Liberia’s motto is “The love of liberty brought us here,” and it’s fitting since Liberia’s modern history starts with freed black slaves from the United States.
The so-called American Colonization Society had plans to send freed slaves to develop Liberia, and along the way, the immigrants from the United States also grew in number. These Americo-Liberians eventually founded the Republic of Liberia, becoming its own country, despite some long-standing associations as an American colony.
Liberia sounds a lot like “Liberty,” and it’s no coincidence since many cultural landmarks reflect the pre-Civil War era, such as the capital of Monrovia, named after President Monroe. The Liberian flag is designed similarly.
As recently as the 1980s to the early 2000s, Liberia’s own civil war devastated parts of the country. Liberia has been recovering economically over the last 20 years. However, tourism continues to recover slowly, which is why many expats are relocating to Liberia to help restore the land’s former glory and find a lower cost of living along the way.
If you’re interested in relocating to Liberia, here are a few things you should know before planning that first trip. In this discussion, we’re going to discuss the cost of living, as well as other monetary issues.
Traveling to Liberia
First, Liberia consists of three major districts, and visitors are encouraged to visit the Greater Monrovia area or Central Liberia. According to the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, Morovia is the safest part of the country as well as the main population center.
Along with Paynesville and Buchanan (also named after American icons), the great Monrovia area is closest to the embassies. Tourists can reach out to their respective embassy in case of an emergency. Outside of the center, you have Northern Liberia near the St. Paul River and bordering countries Guinea and Sierra Leone.
There is also Southern Liberia, known for the Sapo National Park. There are beaches and beach houses on the Atlantic, such as those found in Harper. Southside is where you also find Greenville, and Robertsport, known for its surfing.
The Cost of Living in Liberia in USD
Depending on where you choose to live in Liberia, the cost of living may differ. Coastal cities like Buchanan don’t offer much in the way of traditional houses. However, in other parts of the country, you will feel welcomed with open arms. There is a nice mix of traditional and western cultures, from African music and dance to music festivals, museums and universities.
Internet and Utility Expenses
Many expats telecommute for work, and so an internet connection is a significant expense. Internet services are higher than average costs than in the U.S. and could be as high as $150.00 for 60 Mbps or more. For prepaid mobile services, the average is 20 cents per minute. Utility bills can run over $200 per month.
Cost of Transportation
Near the Greater Monrovia area, you can expect smoother roads but more narrow streets deeper into the rural areas. If you want a new or slightly used car, prices are average, from $22,000 and up.
Many prefer using taxi or bus services because drivers only get paid when passengers are delivered. For a one-way local transport ticket, you might pay $2.50 or $17 for a monthly pass. Taxi services may charge $3.00 to start and then add .75 cents per mile. Gas is approximately $4.00 to the gallon.
Not counting the price of a car, gas, and insurance might run between $50 to $100.00 per month.
Groceries / Cost of Food
According to the Humanitarian Practice Network, Liberia’s food prices have dramatically increased over the past 15 years because of various political and social issues.
The cost of food is relatively close to the U.S. standard in a major city. Apples could sell for over $3.00 per fruit, while heads of lettuce go for over $2.00. Meats can sell from $5.00 to $10.00, and cheese products for even more, selling for over $15.00. Twelve eggs may only cost just over $3.00, and white bread sells at about $2.00.
How much is a Coke in Liberia?
The price of international dessert products, such as a bottle of coke, is slightly less or the same as in the U.S., coming in at over $1.00.
While it wouldn’t surprise the average U.S. citizen to learn fast food restaurants can charge up to $15.00 for a few hamburgers. It might surprise you to know that a full dinner inside a restaurant can be as little as $10 per person. Or $50.00-$100.00 for a three-course meal for two people, slightly better than the urban U.S. average.
Since Liberia stores sell brand name products imported from countries around the world, expect to pay full price for items like jeans and dresses, approximately $50 per item, or over $100 for running shoes or business shoes.
Childcare Cost in Liberia
Putting your child through school can be a costly expense, just as in the States. Preschool or Kindergarten classes can cost over $300 a month per child or well over $1,500 for a primary school.
The cost of entertainment varies according to your hobby. Beer goes for about $3.00 per bottle, as does coffee, cappuccino, or a pack of cigarettes. A gym membership is slightly above price, from $100 to $200. However, a movie ticket is relatively cheap, at $5.00 per person.
Healthcare Cost in Liberia
Liberia has a free market as well as international donor support from investors. Still, the healthcare system has faced challenges in recent years due to a doctor shortage and other factors. According to the World Health Organization, the total expenditure on health per capita is less than $100 a year.
According to level, the cost of a hospital stay could run anywhere from $100-$200 per day, while outpatient costs are $25-$90.
Real Estate Prices in Liberia
Real estate prices in Liberia provide the best opportunity for savings.
How Much Does a House Cost in Liberia?
Good quality homes around Monrovia can sell between $20,000 and $1,000,000. Rural territories go for cheaper, with some areas as low as $400 per acre.
Bear in mind; not all foreign citizens can buy land. Only “Negroes or persons of Negro descent” who complete the naturalization process can purchase land by Liberian law.
Rent in Liberia
Renters could find an even better deal, paying less than $300 per month for a one-bedroom apartment or less than $200 per month in a rural location. Three bedroom apartments go for less than $500 even in the city and less elsewhere.
Related: Cost of Living in Gambia
Taxes in Liberia
Liberia does not have an official Value-Added Tax system. Still, the Ministry of Commerce & Industry monitors prices and sets price ceilings for certain foods and other essential items. There are also various laws about displaying price tags. Keep in mind; however, prices can fluctuate up to five percent based on the market.
According to Pricewaterhouse, a Goods and Service Tax applies to anyone selling goods or providing services, with a few exemptions. The standard rate is seven percent, whereas, for alcoholic drinks, it’s around 10 percent. Telecommunication services have a rate of 15 percent, while certain hospitality or entertainment features like hotels and gambling are taxed at 10 percent.
For exporting goods from Liberia, there is a 0 GST rate; however, it lies around 0-10 percent for importing certain goods.
According to one relocation service, Liberia individual tax is determined progressively by income amount. There is a 0 percent tax rate for up to 70,000 LRD, 5 percent up to 200,000, 15 percent up to 800,000, and 25 percent over 800,001.
The average U.S. citizen making an average of $2,000 a month would fall under the category of 25 percent tax.
Related: Madagascar Cost of Living
Real Estate and Property Tax
The tax rate on a home is one-fourth of the assessed value. For commercial or farm properties, the rate is 0.5 percent. Whereas, for a vacant land, it is about five percent of the value.
The Hut Tax is a replacement plan for the Head Tax, which required members of a village or town to pay for dwelling. The annual Hut tax is only about $4.00.
Retirement income is treated as income, and all residents are taxed, regardless of source. If you have a corporation, the tax rate is higher, at 25-30 percent for most companies, but with concessions.
According to the Social Security Administration, Citizens of Liberia are also qualified for limited retirement benefits, which are 25 percent of average monthly earnings plus some extras. There is also an option for a lump sum, equal to employee contributions plus interest.
Before relocating, be sure to read up on various inheritance laws in Liberia. For a while now, there has been a movement to give Liberian women rights for land inheritance and strides have been made as recently as 2019.
Related: Most Affordable Places to Buy Property in Europe
If you’re visiting or immigrating to Liberia, you must have a visa. Expats can get a visa from the Liberian embassy, whether for Single Entry (up to three months) or Multiple Journey (for 2-3 years.
Costs can vary though, according to US Travel Docs, the visa price can be between $160.00 and $265.00. Immigrants are also required to have proof of vaccination for yellow fever, as well as health insurance. Longer period visas may also require an invitation letter or proof of sponsorship, or may not be needed, depending on circumstances.
The Average Income in Liberia
According to Britannica, Liberia’s economy is mostly farmland and crop harvesting. Additionally, it also includes the production of raw materials and some equipment for export. Shipping is also a thriving industry, thanks to its easy shipping laws, allowing foreign ships to a flag of convenience.
Liberia remains one of the world’s poorest countries, with most people living below two dollars a day. However, expats who have either retired or have income from telecommuting jobs could live comfortably in the country.
Expats report an average cost of living at $700 per month, but for just one person. For a family of four, the average increases to about $1,300 per month.
How Much Do You Need to Retire in Liberia?
If you generate over $700 a month and have a one or two-person family, you can comfortably retire in Liberia. You may make that income by bank interest, investments, or even a Social Security check if you qualify. However, there are special conditions to consider, as THUN advisors point out.
Sample Monthly Budget
- $2000 a month
- Home: $300
- Utilities: $300
- Transportation: $150
- Food: $400
- Insurance: $100
- Taxes and Other Bills: $250
Total Expenses: $1500 per month
Savings: $500 per month
Can I use USD in Liberia?
According to American History, there is still a dual-currency system in effect. However, many in the country have tried to encourage citizens to return to the Liberian dollar.
Don’t assume that credit cards are accepted everywhere. Cards might be accepted in the Monrovia area, but in most parts of the country, only cash is preferred. Furthermore, money exchange locations are not as common as you might think.
How much cash can I bring into Liberia?
There are no limits to the currency you can import or export. However, if you bring in over $10,000, you must declare it upon arrival.
The best advantage of moving to Liberia includes lower real estate prices along with lower tax rates for businesses and individuals. Upon leaving the United States for Liberia, particularly if you have international income, you will immediately find yourself in a position of privilege.
Many retirees and telecommuting African-Americans are interested in immigrating partly because of the good it will do for the community.
If you are worried about soaring prices in the United States and know your income may drop in the coming years, immigrating to the African land of Liberty might turn out to be a solution for you.