Trish, a Canadian expat living in Ghana, has watched Accra grow up, mature and expand. The capital’s evolution from small town to big city hasn’t left it devoid of charm, however. Even after a decade, Trish still stands by the creative spirit and friendly attitude found in Accra.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: West Coast of Canada
Q: Where are you living now?
A: Osu, Nyaniba Estates, Accra, Ghana
Q: How long have you lived here?
A: Heading into my 16th year.
Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?
Q: Why did you move? What do you do?
A: I was working in Nigeria, had to leave and was offered a position in Ghana. I was not ready to return to Canada and came here and worked as a co-operant to establish the Ghana Micro Finance Network. Now I have my own business creating and exporting bead jewellery, working with the local bead makers.
About Accra, Ghana
Q: What do you enjoy most about Accra? How’s the quality of life in Ghana?
A: Accra has changed from a smaller, friendly town to a large, vibrant city in the time I have been here. I enjoy the people, the creativity of the artisans, and the fact that I have built up a successful business which supports me and a number of other people. You can get almost anything you want here, as long as you can pay for it.
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: I miss the culture, museums, libraries, theatre and of course the close friends I left behind.
Q: Is Accra safe?
A: Yes, as safe as any large city.
About living in Ghana
Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Accra as an expat?
A: I love where I live in Nyaniba Estates. It is central and a mix of all types of people.
Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Ghana?
A: I am fortunate to have a wonderful apartment at a very reasonable rent. This is not common, as rents here for expats are extremely high.
Q: What’s the cost of living in Ghana compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: My housing is cheap, as are utilities, but I don’t have air conditioning and other fancy amenities. Many things here are expensive. Ghana is no longer the cheap place I moved to. I have been gone too long to know how it compares to costs in Canada, but I believe many items are comparative or even more expensive.
Q: What are the locals like? Do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: The locals are friendly on the surface but hard to get to know well. As a result, most of my friends are expats.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: Originally very easy. As there are more and more people, it becomes harder. It is also difficult as my friends tend to leave after two or three years. There is a small core of us who are permanent residents who keep in touch.
About working in Ghana
Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A: It can be very difficult. I invested in my own business and now have no problems as long as I pay my taxes.
Q: Did a relocation company help you with your move?
A: My organisation helped me, but as a co-operant, I came with only two suitcases.
Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Ghana?
A: There are a number of excellent doctors here, as well as some very bad ones. I would not want to spend much time in the hospital.
Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals to Ghana?
A: Ghana is an easy place to settle into. It has the usual frustrations of an African country, but I would say, relax, get out of your house and enjoy it.
►Interviewed March 2011