Helpful information for those moving to Malawi.

Country Information


The Nyasaland District Protectorate was declared by the British Government in 1891. An administration was established, the imposition of which was opposed by many chiefs. The Nyasaland African Congress was formed in the 1950's as an opposition group to colonial rule with Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda as its leader.

In 1964 the Protectorate became the independent State of Malawi and Banda became Prime Minister and Life President of the Republic of Malawi. Malawi was ruled as a one-party state under Banda's strict regime. Any form of opposition was suppressed. Only after server pressure from the international donor community a referendum was held in 1993, which paved the way to the first multi-party elections.

The inauguration of a new government in May 1994 not only brought about Malawi's first democratically elected government in 30 years, but it also brought with it a new constitution. This constitution guarantees the people freedom of speech, religion and assembly.

The official languages of Malawi are Chichewa and English.
Chichewa is one of the local languages, therefore hardly any books are available in book shops overseas, but there is a local selection and some institutions do offer Chichewa lessons.

Lilongwe is situated in the Central Region and became Malawi's capital in 1975, taking over from the University Town of Zomba. Government Ministries, the Parliament and International Organisations are based here, yet the commercially more important city is Blantyre in the Southern Region.

Lilongwe has two faces:
The Old Town still retains the character and atmosphere of an old trading centre with many buildings dating back to the early 1900s, whereas the modern sector with government ministries (Capital Hill) and shopping and office complexes dominates the Capital City Centre.

Blantyre is scenically very attractive being set amongst hills and mountain.
The City (which also incorporates Limbe) owes its origin to the establishment of the Church of Scotland Mission in 1876. It is now Malawi's largest city and commercial centre with some light industry. Tobacco, coffee, tea, rice, nuts, cattle, cotton etc. are processed and - there is an excellent Brewery.

Blantyre is served by Chileka Airport, which operates domestic and some international flights.

Malawi is generally a safe country. However, normal precautions should be taken in the cities at night. Driving overland at night should be avoided.

Muggings are fairly infrequent, but a car immobilizer or a crowbar is recommended. It is sensible, for example, to lock all doors of the vehicle when driving through Old Town and not wear precious or striking jewellery. The purse should be invisible when visiting the various markets for fresh fruits and vegetables.

Several security companies offer burglar alarm systems for the house and the premises as well as security guards.

There is a seasonal variation in the climate between the 3 seasons:

cold and dry - May - August,
hot and dry   - September - November
hot and rainy - December - April

Generally the temperatures are warm and slightly humid.

In summer (September - November) the average daily temperatures vary between about 33ºC/92ºF maximum and 25ºC/77ºF. The rainy season usually begins at the end of November and lasts until the end of March. In the winter season, from June - August, some warm clothes are required because the temperature at night could go down to 5ºC/15ºF. accessible climate.

The major Banks are

National Bank of Malawi
Commercial Bank
First Merchant Bank
Stanbic Bank

Telephones & Faxes
Telephone services are improving but you will still be subjected to many frustrations. IDD and faxes now ease foreign communication as does E-Mail and Internet. Charges to America and Europe have gone down recently and are now approx. USD 1,20 per minute.
There are also two local mobile phone providers: Telekom Networks Malawi and Celtel.

E-Mail & Internet
Remember that E-mail and Internet are only as fast and useful as the effectiveness of the individual provider. However, users now have the option between a conventional connection via the telephone line and wireless broadband via satellite with coverage at present only in the major cities Blantyre, Limbe and Lilongwe.

Providers are
Malawinet Ltd. Tel. +265 1 771 119,
Skyband Cooperation Ltd. Tel. +265 1 758 558/559,
Globe Internet Ltd. Tel. +265 1 776 341
Burco Electronic System Ltd. Tel. +265 1 771 323,

Never the less prices do vary depending on the individual provider between i.e. USD 150,00 up to USD 300,00 per month for a transmission of 64 kb/sek plus a single payment for installation.

All houses in the residential areas around the Lilongwe, Blantyre and other major towns get their water from underground pipes. The quality of the water is quite good. Water filters are locally available as well as bottled mineral water. Water storage tanks and Katadyn filters are recommended.

Supply is 220/240 volts AC 50 cycles, but it can vary quite considerably, particularly during the rainy season. Surge protectors and voltage stabilisers are absolute vital for TVs, stereo, and recommend for washing machines, dryers and fridge's. Computers need a UPS system to avoid loss of data.

Power plugs/sockets are mostly of the square three-pin British type and light bulb fittings are generally of the bayonet type. Power outages are common in some areas. Consider an additional source for cooking such as a gas camping stove or kerosene stove. Many households have their own locally available generator for that purpose.

Adequate expatriate housing nowadays is a little more plentiful and expensive than before.

Many new rental houses have come onto the market recently and local real estate agents will be pleased to show you a good selection. There are four parameters that govern house or apartment hunting in Malawi and they are:

·        Location

·        Electricity and constant Water Supply

·        Security

·        Telephone

Much of the housing in Lilongwe and Blantyre is available through referrals and word of mouth. A good place to start is the various club notice boards: not doubt your company has contacts that will yield some properties to inspect.

As a rule of thumb, suitable houses range from USD 1.500 - 2.500 per month. Remember that these prices do not generally include furniture, a working telephone, appliances, electricity costs and most-times, security guards. If the premises boasts a working telephone, it is a major advantage. It is essential to have security guards as pilferage and theft is endemic. Security alarm companies enjoy great success in Malawi but they should only be an addition to your own guards in most cases. Landlords frequently demand three, six and sometimes 12 months rent in advance. It is important to try to pay as little in advance as possible which might encourage the lessor to undertake repairs should anything go wrong during the term of the lease. It may be a good idea to discuss with the landlord some kind of discount off your rent if you include some mildew-proof exterior paint in your household effects as you can be sure that any painting done prior to your occupancy will deteriorate badly within a short period.

The leading real estate agent is Knight Frank
Lilongwe: Tel. +265 1 772 834
Blantyre: Tel: +265 1 823 577
Homepage: www.

But also the adverts by local Estate Agents in the daily newspapers offer a wide range of suitable houses in different areas around the major cities.

Furniture and Appliances
Simple furniture are available in the larger centres. Neither design nor quality is remarkable, but good quality hard and softwood is available. If you enjoy watching TV and DVD's, it is worth bringing your PAL multi-system TV and DVD-player with a 220V converter. With a locally available satellite dish including a decoder several channels, for example CNN, BBC, M-net, Discovery Channel, Sports Channel and several more can be received.

Well, there are plenty of very nasty bugs and viruses to keep you on your toes, but it's not really the end of the world unless you get malaria or a serious amoebic complaint. In the lake Bilharzia is prevalent. Regular tests are recommended. Once the parasite has been identified there are several doctors and institutions, who can treat nearly all cases. Clean food and clean liquids will be the best defence with good advice from a local doctor for malaria protection. The best protection is to avoid getting bidden, therefore wear long sleeves and trousers and use mosquito repellent liberally, especially at sunset.


Adventist Hospital
Mwaiwathu Private Hospital

The Medial Aid Society of Malawi (MASM) P.O. Box 1254, Blantyre, provides medical coverage.

Moving to Malawi
Choose a quality mover for your relocation to Malawi. Worldwide Movers is the leading professional international moving company in the country and we have seen all sorts of insufficiently packed shipments arrive by air and sea. Select a moving company that specializes in overseas moves: they know how to pack and they know how to load your possessions to prevent damages. We would suggest that you designate and international mover that belongs to the Fédération Internationale des Déménageurs Internationaux (F.I.D.I.): membership manifests competency. Don't worry about customs clearance and delivery, we do it every day. If you need any special information, call our Lilongwe office on +265 1 712 222 or +265 1 794 523 and ask for Petra von Chamier (Cell: +265 8 821 969). You can also contact us via Email under . We will be pleased to assist.

Newspapers and Magazines
The local newspapers "The Nation" and "The Daily Times"contain the sufficient need-to-know information nation wide. Some imported magazines are available at the bookshops including "The Lilongwe Lowdown", a very helpful directory and guidebook for newcomers and residents.

Some imported magazines are available at the bookshops and in the super markets.

Domestic Staff
It is common to employ house staff, cooks, gardeners and security guards. Salaries are extremely reasonable and they add greatly to the quality of life overseas. Washing machines and tumble dryers are recommended; dish washers are not recommended. Those expatriates who are leaving Malawi always try to find good employment for their reliable staff after their departure and you should have no problem finding recommended help with good references; look on you embassy or High Commission's notice board for starters. Nannies are wonderful with children.

There are two schools (in Lilongwe and Blantyre), which offer reasonable facilities for multi-national children. All schools run their academic year from September to late June/early July, with three terms with approximate dates as follows: term 1 = 1 September - 10 December; term 2 = 10 January - 30 March; term 3 = 1 April - 30 June

·        Bishop Mackenzie International School, Lilongwe
Primary: Tel. (+265) 01 756 364
Secondary: Tel. (+265) 01 756 631/984
BMIS offers a well designed and balanced international curriculum at GCSE and IB.

·        African Bible College (ABC) School, Lilongwe
Primary and Secondary
Tel. (+265) 01 761 617 or 762 533

·        Saint Andrews International School, Blantyre
Primary: Tel. (+265) 01 833 428
High School: Tel. (+265) 01 822 585/470, 01 823 688

·        Phoenix International Primary School, Blantyre
Tel: (+265) 01 824 845

·        Saint Patricks Academy
Sunnyside, Blantyre
Tel. (+265) 01 551 193

School fees vary from USD 1,750 for Primary up to USD 4,300 for Secondary per term.
Boarding rates are USD 935 for Primary and USD 1,200 for Secondary.

Clubs and Sporting Clubs are very popular in Malawi and form the principal avenues of the social life of the expatriate. The perfect weather conditions encourage outdoor sports that are available at the Lilongwe Sailing Club, the Lilongwe Golf Club, the Portuguese Club as well as with the Hash House Harriers. In addition cricket, volleyball, tennis, rugby, horse riding and aerobic are offered. Social Clubs include the British High Commission Club, the Rotary Club, the Lions Club, the Round Table, the Wildlife Society of Malawi and the International Women Association. The Music and Drama Society "MADSOC" with its shows is always a highlight in the cultural life of Lilongwe. All major congregations and religious groups are active and church services are available.

Embassy Registration
It's always a good idea to register with your Embassy or High Commission as soon as you arrive in Malawi. Not only is it appreciated by the mission, but also a good way to meet other nationals at the drink parties that are held from time to time. Most of the diplomatic missions are fairly laid-back in Lilongwea and are much more helpful than in other larger countries.

Special Occasions
Many a time one hears "I wish I brought that with me from home!". Invariably, its food items that were forgotten, so if you enjoy pumpkin pie, haggis or confit of goose, take it with you in cans.

Out-of-the ordinary goods and special medical supplies are difficult to get, but the situation has improved in recent years. Various Supermarkets offer a wide range of local and imported quality food and goodies.


·        Baba's Delhi Darbar, inside Four Seasons Nursery (+265) 01 725 705
Blue Ginger, (Indian) Pacific Center (+265) 01 795 225 / 08 214 444
Mamma Mia, Old Town Mall (+265) 01 758 362
Don Brioni's Restaurant, Mandala Road (+265) 01 920 221 / 09 933 627
Clouds, Gemini House City Centre (+265) 09 383 373 / 08 836 193
Buchanans, Four Seasons Nursery (+265) 01 772 859/46
Korea Gardens Restaurant, Area 3, Old Town (+265) 01 753 467 / 01 757 854

·        Blantyre:
21 Grill on Hannover, Protea Hotel Ryalls (+265) 01 820 955
Alem Ethiopian Restaurant (+265) 01 822 529
Baba's Delhi Darbar, Pagat Mall, Victoria Ave. (+265) 08 205 607
Cappineros, Victoria Ave. (+265) 09 939 260 / 09 571 157
Greens Restaurant, Sunnyside (+265) 01 836 375 / 08 833 518
Ambrosia Restaurant (Game Heaven) Thyolo Road
14 km from Blantyre (+265) 09 971 287/8


There are some good hotels in all the major cities of Malawi. If you are a foreigner, you must settle your bill in hard currency in all hotels. Prices for single room between 80 - 120 USD, Double room 110 - 180 USD. Residents will be charges a special rate.


·        Crossroads Hotel, Old Town (+265) 01 750 444/333

·        Sunbird Lilongwe Hotel, Old Town (+265) 01 756 333

·        Sunbird Capital Hotel (+265) 01 773 388
Riverside Hotel, Paul Kagame Rd. (+265) 01 750 511

·        Kumbali Country Lodge, Capital Hill Diary Farm (+265) 09 963 402

·        Madidi Lodge, behind Crossroads Complex (+265) 01 920 901

·        Wendels Guest House, Area 12 (+265) 01 770 237 / 09 940 167

·        Ufulu Gardens, Ufulu Road, Area 43 (+265) 01 794 060/79

·        Heuglin's Lodge, Area 43 (+265) 01 771 393/153

·        Korea Garden Lodge, Area 3 (+265) 01 753 467 / 01 757 854

·        Annie's Lodge, Area 10 (+265) 01 794 572

·        Blantyre:
Protea Hotel Ryalls, 2 Hannover Ave. (+265) 01 820 955

·        Sunbird Mount Soche, Victoria Ave. (+265) 01 820 588

·        Hotel Victoria, Victoria Ave. (+265) 01 823 500

·        Hostellerie de France, cnr Chilomoni Ring Rd. (+265) 08 833 586

·        Limbe:
Shire Highlands Hotel (+265) 01 840 359 / 08 206 644


If you do not have the use of a company vehicle, it may be worthwhile considering importing one with your household goods. Automobiles are very expensive new (twice that in the US or Europe). Most Japanese models are available and spares are not a problem. If you do import a vehicle, install a quality anti-theft device. In most cases, returning foreigners sell their vehicles so there is a good variety of second hand care available. Right-hand dive vehicles are preferable.

Driving Licenses
You can drive with an International License (available from your local Automobile Club) for a period of 12 months in Malawi after which you have to take a driving proficiency test. Only Commonwealth Licenses are transferable without a driving test.

Popular Destinations
Malawi is home to some of the most striking natural beauty in all of Africa. Lake Malawi is unique, with over 500 and maybe as many as 1000 species of fish in the whole lake and with 350 species occurring nowhere else in the world. Lake Malawi National Park is the only sweet water National Park in the World.

Currency Exchange
After a major devaluation in 1998 of 75% the Malawi Kwacha is still an unstable currency. Credit cards are accepted only at some hotels and other premises.

Some expatriates bring their pets with them. Long haired dogs are particularly unsuitable for Malawi where temperatures and ticks are big. A good barker is one of the most effective thief deterrents and a pet adds to the continuity of family life in this new and exotic land.

Seems to exist in Malawi as well. However, the government has established an Anti Corruption Bureau to curtail such malpractice's.

And Finally....

For it's beautiful lake, the land and the friendly people Malawi has the epithet the Warm Heart of Africa: one of the last destinations remaining unspoiled by the vulgarity of popular tourism.  A sense of adventure and kindness is the hallmark of lifetime memories for all who live and work in this wonderful country.

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This information is courtesy of World Wide Movers.