Returning to Zimbabwe & starting a new business

Below is a short story written by a good friend of ours, who fairly recently returned to Zimbabwe with her husband and their young daughter after living for almost ten years in the UK. I thought that it would be of interest and provide inspiration to those who, like us are also considering doing the same thing:

Returning to Zimbabwe

“Didn’t think the day would ever come”…how aptly my mum’s SMS had echoed my own sentiment… After 9 years and 10 months, my husband and I had decided to return from the comfort and security of the UK to our beloved homeland, Zimbabwe, our primary motivation being to live closer to family. My husband was also planning to set up a business out here and thus on our flight was constantly reading sites like to find how he could make the business efficient, which was one mistake he made when he founded the company we own in the UK.

Strange as it may seem, it took as much as two years for me to feel settled again, however, I finally have a wonderful sense of peace about our decision. I felt it was important for us to be clear about our priorities and goals from the outset, in order to remain focused when the going got tough! We were also forced to accept that we were going back to a different Zimbabwe from the place we had left behind in 2000.

Our life now is a far cry from the ‘rat race’ in which we once took part and we are extremely grateful for the bright sunshine each morning, the ease of getting to and from work (once you’ve mastered the art of dodging the potholes, of course), and the ease with which we socialise with friends during the week.

Re-emigrating wasn’t as straightforward as one might have imagined, although we had anticipated as much, bearing in mind my husband no longer had a ‘Returning Resident’ stamp in his British passport. After three trips to the Immigration department in just two days, we came to the conclusion that perhaps using a facilitator to apply for his Residence Permit would be best after all!  At this point I wish it was as easy for us as it was for my cousin and her husband back in America as the immigration process and the social security card replacement – online-application did not have them making even half the effort my husband and I are making. To cut a very long story short, US$2,160.00 poorer and two months later, we eventually tasted success…in the form of a visa…valid for a year! The second time round was no different, however, after countless visits over the course of 6 months, we managed to secure a visa valid to October 2013.

We experienced similar delights with the shipping agents as we had shipped a container with our twincab and other personal effects. I guess you could say I became extremely well acquainted with the ZIMRA office in town and at the container depot in the industrial sites at Workington, oh yes, and the little first floor office on the corner of Angwa and South Avenue which had a photocopier (seemingly gold dust here!) After 3 days of tooing and froing, we eventually drove our truck and possessions home and what a delight that was;-)

Strangely, house prices in Harare have continued to rise despite the economic situation and with the lack of availability of affordable mortgage deals, it is unlikely that we will be able to buy a house. Whether you are buying your first home, remodeling, or building the home of your dreams, MortgageRight stands with you from loan application through closing. We didn’t have a lot of money saved up before our return, and it’s near impossible to accumulate any savings here, what with astronomic school fees (in excess of US$2000 per term at private senior schools) and rents (averaging US$1500 per month). Well paying jobs are like diamonds in the rough too. We have a couple of friends who bought and sold houses in the UK, thereby enabling them to purchase property in Zimbabwe, which would seem like the best way to go…but it’s all about what’s important to you, I guess!

On the bright side, you’re able to buy almost anything here, at a price, and investment is slow but steady. Sam Levy’s Village in Borrowdale continues to be a little gold mine, with several new restaurants and shops. The Zimbabwe Mall project is set to commence in 2013.

Family Life
I feel extremely blessed to be able to bring up my little girl in Zimbabwe. I dread to think how I’d cope without her grandparents, who provide a wonderful source of support to us, but also lavish Kiera with love and attention…and gifts! The climate lends itself to raising children, and Kiera spends many a morning or afternoon pottering outdoors, playing in her sandpit or exploring the wonder of creation in the garden. She’s even started to imitate various bird calls now! Off course, a swimming pool fence is a must for added peace of mind! ‘Gogo’, our maid, is an additional blessing, especially when I want to bath in peace, or if I need to nip out to the shops or do some chores whilst Kiera is sleeping. I’m not quite sure how I’d manage in the first world now;-)

ZimbabaNEWS – Zimbabwe’s First Parenting Website

When my daughter was just a wee babe, I had to find out about products and services for babies by word of mouth, or through my own enquiries, and I often wished there’d been one central point to access this sort of information! Hence, I decided to introduce my weekly email newsletter, ZimbabaNEWS, especially for parents with small children, and a couple of months later, I launched my website (ZimbabaNEWS).

Of particular importance to me, is to try and help those families who have children with health conditions or disabilities, by providing them with a source of information, hence I have dedicated a page on the website to Support Organisations. I’d love to continue developing the website to become a ‘one stop shop’ for parents of babies and/or small children in Harare.

I recently introduced a Discussion Forum page, as one of my dreams is for the site to become a support forum, where parents feel comfortable sharing their experiences with one another, and they can draw encouragement from other people in the same boat as them, when they need it most!

I also have a blog where I share my personal experiences, and I have just created a page on Facebook. If you’d like to sign up to receive our newsletter, all you have to do is email ‘hello’ to [email protected]

  • Em B

    I loved reading this, thank you. I often dream about going back to Zimbabwe and this post was inspiring and informative. Love the website, the ‘baba’ bit is very clever! I wish all the very best and I hope you all go from strength to strength.
    Em B

  • YACIE.


  • What you are not told is that there is no water, no electricity and more and more people are being murdered just for the hell of it. Get real.
    Lifestyle “ha.ha” .

    • Lynne

      Tony, my sister still lives in Zimbabwe and have made a plan when there is no water or electricity. Yes it can be hard but they are happy just get on with it.
      We need to stay positive instead of posting horrid comments. Yes you were right to point out about no water and electricity but it could have been in a nicer way. Thankfully not everyone is negitive!

  • Lynne

    Well done on following your dreams. I wish you all the best in your life in Zimbabwe. My sister just stays positive and has always made a plan when things got tough. She has a wonderful circle of friends and my brother-in-law still works even though he is over 60 (his choice). Good luck with your website.

  • Lee Hodson

    My husband and i still call Zimbabwe our home, we would dearly love to return to Zimbabwe some time. Love reading your article. Lee

  • Jennifer

    Well done, if I was younger would have probably done the same thing, good luck with ALL., truly courageous.

  • sian

    Its really really hard here after many years with no proper zesa or water supply. I live here and have a load shed every day – I mean everyday. My generator does not run my fridges, stove, kettle or anything ‘getz’ heavy! You cannot run a household smoothly in these circumstances. My dream getaway would be somewhere with proper electricity and water. Its fine here if you have lots of money but when the only option is to educate your children in private schools there is little else left over. The cost of living is astronomical and your children will eventually leave to university (if you can afford it or they get a scholarship) or somewhere where there is more opportunities ………. this is home but it is not as easy and the paradise we all remember. Sorry to sound so down but this is the reality here. Harare used to be sunshine city – do you all remember – now is just dog eat dog!

  • Shaun Bowker

    Was in zim at Christmas and found it to be nothing but a pleasure even the cops greeted us with good morning sir and madame at the very first roadblock also found the roads in good nick think we saw 1 maybe 2 pot holes all the way to chirundu.Thinking of making the move back myself

  • Joan

    All the very best of luck in this new venture, what all rhodesians dream of. As long as you can make the money to have the good lifestyle and educate your daughter, but without plenty of income maybe not so good…who knows?

  • Robin

    So good to read stories like this!! The more people that can come back here, the better this special country will be.

  • Hi, the info in you article was much appreciated, we are planning on returning to Zim from Australia around the beginning of 2014. Trying to get as much info as possible on immigration and other related issues.

    Thanks again.