Relocating to a new country can be difficult and Rwanda is no exception. Depending on whether you are relocating here for a job, looking to build a life here, or just visiting, you need to be aware of a few things that might require some changes in your lifestyle.
What's the culture like?
You will have a much easier time fitting in if you already have someone waiting for you here. If you don’t, you will need some patience. While Rwandans are welcoming of foreigners, we are also weary of them to an extent. If you come on too strong, you will risk alienating a lot of people.
It is natural to want to make friends as soon as you can, but take it slow. I’d advise you not to approach people in groups. Most will be intimidated by you and most are not comfortable using a second language and you might therefore find yourself met with silence or simply ignored.
Instead, approach individuals. Express interest in them and they will express interest in you. Without our friends around, most of us feel a lot more comfortable speaking a second language, however broken it might be. The individual will then introduce you to their friends who will easily accept you.
Habits don’t die easily. When you hang out in a group, every now and then, your Rwandan friends will switch to using Kinyarwanda. If you see them laughing, ask one of them to share the joke.
Rwanda is also still fairly a conservative country. No one will discriminate against you for your liberal views and thoughts, but if you express them very early on, it will alienate people. Don’t be pretend to be conservative if you are not…just be aware.
What are the best places to live?
Ready to make that move? Great, because Rwanda is relatively a safe country. Every neighborhood is patrolled by security at night, and as such, your safety is guaranteed wherever you might choose to live during your stay here. Still, some neighborhoods are safer than others, so hold your purse tighter and avoiding dark places.
If you’re moving to Rwanda for work (meaning that you’ve already signed that contract or looking to do something), the best place for you is Kacyiru or Kimihurura. They are both only a few minutes from town and near some of the best bars, restaurants, and night clubs. Kimihurura houses quiet neighborhoods that are home to many of the upper class and foreign expats.
Kacyiru is home to the State House, NGOs, governmental offices, and serviced apartments but beyond the flashy buildings, are housings fit for singles who don’t mind living simply.
If, however, you’re looking to stay in a vibrant place where everything goes down, Nyamirambo is your go to. It is a densely populated area just a few minutes out of town and you’ll get by if you are really tight on cash. Residents are loud, carefree, and they are mainly of the working class.
What factors affect cost of living?
Places like Kacyiru, Nyarutarama, Gacuriro, and Kimihurura offer superb houses and apartments that will range anywhere from USD800 to USD3000 a month. But Kacyiru, unlike the others, offers the best of both worlds and some houses can be between USD160 to USD 200. You’ll have 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, and a bathroom. The catch is that your house will be one of the many that share a single gate.
When deciding where to live, you will also want to consider the means of transport available in the area. Public buses are cheap but will not get you everywhere as opposed to Moto taxis which are faster and will get you anywhere. The riders, however, are prone to driving recklessly and getting into accidents.
On the other hand, private taxis such as Volkswagen’s Move and Yego Cab are more expensive but will get you anywhere in one piece.
For estimates, going from Nyamirambo to Kacyiru in a public bus will cost around USD0.51. On a moto, it will be roughly USD1.02 and with a cab, it will cost you USD7.23.
There are a number of fiber internet providers in Kigali but my favorite is CanalBox. Their lowest unlimited package goes for USD25.45 and is the cheapest in the country. Telecommunication companies will offer both limited 4G and 3G packages, but the latter can be disappointing depending what area you are in.
How Rwandans do shopping and payments
Rwandans do their shopping mostly from markets and small local shops. If you are used to getting each of your needs from malls and supermarkets, you might struggle at first, but it becomes easier when you can locate that one spot you can regularly go too. Once you become a regular and find yourself with no cash in hand, the shop owners will let you get anything and pay for it the following day.
Most payments are done through the exchange of cash, but you will also be able to pay using Mobile Money. Airtime and other bills such as internet, water and electricity can also be paid using Mobile Money while you sit comfortably at home.
Laws and regulation you should be aware of
You’ll have no doubt heard or seen that Rwanda is a clean and orderly country. This is achieved mainly due to strictly following laws and regulation. Your respective embassies should provide you with a list of not to dos, but remember not to litter or smoke in public.
This article was written by Gary Layn, a content writer and strategist with YLabs,
Cover image originally found at rwandainspirer.com