Cotonou - Post Report Question and Answers

What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

US government housing is very nice - larger and better quality than we expected. About half of homes have pools. Everyone has a nice yard. Commute is negligible - 5-10 minutes at most. - Feb 2020

Housing has improved substantially. Almost all housing is pretty big and decent quality with major upgrades, well over standard, even for African posts. Sometimes better looking inside than outside. Usually with big yards, sometimes with pools. Everything is around five minutes' commute from embassy or school. Housing also close to a lot of expat shopping, restaurants, bars, entertainment. - Aug 2018

USG housing is small to large houses, typically with a yard with a high wall around it. Housing quality varies ENORMOUSLY within the USG. Some people have seaside mansions with swimming pools and huge yards in gated communities, while others have tiny, poorly maintained houses closer to the center of the expat area. In general housing is poorly maintained, even dangerous at times. - Jan 2017

U.S. Government housing: 15 minutes from the Embassy. Single family homes with walled yards. Some with swimming pool. The housing pool in Cotonou is the worst maintained I have ever experienced in more than 20 years with the Foreign Service. The "customer service" is atrocious (nonexistent). Constant blackouts, generators that don't work, continual house fires that aren't taken seriously, leaking water tanks, rat infestations, cockroaches, mosquitoes, water pipes leaking into closets and from ceilings, etc, etc, etc. - Oct 2015

We lived within walking distance to both the New Embassy Compound and the school. Our kids rode their bikes to school and my husband's commute was less than 10 minutes. Our house was huge and beautiful. People generally seemed pleased with their housing situations. - Jun 2015

Haie Vive and Cocotie neighborhoods have most of the nice expat housing in the west of the city; I cannot speak for other areas. Commutes are short. There are new neighborhoods/developments sprouting up, but they're not within walking distance of anything of note. However, they have much nicer housing than Haie Vive, which is largely made up of older housing. - Aug 2014

Commute time to the Embassy is fantastic--about a ten-minute drive at the longest. Housing here was great. More than enough space. We'll probably miss our home the most. - Jul 2013

The embassy still has a few houses in the Haie Vive neighborhood, which traditionally is where expats have lived. These houses tend to be smaller and older, with no (or very small) yards. However, they are in walking distance to many restaurants, clubs, grocery stores, etc. It seems the embassy is shifting its housing stock to other developments with bigger and nicer homes featuring large yards and sometimes swimming pools. However, these new developments feel like American suburbia and aren't walkable to anything. I don't think anyone in the embassy community has more than a 15-minute commute. A few people can walk to work. Commute times will get even shorter with the move to the NEC in 2015. - May 2013

Great houses, short commute times. - Mar 2013

Most of the expats live in the Haie Vive neighborhood or in one of the nearby residential beach developments. I live in Haie Vive and prefer it for the walking proximity to shopping, restaurants, and Livingstone, the expat watering hole. All residential construction in Benin is poured concrete and tile floors in general. I can only speak for U.S. Embassy housing in particular. Embassy houses tend to be quite large and ours has almost adequate closet space (from an American prospective). The kitchens and bathrooms can be oddly laid out afterthoughts in the older homes but are much nicer in the newer beach developments. There’s no central ventilation in houses. Most every room will have a “split-pack” AC unit. The commute from Haie Vive to the U.S. Embassy is five to ten minutes depending on traffic. You don’t want to live “over the bridge” (actually, two bridges) on the east side of Cotonou. The two bridges bottleneck the Cotonou commuting traffic and the main highway from Lagos. That commute is a hours-long nightmare that you want no part of. Traffic in the downtown area really isn't too bad and mainly consists of motor scooters, the primary means of transportation for most Beninese. - Dec 2011

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