Amman, Jordan Report of what it's like to live there - 08/03/13
Personal Experiences from Amman, Jordan
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No. I have lived in Lima, Lagos and Athens.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
Washington DC, about 18 hours with a layover in Frankfurt.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
The housing is nice. Most embassy families/singles live in apartments which are pretty big and comfortable - all within 10 minutes of the Embassy (driving).
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Groceries are generally expensive and selection is hit or miss. There are a number of large western-style stores which cater to expats but you still have to adjust your expectations.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Tires. Paper products (there are of very poor quality, so Amazon Prime is a good option).
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Burger King, McDonald's, Chili's, and other franchises. The cost is comparable to the U.S., maybe a bit more expensive.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
VERY large "water bugs" or flying cockroaches that come up from the plumbing, especially in the warmer months.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Relatively inexpensive. Many embassy families have Filipina domestic help, the quality can be wide-ranging.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There are a number of gyms. There is a small one at the Embassy. The community gyms (like Fitness First) are expensive and seem to be hot spots for looking for a husband or wife as people are very dressed to impress instead of working out.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Credit card use is possible, but there can be complications, especially with Mastercard. ATMs are available but not always in the places you need them, and fees are high.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
None, you can get by with English. But knowing some Arabic will go a long way in opening doors.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
The physical infrastructure is not at all accommodating to those with physical disabilities.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Some taxis are fine but there are cultural rules for women to follow for safety. Make sure to agree on price ahead of time and know landmarks for where you want to go since addresses are not used.
2. 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?
Driving in Jordan can be an experience and fender benders or scrapes are common since basic driving courtesies are not the norm. Almost any vehicle is ok, with SUVs being good if you plan to do a lot of distance driving or desert driving. The difficult part may be getting parts for some makes. Tires are very expensive.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Internet is available but not great quality. It can range from US$30-70/month.
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?
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Modest for women. Business casual in the Embassy.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Women need to be aware of their surroundings and the culture, it is a very chauvinistic country. There are regular warnings of specific highways and roads which need to be avoided because of protests and sectarian violence.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical care is pretty good.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Very good, except for the occasional sandstorm.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
The weather is pretty mild, except a little too hot during the summer. Winter is not bad but some are surprised it snows - a little.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Limited information. People seem to be ok with the American Community School, describing it as satisfactory but not great.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
This is not a place with many resources for special needs kids. There are some but from what I hear parents are not very happy with what is available.
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?
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. Morale among expats:
Variable moral. People like living here overall but are usually very happy to leave when the time comes. Some people are very unhappy.
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?
Not much to do except go to restaurants or malls or home gatherings.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It is a good city for families but not much to do for singles or couples.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
No. Same-sex relationships are illegal so it is mostly underground.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Yes, yes and yes.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Getting to Petra and Wadi Rum.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
The Dead Sea, Jerash, the desert castles, Madaba, trips to Israel.
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Jordan has some nice tourism sites like Petra, Jerash, Wadi Rum, Aqaba and the Dead Sea. The weather is nice, a bit too hot in the summer.
10. Can you save money?
Yes, if you don't intend to travel to much.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
Lawrence of Arabia.