Kinshasa may not appeal to all expatriates — it has relatively high rates of crime and there is still economic and political instability — but some foreign nationals are willing to accept this in return for the high rates of remuneration on offer. A couple of years of working in Kinshasa can put an expat on a very stable financial footing.
The public healthcare provision in Kinshasa is extremely basic and by no means meets the standards which expatriates from developed nations would be used to. Therefore it is essential to arrange private medical insurance before you move to Kinshasa. Should you require any complex operations or procedures while you are living in Kinshasa, you may need to travel to South Africa, where high quality medical facilities are available. If you take regular medications, you should arrange to bring a long-term supply with you from home, as some medications are difficult to get hold of in Kinshasa.
There are a number of waterborne diseases and parasites in the Democratic Republic of Congo, so it is advisable for foreign nationals to drink bottled water or sterilize tap water by boiling it prior to use. Numerous vaccines are recommended for anyone moving to Kinshasa, including tuberculosis, typhoid, diphtheria, meningitis, hepatitis A & B, cholera, rabies, tetanus and yellow fever, as well as anti-malarial medication.
If you bring your family with you when you move to Kinshasa, you will need to enroll your children in private school. The standard of education in state schools in Kinshasa is not high and will not match that required by families from most western countries. Many local children in Kinshasa do not attend school as even public schooling is not free, and attendance is not compulsory.
There are several international schools in the city, including the Jewels International School of Kinshasa, the American School of Kinshasa, and the English International School Kinshasa. Some expats living in Kinshasa choose to educate their children at home instead of sending them to school.
Kinshasa has high levels of poverty and deprivation, which in turn leads to high levels of crime. Corruption among the authorities is rife. Demonstrations sometimes take place in Kinshasa and these can take a violent turn, so if you know that one is planned, it is advisable to steer well clear of the area, and if possible stay indoors for the duration of the protest.
As crime levels are high in the city, many expats living in Kinshasa choose to employ security staff. You should ensure that your accommodation has appropriate security facilities, for example you may choose to rent a house which incorporates a safe room for added protection. You need to take extra precautions when out in Kinshasa, such as keeping your car doors locked when driving.
If you have a family with young children you will need to give particular consideration to whether the risks outweigh the benefits of working in Kinshasa, and whether the lifestyle is what you and your family want.