Harare - Post Report Question and Answers

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

In my opinion, U.S. Mission housing needs improvement. Previous reviews citing excellent housing refer to a prior housing pool before the Embassy changed locations. I cannot emphasize enough how much previous reviews do not apply. I've served in posts ranging from 0% to 30% differential (Harare is currently 25%), at a lower rank and with a smaller family, and this is the smallest, worst housing I've ever experienced. I thought we were just unlucky until I saw other Mission members' housing. If you have six or more children, you can expect to have palatial housing, but not necessarily in great condition. Otherwise, regardless of rank, your housing will be cramped (and, from what I have seen, in poor condition). In my experience, yards tend to be large (though not always) but full of hazards. Most houses include a pool, which may or may not be functional/safe to use. Commute times average 30+ minutes. In my opinion, there are health and safety hazards that are severe and never resolved. - Jan 2024

Big, older housing. Housing is spread out among the city and each house is surrounded by a fence/wall with 24/7 guards. Yard size varied, but each house has green space and 95% of the houses have pools. Each house also has staff quarters. Commute times ranged from 10 to 35 minutes. They are trying to lease new houses that are closer to the new embassy. - May 2021

Harare's expansive suburbs feature big houses and big yards. Pools and tennis courts are common. It's not a huge city, so commutes usually aren't too bad: 40 minutes being at the upper end. My drive to the Embassy is about half that. - Feb 2020

Housing is nice. Outdoor living - swimming pools, tennis courts, expansive gardens are the norm. Rooms are on the small side and layouts are odd, some “bedrooms” don’t have closets, but it is hard to complain. Residences are scattered all over town. Commute times are rough to the new embassy, someone told me it takes them 1.5 hrs each way. Most people are now probably 30-35 minutes away, average. - Feb 2019

Housing for expats and dips tends toward the more affluent northern suburbs of Harare. Housing is a mix of designs but most are in older ranch-style homes. Rooms tend toward small. Many have nice gardens and pools are popular. - Jan 2019

Housing is nice! Most homes are 1 level and LARGE. Walking into our house, I was shocked at how big the home was. When I went to visit other expat families, I learned we had one of the smaller homes (all relative)! There are so many rooms we barely use all of them. The yard is YYYYUUGGEE and again we have one of the smaller yards. The home is surrounded by a high wall with barbed wire and we have 24-hour security. I can get to the embassy in 7 minutes outside of "rush hour" however during "rush hour" it could take 10-40 minutes. The increase in time depends on whether or not the "robots" aka stop lights are working. Often times, the lights go out and the vendors selling newspapers attempt to direct traffic. There will be an NEC soon, which will be further from most of the houses in the pool of homes. We are going to be about 13 minutes away, but some home will be about 30-35 minutes from the embassy. - Apr 2018

Amazing. I will not likely live in such a great house ever again. Swimming pool, separate house staff quarters, huge yard. We put in a tree house and zip line, chicken coop and rabbit hutch. The yard is a dog's paradise. - Sep 2017

Housing is excellent in terms of plot size and space.Maintenance is often an issue.Some houses don't have a working borehole (well) and that can be a nightmare. - Jul 2017

Absolutely amazing housing.All houses have pools and many have tennis courts.Super large yards and staff quarters as well.We put in a tree house and zip line. We also kept chickens and rabbits and had a large garden. Plenty of space. - Jul 2017

There are some beautiful houses in Harare. There are also inner-city apartments available but they cost as much as house so they feel a bit pointless. Fully furnished houses also available, some come with a gardener/ caretaker who lives on the property. Lots of pleasant suburbs to choose from. Harare has issues with water cuts so it's advisable to rent a house with water tanks (quite common). There can be frequent power cuts as well, so it's a good idea to get a rechargeable inverter battery or set up solar panels (a generator is a convenient but a inexpensive, environmentally unfriendly and non-essential option). Commute time is reasonable wherever you are as Harare doesn't have serious traffic jams. - Apr 2016

The housing is among the best in the Foreign Service. The actual houses can be old (average age is 50 years), but the plots tend to be large with lots of trees and flowering plants. Most have swimming pools, some tennis courts. The neighborhoods are quiet. The embassy, the school, shopping, your friends are generally about a 15 minute drive away. - Dec 2013

Most homes here are quite nice, and large or small they are located on excellent grounds, often with swimming pools. Housing for expats is all over town, check with your housing assignment folks for your specific embassy or organization. Most homes are just one story, are concrete construction with terra-cotta roof, and have sprawling compounds. Commute times can range from 5-30 minutes by car, depending on where you work. Traffic is really not that bad; just a few intersections pile up during rush hour. The city is far too spread apart to commute by walking anywhere, and cycling on the roads makes one a target for bad driving (mostly by commuter buses or "combis"). In the suburbs there are wide frontages between the road and compound walls, and many are actually marked "Cycle track", so it's possible to cycle there. - Jul 2013

The vast majority of expats live in huge houses on large properties that include a pool or a tennis court, or both. There is virtually no traffic. My commute to the embassy is about 15 minutes door-to-desk! - Jun 2009

Housing could be nice if you can find enough spare parts and equipment to keep them up. - Dec 2008

Housing is somewhat dated but fabulous. Most houses have a pool, many have tennis, all have huge gardens and space to grow your own veggies. all have high walls, electric gates, most have seurity bars and safe havens etc..... - Sep 2008

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