Living as an Expat in Eritrea

1. What are the visa requirements for expats living in Eritrea?

1. The visa requirements for expats living in Eritrea depend on the specific circumstances of the individual and the purpose of their stay in the country. Generally, expats need to obtain a visa before entering Eritrea. This typically involves submitting a visa application form, a valid passport, a recent passport-sized photo, proof of accommodation in Eritrea, a return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds to support their stay. The specific visa requirements may vary based on the expat’s nationality and the duration of their intended stay in Eritrea. It is advisable for expats to contact the nearest Eritrean embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date information on visa requirements and to ensure a smooth entry into the country.

2. How is the healthcare system in Eritrea for expats?

The healthcare system in Eritrea for expats can be challenging, as the country faces significant healthcare resource limitations. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Public Healthcare: Eritrea has a publicly funded healthcare system, but resources are limited, leading to shortages of medical supplies, medication, and trained medical staff. The quality of care in public hospitals and clinics may not meet expats’ expectations, and facilities can be crowded and lacking in modern equipment.

2. Private Healthcare: Some expats opt for private healthcare facilities, which may offer better services and facilities compared to public options. Private hospitals in major cities like Asmara may have more advanced medical equipment and English-speaking staff, catering to the needs of expatriates.

3. Health Insurance: It is essential for expats living in Eritrea to have comprehensive health insurance that covers medical evacuation in case of serious illness or injury. This can provide access to higher quality healthcare facilities in neighboring countries if needed.

4. Preventative Measures: Expats should take precautions to stay healthy while living in Eritrea, such as ensuring vaccinations are up to date, practicing good hygiene, and taking necessary precautions against diseases like malaria.

Overall, expats in Eritrea should be prepared for potential challenges in accessing quality healthcare and consider their options carefully to ensure they have the appropriate medical support during their time in the country.

3. What is the cost of living like for expats in Eritrea?

The cost of living for expats in Eritrea can vary depending on their lifestyle choices and preferences. Here are some key points to consider regarding the cost of living in Eritrea:

1. Accommodation: Renting a house or an apartment in Eritrea can be relatively affordable compared to Western countries. However, the quality of housing may vary, and expats might need to adjust their expectations based on local standards.

2. Food and groceries: The cost of food in Eritrea is generally reasonable, especially if expats are willing to eat local produce and dishes. Imported goods can be more expensive, so it’s advisable to shop at local markets for groceries.

3. Transportation: Getting around in Eritrea can be affordable, especially if using public transportation like buses or shared taxis. Owning a car can be costly due to high import taxes and fuel prices.

4. Healthcare: Healthcare costs in Eritrea can be relatively low compared to Western countries. However, expats might need to consider purchasing private health insurance to access better facilities and services.

5. Utilities: The cost of utilities such as electricity, water, and internet services can be reasonable in Eritrea, but it’s essential to budget for these expenses as they can add up.

Overall, the cost of living for expats in Eritrea can be moderate, especially if they adapt to the local lifestyle and avoid luxury expenses. It’s recommended for expats to create a budget based on their specific needs and priorities to manage their finances effectively while living in Eritrea.

4. How easy is it to find accommodation in Eritrea as an expat?

Finding accommodation in Eritrea as an expat can be a bit challenging compared to other countries. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Limited Availability: There is a limited supply of housing options in Eritrea, especially in popular expat areas like the capital, Asmara. This can make it difficult to find suitable accommodation that meets your needs and preferences.

2. High Demand: Due to the limited availability of housing, there is often high demand for rental properties in Eritrea. This can lead to increased competition among expats looking for accommodation, potentially driving up prices.

3. Local Customs: Understanding the local rental market and customs is important when searching for accommodation in Eritrea. Renting through a reputable agency or using a trusted local contact can help navigate the process more effectively.

4. Security Considerations: Expats should also consider security factors when choosing accommodation in Eritrea. Opting for a secure neighborhood or building with features like gated compounds or security guards can provide peace of mind.

Overall, while finding accommodation in Eritrea as an expat may pose some challenges, with careful planning and research, it is possible to secure a suitable living arrangement in the country.

5. What are the best neighborhoods or cities for expats to live in Eritrea?

As an expert in living as an expat in Eritrea, it is important to note that Eritrea is a small country with limited options for expats. The best neighborhood for expats to live in Eritrea is Asmara, the capital city. Asmara offers a relatively higher standard of living compared to other parts of the country and has a significant expat community. Other cities like Massawa and Keren also have expat populations, but they may not offer the same level of amenities and infrastructure as Asmara. When considering where to live in Eritrea as an expat, factors such as access to healthcare, schools, safety, and social activities should be taken into account. Additionally, it is essential to consider the proximity to diplomatic missions and international organizations, as they often provide support and resources for expats living in the country.

6. How safe is Eritrea for expats?

Eritrea can be considered relatively safe for expats, with low levels of violent crime throughout the country. However, it is important for expats to exercise caution and remain vigilant, especially in crowded areas and at night. The government has strict control over the country and security is generally tight, which can contribute to a sense of overall safety. It is also advisable for expats to follow local customs and laws to avoid any potential conflicts. Overall, while Eritrea may not be completely free of risks, with proper precautions and awareness, expats can feel secure living in the country.

7. What are the employment opportunities like for expats in Eritrea?

Employment opportunities for expats in Eritrea are relatively limited compared to other countries. The Eritrean government tightly controls work permits for foreigners, with priority given to transferring skills and knowledge to local workers. Most expats working in Eritrea are employed in fields such as international development, non-governmental organizations, education, and specialized technical roles like engineering or healthcare. Opportunities for expats may also exist in the business sector, particularly in areas where specialized expertise is needed that is not readily available locally. It’s essential for expats interested in working in Eritrea to have a clear understanding of the local job market, network effectively, and be prepared for potential challenges associated with working in a developing country with a different work culture and regulatory environment.

8. What is the transportation system like for expats in Eritrea?

1. Transportation for expats in Eritrea can be challenging compared to other countries. The primary modes of transportation in the country are taxis, buses, and rental cars. However, the availability and reliability of these options can vary greatly depending on the region and time of day.

2. Taxi services are commonly used by expats in Eritrea for short distances within cities like Asmara. These taxis are affordable and can be easily hailed on the streets. It is important to negotiate the fare before getting in the taxi as they often do not have meters.

3. Public buses are another option for expats to travel between cities in Eritrea. While they are more budget-friendly than taxis, they can be crowded and uncomfortable, especially during peak hours. It is advisable to check the bus schedules in advance as they may not run frequently.

4. Rental cars are available in Eritrea for expats who prefer more independence and flexibility in their transportation. However, driving in Eritrea can be challenging due to the poor quality of roads, erratic driving habits of locals, and limited road signs. Additionally, expats should ensure they have the necessary documents and insurance before renting a car.

5. Overall, expats in Eritrea should plan their transportation carefully and consider the pros and cons of each option based on their needs and destination. It is recommended to familiarize oneself with the local transportation system and be prepared for potential delays and inconveniences.

9. How is the education system in Eritrea for expat children?

The education system in Eritrea for expat children can be a bit challenging. Most expats in Eritrea choose to enroll their children in international schools, as the local educational system may not always meet their expectations in terms of quality and curriculum alignment. International schools in Eritrea often offer a more familiar and globally recognized education system, providing a smoother transition for expat children. These schools typically follow British, American, or International Baccalaureate curricula, offering a broader range of subjects and extracurricular activities.

1. International schools in Eritrea usually have smaller class sizes, which can be beneficial for expat children who may require more individualized attention or support.
2. The language of instruction in international schools is often English, which can be advantageous for expat children coming from English-speaking countries.
3. International schools in Eritrea also tend to have a more diverse student population, allowing expat children to interact with peers from various cultural backgrounds and develop a global perspective.

Overall, while the education system in Eritrea may pose some challenges for expat children, opting for an international school can provide a more familiar and enriching educational experience.

10. What are the cultural norms and customs expats should be aware of in Eritrea?

Expats living in Eritrea should be aware of several cultural norms and customs to ensure they integrate well into society and avoid inadvertently causing offense. Some key points to consider include:

1. Respect for elders: In Eritrean culture, respect for elders is highly valued. It is important for expats to show deference and courtesy towards older individuals in all interactions.

2. Greetings: Greetings are an important aspect of Eritrean culture. It is customary to greet others with a handshake, particularly when meeting someone for the first time or in a formal setting. It is also common to exchange pleasantries before engaging in conversation.

3. Dress code: Eritreans tend to dress modestly, especially in traditional settings. Expats should dress conservatively, particularly when visiting religious sites or attending social events.

4. Food customs: Sharing meals is a common practice in Eritrean culture. It is polite to accept food and drink offerings when visiting someone’s home. Additionally, it is customary to eat with your right hand and to refrain from using your left hand, which is considered unclean.

5. Personal space: In Eritrea, personal space boundaries may differ from those in Western cultures. It is common for people to stand or sit in close proximity to one another during conversations. Expats should be mindful of respecting these differences in personal space.

By being aware of and respectful towards these cultural norms and customs in Eritrea, expats can foster positive relationships within the community and enjoy a more enriching experience living abroad.

11. What are the best ways for expats to meet and socialize with locals in Eritrea?

Meeting and socializing with locals in Eritrea as an expat can be a rewarding experience that enriches your stay in the country. Here are some of the best ways for expats to connect with locals:

1. Language Exchange: Learning Tigrinya or Arabic, the two most commonly spoken languages in Eritrea, can be a great way to connect with locals. Consider joining language exchange programs or hiring a language tutor to help improve your communication skills.

2. Cultural Events: Attend cultural events, festivals, and celebrations in Eritrea to immerse yourself in the local culture and meet new people. This can include religious events, traditional ceremonies, or national holidays.

3. Joining Clubs or Groups: Look for local clubs or interest groups that align with your hobbies or interests. Whether it’s sports, art, music, or volunteering, joining a group can help you connect with like-minded locals.

4. Explore Local Markets and Cafes: Visit local markets, cafes, and restaurants frequented by locals to strike up conversations and make new connections. Engaging in conversations with shop owners or fellow patrons can lead to meaningful interactions.

5. Social Media and Online Platforms: Utilize social media platforms and online forums to connect with locals in Eritrea. Join expat groups or community pages, or follow local influencers to stay updated on events and opportunities to meet new people.

By actively engaging with the local community through language, culture, shared interests, and social gatherings, expats in Eritrea can build meaningful relationships with locals and create a sense of belonging in their new environment.

12. What are the banking and financial services available to expats in Eritrea?

Expats in Eritrea have access to basic banking services through local banks such as the Commercial Bank of Eritrea (CBE) and the Housing and Commerce Bank of Eritrea (HCBE). These banks offer services such as savings accounts, current accounts, and foreign currency exchange. However, it’s important to note that the banking sector in Eritrea is relatively underdeveloped compared to other countries. As a result, expats may face limitations in terms of online banking services, ATMs, and international banking transactions.

1. Expats in Eritrea can open a savings account or a current account with local banks to manage their finances within the country.
2. Foreign currency exchange services are available, allowing expats to exchange their money into the local currency, the Eritrean nakfa.
3. International banking services may be limited, and expats may encounter challenges in transferring money abroad or accessing their funds from overseas accounts.

13. How is the internet and communication services in Eritrea for expats?

Internet and communication services in Eritrea present challenges for expats. The internet infrastructure in Eritrea is limited, with slow and unreliable connections. Expats may struggle to access online resources, communicate with family and friends abroad, or conduct business efficiently. The government tightly controls internet access, leading to censorship and restricted freedom of speech. Additionally, the high cost of data plans and the limited availability of reliable network coverage can further hinder expats’ access to communication services. Expats in Eritrea often rely on alternative communication methods such as international calling cards or messaging apps that do not require a stable internet connection. Overall, expats in Eritrea should be prepared for limitations in internet and communication services and explore alternative means to stay connected.

14. What are the shopping and entertainment options available to expats in Eritrea?

As an expat living in Eritrea, you will find a variety of shopping and entertainment options to suit your preferences. Here are some of the options available:

1. Markets: Eritrea has bustling local markets where you can find a variety of goods, from traditional handicrafts to fresh produce.
2. Modern Shopping Centers: In the capital city of Asmara, you will find modern shopping centers that offer a range of products and international brands.
3. Souvenirs: Look out for unique Eritrean souvenirs such as handmade jewelry, textiles, and art pieces that make for great mementos of your time in the country.

1. Restaurants and Cafes: Eritrea offers a diverse culinary scene with restaurants and cafes serving both local and international cuisine.
2. Nightlife: In major cities like Asmara, you can find bars and clubs where you can socialize and enjoy music and dancing.
3. Cultural Events: Eritrea has a rich cultural heritage, and you can attend traditional ceremonies, festivals, and performances to learn more about the local traditions.
4. Outdoor Activities: Explore Eritrea’s natural beauty by going on hikes, visiting national parks, or relaxing on its pristine beaches.

Overall, expats in Eritrea can enjoy a mix of traditional and modern shopping experiences, as well as a range of entertainment options that cater to various interests and preferences.

15. How easy is it to adapt to the climate and weather in Eritrea as an expat?

Adapting to the climate and weather in Eritrea as an expat can be both challenging and rewarding. Eritrea has a predominantly hot and arid climate, especially in the lowland regions, with temperatures often exceeding 40 degrees Celsius during the hottest months. As an expat, it may take some time to acclimatize to the high temperatures and dry conditions. However, there are a few tips to help make the adaptation process easier:

1. Stay hydrated: It is crucial to drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration, especially during the hottest hours.
2. Dress appropriately: Wearing light and breathable clothing can help you stay comfortable in the heat.
3. Take precautions against the sun: Use sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the strong African sun.
4. Embrace the local lifestyle: Follow the lead of locals in terms of daily routines, such as adjusting your schedule to take advantage of cooler mornings and evenings.
5. Explore higher altitude areas: If you find the lowland heat challenging, consider traveling to highland regions like Asmara, where the climate is more moderate.

Ultimately, with proper preparation and willingness to adapt, most expats can acclimate to the climate and weather in Eritrea over time.

16. Are there any specific challenges or difficulties that expats commonly face when living in Eritrea?

Yes, expats living in Eritrea may face several challenges or difficulties due to the unique and sometimes restrictive environment of the country. Some specific challenges include:

1. Restricted Freedoms: Eritrea is known for its authoritarian government and limited political freedoms. Expats may feel constrained in terms of freedom of speech and movement.

2. Limited Infrastructure: The infrastructure in Eritrea can be underdeveloped, with unreliable access to basic services like electricity, water, and internet, which can be frustrating for expats accustomed to more modern amenities.

3. Cultural Differences: Eritrea has a distinct cultural and social norms which may be unfamiliar to expats, leading to misunderstandings or difficulties in integration.

4. Language Barrier: The official language in Eritrea is Tigrinya, so expats who do not speak the language may face communication challenges in both daily interactions and professional settings.

5. Economic Challenges: The economy in Eritrea is largely agrarian and can be challenging for expats seeking employment opportunities or financial stability.

It is important for expats to be aware of these challenges and to approach their experience in Eritrea with patience, open-mindedness, and a willingness to adapt to the local customs and way of life.

17. What are the options for international schools for expat children in Eritrea?

There are limited options for international schools for expat children in Eritrea. One prominent choice is the Asmara International Community School (AICS), which follows the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. AICS caters to students from pre-kindergarten to grade 12 and is known for its diverse student body and experienced faculty. Another option is the Italian School in Asmara, which offers education in Italian and follows the Italian curriculum. For younger children, there are a few nursery schools that provide early childhood education in English. It’s important for expat parents to carefully research and evaluate these options to find the best fit for their children’s education while living in Eritrea.

18. How is the process for obtaining a work permit in Eritrea as an expat?

Obtaining a work permit in Eritrea as an expat can be a structured and bureaucratic process that requires adherence to local regulations. Here is an overview of the general steps involved:

1. Job Offer: Firstly, expats need to secure a job offer from a company in Eritrea.

2. Application Submission: The prospective employer typically submits the work permit application on behalf of the expat to the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare.

3. Documentation: The applicant may need to provide various documents, such as a valid passport, educational certificates, and a detailed job description.

4. Review Process: The Ministry reviews the application and assesses the qualifications of the expat to determine if the job could be filled by a local candidate.

5. Approval: If the application is approved, the expat will be issued a work permit that allows them to work legally in Eritrea for a specific period.

6. Renewal: Work permits in Eritrea usually need to be renewed annually, and the expat must ensure to follow the renewal process to continue working legally in the country.

It is essential for expats to work closely with their employer and the relevant authorities to navigate the work permit process smoothly and comply with all legal requirements in Eritrea.

19. What are the best resources for expats looking to connect with other expats in Eritrea?

1. One of the best resources for expats looking to connect with other expats in Eritrea is through online expat forums and social media groups specifically dedicated to expatriates living in the country. Platforms such as InterNations,, and Expat Focus often have dedicated sections or groups for expats in Eritrea where individuals can connect, ask questions, and share experiences.

2. Another valuable resource is attending expat events and meetups in Eritrea. These events are usually organized by expat communities, embassies, or local expat-friendly establishments, providing a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, build a social network, and exchange tips on living in Eritrea.

3. Expats can also connect with other expats in Eritrea through networking events, cultural exchanges, and language exchange programs organized by various organizations or institutions in the country. This allows expats to not only meet new people but also immerse themselves in the local culture and community.

4. Utilizing professional networking platforms like LinkedIn can also be beneficial for expats seeking to connect with other expats in Eritrea who may share similar professional interests or backgrounds. Networking through these platforms can lead to valuable connections, job opportunities, and a sense of community among expatriates in the country.

20. How can expats contribute to and positively engage with the local community in Eritrea?

Expats living in Eritrea can contribute to and positively engage with the local community in several ways:

1. Respect for Culture: Understanding and respecting the local customs, traditions, and way of life is essential. By showing interest in and learning about Eritrean culture, expats can build bridges with the local community.

2. Language Skills: Learning the local languages, such as Tigrinya and Arabic, can go a long way in fostering better communication and relationships with the locals. It shows a genuine effort to integrate and connect with the community on a deeper level.

3. Volunteering: Engaging in community service or volunteering for local organizations or initiatives can be a great way to give back to the community. This not only benefits the locals but also helps expats develop a deeper sense of connection and understanding of the needs of the community.

4. Cultural Exchange: Sharing aspects of one’s own culture with the locals and participating in cultural exchange activities can create a mutual exchange of knowledge and foster cultural understanding.

5. Supporting Local Businesses: Choosing to buy from local businesses and artisans can help boost the local economy and show support for the community. This simple act can have a positive impact on the livelihoods of local entrepreneurs.

6. Respecting the Environment: Engaging in environmentally friendly practices and supporting local environmental initiatives can contribute to the sustainability and well-being of the local community. This can include participating in clean-up drives or supporting eco-friendly projects.

By actively engaging with the local community in these ways, expats can contribute positively to the social fabric of Eritrea and build meaningful relationships with the people in their host country.