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Moving to Angola

Though not the most conventional expat destination, Angola has plenty to offer with its wonderful tropical climate, miles of picturesque beaches and welcoming locals. The lifestyle and nightlife that expats can experience in Luanda – the capital city and beating heart of this central African country – is another plus.

Although the country is still recovering from many years of war and struggling with inequality, Angola is rich in natural resources and is fast cultivating a dynamic business environment with plenty of opportunity. For expats working in the lucrative oil industry, this often translates to high salaries.

There are, however, some negative aspects for expats moving to Angola. Traffic in the capital is extremely congested, as antiquated road networks struggle to cope with the volume of vehicles and cargo trucks. Safety in Angola has greatly improved but expats should still be wary and, by default, foreigners often find themselves living in the insular environments of expat compounds.

Expats concerned about their children's education 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 pricey and waiting lists can be long.

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.

While expats moving to Angola will likely face many challenges, those who approach the country with an open mind and adventurous spirit are sure to be richly rewarded with an exciting and unique cultural experience.


Fast facts

Population: 32.8 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: Unitary dominant-party presidential constitutional republic

Major religions: Christianity

Main languages: Portuguese (official)

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

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

Time: GMT +1

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

Internet domain: .ao

International dialling code: +244

Emergency contacts: 113 (police), 112 (ambulance), 115 (fire)

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.

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 winter months of June, July and August only inspire small dips in the thermometer, and expats will find temperatures quite pleasant.

On the other hand, weather in Luanda during February, March and April can be more difficult to bear. Temperatures are higher and humidity increases. The city also experiences heavy rainfall in March, and especially in April, which can even damage basic infrastructure and affect road safety.
 

 

Embassy Contacts for Angola


Angolan embassies

  • Angolan Embassy, Washington DC, United States (also responsible for Canada): +1 202 785 1156

  • Angolan Embassy, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 20 7299 9850

  • Angola Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa (also responsible for Australia and New Zealand): +27 12 342 0049


Foreign embassies in Angola

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

  • British Embassy, Luanda, Angola: +244 222 334

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

  • Australian Consulate, Luanda, Angola: +244 923 214 101

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

  • Embassy of Ireland, Lisbon, Portugal (also responsible for Angola): +351 21 330 8200

Public Holidays in Angola

 

2021

2022

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Liberation Day

4 February

4 February

Carnival

16 February

1 March

International Women's Day

8 March

8 March

Southern Africa Liberation Day

23 March

23 March

Good Friday

2 April

15 April

Easter Sunday

4 April

17 April

Peace Day

4 April

4 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. Though years of intense civil strife officially came to an end in 2002, there are still concerns around poverty, disease, shattered infrastructure and landmines throughout the country.


Crime in Angola

Muggings and robberies are common in Luanda and in provincial areas, and expats are advised against travelling alone at night or travelling through areas that are known to be crime hotspots. Expats should be particularly vigilant when drawing cash at an ATM as they are commonly targeted by criminals.

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

The Cabinda province, located in the north of Angola, is disputed territory, with a group known as the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) being active in the area. In the past, they have been involved in the kidnapping and killing of foreigners. Although there have been no recent significant incidents in the region, a number of foreign governments advise their nationals against travelling to the Cabinda province as a precaution, 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 the latest developments.


Road safety in Angola

While major networks around Luanda are improving, road conditions are still generally poor and a four-wheel drive vehicle is needed for longer distances. 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 anyone 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

For the first decade of the 20th century, Angola's rich oil and diamond resources made it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. This rapid growth was halted in 2014 when the oil price dropped, the exchange rate plummeted and inflation spiked.

With the bulk of the country's economy dependent on the oil industry, Angola was hit hard and has only begun to recover in recent years, though the economic effects of Covid-19 has stunted this progress. Since the oil crash, the government has made a concerted effort to diversify the economy.


Job market 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. Outside of these major sectors, the largest industries in Angola include agriculture, manufacturing and services such as tourism and construction.


Finding work in Angola

Most expats are brought over to Angola on a contract by one of many multinational companies with a presence in the country. Those moving to the country without work already lined up often find it extremely difficult to secure employment.

For this reason, we advise expats to examine their options thoroughly before committing to a move to Angola. It's a good idea get in touch with a recruitment agency for advice on breaking into the market. Online job portals are another good source for getting an idea of the availability of suitable positions and their salaries.


Work culture in Angola

Expats can expect the workplace in Angola to be hierarchical, with respect to seniors being of utmost importance. Angolans often try to please everyone to avoid conflict, so their communication style can sometimes be indirect. Meetings may have a distinctly formal atmosphere, although formal agendas are rarely, if ever, used.

As is often the case in countries where a small, elite group holds a strong political power, working in Angola is unfortunately often characterised by corruption and seemingly never-ending bureaucratic procedure. Obtaining a work permit, though necessary, can be a painful and drawn-out affair mired in red tape. In addition, certain aspects of Angola can make day-to-day life significantly uncomfortable, from the glaring inequality and poverty evident in Luanda, to the unstable electricity supply that can suddenly blink out without warning.

To offset the difficulties typically encountered in the country, expat salaries in Angola are typically high on account of the 'hardship quotient'. Though the cost of living in Angola has dropped significantly in recent years, it's important that expats conduct the appropriate research to get an idea of the cost of living, ensuring that all expenses are covered.

Doing Business in Angola

There remain many challenges associated with 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, but the government is keen to diversify the economy and sectors such as education and training, construction, financial services and agriculture are also growing rapidly and providing opportunities for expats.

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 poor categories 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 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 important in Angolan culture and it’s usual to inquire about the other person’s family or general wellbeing. 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 differs significantly from that of Western societies. New arrivals will need to adapt to these nuances 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 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. Should this occur, expats should be patient and not show disapproval or irritation.


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, though some nationalities are allowed visa-free entry. Those who require a visa to enter Angola will either have to apply beforehand or they may be able to obtain a visa on arrival. Anyone entering the country must hold a passport valid for at least nine months from date of entry.


Tourist visas for Angola

Tourist visas allow short-term entry to the country for leisure or business purposes.

Expats should check if their nationality allows them visa-free entry or permits them to obtain a visa on arrival. If not, they will need to apply for a visa in advance of their trip. This can either be done at one's local Angolan embassy or online via the country's electronic visa (eVisa) system. Those eligible for a visa on arrival can speed up the process by using the eVisa system to pre-register and pay for their visa ahead of time instead of at the border.

Tourist visas are valid for one stay of 30 days and must be used within 60 days of being granted. Once in the country, it is possible to apply for an extension allowing an additional 30 days in Angola.

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


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. 

Work Permits for Angola

Work permits for Angola are granted to expats who are temporarily employed by an Angolan company or the state. 

Holders of a work visa can stay in the country for the duration of their work contract (usually up to 12 months) and are allowed multiple entries into the country. Expats are restricted to the job for which the visa was issued, and are only allowed to work for the employer who requested the visa. 

It's important to note that Angolan work visas don't allow the holder to establish residence, and expats who want to live in the country permanently need to apply for a residence permit for Angola.


Applying for a work permit for Angola

The work permit process is quite complex and the hiring company usually acts as the applicant's sponsor and makes all the necessary arrangements for the visa application. It’s also the employer's responsibility to notify the appropriate authority of any change in the duration of the employee's contract.

Expats will need various documents to apply for a work permit for Angola, most of which will need to be photocopied, notarised and translated into Portuguese.

*Visa regulations and requirements for work permits 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 Angolan capital of Luanda has long had a reputation as one of the world's most expensive cities for expats. While this was certainly true just a few years ago, these days life in Angola has become much more affordable.

For several years running, Luanda's cost of living was ranked alongside or even above that of global economic giants such as Singapore and Tokyo. Now though, the Mercer Cost of Living Survey for 2020 ranks Luanda as only the 115th most expensive city to live in out of 209 cities on the list. A number of African cities rank much higher on this list than Luanda – Ndjamena in Chad (15th) and Lagos in Nigeria (18th) to name just two.

Still, although life in Luanda is much more affordable than before, it is still far from the cheapest place on the continent. Other African cities with much lower costs of living include Windhoek in Namibia (208th) and Tunis in Tunisia (209th).

The largest expenses facing expats will likely be accommodation and, if they have children, private schooling. Those moving to Angola for work purposes often have these costs either partially or fully subsidised by their employer, which eases the burden somewhat. Expats without such an arrangement will need to budget carefully to ensure they can afford these essentials.


Cost of accommodation in Angola

The cost of accommodation in Angola is high due to a notable 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 increased rental prices. 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, but 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 will be pushed up significantly. 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 and extra-curricular activities.


Transportation costs in Angola

Personal transport costs in Angola must also be taken into consideration, as public transport is generally not of a good quality. Although hiring a driver can be done quite cheaply, 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 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

AOA 1,000,000 - 3,000,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside city centre

AOA 800,000 - 1,500,000

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

AOA 300,000 - 500,000

One-bedroom apartment outside city centre

AOA 200,000 - 400,000

Food and drink

Milk (1 litre)

AOA 1,500

Rice (1kg)

AOA 2,200

Dozen eggs

AOA 2800

Loaf of white bread

AOA 2,300

Chicken breasts (1kg)

AOA 6,800

Eating out

Three-course meal in restaurant for two

AOA 45,000

Big Mac Meal

AOA 5,600

Cappuccino

AOA 2,800

Coca-Cola (330ml)

AOA 2,000

Bottle of beer

AOA 1,000

Utilities (monthly)

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

AOA 140

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable)

AOA 21,000

Utilities 

AOA 50,000

Transport

Taxi (rate per km)

AOA 580

One-way ticket (local transport)

AOA 270

Petrol (per litre)

AOA 260

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 an expanding 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

With much of the population living without access to clean water and electricity, or adequate healthcare and schools, inequality is a reality throughout Angola.

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 marinas full of yachts and luxury speedboats. In contrast, the streets are also home to groups of children willing to wash cars in exchange for something to eat, and people scraping together a meagre income to survive.


Language barrier in Angola

Portuguese is the official language and few locals 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

Expats arriving in Angola will generally react one of two ways: either they retreat into an expat bubble until their contract is over, 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.

New arrivals 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 undergone colonisation, civil war and then massive oil wealth.

Accommodation in Angola

In Angola, there is a distinct separation between local housing and those properties that expats usually call home. When the country's oil boom began, housing developments sprung up quickly to cater for the many expats moving to Luanda for work. As expats in Angola are typically high earners, these developments are often luxurious with high-end amenities.

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 accommodation in Angola

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.

Furnished and unfurnished units can be found, but furnished units are usually most practical for expats as they tend to be in the country on a short-term contract. The temporary nature of their time in Angola makes it somewhat impractical to furnish a house from scratch, either through shipping their existing belongings or buying new ones.

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


Finding accommodation in Angola

Expats moving to Angola for work often have the house search taken care of by their employers. For those who are going it alone, it's a good idea to hire a real-estate agent, preferably one familiar with working with expats. These professionals have extensive knowledge of the local housing market and will be able to guide expats through the process of finding a place that meets their requirements.

Online property rentals, expat forums and local classifieds can also be good sources if expats prefer not to use an estate agent.


Renting accommodation in Angola

Leases

Leases in Angola can either be open-ended or they can be for a fixed term agreed upon by the tenant and landlord. If no lease period is specified in the contract, a period of two years (renewable) is assumed.

Deposits

The start-up costs of moving to Angola are high, and expats without a sponsoring employer may find it difficult to bear these costs. Most notably, a security deposit of six to 12 months' rent is required before moving in.

Utilities

Unless otherwise agreed, it is the tenant's responsibility to pay for services and utilities such as water, electricity, gas, telephone and internet.

It's important to note that electricity and water supply can be unreliable no matter where one lives in Angola. Expats should therefore ensure that their homes are equipped with back-up generators and water tanks.

Security

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

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 elsewhere.


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 payment may be expected up front and in cash, after which expats would need to seek reimbursement from their insurance company.


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.


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 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 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 buy bottled water instead.


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. Most parents don't consider public education to be suitable due to the generally low standards. International schools are the preferred alternative.


Public schools in Angola

The standard of local schools is well below what most expats will be used to. With many school buildings destroyed during the civil war, there are not enough schools available to accommodate everyone comfortably. This results in large class size, with sometimes as many as 50 children per class. Resources are another problem, with many schools being in a state of disrepair or lacking basics such as chairs or books.


International and private schools in Angola

The private school sector in Angola is small, largely comprised of international schools to serve expats as local families are often unable to afford private schooling.

International schools in Angola, most of which can be found in Luanda, are typically sponsored by a company or embassy with a presence in the country. These schools teach a foreign curriculum, such as the British, French or International Baccalaureate curriculum, allowing expat children to earn globally recognised school-leaving certifications. Some international schools give priority to the children of embassy workers or employees of the founding company.

Tuition is extremely high and, in the case of relocation for employment purposes, is usually paid by the hiring company. If an expat's compensation package does not specifically include an education allowance, it's well worth bringing up, as the costs are extremely high to bear as an individual. Expats who are simply paid a salary without stipends or extras should make certain that their budget can accommodate these fees and other associated costs such as uniforms, school lunches, excursions and extra-curriculars.

Security is tight at all schools, so safety shouldn't be a concern. In most cases, international schools offer a good standard of education and have high-quality facilities replete with learning resources. Classrooms are generally air-conditioned with reliable back-up systems for electricity, water and internet. However, this shouldn't be taken as a given, and parents should ensure they do plenty of research before choosing a school.


Special-needs education in Angola

While the right for special-needs individuals to receive education is enshrined in Angolan law, the country has long struggled to adequately serve this population of students. As Angola continues to struggle with providing a good quality of mainstream education and increasing countrywide literacy rates, special-needs education is similarly underserved in the public sector. There are plans to integrate special-needs students into mainstream schools, converting existing special-needs schools into support centres that provide training and resources for teachers at mainstream schools.

Privately, there are international schools that offer support for learning disabilities as well as those who need extra support such as non-English-speaking students. This often comes at an additional cost on top of fees.


Tutors in Angola

Tutoring is not widely used in Angola, and parents will be hard-pressed to find a tutor locally. Parents can try asking around for recommendations from their child's school or other expat parents. Another option worth considering is hiring a tutor online for remote tutoring. This way parents can take their pick of tutors across the world specialising in their child's needs, whether it be a language, transitioning to a new curriculum or a particular subject.

International Schools in Angola

International schools in Angola are generally the go-to for expat families. This is largely owing to the poor standard of education offered by the public school system. Apart from higher-quality learning, international schools also offer a more familiar environment for expat children as well as a chance to make friends with those in similar situations.

There are just 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. Though English is the most common primary language of instruction in international schools, there are also one or two non-English options, including French and Portuguese schools.

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: Portuguese
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.epluanda.pt

Luanda International School

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

Lycée Français Alioune-Blondin Bèye

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. Uber does not have a presence in Angola, although there is a local company called Kubinga that uses the same remote ride-hailing model as Uber.

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


Driving in Angola

Many roads in Angola can’t be negotiated without a four-wheel drive vehicle, and external factors such as 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 of 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 enquire directly to their company to find out more.

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 have representation 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 in the city centre. However, the excess of vehicles in Luanda’s city centre takes congestion to outrageous extremes.

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.

Shipping and Removals in Angola

While it is certainly possible for expats to ship their belongings to Angola, it isn't entirely recommended, particularly by sea. Shipping to Angola by air is much more efficient, albeit expensive.


Shipping by sea in Angola

While sending items to Angola by sea is much cheaper than air freight, it takes longer and expats will have to contend with port inefficiencies. As a country that relies heavily on the import of goods, problems such as congestion, constraints caused by processing and paperwork, and delays in clearance plague Angola's port terminal management.

Oftentimes, container ships will have arrived but are not given permission to dock for weeks on end. And, once goods are offloaded, expats may find there are long delays before items are cleared for release – during which huge storage costs can amount and damage may occur.


Customs and insurance in Angola

Expats should also note that customs clearance in Angola is complicated and if shipping a large number of goods to Angola it's best to hire an international clearing agent. Goods should also be comprehensively insured, though it's best to go with an external insurance company rather than any in-house insurance that may be offered by the shipping company.


Furnishings in Angola

Both furnished and unfurnished accommodation can be found in Luanda, the city where most expats tend to be based. For expats in the country only for the short term, it makes sense to rent furnished accommodation rather than bear the cost of shipping their things to Angola and back home again. New arrivals who do wish to buy some furniture can find some great bargains from fellow expats selling off their own furnishings in Angola before leaving the country at the end of their assignment.

Frequently Asked Questions about Angola

Expats moving to Angola often have a few concerns about living in this surprisingly expensive country. Apart from the cost of living, safety and moving with children are often cited as potential issues. 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. 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 likely 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 elsewhere. Health insurance is therefore essential.

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 that their contract contains an accommodation allowance or that 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.


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

Banking in Angola

In the past, most expats preferred to maintain foreign accounts only and have their salary paid into that account. As of late 2020, all foreign workers living in Angola are obliged to have a local bank account for their earnings to be paid into. Account holders may then transfer the money to another account, such as their foreign bank account, or they can convert the currency if they wish.

Opening a bank account as a foreign worker requires extensive documentation including the account holder's passport, work permit, employment contract and residence card or visa.

ATMs

Not all ATMs in Angola allow access to foreign accounts – and when they do, fraud concerns are present and the charges are exorbitant. Expats are probably better off using their local account.

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.


Taxes in Angola

Income tax in Angola is calculated on a progressive scale from zero to 17 percent. Only locally earned income is subject to tax, regardless of whether one is considered resident for tax purposes or not. This means that expats do not have to pay tax on money earned outside of Angola, even if they live there permanently.

Nevertheless, tax can be a complicated issue, especially when there is more than one country involved, so we recommend hiring a tax advisor, preferably one familiar with expat taxes.

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 such a high expat-hardship rating and cost of living. Read about his expat experience in Luanda.

chris neal - a British expat living in Angola
 

Not every expat experience is a good one – 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