I get a lot of questions about living costs and money in Juba. Everyone knows that Juba is an expensive town, ranked 10th in 2012 for expat rent prices. But specifics are hard to come by, and googlegroups like jubalicious are full of extremely overpriced letting agents focusing on 5- or 10-room properties, or all-inclusive $5000+ one room flats. I thought I’d do a quick summary post of the basics of finding, costing and paying for a room in Juba for expats.
Currently the going price of renting a room in an expat shared house in Juba ranges from around $1200 to $2500 per month. These are generally found by word of mouth. If you can’t pay by bank transfer, be prepared to either set up a local $ account with KCB or Equity, which will need proof of residency, or to take a lot of cash with you (which is the usual way of operating in South Sudan – there are NO international cashpoints; Visa and Mastercard don’t operate there yet, so bring cash).
Hotels can be found for about $30 minimum per night, in the Atlabara area or down in Mia Saba etc; I bet longer term rents can be negotiated but these places tend to be attached to quite lively bars. $50-100 is more likely for budget basic places with minimum electricity and dodgy internet.
Anyone changing money at a bank clearly wants to lose 20% of their cash; the black market is the market, although avoid the money changers around Juba Market and the town, who have some criminal activities associated with them (ie disputing what you’ve given them, or plain nicking stuff) and who always take a 5SSP per $100 cut. It’s better to go to a market – Konyo Konyo is fine – and talk to the market sellers about finding the rate. Two weeks ago it was 420SSP for $100, but it changes by 5-10SSP every few weeks; ask people who have no vested interest for a rough idea.