Gaborone - Post Report Question and Answers

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

The housing varies in size, style, quality, and age, but broadly speaking, it is a mixed bag that tends towards good. Each property has its quirks. Some have pools, some share pools, there are modern townhomes and modern apartments. There are no consistent building standards, landlords often take shortcuts or make strange choices on how to use space. The apartments are in a high rise building. They differ in size and style so that can cause competition and resentment among tenants. The elevators there are very slow and regularly break down. Embassy housing is moving to a new compound further away from the chancery. This is being poorly received because it increases everyone's commute, the houses are townhouses in very close proximity to each other, and in my opinion, the neighborhood is not very nice. Compound living seems to be the norm at most posts now. - Dec 2023

I was in a nice four bedroom (one bedroom set up as an office) house with a decent kitchen, pool, and a two-car detached garage. It was very comfortable. As stated by others there were a few really bad houses in the pool but 70%-80% of them were good. Housing was improving the housing pool, too. - Jul 2019

I would say that two-thirds of the housing pool is good, one-third really stinks for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately mine was one of the latter. I'm a guy and I don't cry much, but the day I arrived and was brought to my new home I cried. Most of the housing at post is pretty nice but I guess I drew the short straw being a single guy and only an FS-03.

Other units in the housing pool were quite spacious and lovely, and just about every house had a swimming pool. Keep in mind that a pool is a great luxury if you or your family actually use it, but it's a expensive burden if you don't. Generally I would say that a small majority of the community was happy with their housing.

Gaborone is a small town, so commute times were never excessive, no matter where you lived. About 1/3 of the housing was within walking distance to the embassy, but I don't think many people walked to work regularly. One of my colleagues biked to work regularly, but Gaborone isn't a real safe city to bike around. There are no bike paths and streets and sidewalks often have potholes or open manholes. There is some great mountain biking on the outskirts of Gabs, so definitely bring a bike. I just don't recommend bike riding through the city streets. - Apr 2017

We have a 4 bedroom house in a small compound of 4 embassy houses. We have our own pool (also small) and garden. We have good storage space in the garage, but otherwise none. The bathrooms and closets are tiny! The house is without character, but perfectly suitable for us. A nice back patio to spend time in the wonderful Botswana climate. - Jul 2016

Everyone is in houses, most with pools. All within a 15-minute drive of the Embassy. Electricity is pretty good, we seldom rely on generators. Internet is crap - the equivalent bandwidth of DSL circa 10 years ago. Chronic water shortage is also a concern - locals are subject to water rationing 2-3 days per week, but Embassy families have backup tanks that allow us to operate largely unaffected. - Mar 2015

Houses. Few owned by the Embassy, most of them are rented. Our house is less than a 5-minute drive to the Embassy. - Oct 2014

Stand alone houses, some in small complexes throughout the city. Most are nice, with pools and gardens. The commute, depending on where you live can be 40+ minutes depending on the time of day. The problem is that urban planning did not take into account turning lanes, so often you have to endure significant traffic going in one direction until you can get to a traffic circle and come back in the opposite direction. However, there are a considerable number of diplomatic residences close to the Embassy. - Nov 2013

All U.S. Embassy housing, even for singles, is in single-family homes spread throughout the city. The houses themselves are all very nice, large, typically with large yards and swimming pool, and are equipped with diesel generators for the frequent (nearly daily, thanks to a power crisis) blackouts, and water storage and filtration/UV treatment systems for the non-potable water (the country is also in the middle of a drought/water crisis). Gaborone and its roads were not planned with the recent growth in population in mind (currently 200,000 people in the city), and as a result, cannot support the ever-increasing volume of traffic. Thus, even homes that are located a short distance (2 mi. or less) from the Embassy suffer from HORRIBLE commute times (30+ min.) during "rush hour." - Jul 2013

A huge range: stand-alone houses, townhouses and some apartments. Also, there are a several neighborhoods in which to live. The commute time is not huge, depending on where you live. Phakalane is about 10Km out of town and is very popular. That commute into the city is 40 minutes or more. We lived right in town, 5 minutes from the office and 10 minutes from the school. - Apr 2013

Most expats in Gaborone live in single-family homes scattered throughout the city. There are few apartment buildings here. Most homes are spacious (3-5 bedrooms) and have large gardens and often swimming pools. I live in the central part of the city and my commute to work is 5-10 minutes. - Jun 2010

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