Amman, Jordan Report of what it's like to live there - 07/01/16
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, we have lived in Mexico, China, Senegal, and the United Kingdom previous to this assignment.
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?
We are from the West Coast in the U.S., and the trip is a long one. There is a Seattle-Frankfurt flight and then Frankfurt-Amman. In total the flight time is a grueling 20+ hours.
3. How long have you lived here?
One year with two more to go.
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?
Housing is great. We have a large house with a lovely garden and car park. he commute to the U.S. Embassy is less than 5 minutes, and to the American School it is about 10 -15 minutes.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Everything is available for a price. Local produce is reasonable, but we have found the meat to be of poorer quality. There is a fantastic butcher, but the cost is prohibitive to purchase for daily use. I am grateful for DPO for things ranging from pet supplies and toilet paper to cereals, nuts, and seeds.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
A good Costco run of bulk peanut butter, walnuts, brown sugar, chocolate chips, sensitive laundry detergent, kitty litter, and dog food.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Great food. Every neighborhood has a favorite schwarma or falafel place, and you will find the best hummus in the world. If one gets tired of the local food, there are many different restaurants, and almost anything can be delivered.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
We had ants and used peppermint spray to get rid of them.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Diplomatic Post Office (DPO).
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Household help is available for about 4JD an hour. Your employees will also want taxi fare to and from the house, which is about 4JD a day.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
The Embassy has a small gym.
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?
I use my credit card and have not had any problems.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
There are options. Check out the Embassy newsletter, which offers specific contact information.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Taxis are fine if you have the language. Even if you don't have the language, the taxis are okay for easy-to-find locations.
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?
We have a Toyota RAV4 which has been fine.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
We had high-speed internet installed before our arrival. Our social sponsor had it hooked up and ready to go when we arrived.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
I think there are two providers, but I have little experience here other than to say that no one seems to complain.
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?
Good vets, no quarantine. The only thing to consider is that cremation does not exist in this country. If your pet dies and you want to cremate the remains, you will need to look at go to Israel or another country. Also, pet supplies are very expensive, so ship in what you can.
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?
Embassy EFM employment. The post needs Speech and Language Therapists!
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
There are lots of volunteer opportunities with local organizations supporting the refugees, and if you want to get involved, you can!
3. 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.
We are in the eye of the storm. Every day feels safe, unless something happens.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
This is a medical tourism destination, so there is great 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?
We served in Beijing for four years, and we find that the air everywhere else in comparison is clean. Stay inside during the rare sandstorms.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Hot and dry four months out of the year, and during the rest of the year you will experience moderate seasons (fall, winter and spring.)
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
There are a few schools: the American Community School, International Community School (British curriculum), Kings Academy (older kids only), and a few other smaller schools.
We have two children at ACS. We were pleased with the teachers and disappointed with the administration and the efforts to resolve serious behavioral issues in the school. The biggest problem is there are several children who entered the school very young, and 5 years later they have serious undiagnosed behavioral or learning differences which have been ignored or not properly addressed. Even though these issues were brought to the Administration's attention early (and for several years previously), the teachers were not given extra support, and the children's needs were not met. The disruptions in the classroom create a very difficult environment for the remaining kids. Both my kids' classrooms were like those in low-income Urban schools in the U.S.
Additionally, the school purports to support mild special needs however there is one learning support expert for the entire elementary school. As noted above, there are numerous kids who need support and the coordinator is overwhelmed and unable to meet the needs. The Administration has stated they will only accept kids to the learning support program who are more than 1 1/2 years behind their current grade. So, for example a child who has received early intervention and is at grade due to the intervention no longer qualifies for support-even if they have a known learning difference that requires continued support.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
After-school activities are available at the school. There are also a number of other activities available on the local economy.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
There is a big expat community and moral is pretty good. The Embassy is a very fast-paced mission, and some folks complain about the pace and burnout. The Embassy pool was lost to new building construction, and I am not sure what is planned for replacing that area --which was a great place to meet friends, have pizza and a beer, and let the kids play.
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?
The schools are always great for meeting other parents. There are walking, hiking, and cycling groups and other activities going on around town.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It appears to be good for families and couples, but much harder for single women, due to social norms and prevailing male attitudes toward women.
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?
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
The history is unique and special. It is an easy country to travel in, and there are lots of things to see.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
All the obvious ones: Petra, Wadi Rum, Dana Bioreserve, the crusader castles, Ajloun Forest, Jerash, etc. Also, this is a great stepping-off place for travels in Israel and Egypt. We did a trip to Sharm El Sheik for 10 days, and it was a steal!
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
The furniture here is gorgeous. Also, the mosaics in Madaba are beautiful.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
There are very few places for your children to play outside. We miss parks and walking areas. The main school is below international standards, and the administration is unable or unwilling to address key issues.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?