Amman, Jordan Report of what it's like to live there - 09/05/18
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. I have also lived in London, UK.
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?
US/DC. It is about 24 hour trip, all said and done. There are direct flights from NYC and Chicago.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Diplomatic mission (spouse).
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Large housing that varies in terms of how nice it is. Most homes are apartment-style. We had black mold and roaches. Maximum commute time to the embassy is about 10 minutes; very close and walkable for many.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Most things are available, but also expensive due to being imported. You may need to stock up when you see specific things available (canned pumpkin,
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
There was really nothing I couldnâ€™t find there if I wanted to pay for it. Everything was expensive, so I just gave up and shopped locally. Prime pantry is an option.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
You can get most things delivered, but there wasnt anything amazing. People like a burger place called Fatty Dabs.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Roaches are common. Have heard of rats being in or around housing, but this is less common.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Diplomatic post office. Not sure of local mail situation.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Many people hire household help, nannies and cleaners mostly. The rate varied, but roughly 3 JD an hour at the time for full-time help. Very available, though good help can be a challenge.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Many options available locally but expensive. The embassy had a gym that was good enough for a decent work out. May be better now after new construction.
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?
You will need to carry cash, though many places accept cards. We only used the embassy ATM. We didnâ€™t have any problems in this regard.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
There were classes at the embassy. We managed without knowing much of any Arabic, but there were definitely times it would have been helpful.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes. Little to no accommodation outside of the embassy.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
No to buses. People used taxis and uber. Uber was not running legally when we were there. I didnâ€™t feel comfortable using them alone, so mostly drove.
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?
Nothing too nice. It will likely get bumped and dinged. We had an SUV and I enjoyed having the size with all the drivers that seemed unsafe.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, we had fiber through Zain. Our sponsors were able to have it installed prior to our arrival.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Local providers are good enough and not expensive. It took me ages to realize that voicemails arenâ€™t used here. Everyone used WhatsApp for messaging. Many video calls from abroad are blocked.
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?
Our dog was killed with rat poison that was thrown in our yard, and we found that the vets were not skilled enough to help. I consider them livestock vets. I wish we would not have brought our dog. The vets will be fine for very basic care. There was no quarantine needed. People seemed scared of the dogs and didn't seem to like them.
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?
I telecommuted full-time, but was eventually laid off as I was told the company did not feel Jordan was secure enough. Most spouses worked inside embassy or not at all. I feel spouses are never paid what theyâ€™re worth in embassy jobs, and most donâ€™t do it for the money. It is a means to be out of the house, meet people, and keep an active resume.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Probably many, though I donâ€™t know specifics.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Donâ€™t wear shorts, short skirts or deep v-necks as a woman and youâ€™ll be fine in the expat bubble of Abdoun and surrounding area. Outside of this area, I would err on more conservative.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
We had 24/7 local guards outside our house that seemed to be more of a nuisance than anything. Rat poison was thrown in our front yard and our dog was killed; we were lucky it wasnâ€™t one of our toddlers. Our alarm was triggered while we were after two years of living there and the guards reported they thought it was me trying to access the home. After two years it seems the guards could not positively ID me and did not confirm. Locals frequently tried to pick-up, touch, or photograph my small children.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
My youngest daughter has constant respiratory issues while there. Dust, olive pollen, mold and pests in home. I would not recommend coming here with severe asthma or other respiratory problems.
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?
Many people suffered with allergies; dust, mold, olive pollen, and pollution are all problems.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
I had a infant in neonate formula and I had to have a local pharmacy order it for me. It was difficult to get at times.
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
Culture shock, depression. Morale was not great with most people I knew there. Many traveled very often for frequent breaks from Amman.
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
A little bit of everything, but most of the year it is sunny, warm, and dry. Winter ranges from cold with snow, to cold with lots of rainy days while we were there. It does get hot in the summer.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
They are available. Most people use American or British. My daughter went to the French School for preschool and we were happy with it.
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?
Preschools are available. Most people used a nanny instead of daycare. I didnâ€™t see any preschools that offered an option other than daily attendance and the days were longer than most US preschools to start.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
A few and they are expensive due to limited supply. We did ballet and Kindermusik.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
It was large, but I donâ€™t know the number. I felt like I didnâ€™t know anyone who had been there over a year that wasnâ€™t ready to leave. I feel strongly that this should not be longer than a two year post.
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?
Book clubs and embassy functions.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
I think it would be difficult to come here as a single unless you traveled a lot. Itâ€™s pretty boring and dating outside of the embassy wouldnâ€™t be common.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Likely not, but I know some couples who seemed to be doing fine.
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?
My kids enjoyed going for weekends at the resorts at the Dead Sea and Aqaba.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
This would depend on your interest, but I didnâ€™t find many gems.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
People buy lanterns, Syrian furniture, and rugs
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
To have my mental health services lined up from the start. This was a very difficult post for us.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
No. You always hear that people love this post, but it was not my experience. Our family had an exceptionally hard chain of events here and curtailed after two years.