools in Angola

The standard of the Angolan public education system remains poor and international schools are the preferred option for expats. There are a few international schools in Angola, most of them concentrated in Luanda. These schools generally follow the curriculum of their home country, with some also offering the International Baccalaureate programme.
 
Below are some of the most prominent international schools in Angola.
 

International schools in Angola

American School of Angola​

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
Ages: 11 to 18
Websitewww.asangola.com

Escola Portuguesa de Luanda

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: European and Southern African
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.epluanda.pt

Luanda International School (LIS)

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.lisluanda.com

Lycée Français Alioune Blondin Beye

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: French
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.lfluanda.net

Transport and Driving in Angola

Transport and driving in Angola are some of the most challenging aspects of living in the country. Much of the road infrastructure was destroyed and neglected during years of conflict, and despite efforts to rebuild, many of its roads are still riddled with potholes and few of them are paved.


Public transport in Angola

Angolan public transport largely comprises poorly maintained blue and white minivan taxis or buses that are known for their reckless driving as they careen in and out of the gridlocked city traffic. 

There are a few privately owned taxi companies in Luanda, but cabs are not common on the city streets.

Due to poor safety standards, expats rarely use public transport in Angola, rather opting for a vehicle with a driver.


Driving in Angola

Most roads in Angola can’t be negotiated without a four-wheel drive vehicle, and external factors like wandering livestock and heavily overloaded vehicles mean that expecting the unexpected is the best course of action.

The majority of companies provide a car and driver, and cover maintenance and fuel costs, for their senior expat employees. Alternatively, companies may have a pool of cars and drivers available to their staff. Most don’t allow the employees’ spouses to drive company cars, and many don’t even let their employees drive. That said, each company has a different policy and it's important to inquire before making any major purchases.

Very few people buy a personal car due to the expense; a vehicle in Angola can easily cost double what it would cost in the US. The hassles around getting fuel and maintenance are added drawbacks. Petrol is cheap but the limited amount of service stations means that queues are long. Car maintenance is expensive in Angola as parts frequently have to be imported.

Some expats who have signed on for a long-term stay and don't have contractual restrictions do decide to purchase a vehicle. Many of the large car companies are based in Luanda, and although buying a new vehicle may be expensive, it can be easier than importing a car.

Most expats live in Luanda Sul, south of the capital, and it’s much easier to get around in a private vehicle there, since traffic congestion isn’t as bad as the city centre. However, the excess of vehicles in Luanda’s city centre takes congestion to outrageous extremes. There often seem to be few road rules and fewer traffic lights, many of which don't work.

In the rainy season, roads should be navigated with extreme caution, as the many potholes can leave vehicles badly damaged if drivers aren’t careful. Local drivers are also known for aggressive driving. Combined with the fact that few roads are tarred and properly demarcated, this provides further incentive to hire an experienced driver.

Frequently Asked Questions about Angola

Expats moving to Angola often have many concerns about living in this notoriously expensive country, especially with regards to safety and moving with children. Read on for a round-up of common questions about moving to Angola.

How safe is Angola for expats?

Angola has made huge strides in recovering from its war-torn past and the safety situation for expats has improved in recent years. Petty crimes are the most pressing safety concern in Luanda, especially at night – expats should stay aware of their surroundings at all times and only go out at night if and where they know it's safe. Most expats live within the confines of secure compounds in Luanda and have a car and driver provided for them, which is the best option for getting around the city.

Are there international schools in Angola?

There are several international schools in Angola, all of which are located in Luanda. Their quality varies, but they're better than local public schools and are the best option for expat kids. Most large companies sponsor a particular school, which then gives preference to their employees' children when it comes to admission.

What is the healthcare system like in Angola?

Although the government has made vast improvements to the system of healthcare in Angola, hospital standards will be below what most expats may be used to. There are adequate facilities in Luanda for general medical requirements, but expats needing serious medical procedures will likely travel to South Africa or further abroad. Health insurance is therefore essential and it’s important expats ensure that provision is made for this in their employment contract. Most companies have an arrangement with a local clinic or hospital to ensure adequate care for their expat employees.

Where do most expats live in Angola?

Most expats moving to Angola live in Luanda, and mostly in compounds located in the Luanda Sul area. With high demand and even higher housing costs, searching for housing in Angola can be difficult. However, most companies arrange and pay for their employees' accommodation. Expats should ensure their contract contains an accommodation allowance or their salaries are cushioned proportionately. Angolan expat compounds generally offer large houses and all the basic amenities, but electricity and water supply can be sporadic, so expats should ensure that their accommodation has adequate back-up systems.

Banking, Money and Taxes in Angola

Expats are likely to find that banking, money and taxes in Angola can be a little disorientating. While working in the country, expats will probably have to get used to new ways of receiving payment, conducting their banking affairs and paying taxes.

Despite the monetary advantages of living in the country, life in Angola is challenging. The cost of living is the highest in Africa, and the relative inefficiency of its financial systems can be frustrating.


Money in Angola

Angola’s currency is the Kwanza (Kz or AOA), which is divided into 100 centimos.

The following denominations are available:

  • Notes: 5 AOA, 10 AOA, 50 AOA, 100 AOA, 200 AOA, 500 AOA, 2,000 AOA and 5,000 AOA
  • Coins: 1 AOA, 2 AOA and 5 AOA

The kwanza is not convertible and only a small amount can be taken out of the country; so most expats are paid in US Dollars or Euros.

Angola remains a cash-based society and expats are warned that they will likely carry more cash than they would ordinarily feel comfortable with. It’s strongly recommended to invest in a home safe – losing a cash advance could leave one with no immediate access to money.


Banking in Angola

One of the first things expats will learn about banking in Angola is that it’s difficult, unnecessary and, ultimately, undesirable to open an Angolan bank account.

Without speaking Portuguese, dealing with local banks is difficult. Opening a bank account in Angola takes a long time and can be complicated by the amount of paperwork required. Moreover, money is strictly government controlled – any amount can come into the country, but little can leave.

Most expats simply don’t open bank accounts in Angola. Instead, their salaries are paid directly into their home-country account in a foreign currency – usually US Dollars or Euros.

ATMs

Few ATMs in Angola allow access to foreign accounts – and when they do, fraud concerns are present and the charges are exorbitant.

Credit and debit cards

A few hotels and restaurants accept foreign credit cards in Angola, but most places don’t. Expats should reconsider using credit or debit cards in Angola, since safeguards against identity theft aren’t always sufficient. If having to use cards, expats should be vigilant in checking balances online and making sure all debits reflected in statements are accounted for.

Without a local bank account, and without ATM access to their overseas funds, expats may wonder how they should be expected to pay for anything. Luckily, they can circumvent these issues.

Expats usually request a cash advance against their salary from their employer. This way, they receive a portion of their monthly salary in cash, while most of it goes directly into their overseas bank account.

Most companies only allow one or two advances per month, and require prior notification – so it’s important that expats research the cost of living in Angola before arriving to anticipate their monthly expenses.


Taxes in Angola

Income tax in Angola is calculated on a scale up to 17 percent. 

Tax equalisation agreements are widespread in Angola, and many expats insist their company offers tax protection as a benefit of their employment contract. Also called hypo-tax agreements, these arrangements guarantee the employee a specified monthly wage, regardless of the actual deductions that should come off their earnings in both their country of origin and Angola.

Put more simply, the company pays all the employee’s taxes on their behalf and deducts a previously agreed amount from the base salary as compensation. The deducted amount is usually equivalent to the tax the employee would hypothetically have paid if they earned the same amount in their home country.

Countries like Angola – where the cost of living and taxes are high – could be financially crippling places to work, if not for tax equalisation agreements. Tax protection arrangements are designed to let expats enjoy their high salaries, without fear of being penalised by the exorbitant income tax or cost of living.

Expat Experiences in Angola

When considering a move to a new city, there is nothing more useful than hearing real life stories and experiences from other expats who are living there. We'd love to hear about your expat experiences. Please contact us if you are living or have lived in Angola and would like to share your story.

Youmna is a Lebanese expat who moved to Angola with her husband in 2009. They live in the country’s sprawling capital, Luanda, and like most expats living in the city, moved there because of her husband’s job. Read more about Youmna's expat life in Luanda. Youmna - a Lebanese expat in Angola
Chris Neal, a British expat living in Angola, is for the most part nonchalant about life in a city with one of the highest expat hardship ratings and one of the most exorbitant costs of livings. Read about his expat experience in Luanda. chris neal - a British expat living in Angola
 
It seems that even the most attractive expat packages can't make life in Angola attractive. This anonymous interviewee lets loose about Luanda and what expats can expect from life in a country still recovering from 27 years of civil war. This engaging expat experience is a must read for future assignees. an anonymous expat experience in Angola
 
Monique Simons is a South African expat living in Luanda. Read about her experiences of living in Angola, as she talks stoically about the difficulties she has faced since her relocation from south of the border. South African expat in Luanda
 
Linda, an American expat living in Luanda, makes MacGyver look mainstream. She wages war with Malaria, boldly combats the constant potential of power outage and generally makes the best of anything and everything in Angola. If ever there was an expat experience positioned to give you insight about your voyage abroad, it's this one. American Expat in Angola