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Living in Zambia

A practical guide to the way of life in Zambia

Zambia is a rare spot of pristine natural beauty, including the worldwide known Victoria Falls, and home to a variety of cultures and nationalities. Living here as an expat could be an enriching and unique experience, definitely uncommon but worthwhile: find out more about life in Zambia in this guide!

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats ourselves, we understand what you need, and offer the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us to jump start your move abroad!

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Life in Zambia

Culture and Leisure

Most expats live in and around the capital city Lusaka. Here there are museums, exhibitions, a beautiful open air market with African arts and crafts, indoor shopping malls and much more. And of course there is a big expat community in Lusaka, with a thriving social calendar to get involved with.

Although landlocked, there are three great rivers that flow through Zambia — the Kafue, the Luangwa and the Zambezi — and these define both the geography of the country and the life of its people. There is a huge diversity of wildlife in Zambia to be explored while living in Zambia, particularly in the national parks. The famous Victoria Falls, for instance, is part of the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in the south-west corner of the country, flowing into Lake Kariba.

Education in Zambia

The school year in Zambia runs from January to December, divided into three terms. The education system in Zambia is comprised of government schools, church schools, community schools, private schools, and international schools. Primary school consists of years one through seven. Secondary school then covers years eight to twelve.

Basic education consists of years one to nine and many government schools stop at this point, as this is considered a decent level of basic education for most children. The government schools tend to be poorly-funded and lack resources.

Zambia has a long history of high caliber private schools, though, many of which were founded by Christian missionaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They either follow the local Zambian curriculum or they operate according to the American or British education system, with international qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate and GCEs offered.

Most expatriates choose to send their children to one of the many international private schools, mostly located in Lusaka. Fees for private schools, particularly international ones, are steep, and expats can expect to pay more than 20,000 USD per year. Many schools also charge a one-off non-refundable admission fee, which can be as much as 5,000 USD.

For those in rural areas, with no access to the good quality schools in the city, home schooling is often the chosen route for education. There are a number of support routes for expats who choose this option for their children while living in Zambia.

Transportation in Zambia

Public transport in Lusaka is easily accessible and cheap. Outside of the city, it is limited and less reliable. However, there are buses and a rail service that connects the main towns and cities. Most expats have their own car, and if you can’t drive or are uncomfortable driving, hiring a driver is easy to do. Some companies offer a driver as part of the package, so it’s worth keeping this in mind when negotiating your contract.

People drive on the left hand side of the road in Zambia. Traveling around the vast country can be logistically challenging due to its derelict road network. Many roads are severely pot-holed, especially during the rainy season. Due to the poor condition of roads, particularly outside of the cities, an SUV or 4×4 is a popular choice with expatriates.

Expats living outside the city should carry supplies and a spare container of fuel, as petrol stations are far apart. Travel at night is not recommended, due to wild animals, pedestrians, and stationary cars creating hazards on the poorly lit roadways. There is also an increased risk of car-jacking.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: May 13, 2015
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