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

Embassy housing includes both on- and off-compound housing. There are a few apartments but most employees live in villas. Overall the housing in quite nice. I live on compound which is great for pets and kids--but it can be overwhelming to always be with your colleagues and there is a bit of everyone knowing everything about your life. - Aug 2, 2016
We live on a compound, which has the biggest and nicest green space in town. There's a playground, gym, and basketball court. We've been quite happy. Not everyone lives on compound. Others live downtown in apartments or nearer the school in villas. We are about three minutes by car from the Embassy. Lots of people walk to work. - Aug 2, 2015
Post housing is generally very good. There are four neighborhoods in which Embassy personnel are housed: The Ridge - first choice for families with children and dogs. This is the Embassy compound, with comfortable houses, easy access to the pool, gym, and playground, and lots of green space. Children aged 4 and over can run free. The driving commute to the Embassy is 5-10 minutes, and walking is 15-20 minutes. The big park with the artificial lake is within walking distance. Blur - second choice for families with children and dogs. Newly constructed townhouses inside a gated neighborhood with small yards and a community pool. There are several families who live here, and it is next to TEG, the big shopping mall with a movie theater, Carrefour, etc. There is also a bowling alley and rec center close by. Commute to Embassy is 15-20 minutes. Touch of Sun - great choice for singles, couples, and people with cats. Very nice, newly constructed apartments with a pool and a playground. A lot of expats live in these apartments. Selite/Dianamo - suitable for all types of families. These are nice, big houses that are built in the Albanian style in an Albanian neighborhood. Request this area if you are looking for an Albanian experience. Couples, families, singles, and people with pets all live in this neighborhood, and they seem to be generally pretty happy. - Aug 12, 2014
There are three main housing types for Americans with the embassy: Homes for families with young children, plus a few special positions-- like the Ambassador and DCM -- are located on a housing compound. The compound is maintained by the embassy's grounds crew and includes a swimming pool, gym, playground, and lots of green space for the kids to run around in. Nobody can get on or off the compound without going through security, so children often play and roam freely. This has been the most ideal living situation we've experienced with our three young children. Homes were built by Canadian contractors in the 90s and are very American in style, with wood floors, central a/c and heat, drywall instead of concrete walls, carpeting in bedrooms, etc. Housing on the Ridge also includes a garage and a ton of storage space. This is the most storage we've ever had and it is unheard of in Europe. The Ridge is about half a mile from the embassy. Singles, couples, and some families live in large Albanian homes about fifteen minutes' drive away in an older residential area of Tirana. Homes there are larger than those on the Ridge, have nice enclosed yards with citrus trees, and are of Albanian construction. Heating and cooling can be a frustration in some of these homes, but you do have more space. A third area is located next to the large shopping center and Carrefour grocery store. These are very new townhouses and apartments. The apartments in particular seem to have nice amenities, including access to a community swimming pool. They are spacious, and about a ten- to fifteen-minutes' drive from the embassy, but they are located a little further out of town (about 3.5 miles from the embassy). Although housing on the Ridge has been ideal for us, if you don't have children, or if your children are older, you might not appreciate all the children and close encounters with your colleagues from work. - May 18, 2013
We live on the Ridge, the U.S. Embassy compound that is like 1950s America. The grass is always cut, the kids run free, there is a playground, a pool and a soccer field. For families with kids, this is somewhat ideal. Some people don't like it because it is such an American bubble, and your neighbors are right there all the time, but we have loved it. It is about a 5-minute commute from the Embassy. There is other housing - some in the city (big Albanian houses) and some in the Blur neighborhood about 10 minutes past the Ridge. It's nice and is right next to the big, new shopping mall and local Chuck-E-Cheese-type kids play area. - Dec 27, 2012
The Embassy compound is nice with a playground and pool and is easy walk to the Embassy. The embassy also offers housing downtown and just outside the city. Traffic can be bad and embassy housing outside the city usually required a 25 minute commute each way. - Oct 1, 2011
We live 2 miles from the Embassy and in the evening it can take 30 - 40 minutes to get home; in the morning it is 15 minutes. There are two compounds: The Ridge for heads of section and one for the military (only heads of section). Off compound housing is available, all housing is secured with a fence and you will have a patch of grass with numerous citrus trees, olive trees, flowers and possibly grapes. All housing comes with a large generator. - Mar 31, 2008