Trish, a Canadian expat living in Ghana, has watched Accra grow-up, mature and expand. The capital's evolution from small town to big city hasn't left it devoid of charm, however. Even after a decade Trish still stands by the creative spirit and friendly attitude found in Accra.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: West Coast of Canada
Q: Where are you living now?
A: Osu, Nyaniba Estates, Accra, Ghana
Q: How long you have you lived here?
A: Heading into my 16th year.
Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?
Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: I was working in Nigeria, had to leave and was offered a position in Ghana. I was not ready to return to Canada and came here and worked as a co-operant to establish the Ghana Micro Finance Network. Now I have my own business creating and exporting bead jewellery working with the local bead makers.
About Accra, Ghana
Q: What do you enjoy most about Accra, how’s the quality of life in Ghana?
A: Accra has changed from a smaller, friendly town to a large, vibrant city in the time I have been here. I enjoy the people, the creativity of the artisans, and the fact that I have built up a successful business which supports me and a number of other people. You can get almost anything you want here, as long as you can pay for it.
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: I miss the culture, museums, libraries, theatre and of course the close friends I left behind.
Q: Is Accra safe?
A: Yes, as safe as any large city.
About living in Ghana
Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Accra as an expat?
A: I love where I live in Nyaniba Estates. It is central and a mix of all types of people.
Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Ghana?
A: I am fortunate to have a wonderful apartment at a very reasonable rent. This is not common as rents here for expats are extremely high.
Q: What’s the cost of living in Ghana compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: My housing is cheap as are utilities, but I don’t have air conditioning and other fancy amenities. Many things here are expensive. Ghana is no longer the cheap place I moved to. I have been gone too long to know how it compares to costs in Canada, but believe many items are comparative or even more expensive.
Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: The locals are friendly on the surface, but hard to get to know well. As a result, most of my friends are expats.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: Originally very easy, as there are more and more people, it becomes harder. It is also difficult as my friends tend to leave after two or three years. There is a small core of us who are permanent residents, who keep in touch.
About working in Ghana
Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A: It can be very difficult. I invested in my own business and now have no problems as long as I pay my taxes.
Q: What’s the economic climate like in Accra, is there plenty of work?
A: I am self-employed so I don’t know.
Q: Did a relocation company help you with your move?
A: My organisation helped me, but as a co-operant I came with only two suitcases.
Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Ghana?
A: There are a number of excellent doctors here as well as some very bad ones. I would not want to spend much time in hospital.
Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals to Ghana?
A: Ghana is an easy place to settle into. It has the usual frustrations of an African country, but I would say, relax, get out of your house and enjoy it.
~interviewed March 2011