The Ghanaian Misconception: ‘Those Living Abroad Are Living in Heaven’…You Are Mad!

3 min



When I sit down to ponder over certain things going on in Ghana, I then resort to the saying “experience is the best teacher”. Basically what I want to say is, until you actually get a feel of something, you never know how it is.

Ever since I was a kid and till now, some Ghanaians have this illusion and misconception that whenever a relative, friend or just anybody travels abroad especially when it is to the United States, the person is “IN HEAVEN”.

You might ask why I am saying this, well ever since I got to the United States, every time I start to chat with my friends in Ghana, about 90 percent of them would utter the words “you are chilling ooh boy” just because I told them I am in the United States.

It is true that the US is a place of opportunities but also a place to drain you, especially when you are not a citizen. What I want my beloved Ghanaians to know is that, we do not pluck money off trees wherever we go, we have to work for it, and most of the times, you work more for less.

Sometimes, I do not blame anyone but those Ghanaians living here. My reason is that, we do not tell our folks back home the truth—how the system actually is here. We tend to stunt (show off) to them and lie about the jobs we do here. Yes, I do stunt too, but I do it with my hard earned money from doing some rough restaurant jobs and I tell whoever tell me I’m chilling that. One time I had to take a picture of a pile of dishes to a friend, and he asked me what that was, and I told him I wash dishes, that’s what I do, and that rendered him speechless.

I just find it hilarious when some Ghanaians here tell their folks back home they are working in the hospitals and do not specify what role they play. And so they think like “wow my mum must be making a lot of money”, meanwhile, they are actually scrubbing the floors or just doing some cleanings for a small amount which might not be even enough for him/her after paying all of those large bills.

America is the place you can drive a 2015 BMW when you have not even paid for it because you get it on loan, and so when our people see us in these big cars, their eyes widen and expect more from us.

I would go on and on if I have to elaborate on this very topic, maybe I would continue in my next article with some additional information.

What has your experience with this been?


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  1. My brother its a nice article but the funny thing is when we tell our folks in Ghana all they say is if it’s not good here then we should come…….they still can’t figure why we’re saying that…..all I wanna tell my folks in Gh is that it’s extremely difficult n tiring here.

    1. Difficult and tiring indeed. Don’t you dance for joy at the end of every month? Some Ghanaians are too lazy and complain about everything. Go and settle in Ghana for just a year and see how life will deal with you. There are loads of opportunities in e.g. England that our people in Ghana don’t get an ant size of it which I think we should be thankful for and stop complaining. If you are not an immigrant or crippled with illness then I don’t see why life should be harder for you. Most Africans abroad aren’t discipline and thats why they complain all the time. We love the money but don’t want to work for it, well no one forces you to wake up early and catch a train, bus or drive an hour or two to work, its entirely up to you. I will rather work hard and enjoy my money at the end of the month than to be jobless in Ghana, and even for those who claim to be working in Ghana their monthly salary is peanut. So in all life might be extremely tiring and difficult but in the end you have a huge advantage over your peers living in Ghana. I took a year off my studies and was in Ghana late 2013 to mid 2014 for a job placement year and I cried many times just looking at / hearing about the lifestyle of my work colleagues. I mean how can someone work so hard for a whole month and receive a £100 equivalent in Ghana Cedi as salary and some even take less than that (sad but very funny). My 9months in Ghana was meant to be work and studying, but instead I ended up doing charity work from walking Kobolos to school and paying off their fees to buying food for and supporting some work colleagues. Not that I had much to show off but I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that this people work so hard and yet can barely provide for themselves. So you see why when you tell your folks in Ghana about life abroad being extremely difficult and tiring, “all they say is if it’s not good then you should come home”. It because they work their butts off and get nothing for it whereas you work your butts off and smile/dances azonto at the end of the month. If you don’t enjoy your stay abroad, give it to me and I will swap it with someone for you lol

      1. I gotcha brother, but what my brother said is right, there are people who live good life but still want to be here and therefore, you see doctors turn into cleaners. Thanks.

    2. Yes bros, that’s exactly how it is, I mean some people are living good lives but they still want to be here, it is sweet here when you are all set because I have seen doctors turn into cleaners here… Thank You.

  2. Well, I think the reason why those in Ghana always and will always assume that those in the US are better of is due to the fact that, there are evidence where people go to the States, spend 3 to 5 years there, come back and put up mansions and ride in flashy cars ( I have evidence to.). Yes, like you mentioned, you don’t plug monies on trees.I agree.But I think the perception or should I say, the argument; is not about how you make the monies. I think it’s about the standard of living, the remuneration and the condition of work. Who cares if you scrub toilets and at the end of the day you come back home to set up mansions?.If people who work with Zoomlion (refuse collecting company in Ghana) can even boast of just one single room a veranda after several years of service, I don’t think such people would want to come to the US.
    Did you just say “…they are actually scrubbing the floors or just doing some cleanings for a small amount which might not be even enough for him/her after paying all of those large bills..”? This is what people outside say which I find it difficult to come into terms with. If the situation is as bad as you have described in your article, my simple question is: Why are you still there? Why don’t you come back home, why do you come, spend some few weeks and go back to the US?
    Like you mentioned earlier, experience is the best teacher. So until I visit the US and have a feel of what’s the situation really is, I will always believe that life there, is relatively better. You guy are chilling!!! LOL 🙂

    1. My only advice to you Jak is experence is the best teacher. The guy is right also you can not go back to Ghana with empty hands you can as well stay abroad. Thats why he can not go back to GH, where will you start from. Do you know how those peple in 3 to 5 years made their money? not all money is good money just saying

    2. Yes we are chilling! And we will continue to chill. What of it? We deserve it and have earned the right to chill. You haven’t earned the right to chill because you are lazying about in Ghana. Did you have to shovel and commute in -18 degrees weather to get to work this week? Did you work 12 hours days skipping lunch? Did you have to scrape and brush your frozen car so you can drive home? Did you have to shovel your driveway? Did you write a cheque for a third of your earnings to the government for taxes? Did you pay insurance, heat, gas and water bill? Did you have apple for breakfast because you didn’t want to be late for work? Yes we are chilling. Literally to minus degrees weather.
      3 to 5 years driving flashy cars? Do you know what it takes to do that? I also know a person in Ghana who has changed cars three times in the last two years. Should I use him as a standard that Ghana is chilling? What do you want the writer to do at home if he was to quit and come home? Why do they come for a few weeks and go back? Simple they have jobs and that is all the vacation days they have. Yes the situation is hard here but the answer is not to quit and run back home. It is a lesson those of you in Ghana are yet to learn. If that person scrubbing toilets at schipol was at home you’ll look down on her. It is your(collective) attitude that has condemn some of your people to menial and disgusting jobs abroad.

      1. Wow, great content bros, I glanced over the first sentences and I though wow, my bros killing me but upon finishing the whole thing, you totally get what I’m trying to carry across. Ghanaians are the ones actually chilling, they do not have to wake up every morning and go to work because no one is going to fire them, they ain’t got no phone bills to pay at the end of the month, no rent, at least in Ghana, you can live at people’s houses, but we don’t have all that here, you have to go through cold or hot to get that paper, so they should not say we stunting. I just want them to know it’s not an automatic “chilling” when one get’s here.
        Thank You.

    3. Wow, bros I love this your comment, but hey my dad brought me for a better life and studies, but then when I got here it was not as how we used to think back home, here, a sixteen year old start working so he/she can get some food or things they want for themselves, not everybody tho, once I have gotten here, I am willing to make it before I go back to Ghana. Yes I would go back to Ghana for some days with my family but what I am saying is, we should not think it is easy or because we are here, it doesn’t mean “we are chilling lol”.
      Thank You.

  3. Nice article.Jak raised some nice questions,all he said was valid but you don’t know what people go through to put those mansions and buy those cars.Let me break it down,first is with the terrible weather conditions,more than 6 months I have to live in terrible cold both winter and spring( -15).Secondly people get nostalgia or home sick,apart from everything it been money or good life like you made to believe,when I hear the announcement,you’ve just arrived in KIA(Accra) boss I feel like Christmas….Do you know how many hours I need to drive or sometimes take a flight just to eat my favorite fufu.Hmm whoever says home no sweet na lie.I can speak for my over 60 year old parents still baffling and hustling with the North East weather,they wish to come home if Ghana could just be half of what they have.I have friends who developed so many illnesses from living abroad.Be happy with what you have,no racism,no distance relationship,you have the whole family with you and a nice weather.Just make some few bucks and who said they’re no opportunities in Ghana.Ask the Chinese and the Lebanese in Ghana.

  4. Though I blame those of us abroad a little bit for the unnecessary show off, giving those back home the impression that abrokyire is land of milk and honey, those back home are just plainly greedy. Even if they are okay they will still pretend so you can send the your last money.

    They will have two phones back home while you have one and they will still ask you to bring them another phone. I mean they want the latest when you cannot afford.

    Truly, they are mad lol. We have wake up sometimes at 4am to make it to work in the cold and in the snow while they snore loud till 8am.

    If anywhere is heave, it is Ghana not abroad.

    1. Akosua, I think the article should have been specific to saying like : ‘the ordeal of the Ghanaian immigrant in America”. I mean something like that. I remember when Sarkodie did a song, boga, and said ‘New York’ and Germany are nothing to him’. He was missing the fact that America belongs to Americans and not Ghanaian immigrants living there, and therefore not to be hating on New York, but rather Ghanaian ‘boga’s’. If Akosua, you were the daughter of an American, at age16 your Parents will get you a brand new Chevy car for your birthday (driving age); You live in your parents home until you married to leave on your own, and take over family business or property, or get a job with your schooling your family helped piad for. Also all your extended family over generations will be living in the USA – I bet,you would have looked down on that African kid living in Ghana. The American system is definately better than back home in Ghana, but yours won’t have it as easy as the average American citizen, because we Africans are recent immigrants. It will take many years.

  5. Let me come in, as I live here in the USA too. Living in US is definately better than in Ghana. Standard of living is higher, in fact better- even Western Europeans are immigrating here to this country. America is the largest producer of food in the world, and so there is more food, and in variety here than in any country. Also access to goods and services as well as jobs is better?
    It is a country of mostly immigrants. The system works best for mostly the European Americans (whites) , and Latina Americans (central and Latin Americans) and some how east Asian-Americans because their people have lived here for centuries since the early history of the country, as well as having a large community in the country. For Ghanaians , and Africans for that matter we have a small community in this country, including being recent immigrants. To even get married, we look back to Africa for our spouse because of our small number here. We do not own our own multi million companies etc, and therefore depend on the white man for employment etc, and they own everything.
    Ghanaians back home should understand we won’t have it here as easy as the majority white and Hispanics, who are early settlers of this country and been here for generations.

  6. Akosua is so right.hmm they back home enjoying the fufu and aponkyi and get up 8 in the morning,how many Ghanaians work in the evenings or have the shift system.Sometimes you work the whole night till morning.I don’t remember the last time I had 7 hours sleep.About their greediness I wouldn’t even go there.My last trip to Gh,can you imagine my pals come to my home to even grab milk,drinks….to their homes.Even in Ghana I was nearly ripped of because they found me wanting when it came to calculating the Ghana cedis.For the phones,laptops hmm let me save my breath.I always tell my pals I wish they can all come over and see for themselves.When I was living in Ghana I also had similar expectations and was always angry with my folks for enjoying there( heaven) and making me suffer back home,but after arriving here the reality and understanding came naturally.I think if our country can have good health care,quality transportation,robust economy most of us will surely come back but for now if we even we come back,where are we going to start from….

    1. But how can we begin to have all the things that you want from your country when we all run to other countries and don’t return and feed back into the system. YES we have a corrupt government but I feel as Africans we don’t want to suffer for a better future. All we want is comfort and to ‘live good’. Living good in Western society which is legal ( no prostitution or 419) is difficult. I comes at a HUGE price. I know many African abroad who are ill with diseases due to the so called food that the commented mentioned above. ill due to have to work beyond what the body can take. Working 2 sometimes three jobs…what for? Yes we need basics to survive back home, water electricity but when all the people run off for a better life and do not return HOW will it get better? it hasn’t and it won’t. So many of our four father fought to try and make things better I even see one or two figures in Ghana trying to lead people on the right path but because he says you need to fight and work ppl say he is stupid and doesn’t know what he is talking about. Its crazy to me that we work like dogs for the white man but when it comes to our own country we walk away and turn our backs. I agree that ppl back home cannot understand until they arrive and see for themselves. But at least people who have toiled enough also want to return back home now because they know living abroad is somewhat of a fallacy. There will be hard times where ever you live why not at least spend your money and building your own country instead of someone else’s?

  7. There is only one thing in Ghana that is better than the American system to me. ie, Ghana is a ‘social democrat country’, with goods and services in the control of the government. Transportation, housing (I mean government is even responsible for providing accommodation /bangallows to workers, even hotel bills for chraj boss), health insurance, waste managent, employnent etc. In America it is the opposite, you are responsible for yourself, forget about the government. In capitalism, the private man provides all the services, : and that you work hard to pay overwhelming bills. Former American President, Herbert Hoover once said, ‘The trouble with capitalism is capitalists; they’re too damn greedy’.

    1. Lol… I can’t stop laughing. You mean our skewed opinion about social democacy? My brother nothing seems to work. ItIt’s just a way the ruling class rip off the masses in Ghana by crying out social democracy. Although here in the UK is a capitalist economy I personally don’t mind paying for stuff that really work. And talking abt transport? I actually did see the prime minister taking the same train as I was taking here. And not to talk of NHS… just tell me one social democratic policy that really works for the masses in Ghana?

  8. Let me also say some lol. Well, i do agree with some of the above comments. Ufortunately, some of us r not helping. Too much show offs. Until they come here, nothing will change their minds.

    1. Haha, in my opinion, if everybody here in America go to Ghana, and everybody in Ghana go to America, Ghanaians would still want to go back to Ghana. LOL

  9. u can make opportunities for yourself, where ever u are however i think there are more opportunities in England than Gh. Why? b’cuz secondary education is free, generous welfare state(housing&council tax benefit, Job seekers allowance if u r unemployed, disability allowance etc.) some college courses are free up to a certain age… and even at all if u’ve to pay, there are loads of financial assistance, if u r on low income. there are specialist teachers and teaching assistants and special teaching methods to support dyslexic, autistic, and any other disability one might have. one can get education and become wotever they want to be at any age in England. some Ghanaians working as toilet cleaners, and low income jobs still manage to educate their children privately in Ghana and personally i have come in contact with a lady who claims she wildn’t have afford to put her daughter thru private education if she was in Gh…although she is a full time cleaner. …in England.. All of the above is my own personal opinion and observation… I believe if u r an African immigrant and u do have ur indefinite leave to remain or a British citizen then u can mange living in the U.K. coupled with working hard etc…………..

  10. It is an insult in my books. It is a way of negating the struggles and efforts of those Africans working hard abroad. Don’t be fooled. They know abroad is not heaven and that you work hard to here. Yes those of us abroad “dey chill” but that is because we have paid our dues or continue to do so. We work hard in temperatures Ghanaians at home cannot imagine. Our efforts are rewarded but we still have to work 3 times as hard be comfortable. In Canada the tax system is such that if you are in my income bracket for every three dollars you get to keep one. So it means you have to work three times as hard. So I deserve to enjoy the life here. If Ghanaians at home did half the work we do here they deserve to enjoy too. They don’t and won’t so they don’t deserve to chill. It’s stupid for them to assume that without putting in the work they deserve to chill like those of us abroad. But there is a method to their madness. Let me explain. Ghanaian at home have becomes brazened beggars. Beggars with expensive tastes. The ‘you dey chill’ nonsense is a ploy they use to guilt you into opening your wallet so they can benefit. It is a way of downplaying your toil and sweat so that they can ask for things from you. That is why I find it insulting. It is why they don’t want to accept any explanation that doesn’t fit their begging narrative. When they say if it’s hard here then you should go home. It betrays their mentality towards hard work. To them the alternative to hard work is just to go home and join them in their misery. I have been fortunate that none of the people I know there are close enough to pull ‘you dey chill’ nonsense. My only experience is with a beggar who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Because in his mind his life story was more important than my time and that I have to pay for his misfortune. I told him to go pound sand. Which should be the answer Ghanaians abroad should be giving to those professional beggars at home. Tell them you work your a$$ off and therefore you are entitled to guilt free chilling and enjoyment. Don’t let them get under your skin with their beggars creed and guilty nonsense.