Wanna Move To Africa? 9 Things You MUST Do On Your Next Visit
ARE you obsessed with living on the land of your African ancestors? Or maybe you’re still on a Black Panther high and ready to make.the.move...to the Motherland! Either way, a fact-finding Africa trip is in order. Why, you ask?
Well, sure, you could move to the continent cold turkey. We know a few folks who’ve done it before! But what if you’re the type who needs a bit more security? Then you gotta plan a short term visit (or two) to the continent to soak up some knowledge about your potential future home.
Whether it’s three weeks or three months, treat this trip as a vacation with a purpose. Don’t worry. You can still get your sightseeing on! But if you’ve made it aaall the way to Africa and even have an inkling of an interest in relocating someday, you'll want to squeeze as much as you can out of your next trip there.
A visit to an African country is an amazing opportunity to learn where you could fit in personally and professionally. So what exactly do you need to do while you’re on your fact-finding Africa trip? Here’s our sage advice.
Do I really need to visit X African country before moving there?
Take a look at the following criteria. If it sounds like you, plan a due diligence visit before selling your house and car and jetting off to Africa.
You’ve got a ‘type A’ personality.
Like we said above, a big part of how you move to Africa depends on your personal preferences. Are you the risk taking type? Are you confident you could get get a work permit before your visitor’s visa expires? Or does the thought of moving abroad without a job, apartment, and work visa lined up send you into panic mode? Take it from me, crashing in Africa on a whim isn’t for the weak. If you prefer assurance, plan a few visits before making the move.
You have no idea which country interests you.
Plenty of folks want to live in Africa. And even more have no clue what country would be the best spot for them. We understand… it’s an overwhelmingly vast continent. So start out by picking a region, then a country, and scheduling a visit. This year, you could plan a few two week trips to a country on each corner of the continent. Your trips will help you get a feel for your likes and dislikes and narrow down your favorite African locales.
You're not sure if X country would work for you and want to find out.
Let’s say you’ve fallen in love with Mozambique through Instagram pics on the web. However, you’ve still got a few reservations and want to know for sure that Moz is for you. Time to book a fact-finding trip! On your visit, make a list of specific questions to ask and experiences to have. That way, on your visit, you’ll get you a deeper understanding of the country that interests you.
You having trouble getTING key info over the phone or web.
Have you been going crazy trying to find out info on jobs, visas, and housing about an African nation through the Internet? Well, as awesome as the internet is, it isn’t fool proof, especially when you’re a newbie to a country and want very specific info. Certain information is best uncovered in person. Also keep in mind that things can appear a lot prettier over the web than in person. Now, visiting is more expensive. Trust us, Google ain’t got nothing on the info you’ll get in-country.
You’re clueless about professionally opportunities and immigration rules.
A short term trip to the continent can help you learn about professional and business opportunities. You could meet with professionals in your field and get a feel for what industry you might fit in. And, while your in town, stop by immigration and get all your burning questions answered.
Alright, now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of your fact finding trip to Africa!
8 things you must do on your aFRICA fact finding trip.
1. Check out housing.
There’s almost no substitute for driving through an African town and seeing the real estate yourself. So on your next Africa trip, make an appointment with a realtor and find out regulations for foreigners buying/renting property. Or, rent a car and start checking out different neighborhoods on your own.
Do you have a trusted contact on the ground already? Ask them if they’d be willing to take you on a mini tour through town. This is your time to pick their brain and get insider’s knowledge on different neighborhoods. Before you know it, you’ll have nailed down your favorite area. P.s. Don’t forget there’s an entire world outside of African capital cities too!
2. Meet people in your desired industry.
A lot of folks wanna move to Africa, but don’t know what they’d do professionally. Well, a trip is the perfect way to figure that out. As you plan your trip, think carefully about your professional background. Let’s say you’ve been teaching for 20 years. Why not meet with an education official in the country you’re planning to visit? You could schedule a chat before hand about your professional interests. Or, maybe you read an article about how a certain African community has a shortage of butcheries. Your upcoming trip is the perfect opportunity to chat with someone in the agricultural product industry.
You could also connect with other entrepreneurs in your field or an investment expert. Your conversation will help you learn about what sectors would be good to dive into. Even better, attend a trade expo! And remember, you don’t have to meet with people at the top. A mid-level professional is a great starting point for asking basic questions (What government body is in charge of X industry? What communities need the most schools?).
You never know who knows who...so always come correct with a resume and business cards. For all you know, you could be meeting with a future business partner!
3. Meet with other foreigners for advice.
I get emails all the time from total strangers who have watched my Youtube channel and followed my blog. They reach out to me for Africa tips on everything from housing to transportation. And guess what? I put myself in their shoes and give tailor made advice (the kind I wish I had when I moved to Namibia!).
So remember, expats in-country are truly irreplaceable. They’ll take you on tours and give you tips that many locals wouldn’t. Why? Because they understand where you're coming from better. Expats can connect you with jobs and up and coming industries, like-minded people in-country, and give you the scoop on where to live. When you bump heads with immigration, other foreigners can give invaluable insight on navigating the visa process. So try to meet up with at least one person from your side of the world on your trip.
4. Meet with a reputable immigration agents.
So yea, other foreigners generally know who the most reputable non-scamming immigration agents in-country are. Your trip is the perfect time to sit with an agent (or at least get their email address for future communication) and have a chat about the visa requirements for foreigners.
5. Look into healthcare.
While in-country ask about the best facilities and make a visit. If you have a chronic illness, make an appointment with a health specialist to learn more about the availability of treatment or medications.
Remember, pregnancies and accidents totally happen abroad. I had to have three impacted wisdom teeth removed here in Namibia. Anyone moving abroad should know of the best hospitals and doctors. You should also find out what the country’s health insurance options are too. It will be a lot easier to uncover this kind of info on your trip than from back home.
6. See the disparities.
A trip to an African country isn’t complete without experiencing both sides of life. In most African nations, there is extreme income inequality. On my first tour of Windhoek (Namibia’s capital), I was driven from a lavish upper crust community to a township of tin shacks. While shocking, it was a necessary eye-opener. It unraveled a layer of Namibia that I needed to see for my own true understanding of the society and what it was facing. The more you understand, the deeper and more meaningful experience you’ll have. This also makes for more considerate and less obnoxious expats down the line.
7. Read the papers.
Physical newspapers are still an important means of information sharing around the continent. Classifieds sections are king for apartments, jobs, etc! So buy a newspaper and get your access to a gold mine of information. Also, check out the news headlines. You’ll begin to get a feel for the hot button news topics any social challenges the country is facing. This also gives insight into where your professional skills might be put to good use there.
8. Talk to locals.
Don’t forget to spark up convos with locals. And that could be anyone from the hotel concierge to the guy having lunch next to you in the mall cafeteria. Now, on the other hand, don’t be naive or annoying...because that could get you caught up in some sticky situations too. What I’m saying is, get to know the people. Simple conversations can help you learn more about the country and even surprise you with potential opportunities.
9. Go beyond the tourist spots.
This is how you get a feel for how your everyday could kinda be. So get out of the hotel, skip the five star restaurants, and head to the open market for lunch. If you’re visiting on a holiday, attend a local festival. If you're religious, go to a church service. Or, if the champagne life is your thing, hit up the most popular nightclubs. You really want to experience the place!
Either way, your trip to Africa will be a #win.
On your trip, you may realize you hate a place… and that’s okay. The whole point of your trip was to gather more info and see if you really want to move. Don’t forget that sometimes it can take several trips before you fall in love with a place. It also might take several visits before you get all the info you want. One reality of moving abroad is that no matter how much you plan, it comes with a lot of unknowns. That’s simply part of the thrill of being an expat. So however your Africa fact-finding trip goes, embrace the process. You’ll have completed another piece of your move to Africa master plan.