Tanzania is a relatively new and vibrant nation, established in 1964 from two East African sovereign states, Tanganyika and Zanzibar. It borders eight other African countries, and is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the East.
The country hosts increasing numbers of tourists and foreign nationals looking to become expats in Tanzania, settling in its diverse and exciting towns and cities, and exploring it’s glorious natural landscapes. Here’s everything you need to know about living in Tanzania as an expat.
What to expect from living in Tanzania as an expat
Tanzania is a developing country. However, it has been prospering in recent years, and was recently elevated from low-income country status to that of low-middle income . Tanzania’s towns and cities are developing hubs of industry, commerce, and culture, and its vibrant landscape attracts more tourists and travellers each year.
Temperatures range from 20°C in the colder months from May to August, to 35°C between November and February, with the cooler regions being in the mountains, while the Indian Oceanic coast boasts the highest temperatures.
Expats in Tanzania can enjoy a laid-back lifestyle. Fresh food and meat are plentiful in the major towns and cities, and the bigger centres boast a thriving drinking culture with plentiful nightlife.
Public transport within Tanzania can be limited. If you live outside the major cities you will likely need a 4-wheel drive vehicle, although Brits moving to Tanzania may be reassured that they drive on the left.
How to become an expat in Tanzania
Tanzanian expats looking for residency must live in the country for 12 months, have a working knowledge of Swahili and English, and work a profession or trade that is considered valuable for the technological development of the country. Anyone with a criminal record will not be admitted.
If you’ve lived and worked in Tanzania for 10 years, or if you have been married to a Tanzanian for five years, you can apply for permanent residency.
How many expats are living in Tanzania?
The total population of Tanzania, as of 2021, is a little over 63 million.
Of these, an estimated 20,000 are Europeans. Over 100,000 people living in Tanzania are of Asian or European ancestry.
Is Tanzania safe for expats?
According to the UK Government , most visitors to Tanzania have a trouble-free stay. However, petty crime including pickpocketing is common, and there has been a recent spike in robberies.
There is a widespread belief that foreign nationals are wealthy, and incidents of more serious crimes such as kidnappings do occur in places which are popular with tourists and expatriates.
Expats in Tanzania should take special care in busy locations such as bus stations, shopping centres and airports.
Many expats in Tanzania choose to live in secure compounds, and wherever you live, doors and windows should be locked at night.
How is the political situation in Tanzania?
Tanzania has held democratic multiparty elections since the early 1990s, however the ruling party has held power for 60 years. The President is both head of Government and Head of State.
Tanzania’s first female president was elected in 2021. Samia Suluhu Hassan heads up the new sixth phase administration, with policies reflecting the ever changing social and economic situation, and underpinning its Development Vision for 2025.
Challenges in terms of corruption and misogyny still exist , and independent media is widely repressed. The Government has broad authority over the media and there are harsh penalties for defamatory or illegal content.
Language in Tanzania
Tanzania is home to almost 130 ethnic groups, and there is huge linguistic diversity across the country, from the widely spoken Bantu, and Cushtic, to rarer dialects spoken by minority groups. The national language is Swahili, and English is widely spoken in towns and cities.
How did Tanzania deal with COVID-19?
Tanzania was slow in its response to Covid-19 . The previous Government was less than transparent in its reporting and stopped publishing figures on infections and deaths in April 2020.
In the five months following the launch of its vaccination programme in August 2021, just 2.5 million doses were administered. The new Government has now recommenced reporting data to the World Health Organization, although the accuracy of the figures is not guaranteed.
Where will you find expats living in Tanzania and how can I find accommodation?
Most Tanzania expats live in one of the country’s main towns and cities.
- Dar es Salaam is the most popular, it’s a big and beautiful city which used to be the country’s capital. Here, you’ll find both traditional and modern architecture, a bustling waterfront, markets, clubs and restaurants.
- Dodoma is Tanzania’s official capital, and the seat of its Government. It’s a modern, custom-built city situated in the heart of the country’s developing wine industry.
- Zanzibar Town is the place to be for party people and pleasure seekers, with colourful markets, smart restaurants, museums, and plenty of art and culture.
- Moshi sits in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s where many Brits settled after the end of the second world war, and it’s now a peaceful and prosperous town at the centre of the coffee-producing region.
- Mbeya in the southwest is surrounded by mountains and lakes, offering a more rural retreat for Tanzania expats
- Finally, if you’re keen to hang out with lions and tourists on safari, head for Aruchu, in the foothills of Mount Mehru.
There are a large number of online rental companies in Tanzania and AirBnB is also widespread. Rent is cheaper than in the UK, with the most expensive properties being in the major cities.
Can expats buy property in Tanzania?
The state owns all the land in Tanzania, and it is not permitted for citizens or expats to own land privately. However, the Government will grant rights of occupancy, which are valid for between five and 99 years, and are renewable. To obtain rights of occupancy, Tanzania expats will need to apply at the Tanzania Investment Centre.
Top expat tips for living in Tanzania
- • Ensure you have all essential documents and visas in place before departure
- • If you move with your kids, early application for school places is advisable
- • Have up to three months’ rent available upfront to secure a rental property
- • Look at life insurance and health cover that reflect your location needs. We have been supporting expats with international insurance for almost 30 years now
- • Stay healthy and immerse yourself in the culture
Jobs, visas and working in Tanzania
There are different classes of permit for expats in Tanzania. Those seeking to live and work in Tanzania need one of three permits:
- Class A covers those who want to make an investment in the country, such as setting up a new business.
- Class B is applied for by a Tanzanian employer who wants to take on a British expatriate. These can only be granted if the employer can prove that the job couldn’t be done by an indigenous Tanzanian, and are valid for two years.
- Class C permits are for researchers, volunteers and students, and must also be applied for by a sponsor.
In addition, a Special Pass is available for foreign nationals living in or entering the United Republic of Tanzania while they apply for a Residence Permit.
What sort of salary will I earn living in Tanzania?
According to a recent salary survey most employees in Tanzania earn less than 5,640,000 Tanzanian shillings, (£1975/$2418), with 75% earning less than 3610,000 TZS (£1264/$1547), 50% earning less than 1310,000 TZS (£458/$561), and 25% below 735,000 TZS (£257/$315). However, salaries vary drastically between different careers.
Social security pensions are only available for locals. Some UK benefits may still apply for British expats in Tanzania, so it’s important to check with your pensions or financial adviser, or the relevant UK Government office.
Cost of living and moving to Tanzania
The cost of living in Tanzania as an expat is well below the UK, as long as you enjoy local food and buy clothing sourced from within the country – imported goods are much more expensive. Beer, spirits, and eating out are easily affordable, as are utilities, such as water, gas and electricity.
Banking and finance in Tanzania
The local currency in Tanzania is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS). 1 US dollar is worth about 2,332 TZS and 1 pound sterling is worth 2,846 TZS.
CRDB Bank is the largest commercial bank in Tanzania. NMB Bank follows, with National Bank of Commerce in third place. Other banks to consider are Standard Chartered, Stanbic, Exim, Diamond Trust, and Barclays.
Tanzania’s individual income tax rates are progressive to 30%, with a non-taxable annual income allowance of TZS 2,040,000. The income of non-resident employees is subject to withholding tax at the rate of 15%. However the total income of a non-resident individual is charged at 20%.
Healthcare and insurance in Tanzania
Tanzania a largely underdeveloped country, and public healthcare standards are well below those in the west. The best facilities are in bigger cities, but it is advisable to invest in healthcare insurance to ensure you receive the best care available, or are able to evacuate to a country with better medical facilities in an emergency.
Education in Tanzania
The standards of public education are also well below those in Britain, and most expats home-school their children, or send them to private international schools in the bigger cities.
Culture and customs in Tanzania
Tanzanians are warm and friendly, but can be protective of their privacy.
Greetings are never rushed in Tanzania. Handshakes are long and always done with the right hand. Shake hands with everyone in a room, however long it takes, and use both hands to receive a gift. Try all the food you’re offered, but don’t sniff it, as this is considered insulting to the cook.
Tanzania’s dominant religions are Islam and Christianity. In line with Muslim customs, public displays of affection are frowned upon. It’s respectful to dress modestly, and keep covered up unless you’re on the beach.
Your handy “moving to Tanzania” checklist
Before moving to Tanzania, make sure you check the following:
- ☐ Have you researched places you’d like to live?
- ☐ If you’ve found an apartment or house you’d like to rent, have you contacted the company offering the accommodation?
- ☐ If you’ve agreed a place to live, have you received your rental agreement?
- ☐ Have you received a job offer from a Tanzanian employer?
- ☐ Alternatively, do you have proof of income and your eligibility to work overseas from your existing employer?
- ☐ Have you started your application for your residency visa?
- ☐ Do you have the proof of income or proof of savings required to apply for a visa?
- ☐ Have you found your local public health service in Tanzania, and are you aware of any costs of using that service?
- ☐ Have you taken out international health insurance before moving to Tanzania?
- ☐ Have you looked into other forms of health insurance to support your life in Tanzania, such as life insurance and income protection?
- ☐ Does your health insurance cover emergency evacuation to another country with better medical facilities?
- ☐ Do you have the paperwork necessary to apply for a bank account?
- ☐ Do you have the minimum deposit available in cash?
- ☐ Have you researched the cost of relocation? If you’re bringing your own furniture from home, have you received a reliable quote from a shipping company?
- ☐ Have you looked into schooling for your children? If you are relying on state education, you may need to contact schools to see if they have places available.
Before you go…
Moving to another country can be challenging, but you can ensure peace of mind by making sure you have the right international health insurance.
For 30 years, we have helped expats like you move and settle into their new lives overseas, with the peace of mind of knowing their families are covered by a comprehensive and flexible health insurance policy.
Speak to us today to find out more about how international health insurance could benefit you and your family – and good luck moving to Tanzania!