San Salvador - Post Report Question and Answers

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

Housing includes houses *very* close to the Embassy (5-20 min walk), houses a bit farther out, and apartments/condos that can be a 10 minute drive without traffic and infinite with traffic. People are mostly happy with their housing, although of course your mileage may vary. There doesn't always seem to be a great match between position, family size, and housing. This year in particular it seemed like any new arrival going into a house ended up in TQ for 2-6 weeks, and I'm not sure why that was. I don't recall that from past years. GSO is pretty responsive, but sometimes problems seem to linger. - Oct 2023

For the US Embassy, housing is a variety of houses relatively close to the Embassy (some very close - I can almost walk faster than I can drive) and apartments/condos closer to San Benito. One thing I did not know literally until we pulled up to our house the day we arrived is that there are Embassy houses that are not in gated communities (i.e., they don’t have an extra layer of security). Our house is fine; we’ve had some minor repair issues, and one termite problem, but GSO takes care of things relatively quickly. Security is the big thing: if I’d had any inkling that we would end up in a house just out on a street, I would have been much more explicit in my housing survey. The neighborhood is relatively safe, but San Salvador is still San Salvador. - Feb 2022

Housing is great. Close to the embassy - walking distance - and most people seem very pleased with their houses or apartments. - Aug 2021

Most folks live in houses near the embassy in the Cumbres area or outside of it. There are a couple other apartment options near the Multiplaza mall or in San Benito/Zona rosa. That involves a bit of traffic depending on the time of day. Sometimes it can take less than 10 minutes or during rush hour it can be 20. However, San Benito has lots of the best restaurants/bars/museums in El Salvador that you can walk to so that could be worth it. - Jun 2018

Amazing. Houses are huge, with tons of natural light. We have a small yard, but most embassy houses have large yards with fruit trees. Housing is generally great and people seem happy. It is a 15 minute walk to the Embassy. - Mar 2018

The majority of houses are in gated subdivisions within a 5-minute drive to the US embassy. Some houses are near these subdivisions, but not within the gates. Another subdivision is about 15 minutes away. Houses are spacious and comfortable with backyards, some are brand new and have never been lived in before. Of course there are odd layouts (2nd floor living rooms) and most do not have bathtubs, which is annoying with small children, but this can be solved by using a toddler tub or teaching them to be comfortable in the shower. - Jan 2018

Houses with a few apartments. Housing is less than a mile from the US embassy. Comfortable homes. - Nov 2017

Almost all families are housed in a gated community very close to the Embassy (less than a mile away). There are some in another complex about 15 minutes away and others in apartments in a different part of the city. The traffic can be bad at weird times, but overall this has been a "traffic lite" post for us. The housing tends to be very nice for whatever family size/rank applies to you. - Jul 2016

USG folks used to be split between really nice apartments in the fancy urban part of San Salvador, and houses located a 10 minute walk from the Embassy. Now we all are put into houses near or relatively close to the Embassy. Houses are fairly new, large, and usually have decent yards. All come with maids quarters and usually a nice porch/lanai. And often mature fruit trees as well! Typical commute to the Embassy is never more than 20 minutes from the furthest place, and many folks are within walking/biking distance. Although the suburban feel really doesn't appeal to many people, the housing quality, location, and amenities are all quite good. - Dec 2015

We have a big, comfortable home. Commute time to Embassy is 4 minutes in car or 12 minutes walking. - Jun 2015

Mostly houses. Most housing is located walking distance from the Embassy. Others have short commutes though it can vary based on construction projects. Houses are generally large and okay, though the finishings are never that nice. Houses are typically surrounded by 12+ foot high walls, razor wire, security cameras, and bars on every door and window. Sometimes it feels a bit prison like. - Mar 2015

Most singles and couples without children live in apartments in the center of town. Families live in houses about 5 minutes from the Embassy. Typical commute time is usually 5 minutes from the houses and can be up to 35 minutes from the apartments. Traffic (and the despised traffic circles) make morning and afternoon commutes a lot longer to the center of town. - Oct 2014

Mostly houses. The commute to the embassy is 5 minutes. - Jul 2014

Rental options are limited and basic. Apartments are virtually non-existent, but 2-3 bedroom houses in gated "residencias" can be found in the $500-800 range especially in Santa Tecla and San Benito at the south end of town. Be advised that landlords have no problem retaining your entire security deposit on cooked-up reasons. Work through your employer or the embassy to find ethical landlords/owners. - Apr 2012

Families live in houses and couples/singles often live in apartments. Embassy employees frequently live very close to the embassy. Traffic is an issue if you live further out but the city is quite small and traffic isn't as bad as it is in other countries in the region. - Jul 2011

Embassy people live either in houses in Escalon, about a 15-minute drive to the embassy, or in apartments in Escalon, or in a subdivision about 5 minutes from work. Singles are relegated to high-rise apartments with stellar views but no yards and longer commutes. People with kids or pets are given 1-2 story houses with yards. Escalon has more shopping and restaurants, but it also has the longer commute. The subdivision's commute can't be beat -- some people walk to work. But ALL your neighbors are co-workers, so you will never have any privacy. Got a loud, weird, embarrassing hobby? Ask to live in Escalon. - May 2010

Housing here is beautiful. Most homes are very large. Singles are generally in a single apartment complex that is secure, has beautiful views of the valley, a swimming pool, etc. Couples and families generally have large homes with three or four bedrooms. Yard space is sometimes limited, although several of the homes have quite spacious yards for entertaining or playing. Most of the homes are very light and airy, with large windows, cieling fans, and open porches. - Feb 2009

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