I’m a huge fan of living and living in Ghana, but just like anywhere else in the world, it’s really not always fun here. The trick is to reverse the negative aspects and that’s what I’m going to help you with in this article.
There are a lot of different not so great aspects to living here, which vary from person to person and from situation to situation. By this I mean to say that not every situation is experienced as negative or positive by everyone. It matters where in Ghana you live, whether you are a man or a woman. It depends on the mood you are in that day, it depends on the financial resources you have available and the reason why you are in Africa.
I hope you can’t identify with all 7 situations I’m going to outline in this blog. And by all means, let me know in the comments, what your number 1 annoyance is about living in Ghana.
Everyone is constantly calling me obruni, I can never just be anonymous
Obruni is the word used in Twi for white people/foreigners. Twi is a local language, one of nearly one hundred. Twi is most commonly spoken in Ghana.
But back to the annoyance. Yes, it’s like you always stand out as a foreigner and that can be super annoying when you just want to “be” for a while. It helps me to realize that the majority of people mean super well. People want to greet you, they don’t know your name, or use the most descriptive name, they want to have a chat. If this realization doesn’t help, know that it is in the nature of the hugely social population to greet everyone.
If you have one of those days when you just really don’t feel like it, plan your day in such a way that you don’t walk past the busy school when the kids are on break and avoid crowded places. Or bend it totally and try to have a few chats, for example at the market.
I always pay more
Another negative aspect I hear more often about traveling and living in Ghana. But is it necessarily so? As a foreigner, do you always get ripped off? I don’t think so.
But this depends on many factors, such as where do you buy your products, what means of transport do you use and how is your attitude. If you buy in the local market, there are normally fixed prices. Of course, every now and then there is a seller who will jack up the price a bit, but not usually. If you use local transportation, such as the tro, (VIP) buses, shared cabs then there is a fixed rate. If you want a cab to take you from door to door, then yes, you have to negotiate. In all situations, the more confident you are, the less likely you are to overpay.
Organising affairs always takes a long time
Yes, this is true! Whether it’s something with papers, permits, a bank account, it doesn’t matter. In other words, this is a fact. Getting annoyed with an established fact does not help you at all. So my advice whenever you have to arrange anything, adjust to the fact that it will take a long time! Don’t get worked up internally, it doesn’t help anything and it might even make you react short-tempered towards the people in the office. And you need those people! Don’t plan anything else for the day, except for a treat for yourself when it’s done and maybe take a book with you to kill time!
Do you have plans to build in Ghana? Then click here for 3 practical tips!
Traffic in Ghana is terrible!
Another annoyance that I hear often. When you live in a village like me it doesn’t bother you much. But in the city, yes absolutely! How can you turn this frustration around? That is somewhat difficult I think. It’s just really annoying when you’re late for an appointment because the traffic was bad. Or when you can only do half of what you have planned in one day. Or, in my case, when you’re sweating like crazy with kids in the car constantly asking how long it will take….
Again, mindset can help. Adjust to it. If you live in the city for a longer period of time, you can do some research on when it is busier and adjust your appointments accordingly. And when you really don’t feel like it, simply try to avoid it, though I realize that’s not always possible.
Help, men always ask for my phone number
Generally speaking, Ghanaians love to call, where lots of foreigners, on the other hand, prefer whatsapp or telegram. I see some of my Ghanaian friends actually scrolling through their phone book to call everyone they haven’t spoken to in a while to ask how things are going. Very sweet of course. But when I’m the recipient of a phone call with a person I’ve met maybe 1 time, it quickly becomes awkward.
But back to the fact that Ghanaian men indeed ask for phone numbers quite often and don’t seem to want to understand when you don’t want to give it…. My tip; be clear in your answer and don’t give that answer ‘too’ friendly. If you say no, but smile and still start a whole conversation, your no usually does not come across. Humor always helps too. So for example, say something along the lines of your husband is not ok with you giving out your number.
Ghana is loud!
Yes, Ghana is noisy. In the city especially, with traffic, churches and music everywhere. But also in the village. I’m typing right now and I can hear the sounds of nature, birds, crickets and the occasional mèèèèèh from our sheep. But on Sundays and early mornings you often hear the churches and the information center in the village. Arm yourself against it, take earplugs and try not to get too annoyed. And…. when you’re really tired of it all, just come to my place to enjoy at least large parts of the day of the peace and quiet in Moon&Star guesthouse 😍
Everyone wants something from me, just give me a break!
I just want to take a walk, go to the market, go to the beach or sit for a while. I don’t want to chat, I don’t want to give my phone number and I certainly don’t want to hear that a man, whom I don’t know, loves me…. And when I get in the taxi I don’t want to hear from everyone what I ‘have’ to bring for them. Sounds familiar?
You have a few options, but they all have downsides….
- Just stay home
- Make the best of it and have a chat anyway. Most of the time, it makes you happier yourself. But when you wanted to reflect on certain things, or listen to that one podcast…. Then you loose….
- Put in your earphones and put on your ‘I don’t want to speak to anyone’ face and stubbornly walk on when there are people who do dare to speak to you. The disadvantage of this is that you may get the comment later that you were not social.
- Find a place where it is quiet for your walk. In my case, I go into the jungle. But sure, it’s hard to do your shopping in the forest;)
Living in Ghana is expensive
This is true when you live in the city, buy all your groceries at the supermarkets, use a lot of imported products, want to do a lot of fun things and always go by Uber or have your own car. When any kids go to school, it gets even pricier. Don’t get me wrong. Work permits and such are very pricey for everyone, but when you prefer a more local life you really don’t need a western income to live in Ghana.
I am Patricia and have been living in Ghana for over 12 years, with lots of pleasure most of the time. I write regularly about my life, Moon&Star guesthouse, Ghana coach and Banko Women Center. Would you like to stay informed and receive 10 surprising Ghana facts in your mailbox? Subscribe to ‘Love from Ghana’ by filling out the form.