The cost of living in Zimbabwe is relatively low. The currency is commonly US dollars and whilst index prices can fluctuate daily, a meal at a cheap restaurant costs approximately 10 USD, a coffee 2.50 USD, a loaf of bread 1 USD, and a bottle of wine 8.60 USD.
A three-bedroom apartment in big city center averages at 850 USD and one outside the center 1,000 USD. After recent troubles, the capital city Harare is seeing many of its residents now prospering, with an increase in jobs and the tourism industry seeing foreigners returning in rising numbers.
Community healthcare in Zimbabwe is undertaken by the National Health Service (NHS), Mission Hospitals, and a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The NHS has four integrated levels that offer both curative and preventative services, including maternity and child health. Unfortunately, due to lack of investment and a shortage of healthcare workers, the quality of local public healthcare is probably not to a standard that expats are used to.
Medical care is also quite expensive. Even with medical insurance — and private health insurance is definitely recommended — some cash upfront payment will be expected. Many expats therefore chose to travel across the border into South Africa for more complex treatments and operations.
Schools in Zimbabwe are either managed by the government, churches, mining companies, councils, trust boards, or privately. In the private sector, you can expect fees of around 15,000 USD per annum, with most international schools found in the capital city, Harare.
The Zimbabwe education system includes seven years at primary level, six years at secondary school and then entry into university or college. Children are usually enrolled in primary school at the age of 6. They then proceed to secondary school around the age of 13. At primary school, education encompasses 13 subjects and national exams takes place at the end of Grade 7 in Maths, English, Shona, and a general exam. At secondary school students take two examinations, the Ordinary Level (O Level) at age 16 and the Advanced Level (A Level) at age 18. Many students will then enroll at one of Zimbabwe’s seven universities.
When considering life in Zimbabwe, crime and safety is of course a concern. City centers such as Harare continue to have many security challenges. With unemployment still high and the cost of living increasing, criminal activity extends to the low density suburbs where expats live. Despite the relaxed lifestyle, expatriates must be aware of the possibility of street muggings and burglaries and be sure to take vigilant precautions. In 2012, for instance, reports showed a 40% year-on-year increase in robberies in Harare’s northern suburbs.
If you happen to become the unfortunate victim of a crime, either notify your nearest police station or call the emergency number - 995.