#1 8-2-2017 3:38 AM

sarahelaine
Sarah Elaine
Manchester, England
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Globetrotter
Posts: 5948

Gambia

My husband is considering moving to Gambia for work (he's talking about 2-4 years). Odds are it'll never happen, but just for the sake of due diligence- has anyone been? What's it like? All the websites I've been to very much promote the beaches and I am not a beach person at all. Does anyone know what it would be like to live there rather than just get some winter sun?

Last edited by sarahelaine (8-2-2017 3:49 AM)

 

#2 8-2-2017 4:31 AM

harbinger
Cathy
Brussels, Belgium
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Re: Gambia

Although I've worked in West Africa, I haven't been to Gambia.  However, I do keep an eye on regional politics, and Gambia's have been very high profile over the last year or so, with the overthrow of Yaya Jammeh.

He saw himself as a political strongman of a leader who created an authoritarian society that was very different to the easy going tourism profile that the country projects.  He has now gone into exile, but has skedaddled with large sums from the country's coffers, so rebuilding an already cash-strapped country is going to be even more challenging.

How would that affect you/your husband as expats?  Well, presumably you'd be on expat contracts, with all the perks that that usually involves (in order to make it worthwhile, this would usually involve payment in a hard currency, possibly preferential tax breaks, free accommodation in a suburb favoured by expats, medical coverage and education for your child).  But living in a country that is going to be undergoing major social upheaval - even if it turns out to be for the better - is not for everyone. 

How could that affect you?  Well, in very poor countries, maintaining infrastructure is always an issue, so as a simple example, you might expect interruption of services (such as electricity or water) or deterioration of already poor roads.  Doubtless there will be international schools for your child, but in-country medical services for anything out of the routine might be an issue (many expats in the region tend to go to Abidjan, Dubai or Europe for surgery, for complex dentistry or instance).

I am sure that others with specific experience of living/working in Gambia will be able to provide more specific guidance, but hopefully this will be enough to get you going.

Last edited by harbinger (8-2-2017 4:32 AM)

 

#3 8-2-2017 4:49 AM

ulis
Uli
Vienna, Austria
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Wanderer
Posts: 358

Re: Gambia

Was there in February 2016 for a few days (part of long trip), a big part of the quite nice beaches is occupied by resorts for package tourists. Off the beaches you see allmost no western people, transportation is shared taxi or minibus leaving only when very full. Buying a car is expensive (some drive from Europe and sell their car before going back (at Camping Sukuta for instance), the border to ssouthern Senegal was closed when i was there (some fighting sometimes in Casamance area). The local food is quite nice, a bit like in Senegal, its also easy to find Lebanese and Italian food in the Serrekunda Banjul Sukuta aglomeration ( the most likely area for work). For shopping i did see only smaller shops often Lebanese, no supermarkets or shopping centers. People where quit friendly. In case you need a short break Vueling has cheap planes to Barcelona.

Last edited by ulis (8-2-2017 4:52 AM)

 

#4 8-2-2017 5:06 AM

sarahelaine
Sarah Elaine
Manchester, England
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Globetrotter
Posts: 5948

Re: Gambia

Thanks Cathy. If I agree to go- massive if for all sorts of reasons- it'll be on a large medical research grant and there is no way I would travel without both medical repatriation insurance and advice from security specialists including insurance for airlifts out of it got wobbly. Husband spent two years in Malawi (reasonably stable) and we both lived in northern Uganda (stable-ish, but within a couple of hours of the south Sudanese border) so although I can't claim to know the score, I'm at least aware there's a score to know! In Gulu we used to lose electricity for three weeks at a time and if that happens I'm flying home! wink

Thanks Ulis. Glad the food is good, that's extremely important! And it's good to know about cars too. That's one of my big concerns- far more expats die in traffic accidents than in anything else and I'd want a good one.

 

#5 8-2-2017 5:22 AM

harbinger
Cathy
Brussels, Belgium
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Re: Gambia

sarahelaine wrote:

Thanks Cathy. If I agree to go- massive if for all sorts of reasons- it'll be on a large medical research grant and there is no way I would travel without both medical repatriation insurance and advice from security specialists including insurance for airlifts out of it got wobbly. Husband spent two years in Malawi (reasonably stable) and we both lived in northern Uganda (stable-ish, but within a couple of hours of the south Sudanese border) so although I can't claim to know the score, I'm at least aware there's a score to know! In Gulu we used to lose electricity for three weeks at a time and if that happens I'm flying home! wink

Glad to get the ball rolling.

You've both done a stint in the developing world, so that goes a long way towards you both making an informed decision that's best for your family.  I recall that your child is quite young, but no longer a baby, which is actually a good time to give the expat life a go without worrying about disrupting education (always a consideration where older children are concerned).  An expat contract is certainly a good opportunity to bolster the family coffers and experience a different way of life, either for limited duration or as a permanent lifestyle choice.

The one question that many people forget to ask is whether the 'trailing spouse' (yes, we have a 'name') is able to work.  Not just whether their skills are in demand, but whether they are entitled to a work visa (which may often be required even if they 'only' intend to do volunteer work).  Employers will tell you that the single biggest cause of expats chucking in the towel is an unhappy spouse, so this is something that I'd definitely establish up front if you'd like to continue working.

The other thing I distinctly recall reading about Gambia is that it has an amazing variety of bird life, although I doubt whether this will heavily influence your decision smile

 

#6 8-2-2017 6:09 AM

sarahelaine
Sarah Elaine
Manchester, England
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Globetrotter
Posts: 5948

Re: Gambia

Probably not a deal breaker! Although I did get quite into bird life when I was in Uganda. At one point I was pretty good at identifying Ugandan wetland birds and the back home the best I could do was "duck, funny looking duck, bigger duck." I've had to go buy some books to catch up! Good reminder on the trailing spouse- Iain is blithely assuming I could work but that's not something we've checked properly.

 

#7 8-2-2017 6:27 AM

harbinger
Cathy
Brussels, Belgium
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Tourist
Posts: 167

Re: Gambia

I once justified travelling to Uganda for a weekend just to see a shoebill, so I hold Ugandan birds in very high regard wink

The other consideration (obviously a very private matter) is whether you might consider this an opportunity to expand your family if that's in your future plans.  Many expat families see such contracts as an opportunity to have children in an environment where they are economically better off than they might be at home, supported by private healthcare, affordable domestic help and childcare, and where the wife is not obliged to work if she doesn't want to.  But obviously a topic for discussion in private, rather than in a public forum.

 

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