Algiers, Algeria Report of what it's like to live there - 10/25/13
Personal Experiences from Algiers, Algeria
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
Not the first.
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. - about 12 hours via Frankfurt.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
State Department - U.S. Embassy.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Every apartment has its own problems; some internet problems (slow or password gets shared with other people in the building because internet goes out). In other buildings, you have to call neighbors in the building when are showering so you have hot water. The housing is from 800-1200 sqft and the GSO purchased the same furniture for all housing (this means you will have to have furniture in the hallway if you have one of the 800 sqft apartments).
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
You can find almost everything here but when you see it, you must buy it because it might not be in the store again for months. We spent more here on groceries than we did in Washington D.C.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Things to pass the time; liquids since you cannot mail liquids.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Very little to none. Price varies you can spend from US$10-$80 per person eating out. And spending more doesn't always mean better food.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Dip pouch, so it's very restrictive on mail coming in. Mailing out, no package can be over 2 pounds.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
The embassy has one, free.
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?
In this country very few people have credit cards so using one is very hard. ATMs are available.
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?
You need French.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes, very few sidewalks, and it's very hilly.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
The embassy has 5 approved taxis, buses are not authorized.
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?
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Internet yes, but the price changes every time you ask for the bill. The embassy sets up internet through a local provider, you must use who the embassy has chosen and you must pay the embassy to pay the local internet company.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Embassy provides cell phones.
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?
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?
No you cannot work on the local economy.
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?
Business to casual depending on section.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Yes, embassy people's cars had their windows broken and embassy houses have been burglarized.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Embassy has a local doctor and an American nurse.
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?
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Weather is good, a couple of hot weeks in the summer and few cold weeks in the winter - but there is a rainy season.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
None, no children over the age of 5 are allowed here.
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?
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. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Nothing; hanging out at other embassy people's apartments.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Not really, unless you like to sit at home and play games. There is nothing to do, no movie theaters, bowling alleys.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
This is a Muslim country so I am sure there is.
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Trips to Europe.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Go to Europe.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Nothing really, tiles and pottery.
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
None, you are close to Europe and you can find good deals so any money you saved because there is nothing to do you spend you go to Europe on long weekends.
10. Can you save money?
Yes, if you do not travel. But you WILL travel.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
110v appliances and high expectations in quality of work. Workers, embassy staff or contractors will go through your drawers if they are in your apartment.
3. But don't forget your:
Transformers and patience
4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
5. Do you have any other comments?
The LES (FSN) run the Embassy; if they want something, they demand or say they will quit or write a petition and they get it. As an American you and your bags will get screened before entering. Why? Because the LES said it is not fair that they get screened and Americans don't. The list goes on. No matter what section you work in be prepared to be micro managed.