Tunis, Tunisia Report of what it's like to live there - 06/21/13
Personal Experiences from Tunis, Tunisia
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?
About 12 hours to the East Coast with a layover in Paris.
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?
Apartments/villas. They aren't built very well, though, so make sure you find a plumber once you get settled in.
People drive crazy here!
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
About the same as in the US. The economy is closed, so they don't import many goods.
You won't find: tortilla chips, salsa, tacos, brownie mix, good garbage bags, good toilet paper/Kleenex, dryer sheets, chocolate chips, etc.
And sunscreen is expensive!
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Any Mexican goods like salsa, and tortillas. Dryer sheets if you have a dryer. Sunscreen and sunglasses.
Clothes! Especially for children! Clothing is very expensive.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
None! There are local schwarma stands and pizza places (about $6 for a pizza) but you get what you pay for.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Cockroaches in the summer (big ones!). Mosquitoes depending in where you live.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
At your own risk! Letters from family never make it here. My family will mail by express and it usually comes.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Cheap, you can have a maid for $250-350 a month, depending in what she does (cook and clean, just clean, etc.).
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes, but they are expensive, I think $100 per month -- and they aren't special.
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 cards are accepted.
US cash is not accepted. Upon arrival I tried to tip someone at a hotel a few US dollars, and he didn't want it
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Yes, there are a few Roman Catholic Churches.
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
No English TV.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
You must learn French. Hardly any English is spoken here.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
A lot! There are hardly any ramps. But there are many stairs and crooked sidewalks/roads.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
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?
Small cars are best; lots of narrow streets.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, cheap, maybe around $25 a month.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Cheap packages are available.
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?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Yes, but I hear it's expensive
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?
If you speak French, maybe.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
You need to be aware of your surroundings. People will stare at you if you're not dark haired and look like them, this is one of the biggest challenges for me.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
It costs about $40 to see any doctor/dentist/eye doctor.
Visit the US Embassy website to find good English-speaking doctors
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?
Generally good. Sometimes you smell sulfur by the beaches, and it's dusty on occasion. Overall, though, it is not bad.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Hot summers, mild winters. Locals wear coats, boots, and gloves in December. I go out with a long-sleeved shirt and I'm comfortable!
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
The American School is expensive, I believe $20,000. If I had children, I would send them to the British School- more affordable and good. reputation.
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, some moms send their babies as young as 6 months, even though they stay at home.
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?
Thousands of French, hardly any Americans after the embassy was attacked.
2. Morale among expats:
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?
No bars. Only men go to the coffee houses. No malls. And there are only about 5 good restaurants, which are about $30-$59 per person.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Couples without children, yes. There are not many activities for kids. No cinema with English movies, no mall, the parks are not great, watch out for glass on the grass.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Women seem to "wear the pants" in the marriages, from what I've seen/heard. You are not allowed to preach religion other than Islam.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Douggs is a great place to see ruins. I think it's more impressive than Carthage.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Ceramics, rugs (not of my taste).
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Beautiful weather, saving money, learning how to be happy without material items.
11. Can you save money?
Yes, for sure. You can't shop here. You can travel to Europe, since its nearby, so you will save money if it's a priority.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
No. Do research to make sure you could live here if you have to come longer than 2 years.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
cocktail dresses, short shorts, big SUV, and any idea that life will be wonderful here. The beaches are dirty and polluted. Unless you want to pay $90 Dinars to use a hotel pool, don't go to the beach in La Marsa.
3. But don't forget your:
American coffee! They have instant coffee here. They don't sell coffee creamer here either! Bring powdered if you choose.
Also: baby products, chocolate chips, food coloring, and shortening.