Thursday, September 6, 2012

September 6, 2012 - Six Months in Dar (part 3)


Part 3 of the series: NBO vs DAR

It is really hard not to compare Nairobi and Dar, given that they are both big East African cities.  I think overall we liked living in Nairobi and I can’t say we were unhappy there…but we were also quite ready to leave.  So far we are happy with our move to Dar…it is family friendly and as I’ve written about, we were able to make a pretty smooth transition. 

But in my head I am comparing these two places all the time, although I do try not be too hard on either of them.  I’ll share a little bit of what I think here…

Overall Development and Speed/Efficiancy: NBO.  NBO is much more “like” a modern western city (although definitely is not actually a modern western city), but DAR is following close behind.  We haven’t been to the movies here because there isn’t a movie theater very close to where we live.  There are not many big shopping malls here, as there were in NBO.  Even though I originally found NBO to be quite slow, it is a wee bit faster than DAR when it comes to conducting business (and, I imagine Kristoffer could tell you, government affairs as well). But DAR is moving quickly and is catching up to NBO in terms of mobile phone technology, building/construction, and service deliveries.

Banking:  NBO.  Although in both cities banking IS SO SLOW AND ANNOYING AND FEELS LIKE THE 1930s WHEN YOU HAVE TO WRITE EVERYTHING IN A DAMN LEDGER.  Oh sorry… but in NBO we did at least have a local bank account whereas we have now altogether given up on banking in DAR.  We just take cash out of the ATMs here daily.  It sucks.

Prices in General: DRAW.  Both countries are really expensive, but some things are more expensive here (for example, housing) and other things are more expensive there (for example, medical care).

Housing: DRAW.  DAR is more expensive than NBO, but there are a lot more options in NBO.  We are quite fortunate and ended up with great houses in both places.

Freedom: DAR.  Because driving is so much less insane in Dar I am comfortable driving on my own and therefore have a lot more freedom than I ever had in Nairobi.  Of course it was my own fault for being scared of driving there…I am sure I could have gotten used to it, but it would have made our life there a lot more stressful.  Here I am confident and feel secure driving. 

Transportation: DAR.  Not only is driving less crazy, but it is easier and safer for Kristoffer to bike here!  And traffic can be bad, but does not compare to NBO’s traffic.  That place is THE WORST!

Security:  slight advantage DAR.  DAR does not have the constant terrorist threat (from Al Shabaab in Somalia) looming over it and sort of everyday crime is believed to be less (and less violent) here than NBO.  But it is also getting worse and people often say, “It’s getting to be like Nairobi.”  But we do feel a bit safer here than we did in NBO, although after Kristoffer’s incident last year we are generally more paranoid.

Health Concerns: slight advantage NBO.  We didn’t worry about malaria in NBO so that is the slight advantage.  But in terms of stomach bugs and other random African illnesses, we are in the same boat here I think.

Medical Care: NBO.  Hands down.  I miss three things very much from Nairobi and our doctors are on that list (also, my friends and the beautiful flowers!).  Aga Khan University Hospital in NBO was a good hospital and I had a great doctor there for having babies.  I had the best doctor and leading cardiologist in East Africa as my general physician and cardiologist at Nairobi Hospital.  Grace and Noah were patients of the leading pediatrician, who I miss on a weekly basis.  DAR has a couple of good clinics, but they treat so many travelers that they are not really developing relationships with their patients and always make you feel a bit rushed/foreign.  If any of us were to get really sick we would be med-evac’ed to Nairobi to see the doctors I have mentioned above. 

School: DAR.  While I loved the little school Grace went to in Nairobi, had a very hard time saying goodbye to it, and would happily recommend it to anyone there, it can’t compare with the language and cultural opportunity our kids have by going to the Nordic School. 

Finding Stuff:  slight advantage NBO.  Nairobi had more options, but we still have a lot of choice here and there isn’t anything “big” that we can’t find.  For a price :)

Night Life: slight advantage NBO.  Ok, we aren’t really “night life” people in the first place.  NBO had a lot more restaurants and clubs and bars and movie theaters, but there are still a lot of good ones here and maybe they are more our speed because we aren’t going to bars and clubs too often anyway!

Stuff for Kids & Visitors: slight advantage NBO.  There are a few more activities with little ones in NBO (like Grace used to do Monkeynastix), and more cool places to visit with guests like the Giraffe Center and the Elephant Orphanage.  But in Dar we have the beach right here!

Poverty: slight disadvantage DAR.  In NBO, poverty was a lot more “in your face” because it was juxtaposed so closely with extreme wealth.  We saw poverty everyday where we lived. Here, because we live on this isolated little peninsula of mostly expats and upper middle class Tanzanians, we don’t see it very much in our daily lives but we do know that it is even worse than in Kenya.

Infrastructure:  DRAW.  The roads in DAR (although probably not the rest of the country) are much better than we expected them to be.  And they even make some NBO roads look bad!  Traffic is bad, but not as bad as NBO.  Electricity and water are more scarce and complicated here than in NBO (at least in our experience), but countrywide the problems are the same and I am sure it varies even in our expat community.  We hope that faster internet comes before we move away.  That would be icing on the cake!

Corruption:  DRAW.  I guess both countries are so corrupt that it is hard to tell which one is more or less.  Bummer.

Access to nature: DRAW.  A big benefit to living here is that we don't have to travel to get to the beach...but we are maybe slightly further away from good safari than we were in NBO.  But both countries have incredible places to see wildlife, explore beaches, climb mountains (although in a mountain-off I guess Mt. Kili beats Mt. Kenya...), observe nature.  I really look forward to seeing the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti while we live here.  Maybe I'll even get my hotair balloon ride one of these days.  And I'm still thinking of climbing THE mountain at some stage before we leave Africa.  I've got some time to make that happen, luckily!

Overall Atmosphere: DAR.  Nairobi just feels more stressful (or stressed out?) than Dar does.  The peninsula we live on is so family friendly that we have felt welcomed from the beginning.   The large Scandinavian community is also a big deal here, and of course there are also a lot of Americans in both places we’ve lived.  But DAR feels like a good fit for us.  The beach atmosphere is very calming and at least before the extreme heat starts up again, the weather has been fantastic for the last 3 months!

If you visited us (or live/d) in NBO you should come to DAR now so that you can make your own comparison!

LMW

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