Apart from the heat, one of the first things that new expats moving to Ghana will notice are the friendly people and laid-back culture. Whether moving from North America, Europe or even from nearby West African countries, newcomers will find plenty to explore and experiences in Ghana. From Accra, the country's coastal capital, to the dusty northern towns bordering the Sahara Desert, Ghana is relatively quiet and peaceful.
Living in Ghana as an expat
The expat community in Ghana has grown over the years and is diverse. Lebanese traders who have been in the country for generations have been joined by diplomats, aid workers and, more recently, professionals in the private sector, as an increasing number of expats are flooding into the country to work in the growing hydrocarbon, telecommunications, mining and transport industries.
Cost of living in Ghana
The cost of living in Ghana is higher than what expats may expect of a West African country. Water and electricity in Ghana are not reliable. Expats living in standalone houses might need to install generators and water storage tanks for when the mains supply fails, and life without functioning air conditioning in Ghana is difficult. These extra utilities are additional costs on top of the price of accommodation, which is in short supply and therefore expensive.
Healthcare in Ghana is of variable quality and private health insurance is a must, adding another expense to the monthly budget, though some expats will have this taken care of by their employer.
On the upside, highly skilled foreigners will find that salaries often exceed those in their home countries for the same work, and that companies often view Ghana as a 'hardship posting' which brings additional financial benefits.
Expat families and children
Schooling in Ghana can be a concern and expats should do their best to ensure that an education allowance is provided by their sponsoring company to cover the high fees. There are some excellent private international schools in Accra and other large cities, but enrolment is limited and tuition expensive.
While entertainment in Ghana can be difficult to find, particularly outside of Accra, parents can make great use of Ghana's natural bounties. Lush forests, rushing waterfalls, vast lakes and great beaches are all fantastic for a day out in the sun.
Climate in Ghana
Sunshine is plentiful in Ghana, but getting used to the weather can nevertheless be a challenge, with year-round temperatures of between 77°F (25°C) and 100°F (38°C). The only noticeable distinction in seasons is precipitation with heavy rainfall during summer, which can be a welcome break from the heat.
With many parts of the Sub-Saharan Africa region emerging as markets of the future, Ghana is proving a favourable destination for expats. In particular, 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. With a little patience and time to get to know the local culture and customs, expats should settle into Ghanaian life quite well.
Population: 32 million
Capital city: Accra (also largest city)
Neighbouring countries: Ghana is bordered by the Ivory Coast to the west, Togo to the east and Burkina Faso to the north.
Geography: Ghana is a geographically diverse country which encompasses plains, low hills, rivers and lakes. Lake Volta is the world's largest artificial reservoir.
Political system: Unitary presidential constitutional republic
Main languages: English
Major religion: Christianity
Money: The Ghana Cedi (GHS), divided into 100 pesewas. The US Dollar (USD) is widely accepted in the main cities and tourist areas. Many international banks are represented in Ghana. ATMs are commonplace in the cities but are harder to find in more rural locations. Ghana is a predominantly cash-based economy and due to the prevalence of credit card fraud, it is unwise to use cards too liberally.
Tipping: A 10-percent tip for good service is appreciated but not mandatory.
Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. 'Type G' flat three-pronged and 'Type D' rounded three-pronged plugs are standard.
International dialling code: +233
Internet domain: .gh
Emergency contacts: 112
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in Ghana. While public transport networks do exist in Ghana, they are generally poorly developed and traffic can be chaotic. Within cities, taxis are an inexpensive way to get around.