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Kabul



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

Most people are housed in hooches (aka CHUs or shipping containers). Living in a hooch isn't as bad as I'd envisioned. . .compared to my previous post in the former Soviet Union where heat and running water were frequently out in embassy housing, it sometimes seems downright luxurious as utilities are quite consistent. Couples, and singles that get on the shared apartment list, live in surprisingly nice apartments (which are also much safer) on the West Side of the compound. Be sure to sign up for the apartment list upon arrival even if you don't think you want to move to one! (I didn't sign up right away but after Taliban rockets landed near my hooch I signed up and wished I had done so sooner). Don't bring more than a few hundred pounds. . there's VERY little storage space. - Jun 18, 2014
For high-ranking positions and couples, there are apartments. For mid-levels and singles, there are hooches. The hooches are 8' by 20' and in good shape. You have your own bath (plenty of hot water) and the living area has a twin bed, closet, dresser, desk, micro-fridge, microwave, DVD, TV with cable, and a small bookshelf. You can store your suitcases under the bed. Most of the hooches are on the east side on the opposite of the embassy. Great Massoud Road cuts through but it's been closed off. To cross, you have to walk through a tunnel that goes under Massoud. Apartments are on the sterile side but they are actually decent. You get real furniture and a small kitchen with a separate bedroom. Some are single units and others are shared. If available, they do let you pair up with someone to share a 2 bedroom unit. The upside for all housing is a short walk to the office. - Jul 12, 2013
U.S. Embassy housing ranges from decent (apartments) to abysmal (older hooches). There is a big disparity. Bring your spouse for an EFM job, and you automatically get upgraded to an apartment, regardless of grade. Those living in the older hooches on the west side have miserable accommodations - small, loud, and wet/moldy. Those on the east side have far nicer hooches and easy access to the Duck and Cover bar. The apartments are far and away the best living situation. Off-post villas for most TDYers. Overall, the living conditions are better than the military have across the board. Also keep in mind that there is MAJOR construction going on at the embassy, affecting the quality of life. Expect that to be the case for 4-5 more years. - Mar 30, 2013
The housing situation here is probably the sore spot for most folks (It's probably tied with the horrible and disgusting food we are forced to eat at the cafeteria - yes, it's free, but you can't even call it real food) but for me it's been ok since I was lucky enough to get my own "hooch" (shipping container) and was never made to share which most newcomers have to do. Married couples automatically get an apartment which is not really fair when you think about it. They will put two total strangers, adults, in a small container and make them share an 8 foot by 15 foot living space for weeks and sometimes months until a single hooch opens up for them but married couples get to glide right into a nice size apartment the day they arrive. I just can't understand why they aren't forced to share a hooch....considering they are married and al. They are almost building an entire new area of "hooches" that we will all be forced to move into soon. They are smaller than what we have now, stacked on top of each other and right next to each other so you will get no sunlight in your home and honestly - the entire new compound looks like a concentration camp but managment keeps telling us how great they will be. NOTE: most of managment lives in apartments and some have never even seen the inside of a hooch. Still, you are told before you get here what you will be living in so you just have to make the most of it. Some people have really decorated theirs nicely and made them feel quite homey so it is possible to live comfortably for a year in one. As far as your commute goes - 5 minute walk at the most. - Dec 27, 2010
Embassy housing is on-compound. The apartments are really nice, but are scarce. Tandem couples, Senior Foreign Service and select others get them. Many have been partitioned so that they can be shared, which is a popular option. Everyone else is in hooches - sometimes shared. Other organizations seem to range from Narco-Mansions with staff and pools to, well, more hooches. - Aug 2, 2010
VIPs, married couples, and a few lucky singles (sharing with another staffer as roomates)get nice enough apartments. FYI -- signing up for a 2-year tour no longer entitles single staffers to an apartment. Housing for others is trailers called hooches -- like a mini dorm room w/is own shower. Some unfortunate staff have to share a hooch with a roomate. Short-term staff live in shared hooches (called T-hooches), living with up to 6 other staffers. - Jul 10, 2010
Housing is either a hooch (containerized living) or apartment. The housing situation is bad and will only get worse before it improves, due to the influx of personnel and poor planning for housing. Higher-ranking officials, couples, and personnel who volunteered for a 2-year assignment have their own apartments. Lower-ranking personnel live in a shared apartment or single hooch. TDY personnel might sleep on cots in bunkers. - Sep 7, 2009
Compound housing - we walk to work. - Mar 19, 2008