Lilongwe - Post Report Question and Answers
What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
The higher ranking you are and depending upon which agency you work for will dictate the house you'll likely get. Some people have gorgeous houses others are "ok". It beats paying rent in the U.S. Layouts are awkward, yards are huge with lots of different fruit trees. Lots of space for a vegetable garden and chickens if you want. Guinea Fowls are also cool to have around the yard. They act as pest control and kids love to chase them around. They run really fast, (the fowls not the kids). Commute time is roughly 15 minutes depending upon traffic and whether or not the one traffic light near the Embassy is working. This mainly only affects the after work commute. - Jul 2020
Housing is generally spacious ranch-style homes set in large yards: all with high, solid walls with concertina wire and guards 24/7. The Embassy staff live in only three neighborhoods, all no more than a 10-minute drive to the Embassy if there is no traffic, though there has been an increase in traffic in the time I have been here. The houses can be old and quirky and mostly 70s construction. Most are landlord owned and landlords do not seem particularly motivated to make repairs. Overall the Embassy tries very hard to make the repairs needed, but it can be an uphill battle. Overall though I really like my housing; I recommend you bring your Foreign Service "flexible" muscles and sense of humor. - Feb 2020
Housing is very large and nearly all sit on large plots of land with strong perimeter walls and an assigned guard. They have typical sub-Saharan issues with ants and other pests but the housing is overall really nice. The diplomatic residences are well-consolidated into three adjacent neighborhoods. A substantial number of the INGOs and Gov of Malawi folks live in these neighborhoods as well. Commutes are about ten minutes. - Sep 2018
We live in a single level home. Most homes are one story and have anywhere from 3-5 bedrooms. All have giant, lush yards. Most expats live in areas 10, 12 and 43, which are all a 5-10 minute drive from each other. Our commute to the Embassy is excellent - only 10 minutes each way. There are other parts of town that get more congested during commute times and lunch, but there aren't an excessive number of cars here. The bigger challenge is all of the obstacles on the side of the road. Bikes hauling all matter of things, people walking at night with no reflective gear, goats darting out into the street. You have to keep your wits about you at all time. And I try to drive after dark as little as possible because there are very few street lights. - Jul 2017
Housing is amazing here. Most houses have large yards with beautiful gardens, patios, and screened porches. The houses are generally large with 3-5 bedrooms. Some houses have pools and most houses have staff quarters. All houses have barbed wire, a guard station, a generator and water tanks. Currently we are experiencing significant water shortages and power cuts so the generator is key.
Lilongwe is divided into areas and all USG housing (and most other expat housing) are in 3 areas close to the Embassy and city center. The commute takes about 5-10 minutes to work. - Oct 2016
In Lilongwe most expats live in single family homes either on their own compound (houses all have walled compounds for security) or a compound shared with other families. Commutes are not long; my husband's commute is about ten minutes. - Aug 2015
All houses in the housing pool were built around the same time--late 1970s/early 1980s. Huge yards for some houses but all have medium size yards with vegetable garden space. The yards and relative similarity of the housing--single story brick with three bedrooms and two bathrooms--make Lilongwe pleasant to live in. - Sep 2013
Very large houses with very large yards. We have a trampoline and swing set for the kids, and a big yard to run around in, and a nice garden in the back. It's only about 10-15 minutes to get to the embassy and Nico House (where USAID and CDC are located). - Sep 2012
We had a large 3-bedroom house with a HUGE yard. We were about 5 minutes from my husband's job and 15 minutes (across town) from mine. - Sep 2009
Lilongwe is small. Even in the ''rush hour'' you are generally only 15-20 minutes from home/work--often just 10 minutes. Single-family homes with very spacious plots generally cost around $1500-2000/month. - Jul 2009