Living in Ivory Coast
Last updated on Feb 06, 2023
Summary: People describe life in Ivory Coast as vibrant and diverse. Expats love the warm climate, friendly people, and the abundance of natural beauty. The average cost of living for an expat is around $1,000 per month. This includes rent, food, transportation, and entertainment. The approximate population of Ivory Coast is 24.7 million people. The largest cities in Ivory Coast are Abidjan, Bouaké, Daloa, Yamoussoukro, and San-Pédro. The cons of living in Ivory Coast include a lack of infrastructure, high crime rates, and a lack of access to quality healthcare. Additionally, the cost of living can be high for expats, and the language barrier can be difficult to overcome.
What do I need to know about living in Ivory Coast?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Ivory Coast, they said:
"- You should make sure to research visa requirements if you are not a citizen of Ivory coast, as you may need to apply for a residence permit in advance. - Healthcare in Ivory Coast is not always reliable or accessible. You should make sure to have adequate health insurance coverage in case of any medical emergencies. - It is important to have an understanding of the language, as the official language of the country is French. Taking language classes in advance or learning online can help you to better acclimate. - Ivory Coast is a pleasant climate year-round but does experience a wet season annually, so you should be prepared for rainy weather. - Be sure to familiarize yourself with the culture, customs, and etiquette before relocating to make sure that your transition is smooth," said another expat in Ivory Coast.
What do I need to know before moving to Ivory Coast?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Ivory Coast, they said:
"It is important to research Ivory Coast's cultural and legal requirements before moving to the country. Make sure to be aware of official and unofficial security risks and the current political climate. It is imperative to educate yourself on the healthcare and education systems available in Ivory Coast, as well as the cost of living. Consider which type of visa will be most suitable for your stay, as well as getting necessary vaccinations and researching available transport options. Many expats find it helpful to learn some French, as it is the most widely spoken language in Ivory Coast. Finally, remember to secure all the necessary paperwork, such as residence permits and work permits," explained one expat.
How do I find a place to live in Ivory Coast?
We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:
"Finding a place to live in Ivory Coast can be relatively straightforward. If you're looking to rent a property, Airbnb, Zumper, and The Ivory Coast Home Rental and Property Owner’s Association (ICHRPO) all offer rental listings in the area. You might also consider finding a host family to stay with or making a connection with the lcoal community for potential housing recommendations. In some cities, expat hangouts and coworking spaces can be great places to hear about leads and make connections. Additionally, various embassies in Ivory Coast may have suggestions or assistance available in securing housing," added another person living in Ivory Coast.
What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Ivory Coast?
"Expat homes and apartments in Ivory Coast tend to be modern, spacious and well-maintained. Many expats choose to live in apartment buildings and villas located in the wealthier, more secure areas of Abidjan and other big cities, while others may opt for more suburban or rural areas. Furniture and white goods are often provided, and apartments typically come equipped with security doors, window grills and alarm systems. Outdoor spaces can range from patios to gardens, and many apartments have pools, gyms or other recreational facilities. Expats should consider in advance which facilities they would like in their home, as they may not be common in Ivory Coast," said another expat in Ivory Coast.
"Expat homes and apartments in Ivory Coast generally offer modern amenities in locations that are safe and secure. The dwellings come in a broad range of sizes and styles, from small, budget-friendly studio apartments to large houses in secure gated communities. Modern furnishings, air conditioning, and other amenities are often available in many expat housing options. Facilities like pools, gyms, and other amenities may also be included in certain areas, while some residents may opt to rent unfurnished spaces and outfit it with their own choice of furniture and appliances," added another person living in Ivory Coast.
What is the average cost of housing in Ivory Coast?
If you are thinking about moving to Ivory Coast, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:
"The cost of housing in Ivory Coast varies significantly depending on the city and type of dwelling. Generally, the cost of housing can range from relatively affordable to quite expensive. Costs are usually higher in the major cities such as Abidjan, where a decent one- or two-bedroom apartment can cost anywhere from $150 to $1,000 or more per month. In smaller cities, housing can range from $50 to $400 per month," replied an expat in Ivory Coast.
"The cost of housing in Ivory Coast varies greatly depending on location, size, and other factors. Generally speaking, it is possible to find low-cost housing for around $25 to $50 per month, while more upscale apartments or homes may cost $500 or more per month," remarked another in Ivory Coast.
How do I meet people in Ivory Coast?
When we asked people living in Ivory Coast about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:
"You may meet people in Ivory Coast by attending conferences and other public events, taking language and cultural classes, joining community organizations, connecting with locals through social media networks, utilizing meetup websites, visiting popular squares, attending festivals and nightclubs, or joining an expat network," remarked another in Ivory Coast.
What should I bring when moving to Ivory Coast?
People living in Ivory Coast were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:
"Clothing appropriate for warm weather, mosquito nets, rain gear, medication and toiletries, sunblock, personal items such as photos, books, laptop computer, cellphone and chargers, flashlight, spare batteries, passport, visa and other pertinent documents, copies of all important documents, international driver’s license, lockable storage containers, insect repellent, and a personal first-aid kit. Money in the form of both local currency and US dollars," remarked another expat in Ivory Coast.
"Clothing suitable for warm climates (light, airy materials such as linen, cotton, and rayon) including hats and sunglasses for protection from the hot sun, comfortable shoes and sandals, toiletries, underwear and sleepwear, bathing suit, long sleeve shirts and long pants for evenings, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, umbrella, flashlights, passport, copies of important documents in case the originals are lost, travel insurance, phone and laptop chargers, portable language translator, money in both local currency (CFA francs) and other convertible currency, books, music, and movies, camping gear if travelling outdoors, medications, first aid kit, favorite snacks, and appropriate gifts for local hosts," explained one expat living in Ivory Coast.
Where should I setup a bank account in Ivory Coast?
We asked expats in Ivory Coast what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:
"In order to set up a bank account in Ivory Coast, you may need to visit a local bank or credit union. It is important to contact the financial institution directly to find out what is required for opening an account. Some banks may require certain documents such as identification and proof of address. Additionally, the bank may require a minimum amount of deposits or a particular type of currency. It is recommended to take the time to research different banks in the area before deciding on the one that best fits your needs," said another expat in Ivory Coast.
Will I be able to find a job in Ivory Coast?
When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Ivory Coast, they reponded:
"Yes, Ivory Coast has a growing and dynamic economy that provides many job opportunities for both locals and foreigners. There are a variety of jobs available in the public, private and informal sectors, ranging from teaching, health care, finance and hospitality to tech, engineering and media. To maximize your chances of finding employment in Ivory Coast, it is recommended that you research the job market, network and ensure you have the necessary qualifications or skills needed for a particular job. Additionally, having contacts or speaking the official language, French, may also be beneficial for job seekers," said another person in Ivory Coast.
What is life like in Ivory Coast?
When we asked people living in Ivory Coast what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:
"Living as an expat in Portugal varies depending on the area and a person's goals and preferences. Generally, expats have easy access to amenities and infrastructure, a high quality of life, and plenty of opportunities to learn new languages and cultures. The weather is pleasant year-round, and one can find a wide range of outdoor activities ranging from surfing to hiking. Local cuisine is an intrinsic part of Portugal and the local cuisine is often praised by expats. The country is known for its welcoming, relaxed culture, and one can find plenty of international networks and communities. The cost of living is generally reasonable, with housing options varying from central apartments to traditional rural cottages. Expatriates have the unique opportunity to explore the enchanting Portuguese culture and gain insight into the country's vibrant history," explained one expat.
What do expats in Ivory Coast appreciate most about the local culture?
"Expats in Ivory Coast often appreciate the country’s rich culture and its many contrasting influences. Many visitors are inspired by the vibrant blend of traditional African, French and modern influences that can be seen throughout the country. People are often charmed by the warmth and hospitality of the local people, and the vibrant, colorful street life of its cities. Ivory Coast is celebrated for its music, cuisine, and traditional arts, like drumming and weaving. The natural beauty of its tropical landscape, with its miles of white sand beaches and lush rainforests, is a great draw for expats," added another person living in Ivory Coast.
"The people in general are actually quite friendly - but many will see foreigners as only a way to make cash and will take advantage of you. But if you are lucky enough to find some that are genuinely kind, they will do anything for you and will treat you like family," explained one expat living in Abidjan.
What do expats find most challenging?
"Expats can often find settling into their new home country a challenging experience. Making new friends and learning a new language can be difficult and isolating, while establishing themselves in their new surroundings and understanding the culture can be overwhelming and time consuming. Existing laws and customs may be vastly different from those in their home country and can lead to confusion and anxiety. Additionally, lack of knowledge of local resources and networks can make it hard to navigate everyday life and build up a support system. Navigating a new job market and learning the nuances of the workplace culture can also be a challenge," explained one expat.
"A couple of things... first has been the corrupt government and along with that, the bribing that goes on here. Currently, Ivory Coast has the fastest growing economy in Africa. But the local people are not reaping the rewards -- only the wealthy and government connected Lebanese and Ivorians are. It is extremely difficult and frustrating to see this very apparent inequality happening right in front of your face. Minimum wage has not been raised for many years and is currently at CFA 60,000/month... which is roughly USD $120. However, the price of electricity, for example, is very expensive at approximately USD $40 for very very very minimal usage in a small home. And high speed internet (2MBPS) is also roughly USD $40. This is not to mention rents, which have skyrocketed in the last 3 years... a modest, old style apartment in an okay part of the city will easily run you CFA 300,000/month. So obviously, this minimum wage is NOT a livable wage. For such a fast and wealthy growing economy - you would think they could do better for the people. But instead, the high ranking officials keep most of if for themselves. This also leads to bribing - which happens constantly and overtly here. I have been stopped 4 times by the police while driving just to "check my papers"... but I am always asked to pay something to them. They don't always give a reason, though sometimes they will make something up like, "your windows are too tinted" or "your tires don't seem to be in regulation with the car". And then they ask you for the equivalent of USD $3-5. It doesn't seem like a lot, but it is the principle of needing to pay someone, even though you've done nothing wrong. This happens all the time. I have been asked for money from the electricity company, the security company at our home, the driving license bureau, the lady who took my blood at the hospital, the guardian at my bank... everywhere. And it is outright and open. They are not ashamed to do it. It seems to be just a way of life - they expect you to give them extra money and they have no problem asking you for it," said another person in Abidjan.
Is there a lot of crime in Ivory Coast?
We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:
"Crime is a major issue in Ivory Coast. According to a study published by the World Bank, the Ivorian government reported 15,741 crimes to authorities in 2011. This includes violent crimes such as murder, rape, assault, and theft. In recent years, the country has experienced a sharp rise in organized crime, including trafficking in drugs and weapons. Additionally, terrorist groups are active in certain parts of the country, posing a serious risk to the safety of Ivorians," said another expat in Ivory Coast.
Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Ivory Coast accepting of differences?
"Ivory Coast has a population that is diverse in terms of ethnicity, religion, and culture. Generally, the people of Ivory Coast are tolerant and accepting of differences when it comes to ethnicity and religious practices. While there are minor tensions between certain groups in the area, the overall atmosphere is generally peaceful. The government and its citizens actively work to promote an inclusive environment and to promote mutual respect between the different groups and communities," explained one expat.
What are the schools in Ivory Coast like?
"Schools in Ivory Coast typically consist of six years of primary school, followed by four years of secondary school. Primary school is free, while higher-level education must often be paid for. The quality of education varies a great deal between urban and rural areas. Many students in rural areas, especially girls, do not attend school at all. The language of instruction in schools is French. Technical, vocational and higher education institutions are available to those who seek further education," said another parent with children at in .
About the Author
Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.