Insights into Zimbabwe’s Economy: How the High Cost of Living Impacts Tourists
As a tourist who recently visited Zimbabwe, I was struck by the beauty and warmth of the people. From the stunning Victoria Falls to the vibrant city of Harare, Zimbabwe is a country rich in natural and cultural treasures. However, as I traveled through the country, I also became acutely aware of the high cost of living in Zimbabwe, which can pose significant challenges for both locals and visitors.
After spending a few hours in Zimbabwe, I couldn’t find the appropriate word to describe the extremely high cost of living in the country.
The United States Dollar is the preferred and primary currency of Zimbabwe. Everything is priced in USD despite having an ‘official currency’, Zimbabwe Dollar (ZWL). The Zimbabwe Dollar is not really a currency but Bond Notes with few in circulation. It is not internationally recognized as a currency. So the United States Dollar is the de-facto legal tender of the country.
One of the most visible signs of the high cost of living in Zimbabwe is the price of food. Basic groceries like bread, milk, and eggs are often more expensive than they are in other countries, and many locals struggle to afford even the most essential items. For tourists, this can mean higher prices at restaurants and cafes, as well as limited options when it comes to affordable street food or markets.
Another major expense in Zimbabwe is transportation. While public transport options like buses and minibusses are available, they can be overcrowded and unreliable. Taxis and private cars can be expensive, especially for tourists who drivers try to cheat. The cost of hiring a private car or taxi makes it difficult for tourists to explore the country outside of major cities, which can be frustrating for those who want to experience Zimbabwe’s rich culture and natural beauty.
A taxi driver charged me US$20 from High Glen Station to Belvedere, about a 10-minute drive. That is about 330 Rands or 170 Ghana Cedis.
Housing is another area where the high cost of living in Zimbabwe is evident. Accommodation options like hotels and guesthouses can be expensive, especially for those on a budget. Even renting a basic apartment or house can be prohibitively expensive for many locals, with prices in major cities like Harare and Bulawayo rivaling those in other major African cities.
The high cost of living in Zimbabwe can make it a challenging destination for tourists. However, it’s important to remember that the cost of living is also a reflection of the country’s economic challenges and ongoing struggles. Despite these difficulties, Zimbabwe remains a country full of resilience, creativity, and hope, and visiting can be a powerful way to support its people and communities.