Living as an Expat in Djibouti

1. What is the cost of living like in Djibouti for expats?

The cost of living in Djibouti for expats can vary depending on one’s lifestyle choices and preferences. Generally, compared to other countries in the region, Djibouti is considered to be relatively expensive. Housing costs can be a significant portion of an expat’s budget, with rental prices in popular expat areas like the Plateau district being quite high. Utilities, groceries, and dining out can also be relatively expensive compared to neighboring countries. However, transportation costs are relatively affordable, with taxis and public transportation being inexpensive options for getting around the city.

In terms of budgeting, expats living in Djibouti should consider factors such as housing, utilities, groceries, dining out, transportation, healthcare, and other miscellaneous expenses. It’s also worth noting that salaries for expats are usually higher to compensate for the higher cost of living in Djibouti. Overall, while living expenses in Djibouti can be on the higher side, with proper budgeting and planning, expats can still enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in this unique East African country.

2. What are the housing options available for expats in Djibouti?

Expats in Djibouti have several housing options to choose from, depending on their budget and preferences. These include:

1. Apartment rentals: Many expats in Djibouti opt to rent apartments, as they are readily available and come in various sizes and price ranges. The quality of apartments can vary, from basic and more affordable options to luxurious and fully-furnished units.

2. Villas and houses: Expats with larger budgets may choose to rent villas or houses in Djibouti. These properties offer more space and privacy compared to apartments, and some come with amenities such as gardens, swimming pools, and security features.

3. Gated communities: For expats seeking a more secure and community-oriented living environment, gated communities are available in Djibouti. These residential compounds often offer additional amenities such as shared recreational facilities and on-site security services.

4. Serviced apartments: Some expats prefer the convenience of serviced apartments, which provide housekeeping, maintenance, and other services included in the rent. These options are popular among those who value a hassle-free living experience.

Overall, expats in Djibouti have a range of housing options to choose from, allowing them to find accommodation that suits their needs and preferences during their time living abroad.

3. How is the healthcare system in Djibouti for expats?

The healthcare system in Djibouti for expats can be quite challenging. While there are public hospitals and clinics available, the quality of care and facilities may not meet the standards that expats are accustomed to in their home countries. Private healthcare facilities do exist in Djibouti, offering better quality care, however, they can be expensive.

1. Expats living in Djibouti are advised to obtain comprehensive international health insurance to cover any medical needs they may have during their stay.
2. It is also recommended for expats to have a medical evacuation plan in place in case of serious medical emergencies that require treatment outside of Djibouti.
3. For routine medical care, expats may need to travel to neighboring countries like Ethiopia or Dubai for more advanced treatment options.

Overall, while the healthcare system in Djibouti may not always meet the standards expected by expats, with proper preparation and precautions, it is possible to receive adequate medical care during their time in the country.

4. What is the best way to find employment opportunities as an expat in Djibouti?

1. Networking is key when trying to find employment opportunities as an expat in Djibouti. Make connections with other expats, local businesses, and international organizations operating in the country. Attending networking events, joining expat groups or online forums, and reaching out to people in your industry can all help you discover potential job openings.

2. Researching local job boards, recruitment agencies, and online job portals can also be helpful in finding employment opportunities in Djibouti. Websites like Djibouti Jobs,, and Expatica can be good starting points for job searches in the country.

3. Utilizing social media platforms like LinkedIn to connect with professionals and companies in Djibouti can also be an effective way to uncover job opportunities. Make sure your profile is up-to-date and highlights your relevant skills and experience.

4. Finally, consider reaching out directly to companies or organizations you are interested in working for, even if they do not have current job openings listed. Sending speculative applications and expressing your interest in working for them can sometimes lead to potential employment opportunities that may not be advertised publicly.

5. How safe is Djibouti for expats compared to other countries?

1. Djibouti is generally considered safe for expats compared to some other countries in the region. The country has a stable government and relatively low crime rates, especially in the capital city of Djibouti City. However, like any other country, expats in Djibouti should exercise caution and be aware of their surroundings, particularly in crowded areas and at night.

2. The government of Djibouti places a high priority on security and works closely with international partners to maintain a safe environment for residents and visitors. The presence of foreign military bases, including those of the United States and France, also contributes to a heightened level of security in the country.

3. Expats in Djibouti are advised to take common-sense precautions such as avoiding displaying valuables in public, using reputable transportation services, and staying informed about local developments. It is also important to adhere to any security guidelines provided by employers or diplomatic missions.

4. While Djibouti is generally safe, it is worth noting that the country is located in a volatile region with ongoing conflicts and security concerns in neighboring countries such as Somalia and Yemen. Expats should stay informed about regional developments and be prepared for potential security challenges that may have spillover effects.

5. Overall, expats in Djibouti can feel relatively secure compared to other countries in the region, but it is essential to remain vigilant and adapt to the local security environment. By staying informed, exercising caution, and following recommended safety protocols, expats can enjoy their time living in Djibouti with peace of mind.

6. What are the best schools or educational options for expat families in Djibouti?

When it comes to educational options for expat families in Djibouti, there are several schools that cater to the international community:

1. International School of Djibouti (ISD): This school offers an American curriculum and is known for its high standards of education. It provides classes from Pre-K to grade 12 and boasts a diverse student body.

2. Djibouti English Language School (DELS): DELS follows the British curriculum and provides education from Kindergarten to O-Level standard. It is a popular choice among expat families looking for a UK-based education.

3. French schools: Djibouti is a former French colony, so there are several French-speaking schools available for expat children. The Lycée Français de Djibouti is one such option that follows the French curriculum.

4. International Baccalaureate (IB) programs: Some schools in Djibouti offer the IB program, which is highly regarded worldwide for its rigorous academic standards. This can be a good option for expat families looking for a globally recognized educational pathway.

Overall, expat families in Djibouti have a variety of educational options to choose from, catering to different curriculums and learning preferences. It is advisable for families to visit the schools, meet with the administration, and understand the curriculum and facilities before making a decision for their children’s education.

7. What is the process for obtaining a residency permit or visa as an expat in Djibouti?

1. To obtain a residency permit or visa as an expat in Djibouti, you will typically need to apply through the Djiboutian immigration authorities. The process can vary depending on your nationality and the purpose of your stay. Here is a general outline of the steps involved:

2. Determine the type of visa or residency permit you need based on the purpose of your stay, such as work, study, or family reunion.

3. Prepare the required documentation, which may include a valid passport, passport-sized photos, proof of accommodation in Djibouti, proof of financial means to support yourself while in the country, and a medical certificate.

4. Submit your application to the nearest Djiboutian embassy or consulate in your home country or directly to the immigration authorities in Djibouti.

5. Pay the applicable fees for the visa or residency permit.

6. Await processing of your application, which can take several weeks.

7. Once your visa or residency permit is approved, collect it from the relevant authorities and make sure to follow any additional requirements or restrictions outlined in the permit.

It is important to note that visa and residency requirements can change, so it is recommended to consult with the Djiboutian authorities or a professional immigration service to ensure you have the most up-to-date information for your specific situation.

8. What are some cultural norms or customs expats should be aware of in Djibouti?

Expat living in Djibouti requires an understanding and respect for the cultural norms and customs prevalent in the country. Some key practices to be aware of include:

Dress Code: Djibouti is a Muslim-majority country, and it is essential to dress modestly, particularly in public places and while visiting religious sites. Women, in particular, should cover their shoulders and knees.

Greetings: In Djiboutian culture, greetings are significant. Handshakes are common between people of the same gender, while greetings between opposite genders are more reserved. It is polite to greet others with a handshake and inquire about their well-being before engaging in conversation.

Respect for Elders: Respect for elders is deeply ingrained in Djiboutian society. It is customary to address older individuals with titles such as “uncle” or “aunt” out of respect.

Hospitality: Djiboutians are known for their hospitality and generosity towards guests. If invited to someone’s home, it is polite to bring a small gift as a token of appreciation.

Ramadan: During the holy month of Ramadan, expats should be mindful of fasting practices and avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours out of respect for those observing the fast.

Language: While French and Arabic are widely spoken in Djibouti, learning some basic Somali phrases can help expats navigate daily interactions and show respect for the local language and culture.

Religious Sensitivities: Djibouti is a religiously diverse country, with Islam being the predominant faith. It is essential to show respect for all religions and religious practices while living in Djibouti.

Punctuality: Time in Djibouti is viewed more flexibly than in many Western cultures. It is essential to be patient and understanding of delays or changes in plans that may occur.

By being aware of and respecting these cultural norms and customs, expats can integrate more seamlessly into the vibrant and diverse society of Djibouti.

9. How easy is it to get around in Djibouti without a car as an expat?

As an expat living in Djibouti, getting around without a car can be a bit challenging but is still manageable. Here are some factors to consider:

1. Public Transportation: Djibouti does have some public transportation options, such as buses and minibusses, which can be used to travel within the city and to nearby areas. However, the schedule and routes may not always be reliable.

2. Taxis: Taxis are also available in Djibouti and can be a convenient way to get around, especially if you need to travel to specific locations quickly. Make sure to negotiate the fare before getting in the taxi as they often do not run on meters.

3. Walking: Depending on where you live and the distance to amenities, walking can be a viable option in Djibouti. The city center is relatively walkable, but be cautious of the heat during certain times of the day.

4. Cycling: Some expats opt to use bicycles as a means of transportation in Djibouti. While the city may not have dedicated bike lanes, cycling can be a good way to get around and explore the area.

Overall, while getting around in Djibouti without a car may require some planning and flexibility, it is possible to navigate the city using a combination of public transportation, taxis, walking, and cycling.

10. What are the best networking opportunities for expats in Djibouti?

The best networking opportunities for expats in Djibouti include:

1. Expat community events: Expats in Djibouti often organize social gatherings, networking events, and cultural activities where you can meet fellow expats and locals. These events are great opportunities to widen your social and professional network.

2. Business organizations: Engaging with local business organizations and chambers of commerce can provide networking opportunities with professionals and companies in Djibouti. These organizations often host networking events, workshops, and seminars that can help you connect with potential business partners or employers.

3. Professional associations: Joining professional associations related to your field of expertise can be valuable for expanding your network in Djibouti. These associations often host conferences, training sessions, and networking events that allow you to meet other professionals in your industry.

4. Social media groups: There are several online expat groups and forums dedicated to living in Djibouti where you can connect with other expats, ask for advice, and even arrange meetups. LinkedIn can also be a useful platform for networking with professionals in Djibouti.

5. Language exchange programs: Participating in language exchange programs can be a fun and effective way to meet locals and other expats while improving your language skills. You can find language exchange opportunities through community centers, language schools, or online platforms.

Overall, networking as an expat in Djibouti is essential for making connections, building relationships, and creating opportunities for personal and professional growth. By actively seeking out these networking opportunities, you can expand your social circle, learn more about the local culture, and potentially advance your career in Djibouti.

11. How is the internet and communication infrastructure in Djibouti for expats?

The internet and communication infrastructure in Djibouti for expats has seen significant improvements in recent years. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Internet Connectivity: Djibouti has made substantial investments in improving its internet infrastructure, leading to better connectivity options for expats. The country boasts a reliable fiber-optic network that provides high-speed internet access in major urban areas.

2. Mobile Network Coverage: Expats in Djibouti will find that the mobile network coverage is generally good, with major telecommunications companies offering reliable services across the country. Expats can easily purchase local SIM cards for their phones and access affordable data plans for staying connected.

3. Internet Service Providers: There are several internet service providers operating in Djibouti, offering a range of plans to suit different needs and budgets. Expats can choose from providers like Djibouti Telecom and other private ISPs for their internet requirements.

4. Communication Options: Expats have access to a variety of communication options in Djibouti, including international calling services, messaging apps, and video conferencing platforms. This makes it easy to stay in touch with family and friends abroad.

Overall, expats in Djibouti can expect a relatively good internet and communication infrastructure that meets their needs for both work and personal purposes. However, it’s important to note that connectivity can vary in remote or rural areas, so expats should inquire about the available services before settling in those locations.

12. What are the best places to socialize and meet other expats in Djibouti?

1. The Sheraton Djibouti is a popular spot for expats to socialize, due to its central location and comfortable atmosphere. The hotel often hosts events and gatherings that attract a diverse expat crowd.

2. La Chaumiere is a cozy French restaurant in Djibouti City that is frequented by expats looking to enjoy a good meal and socialize in a relaxed setting.

3. The Djibouti Yacht Club is a great place for expats who are into sailing and water sports to meet like-minded individuals and enjoy some time on the water.

4. The Alliance Française de Djibouti offers cultural events, language classes, and other activities that provide opportunities for expats to connect with one another.

5. Club Alize is a popular nightclub in Djibouti where expats often go to dance, have drinks, and mingle with locals and other expats.

13. What are the available leisure activities and entertainment options for expats in Djibouti?

In Djibouti, expats have a range of leisure activities and entertainment options to enjoy in their free time. Some of these options include:

1. Beach activities: Djibouti has beautiful beaches where expats can relax, swim, snorkel, and enjoy water sports such as kite surfing.

2. Exploring nature: Expats can visit the Day Forest National Park, Lake Assal, and the Goda Mountains for hiking, bird watching, and exploring unique landscapes.

3. Shopping: In Djibouti City, expats can visit local markets and shopping malls for souvenirs, local crafts, and international goods.

4. Dining: There are numerous restaurants and cafes in Djibouti offering a variety of cuisines, including traditional Djiboutian dishes, Middle Eastern, European, and Asian cuisines.

5. Nightlife: Expats can enjoy the vibrant nightlife in Djibouti City, with bars, clubs, and entertainment venues offering live music, DJs, and cultural events.

6. Sports and fitness: Djibouti offers opportunities for expats to engage in sports such as football, basketball, tennis, and fitness activities like yoga and gyms.

7. Cultural experiences: Expats can explore Djibouti’s cultural heritage by visiting museums, art galleries, and attending cultural festivals and events.

8. Day trips: Expats can take day trips to nearby attractions such as the Gulf of Tadjoura, Arta Beach, and Moucha Island for a relaxing getaway.

Overall, expats in Djibouti have a variety of leisure activities and entertainment options to choose from, allowing them to immerse themselves in the local culture and enjoy their time in this unique and diverse country.

14. How is the climate in Djibouti and how do expats adjust to the weather?

Djibouti has a hot and arid climate, characterized by high temperatures and minimal rainfall throughout the year. The average temperature ranges from 28°C to 32°C, with peaks often reaching above 40°C, especially during the summer months. Expats typically find the weather challenging to adjust to, especially if they come from cooler or more temperate climates. To cope with the heat, expats in Djibouti often adopt certain strategies such as:

1. Dressing appropriately: Wearing loose-fitting, light-colored clothing made of breathable fabrics like cotton can help expats stay cool in the hot weather.
2. Staying hydrated: It is essential to drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration in the dry climate.
3. Avoiding the midday sun: Expats often plan their outdoor activities in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the intense heat of midday.
4. Using sunscreen: Given the strong sun in Djibouti, expats are advised to use sunscreen to protect their skin from sunburn and sun damage.
5. Seeking air-conditioned spaces: Expats often spend time in air-conditioned spaces like shopping malls, restaurants, or offices to escape the outdoor heat.

Overall, expats gradually acclimate to the weather in Djibouti by adapting their daily routines and taking necessary precautions to stay safe and comfortable in the hot and arid climate.

15. What are the shopping options for expats in Djibouti?

Expats in Djibouti have a variety of shopping options available to them to cater to their needs. These include:

1. Markets: Djibouti’s markets offer a vibrant shopping experience where expats can find a wide range of goods including fresh produce, spices, clothing, and household items at affordable prices.

2. Supermarkets: There are several supermarkets in Djibouti City where expats can purchase a variety of imported and local goods, including groceries, household items, and personal care products.

3. Shopping Malls: Djibouti has modern shopping malls that house a mix of local and international brands, providing expats with a convenient and comfortable shopping experience.

4. Souks: Traditional markets known as souks are scattered throughout Djibouti, offering expats a chance to explore and purchase unique handcrafted items, jewelry, fabrics, and souvenirs.

5. Duty-Free Shops: Expats living in Djibouti can take advantage of duty-free shopping at the international airport, where they can purchase a variety of goods such as electronics, alcohol, and cosmetics at reduced prices.

Overall, expats in Djibouti have access to a diverse range of shopping options to cater to their daily needs and preferences.

16. How is the food and dining scene in Djibouti for expats?

The food and dining scene in Djibouti offers a mix of culinary influences due to its location at the crossroads of East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. For expats living in Djibouti, there are a variety of dining options to choose from, ranging from traditional Djiboutian cuisine to international fare. Some popular local dishes that expats may enjoy include “skoudehkaris” (rice with meat and vegetables), “lahoh” (a type of spongy bread), and “fah-fah” (spicy boiled meat served with bread).

Additionally, expats in Djibouti can also find restaurants serving cuisines from around the world, such as Indian, French, Italian, Lebanese, and Chinese. These international dining options cater to the diverse expat community in Djibouti and offer a taste of home for many foreign residents. It’s worth noting that dining out in Djibouti can vary in terms of cost, with both budget-friendly options and more upscale restaurants available to suit different preferences and budgets. Overall, expats in Djibouti can enjoy a diverse and vibrant food scene that reflects the country’s unique cultural heritage and international influences.

17. What are the banking and financial services available to expats in Djibouti?

1. As an expat living in Djibouti, you will find a variety of banking and financial services available to cater to your needs. The banking sector in Djibouti is well developed, with both local and international banks operating in the country. Some of the prominent banks include Banque de Djibouti et du Moyen Orient (BDI), East Africa Bank, and Dahabshiil Bank International.

2. Expats can open a bank account in Djibouti easily, with most banks offering both local and foreign currency accounts. To open an account, you will typically need to provide identification documents, proof of address, and sometimes a reference letter from your employer or a local resident.

3. Banking services in Djibouti include current and savings accounts, online banking, mobile banking, and ATM services. Many banks also offer services such as money transfers, international wire transfers, foreign exchange, and investment options.

4. It is important to note that the banking sector in Djibouti is regulated by the Central Bank of Djibouti, ensuring the stability and security of the financial system. As an expat, it is recommended to choose a reputable bank with good customer service and convenient branch locations.

5. Overall, expats in Djibouti have access to a range of banking and financial services that can meet their needs and facilitate their financial transactions both locally and internationally. It is advisable to research and compare different banks to find the one that best suits your requirements and preferences.

18. How are the work-life balance and leisure activities for expats in Djibouti?

For expats living in Djibouti, the work-life balance and leisure activities can vary depending on the nature of their job and personal preferences.
1. Work-life balance in Djibouti is generally perceived as relaxed compared to many Western countries. However, this can also depend on the work culture of the specific organization an expat is working for. Some expats may find themselves working long hours, especially in certain sectors like the military or international organizations, while others in more traditional office settings may have a more typical 9-5 schedule.
2. Djibouti offers a range of leisure activities for expats to enjoy during their downtime. The country’s location along the Red Sea provides opportunities for water sports such as diving, snorkeling, and fishing. The diverse landscapes in Djibouti, including volcanic formations, desert plains, and salt lakes, offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking and camping. Additionally, expats can explore the bustling markets, sample local cuisine, or visit historical sites and cultural attractions in their free time.
3. Expats in Djibouti can also socialize with other expatriates through various community groups, clubs, and social events, helping to create a supportive network and foster a sense of community. Overall, while work demands may vary, expats in Djibouti can find a balance between their professional responsibilities and leisure activities to make the most of their time living in this unique African country.

19. What are the best ways to stay connected with friends and family back home while living in Djibouti?

Staying connected with friends and family back home while living in Djibouti is essential for maintaining relationships and feeling supported despite geographic distance. Here are some of the best ways to stay connected:

1. Utilize social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share updates, photos, and videos with your loved ones.
2. Schedule regular video calls using platforms like Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime to have face-to-face conversations and maintain a sense of closeness.
3. Start a blog or regular email newsletter to keep friends and family updated on your expat life experiences and adventures in Djibouti.
4. Send postcards, letters, or care packages with local souvenirs to show your loved ones that you are thinking of them.
5. Join online expat community groups or forums where you can connect with other expats who understand the challenges of living abroad and share tips for staying in touch with those back home.
6. Plan visits back home or invite friends and family to visit you in Djibouti, creating opportunities for quality time together in person.
7. Make the effort to remember birthdays, anniversaries, and other important milestones by sending personalized messages or gifts to show that you care and are thinking of them.

20. How can expats make the most of their experience living in Djibouti?

Expats living in Djibouti can make the most of their experience by:

1. Embracing the local culture and customs: Take the time to learn about Djiboutian traditions, language, and etiquette. Engaging with the local community can enhance your experience and help you better integrate into society.

2. Exploring the country: Djibouti is home to stunning natural landscapes, such as Lake Assal, the Ardoukoba Volcano, and the Day Forest National Park. Make sure to take advantage of these opportunities for hiking, diving, and wildlife spotting.

3. Building a social network: Connect with other expats and locals through community events, social clubs, and networking groups. Building a strong support system can help combat feelings of isolation and loneliness while living abroad.

4. Trying new foods: Djibouti has a rich culinary scene influenced by Somali, Afar, and Ethiopian cuisines. Be open to trying local dishes like sabayah, lahoh, and bariis iskukaris to truly immerse yourself in the local food culture.

5. Participating in local events and festivals: Djibouti hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, such as the Djibouti International Film Festival and the Ayanleh Souleiman Grand Prix. Attending these events can provide valuable insights into the country’s history and traditions.

Overall, the key to making the most of the expat experience in Djibouti is to maintain an open mind, be curious, and actively engage with the local community. By embracing the opportunities for cultural immersion and exploration, expats can create lasting memories and a deeper connection to their host country.