Amman, Jordan Report of what it's like to live there - 08/09/23
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, this is my fifth post with DOS and I have lived abroad seven times.
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?
Colorado, USA. It's LONG. 30 hours, three flights.
3. How long have you lived here?
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?
In my opinion, housing is poor if you are with the U.S. Embassy. All of our friends who are with other diplomatic missions, NGOs, and international schools, have much better housing and they pay much less. Maybe it's because they have to find their own housing but it is shocking how different their buildings and apartments are. We have issues with vandalism, electrical issues, water issues, and just walls crumbling. It's the worst I have seen in 16 years.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
It is very expensive for imported goods (which is most things we want to buy). You can get decent seasonal produce but if you want cereal or cake mix, expect to pay 3-4 times the U.S. price, even with recent inflation. For example, a pint of Baskin Robbins ice cream is $10. Restaurants are good here, some real gems and there are ton available on Talabat or Careem. Also, grocery stores have apps (in English) and will deliver.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
More toiletries! Even laundry detergent and toilet paper. I'm not picky but the local brands are awful and Charmin is SO expensive.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Lots of them and great. BBQ, sushi, even mexican (though not great). Indian is decent too. You can get everything delivered on Careem or Talabat.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
We have had ants and a few roaches. It's more an issue of smells from pipes that can never be fixed. What's really said are the stray cats, no matter how many you try to trap, spay/neuter, it's never enough, and people don't care.
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?
It's fine, mostly people from the Philippines. It's not the cheapest but affordable. It's expensive to sponsor them and renew their residency, insurance, etc. every year. You also have to pay for flight home, which is around $1000 USD.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There are good gyms, expensive, but high quality. I walk outside but it's not pleasant, lots of dust and garbage and bad drivers.
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?
I think so, at least Catholic churches.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Not much, people are kind and patient with you.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes, for sure. Sidewalks are awful, if they exist and all and people do not yield or watch out for others.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
No buses, trams, or trains but taxis and Ubers are fine.
2. What kind of vehicle(s) including electric ones do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, infrastructure, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car or vehicles do you advise not to bring?
Any will work. Even electric vehicles are fairly common. Mechanics are cheap and good.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, it's quick and easy. We have Zain and they have good customer service.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Zain will give you a cheap local line, like 3-10 USD per 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?
Yes, great vet care. Getting them in is not simple but once here, it's fine. Lots of strays to rescue 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?
At the embassy.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
It's fine, for women I would avoid shorts and tank tops. Even walking/running I wear pants.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Driving, it's awful and dangerous.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical care is very good here and affordable.
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?
Moderate, lots of dust.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
It's a little warm but not bad. It is dusty in the summer, we do get a little snow in winter.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Really good, we love ACS.
2. 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?
I think so, most people can find good ones. The U.S. embassy runs a summer camp for employees' kids, which is great.
3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
lots, climbing, horseback riding, soccer, gymnastics, and dance.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
I think it's large, the U.S. embassy is HUGE.
2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
No. Especially not for women. Families are fine, it's not a great place though.
3. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
I made a lot of friends through parents at ACS, expats and Jordanians.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Doubt it. Not exactly tolerant.
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Yes, yes, yes. Gender equality is a joke and there is racism and a lot depends on your clan. In my experience, even facilities at the embassy talks down to you if you are a woman.
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Meh. Wadi Rum was amazing. Hike the wadis.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Biera in Sweifiyah, meeting other expats from other countires, horseback riding at Alia AlAssaf, Wadi Rum, Petra.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Not much, it's fine but not as safe as most people say. We have had vandalism and know others who have too. It also feels like the status quo can't last long, given the way things work here. I wouldn't be happy if I were Jordanian.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
I would not have come here. It's not a pleasant place to live and it seems like no one cares. To watch people cause car accidents with babies unbuckled, through bags of trash out their windows, women be relegated to second class citizens, and boys beat each other really gets to you. There are some great people here but I will not return to Amman.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
No way. I was very optimistic, learned Arabic, really embraced this tour but 1.5 years in, I can't wait to leave.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Sense of right and wrong, civic pride, tank tops, but really, keep your values. I continue to stand up for what is right, now matter if no one else does, don't let this place change your sense of right and wrong.
4. But don't forget your:
Sunscreen, watershoes, appetite for amazing hummos and falafel.
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
Captain Abu Raed, AlRawabi School for Girls
6. Do you have any other comments?
This place could be great, it's sad what's happened in the past few years. There are so many amazing Jordanians but I think the country is broken and the embassy doesn't help things. This has been a hard posting.