My Life as an American Expat Living in Luanda Angola

This is the view from my hotel in Luanda. See the little strip of land across the water? There are little homes there which people take boats to get to daily and some even walk across since it's shallow
This is the view from my hotel in Luanda. See the little strip of land across the water? There are little homes there which people take boats to get to daily and some even walk across since it's shallow | Source

"How about we move to Angola for a few months?", asked my boyfriend after getting an assignment there in early January. I jumped at the opportunity to live in Africa for a short period and after all, what I imagined to be an emerging and exciting country. I couldn't fathom a better time for me to live abroad than during the second year of my Master program when I had a year to complete my Master's Thesis. At the end, a few months turned into eight months as an expat living in Angola and here I am, sharing my experience with you!

I have mixed feelings about being an American expat in Luanda, Angola. I realize that I lived in the city during a very transient time. The civil war that tore the country apart right after the war for independence from Portugal had just ended a decade earlier. The bullet hole-filled building in the city center are still getting mended and the millions of landmines that litter the countryside have yet to be deactivated. The country though is optimistic and in it's favor, it's rich in natural resources. Hungry for Western expertise, expats are flocking mostly from Portuguese-speaking countries like Portugal, Brazil, and also from the great US state of Texas, since that's where the oil experts reside. There are lots of opportunities and corporations are eager to get a piece of it. And that’s what brought me to Sub-Saran Africa. My boyfriend works for an international corporation and was asked to work on an assignment there and I came along for the ride.

During our first week, we stayed at Hotel Baia. While my boyfriend would go to work, I spent my days e-mailing my Thesis Supervisor for reading material, reading academic articles about corporate sustainability (the basis of my thesis), Face-Timing my friends and family, working out at the rooftop gym with an amazing view (and a personal trainer), looking out the window and contemplating going outside. I seemed to be the only ‘significant other’ at the hotel as I only saw men in suits, talking on their phones or in front of their laptops. I practiced my Portuguese with the personal trainer at the gym who I had all to myself and the waiters as I ordered my $5 Cokes and $27 burgers. I got the courage to go outside for a run once along the water but turned back after about ten minutes of tolerating the stench from the water and humidity. One day as I looked out the window, I didn’t quite understand what was going on because I just saw trucks driving by filled with furniture and various trinkets. I asked my boyfriend about it that night and he said it was people getting ‘relocated from the ‘mussulos’ nearby. After a week at the Baha, we moved into the newly opened Epic Sana.

Epic Sana is a gorgeous hotel which I called home for the rest of my time in Luanda. It has three restaurants, an indoor and outside pool, a sauna, gym, etc. The 20 floor hotel was my home and I was confined to the vertical space, going from my hotel room to the restaurant, lounge area and pool. When I needed to go somewhere, we’d call one of our two drivers. During the following months in Angola, I contacted multiple organizations and the embassy to see if I can volunteer somewhere but apparently no efforts were going on in Luana. I wanted to organize a beach clean up but it couldn’t find anyone to join my effort. So my life was confined to the hotel and going to restaurants for dinner.

Luanda, Angola is a very unusual place, to say the least. Just last year, it was considered the most expensive city in the world, yet it's filled with poverty and is too dangerous to wander around alone (I learned this the hard way after getting mugged in broad daylight). We lived in a hotel in the city center where daily rates are pricier than the most trendy hotel in New York City, but the surroundings confine me to the hotel or getting a driver in order to even take a step outside.

As you read this, please don't take offense because I don't intend to offend anyone but just to share my personal experience.

During my first weekend in Luanda, I witnessed the slums (known as "mussekues" in Portuguese) behind my hotel getting "relocated"
During my first weekend in Luanda, I witnessed the slums (known as "mussekues" in Portuguese) behind my hotel getting "relocated" | Source
I don't think I'll be getting my hair done at this "salao de beleza" (beauty salon)
I don't think I'll be getting my hair done at this "salao de beleza" (beauty salon) | Source
These are the national Angolan trees, imbondeiros
These are the national Angolan trees, imbondeiros | Source
This is one of the entrances to Belas Shopping Center
This is one of the entrances to Belas Shopping Center | Source

Shopping in Luanda

If you're looking to do some shopping, Belas Shopping Mall is the place to go in Luanda. It was the first mall to open in the city. Needless to say, I was very excited for its existence since it was one of the only places where I was able to walk around a public area, although I suspect they don't just allow any Angolan to experience it, judging by the gates and guards with AK-47s at the entrance.

My first trip to Belas was quiet something. I quickly realized driving up to Belas, which is located outside the city center that not just anybody can get through the doors of the mall. There's certainly a specific kind of clientele that's welcome, which certainly doesn't include the likes of the ladies who walk around the sides of the roads selling all kinds of goods in plastic bowls balanced on top of their heads. Nope, everyone at Belas Shopping Mall is very polished and everything is very expensive.

The mall also includes a grocery store, called ShopRite - not sure if there's any connecting to the ShopRites I am familiar with in New York but it certainly doesn't look like it, judging by the products. This ShopRite looks more like a large 99 cents store (or a Chinese shop, which is the equivalent in Portugal where I was coming from). Anyway, wanting to buy some q-tips which I forgot to pack and the hotel doesn't have any of, I asked a sales girl in Portuguese and after we both walked over to the isle and searched for them, I was told they don't have any stocked right now! Crazy, isn't it, but such is life in Luanda where stores aren't fully stocked at all times. My driver didn't know where else I can possibly buy q-tips.

We bought a couple of things at ShopRite and right after paying, the power went out before the receipt was printed! Power outages are the norm apparently because nobody seemed to mind the fact that the store became pitch dark! Conversations continued all around us as if it was nothing. We also weren't able to leave the line because we didn't have our receipt in hand, which is necessary to show when leaving the store upon inspection of the contents of each bag. So we waited around for about 10 minutes until the power went back on.

A security guard patrols the parking lot of Belas Shopping Mall atop something that looks like a hunting post. I resisted taking pictures but I was afraid that I'll get fined as is the case with taking pictures of any 'officials'. Upon leaving the parking lot, we had to pay 300 kwanza but we didn't have any local currency. They were happy to accept the US Dollar equivalent though in dollars which was roughly $3.

There's a movie theater in the mall. A movie ticket costs about $22. And I thought movie tickets in New York very expensive!

Epic Sana in Luanda

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The entrance to Epic Sana in LuandaWatching a soccer game in the lobby with my 'hotel mates'The view from my hotel window
The entrance to Epic Sana in Luanda
The entrance to Epic Sana in Luanda | Source
Watching a soccer game in the lobby with my 'hotel mates'
Watching a soccer game in the lobby with my 'hotel mates' | Source
The view from my hotel window
The view from my hotel window | Source

Poll on visiting Luanda

Do you plan to visit Luanda?

  • Yes, on business
  • Yes, on vacation
  • Yes, as the spouse/significant other of someone there on business
  • Nope
See results without voting

Insane Accommodation Prices!

Expats stay either at hotels or compounds but Americans typically stay in compounds with their guards and high fences. Hotels are located in the city center and a room will set you (or your employer) back about $400 a night. The compounds are located in Luanda Sul, an area south of Luanda and have gorgeous houses, swimming pools, and security. They are very pricey and mostly oil company families live in these. Houses / apartments on a compound costs between $6000 to $10000 per month. Employers usually foot the accommodation bill. The reason for the insane prices is that there is way much more demand than supply of housing.

For the prices, you'd expect something spectacular but in reality you just basics for that price. I hear that water and electricity are a problem all throughout Luanda. It doesn't affect me much since I'm staying at a hotel and when the power goes out (which it does frequently), it comes back up in a couple of minutes. But for someone that's renting, it's important to have a back up generator and a large water tank.


Sky-high Dining Prices!

Just to give you an idea about food prices, a buffet lunch at my hotel costs $75. That doesn't include drinks. A can of coke is $5. A burger at the restaurant is $25. The average prices of meals at the restaurants we've been to are about $60 per person.

Everyone ends up knowing each other at hotels and dining together in groups. It gives me the sense of either being in a dorm or on a cruise.

It's common for people to walk through traffic selling all kinds of goods in plastic bowls balanced on top of their heads
It's common for people to walk through traffic selling all kinds of goods in plastic bowls balanced on top of their heads | Source

Personal Drivers and Traffic

As an expat in Luanda, you can't expect to drive around the city on your own and after you see the quality of driving, I can't imagine that you'd want to! The reality is that expat are advised not to drive as a repercussion in case you were to get in a car accident or come across a local official, you'll be in big trouble (I won't get into the 'local justice').

Traffic in Luanda is a nightmare! You can expect to always be stuck in traffic. And during peak hours, forget about it. You can expect to spend between 10 minutes and 2 hours to drive about half a mile!

The driving quality is another story - I've never seen or imagined such craziness! There are hardly any traffic lights, they cut each other off like crazy, there's total disregard for pedestrians, they swerve all over the road, and try to speed down the street like there's some street racing going on.

Public transportation is almost non-existent, with the exception of a handful of taxis which have the rep of not being very safe and there are also buses that some locals take but they're not advisable for foreigners.

A video to give you a sense of the traffic in Luanda

A Bright Future?

Luanda is definitely an unusual place to be right now and I can't imagine anyone traveling here for leisure (not to mention the difficultly one may face even trying to obtain a visa). The expat community is pretty much limited to people working in oil, construction and consulting.

There are certainly awesome aspects of being here during this transitional time. I'm seeing glassy skyscrapers going up alongside crumbling, rundown buildings; slums are getting taken down in front of my eyes in order to make room for new development; roads are being paved; and right now is certainly an exciting time, in an adventurous kind of way for an expat to be living in Luanda.

I would imagine that things will be very different here even one year from now. Hopefully they will only change for the better.

Luanda Angola on the Map

A markerluanda, angola -
Luanda, Angola
[get directions]

More by this Author

Living in Angola Comments 66 comments

Ghaelach 4 years ago

Hi Global-Chica.

Having done a lot of travelling and working abroad I can understand what you are describing. I was amazed to see shacks with corrugated walls and roofs and fastened to the roof is a satellite dish for their TV. No food but they can watch a film.

Interesting hub UP/A/I

Take care of your self.

LOL Ghaelach

Global-Chica profile image

Global-Chica 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

Thanks for reading and your vote, Ghaelach! You've also been to some fascinating places and I love reading about your travels. All the best, Anna.

donnaisabella profile image

donnaisabella 4 years ago from Fort Myers

Hey Global-Chica; I first met you on 'Questions" when you were asking about malaria prophylaxis tablets. I am a Zambian from Northwestern Zambia which you may know is not very far from Angola and some of my very close relatives are from there. I find your commentary or report on Luanda to be very unfortunate because in spite of your concluding remarks that this could be the best time for expats to be in Luanda, most of what you have said puts down the country very much. You have to understand that Angola as a country is just coming out of a long drawn war in which most of its people were displaced and the country was plundered so you cannot compare it to any of the cities in countries that have been established for more than 2 centuries. In that light, a lot of African cities, in spite of their poverty are doing quite well and their best to meet global standards. When it comes to meeting global standards, I do not know what kind of standards they should aspire for when most of the money they realize goes to pay debts to rich nations that may have plundered them indirectly. The view in your picture of the ocean from your hotel window is beautiful as far as I can see and you cared enough to describe the garbage you saw it there. Waste management is great challenge for most of Africa just like it is for America (and other developed countries) except that here it is managed differently because people have more money, remember every person you saw in Luanda owes one of more developed nations a lot of money which was borrowed by the government. While here you decide whether or not you should borrow or how to be frugal with your earnings, others in most developing countries already owe money which they have to pay hefty interests for and there is nothing they can do about it. Africa should be appreciated for its unique beauty which is definitely there, not for what other countries have which it does not. Even those of us who come to America, we are afraid to go out for the same reasons you may be afraid in Luanda. It is just a matter of understanding. You who visit Africa ought to promote it, if you do not, we will do it ourselves. By the way hotel standards in most Africa are really high compared to most that I have visited here in America, sorry to say I have not been to the high end ones which I really do not know. The hospitality industry in Africa exists amidst a lot of challenges that have to be overcome to satisfy international customers with foreign tastes that are difficult to obtain locally, therefore you pay more for them or live like the locals, which you may not want to. Thanks for writing anyway, I am glad you are opening my eyes to what I ought to do for the continent I come from and that is, speak up for it. Enjoy the remainder of your stay. May be you need to go out and mix with the locals, you will learn a lot and probably give us a hub about it.

Global-Chica profile image

Global-Chica 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

Hi DonnaIsabella, thank you very much for your extensive comment. I wrote this hub as my own biased view of my experience thus far in Luanda, sharing some not so glossy aspects of what I have seen around in the past week. I understand that the country is recovering from a long civil war and is dealing with issues like displaced people and waste management problems so my perspective is what I'm seeing currently as a tourist there. I think it's a country that definitely has a lot of potential and marvelous beauty. As I continue my stay in Angola, I will certainly share additional hubs about all the good things that the country has to offer. It's amazing to see Luanda recovering now, and the amount of construction for new buildings and infrastructure. I don't mean to offend anyone with my take thus far and I hope anyone reading this will understand that this is only my own personal experience. Thank you

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

What a city of contrasts! I had never heard of Luanda before reading about it here- I'm pretty geographically dumb- so I'm surprised to read that it's the world's most expensive city. Thanks for clueing me in!

Global-Chica profile image

Global-Chica 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

Thanks for your comment, Simone. Like you, I had never heard about Luanda...until I found out that I'd be living there for a couple of months! After googling Luanda, not much came up besides the fact that it's the most expensive city in the whole wide world. Who would've figured! Well, I've been in Luanda for three weeks now so I know a bit more about the city and I'm looking forward to sharing my experiences in Luanda here on HubPages.

nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Leipzig, Germany

All cities will have their extremes of poverty and luxury, but not always so clearly defined. Thanks for an interesting and eye-opening hub.

Global-Chica profile image

Global-Chica 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

Nifwiseirff, thanks for reading the hub. You're right, the lines between two extremes are clearly defined in Luanda. Thankfully though the gap between the two is closing and it's all happening very rapidly. I'm glad you enjoyed reading the hub.

Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

Wow, those prices are insane. The salaries must be incredibly high for people to even be able to have a simple existence. Luckily, you don't have too long to go now lol.

Thanks for SHARING.

Irena v. 4 years ago

Wow I had no idea a place like this exists and for it to be so expensive yet so poor at the same time is a little odd and doesn't make sense. It seems as the country doesn't want people coming there and therefore making living there or even visiting unaffordable . Do the people making these prices up, not get that? Anyway I'm not sure why anyone would go there considering its probably not safe, dirty and overly expensive. I have to say that the traffic situation made me laugh :). Anyway good luck to you!

Dominiquez 4 years ago

Hola global chica, I found your article rather amusing. I must add that I have a friend who is in Luanda on bussiness currently and I must comment on a previous comment from Donna Isabella. My friend came there and was robbed as soon as she got out of the car to go to work on the first day. I would not advise "mingling with the locals" as suggested by Donna! Unless you want to get robbed. Otherwise she says it's ok if you are confined to your hotel.

Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

Global-Chica- Thank you for sharing about your experience in Luanda. I had never heard of it but I have always wanted to visiting Africa. I look foreword to reading more of your hubs :)

mizjo profile image

mizjo 4 years ago from New York City, NY

Hi, Anna, you wrote a very truthful account of a country of abjectly poor people ruled by an extremely wealthy elite who control all the incoming money to enrich themselves. Unfortunately, that is the common thread of all dictatorships in third world countries.

The poor have not the resources nor the will to make changes, barely staying alive themselves, and the ruling rich have not the will nor the care to change the status quo, so the stink will always prevail.

And multinational companies that do business with the country, when ththey pay out $10000 a month for a basic house, know where that money goes, and it's not to better the country. It goes in the Swiss accounts of the rulers.

The slum dwellers scrabble in rubbish tips for a crumb and their rulers shop in Harrods, and nobody pays for the country to be cleaned up.

That is why you see Luanda as it is. It will be the same if you go to Haiti, Congo, Zimbabwe etc etc.

agusfanani profile image

agusfanani 4 years ago from Indonesia

It seems that Luanda is not my dream of living. Thank you for sharing.

Global-Chica profile image

Global-Chica 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

Hi Brett, yes prices for anything are incredibly high in Luanda. When expats come to live in Angola, employers usually pay for all their lodging and food expenses. And you're right, luckily I don't have too long to go now.

Global-Chica profile image

Global-Chica 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

Hi Jamie, I just want to let you know that Luanda is going through a very transitional time right now and many of the negatives are due to a very long civil war that just ended in 2002. Things are getting better and better here for the people and there are many opportunities for businesses like in construction and anything related to growth. As a tourist in Angola, there are many natural wonders to see, safaris and even a desert (Namib Desert). I'll be writing a lot more about awesome places to visit in Angola.

ahmed binmahfooz 4 years ago

First of all you don't know how to measure the country standard of living and am very excited to evaluate your post.As for as my concern you don't have that much capabilities for evaluation and comparison develop vs developing countries and what of standard living you provide some basic and beginning developing country information such as angola for your information angola on track for development and how post views on blog without genuine information in a very short span of time.Yes things are going beginning stage of angola for development.And every developing countries prices of goods are very skimming format till familiar in the market and among the end user after familiare the ultimate the prices are going to decrease and this is a rule of both market segment. After certain time prices are are going to decrease.And as for as my concern and my deep R&D till now is favourable and appraisal stage infavour of angola. And those who leave already they measure and got taste through their vision .so that every new thing beginning stage peoples reaction is not favourable because of human nature.And you raise this question that why become costliest city in the world on baseless economic standard in the country.And for your information please next time if you sketch or ypotrait any country picture first try to reach the truth fact such as value, country,cultrural and education,And what ever u explain all infor lack of information and two far away from the reality of the ground .

So last where ever you go first mingle in to the peoples this is main and core area of country and standard of development .


livingabroad profile image

livingabroad 4 years ago from Wales, UK

This looks and sounds like a crazy place. I'm not sure many people would want to visit as some of the things you mention sound a little off putting! As with many third world countries it will be dangerous for travellers. It's also so sad to see some much money going into one place and only some people benefit from it. Unbeliveable amounts of poverty yet hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent.

Nonetheless, it must have been an incredible and surreal experience for you and your partner. When you drop this one into a travel story I'm sure a common response will be, "I'm sorry... where?"

Up and definitely interesting.

idlemusings 4 years ago

Hi Anna,

This is a very informative post. Do you happen to know anyone on the ground who might be able to assist with expat work visas? We're looking for someone who could help facilitate the logistics and paperwork. The visa situation is crazy, as we all know.



Global-Chica profile image

Global-Chica 4 years ago from New York, NY Author

Hi Michelle,

I wish I can help out but I don't know anyone who can assist with an expat work visa. As far as I know, the company who you will be working for in Angola is usually the one that helps with the paperwork for getting a visa, including the letter of invitation that's necessary for visa sponsorship.

Best of luck!


prisca 3 years ago

I am really shocked that one can have so much bad things 2 say about a country. Luanda is not America let's not forget that please

Think! 3 years ago

I second that prisca. This blog is embarrassingly negative & ill-purposed. Let's not forget Angola just gained its independence in 1975!!! Then there was the subsequent civil war only calming down in 2002! When Bush was still in the white house!! We're in 2013, which means Angola has only been independent for 38 years or so. Why not compare Luanda to America 38 years after it gained independence in 1812, when the capital was still on fire from the battles with the British.

Pedro K 3 years ago

I am Angolan currently studying in U.S. I have been here since 2002, and I dream everyday of the day i will return home.

I was shocked about certain things I read in this blog. Most people would use this experience to change their worldview. Understanding that some people have the privilege to grow up with all the goods they want, while others go for days without food. Instead of focusing on the amenities that could make ones stay better, you could focus on what we can do to help those in need.

Revolution war ended in 1975, and civil war ended in 2002. I think you should understand why the nation is like that before passing judgement.

Unless I misunderstood this blog, most of what i read sounded like a "judgement", it sounded like "animal" lifestyle.

I take a week every year to volunteer here in U.S. last year I went to Orlando Florida, only to find that a couple miles radius around Disney lives the second largest homeless population in U.S. poverty is everywhere.

As for crimes, most common crimes are pick-pocketing, purse snatching, vehicle brake ins.

As of 02/2013

Crime index is at 52%, Safety at 48%

safety during daylight is 87%, during night 25%

Now i Live in Chicago, and last year on 12/28/12 we recorded 499 murders. and New york recorded 414.

Im starting to get all my thoughts mixed up so i'll end here.

Oli 3 years ago

This description could go for a whole lot of places I suspect. It certainly sounds familiar to me.

It may be a good thing for western visitors to do without some amenities for a while if it opens their eyes to how billions of others (no doubt equally, good, caring, loving, intelligent) live.

Now if some of the expats were donating just a part of those huge salaries, or their time, to help directly rather than just stuffing their bank accounts and planning their exit I'd be really impressed.

cmholm 3 years ago

Given the two or so months she was evidently anchored in Luanda, it's unfortunate she didn't write any additional posts about it. I'm going to guess she put most of her time into her masters thesis. The context to keep in mind is that for most of the civil war, metro Luanda equaled safety, and hence why nearly a third of Angolans are packed in there today. Yes, members of the ruling party seems to be doing very well for themselves, which they defend as their due after years of privation. But, the government has been cutting a lot of checks to lay in new highways and housing projects, so it's not an utter kleptocracy. To get the POV of an Anglophone who got around a bit, I'd suggest reading Chris Neal's "Bloody Marvellous" Angola blog posts.

Angolan 3 years ago

Seems that only Lusophonians are capable of living in Luanda without paranoia and misconceptions about the country. If you honestly feel that confining yourself inside a hotel is the best Luanda can offer, than you honestly don't much about the country. I can't say that I didn't expect this from an American.

Nenne 3 years ago

I don' t understand why some people have made silly remark about the blogs owners perspective of life in Luanda. It's great that someone has actually taken her time to share her views and discuss her experience away from home. I'm a British national married to an Angolan and yes, when you come from the western world Luanda is definitely a bomb about to happen in a newcomers life. There's pros and cons to living here, so lets not mask the truth.

To the guy who's stated he is studying abroad, if life is so great why not study at An Angolan university to show that education in your country is credible?why go overseas? There you go, I know what your thinking.

Mature people shouldn't take any comments made on the bloge personal.

Anna thanks for taking your time, I wish your bloge was up and running before I moved here, it would have been very informative.

Raffy 3 years ago

which is better? Saudi or Angola?

Ray 3 years ago

Angola is the place to be , I have visited there before and I must say the hospitality is great ! People are friendly.

Georgessss 3 years ago

This girl said the truth. That is life in Luanda, a city of contrasts. If you knew the city in 1990 and you know it now, people's lives have not improved, except they have peace now. Power going off is a fact since the 1980s and it continues today; hotels costing $400 to $700 per night are a norm; expact with beautiful houses with swimming pools in Luanda Sul and Soyo have been there since the early 1990s. People however are friendly; but the money that the country has is not benefiting them.....No schools, no running water, mosquitoes everywhere; no proper hospital......etc. How can you run a 100 billion dollar economy and be sane when your people are extremely poor?!! Thanks to the American girl. You told the truth.....

ExpatWomaninDubai 3 years ago

The writer of this blog is very clear that these are her impressions and are not intended to provide a full scope of the country or its potential. Regardless of the recent achievements of Angolan people since gaining independence, this blog illustrates some of the obstacles to growth. As a female expat myself, blogs like these provide just one piece of the puzzle of a country. I will say that this has deterred us from seeking employment in Luanda. Living in compounds, limited ability to move about freely, daylight muggings, and excessively high prices are all factors which detract from quality of life. Perhaps, in time, Angola will advance to a point where the government uses the capital gains to benefit the Angolan people.

IslandBites profile image

IslandBites 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

Very interesting information. Thanks for sharing!

Joe Morelli 3 years ago

I read the post and all the comments and I want to visit Luanda! I am American from Chicago been living in Brooklyn NY for the past 9 years and it sounds to me like there are some infrastructure issues, but as long as I can shower, eat, and be productive well then Luanda here I come!! I mean I live in Brooklyn near the Gowanus Canal and the stench is probably similar to Luanda :) Abracos a quem ler este!

USA 3 years ago

I there is too much crime in Chicago and people die everyday. There are a lot of homeless people all over the USA and too much racial segregation. Angola is a country which is starting to develop after 2002 because of the war in which USA contributed. I am surprised that you are still in Angola, why not you and your boyfriend leave this country if it is not health for you? I can imagine that this is the first time in your life living like a queen because here in America you can't make such amount of money even after completing your masters degree??? Hope you already back in the USA?

Nexa 3 years ago

I'm Angola. I live in South Africa and honestly there's nothing about this post that isn't true. It makes me really sad that people don't realise what's staring them in the face. I was born in Angola but right now I can afford not to live there. I don't mind going there for a few days once in a while but then I just can't stand it. Honestly I'd rather live somewhere with better quality of living than going back to Angola right now.

joshalexandre 3 years ago

I am Angolan and first I want to thank the person who wrote this article. As much as we Angolans dislike reading negative comments about our beautiful country, these observations are true.

I have to say that the author of this article had amazing spirit to come to Angola “just to experience it” and write an article about it.

I am 23 years old and have just finished my studies of Aerospace Engineering in UK. My CV allows me to get a good job in almost any country in the world. I have friends all over the world but still I thought that it’s time for me to get back to my country.

I believe that anyone’s experience anywhere in the world boils down to the interaction with the people you meet. You can be extremely unfortunate and get mugged in broad day light on the first few days. Negative experiences like this can put off your optimistic spirit even for an Angolan like me. So I can imagine what is like for you expats when you can just say: “f*ck this, I’m out of here.” Like I said before, I am fortunate enough to also have the possibility to give up living in Angola. Nowadays, more and more Angolans that study abroad prefer to stay abroad and avoid the harsh realities: electricity cuts, water cuts, infernal traffic jam and constantly watching out for crime, etc...

Amazingly enough I still find the people in the streets to have amazing positive energy even thought they live in extreme poverty. If you go around the city you will notice smiles and people dancing whenever they have to opportunity to do so. It’s amazing!

I always been grateful to critics, but I frown upon people that criticise and do not take action. It is not up to expats to change our country...but it’s up to us. We are a bright new country with potential. Of course there are bad days, but perhaps we should stop complaining and try to work it out, or shall I say “dance it out”, because life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain! I love Kizomba!

Beijos e abraços!!

Phone number: +244 925 155 997

Daniel Marais 3 years ago

I have been in Angola since 2003, until now. I am from South Africa. I am shocked by the report. To me its nothing more than a weak character that wrote the article. When you go hard in a gym class all those sweat bodies, do not leave a pleasant smell, but you don't stop exercising? Why stop running when there is a bad smell on your route? This explains to me the judgement on all the challenges that she faced and would not have expected another outcome. Its characters likes this that gives the rest of the Expat community in Angola a bad name. When in Rome we do like the Romans. When in Angola we do like the Angolans and you would be pleasant surprise with the results, fun and pleasant experiences you will get. Like in all countries they have their own challenges, it is important you come down from where ever you are and live like us down here. Regret the report.

Global-Chica profile image

Global-Chica 3 years ago from New York, NY Author

Hi Daniel. I appreciate your feedback and analogy. Please understand that this 'report' is solely based on my personal experience. I attempted to, as you say, 'when in Rome, do as the Romans do' but found it difficult the many times I tried to go out besides with the driver taking me to my exact destination. I'm glad that you've had such a pleasant experience and I hope others share the kind of experience you had.

Angelo 2 years ago

Hi, I have been working in Angola for almost 8 years now and I have to agree with Anna, this place is a dump. The people here have the wrong attitude and I'm sorry to say but this country will never get better. Yes they will have nice new buildings and a new infrastructure but it will not last long as the majority of Angolans do not want to have a better life. They are happy to stay in a dump like this. If they can throw out their waste in the street right in front of their houses that explains everything.

Emanuel 2 years ago

I must say that everything she experienced in Luanda is true, the 2hrs it takes me to do a journey that should only be 20min, the rubbish thrown all over the city, the expensive lifestyle, the corrupt police officers, the robberies (you should have been warned about the muggers and thieves, after all 50cent got his chain robbed at a concert there lol) however it sounds to me that you are afraid of stepping out of your "bubble". you forgot to mention the fact that people are always happy, and always dancing (you would have seen this if you went for a spin around town), the fact that they are happy even though their life is harsh, the amazing sunsets, the nightlife (Angolans party from Monday to Monday :P ),Our music which im sure you would have loved given the chance to learn (kizomba, samba, tarraxinha etc) and yes we have our problems but given that its only just been 11yrs since the war was finished, and Luanda is the 15th fastest growing city in the world, I think we r doing well, I dnt know if things are getting better but they arnt getting worse either, I LOVE LUANDA, and even though I respect your opinion and everything you said is true I don't think u have met the real Luanda yet :D. btw I bet certain cities in the US have higher crime rates, the US also is expensive and poverty is also a problem.. hope you enjoy the rest of you time in Luanda and take this chance to go out and enjoy the clubs the people and the culture ;)

NK 2 years ago

Well said Emmanuel! I have only been here a short while but I find the people very friendly. I have lived in a variety of different countries as an expat and can tell you that the cost of living here is not that different to Moscow, nor is the volume of traffic. It's a normal part of life as an expat to have to go supermarket shopping to half a dozen places to find even half the ingredients you're looking for - it's a challenge but at least it stops us from being complacent and becoming greedy like so many of compatriots back home!! There are areas where you can walk quite safely - the Marginal for example. I also think that living in a 5 star hotel with chauffeurs 'en tap' isn't the real world - sadly you're not getting a taste of what Luanda is really like!

Elijah Al Wilson profile image

Elijah Al Wilson 2 years ago

It needs to be pointed out that this is a city that is under construction in a country that is under construction. There is a reason why everything is the way it is right now from rent, traffic to high food prices. Imagine a city of 500,000 gets flooded by 5 million rural people seeking refuge from a long drawn out brutal war. The bad people causing the war were finally defeated but the country got completely destroyed, imagine the domino effect of a capital city and country being destroyed. But since the war is over the Government can now use the oil money to rebuild the country. That's why you see these extremely large shanty towns that stretches for miles and miles. These were mostly rural people escaping a war and as a result this created this new and very large urban poor. These rural people did not have job skills for a modern city, they were strictly farmers. The farming economy was completely destroyed because of the war. Now the Government is building these new apartment complexes for them and people are in the process of moving. You mentioned that in your story about people moving. That's what that is. Some are also moving back to the rural areas or countryside to take part in the revitalization of a farming economy that got completely destroyed. Because the farming economy got destroyed the Government has to import all of its food, and they do not rely on food aid. Importing all your food gets very expensive which results in high food prices locally. When the agriculture economy comes back then food prices will go back down. The reconstruction of the city is also creating the severe traffic problems. With the large influx of Expats taking part in the reconstruction efforts along with people associated with oil industry there is a housing shortage which drove up rent prices. There is also a shortage of Hotels. Once all of the reconstruction is completed, along with the construction of hotels, apartment complexes and housing are near complete, rent will go down for everyone. The locals do not deal with the high rent as much as the Expats. The locals either live in shanty towns or the new Government apartment complexes where the rent is much lower. It is basically a city under construction and its going through growing pains and its going to take a while to build everything. It's strange the rebel group UNITA that destroyed the country in the 27 years of trying to overthrow the Government is the main opposition party. And they regularly complain about the conditions of the poor. I'm thinking don't these idiots realize they are the ones that created all of this extreme poverty in the first place. What's also strange some of the locals do not understand this either, so the people that destroyed the country could someday get elected.

Reema 2 years ago

Hi there. Thank you for your post. I am dating an expat living in Luanda and your post gives me some insight on what life is like there. I am in a strage situation and am wondering if you can throw some light. I am told that some expat businessmen marry local women in Angola to ensure their safety? Is it true? Did you hear about something like this while you were there? Any information you have on this will truly be appreciated.

Elijah Al Wilson profile image

Elijah Al Wilson 2 years ago

Reema this is the first I have heard of this. I am no longer living in Angola but I have friends who still live there. I will ask them about that. But if you want my gut opinion, that Expat is probably full of Sh*t. But I will get back with you on that.

Kwazi 2 years ago

I am South African citizen nd have travelled extensively in Africa doing airborne geophysical surveys..Angola..goodness.has to be the worst country i have worked in.starting with getting a visa..the time it takes to refuel our aircraft..the clumsy air traffic controllers(we almost had a fatal accident due to the clumsiness)...the unfriendly people(once had a salon door shut in my face because i couldn't "fala portugeuse")....i was nearly beaten to a pulp by the locals for taking pics in town...But i gotta say that Iilla is pretty cool..though we had to fork out 500$ to get inside some club there..and the Lebanese restaurant in Villa Alice..affordable and only place i actually cud interact with people and get a warm welcoming smile..not all bad but there is room for improvement.and oooo..peeps like their basketball here not forgettin ink...ladies are hot too

Outraged Citizen 21 months ago

This has got to be the WORST commentary I have ever had to endure! Typical ignorant foreigners! Seriously??! And you say you don't wish to offend anyone?? Have you ever been mugged in New York? Or in the underground stations in London? You talk about muggings in Luanda, how about the pedophilia, murders or rapes happening all over the USA, you don't seem to worry about those! Serious Global Chica, this is offensive!

Global-Chica profile image

Global-Chica 21 months ago from New York, NY Author

Hello, Outraged Citizen. Nobody forced you to "endure" this commentary and could have simply not read it. Instead, you did decide to read it and be really rule about someone relaying their experiences. I spent eight months in Angola and this write-up is the experience I had from my perspective and no, I did not mean to offend anyone. No, I have never been mugged in New York and I have been mugged once in my life, and it was the time in Luanda.

I'm glad 21 months ago

Even though some are angry, I'm glad you wrote this. There are so many places I'd like to know more about but they're so obscure. One of my classmates was from Angola in college and she was, well, wealthy. She back eventually, but I can't even imagine living in such a dichotomous world.

Ningau 18 months ago

Hi guys, anyone interested on living, or maybe investing in the real estate market, in one of the most tourist places in Luanda, Luanda Island, called Ilha de Luanda in Portuguese,?

Than you should come take a look onto my Real-Estate company`s Facebook page.

Page URL:

My name is Ningau and I am from Angola although I can perfectly speak English.

by the way Anna I love your blog


Paulo Ningau

Skype: Paulo Ningao

Cell: + (244) 933-403-887

Whatsapp:+ (244) 933-403-887

letstalkabouteduc profile image

letstalkabouteduc 18 months ago from Bend, OR

There goes your job working for their Chamber of Commerce! It sounds like a tough way to live but few distractions while writing your thesis. Hopefully, you're living somewhere now with more freedom and you can look back at your time there as a learning experience. I'm wondering if you and your boyfriend are still together after that.

Akriti Mattu profile image

Akriti Mattu 18 months ago from Shimla, India

Didn't really hear about Luanda before reading your post since it isn't very popular. But after reading your post, Luanda is one more place added to my list. I love travelling. It is an inseparable part of my existence. I love your post and i love travelling solo :)

robert 17 months ago

travelling to an unknown place is always a challenge. And it is even more if you feel like from a minority group "if locals can see that you are a foreigner" for example when i travel to Moscow or Prague or even Warshaw, or Kiev, being a black like I am, I am told and I am afraid walking in the day and in the night even in the city center. Racists can come and just beat you for nothing and take your belongings:) If you are like an american white, you might not be beaten in those place but they might still empty your pockets, once they find out your are behaving like a foreigner and in an unknown place. By the way the problems even being a black I would even in jonahensbourg. A couple of years ago, I happened to be in Jonahesboug by accident (I missed my flight and so had to stay in town for 3 days waiting for the next flight to Europe. I asked how could I go to the city center. the guy in the hotel reception asked if I had been there before. I said no, that was my first time. He told me not to do that, i said otherwise i would be beaten and robbed by black people would will easily find out I am behaving like someone is new to the place:) so he advised me to get a personal driver assistant who would drive me around wherever I want, and bring me back to the hotel. So this is much like your experience of your driver. Being an american I would advise to get a driver for yourself even in Moscow!:) as for luanda e most of other cities in Africa , the best way of staying is if your boyfriend is a local guy who takes you there. a local guy does not need to be a black one, there white angolans as well. you can also try to find a portuguese friend, they live in angola now some 500000 people and all went there in the last 10 years! portuguese know the language and local culture, they were the masters for 500 years so they feel very much like locals there!:) going out with a friend of locals (including portugueses) will not make you feeling intimidating, despite the appearance, (it is only because you are not used to it. otherwise portuguese people both female and males I am not mentioning arabs from lebanon, syria, north africa (who actually work and live together with the locals in those slams, it is where they do their money selling all sorts of thing to the locals), go around without problem. So the big mistake you friend did was not to introduce you to a local living female portuguese (it is not difficult to introduce yourself to those portuguese living there, it is just going to the many local restaurants in the island nearby, every evening they hang around there in those restaurants). Otherwise of course was a major waste of time to stay 8 months in the hotel:). By the way unless I had a local friend, if given a perspective of just living in the hotel or going aroung in harlem in NY I would probably also prefer to live inside the hotel. or else I would have tried to find a local friend to introduce me to the local life. If not a local at least a foreigner who lived in harlem area for a long time!:) anyway, next time when you go to luanda or to lagos (nigeria), accra (ghana), harare (zimbabwe), moscow (russia), New deli (india) casablanca (morroco) tunis (tunisia), cairo (egypt) make a friend with a local,first, or an expact who has been there for some time. and they will guide you safely in the city and country and you will find it much more interesting the experience! They would take to the shore of the national park of kissama, it is just some 40 kms from downtown luanda, and there can even do some horse riding, and golf, sunbathing and fishing etc!!:) to to mention the animals there etc. You can also make friends with the staff female (if you wish) of the hotel, and I am sure they will take you to interesting places!) just be curious and everything should be fine next time,

Ningau 17 months ago

(+244) 933-403-887, that's my whatsapp number for those expats in need for housing or even just a local drinking body.


cyoung35 profile image

cyoung35 16 months ago from Corona, CA

I have a hard time traveling to areas where there is a lot of poverty. I end up spending more than a luxury vacation because I end up helping the locals. I feel it's my moral duty to do so. It would be hard to look out my hotel window and see the poverty just across the river without trying to make their lives a bit easier. I come from a poor background and I remember what it feels like to be on the other side looking in.

emge profile image

emge 16 months ago from Abu Dhabi

After reading your article I am convinced that most of Africa is primitive and could do with a man like Gandhi. They need him so that the mindless poverty and violence all around can be taken care off. Great post

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Kristen Howe 16 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Anna, congrats on HOTD! Thanks for sharing your experiences in Angola with us. Very interesting and voted up. I do recall a Shop Rite when I lived in NJ--one turned in a Gold's Gym. Arbfoox, please don't spam this hub with your link.

mary615 profile image

mary615 16 months ago from Florida

I enjoy reading about places I've never been in the world, so I enjoyed reading this Hub (I also spent a lot of time reading the interesting comments).

This does not sound like one of the place I would put on my "bucket list", but I did enjoy your Hub.

BTW: Congrats on HOTD.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 16 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

You are one BRAVE, ADVENTUROUS young lady! Seriously, I'm a homebody country girl who hates even driving into the City 35 miles away.

I could NEVER do this.....not in a city like Luanda! This is why people like you have all the fun, excitement and experience. Thanks for the wonderful information. I'm staying right here.. LOL...UP+++

Jodah profile image

Jodah 16 months ago from Queensland Australia

Hi GlobalChica, thank you for sharing this interesting commentary on Luanda. You had quite an experience. It certainly doesn't sound like my cup of tea, couldn't afford to live there anyway, but good to know about it. Congrats on Hub of the Day. Jut how it doesn't matter how old a hub is. Voted up.

Ariyo 16 months ago

Dear donnaisabella,

The truth at times can be bitter.

I am African and the problem with Angola is endemic corruption and the incompetence of the Santos government. His daughter is a billionairess! That speaks a lot.

For the country to take its true place in the world, it has to fully liberalise its economy, fight corruption and bring in competent bureaucrats to develop institutions.

Angola is not a hostage to international debts. Its rich and booming,

Many other African countries had their debts written off. The days of the debt crisis are over.

Most importantly, Santos must step down so that and a truly free and fair election heard.

You have to remember that Afghanistan too went through a nasty war and even Vietnam.

War after 10 years is becoming a lame excuse

Alnpb 14 months ago

Well whoever is the new President, I hope its not a member of that murderous organization UNITA which shameless destroyed the country in the first place. Thank God those brave soldiers killed that nut Jonas Savimbi who spent hundreds of millions of dollars destroying the country so he can be a dictator. A conflict that occurs that long, 27 years will usually take the same amount of time to fully recover. Hopefully the Government continues to build and rebuild hospitals and schools that were destroyed by UNITA during the war along with an international drive to staff these hospitals and schools with qualified personnel. I see Kilamba is now fully populated, that's promising.

Martin Whitefield 7 months ago

I personally enjoyed reading Anna´s blog and found her comments to be quite measured. Obviously, it´s just one person´s viewpoint based on a relatively short stay in a contry where she didn´t speak the langauge but that doesn´t make her comments any less valid. Í haven´t been to Luanda but I know others who have, including Portuguese speakers, and their impressions are invariably negative. Unfortunately, Angola and other Portuguese-speaking contries have to deal with the Portuguese colonial legacy. It´s worth remembering that Angola was a Portuguse colony for about 500 years during which time the Portuguese did absolutely nothing to develop the country. Very much to the contrary, they shipped half the population to Brazil as slaves. In spite of that, they were the last European power to give up their African colonies - a typical example of Portuguese bloody-mindedness. I live in Rio de janeiro so when I read Anna´s comments about the corruption, the bureaucracy, the crime and the general chaotic state of things, I had a sense of déja vu. Whether things will eventually get better is a moot point. After independance and a long drawn out civil war, the country promptly turned into a oil-rich kleptocracy so the omens aren´t good. As a Portuguese speaker and a student of lusophone culture. I would say that the the lusophones are doomed to failure by a self-defeating and deeply-ingrained cynicism suumed up by the phrase ´´tudo vale´´ - anything goes. If Anna or anyone else is thinking of a trip to the west coast of Southern Africa, I oould advise bypassing Luanda and heading straight for Cape Town, one of Africa´s most beautiful and best-loved cities - not least by Angolans who can afford to travel there. Also not without its problems, but the product of another - and dare I say it - much superior culture.

anon 6 months ago

guys do not make a comment about a country you havent been there..... you dont have the right Martin we all know the story dud were native guy, we dont need this shi.t, peace

Nelson P. 5 months ago

Don't agree with major of your topics, however you have shared your experience with others and it's more than nothing.

The problem sometimes are with some expats nationalities that close between them self and not really integrate in the Country.

as I said before, even If I don't agree with your blog, I have to consider it good.

Martin... you never been in Angola, neither SA for sure... Don't get your point with Angola?! ah, maybe they denied your Visa or you never had to chance to go there.

Global-Chica, thanks and well done.

Eliana Smith 4 weeks ago

Hi. Are you still leaving in Luanda?

Haidz 3 weeks ago

Hello im a filipina soon to be working in Angola as a nanny/tutor and while i am surfing about people, culture places in angola i found this blog and i read all the comments /story base in their experiences i am quite in doubt right now if i will accept the job offered to me because of the different experiences shared i do not know if there were also filipino workers out there, well since all your comments was about 4-5 years ago hope there is an improvement in this place, and can any one tell me if is it really a safe place to work there?your reply is very much appreciated.. Thank you!!!

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