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The Expat Guide to Planning a Successful Relocating to Senegal

Updated: May 25, 2023

Tips and Cultural Insights and What You Need to Know Before Moving to Senegal

What You Need to Know Before Moving to Senegal

Well, west Africa can be an exciting and fulfilling experience. Senegal is a country rich in culture and diversity, with a warm and welcoming population. As an expat, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a different way of life, learn a new language, and explore a beautiful country.

One of the first things you will notice about Senegal is its vibrant culture. The country has a strong artistic heritage, with traditional music, dance, and art forms still very much alive today. Senegal is also home to many festivals throughout the year, including the renowned Dakar International Festival of African Cinema. As you know moving to a new country can be a challenge, but with these tips, you can help make your transition to life in Senegal as smooth and rewarding.

Exploring the Culture & Language of Your New Home in Senegal

One of the most important things you can do when moving to a new country is to learn the language. In Senegal, the official language is French, but there are also many local languages spoken, including Wolof, Pulaar, and Serer. Learning at least some basic phrases in the local language can help you communicate with locals and show that you respect their culture.

Understand the culture and Climate

Senegal has a rich and diverse culture, and it's important to take the time to learn about its customs and traditions. For example, in Senegal, greetings are important and it's common to shake hands and exchange pleasantries before getting down to business. It's also important to be aware of cultural differences in social interactions, such as avoiding public displays of affection. Be aware of the climate: Senegal has a tropical climate with a rainy season that runs from May to November. It's important to be prepared for the heat and humidity and to protect yourself from mosquito-borne diseases like malaria. Make sure to bring appropriate clothing and insect repellent, and be sure to stay hydrated in the hot weather.

Explore the Local Area & Meeting People


Connect with locals: Senegalese people are known for being friendly and welcoming to foreigners. Take the time to connect with locals, whether it's through language exchanges, community events, or simply striking up a conversation with a neighbour. This can help you feel more at home in your new surroundings and can also lead to new friendships and opportunities.

Senegal is a predominantly Muslim country, and it's important to respect local customs and dress modestly in public. It's also important to be mindful of cultural differences in social interactions, such as avoiding alcohol and being cautious about public displays of affection. By showing respect for local customs, you'll be more likely to be accepted and welcomed in your new community. Embrace the food: Senegal has a rich culinary tradition with many delicious dishes to try. Don't be afraid to try new things and explore the local cuisine. Some popular dishes include thieboudienne (a rice and fish dish), Yassa (a chicken or fish dish with onions and lemon), and mafe (a peanut stew). By embracing the food and culture of Senegal, you'll be better able to appreciate and enjoy your new home.

BE OPEN AND EXPLORE and learn new things about Senegal and Africa

Be open-minded and do your own research beforehand also another aspect of expat life in Senegal is the opportunity to explore the country. Senegal has a diverse range of landscapes, from the bustling capital city of Dakar to the serene beaches of Saly and the Sahara Desert in the east. The country is also home to many national parks and nature reserves, where you can see a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, giraffes, and lions.

Like any country, Senegal has its share of crime and safety concerns. Be aware of your surroundings, avoid traveling alone at night, and be cautious when using public transportation. It's also important to be aware of scams and to take steps to protect your personal belongings. By staying alert and taking precautions, you can help ensure your safety while living in Senegal.

Get your paperwork in order: Make sure you have all the necessary documents, such as a visa and work permit, before you arrive in Senegal. This will help you avoid any legal issues down the road.

If you are keen on moving to Senegal you can connect with the Madeinafricaproject The Rashad J. Mahdi, an American who has been living in Senegal for the past several years. Rashad has spent 20 years working in the media industry and in May 2014, he decided to relocate to Senegal with his wife and young son. His goal was to promote social and economic development in Africa. By bridging the information and commerce gap between the continent and the Diaspora. to read his full story check Erlendur Magazine issue 17 .

Overall, while opinions on living in Senegal may vary, the country has much to offer in terms of culture, business opportunities, and quality of life.


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