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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 capital Luanda's relaxed lifestyle and buzzing nightlife are also big drawcards.  

Living in Angola as an expat

As well as all the pros, there are a few cons to consider when moving to Angola. 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.

Although the country is still recovering from many years of war and inequality, Angola is rich in natural resources and is fast cultivating a dynamic business environment with plenty of opportunities. For expats with experience in the lucrative oil industry, the country offers high salaries. Expats can also earn well in mining, agriculture and manufacturing.

Most of Angola’s expats, and by extent also expat housing, can be found in Luanda. These properties tend to be large expat compounds with amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, shops and high-security features. Housing tends to be expensive, especially closer to the city centres. Further from big cities, the prices are lower, but so is the quality of accommodation.

Public transport in Angola is highly limited and private vehicles remain the main means of getting around. Cities are mostly serviced by privately-owned taxis, but cabs aren’t common. Driving is also reasonably tricky, with many potholes on the roads that are paved, and few roads paved outside cities. Traffic in the capital is extremely congested, as antiquated road networks struggle to cope with the volume of vehicles and cargo trucks. Expats should remain aware of their surroundings and drive defensively.

Healthcare is available and has improved markedly in recent years, but still isn't up to the standard many expats are used to. Expats who require complicated medical procedures usually travel to South Africa or further afield for treatment. We recommend expats invest in good international health insurance to cover the costs of expensive emergencies.

Cost of living in Angola

Angola has had a reputation as one of the most expensive cities to live in, but in recent years, the cost of living has reduced quite a bit. The biggest part of an expat’s income will most likely be devoted to schools and accommodation. Imported produce can be expensive, but locally-sourced items are much cheaper.

Expat families and children in Angola

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. With that said, the standards of these schools vary, tuition is pricey and waiting lists can be long.

Nature buffs will find Angola wonderfully rich and packed with sights and destinations for families to explore. Local organisations are working hard to rehabilitate the Iona National Park, and expats can explore its natural rock formations and plant life. Luanda also has a ton of sights to explore, including beaches, museums and other family-friendly attractions.

Climate in Angola

The country has a tropical climate with a long dry season and short rainy season. Its beaches tend to be rather arid, but in other parts of the country, the humidity spikes and many expats struggle to handle the heat.

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 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.

The 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: +244 222 334 583

  • 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

 

2022

2023

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Liberation Day

4 February

4 February

Carnival

1 March

21 February

International Women's Day

8 March

8 March

Southern Africa Liberation Day

23 March

23 March

Peace Day

4 April

4 April

Good Friday

15 April

7 April

Easter Sunday

17 April

9 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 a 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. 

Most expats living in Luanda have private drivers. Taxis and public transport are mostly informal, and are rarely used by foreign nationals.

Landmines left over from the civil war are also an ongoing concern in rural Angola. Clearance projects are still underway and areas with suspected landmines are usually expressly marked. Expats should stick to main roads and avoid driving off the beaten track as much as possible. Newcomers 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.

Note that 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.

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 increase 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 to get in touch with a recruitment agency for advice on breaking into the market. Online job portals are another excellent 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 often 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 are 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.


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 with 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. Although most senior executives in the oil and gas industry speak English, 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 do require a visa to enter the country will either have to apply beforehand or may be able to obtain a visa on arrival. Anyone entering the country must hold a passport valid for at least nine months from the 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 a 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 concerning the application of a residence permit is made.

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 employed by an Angolan company or the Angolan government. 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. Expats should note that companies are required to prove that there are no locals who can fill the role the expat is being hired for before they can be employed.

*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 is perhaps not as affordable as expats might think. Just a few years ago, Luanda’s cost of living ranked alongside or even above that of global economic giants such as Singapore and Tokyo. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case and Luanda’s living costs are much gentler these days, though still not cheap.

The 2022 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranks Luanda as the 64th most expensive city to live in out of the 227 cities surveyed. Although, a number of African cities, such as Bangui in the Central African Republic and Libreville in Gabon, rank much higher than Luanda.

The highest expenses facing expats and parents will likely be accommodation and private schooling. Luckily, those moving to Angola for work often have these costs either partially or fully subsidised by their employer. Expats without such an arrangement should budget carefully to ensure they can afford these essentials.


Cost of accommodation in Angola

The high cost of accommodation in Angola is due to a notable gulf between supply and demand. Low supply and a lack of secure housing have driven up rental prices. Nevertheless, most expats will have their accommodation provided and paid for by their employer. If not, it’s important to factor this cost in during the salary negotiations.


Cost of food in Angola

The amount of money an expat will spend on food will generally depend on their tastes and preferences. Fresh local produce is readily available at reasonable prices, but most expats shop at the bigger supermarkets where many of the products are imported and more expensive. Eating out is also quite pricey and is not a regular pastime for most people.


Cost of schooling in Angola

For expats with children, the cost of living in Angola rises significantly. As the standard of local public and private schools is generally considered inadequate, outrageously-priced international schools are the only remaining option. Annual tuition fees often also don't include essentials such as textbooks, uniforms and extra-curricular activities, so these will need to be budgeted for.


Transportation costs in Angola

Personal transport costs must also be considered in Angola, as there is a lack of good quality public transport in the country. Many expats choose to hire a driver, as this is quite affordable in 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 August 2022.

Accommodation (monthly)

 

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

AOA 118,224

One-bedroom apartment outside of centre

AOA 60,642

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

AOA 2,865,305

Three-bedroom apartment outside of centre

AOA 251,099

Shopping

 

Milk (1 litre)

AOA 1,042

Loaf of white bread

AOA 1,046

Chicken breasts (1kg)

AOA 3,700

Rice (1kg)

AOA 663

Dozen eggs

AOA 1,755

Pack of cigarettes

AOA 752

Eating out

 

Big Mac meal 

AOA 4,296

Coca Cola (330ml)

AOA 786

Cappuccino 

AOA 1,743

Bottle of local beer

AOA 969

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant 

AOA 27,600

Utilities

 

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute) 

AOA 71.74

Internet (Uncapped ADSL or Cable – average per month) 

AOA 41,668

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment) 

AOA 19,331

Transportation

 

Taxi rate/km 

AOA 717.42

Bus fare 

AOA 359

Petrol/gasoline (per litre) 

AOA 114.79

Culture Shock in Angola

With one of the most economically unequal societies in the world, Angola's contrast between the haves and have-nots is one of the biggest causes of culture shock here.


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 the country.

On the other hand, Luanda is an El Dorado-like place for the rich and connected. The pot-holed roads 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 that, within a lifetime, has undergone colonisation, civil war and then massive oil wealth.

Accommodation in Angola

When the country's oil boom began, housing developments sprung up quickly to cater to 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, but most companies do 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 employers. These housing estates offer a good quality of life with open space and high security. Many also have amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and shops.

Furnished and unfurnished units can be found, but furnished properties are usually most practical for expats who are 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 by 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 an estate agent, preferably one familiar with experience 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 throughout Angola. Expats should therefore ensure that their homes are equipped with backup 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 an 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

A few good 24-hour private clinics operated by general practitioners and on-call specialists have adequate facilities for emergencies. Routine operations are also usually performed in these facilities, and most doctors have a basic understanding of English.

Private medical care in Angola is expensive and payment may be expected upfront 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 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

Most expat parents in Angola prefer private education and especially that provided at international schools, due to the generally low standards in the country's public institutions.


Public schools in Angola

The standard of local education is well below what most expats will be used to. Lack in funding, poor infrastructure and sub-par expertise have led to poor overall public education with oversized classes. This has led many expats in Angola to choose a private route for their children at one of the country's international schools.


International and private schools in Angola

The private school sector in Angola is small and largely comprised of international schools mainly attended by expat children, 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, 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, so expats should apply ahead of time.

In the case of relocation for employment purposes, education costs are 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 at these schools are usually extremely high. Expats who are simply paid a salary without stipends or extras should be sure 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 a variety of luxury amenities. Classrooms are generally air-conditioned with reliable backup systems for electricity, water and internet. That said, 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 an education is enshrined in Angolan law, the country has long struggled to adequately serve these 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.


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, whatever their child's tuition needs, be they transitioning to a new curriculum or requiring assistance in a particular subject or language.

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, much of the network is still riddled with potholes and little is paved.


Public transport in Angola

Angolan public transport is largely comprised of 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 shouldn't be attempted without a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and hazards such as wandering livestock and heavily overloaded vehicles mean that expecting the unexpected is the best course of action.

Most companies provide a car and driver, and also cover maintenance and fuel costs of their senior expat employees. Alternatively, companies may have a pool of cars and drivers available to their staff. 

Few people buy a personal car due to the expense; a vehicle in Angola can easily cost double what it would in the US. The added costs of fuel and maintenance make cars unobtainable for many.

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. But 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 possible for expats to ship their belongings to Angola, it isn't always recommended, particularly not 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, and during these periods, 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 with the removals company's insurance option.


Furnishings in Angola

Both furnished and unfurnished accommodation can be found in Luanda, the city where most expats tend to be based. Expats staying in the country only for a short while should consider renting furnished accommodation rather than bearing 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

Newcomers in Angola usually have 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?

The country 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 the capital and have a car and driver provided for them, which is the most convenient method of getting around the city.

Are there international schools in Angola?

There are several international schools to choose from, 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 usually travel to South Africa or elsewhere. Health insurance is therefore essential.

Where do most expats live in Angola?

Most expats in the country 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 are often sporadic, so expats should ensure that their accommodation has adequate backup 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

The country’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 workers from abroad 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 overseas 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 offshore 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 expats are considered residents for tax purposes or not. This means that foreigners 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