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Moving to Luanda

A city abundant in resources and natural beauty, Luanda is an exciting prospect for expats and is brimming with potential. 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

Life in Luanda 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 difficult and slow 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. These tend to be on the expensive side, but expats in these compounds usually work for large multinational companies that take care of the costs. 

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 local experience 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 Western countries. Most expats invest in private healthcare and private health insurance. Serious emergencies may require travelling to South Africa or another country. 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 surprisingly expensive. 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 foreign currency 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 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 rich and rewarding experience, both culturally and financially. Nature buffs are sure to love the surroundings and anyone open to exploring the culture and getting to know the locals will be welcomed with open arms.

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. Meanwhile, while Luanda lacks an abundance of museums, it makes up for it in restaurants.

+ PRO: Animated nightlife

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 who are unused to the weather feeling sweaty and uncomfortable. Still, the exceptionally hot summers are relatively short, while temperatures are pleasant for most of the year.

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.

Cost of living in Luanda

Luanda, Angola's capital city, may surprise expats not only with its natural beauty and pristine seafront promenade but also with its high cost of living. The city is experiencing an oil boom, and due to a lack of infrastructure to support the rapid growth, there is a shortage of good-quality housing.

The 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranks Luanda 30th out of the 227 cities surveyed. Only two other African cities appear higher on the list: Bangui, Central African Republic at 26th and Djibouti at 27th.

Cost of accommodation in Luanda

The cost of accommodation in Luanda is sky high, owing to a low supply of secure, quality housing in the city. Fortunately, it's common for employers bringing expats moving to Luanda on a company transfer to pay for housing. If the cost of accommodation isn't included in their relocation package, expats will need to ensure that their salary is large enough to cover the costs themselves.

Cost of transport in Luanda

Angola lacks quality and safe public transport, so expats moving to Luanda will need a personal vehicle to get around. Cars in Angola can be extremely costly, though. Luckily, some companies provide expat employees with a vehicle, fuel allowance and a driver. The condition of roads in Luanda and the culture of reckless driving means that drivers are a necessity and are relatively affordable.

Cost of groceries in Luanda

Food at Luanda's bigger supermarkets, such as Candando and Shoprite, is steep as most items are imported. Meat products are also highly costly, while the quality of the items is sometimes sub-par. That said, fresh produce, which is available from roadside stalls, is relatively cheap.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Luanda

Entertainment and dining out in Luanda can be quite expensive, particularly for those accustomed to Western standards. High-end restaurants, bars, and clubs often charge prices on par with cities such as London or New York. For those seeking a more local experience, there are affordable local eateries that serve traditional Angolan fare.

The cost of recreational activities can also vary. Museums and cultural events are generally reasonably priced, while international concerts and performances can be rather expensive.

Cost of education in Luanda

Expats in Luanda with children should be prepared for high education costs. The local public school system is often viewed as inadequate, prompting many expats to opt for private or international schools. While offering a higher quality of education and more familiar curricula, these institutions come with a hefty price tag. Additional costs such as uniforms, textbooks, and extracurricular activities should also be considered.

It's recommended that those relocating negotiate an education allowance into their contract, as this is common practice for expat packages in Luanda.

Cost of healthcare in Luanda

Healthcare in Luanda is another area where expats can expect to spend a significant portion of their budget. The city's public healthcare system is under-resourced, and many prefer private medical facilities despite their high costs.

For most expats, comprehensive health insurance is considered a necessity to offset these costs. As such, it is advisable for those relocating to Luanda to secure health insurance coverage, ideally provided by their employer as part of the relocation package.

Cost of living in Luanda chart

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Luanda in June 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

AOA 4,000,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

AOA 610,000

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

AOA 260,000

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

AOA 56,000

Food and drink

Dozen eggs

AOA 1,690

Milk (1 litre)

AOA 770

Rice (1kg)

AOA 800

Loaf of white bread

AOA 1,030

Chicken breasts (1kg)

AOA 4,300

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

AOA 2,100

Eating out

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

AOA 42,000

Big Mac meal

AOA 5,400

Coca-Cola (330ml)

AOA 1,240


AOA 2,600

Bottle of beer (local)

AOA 570


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

AOA 120

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

AOA 25,000

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

AOA 103,000


Taxi rate/km

AOA 1,160

City-centre public transport fare

AOA 410

Gasoline (per litre)

AOA 280