Living in Ethiopia Expat Guide

Living in Ethiopia Expat Guide – that will be the topic of today’s article.

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Many expats are working in Ethiopia! And with the result we’ve heard, a lot of them are doing fine. Most of the expats live and work in the capital, Addis Ababa, but there are more places to live. While they say the cost of living is relatively low, the healthcare system leaves much desired.

Ethiopia is a well-known country, according to scientists, as the birthplace of humanity and modern man. The country sits landlocked in East Africa, and the oldest human fossil, Lucy, is believed to have existed over three million years ago and was found in Ethiopia. So, what’s more, to know about Ethiopia?

Well, there are more things to know! Ethiopia is a bright and vibrant country decorated in rich traditions of various cultures and tribes. Whether you wish to visit the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela or trek alongside gelada monkeys and Ethiopian wolves in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Simien Mountains National Park, you’d be glad to relocate to this country.

Consequently, the best time to visit most parts of the country is during the dry season from October to March, as an expat. Have you been surfing the internet to get the right information about living in Ethiopia as an expat? Worry less, as we’ve got you covered here. All you need is to read carefully.

In this article, we have compiled some of the benefits of living in this country as an expat. Not only is that, but you’ll also enjoy the interesting facts about this country. Ethiopia has experienced fast economic growth, thus offering some job opportunities to foreigners. Read further to know more!

Living in Ethiopia Expat Guide

10 Interesting Facts about Living in Ethiopia

Ethiopia, located in the Horn of Africa, is home to the second-largest population in Africa as of today. With that being said, this country’s economy grows by 10 percent each year. Meanwhile, the country still remains one of the poorest nations in the world, characterized by the economic, social, and political reality of a developing nation. Without further ado, below are the fun facts about living in Ethiopia.

1.    Thirteen Months Makes a Year

In nearly all countries of the world, what you’ll see is the 12-month calendar. In Ethiopia, the case is different, as they have thirteen months. Ever looking to buck a trend, several thousand years ago, the Ethiopians cottoned on to Spinal Tap’s belief that one more is always better, which made them count 13 months since decades ago. And the canny tourism boards can legitimately claim that the country really does boast 13 months of sunshine.

2.    Colonial Control and Independence

Ethiopia is the only African country never to have been brought under colonial control. And this is one of the facts that the locals will never get tired of informing you. As history disclosed, the Italians did give colonization a crack in 1935 and succeeded in military occupying the country for six years.

In the long run, Ethiopian forces were waging military opposition the entire time, and the whole country was never brought under control. As some of the locals disclosed, they waited until they built railways.

3.    Home of Festivals

If you don’t know before, it’s time to understand that Ethiopia is a country full of vibrant and colorful festivals. Also, the biggest, Timket, is a three-day annual festival that honors the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan. As of today, the priests remove the ‘Tabots’ from each church and march to the nearest water source, where the communal baptism takes place.

4.    Home to the Birthplace of Rastafarian Movement

I’m sure you might have been thinking that it’s Jamaica, right? Nope, you’re wrong! While much of the Rastafarian movement did evolve in Jamaica, the spiritual homeland of its existence is Ethiopia. Do you need more evidence about this fact? You can check the Ethiopia flag and its color to get a glimpse of what we’re saying.

5.    Home to the Oldest People in the World

Undoubtedly, several archaeological findings in the country’s Afar region go quite some way in suggesting that all human have their origin from this country. In 1972, Donald Johanson and Tim D. White discovered Lucy, a 3.2 million-year-old hominid skeleton.

Moreover, for years, Lucy was all the rage, embarking on a nine-year worldwide tour and enjoying widespread fame. Not only is that, but Ardi, which came from the Afar region but one million years her senior, rocked up and blew her out of the water. So, you absolutely have many histories in this country.

Living in Ethiopia Expat Guide

6.    Ethiopia is known as the Birthplace of Coffee

While many people would argue that Kenya is home to coffees, another set of folks disclosed that the origin of coffee is traceable to ancient Europe. As history disclosed, there are many legends about the origin of coffee, but it is thought that its heritage can actually be traced back to a goat herder on the Ethiopian plateau.

7.    Home to the highest capital city in Africa

If you’ve heard about Addis Ababa, you should have it in mind that it’s the capital city of this country. Located in the highlands bordering the Great Rift Valley, the capital city of Addis Ababa sits at 2,355 meters above sea level, as the highest in Africa. Also, this sprawling city is also the fourth largest on the continent and is among the best places to sample delicious Ethiopian cuisine.

8.    Home to Over 80 Languages

This should be among the things that’d make you want to visit this country. As of today, we can tell you that Ethiopia has upwards of 80 languages spoken across its region, and as of 2020, it was known to have five official working languages. On the other hand, English seems to be the most commonly spoken foreign language, and the university classes are all taught in the English language.

9.    Half of Africa’s Mountain Lies in Ethiopia

If you visit this country, we can tell you that you’ve seen more than half of Africa’s mountains. Along with Ethiopia’s incredible cultural and historical significance, the natural beauty of this country is in a league of its own. In addition to a gorgeous landscape of low desserts and volcanic plateaus, this country is incredibly mountainous.

10. Home to the First Olympic Medals

The first African to win an Olympic gold medal was Ethiopian. By name, Abebe Bikila bagged the coveted prize in 1960 in the Rome summer Olympics and shocked the world with the result. Not only because he won in recorded time, but history disclosed that he was also barefoot. In the long run, he won again four years later, this time with shoes.

Cost of Living in Ethiopia in 2021

Living in Ethiopia Expat Guide

As of today, Ethiopia is $574, and this amount is 1.67 times less expensive than the rest of the world. Not only is that, but Ethiopia has been ranked 154th out of 197 countries by the cost of living. Besides, it is also considered the 13th best country to live in. below is an analysis of what living in Ethiopia entails.

Cost of food in Ethiopia (2021)

LabelPrice in dollar
Launch menu for one$2.88
Dinner in a restaurant for one$22.5
Fast food meal for one$3.68
Beer in a Pub for one$0.82

Rent & Utilities in Ethiopia

LabelPrice in dollar
1 bedroom apartment$260
Utility bill for one$66.7
Apartment in the city$1265
House price in suburbs$670

Groceries in Ethiopia (2021)

LabelPrice in dollar
Milk & Bread$1.53
Rice & Eggs$3.27
Cheese & Chicken Breast$12.65
Oranges & tomatoes$2.85
Potato & onion$1.75
Cigarette pack$3.65


LabelPrice in dollar
Cinema ticket for one$3.5
Doctor’s visitation$13.8
Brand new jeans$24.5
Haircut in the city$2.35
Brand sneakers for one$75.81

Best Places Suitable For Expats in Ethiopia

As an expat moving to this country for the first time, getting a glimpse of the best and worse places to live in the country is essential. With Ethiopia home to the largest UNSECO sites in Africa, there are many towns and cities you need to explore. Without further ado, below are the best places suitable for expats.

a)    Addis Ababa

As the capital city of the country, there are more to see in Addis Ababa. Besides, you’ll find here different cultures and traditions. Aside from this fact, it is quite easy to commute from one state to the other. This great diversity of Addis makes it a city where you can go for shopping, visit the museums, and taste the best of Ethiopian delicacies and beverages.

Some of the things to do in Addis Ababa include the following:

  • Expats can see Lucy at the National museum
  • You can drive the crazy Piassa
  • Show or pay some respects at Haile Selassie’s Tomb
  • Dance away at the Habesha 2000
  • You can explore the excellent Ethnographic Museum
  • Go for a Jog in Mezscel and witness the devotees at St George’s church
  • Have a night out at Fendika
  • Be moved at the Red Terror Museum

b)    Axum

You might have heard of this beautiful city’s name when you’re taught history or civilization in school. Well, not to worry, it is an ancient major city in Ethiopia and the earliest Christian kingdom in the world. This city thrives during the rise of the Aksumite kingdom as a center for trade and religious purposes.

c)    Dire Dawa

Dire Dawa is considered to be among the largest cities in the country. And don’t be surprised that this beautiful city can steal your heart during your fortnight-long stay. Unlike Addis Ababa and Makelle, it is unique, organized, and the people living in this community are calm. However, it is a good starting place to visit if you want to experience an entirely Ethiopian culture.

d)    Michelle

This is the fourth city on our list. This state is located in the Northern part of the country and is also considered the best city. And this is because; it is a center of cultural, economic activities, and political movements throughout the year.

According to research, we found out that this city was established in 1872 by emperor Yohannes IV when he set his palace in the city. Meanwhile, its first growing economy promises a great future for its residents. Besides, this beautiful city in Ethiopia is famous for its traditional outdoor coffee.

e)    Adama

Adama is another Ethiopian city to consider when you’re moving to the country for the first time. This is a small city, but it has a vital tourist and transport center. It is located 100 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, with a sparse population of fewer than 130,000 people. Aside from this fact, we can tell you that it’s the most beautiful city in the country. Again, it is famous for its exotic and traditional foods.

f)     Gambela

The list of the best places to explore in Ethiopia is endless. Gambela in the Anuak zone, situated in the confluence of Baro River and Jajjaba, is a fun filled town and is home to the country’s history with a beauty to behold. In other words, it is an excellent place for tourists and one of the best places to stay in the country.

g)    Mekelle

Don’t get it so confused, as Michelle is quite different from Mekelle. You’ll find this city in the northern part of the country. To talk about why expats love to visit this place is because of the beautiful hotels, restaurants, and many other things, to mention a few. Also, we can tell you that Mekelle is one of the most beautiful cities in the country.

h)    Jimma & Waliso

Jimma and Waliso are two different states in the country. The Jimma is located in the southwestern part of Ethiopia, while the Waliso is a town in the Oromia region. This city has few bad roads compared to the country’s capital with excellent infrastructural facilities. Not only is that, but you can enjoy activities such as boat trips, hiking, among others in Waliso.

Several Outdoor Activities in Ethiopia to Explore

Modern-day Ethiopia is full of beautiful attractions and many things to do in the country. Culturally speaking, the country is perfect, and there are seven UNESCO World Heritage sites here. In addition, the landscape of this beautiful country is no less varied with Lakes, rivers, grasslands, lowlands, and others.

But not to mistake, the country is not just a holiday destination. But, undoubtedly, the country will inspire you, move you, and enrich you with a journey you’ll never forget. In this section, let’s quickly explore several outdoor activities and some of the best places to visit in Ethiopia today.

1.    Danakil Depression

Positioned between the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea is a popular Danakil Depression.  Also, it’s officially one of the driest and hottest places on earth as of the time of writing this article. With a temperature that often reaches 50+ degrees, it’s quite easy to see why it became the driest and the hottest. Setting below sea level, Danakil is the lowest point in Africa and second in the world.

2.    Lalibela

Lalibela is another place to explore in Ethiopia because it pretty much blows the mind of everyone who visits. However, this medieval settlement was designed to be a second Jerusalem, and modern-day inhabitants remain proud of this place. Meanwhile, there are eleven churches in the settlement, monolithic and grand, all built by king Lalibela as early as the 12th century.

3.    Awash National Park (Ethiopia)

This scenic national park is situated in the dry acacia savannah of the Rift Valley, having 200km from the country’s capital. This national park is one of Ethiopia’s top birding destinations, with over 450 species, including the endemic yellow-throated serin and the Ethiopian cliff swallow.

4.    Bahir Dar

With its wide avenues of palms and scenic lakeside location, the benefits of visiting this wonderful place cannot be overemphasized. Located on the southern shore of Lake Tana, it’s an ideal base from which includes the Blue Nile Falls. Besides, there are good amenities for travelers and the locals as well.

5.    Bale Mountains National Park

The bale Mountain is another place suitable for expats to visit. It is a protected area of approximately 2,200 km2 and is located around 400 km southeast of its capital. Meanwhile, UNESCO has estimated that more mammal species would become extinct in this place. Moreover, it is easy to see why the park is designated as a biodiversity Hotspot according to Conservation International.

Pros and Cons of living in Ethiopia in 2021

●        Endless Entertainment Options

Since you’re visiting a country that no one officially colonizes, you should be ready for several traditional folkways and endless entertainment options. In fact, the cities provide a wide array of entertainment options for any night of the week. Besides, the entertainment advantages of living in a city like Addis Ababa are endless.

●        Educational System in Ethiopia

The educational system in Ethiopia is on the rise, with the government committed to improving schools in more rural and urban areas of the country. In fact, children have eight years of primary school, two years of lower secondary school, and two years of higher secondary school.

●        Transportation Network in Ethiopia

While the transportation network in the country remains a better one, the benefits of relocating to this country cannot be overemphasized. And of course, the government has a relatively well-developed transport infrastructure, with one of its critical assets being 681 kilometers of railways, of railways, the track from Addis Ababa to Djibouti City compromising the majority of this length, and more.

●        Poverty Rate

This is one major problem you’ll likely experience while living in this country as an expat. If you see people living in extreme poverty, you don’t have to be surprised, as there is an unemployment rate. So, you should secure a good job if you’re thinking of residing in this country as an expat.

●        Bribery and Corruption

This is another thing you might face when you’re visiting the country as an expat. If you’re planning to spend a few days in Ethiopia, you should prepare enough money that’d be used to entice or bribe the locals to wherever the place you’re going to.

Living in Ethiopia Expat Guide

Frequently Asked Questions about Living in Ethiopia

What are the living conditions of this country?

As discussed above, the cost of living in Ethiopia is quite affordable. Meanwhile, have it in mind that the vast population of the locals here live in poorly built, dilapidated, and cramped houses. These settlements even lack basic facilities, such as toilets.

Moreover, we can tell you that only 30 percent of the current housing stock in the country is in fair condition, with the remaining 70 percent in need of total replacement today.

Why do people settle down in Ethiopia?

There are many reasons why people would love to relocate to a new country. Since we all know that it’s a country with one of the best history and traditions in the world, it’s quite essential to visit. On the other hand, there are many expats communities in Ethiopia, and it’s relatively a safe country. For expats that secure jobs here, the pay is quite cool, and you’ll also enjoy its benefits and remuneration.

What is the best place to live in Ethiopia?

As to the guide mentioned above, there are many places to live in the country. In addition, always choose the state that meets your budget and the one that could give you the kind of lifestyle you choose or want for yourself. Nonetheless, one of the best places to live includes Addis Ababa.

How can I move to Ethiopia?

Well, not to worry, if you follow this platform and update regularly, you’ll know more about moving to Ethiopia’s relocation guide. Meanwhile, you need to get a visa and go through the necessary immigration procedures to ensure that you understand what living in this country entails as of today.


If you’re in search of peace and a good life, Ethiopia is the best choice. Moreover, the country has seduced expatriates settling here to live and work while also having a thrilling experience abroad. If you genuinely want to explore this country, read this ultimate guide thoroughly to know what it takes.

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