Harare, Zimbabwe Report of what it's like to live there - 12/05/08
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. Nairobi, Tokyo, Munich, Lagos.
2. How long have you lived here?
3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:
From U.S., fly direct from ATL or Washington DC - 22 hours, non-stop.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Housing could be nice if you can find enough spare parts and equipment to keep them up.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Anything is available on the black market if you have access to foreign currency. Costs are higher than the U.S. or Europe.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There are some fast food chains and resturants, but they are expensive and the number is getting smaller every day.
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?
Cheap, but quality varies.
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?
Wouldn't try to use them. The exchange rate is fixed by the government so a pizza would cost you hundreds of U.S. dollars if you tried to get funds from an ATM.
4. What English-language religious services are available locally?
5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
One local TV channel. DSTV US$600 yearly.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?
2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
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?
Bring a well serviced car. Parts and service are scarce and expensive.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Although they tell you it is available, you take a risk if you will get service or not. We have had people spend thousands of dollars and get nothing. If you do get it, expect to pay between US$1,000-1,700 for set up and US$800 for 128Kb per year. It only goes up from there.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Not much point other than SMS.
3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?
Cell phones and home phones can't get through. We have to use the embassy IVG most times.
1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Vets are generally good.
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?
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
European type dress.
Health & Safety:
1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?
Moderate to unhealthy.
2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Yes. With 80% unemployment, 220 million% inflation and a non-functioning government things are getting worse.
3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
The health care system has failed. Have a plan to be evacuated to South Africa for any traumas. They should be able to stabalize you for transport if you have the money.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
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?
Nannys are 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?
Mostly in our homes.
3. Morale among expats:
Low and dropping fast.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Yes, typical African society.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
The list is growing shorter every day. Golf is cheap and Cape Town is near.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
9. Can you save money?
Maybe, depends on how rustic you want to live.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Dreams of how great Zimbabwe is.
3. But don't forget your: