Apart from the heat, one of the first things that new expats moving to Ghana will notice are the friendly locals and laid-back culture. Whether moving from North America, Europe or even from nearby West African countries, newcomers will find plenty to explore and experience in Ghana. Ghana is relatively quiet and peaceful, from Accra, the country’s coastal capital, to the dusty northern towns bordering the Sahara Desert.

Living in Ghana as an expat

The expat community in Ghana has grown over the years and is diverse. Lebanese traders who have been in the country for generations have been joined by diplomats, aid workers and, more recently, professionals in the private sector, as an increasing number of expats are flooding into the country to work or otherwise do business in the growing hydrocarbon, telecommunications, mining and transport industries.

It can be challenging but not impossible for expats to find suitable accommodation. Most expats live in enclaves that offer a wide range of modern amenities and private security. Expats living in standalone houses might need to install generators and water storage tanks for when the mains supply fails, and life without functioning air conditioning in Ghana is difficult. 

Getting around in Ghana makes for an interesting and adventure-filled experience if expats choose to use public transport. Most locals use buses or minivan taxis known as tro-tros. These minivan taxis are the cheapest way of travelling around Ghana, but may not be the most comfortable as passengers are often congested into the vehicle with luggage and even livestock.

On the upside, highly skilled foreigners will find that salaries often exceed those in their home countries for the same work, and that companies often view Ghana as a ‘hardship posting’ which brings additional financial benefits.

Cost of living in Ghana

Although far cheaper than major European or North American expat destinations, the cost of living in Ghana may be higher than what expats may expect in a West African country. Mercer’s 2023 Cost of Living Survey ranked Accra 178th out of 227 cities surveyed worldwide. Kigali, Rwanda is similarly priced to Ghana, while cheaper African destinations include Blantyre, Malawi (198th) and Lusaka, Zambia (197th).

Water and electricity in Ghana are not reliable, so expats may have to budget for generators and water storage tanks. These extra utilities are additional costs on top of the price of accommodation, which is in short supply and therefore expensive.

Healthcare in Ghana is of variable quality, and private health insurance is a must, adding another expense to the monthly budget, although some expats will have this taken care of by their employer.

Most expats will need a vehicle and a driver to get around in Ghana, as the road infrastructure in the country is underdeveloped and local driving is erratic. Those who do not have this benefit included as part of their employment package will need to budget for it separately. 

Families and children in Ghana

Schooling in Ghana can be a concern, and expats should do their best to ensure that their sponsoring company provides an education allowance to cover the high fees. There are some excellent private international schools in Accra and other large cities, but enrolment is limited and tuition expensive.

While entertainment in Ghana can be challenging to find, particularly outside of Accra, parents can make great use of Ghana’s natural bounties. Lush forests, rushing waterfalls, vast lakes and flawless beaches are all fantastic for a day out in the sun.

Climate in Ghana

Sunshine is plentiful in Ghana, but getting used to the weather can nevertheless be a challenge, with year-round temperatures of between 77°F (25°C) and 100°F (38°C). The only noticeable distinction in seasons is precipitation, with heavy rainfall during summer, which can be a welcome break from the heat.

With many parts of the Sub-Saharan Africa region emerging as markets of the future, Ghana is proving a favourable destination for expats. In particular, the instability in neighbouring countries has propelled Ghana to the forefront as a viable alternative for families seeking an African experience in a stable, safe environment. With a bit of patience and time to get to know the local culture and customs, expats moving to Ghana should settle into Ghanaian life quite well.

Fast facts

Population: Over 33 million

Capital city: Accra (also the largest city)

Neighbouring countries: Ghana is bordered by the Ivory Coast to the west, Togo to the east and Burkina Faso to the north.

Geography: Ghana is a geographically diverse country encompassing plains, low hills, rivers and lakes. Lake Volta is the world’s largest artificial reservoir.

Political system: Unitary presidential constitutional republic

Main languages: English

Major religion: Christianity (roughly 71 percent) and Islam (20 percent)

Money: The Ghana Cedi (GHS), divided into 100 pesewas. The US Dollar (USD) is widely accepted in the main cities and tourist areas. Many international banks are represented in Ghana. ATMs are commonplace in the cities but are harder to find in more rural locations. Ghana is a predominantly cash-based economy, and due to the prevalence of credit card fraud, it is unwise to use cards too liberally.

Tipping: A 10-percent tip for good service is appreciated but not mandatory.

Time: GMT+0

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. ‘Type G’ flat three-pronged and ‘Type D’ rounded three-pronged plugs are standard.

International dialling code: +233

Internet domain: .gh

Emergency contacts: 112

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in Ghana. While public transport networks do exist in Ghana, they are generally poorly developed, and traffic can be chaotic. Within cities, taxis are an inexpensive way to get around.

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