Moving to Uganda with Children? Confessions of an Expat Mom

With a little bit of help from your fellow parents and a little bit of information from us, we hope you will enjoy your stay in this beautiful and lively city.

Dec 20, 2023 - 23:48
Moving to Uganda with Children? Confessions of an Expat Mom

The Arrival: Plan Ahead and Pack Smart

Moving to a new country can be daunting, especially if you have children in tow. But don’t worry; Kampala is a vibrant and welcoming city that offers plenty of opportunities for families. The key is to plan ahead and pack smart. Here are some tips to make your arrival smooth and stress-free:

  • If you need a car seat for your child, arrange it before you fly. You can either bring your own or ask a contact in Kampala to get one for you and have it ready in the taxi that picks you up.

  • Check the seatbelts in the taxi before you negotiate the price. Not all taxis have working seatbelts, and you don’t want to compromise on safety.

  • Bring some snacks, wet wipes, and toys to keep your child entertained and comfortable during the drive to your new home.

Transportation: Choose Wisely and Drive Safely

Once you settle in Kampala, you will need a reliable and safe car to get around town. There are several options to choose from, depending on your budget and preferences:

  • You can buy a new or used car from a car bond or a dealership (many on Kampala-Jinja Road). Car bonds sell imported cars that have not been used in Uganda, while dealerships sell both new and used models.

  • You can buy a car from an expat who is leaving the country. You can find these deals on expat forums or Facebook groups. You might get a better price and a well-maintained car this way.

  • You can rent a car from a reputable company. This might be more convenient and flexible, but it is also more expensive in the long run.

Whatever option you choose, make sure you drive safely and follow the traffic rules. Kampala can be chaotic and congested, so be alert and patient.

The Equipment: Shop Around and Bargain Hard

You will need some essential equipment for your child, such as a crib, a changing table, a high chair, and a stroller. You can find these items in various places around Kampala, but be prepared to shop around and bargain hard. Here are some suggestions:

  • For furniture, check out the shops on Ggaba Road. They have a wide selection of wooden items that you can negotiate the price for.

  • For bottles, formula, diapers, and other basics, go to Carrefour, Mega Standard supermarket, or Capital Shoppers. They have a good variety and quality of products, but they can be pricey.

  • For bouncy chairs, games, and other toys, look at the Mega Standard supermarket. They have some fun and colorful options, but they can be expensive. You can also try to find second-hand items from other expat parents who are selling them online or in person.

  • For car seats, you can buy them at Capital Shoppers, Mothercare, or Kiseka Market (down town). They have different models and sizes, but they can be costly. You can also try to borrow or rent one from a friend or a neighbor.

All these items can also be found on The Best Online Shopping Sites in Uganda

The School: Do Your Research and Visit the Campus

If you have school-age children, you will want to enroll them in a good school that meets their needs and interests. Kampala has several international schools that follow different curricula and have different fees. You will need to do your research and visit the campus to make an informed decision. Here are some of the most popular choices among expat parents:

  • ISU and KISU are the top-tier schools that offer the International Baccalaureate program. They have excellent facilities, teachers, and extracurricular activities, but they are also very expensive.

  • Rainbow and Heritage are the mid-range schools that offer the British curriculum. They have good facilities, teachers, and extracurricular activities, but they are also fairly pricey. Heritage has a Christian emphasis, which might appeal to some parents but not others.

  • There are also some local schools that offer the Ugandan curriculum or a mix of local and international curricula. They are cheaper, but they might have lower standards and fewer resources.

Health: Find a Good Pediatrician and Take Precautions

One of the biggest concerns for parents in Kampala is the health of their children. Uganda has some serious health issues, such as malaria, typhoid, and ebola, but they are not as common or severe in the city as in the rural areas. Still, you need to find a good pediatrician and take some precautions to keep your child healthy and happy. Here are some tips:

  • Find a good pediatrician that you trust and can communicate with. Some of the best ones are at The Surgery, The Children’s Clinic, and Princeton Children’s Clinic. They have western-trained doctors and modern equipment, but they can be busy and expensive.

  • Take your child for regular check-ups and vaccinations. Make sure you follow the recommended schedule and keep a record of your child’s immunizations.

  • Protect your child from mosquito bites. Use mosquito nets, repellents, and long-sleeved clothing, especially at night. Consider taking prophylaxis or having a rapid test kit at home.

  • Avoid drinking tap water or eating raw or unpeeled fruits and vegetables. Boil or filter the water, or buy bottled water. Wash and peel the fruits and vegetables, or cook them well.

  • Have a first-aid kit and some basic medicines at home. Include bandages, antiseptics, painkillers, antihistamines, anti-diarrhea, and rehydration salts. Consult your pediatrician before giving any medication to your child.

The Children’s Clinic (Dr. Kasirye): +256 41 34535 or +256 31 264953, Plot 40 Kyadondo Road, Kampala
Princeton Children’s Clinic: 25641 453 0704

The Fun: Join Some Clubs and Explore the City

Last but not least, you will want to have some fun with your child in Kampala. The city has a lot of clubs and activities for children of all ages and interests. You can join some of them and explore the city with your child. Here are some ideas:

  • For arts and crafts, join Tots and Art Uganda. They offer classes in painting, pottery, jewelry making, and more for children under 12 years old.

  • For ballet and dance, join Kampala Ballet and Modern Dance School. They offer classes in ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and more for children of all ages and levels.

  • For sports and fitness, join Makindye Country Club, Munyonyo Resort, or Lugogo Tennis Complex. They offer tennis, swimming, football, and other sports programs for children of all ages and levels.

  • For play and education, join Time2Play. They offer a mix of playtime and learning on equipment that rivals most playgrounds back home.

  • For adventure and nature, visit the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, the Botanical Gardens, or the Mabira Forest. They offer a chance to see and learn about the wildlife and plants of Uganda.

Kampala is a great place to raise a child, as long as you are prepared and informed. With a little bit of help from your fellow parents and a little bit of information from us, we hope you will enjoy your stay in this beautiful and lively city.

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