Why I Never Fell in Love with Life in Tanzania

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I didn't love living in Tanzania as much as I thought I would. Here's why I didn't love expat life in Africa. #tanzania #expat #arusha #africa #travel #digitalnomad

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I’ve only been in Tanzania for three months and I’m already counting down the days until our flight out of here. Seriously, we have a countdown on our wall like kids count down the days until summer vacation.

Am I a bad expat? Am I too prissy after five years in China? Did I do something wrong?

For the last few months, I’ve had these thoughts running through my head. Why is it that I never fell in love with life in Tanzania? Why has expat life in Arusha been so hard on me?

Is it Arusha, or is it me?

Having a Tough Time in Tanzania

If you’ve been reading my posts and monthly recaps, you probably already know a few of the not so great things that have happened these last few months. While I had an INCREDIBLE time on safari, actual expat life in Tanzania hasn’t been great to me.

Just some of our black mold

Gout and Black Mold Poisoning

First, there was the sickness. From the worst cold ever to black mold poisoning, to not coping well with the regular mold, I’ve been sick more than I ever have in my entire life. I even developed a black mold poisoning side effect called formication, where I feel like I have tiny bugs crawling all over my legs constantly. I literally feel crazy.

In the last few weeks, my fiance Chris has developed horrible gout which has basically left us completely contained to our house. I cook all of the meals and do all of the dishes, and he can barely walk from the bed to the couch. Apparently, it’s not just beer and red meat that sets off gout, but BEANS.

That’s cool because we literally eat beans every single day.

African Food

An incredible local meal in Zanzibar

Speaking of Beans…

Chris and I are so sick of eating the same things for all of our meals. I can’t even look at chicken, beans, and rice anymore! Since we live so far out of town, whenever we get the chance we grab a ton of peppers and onions, cans of flavored beans and lentils, eggs, bags of brown rice, and meat to freeze.

It’s a miracle when we find things like lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, or any meat that isn’t chicken. Even the thought of eating chicken right now makes me want to vom.

It’s amazing how cheap avocados are here (I’m in heaven!), but overall we eat the same 3 breakfasts and 5 dinners every. single. day.


No more chicken!!

I’ve tried switching things up now that Chris can’t eat beans, but it’s a struggle to eat healthy, especially when you can only do your grocery shopping once every week or two, and you have a tiny fridge and no car.

We made incredible grilled cheese made with zucchini and a tasty attempt at cauliflower au gratin (with no oven), but finding those ingredients is incredibly hard. Last time I went to the grocery store, the only vegetables they had were green bell peppers, onions, and carrots. That’s literally it.

Obviously, if you know what days the stock comes in, you can work around this. But we don’t have a car so all of our shopping trips are last minute (as in, we find out we’re going about 20 seconds before we leave), so we get what we get when it’s available.

Africa expat life

This road is NOTHING compared to our hill

About that Car…

Chris and I were supposed to be able to rent a car for $150 a month from a coworker, but the car had major issues. When it finally stopped raining long enough to be able to use the car, we realized that the poor thing didn’t have enough power to get up the hill where we live.

The only way we can actually get up the hill is to go BACKWARDS. Yeah… no thanks.

The Worst Rainy Season in 20 Years

If you read my post about my expat struggles in Africa, you’ll know that Tanzania just had its worst rainy season in 20 years. It poured down rain every single day, the streets turned to rivers, our mud hill turned to mush, our house was COVERED in mold and mud, and going anywhere was a huge struggle.

The sun has finally come out (well.. it comes out for a few hours a day since its winter), but our house is still covered in mold. Everything feels wet. If I don’t touch something for a few days, it’s moldy. While the roads are now dry, they’re covered in huge potholes and bumps that most cars struggle to get over.

Life in Tanzania

We might as well live in the Serengeti!

Being So Isolated

Chris and I thought living up on “the hill” next to our office was a great idea. We could walk to the office, and hitch a ride with the boss or any member of the office into town when we needed it.

What we didn’t realize was that getting BACK to our house would be almost impossible. While people are always going into town, no one ever comes back to the hill, so we typically need to take a $25 USD cab ride home, while we cringe as the taxi scrapes the bottom of his car on every, single bump.

Chris and I have booked a night in a budget hotel three times just to enjoy dinner and a movie in town. Going grocery shopping is a constant struggle. We STILL haven’t been to TGT, the fun pool and bar everyone raves about. (Fingers crossed that we get to go on Friday!)

baboon tarantula

THIS was behind my head!

Our Stupid Moldy House

I’d be able to deal with all of these problems if I loved the house we live in. Unfortunately, the house, while cute, is unbelievably stupid. I’ve never called a house “stupid” before, but that’s the only way I know how to characterize its idiotic design.

It’s like someone built this house to be inhabited for only 6 months out of the year. The tiny windows and concrete walls and floor keep it nice and cool, but in the rainy season and winter, it’s absolutely freezing inside, and EVERYTHING is either damp or covered in mold.

Oh, and you know, our bathroom door doesn’t close, our pillows smell like a wet dog, we don’t have solar or a generator for when the power goes out, and our hot water only lasts for about 5 minutes if we’re lucky.

We have a beautiful view of Mt. Meru from our house… if you stand on the couch. We try to let fresh air and sunlight into our house to clear out the mold and damp, but the only “window” big enough for this to actually work is our front door.

We also have crazy bug guests that waltz their way through the giant gap under our front door whenever they please. We’ve had mice, whip scorpions, and a GIANT TARANTULA. Our neighbor also warned us about scorpions. We now shove a blanket under our door at night.

The Freedom Life

Chris at the international students day festival

I Did Expat Life in Arusha All Wrong

So many people love expat life in Arusha. There are great restaurants and bars here, life is cheap, there are tons of safari companies, international schools, and incredible wildlife… The other expats in Arusha must be having a better experience than me right?

I couldn’t help but think that maybe my experience was partially my fault.

When I didn’t love Japan’s tourist trail, exploring popular sights in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, I realized that part of my not-so-great experience was actually my fault. I had started the trip by hiking the Kumano Kodo in rural Mie Prefecture, so of course, jumping straight into the tourist-filled streets of Harajuku, or the packed Meiji Shrine, was going to feel a little disappointing compared to the all but empty markets and shrines in Ise.

I thought long and hard about why other people might love life in Tanzania, and what I could’ve done differently, and I realized that, while I’m right to not love life in Tanzania after all of the issues above, there are ways that I could’ve avoided some of these issues.

Tanzania expat life

Chris and I working from the office

Arusha is Not for Short-Term Expats

If you want to be an expat in Arusha, you need to be all-in. You have to make a big effort. You either live in the town in a bustling expat community, you arrive on a study abroad or volunteer program where you have built-in friends, or, if you live in the middle of nowhere on “Mzungu hill” (foreigner hill) like I do, you BUY A CAR.

No one lives in the middle of nowhere 30 minutes outside town without a car. You need to invest in life here. Get a car, get a nice house, make friends… you can’t expect it to all just fall in your lap like you can in other digital-nomad cities.

If you are here for only a few months, typically you’re on some sort of a program where you have built-in friends and you either live in town or have someone feeding you.

The Freedom Life

If only I could just stay here instead…

We Should’ve Lived in Town

Even if we lived on the outskirts of town, our lives would’ve been so much easier. We could’ve hailed a much cheaper taxi or motorbike taxi to town for our grocery shopping, or to TGT, the fun pool and bar everyone raves about.

If we lived in town we wouldn’t need a car. We also probably could’ve gotten a nicer house with our budget since for some reason the hill we live on is super overpriced. Granted, our rent here is only $200, so for this hill, our house is a steal.

That said, I would never pay more than $200 a month for this stupid, cold, moldy house with a bathroom door that doesn’t even close.

Shadows of Africa

Having a great time on safari with the Shadows of Africa team

We Should’ve Stayed Longer… Or Shorter

3 months is a weird amount of time to stay in a place like Arusha, which is mostly filled with long-term expats. Since we lived so far outside town, making friends was extremely difficult, and it would’ve been near impossible to meet up with any friends we did make.

So, of course, we never made any friends. Chris and I pretty much only ever interacted with one another or the office staff.

We also didn’t really make our house a home. I felt guilty investing in things like a rug, decorations, and nice fuzzy blankets that actually made our experience a million times better, because I knew we were going to leave in a few months.

Can you imagine how much better my life would’ve been if I had just forced myself to invest in a comforter (so I didn’t freeze at night) and a small oven? But it’s hard to spend that much money when you know you’re just going to leave it behind.

Expat Life in Africa

Celebrating my birthday at Africa Amini Maasai Lodge

I Didn’t Like Who I Was in Tanzania

It might come as a shocker to those of you who have never read any of my other posts, but I’m not really the type to complain all the time. I’m a pretty positive, “glass half full”, easy-going type of person, which is why I hate who I’ve become in Tanzania.

When I lived in China for five years, I often encountered not-so-great aspects of expat life, and for the most part, I took them in stride.

Sure I was frustrated when the government cracked down on VPNs and I couldn’t get on my email or any social media. Yeah, I didn’t love the times where I had to walk through ankle-deep water to get home from work since Beijing’s drainage infrastructure was actually awful. I hated that the government was bricking up all of the cool hutong restaurants, shops, and bars… but I could discuss my frustrations without being super negative. I still loved China.

Expat Life Tanzania

A rainy site inspection at Xanadu Resort

But here in Tanzania, I’ve had more tantrums than a 2-year-old. I’ve screamed into my pillow, slammed my curtain door shut (not as dramatic as a real door, unfortunately). I even threw my portable charger at a wall and broke it. Yeah… real mature.

Chris and I have fought here more than we’ve ever fought before, only because we’re both frustrated, cooped up, and bored. We live in a tiny house with zero privacy (not even when we poop). We have no friends, we can’t go anywhere, and we eat the same five meals every day.

To be honest, living in Tanzania has actually been a great pre-marriage test for us. We’ve had to really work through our problems and manage our frustrations without taking them out on each other. Seriously, every engaged couple should spend a few months in our house!

Melia Serengeti Lodge

How can I complain when I got to spend two nights HERE

Feeling Guilty About Complaining

I’m sure half of you reading this right now are thinking: “Wow, this privileged white girl moved to Tanzania and now she’s COMPLAINING about the problems of that developing country SHE CHOSE to move to.” Seriously, there’s nothing anyone can say to me that I haven’t already said to myself multiple times.

I feel absolutely horrible complaining about all of the ways I didn’t love life in Tanzania while I watched children and adults alike walking barefoot through ankle-deep mud to get to school or work at the local factory.

It feels like I’m not allowed to complain about aspects of life here because overall, I’m super lucky. The Maasai girl who comes to wash our clothes by hand probably stares at all my canned beans and wonders how we could possibly have so much food in the house.

I think the main issue for me, was that I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into when I moved to Tanzania. Things are so completely different from Chris’ last time here, and both of us were really shocked by how living in a rural area without a car could really impact our lives. Even the local Tanzanian office staff live in town and are driven to and from work every day!


&Beyond Crater Lodge only costs $1,500 per person a night….

An Awkward Wealth and Privilege Gap

Speaking of feeling guilty when I drive past people walking to work in the mud, the wealth and privilege gap between Tanzanians and expats/ the travel industry really bothered me during my time in Tanzania.

Travel in Tanzania is extremely expensive. Every time I visited a lodge, I loved everything about it… except the price. We stayed in a basic tented camp that ran $300 per person per night! Where is the money going???

How is it possible that lodges and camps can be SO EXPENSIVE while the cost of living for most Tanzanians is so low? How can there be lodges that are over $1,000 per person per night while those of us in town can’t even get consistent electricity?

Where are all the crazy government taxes and park fees going? $60 per person per night in taxes just for the privilege of sleeping (even in a tent)? A $900 tax on local bloggers which is more than the average yearly salary?? What is the government doing with all that money?? (Not spending it on infrastructure, obviously.)

Everywhere I went in Tanzania I saw white people (or Kenyans) in positions of leadership, while locals worked the less glamorous jobs.

I know this happens all over the world, but after 5 years in China where I was solidly middle class and had students who were crazy-rich, it’s an awkward pill to swallow.

Living in Tanzania with all the mold, bugs, and beans for every meal, I feel a bit poor. But when I compare myself to the Maasai girl who helps wash our clothes by hand, I feel guilty. I mean, she almost killed us by leaving our gas burner on ALL DAY LONG, but then I found out she didn’t know how our stove worked because she doesn’t have one. Ouch.

Shinto Shrine

Praying at a Shinto Shrine

I Really Love Asia

As much as I enjoyed traveling in Tanzania, spotting the big 5, heading out on safari, and trying something new, I really do love Asia.

I used to worry that not being in love with Tanzania made me a bad traveler or expat, but I now know that I’m allowed to love some destinations more than others.

I’ve always loved Asia, whether it’s China, Japan, Thailand, or Vietnam – I love it all. I like traveling there, I love the expat lifestyle, the fast internet, the incredible food, the unique cultures, the bustling cities and natural landscapes, the challenging languages, the affordable prices (except you Japan), the kind people… I could go on and on all day.

I don’t think there’s any shame in having an area of the world where you feel at home. I don’t think I’m a bad expat for not loving life on a rural hill where I eat the same meals every day and have to use my phone to hotspot slow 3G so I can work.

Maybe I don’t want to live in a place where I need a car. Maybe I want to be in a country with a vibrant food scene (sorry Tanzania, but ugali and beans don’t cut it). Maybe I don’t want to live in a place where everything feels wet and is always covered in mold. Maybe I don’t want to live in a country where I feel guilty for just existing.

Maybe I just love Asia, and that’s okay.

Thoughts? Opinions? Are you moving to Tanzania? Be sure to leave me a comment below, and I’ll sure to get back to you ASAP!

After three months of living in Tanzania as an expat, I was ready to leave. Here's why I didn't love living abroad in Tanzania. #tanzania #expat #africa #travel #digitalnomad

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About Richelle

Expat, traveler, and spicy food lover, I've spent the last few years living in China and traveling around Asia. In my spare time I enjoy salsa dancing, exploring night markets and stuffing my face with street food.

39 comments on “Why I Never Fell in Love with Life in Tanzania

  1. It’s been one hell of a three months here, but I’m glad I had you here to help me maintain my sanity (and eat when I couldn’t walk).

    One more week, a safari to Arusha NP, and we’re free!

    Next time we come back, we’ll do our research and plan accordingly rather than playing it by ear and relying on the generosity of others.

    • I think this is a great point. Thinking through what you want for your expat life is critical- tried southern France at the wrong time of year- didn’t work.
      As far as reading about side tracks- I like that because it shows more dimension to you as a person.
      Can’t wait to hear about the move!

      • I never heard the whole story about the South of France but that’s good to know. Some places definitely have their good seasons and if you’re living there short-term you want to go there at the right time. If I only lived in Beijing for 3 months during the winter, I’d probably hate Beijing too! hahaha

  2. I’ve been to Africa 4 times and traveled through 8 countries and while I love visiting, I would never want to live there (and I agree, the food is not great in Tanzania!) Like you, I also LOVE Asia and feel happiest there, and that’s ok!

    • Thanks so much Katrina. I’m glad I’m not the only one! Traveling in Africa is amazing and I’d love to explore more, but if I’m going to live somewhere I definitely prefer to live in Asia

  3. It is completely OK to prefer some destinations more than others, Nicole. I am glad you shared your experience because we should all learn from our experiences! Keep up the awesome work. :)

    • Thanks Lydia! Sometimes it feels like a huge sin to not fall in love with a place other people like, but I have to remind myself that expat life is totally different than traveling through a place.

  4. Thank you for writing such an honest post! I can totally see why this time hasn’t worked out how you had hoped, and I’m impressed you are already able to reflect on the situation. While you’re still in it! I have to say, I can deal with any number of creepy crawlies but damp and mould is an instant NOPE for me. I’m impressed you’ve put up with it for so long. I hope Chris feels better soon, and here’s to the next destination!

    • Thanks so much Rachel! Yeah, I’m definitely glad to be getting away from the mold especially. I think I might be slightly allergic to it, so I need to get out of that house ASAP! Thankfully tomorrow is our last full day there :D

  5. I think anytime you leave a place you really like and click with, it makes the next, harder place seem even worse. I really REALLY loved my life in Bangkok, and left only because of worries about post-coup problems. The next place I moved (Rio de Janeiro), I hated. In retrospect, I know now it seemed so much worse because expat life wasn’t shiny and new anymore (I’d already been living abroad for 2 years), so annoyances like losing water or electricty or gas for days or a week at a time pushed me over the edge, on top of safety fears and intense sexual harassment. At the same time, I was trying to push down my feelings of complete frustration and devastation, because anything I experienced, the local people had it so much worse and had no option to leave… which made me feel like a spoiled brat.

    I really appreciate how honestly you shared about your experiences, and that living abroad isn’t all happy smiley sunshine time. Those bugs would kill me. Not that it helps now, but if you know the crack they’re coming in from (ie under the door), sprinkling a layer of diacetamous earth (99% sure I’m spelling that wrong) will stop them.

    Sending hugs!

    PS – I just love Asia, too, and even now, living in Mexico (which I love!!), I still miss and dream of moving back to Asia someday.

    • “anything I experienced, the local people had it so much worse and had no option to leave… which made me feel like a spoiled brat.” – wow I couldn’t have said it better myself!! I definitely think having issues with things like electricity, gas etc. makes things really hard, especially if you work online. Every time our electricity went out we panicked because we could lose everything in our freezer. When you have to cook all your meals, not having electricity or gas is a huge problem. I can also definitely see how sexual harassment can really grate on you, especially if you’re not used to it. I absolutely hate the feeling of having a bunch of men’s eyes on me, and if you’re by yourself, even catcalls can be super scary.

      I’m glad you’re loving Mexico now. I’ve heard great things about life there! I’m sure you’ll make it back to Asia someday soon though. :D

  6. Hi Richelle! I have lived in Mwanza, Tanzania for the past year as an expat and am leaving in a few weeks. I totally understand you on so many challenges and actually being a long term expat has helped avoid a lot of the challenges you are referring to but it brings on a whole new set of challenges. Like for example, even though you are more integrated in the expat community – there is still a transient incoming of expats often making it feel lonely at times. Every expat journey is different and even every location in another country is different which is super interesting. I really value and empathize though with many things you said (i.e. I have had cockroaches come into my bed net) and that living abroad is something I love but sometimes I have wanted to just pack up and move back to Canada. Thanks for being so vulnerable!

    • Thanks so much Lydia! I definitely get how being a long-term expat brings on a whole new set of challenges. I definitely felt the same way in Beijing, where I’d make a friend only to have her leave a few months later, or I’d meet someone really awesome, but they had a 9-5 on the opposite side of town (an hour away without traffic). Since I worked Tues-Sat that meant I had a lot of brunches an hour away from my apartment… I definitely agree that not every destination clicks with everyone and each expat experience is super unique! Where are you heading next? Back to Canada or another expat place?

  7. “I’m sure half of you reading this right now are thinking: “Wow, this privileged white girl moved to Tanzania and now she’s COMPLAINING about the problems of that developing country SHE CHOSE to move to.””
    Actually I was thinking that most of the problems are nothing to do with Tanzania and are instead to do with the life you had there (and I mean that in the best way possible). When I moved to Dar es Salaam, the first piece of advice I was given was to make my home an oasis. After all, when you eat, sleep and hang out there it makes sense to find somewhere nice. You don’t say why you were living in Arusha but I feel your organisation should have advised you better because in Tanzania, location is everything.

    I’m also shocked that you lived in Arusha (probably the most expat friendly city in the country) and had to live on rice and beans. Honestly I’m sitting at my computer screaming- why didn’t someone help her out! For this reason, I really dislike most short term volunteer organisations in Tanzania. They allow people to live a very limited version of life here for three months and then people leave thinking all there is to Tanzania is safari, or that the only nice places to socialise are “expat places”. Yes rainy season sucked this year, but your organisation should have known the challenges of your location and helped you find somewhere more suitable. I honestly just feel so sorry that you are leaving Tanzania with that experience, especially when it is a country that I have made home and love so much. If you ever pass through Dar es Salaam get in touch, I’d love to show you a different side of Tanzania and maybe leave you with a little feeling that you could live here someday!

    • Richelle’s fiancee here. We were actually here because of me: I work for a safari company here and thought it would be a good chance to liaise with the team on the ground, visit a few of the lodges I’ve been selling so much, and give Richelle a taste of Africa.

      Unfortunately, circumstances had changed quite drastically since I called Arusha home for six months in 2015. Our office relocated from the city proper to a hill about 15km out of town, we didn’t have a vehicle of our own to get around in, and the rainy season turned the place into an island for around six weeks of our time here.

      In hindsight, we should have just arranged everything ourselves instead of expecting the office to find something suitable for us. What somebody who has lived here for more than a decade (the company’s owner) likes and what we would want as temporary visitors were wildly different haha

      • So true! I also think with all the crazy things going on with the company expanding, people didn’t really have the time or energy to worry about us. Now we know that for next time, we should just arrange everything ourselves and do our own research.

    • hahahaha yeah… I wasn’t actually with an organization, which I think was part of the problem. My fiance works for a safari company based in the hills outside Arusha. We originally thought we’d be living at his boss’ house, but her parents were in town so we asked her if there was anywhere we could rent near the office. We took the house without even seeing it, and thought everything would be fine since we were walking distance from the office and Chris’ boss. We thought we’d be able to hitch rides into town with Chris’ boss, or borrow her personal driver (which Chris did all the time last time he was in Tanzania) but she and the driver were so busy setting up a new lodge etc. that she almost never went into town and just had her driver pick things up for her while they worked on the lodge. We really had no idea how isolated we’d be until we got there. At first, everyone kept telling us things would get better when the rainy season ended… but it went on for 2 months. Then for our third month, we could at least get expensive taxis back to our house! hahaha.

      If I came back again for a few months I would DEFINITELY get a nicer house and live closer to town. You are so right: your home has to be an oasis. I’m moving to Vietnam in a few days and we found a beautiful studio apartment biking distance to the old town and 5 minutes from the beach. I’m so excited to live in a house I feel comfortable in. I think it will make all the difference.

      In terms of the issues being mostly our situation and not Tanzania, I totally agree. I think our house and location made the Tanzania problems 10X worse than they had to be. Power outages are less of a big deal when you don’t have to worry about your whole freezer of meat melting. Dirt roads and potholes are less of an issue when you don’t live up a giant dirt hill that melts during rainy season, etc. etc. That’s why I have to partially blame myself. While I don’t think I’m at fault personally (because I had no clue!), I do think that many of the problems I had were because of decisions Chris and I made. I’ll definitely do everything better next time I’m in town!

    • This is right on. With all due respect the situation could have been improved before hand instead of sending negative views or complaints about Arusha. Housing, mould, lack of friends etc. are issues that can be worked on at personal or company level.

  8. I think it’s time we stop feeling apologetic when we don’t like the places we visit/live in! Everyone’s experiences are different. You didn’t do it wrong, you made choices best on what you thought were best then. :) Good luck on your next adventure and hope it’s better than Tanzania.

    • Thanks so much Katherine! I think I definitely could’ve done things differently and it would’ve turned out better, but I did definitely do things based on what I thought would be best at the time. Next time I’ll avoid rainy season! hahaha

  9. I am not judging you – it is really brave of you writing about your experience. I do love Africa and I have been traveling a lot of it. I have stayed everywhere: in fancy lodges, hostels and also with locals in a tiny little village where they still cook on fire and pump water. I am not sure if I could have lived in circumstances like this for 3 month but I have to be honest it was an experience – a really good one actually. Were you forced to stay where you stayed or was it the most convenient way as you didn´t need a car and it was close to your offiece? Why didn´t you move somewhere else after a couple of time? Is Asia that different? I mean did you have the same living conditions or was Asia just different as you had better living conditions?

    • Great question! We were only in Arusha for three months and our house had a 3-month rent policy, so once we paid the rent, we couldn’t really move without forfeiting our rent money. We thought it would be a good location near our office, but we didn’t realize it was going to be very difficult to get food or do anything social. The reason we didn’t leave sooner (and just forfeit the money) was that everyone kept telling us things would get better after the rainy season ended, and that it was going to end “any day now”. We figured we could rent the car (it didn’t work), and the mold and dampness would clear up (it didn’t). By the time we realized things weren’t going to get any better, we only had a month left.

      In my experience, I think a few things about Asia are super different. In China at least, I always had consistent electricity and no crazy bus (haha), but also the transportation there is so convenient. In Beijing, I had the subway, in Ningbo I had a really good bus network and cheap taxis. In either city I could walk to amazing cheap restaurants. In Vietnam, it will be the same. I can take a bicycle pretty much anywhere I want to go, I’m surrounded by restaurants and cafes, and I can even bike to the beach!

      Now, had I been in downtown Arusha, or even just slightly closer to the city, I think I could’ve avoided a lot of these problems. But being isolated and living in a house I didn’t like that was covered in mold, really made me go nuts!

  10. I lived in Italy (Sicily) for three years and hated it. Sicily is the absolute worst part of Italy, it’s unorganized, the unemployment rate is high and their government is in shambles. People love Italy. I’d be fine never going back there ever again.

    I cringed when I read this, but then I kept reading and realized how self aware you are about the whole thing. It’s ok to like what you like. I hope wherever you go next has better food, no mold, good WiFi, a bathroom door that closes and is more accessible.

    • Thanks Lamesha! It must be so hard to live in a country that everyone dreams of visiting and not like it. At least people expect life in East Africa to be a bit difficult, but I’m sure when you complained to your friends they all said “but you’re in ITALY!!” hahaha.

      I’ll be heading to Hoi An, Vietnam next which I’m really excited about! We already found a really cute studio (and the bathroom door closes! haha), very close to the beach and only a 30-minute bike ride to the Old Town. I’m super excited for the move, and I’m also very ready to not be so isolated!

  11. I am really impressed that you both stuck it out. I have lived in a flat with mold once before, and I got so, so sick. I could NEVER do that again. I don’t think I could enjoy living anywhere where I feel that poorly so I really hope it is starting to clear up now the rain is improving.

    Your poor fiancee with gout too! My dad has gout so I know that can be a bummer. At least now you have an excuse to gorge yourself on cherries!!

    Your post seems really self aware and sensible. I’m sorry you had a rubbish time, but I hope your next adventure will be amazing!

    p.s. Asia stole my heart too. My life was in Japan rather than China, but it changed the way I see and experience the world.

    • Yeah mold is AWFUL. It’s all over the ceiling in our bedroom now too! I’m so glad to be out of that stupid house… Unfortunately for us, we couldn’t find cherries (or most fruit) here in Tanzania, so let’s hope Vietnam has some!

      Japan is such an incredible country. I really can’t wait to go back (when I have some money saved up again) and explore further. How long were you in Japan?

      • I hope you can, or at least cherry jam(!)

        Japan was such an easy place to live. I was there for 3.5 years, just not all at the same time. I spent my 20s hopping between the UK and Japan and loved every moment of it. <3

  12. Wow, you’ve had a really tough time! Black mold poisoning is really serious and can have long-term health problems. I’m not surprised you can’t wait to leave that place. The giant spider looked pretty scary too. I’d have been on the first flight out if that thing had appeared behind my head! Maybe you should visit the Caribbean on your next vacation, I’ve never seen a monster like that on the islands!

    • Hahaha great advice! I’m in Vietnam now and everything is much better, although I still have lingering health problems from all the mold. I’ve gotten some advice to rest up, drink turmeric milk, and go to a sauna. Hopefully they help me get better soon!

  13. I absolutely love this post Richelle! And yes, you’re allowed to feel bad, stressed out, and bloody awful. It happens to us all! It doesn’t make you a bad traveller or a bad expat, it just makes you totally human!

    I so get your love for Asia. I love Asia too.

    Central, East and West Africa are not the easiest of places to travel to unless you’re well prepared, or have people to help “soften” the circumstances. I’ve never been to Tanzania, but I’ve travelled to North Africa, West Africa and South Africa, and as romantic as the continent might seem, the reality is that most places take a lot more effort than just jumping in a plane and turning up. And cost horrible amounts of non-budgeted money!!

    You had a million reasons why Tanzania didn’t work for you, and sometimes, liking or not liking a place doesn’t even need one. It just happens.

    I went to Romania a few months ago (https://thebritishberliner.wordpress.com/2018/05/05/i-went-to-romania-it-didnt-wow-me/), it didn’t work for me, and that’s perfectly OK.

    I’m sure you’ll have a great time whenever you return to Tanzania!

    • Such a great post! Yeah, it never feels good to be disappointed about a travel experience, but I definitely think living in Tanzania is so much harder than traveling there- especially if you live in the middle of nowhere with no car! I’m sorry to hear you didn’t like Romania, but I guess that’s life!

  14. Brutal, but honest. Love some hate some… that’s life. Good question you asked there …where does all the money from the high taxes go to. It is the same question we ask in our country Kenya every day.

    • Thanks so much! Yeah I’m sure Kenya has similar issues. I know (from my fiance’s safari company) that the safari taxes are nowhere near as high in Kenya, but I’m sure the government finds other ways to skim money hahaha

  15. I am an expat in Arusha. Started as a volunteer and just fell in love with everything here. I’m sorry you didn’t have a good experience, it Happens,
    From my side, I’m just happiest here! I love who I am here! I started living in Sakina, then I moved close the airport and finally close to shoppers super market. If I may ask, what is it that you do for a living ? Perhaps the job was not well suited for Arusha?

  16. Hi, thank you for the insightful views and I can see your point. I feel that you could definitely have had a better experience with better housing and a vehicle. Arusha is one of the best cities with so much diversity of activity. I would struggle in any city if I had a home I hated and house that isn’t easily accessible. And rain can happen anywhere. So to me this sounds more like an issue that is not 100% to be reflective of the city and rather some decisions made on housing, housing location, vehicle etc.

  17. I am sorry you had such a bad experience but you also reflected on the situation very well. It seems to me if you had a better house and car + made some friends you guys would have been happier! However I was struck with the point you made ‘Everywhere I went in Tanzania I saw white people (or Kenyans) in positions of leadership, while locals worked the less glamorous jobs’ can you please elaborate more..how many cities did you visit in Tanzania to get this assumption?
    A lot of people in Tanzania eat fresh food, so the Maasai girl was probably wondering why are you eating canned beans and not fresh beans from the market.

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