Blantyre was first established in 1876 by missionaries from the Church of Scotland, and was named after a small village in Scotland that was the birthplace of the explorer David Livingstone. In 1883, it became a consular post for Britain and soon afterwards became the country’s first municipality.
Malawi was once a British protectorate, formerly known as Nyasaland, and gained its independence and new name in 1964. Since then, Malawi has been a member of the British Commonwealth. Blantyre is the second largest city in Malawi, after Lilongwe. It is sometimes known as the country’s business capital. The population of Blantyre is over one million, and the city is also home to a community of around 25,000 expats. The majority of expats originate from the UK, but there are also people from many other countries, including other parts of Europe, China, Canada and the United States living in Blantyre. English is the official language of Malawi, but Chichewa is the widely spoken local language. Blantyre was officially merged with the neighboring town of Limbe in 1956.
There are some attractive parts of the city, such as some of the suburbs and the center, which retains some of the character of the old colonial town, with a few of the original administrative buildings still standing. However, the housing and infrastructure are deficient in some parts of the city and many people living in Blantyre are very poor - some live in slums without access to basic services. Even some of the more affluent parts still experience frequent power cuts.
Blantyre has a humid subtropical climate influenced by its position in the Shire Highlands. The rainy season is from November to March, with the highest number of wet days occurring in January, when 45% of days have rainfall. The annual rainfall in Blantyre averages 834 mm.
The average maximum temperature peaks at 31°C in October and November and 24°C in June and July, with average minimum temperatures being 20°C and 13°C respectively. Although average fluctuations are small, it is important to consider the variations through the year and plan for both hot and cooler weather when you are preparing for life in Blantyre.
Several areas of Blantyre have spacious old houses with gardens that are ideal for expat families. Sunnyside, Nyambadwe and Namiwawa are all popular with foreign nationals moving to Blantyre. In the heart of the city, Mandala is a smart neighborhood that some expats choose for its proximity to the center.
The expat community in Blantyre is active and vibrant and much information is communicated via the community network. For example, you may come across property available to rent through the expat network. Real estate agencies are a good option for finding a place to rent, but you may be expected to pay a search fee. One of the leading real estate companies in Malawi is Nyumba24 . If you don’t have time to carry out a comprehensive property search on your own, you could opt to have a relocation company assist you in finding suitable accommodation for when you move to Blantyre.