Amman, Jordan Report of what it's like to live there - 10/14/11
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?
No. Tel Aviv, Tijuana, Guatemala, Sydney.
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?
DC, 15 hours via NY.
3. How long have you lived here?
Over 1 year.
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?
Large apartments within walking distance or under a 10 minute drive from the Embassy.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Good and very varied. Price in the international supermarkets is slightly more expensive than in the US.Price in the little bodegas is 1/4.
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?
Cheap--under $5 per person for dinner at a casual dining place. Street food is under $1.
5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?
6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Mosquitoes are around but are not disease-carrying.
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?
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
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?
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Sidewalk pavement is very uneven. It is difficult to navigate a stroller. A wheelchair would be the same.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Local taxis are cheap ($1.40 per trip in Amman) and readily available. Buses are few and not recommended.
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?
Not a vehicle with low clearance due to the frequent speed bumps.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Zain through the US Embassy has fabulous deals.
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)?
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?
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.
There is a small risk of terrorism. Crime is minimal.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
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?
Excellent. Mild. Very dry (bring lots of skin lotion and drink lots of water).Short rainy season in the winter months.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
American Community School is adequate.
Update in 2014:
I have been attempting to obtain a final copy of my children's report cards from the American Community School for the past year and 9 months to no avail. I have emailed the school 5 times requesting the final report cards and we went in person twice over the summer of 2012 to try to obtain them. We are now in a difficult position as we need the final report cards for the school at our onward assignment.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
ACS has a learning support center for children with special needs.
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. 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?
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Good family post since most social activity is centered around the US Embassy, its playground, and swimming pool.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
I would not recommend it. Our last Post had a vibrant LGBT community. In Amman, I do not know a single gay person.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
There is a MAJOR problem with being Jewish here and this is why I am submitting a Real Post Report on Amman. We expressly told our children's school that we wanted to remain "low-key" about being Jewish and we declined a request to speak to the students about our holidays. We were inadvertently outed by one of our children's teachers to several other parents; word spread quickly and several parents expressed vehement objections to us. We've had negative comments from the neighbors, as well, even though we have not displayed any obvious outward signs that we are Jewish. The population is also 60% Palestinian and many express their outrage with Israel and merge Jews from the diaspora with Israel in their minds. Protests against the Israeli Embassy are common and the Israeli diplomatic presence has been downsized to be now miniscule for security reasons. Jewish Peace Corps volunteers have been asked to keep their religion a secret here for their own safety. Jewish university students on study abroad have also been asked to do the same. Many find, as a result, that living here is very stressful, and that they cannot "be themselves" here or share their identities with their host families.(We have met about a dozen underground Jewish students here who all say the same thing.)I would recommend that non-Muslims and non-Christians avoid living here.(I have also heard negative comments about other religions from locals.)
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Petra (must see), Dead Sea, Ajloun Castle.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Touring, saving money, visiting ancient ruins