Living in Africa and Keeping up with Europe
Charlotte Beauvoisin, she is a British expat who has been living in Kampala since 2009. After 3 years working to tackle poaching of elephants in Uganda, she is now promoting “the Pearl of Africa” as a tourist destination.
I’m living in:
I am living in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.
A bit about me:
I'm a British fortysomething expat. I've also lived in France, Israel and the West Bank.
How long have you lived there?
I've been living in Kampala since 2009.
Why did you move?
I came to Uganda as a VSO Voluntary Service Overseas volunteer working as the marketing manager for the Uganda Conservation Foundation, a British charity that fights to stop poaching of elephants. I fell in love with Uganda and continue to support a number of conservation charities on a voluntary basis. After almost 3 years as a VSO volunteer, my contract ended and I now work full-time in tourism promoting “the Pearl of Africa” as a tourist destination. Conservation and tourism are intertwined (think: gorillas, birds, lions, hippos, chimpanzees, etc!) and I feel very lucky to have found a niche that I love.
Why I like living here:
I didn't move to Kampala for the weather, but it’s certainly a fantastic reason for staying! It’s sunny most days and has a year-round temperature of between 23 and 27°.There are plenty of places to have a cappuccino and hang out with other expats, although expats and Ugandans mix very easily. Kampala has a lively social and sporting scene and we have the best nightlife in East Africa. There so much to explore in Uganda: on safari, gorilla trekking, white water rafting and more. Expat women generally feel safe and are treated well. However, Uganda is a traditional society (more so outside the capital) and Western women will find many attitudes to women old-fashioned.
Many single people share flats or houses and families usually rent a house. Long-term expats often buy land and build their own house. Finding the right place to live can be time-consuming; know where you will be working or where the kids are schooling before you choose where to live. Kampala traffic is notorious.
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What do you enjoy doing with your time?
I am a travel writer now. When I'm not travelling, I'm researching my next trip and writing my blog. I am a regular (although very slow!) runner with Kampala Hash House Harriers. Joining the Hash is the best thing I have done, and I highly recommend it to new or visiting expats. Together we have travelled all over East Africa.
What top tips do you have for anyone considering a move?
Before you leave home, throw as much stuff away as possible. Why pay to store it? Contracts often get extended and once you get ‘the expat bug’ you’re more likely to go onto a new overseas contract than resettle back home.
What do you wish you’d known before you moved?
I wish I had realised how cheap second-hand clothes would be in Kampala. I needn't have brought so much stuff after all!
What’s the best thing about being an expat?
I love my life in Kampala but I enjoy having a foot in two worlds too and going back to the UK to see family and friends (and keep up with trends in Europe).
How do you keep a little bit of home with you as an expat?
I'm in contact with my family several times a week so they're very much part of my life in Kampala. I'm lucky that they've been to visit and they have a genuine interest in my life in Kampala.
Anything else you’d like to share with us about your expat experience?
Moving to Uganda is the best thing I’ve ever done. If anyone is interested in knowing more about expat life in Kampala, you’re very welcome to get in touch.