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Living in Dakar
A comprehensive guide about living well in Dakar
As the capital of Senegal, Dakar is home to a population of over one million people. Living in Dakar can be challenging, but at least it's adventurous. Expats should prepare properly before going to Dakar. Find more information about living in Dakar in the InterNations GO! Guides.
Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats, we understand what you need, and offer the the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us today to jump start your move, and begin the preparations with our free relocation checklist.
Life in Dakar
Transportation in Dakar
There are several options for getting around Dakar. Firstly, renting a car will cost roughly 420,000 XOF for one week, with all necessary insurance included. Road conditions are generally very good in Dakar, compared to the surrounding regions, and international driving licenses are accepted as a mandate to drive.
If instead, you prefer to travel by taxi its worth remembering that traffic is fairly slow during rush hour. Also note, a taxi can cost around 3,000 XOF to go from the airport to the city center.
Safety and Security
Petty crime against foreigners is fairly high in Dakar so remember to keep your wits about you. For example, females should avoid walking alone after sunset. Pickpocketing is also an issue, so keep your eye on your belongings and remember to check your pockets regularly. Scams are also a common way of generating money. To give an example, some locals will provide false stories to get their hands on your cash.
The airport is also a hotspot for crime. Never change money there as several con artists wait by the baggage carousel in the arrivals lounge. A popular tactic is pretending they work for the airport, taking your bags off you, and then demanding money in exchange for your precious luggage. Another scheme is when some individuals offer the option of taking you to “an affordable hotel”. Once there, they lock themselves in the room with you and demand money to leave — 10-25 USD is the absolute minimum. Also, they have no interest in whether or not you have enough money, they will threaten you if provoked so be warned.
If possible, avoid wearing any particularly expensive items of clothing or jewelry, and the beach is a no-go area at night. Overall, the Senegalese are not a violent people and are mostly highly affable and a pleasure to talk to, so don’t be alarmed. You should, though, avoid walking in the evenings along the Corniche, particularly the stretch between the International School of Dakar and the Club Olympique.
Healthcare in Dakar
Health insurance is an absolute must if you are considering living in Dakar. The city boasts reasonable medical facilities, offering both general and specialist care complicit with international standards. Furthermore, pharmacies are amply supplied, though if you do find yourself requiring treatment you can’t do better than the hospitals. If surgery becomes a necessity, Dakar hospitals have proper, effective, medical equipment.
Finally, take note of the vaccination requirements. Vaccines against yellow fever, and hepatitis A and B are essential. Additionally, ensure you take anti-malarial drugs, and precautions against insects such as mosquito nets.
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