French Expat Living in Ghana - Interview with Isabelle

Published: 29 Mar at 9 AM
Want to get involved? Become a Featured Expat and take our interview.
Become a Local Expert and contribute articles.
Get in touch today!
Filed: Interviews,Ghana
Isabelle is a 36 year old French expat.
She arrived in Accra, the capital of Ghana two years ago beacause she followed her husband for his work.
After a difficult adaptation (1st expatriation) in Accra, she has finally managed to love her new life: she found tremendously fulfilling activities such as being a volunteer in an orphanage.
Her blog is really interesting and instructive. Isabelle's expat blog is called My expat's life blog in Ghana, Africa (see listing here)

Children at a private school in Jericho village, near Accra
Children at a private school in Jericho village, near Accra

Here's the interview with isabelle...

Where are you originally from?
I am from La Rochelle, a very beautiful city on the Alantic Ocean of the French west coast, with only 100,000 inhabitants.

In which country and city are you living now?
I'm living for the past 2 years in Accra, the capital of Ghana, a very important town in terms of population, cars, traffic!!

How long have you lived in Ghana and how long are you planning to stay?
We know when we arrive but we never know how long we will stay... in expatriation, almost all companies make you change country in their "goodwill". And sometimes you only have 2 weeks to pack for an unknown country!
You just need to be aware to be ready to leave very quick!
But take it as fun, so that you do not have questions or fears for months before leaving again!

Dancing zumba with the orphans
Dancing zumba with the orphans
Why did you move to Ghana and what do you do?
I moved there because my spouse picked up work for a company which needed him in Accra, the capital of Ghana.

Did you bring family with you?
We are a young couple (even if I am 36 years old already) and we do not have children yet.
So it was easy for us to move and start a new life opportunity.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
The transition was hard for me. Not for my boyfriend since he was already working abroad before.
But for me, it was the first time in expatriation!

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
When I arrived in Accra, I did not know anyone there.
Then, I found a French association " Accra Accueil" to meet and go out with French expats like me.
Unfortunately it was end of May and every woman leaves Accra for summer holidays around 20 June..
So as soon as I arrived, they moved...
I was alone again during all summer until they came back on September for their children's school!
After that, it was easy, since we all wanted to be together and discover Accra at the same time! We also shared activities as zumba, sewing, yoga...

map of Ghana
map of Ghana
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
I would recommend many things here : first try to be involved in something you love : painting, dancing, volunteering, teaching sport/French, sewing...
There are so many opportunities as an expat!
If you have passions, you will find other women in the association as "internationals" to share activities with them and discover Accra also!
Best things I visited... well I would choose one other passion : animals... so If you are like me, start with Shai Hills reserve for baboons, peacock, antelopes...
Then, you want to see more? Take a 1 hour flight to Tamale and go to Mole, a very big reserve in the center of Ghana.
You will discover elephants only few meters from you since they love drinking the swimming pool water of your hotel! Yes!! Believe it or not!! And rhinoceros sleeping in mud just in front of you. There are also antelopes, monkeys and many types of birds. But no giraffe there unfortunately.
This reserve is known to be the only African one where you can see these animals so near since you can walk next to them!

What do you enjoy most about living in Ghana?
I like living there because of my activities I can do here.
First, because in France I did not have time for it (voluntary work) or needed money with a job!
As a woman expat, i am not obliged to work here: it is very complicated to find a job unless you accept to be paid with a local salary.
Accra is only a huge city, crowded with cars so I would have preferred a more quiet and nature place on the eastern part of Ghana.
Fortunately, i can find some shops selling cheese and chocolate in Accra whose products I could not live without!
I enjoy how culture are mixed with sharing other life expat in Ghana.
I love learning about Ghanaian culture and their typical things as fabrics (kente, wax) coffins, ...

How does the cost of living in Ghana compare to home?
Well, the cost of living is very high here!
Concerning accommodation, it costs more than in Paris, where I used to live for the past 10 years! Can you imagine?
Fortunately, expats have their companies who will pay for it!
About food, it is expensive if you want European food such as cheese, chocolate, coca cola...
Most of the food is coming from South Africa (meat is cheap here compared to France!).
Chicken is coming from Brazil.. and is not supposed to be good for health with OGM...
Fruits like pineapple, watermelon and mango are not expensive during the good season period. Vegetables are expensive because you can only find tomatoes, cucumbers in Ghana...SO if you want to buy frozen broccoli just pay for it!
For European orange, apple and grapefruit, you can find some in Accra but you will have to pay more for it of course!
WIne lovers will be sad because it is not good wine coming from South Africa! And moreover, the price for a bottle of wine is 3 times higher for bad ones!!
So good luck if you want your European standard! ;)

typical ghanaian beads
typical ghanaian beads
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Ghana?
For girls, you cannot do shopping!! I miss Zara, FNAC, and others shopping Malls where I can find everything! But nevertheless, we have mall with few clothes such as old collection of brand, and there is a Mango opened last year in Accra Mall!!

Weather is very good but you have to love heat! Or love living with AC !! hahaha!

Culture is missing here too, if you liked to go out for a museum, a show or whatever, the only thing here is one small museum and a cinema with some blockbusters...

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Ghana, what would it be?
Open your mind first and adapt yourself!

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
DO not have a job during the first year. I have no children to take care of and I used to manage a big team before in Paris where I used to work...

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I hope not to return and go on expatriation for a long time!
I like this life of discovering people, culture and places!

Market in Accra
Market in Accra
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. open your mind
  2. adapt the way of living
  3. share your knowledge
  4. find an activity
  5. be a volunteer since you have time now
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I wanted to share my own experience as a first expatriation: from the beggining before leaving, to ... the next expatriation !
How to find new friends, activities, a job, shops, an expat woman!
Then I wanted to enter into the reality of Ghana showing their culture, villages, reserve, their typicals things as coffins, fabrics...

I am pleased that my experience can help other, like I was looking for before coming in Accra 2 years ago.
Let's enjoy my blog then ;) ;)

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Yes, of course!
My mail is
[email protected]
I also respond on questions on the international forum :) :)

About the author

Expat Blog Listingisabelle is a French expat living in Ghana. Blog description: Isa first expatriation in Ghana since 2014. Tips and hints before and after arrival; my personal experience about adaptation there, what is an expat woman, discovering Ghana and Ghanaian culture, food and tyical things.
Please share:

Grab a featured expat badge that links to this interview!

Copy and paste code to display the Featured Expat Badge:

Comments » No published comments just yet for this article...

Feel free to have your say on this item. Go on... be the first!

Tell us Your Thoughts On This Piece:

Your Name *
Email * (not published, needs verification one time only)
  • Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • RSS feed
  • Facebook

Articles by Category

Now featuring 633 expat interviews


Latest Headlines