Print
  • Hold down Ctrl key and select the sections you want to print. If using a Mac, hold down the Cmd key.
  • Use Ctrl + A or on Mac, Cmd + A to select all sections (if you are using the Chrome browser).
  • Click "Apply" and the site will customise your print guide in the preview below.
  • Click the "Print" button and a print pop up should appear to print to your printer of choice.

Moving to Luanda

A city abundant in resources and natural beauty, Luanda is an exciting prospect for expats and is filled with potential for a truly unique experience. A prominent port city on the west coast of Southern Africa and the capital of Angola, Luanda certainly is easy on the eye with a beautiful bay and pretty seafront promenade.

Living in Luanda as an expat

Of course, life in the city does have both pros and cons, and expats shouldn't underestimate the challenges they're likely to face. Indeed, the adjustment to the day-to-day may be a difficult and slow one for many expats.

Working in Luanda can be highly lucrative for expats with experience in the mining or oil industries. Other large industries include agriculture, manufacturing, construction and tourism. Most expats come over as part of a contract with a multinational company.

Expat compounds offer a good quality of life, with large houses, swimming pools and a high level of security. Expats in these compounds often work for large multinational companies that take care of the housing costs. Otherwise, accommodation is generally rather expensive.

The public transport in Luanda is fairly limited. Minibus taxis are abundant but fairly reckless. Most expats prefer having their own vehicle, but due to the dangerous road conditions, most find having a driver with experience driving locally to be their best bet. Cars here drive on the right-hand side.

Healthcare in Luanda is better than in the rest of the country but even here public healthcare is below the standards of other Western countries. Most expats invest in private healthcare and private health insurance. Serious emergencies may require traveling to South Africa or another country, which can be quite expensive. Pharmacies are relatively abundant in Luanda, but any chronic medication should be brought from an expat’s home country.

Cost of living in Luanda

Luanda can be rather expensive to live in. Accommodation is in high demand in the city and will be an expat’s biggest expense, so it’s important to factor this into any contract negotiations before moving to Angola. Locally sourced produce is often reasonably cheap, but imported goods are pricey. Overall, though, expats earning in foreign currency can have a high quality of life here.

Expat families and children

The noticeable inequality between the rich and poor is perhaps the most jarring aspect of a move to Luanda. While much of Luanda’s population continues to live in poverty, expats will likely find themselves living in an insular expat community in the newer and more affluent Luanda Sul area to the south of the city. This area is home to a number of international schools and is the best area to live for those with small children.

While there is plenty to keep expats in these compounds occupied on weekends, many choose instead to escape Luanda for the beaches and resorts outside of the city. Surfing and nature hikes are rather popular among expats and tourists alike.

Climate in Luanda

Luanda has a tropical climate, and can get rather humid. With a long dry season and short wet season, expats often need to adjust to the hot weather. We recommend staying cool and hydrated to combat weariness or heat stroke.

While there are undeniable drawbacks of living in this African city, expats moving to Luanda with an open mind are likely to have a richly rewarding experience, both culturally and financially. Nature buffs are sure to love the surroundings and anyone open to exploring the cultures and getting to know the locals will fit in easily.

Pros and Cons of Moving to Luanda

Expats moving to Angola’s capital will have much to consider and plan for. Although elements of culture shock may be felt and visa processes can be stressful, Luanda has plenty to offer in terms of its people, cuisine, climate and natural beauty. Expats will undoubtedly experience ups and downs when moving to Luanda, and we've listed some of those pros and cons below.


Lifestyle in Luanda

+ PRO: Beautiful people and culture

Angolans are known to be extroverted and friendly. Although expats may experience culture shock, once they put in the effort to understand the customs and language, making friends in Angola will be a blast. Socialising can also help newcomers settle in and see the city from a different view. 

+ PRO: Vibrant food scene

Both Luanda’s cuisine and restaurant scene are mouth-watering and vibrant. Angola’s cuisine has deep connections with Portugal and Brazil, but with its own flair, including steak, beans, chicken and fish. Meanwhile, while Luanda lacks an abundance of museums, it makes up for it in restaurants.

+ PRO: Animated nightlife

Expats may be surprised to hear that Luanda’s nightlife is eclectic and vibey. Angolans revel in a good party where they can show off their stylish fashion sense and killer dance moves.


Culture shock in Luanda

- CON: Language barrier

This could be a pro or a con depending on the expat’s ability and desire to learn a foreign language. English is not spoken widely in Angola as a whole, so there may be language barriers. Learning a few essential words can help integrate expats into their new home and show they are putting in an effort. A little goes a long way. Portuguese is the country's official language.

- CON: Inequality is shocking

There is a stark juxtaposition between the wealthy elite who dress in designer labels, travel in expensive vehicles and own luxurious property, and the Angolan majority who live in informal settlements and lower-quality accommodation. This may be a culture shock to expats who are unfamiliar with this extreme inequality.


Safety in Luanda

- CON: Crime is a reality in Luanda

Undeniably, safety is an issue in Luanda. Muggings and robberies do happen, and travelling alone at night and especially as a woman can be dangerous. Expats should be aware of high-risk areas.

+ PRO: 24-hour security available

Still, while expats should take care, they need not worry too much while going about their general workdays and lives. Many international organisations that employ expats have strict safety regulations and organise secure accommodation for their employees while employing 24-hour guards to monitor workplaces and residences.


Weather in Luanda

+ PRO: Pleasant, tropical climate

Climate can have a major impact on well-being. Fortunately, Luanda’s weather is ideal for most expats. Angola’s geographic location means it has a perfect tropical climate, all year round. Luanda is situated right on the coast, meaning nearby beaches are enjoyed by foreigners and locals alike.

- CON: High humidity

Luanda is a humid city and can leave expats unused to the weather feeling sweaty and uncomfortable. Still, the exceptionally hot summers are relatively short, while most of the year the temperatures are pleasant.


Healthcare in Luanda

+ PRO: Many healthcare facilities

Being the capital of Angola, Luanda has the most healthcare facilities and there are some good private clinics and 24-hour hospitals. Many doctors and health specialists can communicate in English.

- CON: Inadequate healthcare in general

Healthcare does not compare well to the standards expats may be used to. It is advised to get private healthcare and organise health insurance that covers costs abroad, such as in South Africa or Namibia in case of emergency and complicated procedures.

- CON: Mosquitoes are a nightmare

Not only do these bugs have an annoying buzz and an itchy bite, but they also carry diseases. Expats should make sure they have up-to-date vaccinations, use insect repellent and learn about the risk of malaria and yellow fever from their healthcare advisors prior to the trip.


Working in Luanda

+ PRO: Secure and attractive salaries and work packages

Expats often move to Luanda for work as part of a multinational company most likely involved in the oil or diamond industry. Because of this, they already have secured high salaries and can afford the luxuries available.

- CON: Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork

Bureaucracy seems to be the name of the game when it comes to getting anything official done. The visa and work permit processes are time-consuming and complicated, and expats will often receive different advice on requirements from different sources.


Education in Luanda

+ PRO: International school options

Although public education in Angola may be lacking, schooling should not be a worry for expats with children. There are private, international schools in Luanda that can help smooth a transition for families. A familiar curriculum can be continued without language barriers, as there are options for Portuguese, American and British curricula, along with the International Baccalaureate.

- CON: Expats must plan ahead

Tuition is expensive and adds to the already high cost of living in Luanda. There is also high competition for space in international schools, and expats should contact the schools in advance to secure a place for their children.


Getting around in Luanda

+ PRO: Expats can travel out of the capital

Although getting around in the city itself can be difficult, expats should remember they can travel outside the city too for some stunning getaways. This is possible provided that expats are well informed of the road standards and a potential need for a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and safety and security issues. Angola has much to offer with its warm coastlines, lush rainforests, expansive deserts and savannah environments. These are unmissable for any expat staying in the country.

- CON: Traffic is a nightmare

Like life in any other big city, congestion is a major issue and expats are advised to avoid rush hours if possible. Most expats will need a car but may be able to organise a driver through their company so that the stress of driving is out of their hands.

- CON: Reckless vehicles on the road

While slow-moving traffic is one thing, Luanda’s wild minibus taxis, 'candongueiro', are another. These white and blue vans zip through the streets. Perhaps expats up for an adventure may be willing to take this risky form of transport accompanied by a local friend for a cheap trip and an interesting story to tell afterwards. That said, they are best avoided, and often wreak havoc for other vehicles on the road.