Living in Ghana

The decision to live and work abroad can be a difficult one, especially when the decision is based off the advice and experiences of others. Therefore, your information source becomes very important. Here you find will information about what to expect while living and working in Ghana as, what the locals affectionately refer to as obroni, a foreigner.

Living in Ghana - Things to Know

Ghanaian culture is filled with a proud and rich history. Ghanaians pride themselves in being the first [black] African country to gain independence in 1957 and is very safe and developed compared to others on the continent. While living here one important fact to note is, for many, the painful historical context. Much of the major Atlantic Slave Trade activity took place here in Ghana along the coast. Many do not speak about slavery and more importantly do not like to be asked about it.
It is rude not to accept a gift someone tries to give you. That being said, sometimes there is a fine line between a gift and someone trying to sell you something. If you are not sure, politely refuse, and do not hold or carry the item. And if they persist, as they usually do, tell them you do not have any money to spend.
All interactions with others should be done with your right hand. For example, when you first meet someone never extend your left hand to them.  It is very disrespectful to exchange money, wave, or accept something with your left hand, so keep this in mind!
As a sign of respect, certain prefixes like “Mama” or “Auntie” are used when speaking to older women or authority figures. “Please” is mostly used to begin a sentence when talking to an elderly person.
Religion plays an incredibly important role in the lives of Ghanaians. An overwhelming 69% of citizens identify as Christian (24% Pentecostal/ Charismatic, 19% Protestant, 15% Catholic, and 11% other). You can attend lively church services of any sect practically every day of the week. While most Ghanaians are Christian, a significant part of the population (16%) is Muslim.
Although English is the lingua franca in Ghana, it is often very hard to communicate with Ghanaians in the English. Most speak with a distinct Ghanaian accent, and many speak pidgin English, a simplified version of English with different grammatical structures and one or more of the local languages blended in. There are many indigenous languages in Ghana, including Twi, Ga, and Ewe. Twi is the most common language.

What to Expect

The cost of living in Ghana is very affordable in comparison to many other developed countries around the world.
Like as the cost of living, eating out is relatively inexpensive and reasonable. Local dishes are readily available on every corner and under many mango trees. Some local dishes include the ever famous fufu (plaintains and cassava mashed), banku, kelewele, jolloff rice, red-red and many others. Continental dishes however, can be rather expensive depending on where you go. Sometimes when you sit down in a restaurant, menu in hand, when you make your choice you will be told that the item is not available. When this happens it can be very frustrating. However, keep in mind that most of the food in Ghana is made to order and they have limited supply of things that are not locally grown and produced. One special treat in Ghana is the white pineapple. So do well to try!
Getting around in Ghana, especially the capital Accra can be difficult at first. This is mainly because the locals often use landmarks rather than street names to get around. Therefore, when you first start taking taxi’s and trotros (don’t worry we will get there), it can be hard. Some care must be taken in telling the drivers where you want to go because many have difficulty understanding foreign accents. There are two major forms of transportation in Ghana, taxis and trotros. Taxis operate much like any other taxis except the prices can be negotiated. One rule of thumb when bargaining with a driver is whatever price is first given cut it in half and proceed from there. There are two types of taxis, charted and shared. Charted taxis are ones that are reserved just for you after you stop it and when you sit. One important thing to know is you must decide on the price before you take off or the taxi driver can charge whatever ones you reach your destination. Shared taxis usually have four passengers. They have designated spot where they pick you up and drop you off. The prices for shared taxis vary depending on your destination. Trotros are vans that carry 12-20 passengers and make several stops along the way. They are extremely inexpensive and very accessible.
The nightlife in Ghana is diverse. There are many options. With night clubs, pubs/bars, or plots of land with locals playing music and dancing under the night sky, there are many ways to have fun. Going out also is a great way to meet other foreigners in the area. In Ghana people often go out on Friday nights more frequently than any other night on the weekend. However, rest assured there are always people going out looking to have fun!
Many people in Ghana have their clothes made. So while here buy some fabric and design something great!