Algiers, Algeria Report of what it's like to live there - 03/04/08

Personal Experiences from Algiers, Algeria

Algiers, Algeria 03/04/08

Background:

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

No, I've also lived in Libreville, Kinshasa, Niamey, and Peshawar.

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2. How long have you lived here?

7 months.

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

I work for the U.S. Government there.

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

It's best to fly from Milan or Paris to Algiers. About 8 hours flight time with 4-5 hours in lay overs from the U.S. East Coast.

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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 multi family and single family houses. Commute times can range from 7 minutes to over 30 depending on the time of day. Most homes are located 1-3 miles 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?

Algiers is expensive. A pound of butter is about US$5-6. Meat is terribly expensive and not very good quality.

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

Baking supplies, kids stuff (diapers).

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

There are expensive French restaurants, decent schwarma stands and good Indian food.

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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?

Domestic help is available, not that good and expensive (US$400 or so per month for a cleaner/cook).

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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?

Do not use them.

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

Catholic.

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

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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?

French is good to know. The algerian arabic is only spoken here and it's hard to understand.

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

They would not be able to get around. There are no facilities for those who have physical handicaps.

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Transportation:

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

Left, as in the U.K.

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

We are not permitted to use public transport.

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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?

Something small - Japanese, French or German-made. The roads are narrow, winding and driving is hard.We

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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, but it's unreliable, about US$200 for 6months.

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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?

There is a local company called Djezzy.

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

Skype or vonage.

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Pets:

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

Limited; vets are trained in basics but nothing too serious.

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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?

Few, the Algerians make it very difficult.

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

Conservative, but Modern/European.

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Health & Safety:

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

Unhealthy.

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

Tons. Security drives the quality of life here due to the credible, ongoing, significant threat from Al Qaida.

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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?

Care is only okay here; car accidents are a major concern.

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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?

Similar to Southern California.

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Schools & Children:

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

None.

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

None.

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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?

There is one decent preschool, French speaking only. It was hard to conform to their limited schedule. You must have a car to get there.

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Expat Life:

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

Medium size but shrinking due to security concerns.

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2. Morale among expats:

Low.

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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?

Eating out, some group get togethers, musical/art events

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

It's a good city for couples. Singles have a hard time dating and families with kids don't have any outlets for the kids. There are very limited activities even when the security situation isn't so rough.

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

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

Yes, recent media reports indicate that members of the Catholic/Christian community are being scrutinized more for their activities in Algeria.

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

Some limited sightseeing.

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

Pottery.

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9. Can you save money?

No.

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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:

Cold weather clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Good rain jacket.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The Battle for Algiers.

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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