Nansie, an American expat living in Ghana, has spent most of her life on West African soil. She sees the ever-increasing cost of living in Accra as a force to be reckoned with, but otherwise, days gone by in the Ghanaian capital seem simple and enjoyable.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: I am American but was born and raised in West Africa.
Q: Where are you living now?
A: Accra, Ghana
Q: How long have you lived here?
A: I’ve lived in Ghana for eight years.
Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?
Q: Why did you move? What do you do?
A: We evacuated from Cote d’Ivoire due to the civil war.
About Accra, Ghana
Q: What do you enjoy most about living in Accra? How’s the quality of life in Ghana?
A: I enjoy living and working in Africa. The quality of life in Ghana is good. We enjoy our family life, our extended Ghanaian family and our friends.
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: From Cote d’Ivoire… I miss the food and our friends there. From the US… I miss my family.
Q: Is Accra safe?
A: Yes, but like any big city, you need to be careful.
Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Accra as an expat?
A: We have lived in Kanda, Dzorwulu, East Legon, West Legon and now Cantonments. I have enjoyed each place. Cantonments is certainly more convenient, but I miss living out in the country.
Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Ghana?
A: The accommodation is good. Of course, you must contend with water shortages and electricity cuts, but these problems are easy to reconcile.
Q: What’s the cost of living in Ghana compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: In comparison to the US… Accra is more expensive.
Q: What are the locals like? Do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: We mix with both and have two Ghanaian sons who live with us. We love the people here. We also enjoy the international community.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: It was easier in Cote d’Ivoire to make friends, but over time, we have made close Ghanaian friends.
About working in Ghana
Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A: Lincoln Community School struggled for some time to get me a work visa, but that issue has been cleared up. When we first arrived, we struggled finding sponsorship for a work visa until we began working for NGOs.
Q: What’s the economic climate like in Accra? Is there plenty of work?
A: Accra is doing well economically, but with prices constantly rising, it is hard for the typical Ghanaian to live well. Food, rent, gas and the general cost of living are constantly rising.
Q: Did a relocation company help you with your move?
A: We have moved six times since living in Accra and have kept moving due to the escalating rent prices. We moved ourselves each time until this last move. This time, the Embassy moved us.
Family and children
Q: What are the schools like? Any particular suggestions?
A: There are several international schools to choose from. My children have graduated from Lincoln, and I would recommend that school as the first choice.
Q: How would you rate the healthcare?
A: Not good. There are good doctors, but I have yet to find good hospital care.
Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: Be flexible, open, and be willing to change your views on how things should run.
► Interviewed March 2011