Rukiya McNair on life in Tanzania: “I feel much safer and at ease here”

Many people dream of relocating to somewhere halfway across the world. Whether it’s for their career, love or to embark on an adventure, the idea of upping sticks and setting up shop in a completely different country is something many think about but rarely do.

For Rukiya McNair, this has become her new normal, having lived in Thailand, Rwanda and now residing in Tanzania.

“Life in Tanzania is much more laid back than life in the United States,” says Rukiya. “I feel much safer and at ease here than I did there.”

Rukiya was born in Oakdale – a small suburb outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – and the travel bug was instilled in her from a young age.

“My father used to work for a popular airline, so we travelled quite a bit. My first airplane ride was at the age of 3.” 

Raised alongside her three older siblings in a predominately white area, Rukiya’s upbringing was marred with discrimination from a young age.

“I was raised with two older sisters and an older brother in a predominantly white neighbourhood and school district and I dealt with my fair share of racism,” she says.

“Microaggressions are consistent and living in the United States, there really isn’t a way around it. You just have to learn how to deal with it.”


For the business owner and mother-of-two, her desire to experience life beyond the US continued to grow as the years went by. 

In 2007, Rukiya left the US and moved to Jakarta where she taught English and it was her very first experience living in Indonesia.

Seven years later, she returned with her two children, but this time settling in picturesque Bali.

In 2018, the family moved to Thailand before jetting to Rwanda and then settling in Tanzania in 2018. Talk about globetrotter.

Rukiya and her family moved to Tanzania in 2018

“We initially came to Tanzania as a stop on our way back to Rwanda. I loved it so much that we decided to stay here,” says Rukiya. “The ocean and the people were important deciding factors!”

The family relocated to Dar es Salaam – the largest city and former capital of Tanzania.

For American-born Rukiya, moving to Tanzania not only provided the opportunity to be close to the beautiful ocean views but more importantly, a place for herself and her children to live in an atmosphere which feels safe.

“I feel much more at peace raising my children here – Tanzania is a peaceful and safe country,” she says. “I’m so happy they get to spend most of their childhood here.”


Moving to various parts of the world over the years inspired Rukiya to write her own book and in 2018 she published ‘Melanin Migration: The Black Family’s Guide to Moving Abroad’.

The book aims to help families who want to take the leap and move abroad and provides insights into how to choose a country to live in, moving, surviving long flights with children and much more.

Rukiya has no plans to move back to the United States


Where Rukiya and her family may move to next is unknown – but, for now, they are at peace in Tanzania and have no plans to return back to the States.

“My favourite thing about being in Tanzania is the atmosphere and coastal living,” she says. 

“I have always had a positive view of Africa and while I always had a strong sense of self, I think living here just solidifies it. 

To find out more about Rukiya, check out her Instagram: @themigratingmom

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