Algiers, Algeria Report of what it's like to live there - 05/09/08
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?
Tripoli, Lybia; Dubai, UAE.
2. How long have you lived here?
2 years and a half.
3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
My husband's job although I worked as lecturer / teacher as well.
4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:
Alitalia, Air France, Air Algèrie fly directly.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Big villas, the market is quite expensive. Residential areas are close to main offices.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
A bit less than the European standards. Imported goods can be quite expensive. Bread, local groceries and meat quite cheap.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Some international restaurants are available, as well as local restaurants which do not serve alcohol.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
The local post is quite efficient. DHL and some other couriers are in place.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
It's difficult to find trustworth domestics but it's very cheap.
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?
There's no credit card/ATM system. Credit cards can only be used at international hotels. Opening a local bank account will allow access to local ATMs but the amount of money one can withdraw would be quite restricted.
4. What English-language religious services are available locally?
5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
Satellite TV. It's very cheap.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
French is fundamental.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
The city and all infrastructure are not yet equipped for these situations.
1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?
2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Taxis are affordable.
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?
All cars would be suitable but there are some difficulties due to importation permits.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, it's not too expensive. Many companies opened breaking up the monopoly.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?
Fixed line, mobile phones, skype.
1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
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?
Yes, if you are hired from overseas.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Business. Not too uncovered.
Health & Safety:
1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?
2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Some terroristic attack to strategic targets (last one at the UN building).
3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Private clinics are ok, but for seriuos problems going overseas is advised.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Quite warm in summer. Winter can be mild or rainy and cold.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
From my friends' experience I know the level is quite low. The French high school is ok but the international one is crap. The Italian one just opened in 2007.
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?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. Morale among expats:
Either you leave the country or you enjoy it.
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?
Mainly private dinners/parties.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Can be good for couples and open-minded singles. Most of the wives get bored and decide to leave the country.
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?
They are quite liberal towards foreigners. Still expats are supposed to behave according to common sense criteria.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Visits to the desert and to some ancient cities. Some clubbing in Algiers and Oran.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Some jewelry and antiques.
9. Can you save money?
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:
3. But don't forget your:
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
7. Do you have any other comments?
I loved Algiers and Algerians for the complexity of their history, their sense of pride, their friendship and loyalty, and for the hidden beauty of the whole country.