Harare, Zimbabwe Report of what it's like to live there - 09/26/08
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've lived in Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Jordan, Egypt, and Israel.
2. How long have you lived here?
3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Expat with NGO, spouse with U.S. Embassy. 7th expat experience.
4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:
Currently few direct flights, mostly one must fly through Johannesburg. You can fly direct from NYC or DC to Joburg or have a stopover in London, Amsterdam or other European city.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Housing is somewhat dated but fabulous. Most houses have a pool, many have tennis, all have huge gardens and space to grow your own veggies. all have high walls, electric gates, most have seurity bars and safe havens etc.....
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Things are very expensive and hard to find now, but last year i woudl have said it was all cheap and relatively easy to find things once you know where to go for what. Things change here fast., so hard to say but at the moment, we are importing lots from South Africa every month (facilitated by the embassy).
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Tortillas, black beans, asian cooking supplies, feminine hygiene products...
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
KFC, Nando's, and other south african chains. As far as DECENT food there are lots of restaraunts only they are struggling, like everyone, to get supplies.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
We have pouch. Zimbabwe has a postal service that seems to work in country still, i have no idea about international but would be surprised if it worked.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Very available and very cheap. We have a fabulous nanny for US$150 a month, a great gardener for US$75 a month. Housecleaners are available for US$75 a month and up. Drivers for US$5 a day etc.....
3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
YOU CAN'T USE THEM AT ALL.
4. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Everything available, all denominations from Bahai to Zorastrians!
5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
English language papers from zim and SA available cheaply. It's hard to get outside papers unless you are with an embassy.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
None, most speak English although knowing it will make life more interesting!
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
There is very little that has disabled or wheelchair access, sidewalks are cracking and in many cases dont exist any longer. There is however a school for the blind, and other institutions focusing on disabilities.
1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?
On the left.
2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Affordable yes, safe no!
3. 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?
Roads are ok in town and major roads connecting towns are also OK alhtough there can be sections falling apart for long periods before they are fixed.some roads into residential areas are only gravel or dirt now. 4x4 is great but NOT necessary. Carjackings are rare - smash and grabs are more common.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, if you have a landline you can get a modem for US$100 or so and thats fine. If not you have to get VSAT or a UHF antenna (US$1,000) and then pay a steep monthly fee.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
They don't work well for calling, mostly we use them for texting you will need one. Bring one with you if easy to do. SIM cards are available on open market.
3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?
If you have internet you can use skype. If you have a landline you can call direct and it's very cheap but that will likely change.
1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Yes, lots of vets.
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?
Not too many, some NGOs and some schools hire.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Zimbabweans dress fairly conservative for work, many expats do not.
Health & Safety:
1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?
I would guess is good as there isnt too much traffic but people burn trash lots, so that causes smoke.
2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Currently security on the decline, however we feel very safe most of the time. There are occasional smash and grabs, and there are house robberies particularly if you don't turn on your alarm or have a well secured property.
3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Malaria, cholera and other issues need to be considered.embassy has medical assistance and there are still excellent local doctors but hospital facilities are lagging and med-evac woudl be best for most serious issues.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Incredible lovely weather most of the year, pretty cold in June, July and August (need a coat and sweaters) but good the rest of the time. CAN have lots of rain in December and January.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Children not school age but i hear that everyone pretty much loves Harare International School and its a gorgeous well equipped campus.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
Sorry I truly don't know.
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
Nannies are very inexpensive and well trained. There is also preschools available.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Tons. movies, parties, outdoor activities, golf courses galore!!!
3. Morale among expats:
Excellent even in the worst of times.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Yes for all. Lots of things to do - very social place for all ages.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Yes and no. It is TECHNICALLY illegal but I have lots of gay friends and they live together and wuite openly are together and there is a sizable gay community considering how small a place it is.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Yes, as with much of Africa there are deeply entrenched racial isssues.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Tons of hiking, safari, hunting, lots of restaraunts even if they aren't fabulous, parties and social gatherings, craft fairs, etc....also have movies, plays and other cultural events.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Handicrafts abound. Local in Harare: belgian chocolates, clothing, pottery, textiles and more.
9. Can you save money?
Well, it depends. Yes you could have before we had to start importing from SA so often, and if things improve again, you will certainly be able to again.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes and would consider returning to retire!
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Expectations of customer service.
3. But don't forget your:
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
7. Do you have any other comments?
We love it here. It has been by far one of our most favorite posts!! The people are fabulous, the climate is great, the options for activities abound, the housing is excellent. All in all I highly recommend it!