According to Mercer’s Worldwide Cost of Living index, Gaborone is the fourth least expensive city for expatriates in Africa, coming above other popular choices such as Addis Ababa, Kampala and Windhoek. Foreigners moving from abroad are impressed by the reasonably cheap apartments to rent, especially when considering the range of employment opportunities and above-average income from most jobs. Good schools and education facilities, which suit the needs of a wide range of people from overseas, add to the sense of community.
Medical facilities in Gaborone are good, with information on the clinics, hospitals and treatments widely available. Private health insurance is available and ensures an international standard of care. It does, however, involve higher costs. Most private healthcare providers, such as the South African-owned Life Gaborone Private Hospital, pride themselves on meeting world-class standards.
Gaborone is also the home of numerous well-regarded voluntary organizations, such as the Cancer Association of Botswana and the Botswana Red Cross Society. A major bonus for expats is that Gaborone is essentially malaria-free, meaning preventative measures (such as tablets or mosquito nets) are unnecessary.
The city and the rest of the country are well-connected by road, making it easy to travel between places. Visitors are advised to apply for a Botswana driving license, since most international permits are valid for only 90 days. Walking is the only method of transport in the city center, since the Main Mall is car-free. Outside of the city center, kombis (small van taxis) are another common mode of transport across the city, with taxis also available on most routes.
A reasonably well-functioning railway serves the city, running in a north-south direction, but in recent years, it has been a cargo-only line. Gaborone’s new airport, the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, has regular flights and people can easily travel across southern African.
Violent crime against expatriates and tourists is increasingly common in Gaborone. House burglaries and theft from parked cars do occur, occasionally by armed gangs. It is advisable to make use of private safes inside housing and avoid carrying large amounts of valuables at one time. Thieves are also known to wait at traffic lights for stalled cars and rob their owners in broad daylight. Taxis are generally safe but some expatriates prefer to use private drivers to reduce any potential risk.
Large demonstrations and political gatherings also pose a potential threat, with civil unrest sometimes turning violent. Visitors and expatriates are advised to monitor the news and avoid protests, even if they are intended to be peaceful. It should also be noted that while crime and lack of security is an issue in Gaborone, it is generally considered safer than most African capital cities.