Due to the often short-term nature of expat assignments in Zambia, the vast majority of expats will rent property rather than buy. Both furnished and unfurnished housing is available in the main cities, and new arrivals will find a variety of different options when it comes to accommodation in Zambia.
Those living in rural areas or in mining communities will most likely find themselves accommodation within compounds or housing developments built by their employers. Expat employees are frequently provided housing with full amenities and utilities included and paid for by their organisation.
Those paying for their accommodation in Zambia will find housing relatively expensive, although lucrative expat salaries offset this cost.
Types of accommodation in Zambia
There is a variety of housing in Zambia, and expats will find that they have access to large properties with open spaces and gardens. Many of the houses are old and may be in need of repair, but there have been many new developments in Lusaka recently.
Standalone houses, often on large properties surrounded by gardens, are available in Lusaka’s more upmarket areas. These are ideal for families with children.
Cluster developments, consisting of a number of rowhouses or townhouses enclosed within a high perimeter wall, have sprung up in Lusaka over the past few years. These developments generally have controlled access and offer more security for expats. They are in high demand, and expats will in many instances find many employees of one company occupying housing in the same cluster development. These complexes offer a feeling of community with residents having access to common amenities such as swimming pools, gyms, tennis courts and entertainment areas.
Apartments are also available in Lusaka. These buildings usually come fully furnished and fully serviced. Security is largely excellent in popular apartment buildings and there may be communal facilities such as a garden, swimming pool or gym.
Finding accommodation in Zambia
Those transferred to Zambia through their company are likely to have assistance from their organisation, which will most likely shortlist potential options or have readily available housing for their staff.
Online is always a good starting point, and local newspapers also list rental properties. There are also several rental agents in Lusaka who can assist expats, although it’s best to be cautious when using such services, as prices can often be inflated by unscrupulous agents.
A good way of finding accommodation in Zambia is also via word of mouth. The transient nature of expat life in Zambia means that expats come and go regularly, so accommodation becomes available with their departure and news travels quickly about rental vacancies.
Factors to consider when house hunting in Zambia
Many properties in Zambia are old and in need of repairs. It’s best to visit a home in person to assess its condition before signing a lease or moving in. Ensure that the accommodation has sufficient utilities, such as water and electricity supply. It's also important to check what appliances are included in the rental. Ensure there is air conditioning, as this may be essential in the hot summer months.
Safety is a factor for expats in Zambia, especially in Lusaka, where home burglaries can occur. Expats should ensure that their homes have adequate security measures, such as burglar bars on the windows.
Renting accommodation in Zambia
Leases are usually signed for a minimum of a year, but expats can negotiate with their landlord for short-term leases if this option is available.
A security deposit will have to be paid, which will be returned if the apartment is left in an acceptable condition and rent is paid up to date at the termination of the lease.
When signing a lease, expats should establish upfront who is responsible for maintenance and repairs if these are needed, and whether the cost of utilities such as water and electricity are included in the rental. Expats who do not have accommodation covered in their employment contract will typically have to foot the bill for utilities and parking within a complex.