Moving to Ghana

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moving to ghana
Apart from the heat, some of the first things that new expats moving to Ghana will notice are the amicable people and laid-back atmosphere. Whether moving from North America, Europe or even from the bustling West African countries, Ghana is known to be a bit sleepy. From Accra, the country's coastal capital, to the dusty northern towns of Tamale and Bolgatanga that border the Sahara desert, Ghana is a safe, relatively quiet and peaceful place.

Ghana has been called ‘the Gateway to Africa’ and ‘Africa-lite’ by investors and expats, respectively. The country generally suffers less from crime, corruption and political instability than its surrounding neighbours and sub-Saharan African countries. Ghana is a mild introduction to what makes Africa tick, and expats are eased into what to expect before moving on to more intense experiences in countries like Angola, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic Congo (DRC).

The expat community in Ghana has grown over the years and become quite diverse. Lebanese traders who have been in the country for three generations have been joined by Christian missionaries, diplomats, aid workers and more recently, professionals from the private sector. That said, the entire expat community only constitutes about 8 percent of the total population.

People move to Ghana for many reasons. Some expats in Ghana want to ‘give back’ by making a difference in a safe part of Africa. Many of these volunteers pay their way to Ghana and exist on a bare minimum stipend over their two month to two year stay. Conversely, an increasing number of expats are flooding into the country due to the growing hydrocarbon, telecommunications, mining and transportation industries. Highly skilled foreigners will find that salaries far exceed that of their home countries for the same work, and that companies view Ghana as a ‘hardship posting’, which brings additional financial benefits.

Schooling in Ghana can be a concern, and most expats will need to ensure that an education allowance is provided by their sponsoring company or diplomatic mission. The local school system is modelled after the traditional British system, and corporal punishment is the norm. There are a limited number of excellent private schools in the capital city Accra, but enrolment is limited and the tuition is incredibly pricey.

Becoming acclimatised to the weather in Ghana can be quite a challenge. There are year round temperatures of between 28°C and 38°C, and an average humidity of 85 percent, with the only distinction in season being precipitation.

Water and electricity in Ghana are not reliable and most expats will need to install generators, water pumps and storage tanks for when the mains supply fails. Life without functioning air-conditioning in Ghana is a notably humid affair.

There are a few modern hotels and beach facilities in Ghana for expats to cool off though, and a small but growing list of continental restaurants and nightlife venues are popping up in the main cities of Accra, Takoradi and Kumasi.

With many parts of the Sub-Saharan Africa region emerging as markets of the future, Ghana is proving a favourite destination for expats. Furthermore, the instability in neighbouring countries has propelled Ghana to the forefront as a viable alternative for families seeking an African experience in a stable, safe environment.

Our Ghana Expert

Holli's picture
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Accra, Ghana
I'm a writer at heart with a double life as a regional sales manager in the telecoms industry in Africa. My work and social...

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