Akagera National Park, Rwanda.


Land of a thousand hills

If one were to open the hefty tome of the world and leaf through the pages of Africa, they might pause at the chapter on Rwanda, a land so improbably verdant and undulating that you half expect it to leap off the atlas and roll up like a lush green carpet. It’s the sort of place that seems to have been created with the express purpose of leaving visitors wide-eyed and fumbling for their cameras.

Rwanda, with its reputation for being the “Land of a Thousand Hills,” is not content to simply sit pretty in photographs. It invites—no, insists—that you step into its embrace. For the digital nomad, the embrace is just as warm, wrapping around you with reliable connectivity that whispers sweet nothings of uninterrupted video calls and seamless file uploads.

Kigali, the heart where the pulse of the country gently throbs, is a marvel of order and ambition. Its streets, clean enough to shame the most fastidious of health inspectors, are lined with cafes that serve up a robust Rwandan coffee—a brew so potent, it could kick start a dormant volcano. And indeed, the country has its own share of sleeping giants, with the Virunga volcanoes in the distance standing guard like stoic sentinels of the horizon.

But to dwell only in Kigali would be like going to a banquet and only nibbling on the bread rolls. Rwanda unfurls in a panorama of experiences, from the misty enigma of the Nyungwe Forest, where the trees are so high they tickle the belly of the sky, to the mirrored expanse of Lake Kivu, a body of water so serene it could calm the thoughts of a caffeinated philosopher.

For the more intrepid souls, there’s the singular thrill of sitting within a whispering distance of mountain gorillas, an experience so profound that it reduces your life’s grand narrative to a footnote. And as the equatorial sun dips below the mountains, painting the sky with strokes of tangerine and lavender, the digital nomad sits back, laptop closed, the silence around only broken by the tapping of a distant woodpecker or the soft sigh of the African wind, thinking, “Well, this beats the Monday morning meeting.”

I. The basics

Cost of living

1. Accommodation

  • Budget Options: Hostels and shared apartments in Kigali can range from $150 to $300 per month.
  • Mid-Range Options: Private apartments or studio flats can cost between $300 and $600 per month, depending on location and amenities.
  • Luxury Options: Upscale apartments or houses, particularly in expat-favored neighborhoods, can start at $600 and go upwards of $1200 per month.

2. Utilities

  • Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage: For a standard 85m2 apartment, this can range from $20 to $50 per month, depending on usage.
  • Internet: High-speed internet packages can range from $30 to $100 per month, with the higher end providing faster speeds and higher data caps.

3. Food and Groceries

  • Local Markets: Fresh produce and local goods can cost approximately $15 to $30 per week.
  • Supermarkets: A weekly shop for a wider range of goods, including imported products, can range from $40 to $100, depending on dietary habits.
  • Eating Out: A meal at an inexpensive restaurant may cost around $2 to $5, while a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant can range from $10 to $25 per person.

4. Transportation

  • Public Buses: A one-way ticket on local transport is typically less than $1.
  • Moto-Taxis: Short rides start at around $1 but can go up to $5 for longer distances within the city.
  • Car Rentals: Starting from $40 per day, depending on the vehicle model and rental period.

5. Healthcare

  • Health Insurance: International health insurance plans can range from $40 to $150 per month, based on coverage levels.
  • Doctor’s Visit: A standard consultation in a private clinic can cost between $20 and $50.
  • Medication: Prescription drugs’ prices vary, but generic medicine is generally affordable.

6. Leisure and Entertainment

  • Gym Membership: Monthly fees can range from $20 to $60.
  • Cinema Ticket: A single movie ticket is around $5 to $10.
  • Tours and Activities: Guided tours, such as a safari in Akagera National Park, can start at $100, going up depending on the length and exclusivity of the tour.

It’s important to note that these figures are estimates and the actual cost can vary depending on personal preferences, lifestyle, and changes in the local economy.

Connectivity and infrastructure

Rwanda’s rapid development in the tech sector has earned it the nickname “the Singapore of Africa,” with Kigali setting the standard for connectivity on the continent. The city is wired with an extensive fiber-optic network, ensuring that digital nomads can count on high-speed internet for their work. This has attracted a number of international tech companies and startups, further boosting the infrastructure. For the remote worker, this means you can enjoy seamless video calls and data-heavy tasks without interruption.

Coworking spaces are a cornerstone of the digital nomad community in Kigali, offering not just reliable internet, but also opportunities for networking and community events. They range from quiet, library-like settings for deep focus to more vibrant, café-style spaces that encourage collaboration and creativity. Prices are competitive, making these spaces accessible for longer-term stays.

When it comes to transportation, Kigali’s options are both modern and efficient. The city has invested in a well-organized bus system with designated lanes and digital fare systems. For quicker trips, the ubiquitous moto-taxis offer an affordable and flexible way to navigate the city, though haggling over the price is part of the experience.


In Rwanda, the healthcare system has seen significant improvements in recent years, with investments in both facilities and training. Public hospitals provide basic care and are a testament to Rwanda’s commitment to improving the health standards of its population. For non-emergency medical needs, local clinics and pharmacies are readily available and can provide a range of over-the-counter medications and advice.

For digital nomads, the private healthcare sector in Kigali is the preferred choice. These facilities boast modern equipment, shorter wait times, and a roster of medical professionals, many of whom have trained internationally. English is commonly spoken, which helps in easing communication for international visitors. It’s recommended that digital nomads secure a comprehensive health insurance plan that covers both local treatment and medical evacuation, should the need arise.


Rwanda’s reputation for safety is well-deserved and is a major draw for international visitors, including digital nomads. The country has made remarkable strides in public safety and governance, creating an environment where visitors can feel secure. Kigali, in particular, is known for its cleanliness, orderliness, and strict law enforcement, which includes a zero-tolerance policy for corruption.

The Rwandan government’s emphasis on community policing has contributed to the country’s low crime rates. For added security, it’s common to see private security personnel at hotels, restaurants, and public buildings. Political stability is another factor that has contributed to the country’s safe environment, with the government fostering a sense of unity and national identity.

Emergency services in Rwanda are reliable, and the country has made efforts to improve response times and the quality of service. In Kigali, emergency numbers are clearly communicated, and there are hotlines available for police, fire, and medical emergencies. Digital nomads can expect professional treatment from emergency responders, who are trained to handle a variety of situations efficiently.

II. Living in Rwanda as a digital nomad


Rwanda enjoys a temperate tropical highland climate, largely due to its elevation. The average daytime temperature is around 22°C (72°F), dipping to 15°C (59°F) at night. There are four seasons: a long and a short rainy season, and a long and a short dry season. The long rains fall from March to May, and the short rains occur between October and December. The dry seasons are generally from June to September and January to February, which are also the best times for wildlife viewing.


Rwanda’s commitment to its natural heritage is undeniable, with several well-maintained national parks and a host of eco-tourism initiatives. Beyond the famous gorilla treks in the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda is a place of incredible biodiversity. The Nyungwe Forest National Park, a massive montane rainforest, is home to over 13 primate species, including the acrobatic Ruwenzori colobus monkeys and hundreds of bird species, making it a paradise for birdwatchers. The forest’s canopy walk, a suspended bridge 60 meters above the ground, offers a unique perspective on the forest’s flora and fauna.

Lake Kivu’s idyllic shores provide opportunities for rest and recreation, with the Congo Nile Trail attracting hikers and bikers along its scenic paths. The lake itself is a hub for water sports and fishing, and its numerous islands are ripe for exploration. Akagera National Park, in the east, showcases a different side of Rwanda with its savannah ecosystem. Here, safari-goers can spot the Big Five and witness the country’s conservation efforts in revitalizing its wildlife populations.


Rwandan culture is rich and diverse, and this diversity is reflected in its lifestyle. In Kigali, the fast-developing capital, one finds an eclectic mix of traditional arts and modern technology. Art centers and galleries showcase Rwandan creativity, while fashion boutiques offer clothes made from traditional fabrics.

The cuisine of Rwanda is a testament to its agricultural bounty, with dishes that are both flavorful and nutritious. Restaurants in the city serve a variety of cuisines, from local Rwandan fare to international dishes. Traditional Rwandan cuisine is typically made up of simple, filling foods like beans, potatoes, and sorghum, but there is also a variety of fruits and vegetables due to the country’s fertile soil. Street food, such as sambaza (small fried fish from Lake Kivu), provides a taste of local flavors.

When it comes to nightlife, Kigali is known for its safe and vibrant scene. The city has a selection of bars and clubs that cater to all tastes, from quiet spots for a relaxing evening to energetic nightclubs where DJs play the latest East African hits. Cultural events, such as live music performances and dance shows, are a common feature of Kigali’s nightlife, offering a window into the country’s rich traditions.


Rwanda’s culture is a tapestry of art, dance, and music, deeply woven with the threads of history and resilience. The country has a rich cultural heritage, with traditional dance and drumming performances that are a captivating sight. The Rwandan Royal Ballet, known as “Intore,” is a must-see with its elegant, athletic dancers and powerful drummers. The history is palpable in places like the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a solemn and moving site that provides deep insights into the tragic events of 1994 and serves as a place of remembrance and learning.

Museums like the Ethnographic Museum in Butare offer a window into Rwanda’s pre-colonial past, showcasing traditional artifacts and crafts. Historical palaces like the King’s Palace in Nyanza give a glimpse into the regal life of Rwanda’s monarchy and the traditional Rwandan architecture. Local attractions also include the vibrant markets such as Kimironko Market in Kigali, where one can find colorful fabrics, handmade baskets, and a variety of local foods and spices.


The primary language spoken in Rwanda is Kinyarwanda, a Bantu language that is spoken by practically all Rwandans. However, the country has embraced multilingualism as a key to its development and integration into the East African community. English and French are widely taught in schools and used in official contexts, with English being the primary medium of instruction. Swahili, another official language, is increasingly popular and useful for communication in the East African region.

For digital nomads, the prevalence of English means that day-to-day communication in business and urban settings is typically not a barrier. Additionally, many Rwandans working in tourism and urban centers speak some level of English, facilitating easier interactions for visitors. It’s common for signage, restaurant menus, and official documents to be available in English, which greatly eases the experience for international residents.

III. Cities to consider


View overlooking Kigali, Rwanda.
Photo by GATETE Pacifique

As the pulsating heart of Rwanda, Kigali is the premier choice for digital nomads seeking a blend of modern amenities and cultural experiences. The city is admired for its cleanliness, orderliness, and the ease with which one can navigate its hilly landscape. Kigali boasts a robust infrastructure, with reliable internet and numerous co-working spaces. It’s also the hub of Rwanda’s burgeoning tech scene, making it an ideal environment for networking and collaboration. For leisure, there’s no shortage of shopping malls, restaurants, and cultural centers.

Gisenyi (Rubavu)

View overlooking Rubavu, Rwanda.
Photo by Ericnkurunziza

Located on the shores of Lake Kivu, Gisenyi offers a more laid-back vibe compared to the hustle of Kigali. It’s perfect for nomads looking for a slower pace of life without sacrificing connectivity. The town has a number of comfortable lodgings and spots where one can enjoy the stunning views of the lake while working. Gisenyi is also well-known for its hot springs and opportunities for cross-border excursions into the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Musanze's Volcano Sabyinyo, Rwanda.
Photo by Andrew Moore

For those who prefer a cooler climate and proximity to outdoor adventures, Musanze is an excellent option. It’s the gateway to the Volcanoes National Park and a center for gorilla trekking tours. The town offers a range of accommodations and dining options, and while it might not have the same level of facilities as Kigali, it’s growing in popularity with expats and tourists.

Butare (Huye)

Street view of Butare, Rwanda.
Photo by Galinier

Known as the intellectual center of Rwanda, Butare hosts the National University and several research institutions. It’s quieter than Kigali, but with a vibrant student population and a number of cultural sites, including the Ethnographic Museum. Butare is ideal for those who prefer a more academic environment and the opportunity to engage with students and academics.

IV. Off the beaten track

Lake Kivu’s Islands

View of Idjwi island in Rwanda.
Photo by Reshlove

For those seeking tranquility away from any city, the islands on Lake Kivu are an idyllic retreat. Idjwi, for instance, is the largest island in Lake Kivu and one of the most serene places in Africa, largely untouched by modern tourism. It’s an excellent location for nomads who want to work in a peaceful environment and are comfortable with basic accommodations and amenities.

Akagera National Park

Akagera National Park, Rwanda.
Photo by Andrew Molo

For the nature-loving nomad, the eastern province’s Akagera National Park offers a unique opportunity to live and work surrounded by savannah, mountains, and lakes. Lodges within the park provide the necessary facilities for a comfortable stay, and the chance to see wildlife like elephants, lions, and giraffes during breaks is unparalleled.


A woman walks through the fields during harvest in Ruhengeri, Rwanda.
Photo by Mad Knoxx

This area is a bit more rustic and local than the tourist-oriented town of Musanze. Ruhengeri is close to the same attractions, such as the Volcanoes National Park, but it’s quieter and offers a more authentic Rwandan experience. It’s an excellent choice for those who wish to engage more deeply with local communities.

Nyungwe Forest

A road in Nyungwe Forest, Rwanda.
Photo by Faustin T

For digital nomads who are also outdoor enthusiasts, the ancient Nyungwe Forest provides a canopy walk, hiking trails, and the chance to encounter primates and exotic bird species. Accommodations at the edge of the forest offer the necessary amenities for a remote working experience, surrounded by one of Africa’s oldest rainforests.

Cyangugu (Kamembe)

View across Lake Kivu to DR Congo overlooking Cyangugu (Rusizi), Rwanda.
Photo by Adam Jones

Located near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cyangugu is a quiet town with stunning views over Lake Kivu and the surrounding hills. The town is less visited by tourists and offers a chance to experience life in a Rwandan border town, with the added benefit of being near the beautiful Nyungwe Forest.

Choosing to live off the beaten path in Rwanda can be incredibly rewarding, offering a sense of adventure and the chance to integrate with local communities. However, it’s important for digital nomads to consider the availability of reliable internet connectivity, which can be more sporadic in remote areas. Those who prioritize a deep cultural immersion and a connection with nature may find these locations to be perfect for a truly distinctive nomadic lifestyle.

Types of visas available for remote workers 

  1. Tourist Visa: Rwanda offers a 30-day tourist visa on arrival for many nationalities, which can be extended for up to 90 days. This is a quick option for digital nomads who want to explore Rwanda’s suitability for longer stays without committing to a long-term visa.
  2. East African Tourist Visa: A unique offering for travelers who wish to explore the wider region, this visa allows for 90 days of travel within Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. It’s an excellent choice for nomads looking for a broader East African experience.
  3. Business Visa: This visa caters to business professionals who intend to stay longer and engage in various business-related activities. Digital nomads with a clear business agenda in Rwanda may find this visa suitable.
  4. Work Permit: While not specifically designed for digital nomads, a work permit is an option for those who secure employment or establish a business in Rwanda. It requires more documentation and a more substantial process but provides a longer stay.
  5. Long-Stay Visa: Rwanda also offers long-stay visas for various categories, including investors, missionaries, or expatriates. These require more documentation and a clearer purpose of stay but can be beneficial for nomads with long-term plans.

Application process and necessary documentation

  • Online Application: Most Rwandan visas, including the East African Tourist Visa, can be applied for online through the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration website.
  • Documentation: The general documentation required includes a passport valid for at least six months, passport-sized photos, a completed application form, and proof of the travel itinerary. Additional documents may be required depending on the visa type, such as letters of invitation, business contacts in Rwanda, or proof of financial means.
  • In-Country Conversion: It’s possible to enter Rwanda on a tourist visa and then convert it to another visa type without leaving the country. However, this process requires careful planning and adherence to Rwandan immigration laws.
  • Visa Fees: Visa fees vary depending on the type and duration of the visa. Payment is typically made online during the application process.

It’s important for digital nomads to ensure that they are fully compliant with Rwandan immigration laws and to keep abreast of any changes to visa policies. Working remotely on a tourist visa may be tolerated in practice, but it’s always safer to have a visa that accurately reflects one’s intentions to avoid legal complications.

VI. Tips for a smooth landing in Rwanda 

Finding accommodation

Start with a temporary rental to assess which area suits your lifestyle and work needs best. Kigali, with its burgeoning expat community, offers a range of options from high-end apartments to more budget-friendly choices. Websites like Airbnb are good starting points, but also check local Facebook groups and online classifieds. Once you’re ready to commit, real estate agents can provide access to listings not found online. Ensure your long-term housing has reliable internet access, a critical factor for remote work.

Banking and finances

Opening a local bank account makes financial transactions smoother. Required documents usually include a valid passport, appropriate visa, and proof of residence. Mobile money platforms, particularly MTN Mobile Money, are widespread and facilitate quick payments and transfers. Stay current on the exchange rates, and understand how to manage your finances in Rwandan Francs, especially if you’re earning in a foreign currency. For tax purposes, consult with a local tax advisor to remain compliant with local and home country regulations.

Moto-taxis are ubiquitous in urban areas for short distances; always negotiate the fare before the ride to avoid overcharges. For safety, consider using moto-taxis affiliated with recognized companies. For intercity travel, buses are cost-effective and can be booked in advance. Car rental services are available, with or without a driver, but remember that Rwanda is a right-hand drive country. For a balance of convenience and safety, popular ride-hailing apps operate in major cities and are often recommended for newcomers.

Adapting to local customs

Learning basic Kinyarwanda phrases, particularly greetings, demonstrates respect and effort to integrate into the local culture. Rwandans dress modestly, and as a visitor, you should too, especially when outside major cities or in rural areas. ‘African time’ may be an adjustment, with a more flexible approach to punctuality than some are used to. Engage in local customs, such as the community cleaning day, Umuganda, held on the last Saturday of each month—it’s a great way to meet neighbors and make friends. While English and French are spoken, particularly in business and urban settings, having Kinyarwanda language skills will ease daily life and deepen your connection to the local community.

VII. In summary


  1. Cost of living: Rwanda offers affordable living, particularly when compared to Western countries. Essentials like food, local transport, and basic healthcare can be inexpensive.
  2. Internet connectivity: The country has made significant investments in ICT infrastructure, resulting in reliable internet connectivity, a key need for remote work.
  3. Safety: Rwanda is known for its low crime rates, particularly in Kigali, making it one of the safest countries in Africa.
  4. Climate: With its mild temperatures throughout the year, the climate is comfortable for those not accustomed to extreme weather conditions.
  5. Natural beauty: From the majestic mountains to tranquil lakes, Rwanda’s landscape provides a serene backdrop for work and leisure.
  6. Vibrant culture: The country has a rich cultural heritage with numerous festivals, arts, and crafts that offer a window into the Rwandan way of life.
  7. Ease of movement: Compact geography and good infrastructure make it easy to explore the country.
  8. Community: There’s a growing community of expats and digital nomads, providing a support system for newcomers.


  1. Limited healthcare facilities: While basic healthcare is accessible, specialized medical services may not be as developed as in Western countries.
  2. Language barrier: English and French are widely spoken in business and urban areas, but knowledge of Kinyarwanda is essential for deeper local interaction, especially in rural areas.
  3. Variable internet speeds: Despite good connectivity, internet speeds can vary, especially outside of Kigali.
  4. Cultural adjustment: Adapting to local customs and a more relaxed sense of time can be challenging for some.
  5. Limited nightlife: While Kigali has some options, nightlife in Rwanda is not as vibrant or diverse as in larger international cities.
  6. Visa requirements: Depending on the country of origin, obtaining a long-term visa can be a complex process.
  7. Rwanda’s taxation for foreigners: Navigating tax obligations for income earned abroad can be complex and may require professional advice.
  8. Rural connectivity: Remote areas may not have the same level of infrastructure as the city, which can be a setback for those looking to work in more secluded locales.

For the digital nomad, Rwanda extends an invitation to a lifestyle where affordability meets adventure. The cost of living is a significant draw, with essentials and luxuries alike being more accessible on a tighter budget. Internet connectivity, while spotty in rural areas, is generally reliable in urban centers, facilitating the digital work that fuels nomadic life. The sense of security that pervades the country allows for peace of mind, though it’s wise to be cognizant of the limitations in healthcare facilities, especially for complex medical needs.

The temperate climate is a boon for those accustomed to more extreme weather, offering a comfortable middle ground that complements the stunning natural landscapes. Cultural richness is a highlight, with opportunities to engage with local traditions and history that deepen the understanding of this vibrant nation. Nightlife might be subdued compared to global metropolises, but it holds its own allure with intimate gatherings and the natural amphitheater of the African sky.

The administrative side of staying long-term, including visa applications and tax considerations, requires due diligence and can be an intricate process. Yet, those who navigate these waters are rewarded with a balanced lifestyle. Rwanda is a place where productivity can be interspersed with explorations of scenic beauty and cultural depth. It’s not just a stopover but a destination that is more than worthy of consideration in its own right for the digital nomad seeking a stimulating and safe environment from which to operate and explore Africa.

Street view in the old centre of Krakow, Poland.


Between East and West

United States
View of the New York Skyline.

United States

Land of the free

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