Although not typically a popular expat destination, Tanzania has become a growing tourist destination thanks to its vast natural reserves and wildlife, beautiful beaches and the highest mountain peak in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. Most of the country's population lives along the northern border and eastern coastal regions, with many congregating in the main cities of Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, leaving the country's interior quite sparsely populated.
Tanzania's population is diverse, made up of around 130 ethnic groups, which has resulted in a rich cultural landscape. Expats who are adventurous and open minded will find that a wealth of new experiences await them in Tanzania.
Living in Tanzania as an expat
The country is rich in natural resources, and most expats in Tanzania are likely to find themselves employed in the mining industry. Many also move to the country as part of humanitarian projects based in the region. Other sectors where expats may find work include tourism, agriculture and ICT. Construction is also a growing sector that has recently presented opportunities for those with the right skills.
Despite its wealth of natural resources, Tanzania has faced several severe social issues, including poverty and inequality. The extreme poverty in which many Tanzanians live is often the most significant source of culture shock for expats arriving from more affluent countries.
While getting around in Tanzania is possible by public transport, most expats choose to travel by car. Buses, dala-dalas, taxis and ferries are all available, and expats can even use ride-sharing apps such as Uber to move around the country.
Cost of living in Tanzania
The cost of living in Tanzania is fairly low compared to countries such as the US and UK. Mercer's 2023 Cost of Living Survey ranked Dar es Salaam at 162nd out of 227 cities worldwide. This ranking is comparable to that of Budapest, Hungary (161st) and Maputo, Mozambique (159th).
Despite the relatively low cost of living, eating Western food, frequenting fine dining restaurants, and luxury travel within the country can be costly. Taking local transport and shopping at local grocery stores are two ways in which expats can decrease their cost of living in Tanzania.
Expat families and children in Tanzania
Expats from Western countries are likely to struggle to adapt to many of the issues this developing country faces. Tanzania's infrastructure tends to be severely underdeveloped by Western standards.
The country's healthcare facilities are sorely lacking in staff and equipment, and the local education system will likely not meet the standards that many expats are used to. Expats will find that private healthcare and international schooling are often their only viable options when relocating to Tanzania.
Climate in Tanzania
The weather in Tanzania ranges from hot and humid in summer to cool and mild in winter. While temperatures can reach up to 95ºF (35ºC) during the hotter months in the tropical coastal regions of the country, the temperatures in the highlands average around 68ºF (20ºC) and drop to around 50ºF (10ºC) in winter.
Despite the challenges of living in this East African country, expats moving to Tanzania will likely be greeted with warmth by the local population and can look forward to a richly rewarding cultural experience.
Official name: United Republic of Tanzania
Population: More than 65 million
Capital city: Dodoma
Other major cities: Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Mwanza
Neighbouring countries: Tanzania is bordered by Uganda and Kenya to the north, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern border runs along the Indian Ocean coast.
Geography: Tanzania is an East African country with a coastline along the Indian Ocean. The country's landscape varies from mountainous and forested regions in the north to the vast flat plains of Central Tanzania. It is home to Africa's tallest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as the continent's lowest point at Lake Tanganyika. Tanzania also incorporates several off-shore islands, including the Zanzibar archipelago.
Political system: Presidential republic
Major religions: Christianity and Islam are the dominant religions, with a small minority of the population practising animism.
Main languages: Swahili and English are the official languages. Arabic is also spoken in some areas.
Money: The official currency is the Tanzanian Shilling (TZS). Although credit cards are accepted in major establishments, Tanzania remains a largely cash-based society.
Electricity: 230 volts, 50Hz. Type D and G plugs are used. Type D plugs have three round pins in a triangular pattern, and type G plugs have two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin.
Internet domain: .tz
International dialling code: +255
Emergency contacts: The emergency number for Tanzania is 112, but ambulance services are scarce, particularly in rural areas. Air evacuation to a neighbouring country may be necessary for life-threatening emergencies.
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road. Due to the poor condition of the roads and erratic drivers, expats should drive with caution. A four-wheel drive vehicle will likely be needed if travelling outside the major centres. Basic public transport is available in most towns in the form of buses, taxis and dala-dala (minibus taxis).