Amman, Jordan Report of what it's like to live there
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?
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?
Northern Virginia. About 19 hours? Dulles, to London, to Amman. Travel isn't too bad. There are $600 flights from Chicago for family to visit.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
Almost 2 years.
5. 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?
The inside of housing is great. You're in a large city so US diplomats live in spacious apartments. As a family of four, we have a three bedroom, 2 living, 1 dining, and an eat in kitchen. We also have a dog and requested a ground floor but were given a very large and spacious wrap around balcony. We've set up a blow up pool on our balcony, the kids ride around in circles on their scooter.... however, we are probably the only house in the housing pool with this. Facilities here is amazing and extremely responsive so there isn't nothing about inside of your house to worry about. People request ground floor because you want a yard, but few people have nice yards. The outdoor everything with housing is all pretty terrible. Just think big city and lower expectations. Mourn the loss of outdoor space, your feet being on grass, running through fields, or just outdoors in general. Commute is excellent, only seven minutes to get to work.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Groceries are available here... organic produce is harder to come by and mostly poor quality (Yanbout Organic, Mujib farms). Organic dry goods are relatively easy to get but you will be ordering online anyways. Meat is not very good- I can't find any free range chicken meat anywhere. Meat Masters is about the only place I would ever buy beef from. The commissary sells some Sausage and sorts that is hard to get in a middle eastern country. There's only 1 option for Organic milk and it Is shelf stable from Italy and rather expensive. Household supplies are preferably purchased online but I have been surprised of some of the non toxic things you can get here. You will eat a whole lot less of red meat.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Nothing. You can get everything online.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Food is fabulous here for the most part. Middle eastern food is delish. They have plenty of Indian, Thai, burgers, and pizza. They have sushi but I miss good sushi... its off and kinda weird here. Eat all the Mexican you can before coming here. Fast food America stuff includes: McDonald's, KFC, Popeyes, BurgerKing, Pizza Hut, Dominoes, Pinkberry, Starbucks, Costa Coffee....
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
I am terrified of bugs and will pick a post based on bugs. Its been great here. We have black, non biting ants but put out traps. They don't bother me. I've seen some spiders but they are less scary than American spiders.... they are like a blonde spider that doesn't seem scary. No roaches or anything scary at all. Keep your house clean.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
DPO and Pouch. Amazon takes about two weeks.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Cheap! We pay 3.75JD per hour for full time nanny/housekeeper... You could go cheaper. Sponsoring is pretty easy. The embassy helps you out and its not that crazy.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
The embassy has two gyms (a weight room and a cardio room) that aren't ever too busy. There is Golds Gym here and some other nice gyms but 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?
Yes you can use CCs and ATMs but its a very cash based economy. ATMS always come with risks.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
There are a few Christian churches to choose from that are pretty small and close community with children services.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
None. I started taking the free embassy-provided arabic classes but you don't really need it.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
It would be very difficult. Not handicap friendly or stroller friendly at all.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Uber and the local version- Careem, are very cheap and safe.
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 two SUVs... one large one and one midsize. We like to use the smaller one for parking in the city. No burglary or carjacking, decent roads. Bring whatever car you want, even if its a Mercedes. You'll be fine.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Internet available and not difficult to set up. Sponsors and embassy is very helpful.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
We use Zain here and its super easy and fairly cheap. 20JD a month.
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?
Never used a vet here but people are generally comfortable. People rarely use kennels but choose dog sitters. Welcome Home Kennels with Judith is what people use if they need to. No quarantine upon arrival, however, dogs can't travel during the hot summer months. Its getting more difficult with airlines. Super expensive too.
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?
A decent amount of EFM jobs available at the very large embassy. As an entry level EFM, I was paid $19/hr.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Plenty if you seek it.
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 told to always be aware of terrorists in public places but I feel mostly safe. I have the same alertness as I do in NOVA (which as a mom, I'm always watching my back).
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Terrible air quality but I've learned to be fine and am always running air purifiers in the home. Allergies in the spring. As a medical professional, the health care here is horrible. Nurses are uneducated and do not maintain proper hand hygiene. You can be stuck in the hospital and your nurse at night won't speak any English. Hospitals are very beautiful and clean and the med unit is mostly helpful. You medivac to London. Many women feel comfortable having babies here but obviously not recommended if you know anything about healthcare.
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?
Bad. It's a city. But its not like you have to wear a mask out or stay indoors.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
There are plenty of adults and children here with anaphylactic allergies and have just lived carefully.
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
Not having outdoor space is really hard for kids and adults. People need their vitamin D and its hard to get if you don't have outdoor space at all. There is zero outdoor space in Jordan. No greenery, no fields... if outdoor life is important to your kids then maybe don't come here. Fields are littered with glass and trash. Outdoor life is very important to me but we've learned how to get by alright..... just not ideal at all.
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
We have a rainy season where it rains a ton but it doesn't get super cold and lasts fairly briefly. Its almost Christmas right now and I still lay out on my balcony. So nice! The weather here is hot in the summer but you have a lot of time where its mild and gorgeous.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Multiple schools to choose from. The embassy has a closer relationship with the schools and offers regular feedback.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
Very poor response to kids with special needs here. I have heard very bad things from friends. Kids getting kicked out of school for behavior that isn't even that bad. So sad.
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?
Lots of preschools, including some more montesorri or play based.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Gymnastics, soccer, basketball, dance, horseback riding....
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
It's very large. COVID has obviously shot morale but it is what you make of it. We have WhatsApp groups for moms, neighborhood WhatsApp groups, a Facebook group, and a 3 person run CLO Team. Things obviously change out every few years but for now its pretty great. Just having the Facebook alone gives one the opportunity to create a community. The CLO does a ton of trips, trivia night, margarita night. The Embassy is beautiful and super nice so they can throw lots of community activities like ice cream socials and movie nights.
2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
For families I think it is fabulous, aside from the lack of green space. Near the embassy are at least 2 nice parks and one of them has a little bit of grass. The embassy has 2 playgrounds- 1 for kids and 1 for older kids. The embassy has a large pool and a small kiddie pool for AECSA members. The embassy also has a tennis court, enough space to ride bikes or scooter, and a soccer field. All of the malls have large indoor play areas for kids...
3. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
There are so many fabulous things to do in country:
- Petra, a world wonder (3 hrs)
- The Dead Sea (stay at a beautiful hotel, swim, and enjoy a world icon) (1 hr)
- Wadi Rum Dessert, incredibly glamping at its finest. Desert tours, camel rides, Bubble tents... my favorite! (3 hrs)
- Telaviv, Israel is a 4 hour drive
- Rainbow Street Shopping (30 min)
During non-COVID times, Ryan Air has cheap flights to all of Europe. Too bad we missed this. There are great travel opportunities.
4. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Plenty of in country things to do. See above.
5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
For daily life, the malls are nice and will help you feel like you're not in a third world. They have decent shopping but nothing big city and luxurious. Brands include: Zara, H&M, Next, Mango, American Eagle, Ted Baker, a small Louis Vuitton, Stradivarus,
6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Great food. Amazing embassy grounds. Great facilities team. Fairly decent housing. Cheap Ryan Air flights. Plenty to do in town.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
That there really is no grass or good outdoor space.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes. I've enjoyed this as a first post with two kids.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Heavy winter stuff... it gets chilly but think Spring.
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
Plenty of YouTube videos and travel bloggers cover Jordan.