Amman, Jordan Report of what it's like to live there - 07/13/22
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?
This is our fifth expat experience. We have lived in Uganda, South Korea, Ukraine and Bermuda.
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 coming from the DC area. Due to the "fly America" requirements, we usually have to connect through Chicago or New York, but there is a new direct flight from DC on United that (oddly) we usually aren't allowed to take even though it is the US carrier. It is a much nicer experience than the American/Royal Jordanian route. It isn't difficult to get here but if you have to do the connections, it is usually 24 hours door-to-door.
3. How long have you lived here?
We have lived in Jordan for two years, but our first year was during COVID lockdowns.
4. What years did you live here?
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?
Housing is very nice. Everyone from the embassy is required to live in close proximity to the Embassy in 3-4 neighborhoods. We are all in apartments in varying sizes with pros and cons. You either get a ground floor with some outdoor space or upper floors with balconies. There are A LOT of street cats, so, personally, I was glad to get an upper apartment so I didn't have to deal with the cats and them spraying, and leaving feces. People with younger kids and pets really prefer the ground level apartments. This the closest we have ever lived to work and school. We have a ten-minute walk to the embassy and a ten-minute bus ride for the kids to school.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Groceries and supplies are very available but VERY expensive. Of course everything is less expensive if you only get local items, but the quality is often a lot lower. There is extensive grocery and restaurant delivery as well.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Nothing really. I ship snacks my kids like from Amazon, but I can really get most everything here.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Talabat and Careem are the restaurant delivery services. All the major grocery stores also will deliver. You can get any kind of food you want here. Lots of great options but generally quite expensive- I would think it is comparable to NYC prices.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
We haven't had any bugs at all. Lots of dust and a few sand storms. But there are blinds on all windows and doors that you can roll down that help to some degree.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
I haven't used to local post. I rely on the Embassy mail.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
There is a large network of Philippine women who have worked in embassy houses as nannies, cooks and housekeepers for years. You can either sponsor them or "share" with another family who is already sponsoring them. It is more expensive than other places we have lived but reasonable considering how expensive other things are here. We just have someone part-time and pay 5 JD an hour (about $7).
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
The embassy has a very good gym and lots of exercise and yoga classes offered. I know a few people who use local trainers and join local gyms. I am not sure of the price.
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?
We use our credit cards. During the covid lockdowns, we did have it "stolen" when we were charging it with home delivery but haven't had a problem using it at actual stores. We have only used the ATM at the embassy and that has never been a problem.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
There is a very large and active Mormon group within the embassy community. I know there is a Catholic church nearby. Not sure about others.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
I don't speak Arabic and get by just fine although I am sure I am missing a lot of the finer points. Most people, at least in Amman, speak at least some English. The Embassy offers classes if you are interested in learning.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
It would be next to impossible for someone in a wheel chair to get around in Jordan. There are very few sidewalks and ramps and the ones that are here, are broken up. There are very high curbs and very aggressive drivers.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Taxis and uber are safe and affordable. There are no local buses, trams or trains.
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?
Any kind of car is fine in Amman. If you want to go to Wadi Rum or into the desert (which is a lot of fun), I recommend a 4WD. You can go to these areas without a 4WD; most camps will pick you up and bring you. Lots of people camp here, so if you are into that, definitely bring a 4WD.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
High-speed home internet access is available, very good and pretty affordable. If you are coming with the embassy, your sponsor will set it up so you will have it when you arrive.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
We use Zain. It is very affordable. If you are coming with the embassy, it is 5jd a month (about $7). A rep comes to the embassy and arranges it all for you.
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?
We don't have a pet but lots of people here do. Seems like there are plenty of vets and services available.
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?
Most work in EFM jobs at the embassy. Some work as teachers at the international schools or telework. Not sure about other local jobs.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Lots of EFMs volunteer helping refugees.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Professional in work but not necessarily a suit every day or even a tie for men unless they are going to meetings. For women out and about, in Amman, it is fine to wear short-sleeves but I never wear shorts unless at a resort. My daughter does wear shorts at sports practices at school, but not for the school day. We have had things said to my daughter and I when in Aqaba in southern Jordan, but never in Amman.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
It is very safe here. There are no security concerns besides just being careful in general.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Olive trees give off a lot of pollen so we have allergies during that season. A lot of dust and sand during certain times. Very good medical care in general. Excellent doctors and facilities. People medivac for serious surgeries but I have known people to deliver kids here and do other emergency surgeries here and all is fine.
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?
pollution doesn't seem to be an issue but the dust and sand can be bad at times.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pine nuts) are in most food- so you would need to be vigilant about that if it is an issue.
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
We have all four seasons here. It has snowed both winters we have been here. Spring and fall are short but lovely weather. Summer it stays in the 90s for the most part but can get hotter. It is a "dry" heat, so usually not too bad. For the most part, AC is only in the bedrooms and maybe the living room of the housing, so the kitchens get really warm in the summer.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
There are a few options. Most kids go to the American Community School, but people also seem happy with ICS. I know a few families at the French school but I don't know a lot about it. I have two kids in the high school at ACS. We have been very happy with it. The teachers are of very high quality, the kids generally mix together well and there are good options for sports and other activities.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
ACS provides learning support. It seems like ICS is more known for giving more intensive support but I am not sure since we don't go there.
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?
Yes, there seems to be several options but I don't have kids that age, so am not familiar with them.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Yes, kids do horseback riding, karate, dance, soccer, basketball, baseball, art, etc. Lots of options.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
There seems to be a decent number of expats here. I would say morale is medium here. Life here is pretty easy but there are relatively few things to do out and around Jordan once you do Petra, Wadi Rum and a few hikes. People with younger kids LOVE it here. The embassy compound has playgrounds, a pool, soccer field, tennis court, basketball, etc. so it is a real kid heaven. Lots of ways for families to connect.
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?
We haven't found any besides getting to know FSNs at work.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
I think it would be difficult for single people because it is difficult to date in the local culture. That said, there is a thriving bar/club scene here and I think couples and singles in the embassy do a good job of connecting and getting together.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
There are a lot of Jewish people at post, so I don't think it would be a big hinderance, but I do think you would need to be sensitive to the Palestine situation if you are coming as a Jewish person.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
While Jordan itself is not an ideal location for for LGBT citizens, the embassy is very supportive and there are several same-sex couples at post. You can get credentialed here.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Gender quality is complicated. Women in Jordan have along way to go to achieve gender equity, but there are a lot of great female FSNs in the embassy and personally my daughter and I haven't been treated differently. My daughter's 17 yo friend was harassed and assaulted in an Uber once but that is the only time I have heard of someone doing or saying anything to an expat woman.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
The food here is delicious. Petra and Wadi Rum are terrific. We love going to the Dead Sea hotels and they are only 45 minutes away so it is fun for the day or the weekend. The water hike at Wadi Mujib shouldn't be missed. Especially during the covid lockdowns, we did a lot of hiking.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Cooking classes at Iraq al Amir
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
I haven't found anything here that I can't live without. Some people get rugs and wooden items with the mother of pearl inlaid in them, but they aren't my style.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Very developed, easy access to most everything. Great staff at the embassy. Great school. great food
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Preconceived ideas about Islam
3. But don't forget your:
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
The Bride of Amman
The Language of Baklava