We moved to Dakar in 2011 with just suitcases. Seven years later, we accumulated a few trial-and-error tidbits of information and some tips from setting up a home in Dakar that may be helpful to newcomers (welcome!). Keep in mind that Dakar is a rapidly evolving city with more and more options available each year, but hopefully this will help as you settle in and furnish your new home…
By law, rented lodgings are only required to have the bare minimum by US standards, which means basically a light bulb and a kitchen sink. 🙂 So plan on buying all your appliances, fixtures and possibly some cabinets/storage. Then you will be happily surprised if the place you rent has these in place.
In May/June, many expats will be leaving and some will sell off entire homes worth of furnishings. This is known in these parts as ‘yard sale season‘. 🙂 There are also quite a few Facebook groups and websites where you can find secondhand appliances, furniture and such, but I haven’t used them enough to recommend any specific ones.
When shopping for new appliances, in every store you can assume that the price can be negotiated down by at least 15%. Just ask if there is a ‘reduction’ and they will tell you 10 or 15% to start with. It may go lower, may not.
There are several stores selling European-size washing machines. Most are downtown, but the LG store on route de Rufisque is worth a visit. The good brands (like LG) run about 250,000 CFA (about $500 USD) for a 5kg machine and generally come with a 1-2 year warranty. Or you can buy washing machines used for maybe 20-40% less.
Not all everyone feels the need to have a dryer, but I would die without mine. 🙂 You can generally line-dry clothes on the rooftop, which is what most do. The used market is pretty limited and I think new they run at least 200,000 CFA ($400 USD). But if you are patient, you can find them used. Or consider a washer/dryer combo machine like our genius friends just bought. Economical for space and price.
Refrigerators are also European sizes generally. Samsung and LG are good brands, but Beko is also fine. Warranties are available if you buy new, and prices start around 200,000 ($400 USD) and go up, up and up…
Gas stove/ovens you can get in smaller European sizes for probably around 130,000 CFA ($260 USD), or spend more to get more (oven space and burners). The used market is pretty decent is you prefer to shop around and pay less.
For a mattress I really like Matelas Dakar in Mamelles, which will deliver to you. They are foam mattresses, but with orthopedic support. We paid about 60,000 CFA (around $120 USD) for a twin. We have not had a problem fitting US size sheets on the twin, but not sure about larger bed sizes. You can always buy one when you get here, try it and if you don’t love it, move it to the guest room. 🙂 Our experience in shipping one over was so, so expensive that we will not ever do that again.
Most people do not have dishwashers, but they are becoming more available.
Linens are available here, but personally I am picky. I like soft, fluffy, pretty American linens. But you can get them here.
Dishes and kitchenware can be purchased here. Plan to make Orca one of your first stops as they have one of the biggest selections in Dakar, all under one roof. (Every taxi driver knows Orca.) However if you have good knives, I would bring those.
Small kitchen appliances I would suggest buying here. They will be 220v, so no need for a transformer. You can get good European brands. Not cheap, but they do last. There are basically 2-3 stores in town where you can get all this kind of stuff, so some variety in choices but not overwhelming.
Some homes come with AC units, but you may need to buy or add units depending on how you choose to live. AC Joke-Cool is a company we have used to service our air-conditioners each year (very important!) and they would be my first stop for all questions AC related.
Speaking of transformers… I highly suggest going all 220v and buying a regulator for your entire apartment. It protects EVERYTHING (AC units, fridge, washing machine, lamps…) from power surges. We paid 200,000 CFA (about $400) to purchase and have ours installed. But it has greatly reduced the wear & tear on our appliances from power surges.
In some apartments or homes, you will need to boost the security by having iron bars installed or security doors added. We did this for our current apartment when we moved in and it came to 400,000 CFA (About $800).
You will probably either want to rent a place with a generator or buy an inverter + back-up batter supply. It’s not cheap, but it keeps fans, internet and a light running during power cuts. Very important if you work from home… or, you know, like to sleep in hot season. 🙂
Unless the apartment is ground level, you will probably need a water pump + pressurizer. For most any apartment, you’ll want a water reservoir tank. For our current fourth floor apartment we had to install a ground level tank, rooftop tank, pump and pressurizer. Since they are used every single time the water gets turned on and also the salty sea air blows through 24/7, pieces do rust and wear out quickly so plan on some maintenance costs as well.
Overwhelmed yet? If so, just take a deep breath and head to Estendera Vivier BeachEstendera Vivier Beach or Chez Fatou. Give it an hour and you’ll feel much better soon. Then you can check out the other posts in this series tagged ‘moving to Dakar’.