Harare, Zimbabwe Report of what it's like to live there - 07/05/17
Personal Experiences from Harare, Zimbabwe
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No.I have lived and worked around the globe.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
Zim is 36 hours to the U.S. via Joburg, give or take a couple of hours.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Diplomatic mission (US embassy).
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Absolutely amazing housing.All houses have pools and many have tennis courts.Super large yards and staff quarters as well.We put in a tree house and zip line. We also kept chickens and rabbits and had a large garden. Plenty of space.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Almost everything was available from South Africa. Some things like meat were cheaper than the US while other things like car parts and maintenance were more expensive.
3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Lots of restaurants with most cuisines represented.Great Thai and Chinese food.
4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Ants are frequent visitors. We just let them do their thing.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
We paid our live-in maid $250/month and our live-in gardener $200/month.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There are plenty of gyms. CrossFit was pretty popular.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
The economy is largely plastic with actual cash in short supply.You can use your credit card, no problem. Don't however, expect to use an ATM without standing in a three hour line and getting only $20 when you get your turn.If you need cash, bring it with you or set up a way to access it ahead of time.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Most are available.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
None.Excellent English spoken by nearly everyone.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Affordable, yes. Safe, no.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Bring a four wheel drive SUV for the pot holes and safari.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Best internet speed on the planet.We used Zol and paid $150/month for unlimited data.Streaming was no problem.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Bring an unlocked phone and get a SIM card in Zimbabwe.They sell phones locally, but I imagine they would be expensive.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
Great vets.No quarantine. We also used local facilitators to get our dog on the plane when we left.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
There are not a lot of options on the local market as there is ready supply of well educated Zimbabweans who will do the job for less. Many spouses pursued advanced degrees at local universities that were cheap and good.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Plenty.It's a developing country.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Suit and tie in diplomatic settings.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Pretty safe country although there are break-ins that occur. Security guard services are readily available.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
There are private doctors that can take care of basic needs.For anything serious you need to go to South Africa.The local health care system is in a shambles.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Never too hot nor too cold.Excellent weather.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Good education at the Harare international school.Some kids went to the French school, but they are on a different schedule which means vacations are hard to coordinate some times.
2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Our kid rode horses.Great horse culture and cheap.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Morale is very high.
2. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
The whole place just rocks.From safari to Victoria Falls to golfing to hunting to tennis. Lots of outdoo activities if that's your sort of thing. Definitely go on a game count that is held each year to census the wild animal population.
3. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Shona sculpture is very popular.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Absolutely.People frequently go back for a second bite of the apple.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Need to use an ATM machine.
3. But don't forget your:
Sense of outdoors adventure.
4. Do you have any other comments?
Zim is a total hidden gem. It's Africa without all of the hassle you find in places like Kinshasa and Lagos.You can bring your family and feel safe doing it.Great place to introduce them to Africa.