Hi! I am Samantha, a 28-years old Dutch lady from ChiMotion Lifestyle. Nice to meet you! I spend over 5 years of my life as an expat on the beautiful islands of Cape Verde. Studying, but also working as a tour guide, coach and setting up my own foundation!

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How to work in Cape Verde as an expat
Hi I am Samantha and I love yoga!

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About Cape Verde

Cape Verde is a small group of 10 islands in the central Atlantic Ocean, around 700 kilometers west of Africa (Mauritania). It used to be a Portuguese colony, which is why they speak Portuguese and Creole, the local language. 9 out of 10 islands are inhabited and I have visited 6 of them. 

Cape Verde is super diverse as every island has its own specialty.
I lived most of the time in Sal. This is the most touristic island, which is also the reason it is easy to find a job on this island. Many entrepreneurs and expats are based there. 
Sal is very small, compact and has beautiful long white beaches and clear blue water. There is 1 main street with bars and live music where you can feel the Cape Verdian vibes! 

The second most popular places for expats are Santiago (‘the capital’ island) and Sant Vicente, a great hiking place. 

How to work in Cape Verde as an expat. Santa Maria
At the beach of Santa Maria

My work activities in Cape Verde

I spend over 5 years in this beautiful place and did different things.

First of all, am I an empowerment coach for women. I guide women to stand in their full feminine power with 1 on 1 coaching.

In addition, I organize women events that contribute to everyone’s feminine power, so vulnerable topics will open for discussion and I uplift womanhood.

I have done this with locals, but also with female tourists in Cape Verde. More precisely, I gave yoga, mindfulness, and private sessions on the beach to tourists so they could relax ultimately.

Secondly, I started a founding called Happy Child Support. Once a week I went to the ‘slums‘ (it’s not as big as in Brazil!) of Sal with locals to provide free educational activities and to offer guidance and support to children and families in need.

Lastly, I became a Dutch tour guide, to guide Dutch tourists around the island.
I could combine these 3 jobs very well, as I was working with both tourists and locals.

During my tours, I often told the tourists about the founding and asked them for donations.
This resulted in me going to the slums with a jeep and locals, every week, to give those people bags filled with clothes or other donations. 

How to work in Cape Verde as an expat
Donations for children in the slums
How to work in Cape Verde as an expat
With an inhabitant

The food

The food is different on every island. As Sal is very touristic, there are many types of restaurants.

In Sal, everything has to be imported, so it is a bit more expensive as on the other islands. It (almost) never rains in Sal and the ground is volcanic, which means it is rich in nutrients for the locals.
There are more and more projects to grow fruit and vegetables on this fertile land for the inhabitants. They mostly eat chicken, beans, and a lot of fish.   

Other islands, like Santiago (the ‘capital island’) are very green compared to Sal.
This means that they can grow mangos, cassava, bananas, and more. The people here cook much more with vegetables and fruits as on Sal. 

How to work in Cape Verde as an expat
Source: Unsplash

Advantages of living in Cape Verde

  • One advantage is that the local people are super hospitable, spontaneously and friendly.

    Some call this ‘The Morabeza,’
    which you can mostly compare to ‘aloha.’ There is not 1 word that can describe what it means, it has to do with their kindness, hospitality, and that they view life in a gentler way. You will see many restaurants are called like this. 
  • Because of ‘Morabeza’ everyone wants to be your friend, so making friends won’t be that difficult. 
  • Many people speak English, but they also understand Portuguese and some even Spanish. 
  • The weather is always great! It’s sunny, which is also one reason the locals are mostly happy! 
  • Dance, music, and culture are very important in the Cape Verdian culture and you can notice that on the streets. This is one thing I love most about Cape Verde! 
  • Another advantage is that Cape Verde is a safe place.

    The reason why I choose CV is also that it is an island, which means it is small and compact. After a while you know every corner on the island.

    Of course, you have to be careful during the nights like in every country.

    Next to that, I also advise you to be more careful in the ‘capital island’ Santiago. Capitals in most countries are just a tiny bit less safe, like Madrid and Amsterdam. But a taxi in the nights can make it easy and safe to get through the city.  

How to work in Cape Verde as an expat. Santa Maria
Enjoying the sun At Santa Maria (Sal)

Disadvantages of living in Cape Verde

  • I noticed that it is pretty simple to get a tourist visa for 3 months. If you want to stay for a longer period, you do have to extend it every 3 months.

    This you can do from either Cape Verde, but also from the Netherlands in my case. I would suggest asking someone to handle this for you as it can cause some stress, but not more as in other countries. 
    That is the only disadvantage I can come up. 
How to work in Cape Verde as an expat. House at Santa Maria Sal
This used to be my house!
How to work in Cape Verde as an expat. tarafal Santiago
At Tarafal Santiago

Tips for people who want to do the same

If you want to live in Cape Verde then my tip is to live day by day.
And, if you are planning to go there with a certain goal that has to be achieved by a certain date it won’t work. This is also the reason why paperwork goes much slower. But be patient and have faith!

My other tip is to get to know more about the culture. Ground yourself, experience everything the country has to offer and try a few words in Creole.
People will definitely appreciate it and it will be much easier to get in contact with locals. Even if you can’t speak Creole you don’t have to worry, as many people speak English, especially on Sal, the tourist island.

The last tip I give you is to join some Facebook groups. I got to meet many friends through this, there is even a big Dutch community in Cape Verde.
Next to that, follow CapeVerdeLife and CaboVerdewithLove on Instagram. They show the most beautiful pictures, but also the daily life on the islands

See these other articles about living abroad:

Favorite destination in Cape Verde

As I said is every island super different from the other. But if I have to choose my favorite location it has to be either Santo Antão or Gonggon.

The last one is located at Santiago island in a green environment. It has amazing natural water sources in the mountains. Most importantly, when you walk in the mountains you have banana trees and cute houses from traditional people that still live in the mountains. It is just so beautiful! 

Next to that, ‘my’ island Sal is also gorgeous, as it is salty and very dry. For that reason, we also have a salt mine placed on the island.
I believe that Sal is a good place to start your trip if you are either living or just visiting the islands. 

For a more authentic vibe, you better go to the other islands, as people still live in the mountains, which is less seen in Sal. 

I definitely recommend everyone to visit Cape Verde in February. Carnival is being held in that month and it’s one spectacular experience!

How to work in Cape Verde as an expat. Santa Antão
Incredible Santo Antão

What do people really have to know about Cape Verde?

A misconception many people have is that Cape Verde is actually unsafe. I don’t agree with this, as I have lived here for over 5 years with no bad experiences. I do have to make a note that I never walked in backstreets alone late at night.

There are many rumors spread from big companies telling tourists to be cautious and to book tours from those big organizations. I find this such a pity, as local entrepreneurs/stores can’t benefit from tourists as much as they want to.

Being an inhabitant for so long I tried to help the locals by telling tourists that buying from locals and visiting local places are very valuable. So I could say that you should not consider Cape Verde to be an unsafe island.

Did you also know that this is one of the biggest hotspots in the world for surfers and other water sports?
There are many championships being held, especially in Sal. This is most popular in the months of October to April as the wind blows very hard. If you are a fan of those sports, this is the place to be! 

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Biggest differences between Netherlands and Cape Verde

The biggest difference is that life goes much slower in Cape Verde, in a good way.
The people there chill and don’t set any goals.

They only do stuff that they love to do and are very happy in life, even though they don’t have anything in some cases.
I really learned to live in the moment and the pressure to perform went away after some time.

Cape Verdeans are very community-based. You never live alone, but always with someone. You live day by day and do all the activities in your daily life together, whether it is cooking or doing groceries. They take more time for daily activities, they understand that living itself is most important and that you don’t need material stuff to be happy. 

It is also because of the low salary that people have to help each other. But that being said, life is also cheaper. 

How to work in Cape Verde as an expat
Source: Unsplash
How to work in Cape Verde as an expat
Source: Unsplash

Future plans

I have noticed that even though I returned from Cape Verde 1.5 years ago, I only now am used to living in the Netherlands again.

For now, my plans are to travel for 5 weeks in Italy and Ibiza soon and to return to Cape Verde one day. Not to live there, as I know that there are many more countries on this planet. 

Next to that, I want to live in freedom, be able to travel a lot, and expand my business.

This basically means that I want to keep continuing with being a coach for women, build a community in the Netherlands, and hopefully one day international.

The community is for every woman, no matter her age or origin, because we can all learn from each other. Everyone should be able to stand within their power and do stuff outside of their comfort zone!

This is something I learned from living abroad and that is a reason I encourage everyone to live abroad at least once in their life. For this reason, I hope to be able to live abroad once more and expand my business to help more women. 

I hope you liked reading about my experiences of 5 years working in Cape Verde. As you read it is possible to work here as an expat.

If you are interested in a coach or the meetings with other females, let me know! You can contact me through my website or on Instagram. I hope to see you soon!
-XOXO- Samantha

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