Tunis, Tunisia Report of what it's like to live there - 05/18/20

Personal Experiences from Tunis, Tunisia

Tunis, Tunisia 05/18/20

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, 6th. Mexico City, Ulaanbaatar, Sarajevo, etc.

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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 Michigan. About 20 hours. Michigan to Chicago to Frankfurt to Tunis.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic Mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is adequate size but run down. Some have pools. Attempts to improve the housing pool are being made. Typical locations include La Marsa, Carthage, Lac, and Sidi Bou. Commute time is about 15-20 minutes.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are inexpensive but quality often lacks. Some US brands but not much.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Dishwasher detergent, peanut butter, coffee, crisco, cake mix, pudding mix, chocolate syrup, vanilla, chocolate chips, cream of tartar, popcorn, salsa, oatmeal, cereal, and pine nuts.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Food isn't anywhere near European or US standards. You can find a few "adequate" restaurants like Zink, the Kitchen, Doodle Burger, and four seasons. Pizza Hut is available and is ok.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants are awful. Mice. Mosquitos are the worst.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO or pouch.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

About 20USD a day for good house help. Same for gardener. A good gardener is tricky to find.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Many gyms available.

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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?

Credit cards are accepted widely, ATMS are everywhere and safe.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It is very helpful to speak French. Local tutors are available and are very reasonable.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are generally safe. Trams are fairly safe. I would not take a bus.

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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?

Leave your BMW home. Bring a sturdy, used vehicle.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. Internet is very cheap in Tunis.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Local provider-it's cheap here.

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Pets:

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 on the vets, no on the kennels. No quarantine for arriving pets. Many, many stray dogs.

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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?

There is an American School. Several jobs at the Embassy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are opportunities for fostering dogs and maybe working at dog shelters.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual. Formal dress for formal events.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Low for crime. Random terror attacks (1-2 each year).

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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 subpar to US standards but overall ok. Hannibal and La Marsa clinics are good.

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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?

Good. Seasonal allergies are present.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Bring your medications!

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The weather is nice. Mild winters, great spring and fall, hot summers.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There is a great American School. Some use the French school.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

The American School has some support systems in place. Parents should work directly with the school.

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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 and they are reasonable. Most are happy with them.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Several hundred. Morale is good.

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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?

Bonfires on the beach, renting an AirBNB, traveling, and seeing Carthage.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, good for all. Plenty of things to do. Clubs for the singles.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I think the LGBT community feels that they need to be discreet. But, I haven't heard any other issues.

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5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Yes.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I think so, but I've not experienced. Not many issues with gender inequality.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The travel I've been able to do outside of Tunisia. Cheap flights to Europe.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

All the Carthage sites are interesting.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Carpets and pottery.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That the food wasn't great.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Sure.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Snow gear (unless you plan to travel to go ski).

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4. But don't forget your:

Bathing suit, water toys, floats.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Read up on Tunisia's contribution to WWII

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