Amman, Jordan Report of what it's like to live there - 03/23/16
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?
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, D.C.--fly through London or Frankfurt, or take a non-stop to JFK and connect there.
3. How long have you lived here?
Almost 2 years.
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?
Good housing all close to the Embassy--typical commute time is 10-15 minutes.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Grocery shopping can be cheap if you stick to local veggies and only buy fruit when it's in season; otherwise, it can be very expensive. You can find anything here for a price and if you're willing to visit a couple of different stores to find/purchase it.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Lots of TP and paper towels (they are expensive here and TP is not like American TP), cereal (it's expensive here), almond or rice milk if you need it or like it. Like I said, you can get anything here if you're willing to pay for it (it can be expensive).
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Lots of fast food options, delivery options, and chain restaurants--anything you want, you can get.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Lots of flies, but otherwise nothing major.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
The Embassy--pouch or DPO. Shipments do not take that long--maybe a week or sometimes less. It's great!
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Very cheap--most people have a housekeeper come once a week if not everyday.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Most workout at the Embassy--gyms in Amman are expensive.
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?
ATMs are safe; credit cards are fine; however, smaller shops don't always take them.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
A bit--while western Amman is very western-leaning (and most people speak English), knowing the basics has helped a lot.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes--this city is not ADA friendly.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Taxis are OK and cheap, buses are off-limits.
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?
An SUV or 4x4--when it rains, it floods; when it snows, the entire country shuts down. Good to have wheels to get you out of your driveway and to the store when a storm hits.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, at about 60JD/month.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Bring an unlocked phone and just buy the SIM card from a local provider.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
No problem bringing a pet--lots of good vets (and if you REALLY need help, go over to Tel Aviv).
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?
Nope. You'll need to work for the Embassy.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
At work it's business attire--men in suits, women in pants or skirts. In public it's conservative.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
While we lost danger pay, we're going to be labeled a high threat post soon. Syria is only 30k away...
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
The Med Unit at the Embassy is great and the hospitals are fine--lots of expat women have babies here.
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?
Seasonal allergies can be bad, as can the sand storms.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Bring lots of allergy pills! Shockingly, in the spring it's pretty green here--things bloom and you suffer.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
PERFECT! Winters are hit-or-miss--sometimes it snows (a lot) and other times there's nothing but rain. Great spring and falls. Summers are fine--no humidity, so it's better than DC.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
They seem fine from what I've heard--a couple options between the American school and the British school, or even King's Academy or the French school.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
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?
Yes--people seem happy with the options/schools/prices.
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?
The size of the Embassy has exploded the past 2 years--we've outgrown the Embassy. Morale is not that great right now, perhaps due to the size, what's going on in the region, and the lack of work-life balance.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
People go out to dinner or the movies, hang out at the Marine House on a nice evening, or people entertain at home.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Good for families and couples--from what I've heard it's hard for singles.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
No--it's illegal here.
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Gender, yes--women here are not always respected. Race--from what I've heard, yes, it can be an issue.
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Petra, Dead Sea, Madaba, the weather--just getting out and about!
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Petra is only a 3-hour drive away, Dead Sea is only a 45-minute drive away, lots of good restaurants, jabal al weibdeh is a hidden 'hood with neat cafes and galleries.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Art, Syrian furniture, rugs.
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Lots to do and see--lots of history, hiking, great food, and perfect weather. Cost of living is high--very expensive city.
10. Can you save money?
Sure, if you don't go out a lot (it's an expensive city for dining and shopping).
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
It gets colder in the winter than I thought! I brought winter boots and a wool coat thinking I would never use them, and I did--lots!
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes--it's been great, but 2 years is enough.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Clubbing outfits, short skirts.
4. But don't forget your:
Sunglasses, hiking boots, camping gear.