An Insider’s Guide to Blantyre, Malawi

Blantyre – An Expat’s Guide to the City

I love our adopted city of Blantyre – it’s a beautiful, green city full of charm and history and is the perfect size.  Before moving here, I couldn’t find much on life here and how to settle in, so as we prepare to leave, I thought it might be helpful to provide a few notes for anyone lucky enough to come live here.

Please keep in mind that (1) I’m no expert – just enthusiastic and (2) as in most developing countries, things change quickly – roads appear or disappear, restaurants open and close, bars become en vogue or desolate, shops and lodges close down or open.  The problem with writing a blog post like this is that it will probably be out of date by the time it’s published!

So this post will probably bore 98% of you, but I hope it’s helpful to someone!

Facts about Blantyre:

Blantyre is one of the oldest cities in East and Southern Africa.  Predating Harare, Nairobi, and Johannesburg, the city was first established by Scottish Missionaries following David Livingstone’s trail blazing.  In fact, Blantyre is named after Blantyre, Scotland, Livingstone’s birthplace.  Soon after, the Missionaries started building the Church of St. Michael and All Angels (a magnificent brick cathedral constructed without an engineer or architect), the African Lakes Corporation established a trading post in the city, and built Malawi’s oldest building, the Mandala House.  Now a cafe, gallery, and archival library, the two story house has beautiful wrap-around porches, large windows, and is surrounded by massive trees.  Legend has it that when it was first built, people who had never seen a two story structure came from miles away to see the “house on top of a house.”

Down on Victoria Avenue, one of the main streets in town, are the original colonial administrative buildings.  While they are not in the best shape, they were built in the quintessential colonial style with thick brick walls and green corrugated tin roofs.

While Blantyre and Limbe are close together, Limbe has a distinct commercial feel, with a tightly packed ‘downtown’ area full of small shops and mosques.  Blantyre’s commercial district feels more laid back.

Blantyre is surrounded by three mountains, Ndirande, Mchiru, and Soche.  In addition to being beautiful, they are also helpful focal points when learning your way around town.  The streets of Blantyre feel like they were laid out by a hyper-active rabbit.  Every year, there is a three-peaks challenge, where fabulously fit people get up really early and climb each peak in one day.

I’m not sure the population – Blantyre was the biggest city in Malawi until two years ago and now Lilongwe has narrowly overtaken it.  While the townships surrounding the town are high density, the actual city itself feels quite manageable and intimate.  There is a constant influx of expats (mostly British, although there are also always Canadians, Dutch, Irish, and a few Americans scattered in as well).  The major hospitals, Queen Elizabeth (or Queens) and Beit Cure welcome expat doctors and while there aren’t as many NGO’s as before (they’ve all moved to be closer to the donors in Lilongwe) there are still a few expat NGO workers.

Blantyre has several neighborhoods and when people ask where you stay, they are generally asking which neighborhood you live in.  Sunnyside is a beautiful, posh neighborhood on the south west side of town, full of large old houses with sprawling gardens.  Mandala, more in the center of town, is also quite posh, although I hear they have more power cuts than in Sunnyside.  We live on the edge of Nyambadwe, on the north side of town, which is also famous for powercuts, but being on the same line as the ex-President’s brother’s house has made things easy on us.  Namiwawa is east of the city center and has some lovely houses, which are generally smaller than Sunnyside.  Kabula is one of the older neighborhoods and has some beautiful houses – and two of Blantyre’s best restaurants.  All of these neighborhoods are safe, but most homes are surrounded by large brick walls, sturdy gates, and have guards.

Most of the year, the weather in Blantyre is perfect – not to hot, not too cold.  Even in the rainy season, it rains for a few hours and then the sparkling sun is back.  October and November, however, can be torture.  I’ve never been so hot as I was last November.  On the flip side, June and July can be really cold – probably not cold to people coming from the UK, but cold to me.  I tell people to bring warm clothes because I was shocked my first June.  I had packed all light clothes, because hey, I was going to Africa.  I also thought I’d naturally loose lots of weight and be perfectly tan – oh well.

Moving to Blantyre

You must get on Carole Vardell’s email list – it’s the main source of information in Blantyre.  In an old fashioned way, Blantyre is a word-of-mouth town.  She sends out ads for homes for rent, cars for sale, deals on vacations, and a weekly summary of events.  Send her an email and she will add you to her list.  (

The Blantyre Chat Google Group is also a great resource – people often put up ads for cars, household goods, etc.

Tiyeni is a website with classified ads that should be really helpful once they get all the quirks worked out.

There is a Facebook group: BTXP+ with lots of good information – and a great place to ask questions of people in the know.

Once here, pick up a copy of The Eye, which is full of interesting articles, phone numbers, and important local information.

What to Bring

Again, bring a sweater if you’re going to be here in the winter months – it does get cold!

Also, I have a Kindle, which has been a lifesaver – books here are hard to find and expensive but with a kindle I can download new books really easily.

You can buy most toiletries here – they just tend to be expensive, so I would stock up on sunscreen!

Buying a Car

Cars in Africa are amazingly resilient.  The most popular Expat Model is a Rav-4.  We had one that was 18 years old and loved it.  We also had a bigger car, an Isuzu that was also 18 years old, but a tank – second hand cars are actually a great investment because they don’t really depreciate here.  We sold both for about what we bought them for.

It’s important to have a trusted mechanic check out the car before you purchase.  We’ve had some run ins with terrible mechanics, but are very loyal to our current one.  If you’re ever in a position where you need a good one, let me know and I’ll give you his information.

Until you get a car, or if you decide not to get a car, minibuses are the common form of public transportation.  Exciting, interesting, a cultural experience, yes, yes, yes, but make sure, if you can, that the driver is not drunk before you get in.

Going Shopping


New furniture in Blantyre is expensive.  The best bet is to look for home sales or to buy locally made furniture.  There is great cane and wood furniture for sale around town – sometimes just on the side of the road.  We had great luck with Mr. White, who made us a beautiful cane table and chairs.  If you’re going to be here for a long time, or are moving back with a container, the store Habitat often has gorgeous wooden furniture – it’s expensive, but really beautiful.

Household Items

It’s tempting to stock-up at Game or Shoprite, but you can get much better deals at Sana or some of the smaller Chinese shops.


There are three places in Blantyre that really cater to expats: Shoprite, Chipiku, and Saver’s Choice.  I’m ignoring Game (the mega-South African chain that’s actually owned by Walmart) because it’s SO incredibly expensive that no one really shops there and I’m sure it will go out of business soon.

Shoprite: Also a mega South African chain, but it’s got so many of the things you crave (taco shells, spaghetti sauce, cream cheese, etc.)  It’s not a pleasant shopping experience, as it’s often crowded, but you’re sure to see someone you know.  It’s expensive (butter is now something like 12$) but worth it when you want to cook something special.

Chipiku:  a Malawi chain that is smaller than Shoprite, but often cheaper and much more pleasant to shop in – they have lots of stuff for expats (pasta, chips ahoy cookies, snickers bars, etc) but not quite the range that Shoprite has.

Saver’s Choice: on the road to Limbe, it’s impossible to get to, but it’s worth a visit. They often have really hard to find things like Thai curries, chocolate instant coffee mixes, and cranberry sauce.  Their baked goods are amazing and they often have the best mozzarella cheese.

Fresh Produce

The Blantyre market is a great place for fresh produce.  There are stalls full of colorful fruit, vegetables, and grains.  It is daunting, however, as you park your car and it is immediately surrounded by 15 boys wanting the job of either guarding your car while you shop, or providing shopping bags and carrying your groceries.  My tactic is usually to try and pick the same guy to help with groceries and the car.  I know it sounds pretentious to have someone follow you around carrying things for you, but it is providing an income – however small.

The Limbe produce market is even better.  It’s a massive covered building that feels clean and bright.  The prices are usually lower than Blantyre and the selection is better.  It’s just kind of a pain to get out there.

Just know that as a mzungu, you’re going to pay a bit more than Malawians at the market.

If you need fresh vegetables but can’t be bothered with the hassle of the market, there is a small store run by local farmers.  The selection is limited and the prices are higher, but it’s much less fuss.  The store is in the Tea Planter’s Association parking lot in Kidney Crescent.


You can tell if it’s a good day to buy meat at Shoprite based on the smell of the meat section.  Often it’s fine, but there are days when it’s best to just stay away.  I also buy meat at Superior Halal, on the highway b/w Blantyre and Shoprite or Meat Connection – across from Hotel Victoria – while it’s all frozen, the quality is excellent.  They also sometimes have nice splurges like frozen calamari.


Shopping for wine at Shoprite or Game can give you a heart attack – the prices are shocking.  But luckily, there are a few local places with better selection and much more reasonable prices.  Chipiku has a good alcohol section near their grocery store.  My favorite, though, is ASAP.  Located in a warehouse on Kidney Crescent, it usually has pretty good stock – they will also call you if they get a new shipment in.  It’s located behind Tiyeni and across from Blue Elephant.


Personally, I love to go market shopping for second hand clothes.  All those clothes you donate to GoodWill or Oxfam end up here, and after a good wash, they are almost like new!  I’ve found some amazing dresses – Zara, Banana Republic, J Crew, etc.  Limbe is better than Blantyre and again, you have to be patient, but it can be really fun and really cheap.  The market is also the perfect place to find costumes.

I really regret not having more clothes made.  Just as I’m leaving, I’ve found the most amazing seamstress named Clara – I have her information if anyone needs it – she’s so talented, her English is perfect, and her prices are amazing.

Curios and Decorative Items

The Curio market in town is well-stocked, but a nightmare.  It’s generally pretty empty, so when someone comes up to shop, all the vendors surround them.  It can be stressful.  You can get great deals there if you’re willing to be firm and to bargain well.  The vendors are pretty adept at sizing you up – have you been here awhile or are you fresh off the boat.  A general rule of thumb is that with curios, you should pay 1/3 of the original asking price.  For me, though, I try and figure out what something is worth to me and as long as I’m happy and the vendor is happy, everyone wins.

The Lilongwe curio market is better than Blantyre – it’s more spread out and I think they hassle you less.

The BEST place to shop for curios is on the Zomba road in between Zomba and Liwonde.  At the bottom of the big hill (going towards Liwonde) there is a row of shed son the right, mostly selling Chief Chairs.  The chairs are Gorgeous – beautifully and intricately carved.  Even if you’re the only one there, the vendors don’t pressure you – they let you look and decide on your own.  The prices are incredible.  We bought several large chief chairs for 3500 MK when in town it would be 13,500.

If you visit the lake, often vendors will come to the lodge or cottage where you’re staying – I like shopping this way too – it’s often low stress and cheaper prices.

While Malawi is known for its beautiful wooden carvings, the country also has a devastating deforestation issue – so if you’re like me, you’ll wrestle between trying to provide some income for the carvers and vendors and wanting to protect the natural resources.  I don’t really have an answer.

La Caverna

Situated in the first floor of Mandala House, the gallery has a beautiful selection of artwork, carvings, books, textiles, and jewelry.  Their prices are much higher than the market, but it’s a pleasant place to shop and the quality of art is always high.


A little more jumbled than La Caverna, Habitat also has some beautiful things.  The prices are pretty good and the selection is more varied than La Caverna.

Central Africana

A nice, but expensive bookstore.  A great place to find old maps or prints, and it has an amazing collection of antique books pertaining to Africa.

Kwa Haraba

Locally owned, it’s located on Glyn Jones across from Metro.  It’s a small shop and a little crowded with items, but the owner’s mission is to promote and preserve Malawian cultural heritage.  It has a great selection of artwork and carvings and has some unique items (like a hand painted sign illustrating the Chichewa word Umandigiligisha – or ‘you tickle me silly.’)


Ishq should really be its own category – it’s very upscale and expensive, but has some lovely things.  Located next to Wilderness Safaris in Ryalls, it has nice imports (such as paper and leather goods from Italy) but I really go there for the jewelry.


Located on Haile Salassie, this store has almost everything you need in terms of textiles.  You can buy kikois, zitenje, and fabric for making clothes.  They also copy keys.


There are SO many things to do if you’re sporty.  I remember meeting the legendary Maggie O’Toole when I first arrived and was so excited “do you bike? mountain bike? hike? play tennis? play squash? run up mountains? run on flat surfaces for miles and miles? play volleyball? do aerobics? play golf?”  I had to hem and ha and say that no, I really don’t do any of that, but the point was that all of that is on offer in Blantyre.

The Blantyre Sports Club

An old school colonial institution, it has a nice golf course but a tendency to be snooty.  If you’re looking for a place to play sports and exercise, the College of Medicine sports complex is nicer (especially the squash courts) and cheaper.

The Mountain Club of Malawi

A great way to meet people, the club hosts events, socials, and organizes regular trips up Mt. Mulanje (and other mountains too!)


Check Carole Varndell’s weekly email updates for more sporty activities – there is a golf tournament every Wednesday, Circuit training Tuesday/Thursday, Zumba classes, volleyball, etc.


Here are some words that I was unfamiliar with that are now firmly imbedded in my lexicon:

Braii – Africaans word for bar-b-q

Khonde – Africaans word for porch

Iwe – Chichewa for ‘you’ but is used informally for children

Mzungu/Azungu (Sg and pl) – word used for white person

Green – A Carlsberg beer

Bo – an informal way of saying ‘hi how are you’ – great for speaking with little kids

Sharpe – (pronounced shap) is usually said with a thumbs up – it can mean great, yes, thanks, you look amazing, you’re snazzily dressed, or I’ve run out of the four Chichewa words I know.

Bodza – (pronounced bode-za) Chichewa for ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ – kind of like accusing the speaker of exaggerating (especially handy if you’re in the market and they quote an absurd price)

Most of all, Enjoy your new Home!  Hope you love it as much as we did!


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84 responses to “An Insider’s Guide to Blantyre, Malawi

  1. Bookido

    Hello, I am coming to Malawi next week to document the new president first 100 days. Im an American living in South Africa and wanted to know if I could get the name of the NGO you are working for and if possible to stay in contact when I arrive. I will be with a medical group who are working to help the president’s new health initiative. Take care
    my email bookido(at)
    Alvin S.

  2. Anonymous

    Nice article… I am a Malawian whose lived in Blantyre and Lilongwe, and I would say this is about right. The information is bo. Shap. Later

  3. Isobel McDonnell

    Hi Kate,
    I’m moving to Blantyre tomorrow, amazing information on the blog. Would you let me know Clara’s details? I’d be incredibly grateful. Best wishes, Isobel (

  4. heike

    Hi, good information just to add a bit more if you like beef filet, than try it at Chitawire Supermarket ( its at the big road behind shoprite ), they have the best and cheapest filet in town, even if the market smells a bit. At a Saturday you can also buy your story in front of the shop, a nice lady sells used books….
    …since Ori has a shop at the highway to Limbe it makes more fun to buy your saugeges there, its not the cheapest but sometimes it tastes almost like Europe if you miss it to much.
    Second hand clothes I agree 100% with Limbe Market, or try it at one of the DAPP shops in town, smaller choice but not that busy like Limbe.

  5. Ursula

    Hi, I’m living in Blantyre and would like the contact details for your seamstress and your mechanic. Thanks for this useful Blog…Ursula…email address:

  6. sathel

    Everything said here is quite true I have gone through some blogs before and i was shocked about what they said. Malawian people are very friendly and they are approachable. I was born and raised in Malawi i moved to Europe in 2004. I still love my home land.

  7. Ingrid

    Hi – We just moved to Blantyre with 2 kids – wondering if anyone knows if there are Chichewa classes/ groups – especially for kids. Or if not, advice on a good way to get the kids to play with Malawian children. It looks like a lot of the primary schools are English only

    • Hi there! I am not aware of any classes for children but you might want to ask on the btxp Facebook page – someone there might have more current information.

      I know that open arms in Blantyre has children from 0 to about 12 years old and would probably love to have visitors at their foster homes… And Samaritans trust might also be a good place to try…

      Enjoy Blantyre!

      Sent from my iPad

    • Hi, i want move to blantyre to live and work, any guide on how to sucure a room apartment? or where to be. Tanks

  8. Patrick

    Hey, thank you so much for this great info — I think we may be moving there in June or so. Do you have any info about internet speeds? I’ve got two little ones and their Grandparents would murder me if they couldn’t Facetime or Skype video chat!

    • Hi there! Such an exciting move… I’m sure you will love Malawi! We had Internet through a dongle which plugged into the USB port and could be used anywhere – ours was not sufficient for video chat most of the time – every once in awhile we would catch it on a good moment. But my husband’s boss had skyband and it was fast but very expensive. So there are options (and perhaps even more six months after we left) but it can be expensive…

      Hope this is helpful!

      Sent from my iPad

      • Patrick

        You’re fantastic! No chat would probably nix Blantyre — and probably Malawi — as an option, so it’ll just have to be the cost of doing business.

    • Anonymous

      If you get a Skyband dongle (around £30) then you can buy data for around £5 per gigabyte. Fast enough for video Skype and 1 GB will give you about 2.5 hours. Definitely worth it for keeping in touch!

      • Candice Hattingh

        Hi Kate, thank you for the information on your blog. We are possibly moving to Blantyre, I have to small children, 5 and 2. Could you let me know what the Malaria is like. Is it a problem? In terms of having another baby, what are the hospitals like?
        Thank you

      • Hi Candice,  I sent you an email!

  9. Patrick

    Oh, I just saw that you went home expecting and with your hubby st
    arting MBA school. Great stuff and good luck!

  10. agie

    Not bad at all. I could say for strangers you did a good job. So are u guys are bak in America?

  11. Lisa

    Thank you so much for such a helpful blog. Myself and my fiancée Chris are moving to Blantyre between Feb and March and reading your blog has made it so exciting! I’m sure I’ll be on to you again with questions but for now – just a big thank you!

    • I’m so glad you found it helpful! We absolutely loved our time there! Please feel free to ask questions! Also the facebook group btxp+ is a great resource!

      Sent from my iPad

      • Lisa Lennon

        Hi Kate
        I just arrived the other day so loving it so far! We have a pajero jeep that we are considering buying. Could you send me on your mechanic’s details so I can get him to look at it? I will be using your blog like a bible over the coming weeks so thanks so much! I’m sure i’ll be back with questions! Take care, Lisa

      • Hi Lisa! I’m so glad you’re in Malawi and enjoying it! Please send along any questions, or use the Blantyre expat facebook group (BTXP+) which is probably the most up to date resource…

        Our wonderful mechanic was Salim Mojoo – his number is0888963551!


  12. Goliath

    Am impressed with this article. I have been here for in BTz (blantyre) for 23yrs and pround to be a malawian. Malawi is really warm heart of africa.

  13. Hello, thanks for blogging, nice things to know for me and my friend who are gonna stay for a year at montfort/limbe. Cant seem to find the btxp fbpage youre mentioning though, is there a link? And we’re really trying to find a chichewa class, the french cultural center seems to be out of business… thanks again:-) 🙂

    • So glad you found the blog useful! We loved loved our time in Malawi and are so homesick for it – I’m sure you’ll also enjoy it! On facebook, search for BTXP+ and it should come up – as for classes – the French Cultural center is no more, sadly, but there are other ways to take classes – I even know of people who had really good private tutors – that would be a great thing to ask on the facebook page or Blantyre Google chat. Best of luck! Let me know if you need anything further!


    • I am about moving to malawi please how can you help me with a room apartment.

  14. WOW Kate , Good work i almost gave up trying to find Info , Thanks alot a realy Help.

  15. Sarah

    I am staying in Blantyre for a brief 4 weeks working at QECH and nearby hospitals… thank you so much for the information. I would be very grateful for the contact information for the seamstress you recommended – textiles and traditional clothing are big loves of mine. My email is snossov at

  16. Nicki-Ann Stanley

    Lovely introduction to Blantyre thanks. I am also finding it difficult to find the BTXP+ group on facebook – is it possible for you to post the exact link please to that group? Thanks NA

  17. Thanks for your time , we are in the process of maybe getting a car sponsored for a community based association that has worked for ten years in Zomba . If any of you expats want to get involved , we are probably one of the only aid organizations working in the continent , that takes no thing fro admin , travel … . Our project manager would be delighted to show you some of the village projects .
    Zikomo Kwambiri , Margaret

  18. Rachel Fitton

    Thanks for this great blog. Please could you share Clara’s contact details with me.

  19. Patrick

    Hurray, we’re finally here! We’d love to get in touch with Clara if possible, and your mechanic (since we’re on the hunt for a car). Thanks again for the great information.

    • Hi Patrick! I hope you enjoy your time in Blantyre! Clara, the seamstress, is wonderful… Her number is 0999413762…. and our mechanic was Salim Mojoo – his number is0888963551


  20. Alice Taylor

    We are moving in March with two small children. I love your blog, just wondering if you have any thoughts on schools? Looking for small class size and good quality international education. Many thanks alice

    • Hi Alice,

      I’m sure you and your children will love blantyre!!! There are several really good primary schools – St. Andrews was right near us and I know a few families that really loved it. It is an international private school so while I’m not sure about class size, it was supposed to be a really top notch school. Phoenix primary also had a great reputation. Maybe check on face books btxp+ page and see if anyone has any other suggestions!

      Good luck and enjoy!!! Let me know if you need anything else!


      Sent from my iPad


      • Maroof

        I m moving in blantyre with my family hopefully by july 2014. I would like to know the average cost of living alongwith the education exp in USD for a family of 3 including a child of 4 yrs.

    • Anonymous

      Hey Alice —

      We moved here 6 months ago with two small ones — one 3 and the other 7 — and they (we ) love it. They go to St. Andrews, but I understand Phoenix and Hillside are good as well.

      Drop me a note @ and I’ll give you my cell number so you can ask me questions to you hearts content. I know it can be a stress coming to an unknown place with a young family!

      – Patrick

      • Anonymous

        Just saw you posted as we’ll, Maroof. Cost if living is a hard one to judge. You can get by on little, or spend a lot, depending on how you live. You can email me as well, and maybe I can give you better answers.

  21. Kamlesh Rohra

    Hi Kate!!

    Wonderful Blog.. I am moving to blantyre may be by mid of March along with my family.. I just wanted to understand if the city is safe to live..

    Patrick, if you can just tell me the fees you pay at St.Andrews?

    I heard that the country is underdeveloped and very slow.. Standard of living is very poor.. Since I am coming from fast city like Mumbai, India – You think people from big cities will be able to adjust over here?


    • Hi there! Great to hear from you! I always felt very safe, but you do want to use common sense and listen to the advice of locals. Blantyre is a bit slow and sleepy, but we always had plenty to do, places to go, and friends to visit – it’s in one of the most beautiful settings, and there are a number of good restaurants. It will certainly be an adjustment from a big city like Mumbai, but you know that going into it. You may have a few frustrations trying to find specific ingredients or products, but I think you will enjoy all that Malawi has to offer.

      All the best, Kate

  22. América Aguilera

    Thank you very much for such an informative blog! I’m only just discovering it, but then again I only had confirmation two days ago that my boyfriend and I are moving to Blantyre in the summer!
    Are you still in France? I’ve lived in the UK for nearly 8 years but I’m actually French – hope you’re having a good time over there.
    Could you please email me the details of your fantastic seamstress? Thanks!

  23. I’m so glad you’ve found it helpful – We’re home from France, but loved it! I’ll send you Clara’s number asap!

  24. Marcy Isaac

    Very helpful information.
    I currently live in the US and am planning to visit in the summer. Could you recommend someone who can help with investment/business opportunities?

    • Weeza

      Great blog. I have always wondered how nonmalawians felt about our country but i have to agree with you-we are friendly. Seen some people interested in visiting Malawi. My name is Weeza, very interesting lady would be glad to help with anything if you all need any information. Can be reached at yeswiza(at)

  25. dk

    hello i will be coming to blantyre next month as i have got job offer for sales & Marketing, but i have confusion whether malawi and blantyre is safe place regarding personal and family safety and security.

  26. laurabroberts

    Can you email me. I have lots of questions. And want to know how no can learn Chichewa.

    • Hi Laura – I’ll send you an email! Hope I can be helpful! and BTXP+ on facebook is also a great resource – you might want to ask there if anyone has a good Chichewa tutor!

  27. Hi Kate, my husband and I are moving to Blantyre in a couple of months with our baby daughter and I wanted you to know your blog entry is still proving mega helpful and reassuring! Thank you!

    • I’m so glad it’s been helpful! We loved it so much and hope you do too! Remember, BTXP+ on facebook is a lifesaver!

      • Ashleigh O'Connor-hanlon

        I’m trying to find the BTXP+ on facebook as I have just moved to Blantyre but it is proving to be quite difficult. Could you possibly send me the link?

      • Anonymous

        Hi Ashleigh, I was in Blantyre last year and had the same trouble but BTXP is a private group on facebook so you just need to get someone to add you to the group once you’re there. Enjoy Blantyre! We had an amazing year there – hope you love it as much as we did!

  28. Sanna Waseem

    Thank you so much for an informative and reassuring introduction to Blantyre. Is anyone here able to add me to the BTXP+ group on facebook? I move to Blantyre on the 5th of December so would be nice to have some idea of things going on when I arrive.

  29. Anonymous

    Hi everyone,

    I am visiting Blantyre and wonder if anyone has any local and expat restaurant&bar recommendations?

    Many thanks

  30. pia likoya

    hi kate
    nice blog. i’m a malawian by birth but relocated to england in the 80’s. just a quick correction if you don’t mind. “khonde” is actually an original chichewa word and is not in anyway derived from afrikaans.

    “bo” meaning good is a corruption of the french word ‘bon’ as in bon jour.

    “sharp” of course is the same as ‘sharp’ in english only it’s been chewalised in the way it is pronounced ie shapu.

  31. Sonia

    Please can you send me Clara’s information? Thank you so much!

  32. Arif Mohammad

    Kate.. Thanks a lot for such a nice blog. I am in Malawi for last 2 months and most probably I’ll we be here for more 5 years. So it’s going to help me a lot. Unfortunately I am not able to find the BTXP + on Facebook. Can you please send me a link to

  33. I want to thank you Kate for the information,
    I need to ask you about good schools for pre-school/kinggarden
    and how did you manage with malaria specially with kids (2.5 year and 7 month)


  34. Can you please add me to the facebook group BTXP +
    my email mohammad.tina(at)

  35. obert chibende

    Hello Kate, thanks for the infor about Blantyre. Am already in Blantyre and have just secured a flat in Mandala area. I would like to acquire some household furniture including electricals/electronics stuff. Could u plz link me up with anyone selling used goods

    Obert Chibende
    0888 951955

    • Anonymous

      Carole Varndell 3/12/15
      To: “Undisclosed-Recipient:;”

      Dear everyone,
      The following items are available for sale – not all are in working order and all are being sold
      as they stand. – Suit a “fix it” person. Prices are cheap, to clear, but may be slightly negotiable.

      1. 1 Defy cooker – new element – EXCELLENT CONDITION – WORKING ORDER – K95,000

      2. 1 Upright double door freezer – Samsung.
      Not working, – may be the compressor. – K40,000

      3. 1 Bosch washing machine. Starter button damaged but does start from on/off socket plug.

      However, doesn’t complete cycle K25,000

      4. 1 Samsung washing machine, only 2 years old. In good condition.

      New spare part from SA fitted, – working, but cycle doesn’t complete. – Timer ? – K35,000

      CONTACT : 0999960191 to make an appointment to view – This house is in Limbe

  36. Anonymous

    Carole Varndell Attachment 3/12/15 Photos
    To: “Undisclosed-Recipient:;” Active View
    10 attachments (total 278.4 KB)
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    View slide show (10)Download all as zipAdd all to OneDrive
    Dear everyone,
    The items listed and some shown on the photographs are available for sale now.
    CASH SECURES and transport is the responsibility of the purchaser.
    Some are used, some new – PRICES ARE VERY REASONABLE TO CLEAR !
    PG-6G-14A — Work Station (NEW) MK165,000

    PG128B-22C — Directors Desk (NEW) MK550,000

    PG-H80-34A — 3 Executive Chairs (NEW) MK90,000 each

    7 black — Exec Office Desk Chairs (OLD) MK30,000 each

    1 grey — Desk With Drawers MK35,000

    12 x Grey office desks MK35,000 each

    1 x reception desk MK70,000)

    9 filing cabinets MK20,000 each

    4 Wall unit – shelves with pigeon holes MK25,000 ea

    3 plain bookcases MK20,000 ea

    1 bench MK25,000

    1 round table MK15,000

    8 Blue chairs MK15,000 each

    Various other Desks available – not listed


    Please call – OFFICE HOURS – 0999222001 to make an appointment to view – this sale is in Chirimba

  37. Anonymous, You can join Carole mailing list- send her a request to join group. She mails out whats happening in Blantyre, etcc.. very helpful

  38. Anonymous

    Hi Kate,
    We’re about to move to Blantyre in May and your blog has been invaluable! We’re looking to rent a 3 bed home and the info you listed has been heaps better than the estate agent gave thanks for that! And good to know that Phoenix school is rated highly as we have our 7 year old registered there. Looking forward to a new adventure and getting to know what sounds like a wonderful, friendly town.
    Cheers, Sue

  39. Hi, Thanks for promoting Carole’s mailing service. We took over a few months ago and turned what she did into a fully fledged brand experience. She believed in our vision to expand her service. It is now We are working tirelessly to provide the right information to travelers and people moving to Malawi in general. We will always endeavor to maintain the initial experience Carol provided through her emails, with information that is only relevant to you, the user. Have a look at the site for more information and you can register on the site as well to receive information. We have also provided the capability to select only the information you wish to receive when registering.

    Also, please be sure to add us to your SAFE SENDERS list on your computer so that our mails are not trashed as SPAM if you do register.

    Thanks, and let us know if you wish to share any useful information that you know would assist the community in general.

  40. Elizabeth

    Hie iam a malawian living in the usa right now. Am just happ reading ur blog about blantyre. Thumbs up u can contact me

  41. vero seleman

    I can help u taking u places and with clothes african wear u can whatsapp mi on this +265881666661… Am sure u wil love it here i can also teach you chichewa..

  42. vero seleman

    I can help by taking u to many places and i know were to find good clothes am a malawian i can also teach u chichewa u can contact me on dis number whatsapp me +265881666661

  43. vero seleman

    I can help taking u to many places and with cloths i can take u around btz and i can teach chichewa whatsapp me on +26588166661 u wil enjoy here am telling u

  44. ricciroyalreign

    Some words are not correct… Bodza can be an exaggerated accusatory mark.. but it also means lie.. mabodza is lies.. I love my country! Can’t wait to move back next year! Please email me, would love to know about the current situation there from an Americans point of view, as I live in Atlanta, Georgia now. I am a writer and excited to come home soon..
    Mulungu aku dalitseni (God bless you) 🙂

    • Thanks for the Chichewa help! So exciting you’re headed home soon – I wish we could give some up to date info but we’ve been back in the states for a couple of years now – wishing you all the best!

      Sent from my iPhone


  45. What a great guide! I consider Blantyre to be my city. And I would say this is about right! Well done!

  46. Ciku N

    Just thinking about a job in Blantyre (I am at the “to apply or not to apply stage”) and this was very helpful in giving a glimpse of a city I know nothing about. Thank you.

  47. Pingback: Redefining Rural in Malawi | The Elm

  48. I like a few others on this post am having trouble locating the BTXP+ group on Facebook. Could someone be so kind as to add me to the group. email is Many thanks

  49. Pamela Kidron

    I am coming to Malawi in September and looking forward to having some clothes made there. You mention the seamstress Clara in Blantyre? How can I find her? Do you know a seamstress in LeLongwe? Where are best places in Malawi to buy textiles?

  50. Louise

    Thanks so much for this, its amazing. I was also wondering if I could have Clara’s details … My email is thanks!

  51. Paul

    Hi Kate,
    I loved your blog its some of the best information I have found so far. I am English and My wife is from South Africa we are living in Cape Town. We are thinking of retiring to Malawi in around 75 years time. Have you met anyone in your time there that has done this? We are looking for any advice we can get to help us out.

    Kind Regards


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