Planning your volunteer or work experience in Namibia can be overwhelming. If you follow the Kamatjona Blog, you might have gathered some important tips already. But one thing that I wish I knew before coming to Namibia as a volunteer in 2019 was how much money I would roughly be spending during my six months stay. That is why I would like to share my experiences with you and try to give you an insight into living in Windhoek and how expensive my everyday life was, from rent and accommodation to grocery shopping and nights out. In a second part of this article I will try to give you an overview of travelling costs as well. So, let’s talk money!
Disclaimer: When I write about cheap or affordable prices, I am comparing the prices to what I am used to, living as a student in Germany. Please keep in mind that even though some things might appear affordable to you, a lot of the things I am mentioning below represent my personal daily lifestyle and might be out of financial reach for a lot of people in Namibia and are therefore not self-evident for everyone, so please be aware of your individual background.
When you are looking for accommodation in Windhoek, you will soon realise that there are a lot of different options. I personally shared a room in a very central apartment complex which cost me 280 Euro monthly. Since I was living very central, I was able to walk to work and to most restaurants or clubs so I saved a lot on taxi money, which is a thing to keep in mind when choosing a location. Speaking from my personal and my friends’ experiences monthly rents start at around 230 Euro and can go up to 500 Euro in some areas or houses that might offer more private space or pools.
Food and Groceries
Your weekly grocery shopping of course depends a lot on your personal preferences, therefore the monthly expenditure is not very predictable. The only thing I can point out is that some products are a bit more expensive than what I am used to back home. This includes dairy products like cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables and toiletries. Besides that, I can say that my monthly grocery costs can be compared to what I usually spend on groceries in Germany. If you don’t like cooking and prefer a meal out every now and then, the variety of restaurants and cafes is almost endless. Of course, the price range is just as high but there are options for every budget, starting at around 5 Euros for a full meal.
Data and Internet
If you want to use your smartphone in Namibia and get internet access, the most recommended provider is MTC. You can get a Sim Card which can be updated with different data bundles weekly. Depending on your data usage you can get away with a decent price: 30 NAD which equals around 2 euros get you 1.5 GB a week and a couple of phone minutes.
Unfortunately there is no such thing as public transport in Windhoek. But luckily there is a huge and affordable offer of taxi alternatives. There are the regular numbered street taxis which are a convenient option to get from A to B in the city. There is a system of fixed prices that I still don’t really understand but the most important thing is, that you pay per person and the taxis are shared. Most rides are 12 NAD whereas longer rides or drop-off places far from main roads can cost 24 NAD. So, with a maximum of about 1.50 Euro you can get a ride around town. Other options, especially ones that I would recommend when you need a ride at night are dialled taxis where prices can vary from driver to driver depending on the distance. And last but not least is LEFA. LEFA is an app that allows you to request a private taxi that picks you up from your location. You pay per ride and not per person and the price starts at 40 NAD and will add up depending on the distance and the time of the shuttle.
Now onto the fun part: Windhoek's nightlife! I experienced the party culture as incredibly open and diverse and can only recommend throwing yourself in there. On the weekends, most of the clubs have a small entrance fee between 30-100 NAD, sometimes even more depending on special events or live shows. In the spring and summer time there are also a lot of day festivals or pool parties you can attend. This will probably make me sound like an alcoholic but I might have spent a couple of Dollars on drinks during my time in Namibia so here is my insight: Buying alcohol in the shops is limited to specific times which is important to note (9 to 19 on weekdays and 9 to 13 on Saturdays). The prices in liquor shops seem similar to German prices (bottle of Vodka for around 8, sixer of beer around 4 Euros), the alcohol prices in clubs and bars on the other hand are a bit more affordable than what I am used to. A beer at most bars costs between 25 and 35 NAD whereas a long drink can be around 80 NAD which is 4 Euro.
To sum everything up, my personal expenditure in Windhoek was around 200-300 Euros monthly, excluding rent, travels, and day trips, which is still a bit less than what I would usually spend in Germany as a student. I definitely enjoyed culture and nightlife and had lunch at cafes instead of pre-cooked lunch most of the days during my work week, so I would say it is possible to budget your expenditures even more.
But the more costly pleasure in Namibia is travelling so stay tuned for the second part of this article where I will give you some insight into the costs of exploring the country.