Amman, Jordan Report of what it's like to live there - 08/05/11
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?
First expat experience but an experienced overseas traveler.
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?
Based in DC.There are direct flights to Amman from New York and Chicago. Other cities require a European layover like London, Paris, or Frankfurt. I don't recommend the Paris layover as bags tend to get lost due to the short layover before departing to Amman.
3. How long have you lived here?
Presently living here and going on two years.
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Posted here and working at the US Embassy, State Department
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Most embassy folks live in pretty nice and large apartments. Commute times are pretty short as the city is not large and everything is close by.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Imported foods tend to be pricey and can be found at Cozmo, Safeway, and Miles. Locally or regionally produced items are good and are priced well.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Clothing tends to be expensive and of poor quality so we tend to get most of it online.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
They are ALL here. One of the funniest sights I ever saw was some pretty cool and hip Jordanian twenty somethings hanging out by their car eating a bucket of KFC.
5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?
Lots of fresh vegetables produced locally and cheaply.
6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Surprisingly mosquitoes can be a problem here, depending on location. Not everyone has this problem but some do, often because of water collecting in air conditioning units.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Fairly inexpensive and almost all Americans have a housekeeper.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There are some gyms in town that are pricey.
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?
Available everywhere and are safe.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Most denominations available.
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
English language daily newspaper in circulation.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
It helps to have it but it's not that necessary as most Jordanians speak really good English. In the posher parts of town like Abdoun, you may try to speak Arabic with folks but they'll respond to you in perfect English.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Forget about finding ramps or facilities for the disabled.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Taxis are safe and cheap. Buses are also available but I've never used it.
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?
Most expats tend to own SUVs and they are probably the preferred type of vehicle.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, not as good as in the US but not bad at all.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Thriving cell phone providers here and many phone options available. However, buying a high end phone can be much more expensive than in the US.If you can get an unlocked one back in the US it might be best.
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)?
Lots of vets that make house calls and for a decent price.
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?
Not really as most spouses of embassy employees tend to get jobs at the embassy.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Suit and tie to work and pretty casual around town. Women tend to dress more conservatively than men do because of local customs.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
It's considered a high threat area for Americans due to US foreign policy. That being said I have NEVER felt in danger here. There is NO street crime.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Americans tend to go to one hospital that has high quality medical care.
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?
Pretty good and none of us have had any problems. I don't know of any one who has problems because of pollution.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Nearly perfect. You get about 7 months of gorgeous weather from May until November. A typical summer day has blue skies, no humidity, and always a mild breeze to cool the day. It can get cold in the winter and even snow.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Most people are happy with the schools here.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
I have heard of special needs kids finding facilities here.
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?
Most say they are okay but expensive.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Little league, soccer league, basketball league, etc. The kids find plenty to do and tend to be pretty happy here.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Fairly large and also many naturalized Jordanian-Americans.
2. Morale among expats:
Pretty good as most folks like it here.
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?
Going out to dinner, smoking shisha, hanging out with friends are the usual outings.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Excellent for both. My single friends and married friends love it here.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Beirut might be better but from what I hear it's not that bad here for the G/L community.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
I haven't noticed any although Asian housekeepers aren't treated well by the local population. It's a problem in the whole region.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Traveling all over the country.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
There is so much to do here the list could go on and on. But for Americans, most of the activities tend to revolve around socializing in the houses of other Americans.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Mosaics, pottery, local carpets.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
There are great travel opportunities in Jordan. One can see Petra, Jarash, the Dead Sea, Ajloun Castle, the Crusader castle at Karak, easy access to Jerusalem and Israel, Aqabah and the Red Sea. There is tons to see and do.
11. Can you save money?
Yes, not a lot but some.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
If I could, I'd retire here.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Respectful driving, as here it's every man for himself. Also any notion you had of Middle Eastern food, as here you'll get the real deal.
3. But don't forget your:
Patience and tolerance.
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
Caramel. It's not about Amman (it's about Beirut) but it's a good introduction to the modern Arab world.
6. Do you have any other comments?
You'll love it here.