Harare, Zimbabwe Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Harare, Zimbabwe

Harare, Zimbabwe 02/09/19

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, have lived in Asia and Latin America.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

US. I underestimated how difficult it is to travel here. It’s a MINIMUM of 20 hrs to get to the States (most direct routing, no delays, minimal connections) but can be well over 30 depending on where you’re going. If you are flying with pets, it’s another level of difficulties.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can get steep discounts if you have USD, bringing things down more or less to what you’d pay in the US, but God help you if you don’t. Many things (bread, cooking oil) just aren’t available no matter how much you’re willing to pay. You can drive around looking for them, but then you’re burning gas, which can also be hard to find.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Everything.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are good restaurants, but they are being forced out of business as supplies are getting harder to import without USD. Delivery is a tough sell because of the fuel prices/shortages. Right now there is good pizza, some decent pubs, barbecue, Thai and Italian, Chinese, but menu options are often unavailable, and there is an ominous feeling like they could all be shuttered tomorrow.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Nothing too bad, the giant flat spiders are not as bad as some previous people seemed to feel, they keep to themselves and aren’t aggressive. We get geckos in our house sometimes. We had some giant cane rats in the yard, but I think they are nocturnal because we almost never see them.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Pouch. God bless the pouch. I believe local mail is somewhat reliable, but takes a long time and customs is problematic with packages.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

$250-300 a month for a full time nanny/housekeeper. Most people also have a full time gardener, some people have drivers. Household help is very formal and standoffish, which I think is an adjustment to many Americans.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

$70/month in USD.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

International credit cards usually work. Literally no ATMs have any cash in them. If you can find a way to get cash, that is the best method of payment for discounts.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Plenty.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is fine.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

There are “combi” mini vans, which are dangerous and have become more expensive after the fuel price hikes. I think they may be off limits. Taxis are around, but you have to call them, it’s rare that you could hail one off the street.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Everyone swears that 4wd is necessary, but I don’t know if I agree, the most common car here is the Honda Fit. The potholes are pretty severe, to be fair, so unless you are OK with driving slowly and carefully, I would advise that you get something rugged. Buy it locally, much easier and cheaper.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Can get it set up prior to your arrival if the previous occupant had it installed. It’s $225/month and pretty reliable, all things considered. Electricity and water may not function, but internet is usually up and running.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Google Fi and similar services do not work here, so get a local SIM.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Vets are supposed to be good.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Lots of stay at home parents here, I imagine telecommuting would be rough with the time difference.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Not many that I’ve heard of. I’m surprised there aren’t more.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business at work. Formal is never required.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

It is pretty safe here right now, but the political and economic problems could change that in a second.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

No malaria pills in Harare, but you are supposed to take them if you travel outside the city. If you take normal precautions and have routine immunizations, you should be OK. That said, if something goes really wrong, it will probably be a medevac. Doctors are here, but intermittently striking, and they have no supplies. Medicine is available but apparently only if you have USD.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Super weather, temperate all year round. It rains a little more from Nov-April, but it’s not like a monsoon, it’s like a few showers in the afternoons. It is drier and colder from May-Oct.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Harare International School is IB and seems to be fine, no big complaints. English language instruction and French/Spanish classes. They have lots of electives and after school activities on their giant beautiful campus, which is nice.

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2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Most people use one particular nursery school, it’s half day in the mornings, seems reasonably priced.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, and relatively inexpensive.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

It’s complicated, but generally speaking, the expat community is shrinking due to the political and economic issues and difficulties keeping businesses open, and as you would expect, morale is also declining.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Few groups and clubs, people seem to make their own fun, barbecue, swim, hang out...

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I would say it’s good for most, but the majority of people in the expat community seem to have elementary aged kids, so it may feel isolating if you don’t fit into that demographic.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Yes, the culture here is somewhat closed off and seems distrusting of outsiders. People are friendly and polite, but don’t seem interested in taking friendships to the next level.

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5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Sculptures, baskets.

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6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Climate, small town atmosphere, and safety.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Tough to say, because things here can change on a dime. When we were getting ready to come, we were talking to people who were here 2013-2017 and thought it was such a hidden gem. It’s quickly becoming a very different situation now. Many of the nice things have remained, but people are justifiably very anxious about what comes next with the economy. So I would say, talk to people who are here NOW, not five or ten or twenty years ago. It was a different place then and it will be a different place tomorrow.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

I’m on the fence, but probably not.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothes, fancy formal attire.

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4. But don't forget your:

Consumables, medicine, drums of gasoline (just kidding, maybe), USD cash, spare car parts, flexibility, compassion...

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Harare, Zimbabwe 01/22/19

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Over a year.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic assignment.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Since October 2018, food is in continual short supply. There is a shortage of forex (USD) so imports are severely limited. If you have a consumables allowance you should use it. The economy is in a free fall and things will not get better anytime soon.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Cooking oils, olive oil, laundry detergent, dry foods, cereals, everything. If you have a pet or a baby, bring all your stuff in with you.

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4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants and termites. And lots of flattie spiders. Did I say lots? If you have a spider phobia, you better bring your meds.

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Daily Life:

1. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

I currently pay US$70/month (cash) for the gym.

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Not a single ATM in this country can distribute cash. If you don't have a reliable access to USD, you'll have a hard time. Credit cards can be used widely.

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3. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Very much so.

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Transportation:

1. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

4WD. Potholes are terrible and getting noticeably worse by the day. The government has no money for repairs. Bring all of your service spares. Spares are insanely overpriced, if even available. Bring lots of jerry cans, especially if you want to make long trips or go on safaris in Zim.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not likely in this environment.

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Expat Life:

1. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No. Government seems hostile to same-sex relationships. Your same-sex partner, married or not, will not get accreditation.

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2. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Nice safaris but long drives to get there. Which means you have to carry all of your own fuel with you.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No. There are serious economic and other issues in the country making life difficult. Its problems seem to be profound and will have to get worse because of the forex issues.

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Harare, Zimbabwe 04/18/18

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This was my first expat experience.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home City - Washington, DC.

The trip is LONG about 22 hours. My spouse and I try to make it manageable by adding a rest stop overnight. The route we took was from DC to Dubai to Harare via Emirates. There is a 30 minute stop in Lusaka to clean the plane and let some passengers on, but you do not get off the plane. My mom came to visit from Brooklyn, NY. She took a route from NY to Johannesburg to Harare (and still had a stopover in Lusaka).

We adopted a dog in Harare and the routes with pets are different. Overall, we have been told to avoid transiting your pet through South Africa.

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3. How long have you lived here?

9 months down. 16 months to go. This is a 2-year tour for our family.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

My lovely husband brought me here for a diplomatic mission with State Department.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

There is a local farmers' market on Wednesdays and Saturdays until 1pm. If you go before 10am, you can get all the fresh fruits and vegetables your heart desires. The produce here is cheaper than what is available in the grocery stores.

Stores - You have to go to 3-4 stores to get all the ingredients you need for a dish. I'm quite particular about the foods I buy and my husband has a gluten allergy. You can get some gluten-free foods but they are VERY expensive.

Produce is SEASONAL - I learned the hard way that if I like blueberries, I better buy and freeze them while they are in season. I haven't found frozen fruits anywhere!

Meats - There are good quality meats and most expats go to local butchers.

Cheese - There are 3 types of cheese readily available. All others, good luck! There are a few families that are hooked up with "the cheese guy" but it's a hassle to find.

Household supplies - The US products are better quality and more variety. The products get expensive because the houses are big and there is a lot of space to clean. Laundry soap is "meh." Not the best, but it does the job. Thank goodness I went overboard on tide from Costco before getting here.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

More cleaning supplies, extra virgin olive oil (we cook way more than we did in DC), lotions, body oils, conditioners (the water is hard and tough on skin and hair). Basically go overboard on liquids in your HHE, if you have room.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Many people enjoy Chang Thai. There is a new BBQ place, Hometown that is Texas style. Most all places over take out. Delivery is limited. There is reportedly an app that you can get food delivered, but it has never worked.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

There are flying ants that are around during the rainy season. Keep your door closed if you have the lights on in your house. Keep your yard free from garden mess, as there are LARGE cane rats that will come onto your property. There are a large flat spiders that are everywhere in your house when it is dark. Make sure you housekeeper cleans their webs with a vaccum. The spiders don't bother people, but they just look creepy.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We use the Pouch. If we place an order from Amazon for next day shipping, it will arrive to us in about 1 week. Letters to the States take about one week. The pouch is AMAZING, with the only limitation being liquid amounts and batteries. Your items will get rejected if they have a prohibited item.

We can use FedEx and DHL. I used FedEx for a sensitive document. It arrived in 3 business days and costs me $44. People often say that mail is expensive, but we are in Southern Africa and your mail has a long journey to the States.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Household help is abundant. There are nannies, maids, gardeners, and drivers. We pay $125 for a maid 3 days a week. We have a gardener once a week and the daily wage is $10 per day. We haven't had much luck with gardeners.

Please do interview your domestic staff rather than just taking the staff that the last expat in your position or home used.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are traditional gyms, outdoor cross fit gyms, personal trainers, and a small gym at the embassy. The CLO negotiated a rate of $70 per month at a nice gym.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes, cards are safe to use. I've never seen an ATM. If there is one, there is no cash in it, as the country has a cash shortage.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are several Catholic churches. Mass is done in English and Shona.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Not much. The embassy offers occasional classes in Shona.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. There are no sidewalks and you need a car to get everywhere.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

There are local transport vans, which are NOT safe. There is an uber-like company, GTaxi, that is pretty reliable.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

The roads in Harare are full of potholes, and I cannot emphasis this enough. Do not bring a car that you treasure. A 4x4 is the way to go.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Short Story - Yes, it can be available upon arrival

Internet was one of my priorities coming to post. The internet is available and most people have the package that is $150 per month. We have that package and its supposed to be unlimited at 20mp (cant remember the unit). We are able to watch Netflix, but your internet is throttled. Since I am home, I use the internet a lot. Once my husband get home with his devices, the internet is noticable slower and our shows buffer. The internet was in the name of the last expat and we had to pay her bill before they would activate our account. You are also able to pay online for service.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Bring an unlocked phone.

My husband received a phone from the USG and I received a SIM card. Our sponsor brought it with her to the airport and we were connected instantly. My phone bill is paid at the embassy monthly.

I have AT&T and wanted to keep my local number for when I return to America. AT&T was able to suspend my line, and I pay $0.01 a month to keep my line.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes. There are vets near most neighborhoods and 24-hour vet services. No quarantine. Most Zims are not really into dogs, but the expats here are. Your dog can have so many doggie friends.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Most expat spouses do not work at post. The hiring freeze put a squash on the somewhat limited positions. Post is trying to advocate for spouses.

You can telework if your company lets you. However, there are power outages once a week and the interent will go out until the generator kicks in.

Local salary scales are disappointing to me.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are volunteer opportunities with orphanages, schools, and women's groups. Your volunteer work will need to be approved by post.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Dress is business casual. Formal dress may be required for certain government meetings.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

I haven't had any problems with security, and you are generally safe. There are reports of smash and grabs at red lights in the evening, and as well as people stealing gas from parked cars.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

No. The health unit at the embassy handles minor issues and serious conditions get referred to Pretoria in South Africa.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good air quality. Normal hay fever for allergy muddlers. The times of year when you expect to suffer change and you may end up taking allergy medicine year round.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Environmental - you may have to take medicine year round.

Food allergies - speak very slowly when ordering food and ensure the restaurant understands your allergies.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

No.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Perfect weather year-round. The weather is somewhat spring like all year round. When the sun is out, the weather is beautiful. It can get a little chilly in the evenings. We arrived in July/August, which is winter. I did not expect the evenings to get as chilly as they did.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

The community is a moderate size and everyone is SUPER friendly. Morale is good. There is a little anxiety about moving to the NEC.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

The CLO organizes monthly coffee hours, wine/cheese, and mixers with other embassies. Check the Elephant ear biweekly newsletter for all the activities. There are sewing clubs, kennel clubs, golf clubs, etc.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This is a family post. There are family friendly activities EVERYwhere. I think couples without children will have to look for fun. This isn't really the scene for singles. No DC or NY style HH after work.

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4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Men are often referred to as "Boss" regardless of whether or not they are the boss.

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5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The Game Drives have been amazing. You can see so many animals. Zim has hidden gems all over the country. Victoria Falls is the most touristy, but there are house boats along the Zambezi river, Rhino treks, The Ruins of Great Zimbabwe, etc.

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6. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There is hand made silver by Patrick Mavros. Zimbabwe has one of his two workshops and you can see how the silver is made. There are also artisans that make amazing teak wood furniture.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

The capital is extremely slow paced and there is not a "foodie" culture here despite all the fresh food.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Maybe, if I had kids and was looking for a good place to raise kids for a couple years.

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Harare, Zimbabwe 09/30/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

I have lived overseas in many countries. This was my first tour with the U.S. Foreign Service.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

California. Miserable trip to get back to the states.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. State Department.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can get pretty much everything that you can in the states with some things cheaper and some things more expensive. Most things come from South Africa.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing comes to mind.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Food delivery of pizza and chicken. There are all sorts of restaurants although nothing I would consider top notch.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants kept a constant path on the walls of our kitchen and we just left them alone. They didn't invade the food. Lots of flat scary-looking wall spiders but they don't bite that I know of.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Diplomatic pouch but other services are available.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Good availability, high quality and inexpensive. I paid $250 per month for a full time maid and $200 for a full time gardener. Both lived in a house behind the main house.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Lots of options and there is a small gym at the Marine house for embassy staff. The best thing, though, is the quality and number of golf courses right in Harare. Super golf culture in Zim in both the white and black Zim communities.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

It is a plastic economy owing to the shortage of currency in the local economy. Bring a card that does not incur foreign transaction fees.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

We attended a Catholic church.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Don't think it's a city that accommodates wheelchairs, not sure about other disabilities.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

I used a local taxi guy to get the airport. Public transport in general however is far from safe. Lots of deadly crashes especially on the cross-country highway.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Bring a four wheel vehicle. The pot holes have gotten crazy and you will likely want to go on safari.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

We paid $150 per month for unlimited super high-speed fiber optic internet. Worth every penny and better than what we have in the states.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Lots of options. Buy a cheap phone there or bring one that is unlocked. SIM cards are inexpensive and monthly plans are less than $25 per month.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Great vets and kennel service and so much cheaper than in the US. No quarantine. Just be careful. If you are dog lover you will want to get a ridgeback. They are so much more pure bred than what we find in the states.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

It is tough to get a good job on the local economy. Zimbabweans are well educated and highly capable people. High unemployment means they will take the job.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots of options.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Depends on where you work. Business folks wear suits.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

The odd house break-in but nothing that we ever worried about.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Anything requiring serious attention will need to be addressed in South Africa which has excellent health care.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Excellent air quality.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The climate is pretty perfect-- felt like about 70 degrees year-round. Never got too cold or too hot, very comfortable. It's like the southern California coast.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Harare International School was perfect for our daughter- she did 3rd and 4th grade there. Loved it. Beautiful campus, good teachers, IB program is good. The one concern we had was a seemingly low priority on mathematics. She took Spanish and French and swam on the swim team. There was also a French school which we heard decent things about, although it's smaller than HIS.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I had a friend who was dissatisfied with their offerings for special needs kids but I think they were working on that.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes there were preschools and I heard very good things but we didn't have our own children enrolled.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Minimal I think- -there aren't many organized activities outside of school in my opinion. Horseback riding is available though with several groups in Harare. Very affordable.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Small to medium....morale is excellent, everyone is happy to be in Zimbabwe. We knew only one family that was dissatisfied because the spouse couldn't find employment. Really no one wants to leave that post.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Everyone loves to "braai" (BBQ)...parties at personal homes is common--lots of bars and restaurants too. Some restaurants have game (trivia) night, lots of people go on safari or to Vic Falls, golf, hunting etc... I think there was salsa dancing, running groups and often yoga classes.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Not great for singles because there are few to hang out with. Nice for families and couples because restaurants are very kid-friendly.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Not really--President Mugabe is openly anti LGBT.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not sure how to answer the religious prejudices question--for us, we noticed a lot of Apostolic groups which are very conservative groups where women's roles are more closely aligned w/US beliefs in the 1800s. Child marriages in rural areas is common.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Victoria Falls, Domboshava, Manapools--basically the outdoor opportunities as well as tennis, golf and yoga.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

It's all good. Manapools game count was super awesome for husband, but me--not so much.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Yes, there are a ton of Shona sculptures, flea markets, and stores everywhere. There are a couple of malls but nothing great.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Weather, HIS was a good school, big houses and yards (outside city), nice people, generally felt safe.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Desire to hit the beach.

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4. But don't forget your:

Binoculars, golf clubs, camera for safari photos, swim trunks

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

The abduction and trial of Jestina Mukoko (the fight for human rights in Zimbabwe)

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Our 10 year old daughter loved it, she had a lots of friends and loved the outdoors in Zim. The locals are lovely and beautiful. We still keep in touch with our housekeeper and her daughter.

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Harare, Zimbabwe 07/06/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No We have lived in several countries in Africa and Asia.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Door to door it is 20+ hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

4 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

International organization.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Several South African chains (supermarkets) with lots of groceries available.Prices fluctuate and are now on the increase. Many products do not have information about ingredients which is scary if you know some of the realities in this country.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

All electrical items are crazy expensive. Good quality mattresses and furniture.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

If you like 'cuisine' - forget it, you won't find it. A few upmarket restaurants are pretentious but don't offer real quality (Amanzi for example, beautiful setting but so-so food).The thing is that there are so many good ingredients available, such as excellent beef, but the chefs are missing! For international standards everything is sub-par - at best. A few exceptions are Chang Thai / Sabai Thai, the Jam Tree, Fishmonger (very good) and Spice Lounge (best Indian).

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

The northern part of Harare (where all expats live) is infested with termites. Then the usual ants, some mosquitos depending on the season. Overall not bad.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Via local mail, things won't arrive and if they arrive in the PO Box of your organization it often takes months.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Readily available, often well educated. Salary ranges from 200-250 USD and bonuses are expected (Xmas for example) as well payment of school fees.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Lots. 50-100 usd per month. Harare International School allows parents of students to use the gym, tennis courts, etc. for free.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

At the moment plastic is the only option. Almost no cash left in the country. ATMs are still guarded but no cash available.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

We're not interested in these services but there are many churches and even groups who do their thing along the road (apostolic).

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is widely spoken.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes but not as much as in many other African capitals. One of the main shopping areas, Sam Levy, is quite accessible for example.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Combibuses are very dangerous - particularly for other road users. Long distance buses are very dangerous due to no maintenance, long hours and over speeding on roads with huge potholes.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Many people import secondhand from Japan. Cheap but difficult and expensive to maintain. We have one 4WD and one sedan.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

ZOL is used by most people. Very expensive (we pay 200 USD) and when you use it during business hours they'll reduce your speed. Streaming is possible in most cases. The kids complain about very slow ping rates when playing games online.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Bring your phone. Locally you pay double for the same phone at home. Local SIM cards are easy to get. Data on mobile phones is very expensive.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes - many good ones but also exceptions that should be avoided. No quarantine and when your documentation for the pets is OK, no problem with getting them in.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Very limited - also due to strict labor laws and difficulties in getting work permits.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Semi-formal-

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Harare is pretty safe considering the level of poverty in the country. Many people have 24-hour guards, alarm systems, electric wire etc.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

There are islands of excellence but most services are very limited and expensive. Quality of care is going down. For anything serious, medical evacuation is the best route. Lack of information on ingredients used in almost all products is scary. You don't know what you're eating. It looks nice but can contain all kinds of pesticides etc.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Excellent air quality.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Not much available. Some gluten-free products available at very high prices.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Depends on how much you are affected by the reality of how this country is being managed.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Excellent climate. One of the best things about living in Zimbabwe.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Harare Interntional School pretends to be an IB school. For kids going to pre-primary and primary it is pretty much OK. Secondary is a completely different story - it should never be accredited by IBO as the school just is not up to standard. They're just an American school with some attempts to use IB slogans without really having the capacity to deliver. They try to do things cheaply (e.g. opting for local teachers with little or no IB experience in charge of diploma classes) while charging huge fees. Many of the teachers are just not qualified enough to deal professionally with the IB curriculum. Until recent changes school management were a disgrace. There are some positive signs of improvement under new management.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Some efforts are made but the required expertise is missing.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

HIS has pre-primary but there are also other options available.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

To some extent.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Due to the economic situation the number of expats is decreasing but also some embassies have closed their doors recently. Morale is high as long as you are immune to how this country is being destroyed by its leaders, in my opinion.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Outdoor activities, hiking, local safari parks and further away Vic Falls. Every once a while there is music concert. Once a year a great festival (HIFA) with lots of music, theater, dance, etc.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is not a city. It is a big village. Probably good for all with main attractions the nice climate, space, and outdoor type of activities.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Zimbabwe is very conservative when it comes to LGBT but in practice there are no major problems.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There are definitely racial tensions that don't often come to the surface unless when going to concerts where a lot of alcohol is being consumed or when politicians make racist remarks. Overall Zimbabweans are very peace-loving and friendly though.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Climate, living on a one acre plot in a capital with lots of space for a vegetable garden, commute times (no traffic jams), Victoria Falls, Eastern highlands

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Lots of outdoors opportunities, hiking, safari parks, Mukuvizi park in Harare, HIFA festival, theater, horse races - and lots of golf courses

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Shona sculpture, quite a number of artists. Woodwork, typical souvenirs.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

No traffic jams, climate, Harare is a very green city.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Poor quality of secondary level education at the international school.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Probably not, due to the school.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Expectation that you will be part of the Big Change happening in Zimbabwe.

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4. But don't forget your:

Ability to enjoy the many good things of living in Zimbabwe.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Dinner with Mugabe (Heidi Holland), The Struggle continues: 50 years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe (David Coltart).

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6. Do you have any other comments?

So much potential but unfortunately one of the few countries where the people were much better off twenty years ago.

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Harare, Zimbabwe 07/05/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No.I have lived and worked around the globe.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Zim is 36 hours to the U.S. via Joburg, give or take a couple of hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission (US embassy).

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Almost everything was available from South Africa. Some things like meat were cheaper than the US while other things like car parts and maintenance were more expensive.

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3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Lots of restaurants with most cuisines represented.Great Thai and Chinese food.

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4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants are frequent visitors. We just let them do their thing.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We paid our live-in maid $250/month and our live-in gardener $200/month.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are plenty of gyms. CrossFit was pretty popular.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

The economy is largely plastic with actual cash in short supply.You can use your credit card, no problem. Don't however, expect to use an ATM without standing in a three hour line and getting only $20 when you get your turn.If you need cash, bring it with you or set up a way to access it ahead of time.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Most are available.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None.Excellent English spoken by nearly everyone.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Affordable, yes. Safe, no.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Bring a four wheel drive SUV for the pot holes and safari.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Best internet speed on the planet.We used Zol and paid $150/month for unlimited data.Streaming was no problem.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Bring an unlocked phone and get a SIM card in Zimbabwe.They sell phones locally, but I imagine they would be expensive.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Great vets.No quarantine. We also used local facilitators to get our dog on the plane when we left.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There are not a lot of options on the local market as there is ready supply of well educated Zimbabweans who will do the job for less. Many spouses pursued advanced degrees at local universities that were cheap and good.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty.It's a developing country.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Suit and tie in diplomatic settings.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Pretty safe country although there are break-ins that occur. Security guard services are readily available.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

There are private doctors that can take care of basic needs.For anything serious you need to go to South Africa.The local health care system is in a shambles.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Excellent air.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Never too hot nor too cold.Excellent weather.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Good education at the Harare international school.Some kids went to the French school, but they are on a different schedule which means vacations are hard to coordinate some times.

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2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Our kid rode horses.Great horse culture and cheap.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Morale is very high.

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2. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The whole place just rocks.From safari to Victoria Falls to golfing to hunting to tennis. Lots of outdoo activities if that's your sort of thing. Definitely go on a game count that is held each year to census the wild animal population.

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3. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Shona sculpture is very popular.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely.People frequently go back for a second bite of the apple.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Need to use an ATM machine.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of outdoors adventure.

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4. Do you have any other comments?

Zim is a total hidden gem. It's Africa without all of the hassle you find in places like Kinshasa and Lagos.You can bring your family and feel safe doing it.Great place to introduce them to Africa.

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Harare, Zimbabwe 04/16/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, have lived in several other African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home base is London - it's an easy trip, best options are via Johannesburg on South African Airways, via Dubai on Emirates or via Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines. All take at least 20 hours, more depending on stopovers.

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3. How long have you lived here?

On and off for 18 years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Independent Contractor

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Most of what you need is available from supermarkets - Food Lover's Market, SPAR etc. Cost seems to be reasonable.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Books and movies

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Lots of options from traditional Zimbabwean food to excellent Thai. Local produce is amazing so in the hands of good chefs local food can be exciting. From US$10-15 for traditional restaurants to US$60 for fine dining, average probably US$25

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not much. Harare is outside the malaria zone (though a few cases are reported each year) - generally malaria i not a problem except for when you travel to certain parts of the country.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

EMS is reliable, otherwise FedEx and DHL

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Widely available, costs are reasonable (from US$300 a month), there are agencies for full time and part time staff

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Quite a few available.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMs work fine, cards increasingly accepted.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Everything you can imagine. Every kind of church, mosques, Buddhist Centers, a Hindu Temple and even 3 synanogues

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Most people speak excellent English but any attempt to speak basic Shona will be appreciated

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Probably - a lot of buildings don't have facilities and elevators can often be broken.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Public transport consists of minibus shared taxis (kombis) - overcrowded and probably not that safe, but cheap and essential for feeling like a local. Taxis are good - no meters, fares around US$1 per km but negotiable. Get recommendations for 3-4 good taxi drivers and call them direct on the cell phones. They will give you better rats in return for your loyalty.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

4-wheel drive is best for the potholed roads and trips out of town.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Getting better. Starts from around $80 per month for a decent package. There is fibre-optic cable in many suburbs.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Bring an unlocked one and get a local sim card.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Don't know about quarantine but many people have pets and speak highly of the pet care here

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not really, hard to get a work permit when so many locals are without jobs

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

As much as you want. Lots of people in needs and organizations trying to help them

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

smart casual, though Zimbabweans like to dress up for business

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

The crime levels aren't that high - nowhere near South African levels. Still, it is not advisable to walk alone at night as many streetlights are broken and it can be very dark. There is some opportunistic crime - pickpocketing and phone snatching - but not that much. Some people have had house robberies, and many houses have alarms, high walls, razor or electric wire etc. It's possible to hire a night watchman for about US$500 a month - some people get one between several houses on one street to make it affordable. Overall though, Harare does not feel like a dangerous city, but with the economy in crisis there are some desperate people out there so caution is advised.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Decent but have good insurance

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Generally very good, except when people burn their trash.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

No special issues

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Fairly consistent (though people notice the effects of climate change), there are 2 rainy seasons but sunshine almost year-round. Never gets cold enough for a heater, great place to spend time outdoors.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Lots of good schools in Harare

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Don't have first-hand knowledge

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Lots of options for different budgets, although many people prefer hiring nannies

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

There are martial arts and soccer academies and other programs connected with schools.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Decent size and very diverse. If they make local friends and make an effort to discover Zimbabwean culture they love it, if they like to remain in an expat cocoon they hate it

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Live music, house parties, braais (barbecues), festivals, launches, openings at galleries etc

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's a good city for anyone. Families will appreciate that there are lots of fun activities to do with kids, singles and couple will enjoy socializing, going out and making friends here.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It's ok. Officially it's illegal and the President has been known to speak out against homosexuality, but Zimbabweans tend to be accepting overall and I know a number of gay people who live here for years without any issues. There is a local organization called GALZ (Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe) which can be contacted for more info.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There is some stereotyping of white people but it's rare among educated people. As for gender prejudices, again they tend to exist more among poorer and/or less educated Zimbabweans. On the one hand there are many women in positions of authority and running businesses. On the other hand, there is domestic violence, many husbands have so-called "small houses" (secret second wives or families) and view women as their property. There are women's organizations and public figures who campaign and speak out against these things, so overall progress seems to be happening. I have not seen any religious prejudices in Zimbabwe. There are many religions and denominations practiced here and countless churches, and I have never heard of any of them having any problems.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling to Victoria Falls, the national parks and even day trips right outside Harare, discovering Zimbabwean music and culture and making wonderful friends.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

In the city there is theater, literature, modern art and live music, as well as good restaurants, film festivals, food festivals and lots of cultural events. Just a few minutes out of town are amazing places like Domboshawa and Ngomakurira. Lots of travel opportunities around Zimbabwe - the Great Zimbabwe ruins are recommended for history buffs. National parks of course and travel to neighboring countries such as Mozambique, Zambia and Namibia.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Art - especially modern art

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Perfect weather, amazing travel opportunities, rich culture and warm people.

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10. Can you save money?

Not really if you travel and make the most of your experience

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

People are very friendly but do not speak directly, so often hard to know what they really mean.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely!

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Heater and prejudices

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4. But don't forget your:

Curiosity, sense of adventure

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

sadly not much

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Books by Chenjerai Hove, Dambudzo Marechera, Petina Gappah

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7. Do you have any other comments?

People fall in love with this country, keep an open mind and explore!

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Harare, Zimbabwe 12/08/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Tenth expat experience: three in South Asia, two in Latin America, two in Europe, one in Africa, one in the Far East, and one in the Middle East, one in Kansas.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Seattle. 22 hours. Either via Amsterdam or via Jo'burg-Atlanta.

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3. How long have you lived here?

30 months this time so far; I have lived here for 40 months before between 2000 and 2003.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. State Department.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Everything is available, although the brands are 90% South African, not U.S. or European. Prices are similar to those in the U.S.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Shredded wheat.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Lots of fried chicken, pizza, and hamburger joints. Some decent restaurants too, but you will have gone to all of them in the first couple of months of living here. Chinese, Thai, Indian, Portuguese, Italian, and middle eastern are the ethnic choices. U.S. prices.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Very few flying insects. Most houses don't have screens; they aren't necessary.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Via the diplomatic pouch.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

US$200 a month, live-in.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. U.S. prices.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

I use my U.S. Visa cards in ATMs here on occasion. Barclays, CBZ, and Stanbic take them. However, the machines are old, and sometimes eat the cards I've been told, although it's never happened to me. I also have a local Barclays Bank account and use a debit card from them. US$5 a month fee if you set it up through the U.S. embassy FMO. Quite first world: you get a courtesy text message on your cell phone within a few minutes of using it. Most restaurants and stores take such cards.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is all you need, although some Americans study Shona for the enrichment.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. Few sidewalks. No infrastructure for those with disabilities.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Trains and buses are not recommended. They are crowded and the drivers dangerous. Taxis I use quite often, but one should not hail them on the street. The ones from the major hotels are safe, almost always with seat belts. I maintain a list of trusted taxis on my cell phone. U.S. prices.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

SUVs give you the most versatility, however regular sedans are sufficient and equally as common. Plenty of diesel and unleaded fuel is available.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine. There are lots of veterinarians and kennels in town.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

The pay is quite low.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Coat and tie for men at the Embassy, however, most of your contacts won't be wearing such.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Some crime but nothing like in the major metropolises on this continent. I never lock my car.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

There is a Regional Medical Officer assigned to Harare. Local facilities are reasonably good.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Excellent.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Mild. Lowest temperature at night during the coldest month (July) is 45 Fahrenheit. Highest during the day during the hottest month (October) is 80 Fahrenheit. In general, all year round, the daytime temperature doesn't stray that much above or below 70 Fahrenheit.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There is a well regarded international school - 65% expat, 35% local that has a U.S. curriculum.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Good ESL program.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large expat community. Morale is high. You can socialize solely within the expat community--it's large enough for that--or you can ignore it and seek out Zimbabweans. Most expats do both.

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2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Wonderful for families. Good for couples. OK for singles, but this is not a big city: the night life is limited.

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3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Same sex acts are illegal and attract jail sentences, and the president crudely rails against homosexuals occasionally, so be careful. See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_by_country_or_territory.

However, I've known several gay people here in my two assignments--direct hires, LES, and local Zimbabweans--who live normal, although quiet lives.

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4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No. Zimbabweans are very much aware of their racial differences. It's part of their history. But they are also instinctively tolerant of each other and of foreigners, despite the ruling party's constant playing of the race card. Although Harare is a small town, there are all the same ethnic and religious groupings you'd find in any US city: blacks, whites, east Asians, south Asians, Latinos, Muslims, Jews, Mormons, and so forth. Makes for better restaurants.

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5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

It's an out-of-doors place. You come here for the game parks, fishing, hunting, etc. You can have a BBQ on your patio 365 days a year. Don't come for big city culture, because it's not here.

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6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Game drives. They'll change the way you look at zoos forever.

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7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Zimbabwe teak wood furniture, Shona stone sculpture.

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8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It's relaxing. No air pollution, very little traffic, polite people, balmy weather, sunny skies.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes. Between the high differential and COLA, it was easy to save.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes. This is my second tour in Harare, I'd come a third time. Several of the officers at the Embassy now are on their second tours here, including the Ambassador and the USAID mission director. The majority of Americans assigned here extend their tours once on the ground. There's something about Zimbabwe ...

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Harare, Zimbabwe 07/29/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This is our second expat experience as a family. We've lived previously in Kathmandu, Nepal.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Our home base is Fairfax, VA (basically Washington, D.C.) and the trip was some 19 hours with a direct flight from Dulles (IAD) to Johannesburg and a connection up to Harare.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Arrived October 2012.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Government assignment.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Produce, though very much available, varies in cost seasonally (as it should!), so plan your menus. Sometimes red peppers are US$4/kg (US$2/lb) and sometimes US$18/kg.

Fresh meat is available and is on par with DC area prices: US$6-$10/kg for chicken breast (boneless, skinless), US$4.50/kg fryer chicken, US$6.50/kg for bone-in thighs (in bulk) and legs too. The Butcher's Kitchen, Billy's and Supreme Butcher have good meats, also Fruit and Veg in Greendale (Greendale and Samora Michel).

Dry goods are often imported from South Africa and are VERY expensive.

Fresh bread is available and not expensive.

Cleaning supplies are available and on par with U.S. prices. Plastic wrap, aluminum foil, wax paper, parchment paper, trash bags (bin liners) and zip lock bags are very expensive. Freezer paper is not available.

Local (blah) beer is available not not expensive. South African wine is available for US$6-$$$$ a bottle. Liquor is available, some premium brands, at prices on par with those in the D.C. area, save some brands which are enormously expensive. Local brands are much less expensive.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Spare tires, better bike rack, camping furniture.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

South African fast food chains are available, no American chains currently:
- Nando's (rotisserie chicken) is great. US$7/meal
- Chicken Inn, Pizza Inn, Creamy Inn (ice cream): US$5-$10/meal
- Chicken Slice, Pizza Slice: US$5-$10/meal

Chiang/Chang Thai: US$8-$12 dish EXCELLENT Thai food.
Amanzi's: ? (haven't been there yet)
Leonardo's: mediterranean US$15-20 meal
Cafe Nush: western US$10-$14 meal
Cafe Nush's Organiks: western US$10-$14 meal
Doon Estate Shop Cafe:western US$15-$20 meal (a veg buffet to die for)
Great Wall: authentic Chinese US$15-$20 meal
China Garden: authentic Chinese $15-$20 meal
Bistro: western US$15-$20 meal
Deli'cious: western US$10-$15 meal
Willobean: western US$15-$20 meal
There are also rotisserie chickens ready-to-eat in most groceries for US$7-$10
The city is sadly lacking in most other food types, though I hear there is one Indian restaurant.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

House flies are horrendous here, and most houses don't have screens. Bring good electric fly zapper rackets and effective fly tape or traps. Do not cook with the windows open, especially in Oct-Nov.

Mosquitos are annoying, but Harare is too high to be a malaria area. Mosquito nets are available on the local market, but if you prefer something, bring it with.

In the city, we mostly don't have to worry about any other insects; the occasional ants are tolerable. There are occasional bee infestations, and wasps, but nothing different than what North American has to offer.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We send and receive letters via the Diplomatic Pouch with our embassy.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Maids are available from US$100-$200/month depending on skill. Gardeners are similar.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are many gyms around town with basic facilities.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Some shops take credit cards, but for the most part this is a cash economy. ATM cards work in some banks, depending if your card is a VISA or MasterCard.

A distinct lack of change makes for a lighter wallet. Vendors will sometimes give change in SA Rand, and most of the time will print you a credit note or ask if you want your change in sweets.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None. It's a shame Shona is not more prevalent. If you know just a few words, it goes miles.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

The city is not very friendly towards anyone who cannot walk without assistance.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

No local transportation is safe. Avoid combi's, take taxis at your own risk.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

This is a RHD country, cars drive on the left side of the road. If you plan on only driving in the city, any type of vehicle that can clear large speed humps is suitable. Most game parks/drives require something with excellent (8"+) ground clearance, if not a 4wd vehicle, especially in rainy season. If you can manage two vehicles, and plan on keeping one for local commuting and use the other for everything, get a city car and a 7+ seater for extensive road trips.

If you can equip your SUV with a roof rack ahead of time, do so. After-market equipment is available, though heftily expensive. Think roof racks, bike racks, etc.

Bring a spare set of tires in your shipment, they are US$250/each usually, up to US$350/each.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

High-speed internet is available. YoAfrica, Tel-One, Econet and ZOL have 3G, WiMax and ADSL. Fiber has even become prevalent of late. Prices are dropping, so this will quickly become outdated.
WiMax up to 3Mbs: US$99/month
Fiber up to 10Mbs: US$150/month

3G service is available for phones/dongles, but the cost US$100 for abut 2.5G of traffic, does not make it a viable solution for the home.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Bring an unlocked cell phone to use a local SIM. 3G service covers most of the city, but there are pockets all over the place where edge network takes over.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Incoming pets do not need to be quarantined, but avoid transiting South Africa if possible, as SA does require quarantine or permits even if just transiting.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are a few vets available that offer decent medical care.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Dress code at work is smart business and in public is casual. You can spot a Rhodie by the board shorts, flip flops and t-shirt.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Home invasions are a constant threat, but being vigilant and knowing your weak spots (staff being coerced or threatened, not relying on any one method of security) will help out.

Also, when commuting from the airport at night, do not stop at the intersection from the airport to Glenara Rd, do not even slow down. That is a major smash and grab spot.

Sometimes car thefts (valuables from the car) occur with teams of people; one will distract the driver and the other will pilfer the vehicle.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The local HIV infection rate is pretty high.Drinking water should be distilled and as always with international travel, check your plastic water bottle seal. Malaria is a concern below Harare. Get your vaccines for everything your medical officer recommends. There are a few hospitals in town that offer decent medical care.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The air quality is marvelous. I've heard it called "Champagne Air" before. Walking or driving around, one can swear that the beach is just over the next rise or around the next turn.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The southern hemisphere provides us roughly the opposite seasons than the northern hemisphere. Check wikipedia for absolute temps, but roughly Dec-Feb is autumn with slight rain (this past year had a drought), March-July is Winter, August-September is spring, and Oct-Nov is summer. Temperatures in the direct sun can be sweltering (80-90°F) for locals but would make someone from Phoenix shiver. The air is dry and crisp, making any temperature tolerable. The other seasons are just shades off from Summer. Even in the dead of winter, it probably won't get down to freezing at night in the city.

The rainy season does have rain, but this is no monsoon. We have hardly used umbrellas, rain jackets are more effective when actually needed.
Think Colorado when packing clothes. Layers are good.

More of an effect than the climate is the housing construction. Concrete is the favored medium here, making for a cool house in the summer and a frigid one in the winter. Bring a good pair of slippers.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Harare International School is the only accredited school here. http://www.his-zim.com

We have children in the lower grades (up to 4th). The children love the school and the teachers. We are impressed with the teachers with whom we've dealt, for the most part. The grounds are amazing. Manicured lawns and palm trees surround the buildings, and peacock and guinea fowl roam the grounds. There are ample playgrounds for younger children, a large sports field and gymnasium, and quite soon a swimming pool.
As with every international school we've dealt with thus far, there is drama between the parents and school. I prefer to stay involved by attending PTO meetings when possible.

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2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There is preschool available at H.I.S, albeit crazy expensive. There are local pre-schools all over town that range from US$300-$700 per month with varying quality, amenities, etc.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

H.I.S. has some sports programs.

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Expat Life:

1. Morale among expats:

Morale among expats is largely good due to quality of life. Every weekend includes a braai (bbq) at someone's house with friends.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There are some watering holes worth going to, and even one place downtown (The Beer Engine) with excellent beer, run by a U.K. Guy. There are only a few clubs, and those frequented by late teens/young 20's. Most entertaining and socializing is done in the home with friends.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This is a great city for families, a tad quiet for young (20's) couples and singles.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I would avoid Zimbabwe if you are LGBT. Mugabe is not know for his tolerance.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

The Rhodesians are white, so coming here as a Caucasian makes one blend in to that group. There is not a lot of prejudice towards Caucasians. There is much more prejudice towards Blacks who are not native, ironically by (only some) staff. I am not aware of any religious prejudice.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

We have had the chance to see Victoria Falls a few times, and an amazing selection of wild game. Camping is also very convenient, so bring your gear!

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Day Trips:
- hiking up the rocks at Domboshawa (20 minutes north of town) or Ngomakurira (45 minutes north of town)
- Lake Chivero for the bird sanctuary or Snake World (1 hour west of town) or game drive
- Mukivisi Woodlands for game walk (guided)

Overnight:
- Lake Kyle, Matopos (Matobo) National Park, Rock Pools, Nyanga

A few days:
- Victoria Falls
- Hwange National Park
- Chimanimani
- Ghonrezhou (sp?)
- Lake Kariba
- Kariba Ferry
*Check out www.zimparks.org for more info on lodges and camping

Longer:
- Drive to Vilanculos, Mozambique (12+ hours)

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Teak furniture, Shona stone sculptures, tacky welded metal animal sculptures.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Special advantages of living in Harare include the weather (I am looking outside to another sunny day in the dead of winter, deciding shorts or jeans), convenient game drives, availability of quality food in groceries (and sheer selection of grocery stores), and quiet lifestyle. Check out the stats on wikipedia sometime about population.

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10. Can you save money?

Not really. Though produce may be less expensive, everything else isn't.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yup. We hope to return in a decade or so.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Your need to party in the city, itch to walk to a cafe in a Eurpean city for a coffee, snowy weather gear.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunblock, sunglasses, sense of adventure, mountain bike.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Where we have hope.

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Harare, Zimbabwe 06/21/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Fourth expat experience, second in Africa.

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2. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Long. Twenty plus hours probably. You have to fly through Johannesburg. Delta now has non-stop flights to Atlanta and South African also flies to Washington and New York. Eleven hours from Jo'burg to Europe.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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!

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Right now, pretty much everything is available in the local stores, although you might have to make a few stops to get everything. There are great produce shops, butchers, and South African chain stores.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

More auto parts and motor oil. Binoculars and more safari clothes.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are some South African chains that are decent.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Some mosquitoes, but not many in Harare. If you go into the Zambezi valley in the north or Lowveld in the south though, watch out!

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Widely available and cheap. Full-time housekeepers and gardeners run about $100/mo. You need someone at your house full-time to do all the yard work (most properties are on about an acre!) and to deter daytime break-ins.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are two very basic gyms, and they both close at about 7pm and are only open in the mornings on the weekends -- it's tough if you work full-time.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Forget about it. No ATMs or credit cards.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes -- all denominations.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

The government paper is a daily and costs $1. Independent (and accurate) papers are mostly weeklies that run $2.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Everyone in town speaks English. Some Shona will get you a long way though.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Medical care here, even in the privately-run clinics, is basic. I wouldn't come here with any serious medical issues.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

There are taxis in town, but they're few and far between. You need your own wheels. Couples need two cars.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I highly recommend a vehicle with high clearance, w/4WD if possible. Bring parts with you -- everyone orders things from "South" (South Africa) and that can take a few weeks.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Super duper expensive. Most singles in the embassy don't have internet. Many embassy families that do get internet do it for the stay-at-home spouse and kids, so they don't go crazy. It's several hundred dollars/month and several hundred for the equipment/installation.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

If they go through South Africa, yes. Sending a pet through SA is expensive and complicated.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There is one very, very, good vet who is very available. This is a great posting for dogs.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business at work, casual around town. Not as dressy or elegant as many African countries.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Very healthy, although some do have allergies.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

Standard African battery of everything.

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3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Increasing. Harare is still extraordinarily safe, particularly when compared with South Africa. However, there have been more break-ins lately.

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Emergency medical care is unpredictable. You will want to get medevac'd to South Africa for anything remotely serious.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The weather here is amazing. Harare is at about 4000 feet, so it doesn't get many mosquitoes or too hot in summer. Winter nights can get down to freezing, so you definitely need warm clothes.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes -- everyone loves cricket, rugby, tennis, and golf.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Big -- lots of NGOs and UN agencies.

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2. Morale among expats:

Varies wildly. Harare is great living -- great housing, lots of social events among expats, good eating. However, it's also very isolating, given the lack of internet and the high cost to fly out of Zimbabwe. You have to fly out via Jo'burg, and that is about $400-500. Flying to Cape Town is about $600-700 -- hardly reasonable for a weekend trip. By comparison, I've flown to Europe for $1100. There is a lot to do in-country, but everywhere you go, people will beg and bemoan the political and economic collapse of this once-great country. It's emotionally draining after a while.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Busy, busy, busy. There are lots of dinner parties and in-home entertaining.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

There are a lot of families here, and most people like the school. There is a lot to do around Zim on the weekends -- safaris, hiking, camping, golfing. People are very social here as well.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

There is a lot of homophobia among some Zimbabweans, but I know one gay couple here who has loved it.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes. Definitely -- but it goes both ways. Local blacks say racist things about local whites and visa-versa. As a foreigner, you're sort of removed from it, but I do get tired of all the racial slurs and remarks.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Hiking, barbeques, weekend trips to the mountains, national parks, lakes.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Antiques, beautiful custom-made teak furniture.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes, if you can find ways to stay sane in-country.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

aspirations to solve the Zimbabwean crisis during your stay, and your belief that "this can't last much longer."

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3. But don't forget your:

desire to find something good in a horrible situation.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

"An Elegy for Easterly: Stories" by Petina Gappah, "The Uncertainty of Hope" by Valerie Tagwira, "When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa" by Peter Godwin, Mugabe: Power, Plunder, and the Struggle for Zimbabwe's Future
and The Fate of Africa: A History of the Continent Since Independence
by Martin Meredith

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

"An Elegy for Easterly: Stories" by Petina Gappah, "The Uncertainty of Hope" by Valerie Tagwira, "When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa" by Peter Godwin, Mugabe: Power, Plunder, and the Struggle for Zimbabwe's Future
and The Fate of Africa: A History of the Continent Since Independence
by Martin Meredith

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Harare, Zimbabwe 12/05/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Nairobi, Tokyo, Munich, Lagos.

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2. How long have you lived here?

3.5 years.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

From U.S., fly direct from ATL or Washington DC - 22 hours, non-stop.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Anything is available on the black market if you have access to foreign currency. Costs are higher than the U.S. or Europe.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Everything.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are some fast food chains and resturants, but they are expensive and the number is getting smaller every day.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Dip pouch.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Cheap, but quality varies.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Wouldn't try to use them. The exchange rate is fixed by the government so a pizza would cost you hundreds of U.S. dollars if you tried to get funds from an ATM.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

One local TV channel. DSTV US$600 yearly.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Left.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Not safe.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Bring a well serviced car. Parts and service are scarce and expensive.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Although they tell you it is available, you take a risk if you will get service or not. We have had people spend thousands of dollars and get nothing. If you do get it, expect to pay between US$1,000-1,700 for set up and US$800 for 128Kb per year. It only goes up from there.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Not much point other than SMS.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Cell phones and home phones can't get through. We have to use the embassy IVG most times.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Vets are generally good.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

European type dress.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate to unhealthy.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes. With 80% unemployment, 220 million% inflation and a non-functioning government things are getting worse.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The health care system has failed. Have a plan to be evacuated to South Africa for any traumas. They should be able to stabalize you for transport if you have the money.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

OK.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Nannys are available.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Low and dropping fast.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Mostly in our homes.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

No.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, typical African society.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The list is growing shorter every day. Golf is cheap and Cape Town is near.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Shona sculpture.

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9. Can you save money?

Maybe, depends on how rustic you want to live.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Dreams of how great Zimbabwe is.

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3. But don't forget your:

Foreign currency.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Harare, Zimbabwe 09/26/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, I've lived in Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Jordan, Egypt, and Israel.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Expat with NGO, spouse with U.S. Embassy. 7th expat experience.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Currently few direct flights, mostly one must fly through Johannesburg. You can fly direct from NYC or DC to Joburg or have a stopover in London, Amsterdam or other European city.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.....

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Things are very expensive and hard to find now, but last year i woudl have said it was all cheap and relatively easy to find things once you know where to go for what. Things change here fast., so hard to say but at the moment, we are importing lots from South Africa every month (facilitated by the embassy).

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Tortillas, black beans, asian cooking supplies, feminine hygiene products...

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

KFC, Nando's, and other south african chains. As far as DECENT food there are lots of restaraunts only they are struggling, like everyone, to get supplies.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We have pouch. Zimbabwe has a postal service that seems to work in country still, i have no idea about international but would be surprised if it worked.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very available and very cheap. We have a fabulous nanny for US$150 a month, a great gardener for US$75 a month. Housecleaners are available for US$75 a month and up. Drivers for US$5 a day etc.....

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

YOU CAN'T USE THEM AT ALL.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Everything available, all denominations from Bahai to Zorastrians!

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

English language papers from zim and SA available cheaply. It's hard to get outside papers unless you are with an embassy.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None, most speak English although knowing it will make life more interesting!

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

There is very little that has disabled or wheelchair access, sidewalks are cracking and in many cases dont exist any longer. There is however a school for the blind, and other institutions focusing on disabilities.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

On the left.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Affordable yes, safe no!

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Roads are ok in town and major roads connecting towns are also OK alhtough there can be sections falling apart for long periods before they are fixed.some roads into residential areas are only gravel or dirt now. 4x4 is great but NOT necessary. Carjackings are rare - smash and grabs are more common.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, if you have a landline you can get a modem for US$100 or so and thats fine. If not you have to get VSAT or a UHF antenna (US$1,000) and then pay a steep monthly fee.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

They don't work well for calling, mostly we use them for texting you will need one. Bring one with you if easy to do. SIM cards are available on open market.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

If you have internet you can use skype. If you have a landline you can call direct and it's very cheap but that will likely change.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes, lots of vets.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not too many, some NGOs and some schools hire.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Zimbabweans dress fairly conservative for work, many expats do not.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

I would guess is good as there isnt too much traffic but people burn trash lots, so that causes smoke.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Currently security on the decline, however we feel very safe most of the time. There are occasional smash and grabs, and there are house robberies particularly if you don't turn on your alarm or have a well secured property.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Malaria, cholera and other issues need to be considered.embassy has medical assistance and there are still excellent local doctors but hospital facilities are lagging and med-evac woudl be best for most serious issues.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Incredible lovely weather most of the year, pretty cold in June, July and August (need a coat and sweaters) but good the rest of the time. CAN have lots of rain in December and January.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Children not school age but i hear that everyone pretty much loves Harare International School and its a gorgeous well equipped campus.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Sorry I truly don't know.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Nannies are very inexpensive and well trained. There is also preschools available.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge.

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2. Morale among expats:

Excellent even in the worst of times.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Tons. movies, parties, outdoor activities, golf courses galore!!!

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes for all. Lots of things to do - very social place for all ages.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes and no. It is TECHNICALLY illegal but I have lots of gay friends and they live together and wuite openly are together and there is a sizable gay community considering how small a place it is.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, as with much of Africa there are deeply entrenched racial isssues.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Tons of hiking, safari, hunting, lots of restaraunts even if they aren't fabulous, parties and social gatherings, craft fairs, etc....also have movies, plays and other cultural events.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Handicrafts abound. Local in Harare: belgian chocolates, clothing, pottery, textiles and more.

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9. Can you save money?

Well, it depends. Yes you could have before we had to start importing from SA so often, and if things improve again, you will certainly be able to again.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes and would consider returning to retire!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Expectations of customer service.

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3. But don't forget your:

Good attitude.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

We love it here. It has been by far one of our most favorite posts!! The people are fabulous, the climate is great, the options for activities abound, the housing is excellent. All in all I highly recommend it!

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