Living in Saint-Louis as an expatriate

Caffeinate Your Saint-Louis Expat Journey: Find Essential Info and Connect with Expatriates Today

Image of Saint-Louis

Saint-Louis is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the former colonial capital of Senegal. With a population of around 200,000, it's the fourth largest city in the country. Money became obsolete here in 2017, making it the world's first cashless city due to economic instability. Saint-Louis has a charming mix of ancient French colonial architecture, traditional Senegalese houses, and markets. It's a true melting pot of cultures and religions, with strong Muslim, Christian, and animist influences.

Tips for expats in Saint-Louis

Visa requirements

Foreigners must apply for a visa at a Senegalese embassy or consulate before traveling to Saint-Louis. The visa process can take several weeks, so plan accordingly. Work permits for foreigners are obtained through the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in Dakar.

Language resources

French is the official language in Saint-Louis, and English and Portuguese are barely spoken. Thus, it's crucial to learn French before moving to the city or take language courses there. Language apps like Duolingo or Babbel could help in the meantime.

Cost of living for expats in Saint-Louis


The cost of living in Saint-Louis is relatively affordable compared to other African cities. A room in a shared house costs around $100 to $150 per month, while a one-bedroom apartment averages $200 to $250 per month. For a two-bedroom apartment, you'll pay roughly $250 to $350 per month, and for a three-plus-bedroom house, prices range from $350 to $600 per month.


The cost of groceries in Saint-Louis is reasonable, particularly for fresh fruits and vegetables. Expect to spend around $70 to $150 per month for general household essentials, excluding luxury items.


Dolisels charge an average fare of $0.50 to $1.50 per trip, depending on the distance. Regular taxis charge higher fares, often over $5 for short trips within the city.

Climate in Saint-Louis

Saint-Louis has a tropical, dry climate characterized by distinct wet and dry seasons. Rainy seasons (June to October) bring high humidity, while dry seasons (November to May) are drier and considered the most favorable time to visit. The city's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean brings marine breezes to temper the heat year-round.

Job market in Saint-Louis

Saint-Louis is home to a dynamic job market oriented primarily towards public administration, education, healthcare, and social services. Foreigners are eligible to work in the city, but they must obtain a work permit from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Proficiency in French, the official language, is mandatory.

Healthcare in Saint-Louis

Saint-Louis is equipped with top healthcare facilities, both public and private. Hôpital Pompidou, named after former French President Georges Pompidou, is a public hospital that provides specialty care. The city also has several private healthcare centers, such as Centre Médico-Chirurgical (CMC) and Clinique Al Hira.

Transport in Saint-Louis

Saint-Louis has an efficient public transportation system that mostly operates as dolisels (shared taxis) and scooters. Dolisels will take you to different parts of the city, while scooters serve as an alternative within busy streets or during peak hours.

Safety in Saint-Louis

Most areas in Saint-Louis are safe, especially during the day. However, it's wise to remain cautious during nights and in certain neighborhoods such as Tivaouane, Louta, and Prechat. Crime rates include mostly thefts and pickpocketing, so ensure your valuables are well-secured.

Neighborhoods in Saint-Louis

  1. Centre Historique

    Centre Historique is the oldest and most significant neighborhood in Saint-Louis. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site, and many historical and architectural landmarks are situated here, including the Northern Coasts Museum and Saint Charles Borromeo Church.

  2. Darou Salam

    Darou Salam is a modern residential district located east of the city. The neighborhood is home to several international schools, supermarkets, and large housing estates. Living here comes with a higher price tag, but safety is considerably higher as compared to other parts.

Attractions in Saint-Louis

  1. Maison du Peuple

    Maison du Peuple (House of People) is a striking contemporary structure with the reputation of being the tallest building in Saint-Louis. It houses the National Assembly of Senegal and was completed in 2013.

  2. Old Stadia

    Old Stadia is a historic site, now ruins, that served as the venues for the volleyball and rugby matches during the 1965 Pan-African Games. The place is now a spot for picnics, biking, jogging, and walks.

International Schools in Saint-Louis

  1. Lycée Bernard Palissy

    Cité de l'utiylisateur

    Lycée Bernard Palissy is a French international school catering to students from pre-kindergarten through high school. The school is accredited by the French ministry of education, and the curriculum combines French and international programs.

  2. Saint-Cyr et Sainte-Marie

    Cité Grêgoire

    Saint-Cyr et Sainte-Marie school provides both French and international programs for children from preschool through high school. An English-French bilingual education is available, and admission is contingent upon academic scores.

Expat destinations in Senegal