Moving to Tanzania | How to Make Dar es Salaam Feel Like Home

image with text that says Making Dar Feel Like Home - Helping you have a Seamless Journey to Dar es Salaam
aerial landscape of the city of Dar es Salaam


Welcome to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

At this moment, boxes are most likely taking up the hallway, and you’re researching everything you need to know before the big day: the day you land in your new city.

The moment your items make their way through baggage claim, you’ll walk out of the air-conditioned airport to a blast of hot air, you’ll hear the sounds of cars picking up passengers, of people debating how to get to their hotels, of the wind rustling through the palm trees in the distance. You and your family will hop into the chosen form of transportation and drive along the highway, too distracted by the sights around you to be able to absorb that this is your new home.

From here, the rest is up to you; where will this car take you? What will your new home look like? What will the community be like? Where is the school campus? There are countless unknowns when moving to a new place, even if your family has done it before.

This is your guide outlining everything you need to know to make Tanzania feel like home.

We explore these key areas that will help settling into your new life in Dar es Salaam easier.

Let's explore how learning about the country, the local culture, your new community and discovering the limitless benefits of a good school can make the transition into your new home a seamless one.


Let us help you settle into your new life in Dar es Salaam with this fact-filled eBook. Download it today!


Home to the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania is a beautiful country, known for its breathtaking landscape and its diverse animal population.

About Tanzania

picture of three giraffes

According to the Tanzania Tourist Board, the nation has more wild animals and more surface water per square kilometer than any other country in Africa.

Before the move, there are a few things you need - or might want - to know.

Let’s start with a some facts:

Population: Close to 56 million people with Native Africans constituting 99% of the population
Seasons: From April to May, it’s the green, rainy season. From June until September, it’s the cold season. From October to March, it’s the hottest season. Finally, there is a short rain season from November to December.
Temperature: It’s usually hot in Tanzania with temperatures ranging from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius (68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit)
Language: Swahili and English
Currency: Tanzanian shilling, but it’s recommended to carry American dollars
Politics: Tanzania is a multiparty democratic republic
Capital: The official capital of Tanzania is Dodoma, but Dar es Salaam is its former capital

About Dar es Salaam

Now that you’ve had a broad look at this beautiful country, let’s focus specifically on Dar es Salaam, located in the eastern region of the nation. Dar’s harbor is the main port in Tanzania, and therefore government offices have their base here. Diplomatic missions and non-governmental organizations also have a presence in the city.

picture of a beach in Dar es Salaam

Some facts about your new home:

Population: 4 million
Geography: Largest city in Tanzania
Must-sees: National Museum, Village Museum and all the colourful markets
Landmarks: St. Joseph’s Cathedral, White Father’s Mission House, the Botanical Gardens and the Old State House
Time zones: Eastern Africa Time (EAT), +3 hours of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)

Moving to a new country is both thrilling and terrifying. You’re leaving the comfort of everything you know and embracing a new home that has different customs and ways of life.

There are many things you can do to immerse yourself in Tanzania’s culture: Try local foods, visit the markets, experience the food in restaurants and cook them in your home.


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Immerse Yourself in the Local Tanzanian Culture

One of the easiest ways to embrace your new city is to immerse yourself in the local culture. Learn at least some of the local language of Swahili. When you’re wandering into a store, say “hello” and “thank you” in this language as it will make you feel part of the community and will show the locals a great deal of respect.

A few helpful phrases include:

Hello = Sawa
How are you? = Habari Yako?
Thank you = Asanti
Where is the bathroom? = Ambapo ni bafuni?
How much? = Kiasi gani?
Goodbye = Kwaheri

Try Local Foods

What better way to experience the local culture than by trying Tanzanian delicacies. When you’re wandering the streets of Dar es Salaam, exploring the beautiful, colorful markets, try the local food from the merchants’ stands - you’ll discover authentic foods this way.

Go where the locals go: If you and your family walk by a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that seems to have few to no seats left and potentially a line up down the street, you are guaranteed a delicious meal. Make sure to find your spot in line.

If you prefer to have a final destination in mind rather than aimlessly walking the streets of Dar, here are a few suggestions of local restaurants to check out.

Mamboz Restaurant

Delicious, flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth barbecue, Mamboz is one of the most exceptional restaurants in Tanzania and guarantees you an authentic Tanzanian dish while also experiencing the hustle and bustle of the city around you. If you and your family make the trip to Mamboz, come hungry!

Location: Corner Morogoro Road and Libya St. Dar es Salaam 5983, Tanzania
Phone: +255 784 243 735
Website: Mamboz Restaurant

305 Karafuu

With the perfect combination of modern and traditional, this restaurant will be quite the treat. Keep in mind, the location is a little difficult to find, but the food and the experience are well worth the time it takes.

Location: Karafuu Street, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Phone: +255 754 277 188
Website: 305 Karafuu

Samaki Samaki

This restaurant prepares seafood so delectable you’ll keep coming back for more; it also comes highly recommended from the locals. If you and your partner are looking for a night out dancing, this place also has great music and is open late on the weekends.

Location: Mlimani Shopping Centre, Mlimani City, Masaki and Diamond Plaza, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Phone: +255 673 020 000
Website: Samaki Samaki

picture of fruit in Tanzania


Bring Local Cuisine Into Your Home

Of course, eating out every night isn’t practical, so why not bring the local food into your home by preparing authentic, Tanzanian food with your family?

Click here to find five delicious - and authentic - Tanzanian recipes.

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picture of fresh vegetables and spices


Appropriate Behavior in Tanzania

Every country has its own set of social customs, indicating what is and isn't appropriate, and it’s important to understand this before you arrive.

In Tanzania, some behaviours considered inappropriate include:

  • Prolonged eye contact is considered an invasion of privacy
  • Shaking someone’s hand in public is usually frowned upon; if someone does offer their hand, the handshake will be light and brief. More commonly, people offer their wrist to be touched as a sign of greeting
  • Criticism in public is considered highly offensive
  • Public displays of affection amongst couples are generally frowned upon as well; however, friendly affection amongst members of the same sex is common

Some traditions and values may be vastly different from what you and your family are used to, Shadow's of Africa, a travel agency in Tanzania, is an excellent source to understand what to expect once you arrive in your new home.


Discover more about the community of Dar es Salaam. Click here to download our fact-filled eBook!

picture of a woman and man having coffee


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Explore Your New Home


Before we dive into some fun suggestions of things to do in the city, let’s first examine the neighbourhoods in Dar es Salaam. According to InterNations, the expat community in Dar es Salaam consists of three neighbourhoods: Ilala, Kinondoni and Temeke.


Ilala is the administrative district and only 20 minutes from the International School of Tanganyika (IST) Secondary Campus and 15 minutes to the Elementary Campus by car. Since it’s the administrative district, there are many government offices and ministries.

Ilala has a sizeable Asian expat community and is a middle to higher-income population with many shopping centers, merchants and markets. If you and your family like to shop, this is the place for you.


Kinondoni is the most popular expat community, especially with European and Asian demographics. This area is close to Oyster Bay Beach, which is the perfect way to spend a day with your family.

Some popular suburbs within Kinondoni include Masaki, Oyster Bay, Aba Estate and Msasani.

Given the fact it’s the most popular, Kinondoni is also the most populated and is an 8-minute drive from both IST’s Elementary and Secondary Campus.


Temeke, a 40-minute drive from IST’s Secondary Campus and a 25-minute drive from the Elementary Campus, is the industrial district of Dar es Salaam and is home to manufacturing companies and ports.

Some of the communities within Temeke include Mtoni, Tandika and Kigamboni.

This region is not as densely populated as the two others and has a mixed demographic.

For more information on the expat scene in Dar es Salaam, visit the Expat Woman’s website.

picture of high rise buildings in dar es salaam
picture of a variety of boats in Tanzania waters

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Family Fun: Things to do in the City

Dar es Salaam provides what you would expect in Tanzania’s largest city, an experience like no other. Dar, known for its beautiful harbor and nearby beaches, also has a rich history. When you explore the downtown core, you'll see museums, historical landmarks and countless restaurants.

There is lots of exploring to be done, but we wanted to give you a clear and easy-to-follow list of some family-friendly weekend activities, so you and your family can get right into experiencing your new home.

Explore the Authentic and Tribal Homes at the Village Museum

With a more hands-on approach, the Village Museum offers families a glimpse at traditional Tanzanian homes. Each home contains historical items, and villagers show guests how to weave, make pottery and do carvings, an irreplaceable experience for any family.

Have Some Fun in Fun City

Fun City is an amusement park, which offers attractions to please the whole family. Whether it’s adventuring through the dry park, full of roller coasters and Ferris wheels, or cooling off while racing down a water slide or challenging your family members to a game of basketball, your day will fly by at Fun City.

Cool Off at Kunduchi Wet-n-Wild Water Park

It’s no secret that Dar es Salaam’s heat is sweltering. Cool off and have a family fun day at Kunduchi Wet-n-Wild Water Park. This is the largest water park in East and Central Africa, so there are lots of play areas, slides and pools for you and your children to explore.

Spend a Day in the Sun at Kigamboni Beach

On the topic of cooling down in the rather hot city of Dar es Salaam, why not take your family to the picturesque Kigamboni Beach? Lay back under an umbrella in the soft, white sand with a book, while you watch your children frolic in the water. Kigamboni Beach is also a great place for authentic and delicious street food.

photos credits: Wet-n-Wild Park; Kigamboni Beach

picture of the water slides at Wet n Wld Park
picture of two lounge chairs on the beach

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How to Choose the Right School for your Children

Like most parents, your primary concern is for your children: How will they integrate into their new community? What school is the best for them?

When your time in Dar comes to an end, how can you ensure their international education enables a transition back to their home country that is as seamless as possible?

Your inquiry will most likely start at your computer asking your search engine, “What is the best international school in Dar es Salaam?” This search will result in several websites to browse; however, to better experience the school community it’s important to look at the following:

  • Visit the school’s social media channels to get a sense of the community, the education and the types of activities the students get to experience at the school
  • Read comments from other parents and perhaps send those parents a message asking for their thoughts on the school
  • Read the school’s blog; a blog will tell you a lot about the students, the different educational and leadership training experiences and is also an informative resource for families moving to the area
  • Read reviews on their various social media profiles
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picture of a teenage girl taking care of a child


How the School Community Should Help Your Children Establish Roots

Children need security and stability to thrive. Their environment, both at home and at school, is the basis from which they establish their sense of belonging. Moving to a new country disrupts life as they know it. As a parent, you’ll want to ensure the school you choose will embrace your child and your family, helping make the transition a positive experience that aids in planting new roots.

When considering school options, four key components should be present in a healthy school community: both parent and student involvement, supportive and diverse faculty members and service learning programmes that provide students with the opportunity to connect and give back to their new community.

A Thriving School Community

Yes, when you walk onto a campus with a strong sense of community, you should see children playing on the playground, sports teams competing on the field and children eagerly running to their classrooms. You should hear the sound of laughter and happiness in the air and witness people who are generally excited to be at school.

These are all things that need to be in place for the school to be the right one for your children, but what are the specific things you should search for when looking for this strong sense of community? How are you to know the school is community-oriented if you haven’t yet arrived in the country, and therefore can’t walk through campus and witness the sights mentioned above?

Welcoming Faculty

picture of a pe teacher talking to her students

The teaching staff has the most influence over a child’s school experience. They inspire a love for curiosity and life-long learning and are modeling what it means to be a global citizen.

There’s no question the faculty should be exceptional at providing academic challenge, but they should also:

  • Have a presence in both the classroom and extra-curricular activities
  • Bring inquiry into the classroom in authentic, meaningful ways
  • Inspire and challenge students to achieve depth in their understanding of major concepts

Teachers should also ensure their classrooms are welcoming, a place where students want to be. Classes should be well lit, full of students engaged in what the teacher is saying. Student artwork and other bright, learning materials should cover the walls. Most importantly, the teachers themselves should make everyone in the classroom feel like they are part of something important.

A Look Inside a Welcoming Classroom

Teachers at the IST go above and beyond to make sure their students feel at home both on the school campus as a whole and in the classroom.

Evelise Togi Vaoga has been a teacher of Grades 8, 9 and 12 for the past three years at IST. During this time, and her years teaching all over the world, she has honed some exceptional techniques when it comes to the classroom.

“[I make sure] not to waste students’ time or undervalue what they already know, no student comes to us knowing nothing," Vaoga said.

“They have their own bag of knowledge, just maybe in a different language, with different experiences.”

These differentiations are something she capitalizes on when teaching.

“We start the class with reflection on a big idea that they can all have a say in,” Vaoga said, adding that she loves how each opinion is vastly different from one another because all the students bring different lived experiences. “Then I introduce the point of the lesson.”

Another exceptional teacher at IST, Deanna Milne, understands that relocation can be intimidating for children at first, but the school does an excellent job of making it feel like home.

Originally from Ontario, Canada, this was her first job in Tanzania.

“IST did a great deal to make the transition to Tanzania one that felt like I was supported and welcome,” Milne said, referencing the time the school took new staff on a safari.

“[It] showed me that they care about showing new staff what an amazing country this is, and it gave us a chance to get to know each other away from work and share an amazing experience together that many people dream about".

With regards to students making the initial transition, the faculty and the school, in general, have specific ways of helping to make it easier.

“As teachers, we focus on making sure they settle into their classes with as little stress as possible,” Milne said. “Some new students come from schools that offer a different curriculum than we do, which means making sure students feel comfortable and understand how they will be learning here at IST.”

Milne also referenced IST’s counseling department and how they make a point of checking in with the new students to see how they are settling in.

Aside from the faculty and the programmes at IST, Milne expressed how students make their peers feel comfortable and welcomed.

“International school kids are the most welcoming kids I've ever met. Finding out a new kid is coming to school is comparable to Christmas morning - they can't wait to meet them, find out where they're from, their interests, etc.,” Milne said. “Our students at this school are by far the leaders in making new students feel at home.”

Both Milne and Voaga agree that the students and the faculty work together to promote a welcoming atmosphere.

“We are all in the journey of learning together,” Vaoga said.

picture of a teacher and students in a classroom


Supportive Student Body

The student body is what creates a rich school experience; your children’s fellow student population uses their time at the school to create memories that last a lifetime.

When it comes to an excellent student body, diversity makes the experience even more rewarding, allowing children to learn from one another. Students coming from different backgrounds help create a learning environment where all students benefit.

During your search for a school, look for one that will provide your family with an experience similar to the following.

“The best part of my experience at IST was undoubtedly the relationships I formed and people I grew up with, from the teachers and the guidance counselor I still visit when I return to Tanzania today – 14 years later! To the lifelong friends I have made – I am really grateful to have met them. I owe so much to the hard work and dedication of so many of the amazing staff members. Then there are all of my friends who are now spread all over the world, and I’ve been lucky enough to keep in touch with a few both personally and professionally. The community is a strong one that sticks with you beyond your time there.”

- IST alumnus

“IST is a school that is well connected both locally and globally. Our diversity allows for students to engage with others from countries all over the world. Furthermore, our extensive activities programme promotes student participation in a number of trips within Tanzania and around the world.”

- Mark Hardeman, Director at IST

picture of students in a colorful classroom


Strong Sense of International-Mindedness

As defined by the International Baccalaureate (IB), “An internationally minded person is open-minded about the common humanity of all people and accepts and respects other cultures and beliefs. The internationally minded person takes action through discussion and collaboration to help build a better and peaceful world. The IB Programme aims to do this by teaching students intercultural understanding and respect. Students enrolled in the IB Programme become active, compassionate, lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”


Discover more about Dar es Salaam in our eBook. Click to download the fact-filled eBook today!


International schools following the IB Programme inspire students to open their eyes to world issues and become both global and national citizens by promoting international-mindedness. Look for a school with a teaching philosophy designed to spark students’ curiosity about the world and encourages them to work to solve its problems.

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Parent Involvement

Moving to a new country isn’t just a challenge for the children. You are also moving to a new place and will need to establish community roots. Becoming involved and building relationships with other parents who have experienced a similar journey is critical.

Initially, and understandably, your focus will be on finding a school that will ensure your children feel comfortable and can flourish. However, it’s important to remember your needs during the search.

An international school should offer several opportunities for parents to connect both on and off campus. Establishing connections with like-minded people in a variety of settings will make Dar es Salaam feel like it has always been your home.

Parent Governed Schools

A parent governed school simply means a school whose governing board is primarily comprised of parents. Through active participation, parents can easily integrate into the local community, help the school continue to prosper and make sure students get the most out of their time.

In parent governed schools, parents can:

  • Participate in workshops to learn more about a wide range of topics from helping with homework to Internet safety
  • Serve as volunteers on the Board
  • Join parent networks
  • Serve as guest speakers, class parents and grade level representatives

Board of Governors

Look for a school which offers a board of governors comprised of parents as this will give you the opportunity to get involved and have input into what goes on in the school community. As part of the Board, you will have significant responsibilities and will also be able to establish connections with fellow parents.

As a member of the elected Board, you will:

  • Be responsible for the long-term and strategic goals around the school’s policy
  • Be accountable for the long-term and strategic goals surrounding finances

Parent Networks

Maybe you don’t want to be part of a governing body, but still want a chance to meet fellow parents and provide insight to families who are just moving to the country? Maybe you want to assist others the way you were initially helped? Parent networks are an exceptional opportunity to get involved in the school as they help create the sense of community on campus.

Parent Workshops

If you’re looking to participate in a more hands-on, informative way, we suggest attending parent workshops. During these lessons, you will learn something new and meet fellow parents.

Workshops can be on a variety of topics including:

  • IB Programmes
  • Internet safety and awareness
  • Child protection
  • Technology updates

How to support your children through the process of university applications

Become a Class Parent

Class parents are an important component to a well-run school. The roles of a class parent usually include:

  • Attending parent network meetings
  • Welcoming new families
  • Organizing social functions for their class

Other Ways to Get Involved

There are numerous ways to get involved be it a one-time appearance or a multiple-year commitment, each crucial to making the school atmosphere welcoming for everyone:

  • Offering expertise as a guest speaker or activity leader
  •  Accompanying students on field trips - this can give you a chance to explore as well
  • Offering to assist in after-school activities
“For most new families joining the yacht club as well as the Corona society and various embassy groups could help immensely if they feel a little lost. I loved being involved in larger school events and tried to do this whenever possible.”
picture of parents working together on a school project
picture of parents at IST


picture of parents at IST working on a school project

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Children Involvement in the School Community

Encouraging your children to seek out opportunities to connect with other students and become involved in various programmes will help their transition and increase their sense of belonging. Having a school community that feels like home helps make this transition easier.

We encourage you to search for a school with numerous ways to get involved.

Varsity Athletics

Varsity sports are an exceptional way to embody school spirit, make friendships that closely mirror family and maintain both emotional and physical health. Some schools in Tanzania, (IST is one of them), compete in the International Schools of Southern and Eastern Africa (ISSEA). ISSEA is a prestigious international league of eight schools who compete on a wide range of activities from football, basketball, swimming and volleyball to robotics and STEM projects.

Varsity sports teach students many skills: teamwork, how to be strategic thinkers and time management skills; the list of benefits is endless. Being part of a varsity sport introduces your children to intense competition where they master the skill of stress management. Individuals who gain these skills throughout Primary and Secondary School propel themselves into a prosperous future.

As a member of a varsity sports team, your child may have the opportunity to explore other parts of the world. Traveling to a competition is a formative experience that enables them to create a supportive “family of friends” and fosters independence, skills that are necessary to become successful adults.

“Being on a swim team made the transition easier as I made new friends and got to travel around Tanzania.”

 IST student who swims on the varsity team

“Being part of a swim team is like a small family. Everyone is super nice and caring because it is a team sport and effort. Spending up to 10 hours in the pool everyday and 6 am practices made everyone much closer since we were all going through it together.”

 IST student who swims on the varsity team


picture of two girls cheek to cheek smiling
picture of the boys soccer team holding a championship cup
picture of the girls basketball team



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Creative Pursuits

Activities, such as music, drama, fine arts, writing, photography, videography and robotics, give children the opportunity to practice creative approaches to problem-solving, expression and communication. When moving to a new home and a new country, where nothing is familiar, having a creative outlet for self-expression will help make the transition easier.




Clubs allow children to explore their interests outside of the academic curriculum and at the same time, meet like-minded people. Encouraging your children to find an extra-curricular activity, no matter where their interests lay, is essential because it allows them to experience something new, which inherently will help them feel more at home.

“To those who are thinking about joining the extra-curricular, do so. It is an amazing way to explore your own strengths, develop your weaknesses and work with so many new diverse people. It will not only keep you informed but provide you with a medium to stand up, take action and create change.”

- Student at IST

A well-rounded international school should offer a wide range of clubs that may include:

  • Chess Club
  • Climbing Club
  • Interact Club
  • Lego and Games Club
  • Little Einsteins Science Club
  • Read Tanzania
  • Roots and Shoots
  • Spanish Club
  • Model United Nations (MUN)
  • Teen Girls Organization (T-GO)


Student Council

Members of the Student Council are given the opportunity to participate in student politics and have a say on what goes on at the school. They play a pivotal role in making decisions, planning initiatives and being the voice of the students. These are valuable lessons that help build character and the ability to challenge oneself. Being in such an influential decision-making position will help your children quickly feel at home in their new school as they will have a say in creating a positive experience for themselves and others.

A Student Council has many responsibilities including:

  • Encouraging students to initiate activities and bring new ideas to the table
  • Representing the overall views of students and the school as a whole
  • Ensuring the students have a meaningful voice that is heard
  • Advising administration on matters that are important to the students
  • Providing a democratic forum for the discussion of ideas
  • Supporting student contributions to the school and the local community
  • Offering a student social committee, which organizes dances, spirit days and special events


Service Learning: Student Involvement in the Community

Do you want your children to be actively engaged in the community, for them to help those in need and stand up for what is right?

Service learning initiatives combine academics and volunteering. It’s an opportunity for students to learn something a rigorous academic schedule cannot teach them: how to use their voice for the greater good.

Commonly, service learning initiatives are known as a CAS (Community, Action, Service) Programme. This is a programme mandated by the IB curriculum and is required for students to complete the Diploma Programme.

If you’re enrolling your children in an IB school, they will most likely have to complete CAS as all students are expected to be involved in at least some aspects of the Programme. Throughout grades 11 and 12, students take on a leadership role in a personal programme of CAS activities.

Teachers serve as mentors and cheerleaders encouraging students to work with others and within their communities thoughtfully, respectfully and compassionately to create positive change.

Students gain support through leadership training opportunities as well as hands-on skill development in areas such as time, resource and event management.

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Hopefully, you have learned something new about the local culture, what the expat community looks like, ideas of things to do with your family, what to look for within the school community and how students can get involved. You’ve learned how you as a parent can get involved, meet like-minded people and play a pivotal role in your children’s education. You’ve discovered how faculty can create a welcoming classroom and you’ve seen the how service initiatives help your children in a way an academic curriculum cannot.

We wish you all the best during your move and settling into your new home. A parent at IST puts it best with the following statement:

“The most important thing is to approach everything you do with love and gratitude. It makes life a lot easier in the long run. Tanzania is complex and taught me perseverance with a sense of humour. Remember you are the guest in another person’s country and need to act accordingly.”



How to settle into your new life in Dar es Salaam



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