Expats moving to Mozambique should prepare themselves for culture shock. The country suffers from crippling poverty, and expats may be shocked by how most of the population lives. The roads and state of driving in Mozambique are also very bad. This may take expats some getting used to, depending on where they are from.
Language in Mozambique
The official language of Mozambique is Portuguese. One of the biggest struggles expats moving to Mozambique face is not being able to speak the official language. Not being able to communicate thoughts and feelings can complicate everyday life. English is not widely spoken outside the capital city. However, there are also various translation and interpreting services offered, but this can become very frustrating.
This language barrier can make things like banking and renting accommodation extremely difficult. New arrivals will need to speak and understand some Portuguese. Learning the language or just useful phrases can make assimilation easier. Even having basic Portuguese skills will help with simple tasks like ordering at a restaurant or getting directions.
Cultural differences in Mozambique
Mozambicans are not strict on punctuality, which may cause frustration for expats. This can impact on expats' lives, especially in the case of doing business and expat children attending school. Mozambicans also favour family above work. This leads to very high levels of absenteeism in schools and workplaces.
Public displays of affection are uncommon. It is typical for people to shake hands upon meeting, and for women to kiss women on the cheek, but only in familiar settings. Women do not touch men in public. It is especially taboo for a single woman to touch a man she doesn’t know. Touching can often be mistaken for romantic interest.
Women in Mozambique
Mozambique still has a very traditional view of women. This may be quite jarring for expats relocating from Western countries. Women are expected to get married and start a family at a very young age. This leads to low levels of education for girls and young women. Most women tend to stay home and take care of their families. Women also aren’t treated equal to men. This is more true in rural areas of Mozambique
In recent years there has been more of a push to get women into the working world. Though this applies mostly to the capital city, Maputo.
Poverty in Mozambique
Poverty has been a major challenge for Mozambique since gaining independence in 1975. At that time, the country was listed as one of the world’s poorest. Even today, the country ranks among the lowest in human development, life expectancy, and inequality.
This level of poverty is probably the biggest culture shock expats will experience. The country has made great strides in reducing poverty. However, the vast majority of the population still lives in below-standard circumstances. Due to extreme poverty, many locals live in informal accommodation with little to no access to basic services like water and sanitation.
Are you an expat living in Mozambique?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Mozambique. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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