Jun Li

Jun Li



October 30 2023

Pros and Cons of Working Fully Remote in Addis Ababa

#Addis Ababa

#remote work



scenic view of addis-ababa


Addis Ababa, the vibrant capital city of Ethiopia, is a bustling metropolis that blends rich traditions with modern amenities. With its breathtaking highland scenery, diverse culture, and thriving economy, Addis Ababa has become an attractive destination for remote workers seeking a unique experience. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of working fully remote in this dynamic city.

Known as the political and economic hub of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa offers a blend of traditional and modern workplaces, making it an ideal location for remote professionals. The city boasts a well-developed infrastructure, including reliable internet connections, coworking spaces, and a variety of accommodation options. Those looking to immerse themselves in the local culture will find numerous art galleries, museums, and cultural events to enjoy during their free time. Additionally, Addis Ababa's proximity to stunning natural landscapes, such as the Entoto Mountains and Lake Ziway, provide ample opportunities for outdoor exploration and relaxation.

While Addis Ababa has much to offer to remote workers, it is important to consider both the advantages and challenges of working fully remote in this unique city. In the following sections, we will delve into these aspects to help you make an informed decision about whether Addis Ababa is the right place for you to embrace the remote work lifestyle.

Pros of Working Fully Remote in Addis Ababa


scenic view of addis-ababa

  • Affordability of Living

  • Addis Ababa is known for its affordability when it comes to living costs. As a fully remote worker in the city, you can enjoy a high standard of living without breaking the bank. Housing options range from budget-friendly apartments to luxury accommodations, providing options for every lifestyle and budget.

    With lower costs for rent, utilities, and transportation compared to other major cities, you can allocate more of your budget towards enjoying the city's vibrant cultural scene, exploring its rich history, or indulging in delicious local cuisine.

    Addis Ababa's affordability extends beyond just the cost of living. The city offers various affordable entertainment options, such as visiting museums, art galleries, and attending cultural festivals. You can also explore the city's beautiful parks, go hiking in the nearby mountains, or simply spend a day strolling through the vibrant markets.

    By choosing to work fully remote in Addis Ababa, you can enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle while managing your finances effectively. Whether you prefer to live in the heart of the city or in its peaceful outskirts, the city's affordability makes it an attractive destination for remote workers looking to make the most of their income while enjoying an exciting and diverse lifestyle.

  • Fast Internet and Good Air Quality

  • Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, offers a range of benefits to those working fully remote. One of the key advantages is the availability of fast internet connections. In recent years, the city has been making significant advancements in its digital infrastructure, providing reliable and high-speed internet access to its residents.

    Having fast internet is essential for remote workers, as it ensures seamless communication, easy access to online resources, and the ability to collaborate with team members or clients from anywhere in the world. Addis Ababa's fast internet speeds enable remote workers to stay connected, attend virtual meetings, and complete tasks efficiently.

    Additionally, Addis Ababa boasts good air quality on average, which is particularly beneficial for remote workers spending long hours indoors. High air quality contributes to a healthy work environment, enhancing focus, productivity, and overall well-being. Breathing clean air can also reduce the risk of respiratory issues and promote better mental health, allowing remote workers to stay at the top of their game.

    With fast internet and good air quality, remote workers in Addis Ababa can enjoy a conducive work environment that promotes efficiency, creativity, and overall job satisfaction. Whether you're a digital nomad or someone seeking a remote work setup in a vibrant African city, Addis Ababa offers the necessary infrastructure to support your professional endeavors.

  • Plenty of Fun and Recreational Activities

  • Addis Ababa offers a wide range of recreational activities that fully remote workers can enjoy. From vibrant nightlife and trendy restaurants to traditional coffee ceremonies and cultural festivals, there is always something exciting happening in the city. Whether you want to explore the bustling markets, visit historical sites, or wander through beautiful parks and gardens, Addis Ababa has it all. The city is also surrounded by natural wonders, such as the Entoto Mountains, where you can go hiking and enjoy breathtaking views of the city. Additionally, Addis Ababa is known for its thriving arts and music scene, with numerous art galleries, live music venues, and theaters to immerse yourself in. No matter what your interests are, Addis Ababa offers plenty of fun activities to keep you entertained during your downtime as a remote worker.

  • Opportunities to Make Friends

  • Addis Ababa offers plenty of opportunities for remote workers to socialize and make friends. The city has a vibrant and diverse expat community, with people from all over the world living and working here. You'll find various social groups, meetups, and events catering to different interests, making it easy to connect with like-minded individuals.

    The local Ethiopians are known for their warmth and hospitality, and you'll have no trouble striking up conversations and forming friendships. The city has several popular cafes, restaurants, and bars where you can meet fellow remote workers, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals. It's a great way to network, share experiences, and even find potential collaborators for your projects.

    Additionally, Addis Ababa has a dynamic social scene with activities and events taking place throughout the year. You can join sports clubs, art classes, yoga studios, or volunteer for community service. Exploring the vibrant cultural festivals, music concerts, and exhibitions will not only introduce you to the local culture but also provide opportunities to meet interesting people.

    Joining co-working spaces is another fantastic way to meet fellow remote workers and entrepreneurs. These spaces often organize networking events, workshops, and social gatherings, creating a supportive and collaborative community. You can exchange ideas, collaborate on projects, and make long-lasting connections.

    Overall, Addis Ababa offers a friendly and welcoming environment for fully remote workers to expand their social circles. Whether you prefer joining organized events or exploring on your own, there are plenty of opportunities to meet new people, make friends, and create a network of like-minded individuals.

  • Conducive Business Environment

  • Despite its challenges, Addis Ababa provides a friendly business atmosphere that fosters growth and opportunities. Setting up a business or freelancing is relatively straightforward, and the city promotes entrepreneurship and innovation.

    3. Spacious and not crowded: While Addis Ababa is a bustling capital city, it still maintains a sense of space and openness. This offers an environment where fully remote workers can find peaceful spots to focus on their work without feeling overwhelmed by crowds.

    4. Fast internet: Having a reliable and fast internet connection is crucial for remote work, and fortunately, Addis Ababa has made significant strides in improving its internet infrastructure. Access to high-speed internet allows fully remote workers to smoothly carry out their tasks and stay connected with clients and colleagues.

    5. Easy to make friends: Addis Ababa is known for its warm hospitality and friendly locals. As a fully remote worker, you can easily connect with like-minded professionals, both expats and locals, through coworking spaces, networking events, and social gatherings. Building a supportive network of friends and colleagues adds an extra layer of enjoyment to your remote work experience.

    6. Great hospitals: One of the essential factors for fully remote workers is access to quality healthcare services. Addis Ababa is home to several well-equipped hospitals and medical facilities that provide reliable healthcare services. Knowing that you have access to reputable healthcare providers can offer peace of mind and ensure continuity in your work-life balance.

    7. High quality of education: For remote workers with families, Addis Ababa offers excellent educational institutions. From international schools to local private schools, you can find a range of options that provide a high standard of education for your children.

    8. Roads are pretty safe: Although traffic can be congested during peak hours, Addis Ababa has seen improvements in its road infrastructure, leading to safer and more organized traffic flow. This allows remote workers who occasionally need to travel for business or leisure to navigate the city with relative ease.

    In conclusion, Addis Ababa provides a conducive business environment for fully remote workers, offering affordability, excellent business opportunities, a supportive community, and essential services. Embracing the benefits of fully remote work while enjoying the city's unique cultural experiences can make your remote work experience in Addis Ababa fulfilling and enjoyable.

  • High Quality Education and Health Facilities

  • Addis Ababa offers a high quality of education and great health facilities, making it an attractive destination for fully remote workers. Whether you are looking to further your education or ensure access to excellent medical care, this vibrant city has you covered.

    When it comes to education, Addis Ababa is home to numerous prestigious schools and universities that provide a wide range of programs and courses. The city boasts several international schools, offering top-notch education for expatriates and locals alike. These schools often follow internationally recognized curricula and offer a multicultural environment for students. The availability of high-quality education institutions makes Addis Ababa an excellent choice for fully remote workers with families or those looking to continue their education while working remotely.

    Additionally, Addis Ababa is blessed with world-class hospitals and healthcare facilities. The city houses both public and private healthcare institutions, ensuring that residents have access to a diverse range of medical services. The private hospitals in Addis Ababa are known for their modern facilities, state-of-the-art equipment, and well-trained medical professionals. Moreover, many doctors and specialists in the city have received international training, adding to the quality of medical care available.

    For fully remote workers concerned about their health and well-being, Addis Ababa offers peace of mind with its reliable healthcare system. The presence of well-equipped medical facilities and highly skilled professionals means that if any health issues arise, you can receive top-quality care without having to travel far.

    In summary, Addis Ababa's high quality of education and excellent healthcare facilities make it an appealing choice for fully remote workers. Whether you are seeking to provide your children with a top-tier education or looking for reliable healthcare services, Addis Ababa has the necessary infrastructure to cater to your needs.

    Cons of Working Fully Remote in Addis Ababa


    scenic view of addis-ababa

  • Language Barrier for English Speakers

  • One potential drawback of working fully remote in Addis Ababa is the language barrier for English speakers. While English is widely spoken and understood in certain sectors, such as business and hospitality, it is not universally spoken by the general population.

    This could pose some challenges, particularly for those who are not proficient in the local language, Amharic. In day-to-day interactions and services, it may be difficult to fully communicate and understand each other without the assistance of a translator or someone who speaks English.

    For remote workers who heavily rely on clear and effective communication, this language barrier could lead to some frustration and potential misunderstandings. It may also limit social interactions and connections outside of work, making it harder to integrate into the local community.

    However, it is important to note that there are English-speaking expat communities and organizations in Addis Ababa, providing opportunities to meet and connect with other English speakers. Additionally, with the increasing emphasis on English language education in schools, younger generations are likely to have better English skills.

    Despite this potential challenge, many expats and remote workers have successfully navigated the language barrier by learning some basic Amharic phrases or utilizing translation apps. With an open mindset and willingness to adapt, the language barrier can be overcome, enabling a more enriching experience while working fully remote in Addis Ababa.

  • Cold Winters

  • One of the downsides of working fully remote in Addis Ababa is the cold winters. Although the city generally has a pleasant climate throughout the year, winters can be quite chilly. Temperatures can drop below freezing, especially during the months of December to February. This can make it challenging to stay warm and comfortable while working from home.

    The cold weather may also affect your productivity and mood. It can be difficult to focus on work when you're feeling cold and uncomfortable. Additionally, the lack of sunlight during the winter months can lead to a decrease in energy levels and feelings of lethargy.

    However, with proper preparation and adjustments, you can still make the most out of your remote work experience in Addis Ababa during the winter. Investing in warm clothing, such as thermal layers, cozy sweaters, and insulated jackets, can help you stay comfortable while working from home. Additionally, using space heaters or setting up a warm and cozy workspace can create a more conducive environment for productivity.

    Despite the cold winters, Addis Ababa offers many advantages for remote workers, such as affordability, fast internet, and a wide range of activities to enjoy. By finding ways to stay warm and adapting to the weather, you can fully embrace the remote work lifestyle in this vibrant city.

  • Safety Concerns for Women

  • While Addis Ababa has many positive aspects, it is important to address the safety concerns for women working fully remote. Unfortunately, the city does have challenges in terms of safety for women, particularly when it comes to harassment and assault.

    Women in Addis Ababa may face unwanted attention or verbal harassment when walking alone or using public transportation. It is advisable to be cautious and take necessary precautions to ensure personal safety. This may include avoiding walking alone late at night, using trusted transportation options, and staying in well-populated areas.

    It is vital for women working remotely in Addis Ababa to be aware of their surroundings and trust their instincts. Developing a network of trusted contacts and acquaintances can provide an added layer of security. Additionally, it is advisable to stay updated on safety information and guidelines provided by local authorities or expatriate communities.

    While these safety concerns do exist, it is important to note that not all women working remotely in Addis Ababa have negative experiences. Some take proactive measures to ensure their safety and find ways to navigate the city without major issues. However, it is crucial to acknowledge and address these challenges in order to make informed decisions and take appropriate actions to mitigate risks.

  • Limited Family-Friendly Amenities

  • Although Addis Ababa offers plenty of activities for individuals, it may be lacking in family-friendly amenities. While there are parks and recreational spaces, they might not be as well-developed or numerous as in other cities. Additionally, there might be a limited number of family-oriented events or venues compared to more family-friendly destinations. This could make it challenging for remote workers with families to find suitable options for child-friendly activities or entertainment. It's important to consider this aspect if you are planning to relocate to Addis Ababa with your family while working fully remote.

  • Challenges for LGBTQ+ Individuals

  • Unfortunately, one of the cons of working fully remote in Addis Ababa is that the city can be quite hostile towards the LGBTQ+ community. Discrimination and prejudice towards individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ is still prevalent in Ethiopian society, and this can create significant challenges for those who are a part of this community.

    As a fully remote worker, you may not have to interact with the local community as much as someone who works in a traditional office setting. However, it is important to consider the overall environment and social climate when contemplating a move to Addis Ababa.

    It's worth noting that Ethiopia has laws criminalizing homosexuality, which can have a negative impact on the LGBTQ+ community. Due to these laws and societal attitudes, LGBTQ+ individuals often face discrimination, harassment, and even violence.

    In terms of day-to-day life, LGBTQ+ individuals may find it challenging to express their identity openly and find acceptance within the community. This can result in a sense of isolation and limited social opportunities for networking and making friends.

    Moreover, finding LGBTQ+-friendly spaces, support groups, or resources might be more limited compared to other cities that are known for being more inclusive and diverse. Being part of a marginalized community can lead to increased stress and mental health challenges, which can affect your overall well-being and work-life balance.

    While there may be individual allies and LGBTQ+ support networks within Addis Ababa, it is essential to approach your move with caution and research local resources and communities that prioritize inclusivity and acceptance.

    Overall, the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals working fully remote in Addis Ababa highlight the importance of considering the social and cultural context before relocating. Prioritizing safety, well-being, and support networks is crucial for a positive remote working experience in any city.

  • High Prevalence of Tobacco Smoking

  • One of the cons of working fully remote in Addis Ababa is the high prevalence of tobacco smoking. Smoking is quite common in the city, and you may often come across people smoking in public spaces, including parks, cafes, and even office buildings.

    For non-smokers, this can be a major drawback, as the smell and second-hand smoke can be bothersome and pose health risks. It can also be challenging to find smoke-free environments or establishments that enforce strict no-smoking policies.

    Additionally, the health implications associated with passive smoking should be considered. Continuous exposure to second-hand smoke can have negative effects on your overall well-being, including respiratory issues and an increased risk of developing chronic diseases.

    If you are a non-smoker or someone who is sensitive to smoke, it's important to take precautions and seek out smoke-free locations when working remotely in Addis Ababa. This may involve conducting meetings in smoke-free cafes or coworking spaces, or even working from the comfort of your own home where you have control over the environment.

    Despite this drawback, it's worth noting that smoking prevalence varies among individuals and locations. Some coffee shops and establishments have designated smoking areas, which can help reduce exposure to smoke for non-smokers. Ultimately, it is essential to prioritize your health and well-being while working remotely in Addis Ababa by being mindful of the smoking culture and taking measures to protect yourself from the effects of second-hand smoke.


    scenic view of addis-ababa


    In conclusion, working fully remote in Addis Ababa has a mix of both pros and cons. On the positive side, the city offers an affordable cost of living and a relatively safe environment. With fast internet connectivity, remote workers can easily carry out their work without any interruptions. Moreover, Addis Ababa boasts a wide range of fun activities and is not crowded, providing a spacious and comfortable atmosphere. The city also offers opportunities to make friends easily and has a friendly environment for doing business.

    Addis Ababa also provides high-quality education and excellent healthcare facilities, ensuring a good standard of living for its residents. The roads are relatively safe, providing a hassle-free commuting experience. Additionally, the city values freedom of speech, allowing individuals to express their opinions openly.

    However, there are some drawbacks to consider. Addis Ababa's democratic situation may not be as developed as some other cities, which could impact certain aspects of life and work. The city's cold winters can also be challenging for those who are not accustomed to low temperatures. While English is widely spoken in some areas, there might be instances where communication can be a barrier.

    Furthermore, it is important to note that Addis Ababa might not be considered safe for women, and it may not be perceived as family-friendly or accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. It is also worth mentioning that smoking tobacco is prevalent among many people, which could be a concern for those who are sensitive to smoke.

    In summary, Addis Ababa offers a range of advantages for fully remote workers, including affordability, safety, and a welcoming atmosphere. It is a city with plenty of opportunities for both work and leisure. However, there are also some challenges to consider, such as the weather, language barriers, and certain social and cultural dynamics. It ultimately depends on individual preferences and priorities when deciding whether Addis Ababa is the right destination for fully remote work.

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