safety is a relative thing. of course, i know this, every country is different and you adjust along the way. it's always best to talk to other expats so yes, i asked about safety and security before i accepted a position here.
here's what i was told:
'yes, it's safe if you follow basic precautions'
here's what i heard:
'it's okay, just stay alert'
here's what it really means:
it's not safe for a western woman to walk alone anywhere in Tanzania at any time of day or night. plan to buy a car, get a license [this is a joy] and insurance. you should expect to be inside your locked compound before dark or travel with an entourage. never use a taxi or driver that you don't know.
forget about any security for valuable items, just assume they will be stolen and hope your insurance will cover it. definitely don't carry something that looks like a laptop bag.
for me it's an adjustment, in Myanmar [Burma] 95% of phones/laptops left in a taxi are returned to the owner. it's safe for women to move freely around the city at any time and safety was never an issue.
here, the young girls call out to me and engage me and i delight in being able to stutter a few awkward swahili words, but the boys and men look at me with cutting eyes and resentment and i am wary of every step on the streets.
Tanzania is a beautiful country and to be restricted like this hurts my soul. at the Indian compound, i am unsure if it is a cultural or safety issue but the women of the compound never seem to leave, just pace back and forth over the same paths.