From A to Z -

Life in Addis Ababa


Learn some Amharic, a few simple expressions and sentences will quickly make everyday life easier and everyone is happy to use the local language. Our school office will be happy to help you find a suitable teacher.


For the transport of animals you need:
1. official medical health certificate
2. vaccination certificate with rabies vaccination (active substance specification)
3. English formal letter with important information about the animal with which a local veterinarian can arrange the import.
4. Please contact a veterinarian in Ethiopia in advance, as the regulations may change.


If you are planning to get out of Addis Ababa from time to time and make further trips by car, it is advisable to buy an off-road vehicle. Vehicles are either taken over used by departing expats or bought on the domestic market. When ordering through a German dealer, you usually get the European version, which is relatively expensive, contains unnecessary extras (rear window heating etc.) and is not as suitable as the Spartan and more robust Africa version, especially in the chassis, air conditioning and tyres (tubeless!). Due to the high altitude of Addis Ababa (2500 m above sea level) it is essential to pay attention to a “high-altitude-compensation”. Unfortunately, the large car repair shops do not always have some of the required spare parts in stock, so some of them have to be ordered from Germany or brought along returning from home leave . Spare tyres and inner tubes can be bought cheaply and in decent quality on site.

Clothing and shoes

Ethiopia has different climate zones; make sure to bring clothing for all weather. Especially when travelling in Ethiopia you should bring everything from light cotton clothing (e.g. 40°C) to warm clothing (e.g. 0°C). In Addis Ababa itself the weather is also very changeable; during the day often warm to hot and in the evening cold. Also, houses are partly very badly insulated and have no heating. Also think about festive clothes (dresses, suit, tie and fine shoes). For the rainy season, make sure you wear rainproof clothing (mud trousers, raincoat/jacket, umbrellas, and rubber boots for the whole family), good hiking boots can also be helpful. The supply of clothes and shoes does not necessarily meet our high standards. Fashionable clothing is limited and everyday shoes/sports shoes should also be brought along. Of course you can also have something made in good quality. Swimwear and swimming equipment is available mainly in some large international hotels.

Cultural life

Ethiopian culture is diverse and there are great markets, events, concerts and traditional bars. Of course there are also many bars and restaurants, which are mainly frequented by foreigners; there are also various communities with meetings. 
It is of course an advantage to integrate yourself a little bit into the Ethiopian culture.

Drinking water

DO NOT drink WATER DIRECTLY FROM THE FAUCET and do not consume a drink with ice cubes unless you are sure that the ice cubes are made from drinking water. Bottled water is easily available in local stores. If you want to drink tap water, boil it and filter it first. Drink at least two litres a day or more if you are physically active. Dehydration occurs quickly and causes tiredness, headaches and dizziness.

Electrical appliances

All so-called “electronics” are subject to high import duties in Ethiopia. Especially for computers, it is true that equipment purchased in Ethiopia usually works reliably, but it is much more expensive than in Germany and the latest technological series is not available. This also applies to mobile phones and smartphones. Due to the unstable power supply (mains failures, voltage fluctuations of 180-250 V, sudden voltage peaks), it is recommended to buy a UPS with battery buffer for important or expensive electronic devices; good devices from the company APC are available here on site, price comparable to Germany. The voltage is 220 V, alternating current 50 Hz. TAE cans and cables should also be brought along.


Can be found in the local market and in supermarkets. Vegetables, fruit, bread, milk and most common foods can be bought almost everywhere. Cheese, sausages and more special foods can be bought in the big supermarkets. If you are allergic to gluten or diabetic, the choice of special foods is rather limited. Also the choice of baby food is sparse.

Most shops are open from Monday to Saturday. Some of the smaller shops are closed on Sundays. Almost everything you need or want is available in Addis, although you may really have to hunt for it. It may not be uniformly available, it may be very expensive, or the quality may not meet your requirements. More and more goods of better quality have been made available recently 

The following grocery stores are popular with expats because of the quality and selection of items on offer.

Gorgeous Fine Foods next to the Diamond Hotel in Bole Is known for high quality pasta, cold meats, cheese.

Shoa Supermarket has several locations throughout the city. They carry milk, cereals and have an extensive selection of household goods.

Novis at the Hilton Hotel carry similar items to Shoa.

Fantu on Bole Road (below the Wassamar Hotel) and at the Old Airport opposite the Canadian Embassy is known for herbs, spices, bacon, wine and spirits.

GaraMart in Lebu has a wide selection of detergents, wines, spirits, household goods, meat and fruit and vegetables.

Safeway Supermarket has several locations throughout the city, similar to Shoa.

AllMart supermarket also has several locations throughout the city and is similar to Shoa

Friendship supermarket is located in the basement of the shopping centre “Friendship City Center” and has a large area for household goods, including furniture.

Fresh Corner has several locations throughout the city and is known for dairy products, vegetables, fruit and meat.

Gardening and gardening

Since most houses have gardens, the favourable climate offers a rewarding leisure activity for the hobby gardener. There are many flower markets, especially outside Addis Ababa, but they have a good selection. You can also find potting soil, but you cannot compare it with the potting soil in Germany. Seedlings and gardening tools can be bought, herbs and salad seeds as well. Carrying seeds in a container is not recommended as it can lead to problems at customs. But you could bring spades, hand shovels etc.!


Gas stove bottles and a corresponding connection for gas cylinders (Shell/Agip) can be taken over from departing colleagues or procured on the local market. If you want to bring a new gas stove: please bring an adapter from ½ inch (external thread on the gas stove) and the 8 mm hose with clamp (you get it here with the bottle) and make sure that there are nozzles for propane and liquid gas.

House and house hunting

Bit by bit there are changes to be seen in the housing market. Urban planning means that fewer inexpensive houses are offered in the immediate vicinity of the school, as many beautiful old houses with larger gardens are being demolished to make room for new buildings. The rent levels are now comparable to those in major European cities. Apartments are therefore no longer the exception, but could become the rule. It is still possible to take over houses from colleagues who are leaving or to look for them on the open market. Cheap houses with a small compound can these days only be found a little further outside. The suggestion to start looking for a house long before moving does not really make sense, because if you find something, you have to pay rent immediately. Besides, paying rent in advance is quite common, monthly rather rarely, half-yearly or even yearly is the rule. Thus, one will immediately have to pay a bigger sum.
 If you don’t take over the house from a colleague, it’s best to go looking for an apartment or house with a broker. They will show you different houses and have information about the prices. The owner can also be contacted directly if interested. The payment of the brokers by the tenant and landlord is as follows:
5% of the rental price for a direct deposit of the accommodation of 3 months and 10% of the rental price for a direct deposit of the accommodation of 6 months.
This means that the broker receives 5 or 10% from the tenant AND the landlord.

Household contents

Most of the household appliances and utensils can be found in Ethiopia, but whether the price-performance ratio is right is sometimes doubtful. Especially appliances like microwave, vacuum cleaner, ice machine, hand mixer, bread machine etc. should be brought from Germany. It can also be useful to bring good pots (note: many houses have a gas stove) and pans. Housekeepers, live-in house staff and nannies are often hired here and are very affordable. Furniture (especially bamboo furniture) is offered in decent quality on the domestic market or made according to templates, usually cheaper than in Germany. In many houses there are already built-in cupboards.
Toys for children: Also only available in Addis Ababa in Chinese quality and in an insufficient selection. Bobby-Car, children’s bikes, paddling pool, books etc. must be brought in the container.


Wash your hands frequently to stop the spread of infectious diseases, especially after going to the toilet and before eating. Towels and hand disinfectant products are useful.

International Health Insurance

It is important to take out a long-term international health insurance in time. On the Internet you can compare various insurance policies to find the one that suits you best. Make sure that a return transport in case of illness is covered.
Entry and visa: On arrival in Addis Ababa, a tourist visa for many nationalities can be bought at the counter. However, this does not apply to business visas; these must be applied for in advance. 
Right at the beginning you will need a number of passport photos for your ID card, driving licence etc.; you can either bring them with you from home or have them made in Addis Ababa.

Leisure activities

There are now many interesting activities in Addis. If you love sports, there are, for example, the following offers: various fitness and gymnastics programmes (circuit training, dancing, Zumba etc.), Judo/ Karate, Yoga, horse riding, tennis, golf, badminton and football. Larger swimming pools are available at the Sheraton, Hilton and Ghion hotels. You will also find great destinations for camping and hiking/hiking. You should bring your complete equipment from home. Roof top tents for off-road vehicles are also a good solution.

There are also numerous concerts and events for music lovers. If you make music yourself, you should definitely bring your own sheet music and musical instruments, as the selection and quality of these instruments leaves a lot to be desired. Also think of “consumables” (strings etc.). The instruments (even pianos!) have no problems with the climate, and every active musician is welcomed by like-minded people. Some people in Addis Ababa also offer music lessons (guitar, piano, flute etc.). 

There are some cinemas and even open-air cinema evenings, which are offered by some hotels. Many films are also shown in English. You can also spend your nights in Addis Ababa. Various discos and bars or special events offer all kinds of music and dance. 


Money supply is largely unproblematic and in Addis the easiest way to get money abroad is by credit card and free of charge at many banks (more and more banks in Germany offer free of charge credit card withdrawals abroad, e.g. DKB; there are Visa and Mastercard machines in Addis.) The import and export of Ethiopian currency is only possible up to Eth. Birr 200 (currently 1 Euro 36 ETB). Foreign means of payment (officially 3000 Euro) must theoretically be declared upon entry. Only in this way is it possible to re-export them during a trip. Banks and larger hotels / airlines usually accept Euro cash and American Express/ Visacard. When travelling overland, it is recommended to carry US dollars in addition to ETB to pay hotel bills. Unfortunately it is not possible at banks to exchange ETB (Birr) into dollars, so you may need to bring dollars from Germany. At cash machines there is only the possibility to withdraw ETB (Birr). It is also possible to open an account at a local bank.

Petty crime

The most common tactics are described below

“Something’s wrong with the tire” Two or more people are placed along a road. When you pass the first person in your car, they will point at your tyres, giving you the impression that you have a problem. If you pass the second person standing further up the road, they will do the same. If you stop and get out of your car to check your tyres, you will most likely be robbed.

“Daydreaming pedestrians” When you drive your car to an intersection, one or more people seem to cross the street in front of you; one of the people will sit in front of their car, they will slow down or stop. While you are distracted, another person opens one of your car doors, grabs something from your car and runs away. Always lock ALL doors!

“Don’t you remember me?”
Someone will approach you and say you’ve met before. These people can be very convincing, but be careful. If you’re not 100% sure you’ve met them before, move away from the situation before you become the victim of a fraud.

“Lunch trick” The group will offer to take you to lunch and spoil you. Towards the end of the meal they will get up and leave, leaving you with a huge bill to pay. Do not be tempted to go to lunch with a large group of strangers. If you do, make sure that the manager of the restaurant knows that everyone pays their own bill.

“Milk/water spitting/throwing” A person will walk by you, spit/spill liquid and claim that they are sorry and have not seen you. You will be helped to clean everything and be relieved of your valuables.

It is quite common for spare tyres and mirrors to be stolen. Always park where your car is in sight of the public, this will deter to a certain extent.


There are plenty. At the moment there are restaurants of almost all nationalities and many are of good quality. From very cheap, but delicious Ethiopian food to the more expensive French, you will find everything here. Nevertheless you should be careful with ice cubes, raw food or water, which is served in a jug (parasites).


Many families, especially those with children, frequently travel over the weekend to Lake Langano, 200 km south of . Many foreigners have weekend houses or camp there to take advantage of the opportunity to swim, sail, surf or fish. The appropriate equipment should be brought along if necessary. However, there are also various other nice excursions. Mostly it is possible to visit all parts of the country. Up-to-date information about the security situation can be obtained from the embassy. The offer of domestic flights is large and varied and the flights can be booked at the Ethiopian Airlines Office. There are also some good local travel agencies where you can book everything from private tours to group travel.


The time here is always 3 hours ahead of world time, i.e. 2 hours further in winter and 1 hour further in summer than in Germany (UTC/GMT 12:00 = Addis 15:00).

Idioms and phrases by