Algiers, Algeria Report of what it's like to live there - 09/23/08

Personal Experiences from Algiers, Algeria

Algiers, Algeria 09/23/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I have also lived in Riyadh, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Prague, London, Kuala Lumpur, Tehran, Islamabad, Port of Spain, Tokyo, Nairobi, and Lagos.

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2. How long have you lived here?

One month.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Accompanying husband on telecommunications assignment.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Takes around 4 hours from London.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We lived in a lovely 4 bedroom apartment in Les Dunes over-looking the sea. It was devine.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Meat, chicken, fruit and vegetables were in plentiful supply, but the choice is limited. Loads of deli products and everything else you could think of in the top supermarkets. Everything was very good quality and cheap too.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing really.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Fast foods: there are lots of pizza places, The Milkbar, The Big Blue. Top End: The Hilton, The Sheraton, Le Dauphin, Auberge du Moulin and Dar Lahlou. All serve much of the same food. Lots of fish, meat and couscous. You pay for it though! Alcohol is readily available at the top end restarants which is a plus. The local beer is good too and the cheapest of course! You won't go home with much change from DA 8000 pp.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Being in Algiers for only one month we didn't have that problem. We did send some postcards home though and they took 4 weeks to reach New Zealand!

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Not sure. Wouldn't expect it to cost too much though

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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?

Don't! Take cash. Either GBPs or Euros.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There were Christian religious services available but not sure if they were in English or not.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

We had a satellite TV and could get some English programs. Not sure of the cost as this was all paid for, for us. Didn't see any English language newspapers.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You really do either need French or Arabic or a translator! We had a terrible job as we only speak English, Dutch and German! Most people speak French but Arabic is becoming the main language with the younger generation.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Decent footpaths were non-existant. It would be difficult in a wheel chair, or if walking was a problem that is for sure. There is really no thought as far as people with disabilities go. It is Africa, and this is one of the wealthier African Countries, but there just isn't the infra-stucture in these countries to make it easy for disabled people I'm afraid.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Not sure if they are safe, but they would be affordable. We had our own drivers at all times for security reasons.

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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?

The roads are pretty good in Algeria so any normal car would be fine. We got around in a Peugeot.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

No.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

There were 4 operators in Algeria. They all seemed to be OK. We just used our own Nokia mobiles and were given a SIM card on arrival which were very cheap to purchase.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

We only had our mobile phones at home. Internet is not widely available. My husband had Internet at his work and kept in contact with folks back home via Skype.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Probably not.

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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?

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Smart casual. Women should have their arms covered and legs too really. Having said that the local girls would wear a sarong down the street, but I think we lived in an area where this was tolerated more that in other parts of Algiers.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

High. Two bombs had just gone off as we were leaving for Algiers. Security was fantastic, there were Gendames and police everywhere.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The medical care was not up to International standards and you were advised to have a full cover insurance that included evacuation if necessary.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Temperatures range from 15-40C degrees and there is a lot of rain at times: Jan - Mar and October - December being the worst rainy months. It is quite muggy at times, humidity can be high in Algiers.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Small.

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2. Morale among expats:

Was there too short a time to meet any of the expats. Most of them were in the high end hotels and we were out there with the locals!

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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?

We had a great time with our drivers. We also went out to a lot of hotels and restaurants and met people there. The Algerian people are very friendly and helpful and go out of their way to look after you. There were bars to go to but it was mainly men who were determined to get drunk.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Probably not so great for singles and families. Could be a bit too dangerous. We were there as a couple and entertained each other and had the local Algerians to look after us.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Probably not.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There are the usual problems being in a mostly Muslim country. Actually it was pretty relaxed in Algiers. I could wear my bikini on the beach and short sleeves, and pretty normal clothing actually. I was surprised. It is best to be respectful though and cover up a little. I wore long sleeved, lose fitting tops and dresses over jeans most of the time.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

There are loads of interesting museums. The down town area is very pretty and it is lovely to look at all the French architecture. Palais du Rais is well worth the visit. The French lived here in splendor. It is in good condition and very beautiful.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There is a lot of gold, jewelery, silver, leather, carpets, tiles and beautiful materials too. The Tangines are a must to take home.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Definitely! I loved it there. Very romantic place indeed.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter gear. It was 37C degrees at 9am Your computer if you are not there on business as there will be no Internet at your apartment.

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3. But don't forget your:

Swimwear, sunglasses, sunscreen. Light long sleeved shirts and dresses. Walking shoes and crocs. Lots of magazines and books, movies and DVD's to entertain yourself with.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Algeria. The people are fantastic and wouldn't let us pay for anything.

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