Moving to Madagascar

1. What are the visa requirements for moving to Madagascar?

1. When moving to Madagascar, it is important to be aware of the visa requirements set by the Malagasy government. As of the time of writing, the visa requirements for entering Madagascar vary depending on your nationality. Citizens of some countries may be eligible for a visa waiver for short stays, while others may need to apply for a visa before arrival. Here are the general visa options for moving to Madagascar:

A. Tourist Visa: Most travelers entering Madagascar for tourism purposes can obtain a tourist visa upon arrival at the airport or seaport. This visa typically allows for a stay of up to 90 days.

B. Long-Stay Visa: If you plan to stay in Madagascar for longer periods, such as for work or study, you may need to apply for a long-stay visa in advance. This type of visa may require additional documentation, such as proof of accommodation, financial means, and purpose of stay.

C. Resident Visa: For those looking to relocate to Madagascar permanently, a resident visa is required. This visa permits the holder to live and work in Madagascar for an extended period. The application process for a resident visa can be more complex and may involve additional requirements.

It is crucial to check the specific visa requirements and application procedures based on your nationality and intended length of stay before moving to Madagascar. Additionally, visa regulations can change, so it is advisable to consult the nearest Malagasy embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date information.

2. What is the cost of living in Madagascar for expats?

The cost of living in Madagascar for expats can vary depending on the city or region in which they choose to live. Generally speaking, Madagascar is considered to be an affordable country for expatriates, especially when compared to Western countries. Here are some key factors to consider when thinking about the cost of living in Madagascar:

1. Housing: The cost of housing in Madagascar can vary widely, with prices being higher in major cities like Antananarivo and lower in more rural areas. Expats may find that renting a house or apartment is more affordable than buying property.

2. Food and groceries: The cost of food in Madagascar can be relatively inexpensive, especially if you eat locally grown produce and shop at markets rather than upscale supermarkets. Imported goods and luxury items, however, can be more expensive.

3. Transportation: Getting around in Madagascar can be relatively affordable, with options including public taxis, buses, and renting a car. Fuel prices are relatively low, which can help to keep transportation costs down.

4. Healthcare: Medical care in Madagascar can be affordable compared to Western countries, but quality can vary widely. Expats may want to consider purchasing private health insurance to ensure access to quality healthcare services.

Overall, expats in Madagascar can enjoy a reasonable cost of living, especially if they are willing to embrace the local lifestyle and culture. It is important to budget carefully and factor in any additional costs such as international schooling, travel, and entertainment.

3. Is it safe to live in Madagascar as a foreigner?

Living in Madagascar as a foreigner can be safe with proper precautions and awareness of your surroundings. Here are some factors to consider:

1. Safety Concerns: While Madagascar is known for its natural beauty and unique wildlife, it does have some safety concerns such as petty theft, especially in urban areas like Antananarivo and Nosy Be. It’s important to be cautious and avoid displaying signs of wealth that may make you a target for theft.

2. Health Considerations: Madagascar is a developing country with limited healthcare infrastructure in some areas. It’s crucial to have comprehensive health insurance that covers medical evacuation in case of emergencies. Mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria are prevalent, so taking preventive measures like using insect repellent and sleeping under mosquito nets is essential.

3. Cultural Sensitivity: As a foreigner, it’s important to respect the local customs and traditions of Madagascar. Learning some basic Malagasy phrases can help in communicating with locals and showing respect for their culture. Building positive relationships with the local community can enhance your overall safety and experience in the country.

Overall, while it’s generally safe to live in Madagascar as a foreigner, like any other destination, exercising caution, being aware of your surroundings, and respecting the local culture can contribute to a safe and enjoyable experience in this diverse and fascinating country.

4. What is the healthcare system like in Madagascar?

The healthcare system in Madagascar faces significant challenges due to limited resources, inadequate infrastructure, and a shortage of healthcare professionals. The majority of the population relies on public healthcare facilities, which often lack essential medical supplies and suffer from overcrowding. Private healthcare services are available in urban areas but tend to be costly and may not be accessible to the general population.

Despite these challenges, there are ongoing efforts to improve the healthcare system in Madagascar, with initiatives focused on increasing access to healthcare services, training additional healthcare professionals, and upgrading medical facilities. Non-governmental organizations and international aid agencies are also involved in providing support and improving the overall healthcare landscape in the country.

Overall, while the healthcare system in Madagascar is still developing, there are positive steps being taken to address the existing gaps and enhance the quality of healthcare services available to the population.

5. Can I bring my pets with me when moving to Madagascar?

Yes, you can bring your pets with you when moving to Madagascar, but there are specific requirements and regulations that need to be followed:
1. Firstly, your pet will need to be microchipped for identification purposes.
2. They must also be vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days before entering Madagascar, but not more than 12 months before.
3. A veterinary health certificate issued by an accredited veterinarian must be presented, stating that your pet is in good health and free from contagious diseases.
4. Dogs must also be treated for tapeworms and ticks within 30 days of travel.
5. It’s important to check with the airline you will be using for any additional requirements or restrictions they may have for transporting pets.

6. What are the best cities to live in Madagascar?

There are several cities in Madagascar that offer unique experiences and amenities for residents. Here are some of the best cities to live in Madagascar:

1. Antananarivo: As the capital city, Antananarivo is the largest city in Madagascar and offers a mix of modern amenities and a rich historical and cultural heritage. It has a vibrant arts and music scene, numerous restaurants, and shopping options, making it an appealing place to live for those who enjoy urban living.

2. Fianarantsoa: Known as the intellectual and cultural capital of Madagascar, Fianarantsoa is a charming city located in the central highlands. It has a mild climate, beautiful architecture, and a laid-back atmosphere that appeals to those seeking a more relaxed lifestyle.

3. Antsirabe: This city is famous for its thermal springs and cool climate, making it a popular destination for both tourists and residents. Antsirabe offers a peaceful setting with stunning landscapes, making it ideal for nature lovers and those who value a slower pace of life.

Overall, the best city to live in Madagascar ultimately depends on personal preferences and lifestyle choices. Each city has its own unique charm and attractions, so it’s important to consider factors such as climate, amenities, cost of living, and cultural offerings when deciding where to settle in Madagascar.

7. How easy is it to find employment in Madagascar as an expat?

Finding employment in Madagascar as an expat can be a challenging endeavor due to a number of factors. Here are some key points to consider:
1. Limited Job Market: Madagascar is a developing country with a small job market, and opportunities for expats can be limited.
2. Language Barrier: Fluency in French and/or Malagasy is often required for many job positions, and not speaking the local language fluently can be a barrier to finding employment.
3. Work Permits: Expats looking to work in Madagascar must navigate the process of obtaining a work permit, which can be time-consuming and complex.
4. Competition: Expats may face stiff competition from local and other expat job seekers, particularly in sectors where international expertise is in demand.
5. Networking: Building a strong professional network in Madagascar can significantly improve job prospects, as many employment opportunities are found through word-of-mouth.
6. Industry Demand: Certain industries like tourism, conservation, and NGO work may offer more opportunities for expats due to the specialized skills required.
7. Flexibility and Patience: Being flexible in terms of job expectations and patient in the job search process are key qualities for expats looking for employment in Madagascar.

Ultimately, while finding employment in Madagascar as an expat may pose challenges, with persistence, language skills, a strong network, and adaptability, it is possible to secure suitable job opportunities in the country.

8. Are there international schools available for expat children in Madagascar?

Yes, there are several international schools available for expat children in Madagascar. Some of the most popular ones include the International School of Antananarivo (ISA), the American School of Antananarivo (ASA), and the French International School of Antananarivo (EFIA). These schools offer a high standard of education and often follow internationally recognized curricula such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the American curriculum. Additionally, they provide a diverse and multicultural environment for expat children to learn and thrive in while living in Madagascar. It’s important for expat families moving to Madagascar to research these schools and choose the one that best fits their child’s educational needs.

9. What is the climate like in Madagascar?

Madagascar has a diverse climate due to its size and topographical variations. The coastal areas tend to have a tropical climate with high levels of humidity and temperatures averaging around 86°F (30°C). Inland regions, especially in higher altitudes, experience a more temperate climate with cooler temperatures. The country has two distinct seasons – a hot, rainy season from November to April and a cooler, dry season from May to October. It’s important to note that the climate can vary significantly depending on the region in Madagascar, so it is recommended to research the specific area you plan to move to for a better understanding of the local weather patterns.

10. What are the transportation options in Madagascar?

There are several transportation options in Madagascar, although the quality and availability of these options may vary depending on the region. Here are some of the main transportation methods in Madagascar:

1. Taxis: Taxis are a common way to get around in Madagascar, especially in urban areas like Antananarivo. It is important to negotiate the fare before starting the journey as most taxis do not have meters.

2. Buses: There is a network of public buses that connect major cities and towns in Madagascar. These buses can be crowded and not always the most comfortable option, but they are often the most economical way to travel long distances.

3. Taxis-brousse: These are shared minibusses or vans that are a popular mode of transportation for both locals and tourists. They operate on set routes and can be a bit more flexible than public buses.

4. Renting a car: If you prefer more independence and flexibility in your travels, renting a car is an option in Madagascar. However, road conditions can vary, and it’s essential to have a good understanding of the local driving rules and conditions.

5. Bicycle: In some areas, especially in rural parts of Madagascar, bicycles are a common mode of transportation. This can be a great way to explore the countryside at your own pace.

6. Pousse-pousse: In some cities, like Antsirabe, you may come across pousse-pousse, a type of rickshaw pulled by a person. This traditional mode of transportation can be a fun and unique way to get around.

It’s important to note that infrastructure and transportation options can be limited in remote parts of Madagascar, so it’s best to plan your travels accordingly and be prepared for some challenges along the way.

11. How easy is it to find housing in Madagascar as an expat?

Finding housing in Madagascar as an expat can vary depending on the specific location, your budget, and your preferences. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Availability: In major cities like Antananarivo and Toamasina, there are more options available for expats in terms of housing. These cities have a range of housing options from apartments to houses.

2. Real Estate Agents: It is common for expats to work with local real estate agents to help them find a suitable property. These agents can assist in navigating the local market and finding properties that meet your requirements.

3. Online Resources: Websites like, Property Finder Madagascar, and local classifieds can also be helpful in finding housing options.

4. Budget: The cost of housing in Madagascar can vary significantly depending on the location and the type of property. It is important to have a clear budget in mind before starting your search.

5. Lease Agreements: It is recommended to carefully review lease agreements and understand the terms before signing any contracts. Make sure you are clear on rental terms, payment schedules, and any additional fees.

Overall, while finding housing in Madagascar as an expat may require some effort and research, there are options available to suit different preferences and budgets. Working with local agents and utilizing online resources can help make the process smoother and more efficient.

12. Is it necessary to learn the local language before moving to Madagascar?

It is highly recommended to learn the local language, Malagasy, before moving to Madagascar. While French is also widely spoken and understood, especially in urban areas and among the more educated population, speaking Malagasy will greatly enhance your ability to communicate and integrate into the local community. Understanding and speaking the local language will not only make your everyday interactions smoother but also show respect for the Malagasy culture and people. It will help you navigate daily tasks, build relationships, and immerse yourself more fully in the rich and diverse Malagasy culture. Learning Malagasy will allow you to better understand the nuances of local customs, traditions, and ways of life, making your experience in Madagascar more fulfilling and rewarding.

13. What are the best areas for expats to live in Madagascar?

Madagascar offers a variety of areas that are popular among expats due to their safety, amenities, and quality of life. Some of the best areas for expats to live in Madagascar include:

1. Antananarivo: This bustling capital city is the economic and political center of Madagascar, offering a range of international schools, restaurants, and housing options.

2. Nosy Be: A tropical paradise known for its stunning beaches and luxury resorts, Nosy Be is a popular destination for expats looking for a more relaxed lifestyle.

3. Mahajanga: Located on the northwest coast of Madagascar, Mahajanga is a vibrant port city with a laid-back atmosphere and beautiful sandy beaches.

4. Antsirabe: Known as the “City of Water,” Antsirabe is a charming town nestled in the highlands of Madagascar, offering a cooler climate and a slower pace of life.

5. Fianarantsoa: As the gateway to Madagascar’s stunning rainforests and national parks, Fianarantsoa is a great choice for expats who love nature and outdoor activities.

These areas offer a mix of cultural experiences, modern amenities, and natural beauty, making them attractive options for expats looking to relocate to Madagascar.

14. Are there any cultural differences to be aware of when living in Madagascar?

When living in Madagascar, there are several cultural differences to be aware of that can greatly impact daily life and interactions. Some of these differences include:

1. Greeting Etiquette: Greetings are important in Malagasy culture, and it is customary to greet people with a handshake, particularly when meeting someone for the first time. It is also common to place your palms together in a prayer-like position and bow slightly, known as “Salama,” when entering a room or meeting someone.

2. Respect for Elders: Respect for elders is highly valued in Malagasy culture. It is important to address older individuals with respect and deference, using appropriate titles such as “Monsieur” or “Madame.

3. Fady: Fady are traditional taboos or prohibitions that govern various aspects of life in Madagascar. It is important to be aware of and respect these fady, which can vary depending on the region and community.

4. Community and Family: Family and community ties are strong in Madagascar, and relationships are highly valued. It is common for extended family members to live together or in close proximity, and community support plays an important role in daily life.

5. Time: Time is viewed more flexibly in Madagascar, and punctuality may not always be as strictly observed as in some Western cultures. It is important to be patient and understanding when it comes to scheduling and timelines.

6. Communication Style: Malagasy communication can be indirect, with emphasis placed on non-verbal cues and gestures. It is important to pay attention to body language and context when communicating with others.

7. Religious Beliefs: The majority of people in Madagascar practice a form of traditional belief system known as “Fomban-drazana,” which involves ancestor worship and spiritual rituals. It is important to respect these beliefs and customs in interactions with locals.

By being mindful of these cultural differences and making an effort to understand and respect the customs and traditions of Madagascar, expatriates can better integrate into the local community and enjoy a more fulfilling experience living in this unique and vibrant country.

15. How can I send my belongings to Madagascar when moving?

When moving to Madagascar, sending your belongings can be done through various methods. Here is a thorough guide on how to send your belongings to Madagascar:

1. Shipping Services: Utilize international shipping services such as container shipping or airfreight to transport your belongings. Companies like FedEx, DHL, or specialized international moving companies offer services to Madagascar.

2. Customs Regulations: Research and understand the customs regulations and import requirements of Madagascar regarding personal belongings. Make sure your items are allowed into the country and have all necessary documentation ready.

3. Packaging: Properly pack and label your belongings to ensure they are secure during transit. Consider using sturdy boxes, bubble wrap, and padding material to prevent damage.

4. Insurance: Consider obtaining insurance for your belongings during transit to protect against loss or damage.

5. Tracking: Opt for a shipping service that offers tracking capabilities so you can monitor the progress of your shipment.

6. Transit Time: Be mindful of transit times when sending your belongings to Madagascar, especially if there are any time-sensitive items.

7. Costs: Compare quotes from different shipping services to find the most cost-effective option for sending your belongings to Madagascar.

By following these steps and planning ahead, you can successfully send your belongings to Madagascar when moving.

16. What are the options for banking and finance in Madagascar?

In Madagascar, there are several options available for banking and finance:

1. Banking Institutions: The country has a variety of banks, both local and international, offering traditional banking services such as savings accounts, checking accounts, loans, and investment products.

2. Microfinance Institutions: Madagascar also has a thriving microfinance sector, which provides financial services to small businesses and individuals who may not have access to traditional banking services.

3. Mobile Banking: With the rise of mobile phone usage in Madagascar, mobile banking services have become increasingly popular. This allows people to access banking services and make transactions using their mobile phones.

4. Online Banking: Many banks in Madagascar also offer online banking services, allowing customers to manage their accounts, transfer money, and pay bills online.

5. Financial Regulations: It is important to note that Madagascar has its own set of financial regulations and compliance requirements, so it is essential to familiarize oneself with the local laws and regulations regarding banking and finance.

Overall, the options for banking and finance in Madagascar are diverse, with a range of traditional and innovative services available to meet the needs of both individuals and businesses in the country.

17. What is the job market like in Madagascar for expats?

The job market in Madagascar for expats is relatively limited compared to other countries. Most expats in Madagascar work in sectors such as NGOs, international organizations, teaching English, agriculture, tourism, and mining. It is essential for expats to have specialized skills or experience in these areas to secure employment opportunities in the country.

1. The availability of jobs for expats is influenced by factors such as the country’s economic stability, political situation, and government regulations.
2. Many expats in Madagascar work on short-term contracts or as consultants rather than in permanent positions.
3. Language proficiency in French or Malagasy can be beneficial when seeking job opportunities in Madagascar.
4. Networking plays a crucial role in finding employment as an expat in Madagascar, as personal connections can often lead to job opportunities.

Overall, while it is possible for expats to find work in Madagascar, it may require patience, networking, and specialized skills in specific industries.

18. Are there any specific permits or licenses required for expats living in Madagascar?

Yes, there are specific permits and licenses required for expats living in Madagascar. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

1. Residence Permit: Expats planning to live in Madagascar for an extended period typically need to obtain a residence permit. This permit is required for individuals planning to stay in the country for longer than 90 days. The process for obtaining a residence permit can vary based on the specific circumstances of the expat, such as whether they are working, studying, or retiring in Madagascar.

2. Work Permit: Expats who plan to work in Madagascar must obtain a work permit before starting their employment. The process for obtaining a work permit involves submitting the necessary documentation to the relevant authorities, including proof of employment and a valid contract.

3. Driver’s License: Expats residing in Madagascar may need to obtain a local driver’s license if they plan to drive in the country. The process for obtaining a driver’s license can vary based on the individual’s nationality and existing driving credentials.

It’s important for expats considering a move to Madagascar to research the specific requirements and regulations related to permits and licenses to ensure compliance with local laws. Consulting with legal professionals or expat forums can also provide valuable insights and guidance on navigating the administrative procedures involved in obtaining the necessary permits and licenses.

19. What are the schooling options for expat children in Madagascar?

Expats living in Madagascar have a variety of schooling options for their children. Here are some of the common choices available:

1. International Schools: Madagascar hosts several international schools that offer education in English or other languages such as French or German. These schools typically follow an international curriculum like the International Baccalaureate or the British, American, or French system.

2. Local Private Schools: Expats can also choose to enroll their children in local private schools that offer a mix of international and national curricula. These schools may provide bilingual education and cater to the expat community.

3. Homeschooling: Some expat families opt for homeschooling their children in Madagascar. This allows for more flexibility in the curriculum and schedule, ensuring that the child’s education can align with their needs and interests.

4. Boarding Schools Abroad: In some cases, expat families may choose to send their children to boarding schools in nearby countries with better educational facilities or programs that match their preferences.

It is crucial for expat parents to thoroughly research and visit potential schools to ensure that they meet their child’s educational needs and standards. The decision will depend on factors such as the child’s age, language proficiency, desired curriculum, and personal preferences.

20. How can I integrate into the local community when moving to Madagascar?

When moving to Madagascar, integrating into the local community is essential for creating a meaningful and fulfilling experience. Here are some tips on how to achieve this:

1. Learn the language: Malagasy is the official language of Madagascar, so making an effort to learn some basic phrases can go a long way in connecting with locals.

2. Respect the culture: Malagasy culture is rich and diverse, with unique customs and traditions. Show respect for these cultural nuances by being open-minded and willing to participate in local festivities and ceremonies.

3. Engage with locals: Take the time to get to know your neighbors and community members. Building relationships with them through small gestures like sharing a meal or attending community events can help you feel more integrated.

4. Volunteer or join local initiatives: Getting involved in community projects or volunteering opportunities can not only benefit the locals but also help you establish a sense of belonging and purpose in your new environment.

5. Embrace the cuisine: Food plays a significant role in Malagasy culture, so be sure to explore local markets and try traditional dishes. Sharing meals with others is a great way to bond and immerse yourself in the local lifestyle.

By following these steps and showing genuine interest in the community, you will be on your way to integrating seamlessly into the local fabric of Madagascar.