Algiers, Algeria Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Algiers, Algeria

Algiers, Algeria 09/24/19

Background:

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

No, have lived in several other countries before this one.

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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?

Washington, DC, is home. It's not a bad flight, very reasonable layover times in Frankfurt or Paris.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One and a half years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, 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?

Like everywhere, it varies. It's OK but unless you're the DCM or Ambassador or very very lucky, don't expect luxury. Commute times are generally short, between 5-20 minutes for just about everyone. Houses are located in the nicer neighborhoods of Algiers, which are honestly not that nice, especially for an upper-middle income country.

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

You can get decent fruits and vegetables when in season, but other than that it's pretty slim pickings outside of the basics. The meat, in general, is not that good and expensive, but chicken and ground beef and lamb are available. Fish is good, and cheaper than in Europe, but you will filet it yourself. Locally made stuff is cheap but of poor quality. Imported items are pretty expensive. You can't get good milk butter or cream here, it's all made out of reconstituted milk powder, you just have to accept that. Very few good bakeries. This is not a foodie country.

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

Ship cooking liquids. Lots of people bring beer, too.

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

There are lots of restaurants but they are expensive for what you get and there are very few good ones. Restaurant going in my experience is not that pleasant, though some claim it's fine. As with everything in Algeria, keep expectations low and you'll do ok. I guess there are a few good Indian places.

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

Not that I'm aware of.

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Daily Life:

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

Dip pouch only. Can take two weeks or can take months. Unpredictable.

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

I hear it's pretty good in general, I don't have any.

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

There is a small embassy gym. Some people go to a CrossFit box in one of the city parks but I've heard mixed reviews.

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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?

No! This is almost exclusively a cash economy. Almost no ATMs in the country work with international cards. Very few places take credit cards. You have to have wads of cash with you wherever you go.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There is an Anglican Church near the embassy with weekly services in English.

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

Basic French or Arabic are almost mandatory. Educated contacts in the business world and some Algerian students may speak English, but don't count on being able to get far with English here.

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

Yes, it's hilly and often there are no sidewalks and very narrow streets and passageways.

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Transportation:

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

You can take yassir, a local uber-like service (except you pay in cash). You can take the metro or light rail if you want the experience, but for most expats it's not very practical.

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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?

As small as possible. And one that won't break your heart if it's scratched or dinged. Parking can be difficult and some garages are very tight squeezes.

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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?

Internet service is mostly adequate although not always reliable.

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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 are jobs at the embassy, but not on the local market. I think there are a few lucky telecommuters.

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

Business dress at work. Public places... nothing fancy needed but dress respectfully.

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Health & Safety:

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

No, I feel safe here. Not being able to travel around the country without a security escort is limiting Driving is an anarchic experience but you get used to it.

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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?

No unusual health concerns, it's a good post in that way. Local medical care is not that good, anything requiring serious attention will need medevac.

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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?

Seems pretty good most of the time.

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4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

None I'm aware of.

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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?

It gets pretty warm at the height of summer, but anyone who complains too much about the weather here is crazy, it's probably the nicest thing about the post.

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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 new American school that recently opened and is building itself up. In general people have had good experiences with it.

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Expat Life:

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

Small expat community. Outside of dip circles it's unusual to see foreigners in Algeria. Morale varies. Work here can be challenging and some people have it tougher than others in that regard. If people are expecting this to be Morocco or Tunisia they are not happy but if you take it for what it is you'll be ok.

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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?

Some people go to the Brit Club, there are some restaurant options too. House parties are popular.

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

It's probably best for couples without kids. For singles...not much of a dating scene and the city is not packed with great options for going out. It works fine for kids too but there aren't a lot of outdoor play options or fun kid activities.

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

There is a community here but it is very discreet.

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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?

I think Algerians are awesome people. Funny, warm, open, generous, hospitable...as frustrating as it can be to work here, I think most Algerians are an absolute joy to hang out with. But not everyone feels that way...there are some large cultural differences, and language barriers can pose a problem.

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

Gender relations in this culture are different but don't prejudge too quickly. That said, there can be verbal harassment of women on the street.

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

Easy travel to Europe. Restrictions make in country travel complicated. Lots of people enjoy going to the desert in the winter.

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

There are some great Roman ruins in Algeria if you're into that. The country is full of spectacular natural beauty, but tourist facilities are generally poor and it's hard to travel in country. You can visit the Hamma gardens and the old Medina of Algiers, but most people go to Europe for their fun.

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

Some carpets and a handful of interesting local artists. Outside of that, nothing I would recommend.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It's close to Europe, the weather is mild, and the people are friendly.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Work is difficult and intense here with many sections working long hours. I didn't think the restrictions on travel outside the city would get to me as much as they do. Morale really depends on the people at post, since the city itself doesn't have much to offer.

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

No.

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

Parkas.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience and willingness to learn.

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

What the Day Owes the Night
Anger of the Dispossessed
A Savage War of Peace
Battle of Algiers

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6. Do you have any other comments?

The political and economic issues here are fascinating. Algeria since Independence has created it's own unique way of operating that can seem opaque and bizarre to outsiders (and even other Algerians). If you think you understand something here it probably means you don't. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it has been a monumentally frustrating place to work, and I wouldn't want to repeat it.

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Algiers, Algeria 03/29/19

Background:

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

No, this is not my first expat experience. I have served in Europe, Latin America and three other Middle Eastern posts.

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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?

United States. Connections are easy to the US through major European hubs.

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3. How long have you lived here?

18 months

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, 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 divided between apartments and a few single family homes. Most apartments are large and comfortable; single-family homes are a bit larger with small gardens. Parking can be an issue so a smaller car is better. My commute to work is general less then 15 minutes via car. The housing in Algiers in general does not come with large yards.

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

The staples are available on the local market; however, there are no US imported groceries and only a few European brands available. People often bring food back with them if they have been out of the country to Europe or the U.S.

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

I wish I had shipped in more Asian and Mexican spices and food. Additionally, pet food and supplies are very expensive in Algiers. For consumables I would focus on liquid items as the Embassy has only diplomatic pouch for mail.

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

There are restaurants available for just about any taste.

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

No

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Daily Life:

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

Through the Embassy mail room.

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

Housekeepers and nannies are available locally. I pay my part-time housekeeper the equivalent of about 40 USD per day. The Government of Algeria does not approve visas for TCN to work as household staff.

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

The Embassy has a small gym. There are also private gym facilities used by the expat community.

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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?

Cash only except hotels.

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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?

Having French or Arabic is very helpful

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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?

Only approved taxi is the Yassir company

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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?

Small - streets are narrow, parking is a challenge, and traffic can be a challenge.

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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?

Internet is available but speed is not great. I can stream a TV show (usually). The flip size it is cheap I pay less than 20 USD per month.

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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 vets are available. No quarantined required. Dogs are not overly welcomed.

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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?

For individuals here with the US Embassy there is no bilateral work agreement so family members can only work at the Embassy. Teleworking is also an option. Local salary is very low.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

I believe it requires permission from the local government.

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

Business for work and what I would call conservative casual for public. Some Algerian women cover but not all.

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Health & Safety:

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

No - feel very safe here

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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?

Any medical or dental care beyond the very basics requires medical evacuation to Europe or the US.

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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 - can get dusty during the summer months as sand can blow in from the Sahara.

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

I would focus on learning French or Arabic so you can communicate your needs.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

No

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

Mild Winter, great Spring and Fall and Summer can be hot and humid.

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Schools & Children:

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

The American International School of Algiers opened in 2016. For the 2019 - 2020 school year the school will include grades K-7 and 8th grade will be added the following year. The school is small but is like a big family with a very caring environment. The school is truly international representing a wide range of countries. All the teaching staff are American teachers. It is a great school where children can get personal attention in a creative and loving environment.

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

Limited but you should contact AISA and speak directly with the school director.

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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 preschools are available at a range of costs. Daycares are not a thing in Algiers.

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

Yes, but I don't have much information.

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Expat Life:

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

Small - overall the morale is good.

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

Good for anyone with a sense of adventure and willingness to appreciate Algeria.

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

Travel - Algeria is a beautiful country. I have visited Taghit in the desert, along with Roman ruins in Timgad and beautiful cities.

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

Back to travel - there are fantastic tourism opportunities for the adventurous. The tourism infrastructure is limited but if you put in the time, the travel will be rewarding.

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

Some - tiles, carpets, jewelry.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

The city is very hilly - I was not expecting that aspect of the city.

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

Yes - absolutely

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

Big car

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Algiers, Algeria 09/19/16

Background:

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

No, lived in several European and Latin American countries.

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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?

East coast of the US; minimum travel time is about 15 hours but often turns into 18 or 19. The typical connections are through Paris or Frankfurt.

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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, 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?

The apartments are not huge but post's housing folks really go all out to secure what little stand-out options Algiers' strained housing market offers. They try to have either nice views, or nice layouts, or easy access to groceries, or other little pleasant features to perk up the place. The furthest are a half hour or so walk from the Embassy. Car commute times are typically 1/2 or a third of the walking time but can sometimes be really jammed up.

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

We can walk to fresh meat, fruit and veggies and a basic corner store for staples; this is not the case for everyone. Most fresh produce is at a good price, meat is expensive even compared to American prices. There are plenty of things you can't find here, so don't get set on having a specific brand of cheese etc!

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

Bring peanut butter, even the most basic ethnic spices, and baking mixes. Bring beer if you drink it. In your suitcase bring cheese, meats on ice; don't bring bacon because there's always enough floating around the American community!

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

There are a couple of good Indian restaurants, a really overpriced Italian restaurant, some new burger places that are pretty good (Bad Buns! Chemin Sidi Yahia, look them up!), several acceptable French/modern cuisine restaurants... And a ton of truly mediocre-to-awful restaurants. The take-out guys are earnest but it's often very hard to navigate them to your place unless you have a great head for language and geography. The best thing to do is get 'known' at a place that actually has its act together, because then (if they're good) they'll bend over backward for you as a regular. Skip the fancy expensive places in Didouche Mourad or Riad el-Feth.

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

Ants, drain flies, cockroaches; higher floors are better in that regard.

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Daily Life:

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

We use DPO. Via international post we once got mail from America that had been sent eight months prior so...

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

This is a touchy area; because of the socialist/petro economy, and social conservatism, there is discrimination against housekeepers etc. For example nannies typically must be home by dark, which is tough on tandem-employed spouses Typical wages for a one-day a week housekeeper who do laundry and/or groceries/cooking on top of cleaning is about $35-40 per visit.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Haha, no, this is a nearly totally cash-based economy. I've heard of people having problems with the few hotel ATMs.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

English language: only the Anglican Church regularly does them. Catholic and Methodist services in the capital are generally French although occasionally a Catholic English Mass was specially organized.

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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?

You need French or Arabic, but French will get you farther. INTuition, Berlitz and other language schools have good employees if you work with them to meet your interests.

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

Yes. Forget lack of handicap accessibility, the lack of pedestrian infrastructure makes it tough for non-handicapped people to get around and few-to-none apartments are handicap-accessible.

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Transportation:

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

Affordable, yes. Safe: the metro is (it just goes in a line along downtown tourist points of interest.) the rest look dodgy (off limits to us) and in taxis, it's not 'full/occupied' unless it's actually got no more room, so a person taking it could suddenly get company.

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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?

Something small that you don't mind getting beaten up. This is not the place for the SUVs that so many other posts recommend, they will not fit on some streets/parking garages.

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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?

There are supposedly 'higher-speed' packages available in some areas but ultimately we're talking about a country where the Internet often slows to a crawl because it's raining outside. In Embassy housing with rare exceptions your internet will already be in place. This is a country that only got 3G the year before I moved 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! Some great vets and the American Embassy uses a good kennel service. Quarantine is not required for entry but a saintly patience is because the customs paperwork/procedures can be unreal. Just remember that pets have short memories and soon will be like 'what airport?'

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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?

Spouses can only work in the Embassy or telework. The Internet unreliability makes teleworking occasionally frustrating. Spouses employed at the Embassy sometimes chafe at their second-class citizen status treatment. Spouses who stay in the home often feel isolated because it's hard to get around and the community is so small.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

None that don't walk a risky line; foreign involvement in NGOs is dicey. (For the volunteer and the NGO.)

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

Most Algerians hover somewhere around business casual most of the time in business settings. Women should usually cover to the elbow and knee but can get away with less if otherwise dressed nicely/not immodestly.

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Health & Safety:

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

The presence of police is, well, omnipresent. There is a real reason for that. Nothing happened in the capital during my tour but I won't be surprised if I hear of an attack someday; Algeria has a tough regional neighborhood.

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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?

Don't get sick here. If you feel sick get on a plane to France. That said x-rays are cheap and relatively easy.

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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?

Algiers has bad air quality when the rains don't wash the air out for more than a day or two. Too many cars, and neighbors burning trash. The damp also promotes mold like you wouldn't believe.

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

They try to help people with gluten intolerances but expect that the well-meaning restaurant owner/product labeler will get it wrong 1 in 3 or 4 times.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Because of the size of the post and limitations on in-country travel, people started to go stir-crazy after 3+ consecutive months in Algiers if their management didn't let them leave for at least a long weekend. No exaggeration.

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

Temperate; a beautiful sunny day in Algiers really does wonders for your mood and reminds you why the French wanted to stay.

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Schools & Children:

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

American International School is trying to take off; good luck to them. Previously it was French schools mostly.

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Expat Life:

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

Small. Booze-focused.

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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?

If you are eligible/can get on the list, the Marine Bar and British Club run two of the main games in town for diplomats. There is a running club, also elusive to track down/join, and a few diplomat mailing lists for activities.

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

It's a good city for adaptable people able to make their own fun. If you like going out you're going to have to work hard and speak a language.

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

It's a pretty intolerant culture. Being a diplomat and gay beats being Algerian and gay, though.

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

Yes, prejudice against African immigrants, occasional repression of minority religions (anything other than their version of Sunni Islam), and women are often harassed on the street and have legal challenges, though fewer than other countries in the Arab world.

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

Go to the desert. Do not leave Algeria without going to the Sahara. It is unbelievable.

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

Barcelona and Paris are Algeria's hidden gems ;)

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

Berber art, if genuinely handmade, can be beautiful. Good luck wading through the Chinese mass-produced stuff. There's one good artisanal shop in Paradou-Hydra.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Proximity to Europe; good weather nearly year round.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

The Embassy's dual reputation as a place for burnouts/newbies, but also a place for ambitious Near East managers to make their bones and get promoted.

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

Not if I had any better choices.

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

Of Gods and Men, a movie about the civil war in the 90s. You have to understand that decade to understand Algerians.

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Algiers, Algeria 06/09/16

Background:

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

Yes, first post.

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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?

Washington D.C. Connections are through Frankfort (Lufthansa) or Paris (Air France) with direct flights. About 12-18 hours depending on layover. You can fly Air Algerie internationally but expect significant delays/cancellations.

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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, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Embassy housing has greatly improved over the last two years thanks to efforts of the GSO. That being said temper your expectations. You probably won't have a view and apartments tend to be small with little storage. There are very few stand alone houses. Housing is very limited and extremely expensive in Algiers and as a result no house in the Embassy pool is perfect. You may be near grocery shopping but far from the Embassy. Or vice versa.

All housing is within a maximum 30 minute walk of the Embassy. Commute times vary depending on time of day and traffic, but anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes.

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

Fruits and veggies are cheap and of good quality but extremely seasonal. Some are only briefly available. Anything imported is extremely limited and very expensive while Algerian brands are of low quality. You can get Haagen Daaz ice cream but it costs $18-$20 a pint. Plan on bringing almost everything with you in your consumables.



Beer, wine, and some liquor are available locally or in the very small Embassy commissary. Algerian-produced wine is actually of semi-decent quality. You will see no American brands and a very small handful of western brands and availability varies widely. There is a Carrefour that just opened but don't be fooled, it stocks the same things as the other Algerian domestic stores. Algeria practices import substitution which means they turned away all western products for import with few exceptions to "encourage and protect the domestic market."

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

Anything western brand named. An ethnic food products (Latin/Asian) are very hard to find.



Things you should ship include:



Latin Foods:

Re-fried Beans

Black beans

Chilies/jalapenos

Seasonings

Enchilada sauce

Salsa

Powdered Mixes and Seasoning



Asian Food:

Coconut milk/cream

Hoisin Sauce

Red/green curry

Oyster sauce

Asian noodles



American Food:
Bacon/ ham, or other pork products

Barbecue sauce

Canned soups

Canned chopped/diced/whole tomatoes

Maple syrup

Bisques/pancake mix

Cake & Brownie mixes

Oatmeal

Granola

Side dishes (Betty Crocker potatoes dishes, rice dishes)

Tuna in Water (Tuna in Oil is available)

Domestic Beer varieties (beer is available but choice is limited)

Gluten Free Products

Ginger Ale

Flour (Algerian Flour is of low quality)

Vegetable or Chicken Broth

Anything that would be considered an unusual, rare, or luxury item in the U.S.



Sport Foods:

Protein powers

Gatorade/power aid


Condiments:

Liquid smoke

Italian Food:

Bread Crumbs

Tomato Sauce Varieties (sauce available is of low limited quality)

High Quality Olive Oil



You'll also be carrying a lot of stuff back in your suitcase from Europe -- cheese especially.

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

Algerian cuisine is of low quality and lacks flavor. Restaurants are either $3 per person (pizza/schwarma/sandwiches) or $40+ a person with no in between. There are two Indian restaurants (one of which delivers), an Italian restaurants, and several French inspired restaurants that are of good quality. But if you are a gastro freak, lower your expectations -- a below mediocre tourist trap restaurant in Paris would be the best restaurant in Algiers. If you go to a restaurant and have mediocre food, that means that you will be going back there several more times. There is oil in EVERYTHING. Delivery isn't very strong but if you can work something out with a specific place you may be OK.

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Daily Life:

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

Post has diplomatic pouch however no liquids over 16 ounces. Don't ship anything not through the pouch. It will take your HHE between 4-7 months to clear customs.

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

Household help is available and is fairly cheap. Quality is mixed. Housekeepers are either passed on from Embassy employees or people hire cleaning people at the Embassy. Housekeepers can cook, buy groceries, and do laundry in addition to cleaning. We pay our maid about $30 to come once a week and cook/clean. Nannies are a little tougher given the recent explosion of kids at post (4 kids in fall 2014 to 32 in spring 2016) and a good nanny can be tough to find.

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

There is a gym, basketball court, tennis court, and swimming pool at the Embassy/CMR (across the street). There are one or two women-only gyms in Algiers that offer classes. Not sure of the cost.

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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?

CASH-based economy only. Credit cards maybe kind of at a few western hotels. Dinar is the currency and it has no value outside of Algeria and is illegal to take out of the country. It is Monopoly money. You can exchange cash or cash checks at the Embassy cashier at the official exchange rate. The black market exchange rate is about double, but Embassy employees are forbidden to use it.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Anglican services are available in English with a community of sub-Saharan African students and there are three Catholic churches, one close to the Embassy - though services are in French. There is a very, very small Jewish community in Algiers but no synagogue.

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

Very little English language. Algerian Arabic is so mixed with French that Arabic speakers will really struggle. It's like trying to speak Spanish to someone who only knows Portuguese. French is the language of the elite but few people in Algiers speak it well. High school French would be very helpful in getting by but you can survive without it.

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

Yes. Very hilly and sidewalks are extremely spotty.

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Transportation:

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

Don't take the bus. There are a handful of RSO approved taxis, but all taxis are ride-share things. There is a metro but is away from the Embassy area and only goes a short distance.

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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?

Car or no car is an important decision. The streets are small, the road surface mediocre with a million speed bumps. Algerians drive poorly and the rate of traffic accidents is sky high. So expect whatever you bring to get beat up.



Regarding a car, there are a number of theories out there regarding cars at post. You should not try to buy a car from an Algerian dealership or Algerian. Instead most diplomats buy from other diplomats, usually Americans, and then sell to Americans when they leave. Cars from other Embassies sometimes are advertised as available, but prices are inflated and quality is questionable. You can bring in a car but it must be less than 3 years old. You can also now bring in a car that is more than three years old but you must apply for a waiver and take it out with you when you leave.



However, you can easily get without a car. I don't have a car and instead rely on the embassy motor pool. There are usually enough people with cars that we still get opportunities to go places. But to be frank, there's not much to actually drive to. You can't drive outside Algiers without a police escort and a dipnote. The two or three major markets/stores that have some items local shops won't have and small handful of attractions. However, you can (and we do) use motor pool to go to restaurants and stores we need.



Ultimately it seems that among the embassy it comes down to personal preference. Not bringing a car will be somewhat limiting, but not crippling. If personal freedom or movement is something that is important to you, then I would say that you should bring a car.

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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 - kind of. Coverage can be spotty and some houses has weaker internet than others. Cost is relatively cheap ($30 a month I think). You can stream video the majority of the time. Internet speeds slow to a crawl when it rains (makes no sense but it's true).

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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?

Embassy will provide a phone. Use your phone's 3G when the internet goes out -- it is usually fairly good.

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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 there is very good vet who has a kennel. Animals don't need to be quarantined. But bring your animal in the plane with you on the flight. If you send it in cargo you will enter the sucking vortex that is Algerian customs.

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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?

Algeria does not have a work agreement of any kind. Your options are telework or working at the embassy. The embassy has some jobs available, but with the massive influx of families with kids, pressure has eased to create EFM jobs. Management has not been great about responding to EFMs desiring employment.



Telecommuting can be difficult because internet/power can be spotty though it has been possible to set up internet workstations at the Embassy community center that are more reliable.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Virtually none except in the Embassy community. Potentially at the American school opening Fall 2016. Don't attempt to do religious work or religiously connected work as the Algerians can be touchy about this.

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

Professional dress is required at the embassy. Some people wear jeans. In public shorts aren't really worn but do it anyway. Women don't have to cover in public but to avoid harassment should wear things that cover arms and legs. Invest in some light thin material dark colored jackets or sweaters.

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Health & Safety:

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

Algiers lost danger pay in 2015. While there are terrorists active in Algiers, the police presence is enormous in the capital. You will never be more than 500 feet from a cop on the corner or a police checkpoint. In the Embassy neighborhoods you are very safe.

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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?

Don't use local medical care. Ever. Get on a plane. Get out. The Embassy has a health unit that can handle routine stuff.

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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?

Car pollution is bad.

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4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Get out every couple of months to Europe before you start to go crazy. There's a flight Thursday night to Barcelona that comes back early Sunday morning so you can get out and not miss work.

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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?

Weather is actually really great. It gets hot in the summer with little rain. Sometime winners can be rainy and gray. But you are getting 8-9 months of great weather.

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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 French international school. An American International School is finally opening in Fall 2016.

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Expat Life:

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

Expat community is virtually non-existent. The number of Americans living in the capital that aren't in the Embassy is like five people. The diplomatic community is small and very francophone.



Morale at the Embassy has varied between rock bottom low to relatively poor in my two years. Senior leadership and management by Embassy supervisors were the direct cause of this. However, the current Embassy community is very active socially and there is always something to do.

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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?

There is a Brit Club with food and booze every Tuesday and Thursday.

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

For single people take a good look at your coworkers because that's your dating pool.



For couples your other half should have some work lined up (telework or at the Embassy) otherwise you will go crazy with cabin fever.

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

No but yes. For a muslim Arab country it's not bad. There is a community but it is extremely, extremely discreet. Homosexuality is illegal but not widely prosecuted.

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

Ethnic in the south and the east but you won't be exposed to that.



Is there gender equality? No. BUT for an Arab country (in the capital) its not terrible. So a D but raised to a B- on the curve.

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

Go to Oran and Constantine to visit.



Definitely go to the deserts of Taghit or Timmimoun. They are beautiful and untouched.

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

Europe.

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

There is an artisanal shop that highlights local handicrafts. But craft quality is pretty poor. You will struggle to find stuff to send/bring back.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

There's nothing egregiously bad about living in Algiers. There is just not anything especially good.



The weather is very nice.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Treat it like summer sleep away camp. Expect little in the way of direct comfort but you can still have a good time.

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

Yes . . . but I would never bid on it by free choice. Given post morale past two years and loss of danger pay I would not recommend anyone to bid Algiers. However, different leadership may lead to different results.

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

Hope of accomplishing things with the GOA. Their bureaucracy is insanely difficult and they don't want to work with the U.S.

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4. But don't forget your:

Package of tissue in your pocket when you travel - you won't find toilet paper in public bathrooms.

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

Books:

Between Ballots and Bullets

Savage War of Peace

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Algiers, Algeria 03/15/14

Background:

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

No, I've lived in several other cities in Europe, Central America and the Middle East.

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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?

DC, everything USG goes through Paris; other connections are possible through other European cities.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

It's all apartments, usually no more than 2 miles or so from the Embassy, and many are walkable. Traffic is horrific; a two mile drive can take anywhere from 5-30 minutes. There are lots of random police checkpoints on the streets, which also slow things down.

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

Local fruits and vegetables are plentiful, cheap, and of reasonably good quality. There's lots of French stuff in the grocery stores, so you can generally find Western levels of quality in anything, although they may not be the brands you're used to, and of course you'll pay more for them.

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

Nothing out of the ordinary, just go to Costco before you come and stock up on stuff you like, because other than soft drinks, there few American brands of anything here. Also bring as much alcohol as you like/can, because selection here is limited and more expensive.

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

There's a gazillion local fast food places all serving the same thing at the same inexpensive prices. There are one or two French restaurant chains, but the rest are all local places. A decent restaurant or two can be found, and then they are U.S. prices. More often than not, the high prices get you less than high quality food. Cuisine is quite unremarkable.

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

None that I've experienced. They have a normal amount of mosquitoes; some folks have complained of ants in their apartments.

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Daily Life:

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

Receive via the pouch, I've never tried to send anything out of here.

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

Inexpensive. We pay our nanny about US$450/month and that's more than we need to.

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

I am not aware of gyms outside the Embassy.

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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?

Nobody uses them. Everything is cash.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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

You can't get by here without French. Even native Arabic speakers say they have problems understanding Algerian Arabic.

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

Immense. The majority of the streets don't even have sidewalks, and some that do are crumbling and don't have curb cuts. Few government buildings have elevators. My advice would be don't come if you have mobility issues.

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Transportation:

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

We're not allowed to take buses and only a few pre-approved taxis. We can use the metro, but it's only one line, you can't access it from where we live, and most of the places it goes are uninteresting. It only has a few stops in the downtown area, and those are so close together you don't really need to use it.

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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?

Anything you bring will get dinged, so bear that in mind. Most of the roads in Algiers are hemmed in by high walls (picture being Pac-man inside the maze), and some of roads are VERY narrow - many should be one way and they're not. Nearly everyone has the back rear quarter panels of their cars scraped up - it's basically unavoidable. Don't try to bring in anything through customs unless the USG is bringing it in for you. The system is so incredibly complicated and corrupt if you try to ship something in one your own you'll probably never see it again. (No one will steal it, but you'll probably have to pay more than it's worth to get it out.)

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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, about US$60-70 month. Reasonably reliable, at least in out neighborhood.

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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?

Never used them because the Embassy gives us phones, but there are several local carriers. However, they only have 2G here. They keep saying they'll upgrade to 3G, but I wouldn't hold my breath until it happens.

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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?

No, they didn't even bother looking at our dog's paperwork when we brought him in. There are is a reliable vet who also runs a kennel that our dog is always excited to go to.

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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?

No, it is against the law for spouses to work here, unless you come in with a specific work permit.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Don't know, but I'm sure there must be some.

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

Business to business casual. In public most everyone wears jeans.

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Health & Safety:

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

In the city, no. You need a police escort to leave the city but how much of that is "security concerns," and how much is them wanting to keep an eye on you is an open question. There are problems with terrorists on the Libyan border and deep in the south, but both are over 1,000 miles away.

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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?

We get medevaced for anything but routine care, if that gives you any idea. (Again, ridiculous considering how rich the country is.) No general health concerns.

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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?

Normal for any big city, perhaps even slightly better because we're right on the sea and there's usually a reasonable breeze, so pollution doesn't settle. I've never heard anyone express any concerns.

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

A couple of months during the summer can get into the 90s F but humidity is low. Winters are rainy and a little cold, but usually nothing below 40F. It's quite temperate here.

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Schools & Children:

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

Only French schools, no experience with them.

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

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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?

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

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Expat Life:

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

Small and poor. This place grinds you down - it's incredibly frustrating to live here. There's so much potential and yet very little of it is realized. The bureaucracy is maddening and unpredictable, so working here is very difficult, and they'll get so much money in foreign currency reserves that many of us wonder what we're doing here trying to help. If you need to communicate with the Algerian government, it has to be by fax - they don't use email. And they don't pick up their phones very much. They have enough resources and history to be Morocco or Turkey if they really wanted to. They simply choose not to. Nothing will change here until oil prices fall and knock them off their collective keisters.

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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?

Home entertainment only. There are a few parks scattered about, but that's it.

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

This is a pretty dull city all around - the downtown closes at 6 or 7pm every night. Most entertaining is done in the home. The younger folks say there are a few clubs, although they don't sound thrilled with them, but they do exist. There are no bars as we know them, and most public gathering places are by custom male only.

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

Homosexuality isn't discussed, so while you can't really be open, you're not persecuted either. It's a "mind your own business" kind of place.

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

Not really.

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

There are some nice Roman ruins, but as a USG you need official permission (with a weeks notice) and a police escort whenever you leave the city. They say it's for your protection, but it's more so they can keep an eye on you.

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

Not much. Events here are not well advertised - it's all word of mouth. This city is hardly charming so there's very little to explore. Even the locals complain about it.

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

None that I can think of. Because it's an oil state, and subsidies are so high, it's hindered innovation and growth in virtually every other sector, so you don't have the craft markets that you have in other North African countries.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The weather is temperate; it's close to Europe. Few in country benefits.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, there's very little to spend it on, except leaving.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I wouldn't have come here if I knew what it was like.

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

Definitely not. If you want the "North African experience" you've heard about, go to Morocco.

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

Optimism.

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4. But don't forget your:

Calender to mark the days until you can leave.

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Algiers, Algeria 10/25/13

Background:

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

Not the first.

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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?

Washington D.C. - about 12 hours via Frankfurt.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

State Department - U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Every apartment has its own problems; some internet problems (slow or password gets shared with other people in the building because internet goes out). In other buildings, you have to call neighbors in the building when are showering so you have hot water. The housing is from 800-1200 sqft and the GSO purchased the same furniture for all housing (this means you will have to have furniture in the hallway if you have one of the 800 sqft apartments).

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

You can find almost everything here but when you see it, you must buy it because it might not be in the store again for months. We spent more here on groceries than we did in Washington D.C.

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

Things to pass the time; liquids since you cannot mail liquids.

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

Very little to none. Price varies you can spend from US$10-$80 per person eating out. And spending more doesn't always mean better food.

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

Very little.

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Daily Life:

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

Dip pouch, so it's very restrictive on mail coming in. Mailing out, no package can be over 2 pounds.

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

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

The embassy has one, free.

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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?

In this country very few people have credit cards so using one is very hard. ATMs are available.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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

You need French.

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

Yes, very few sidewalks, and it's very hilly.

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Transportation:

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

The embassy has 5 approved taxis, buses are not authorized.

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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?

Small.

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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?

Internet yes, but the price changes every time you ask for the bill. The embassy sets up internet through a local provider, you must use who the embassy has chosen and you must pay the embassy to pay the local internet company.

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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?

Embassy provides cell phones.

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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?

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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?

No you cannot work on the local economy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Very few.

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

Business to casual depending on section.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, embassy people's cars had their windows broken and embassy houses have been burglarized.

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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?

Embassy has a local doctor and an American nurse.

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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?

Ok.

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

Weather is good, a couple of hot weeks in the summer and few cold weeks in the winter - but there is a rainy season.

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Schools & Children:

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

None, no children over the age of 5 are allowed here.

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

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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?

No.

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

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Expat Life:

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

Very small.

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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?

Nothing; hanging out at other embassy people's apartments.

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

Not really, unless you like to sit at home and play games. There is nothing to do, no movie theaters, bowling alleys.

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

No.

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

This is a Muslim country so I am sure there is.

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

Trips to Europe.

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

Go to Europe.

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

Nothing really, tiles and pottery.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

None, you are close to Europe and you can find good deals so any money you saved because there is nothing to do you spend you go to Europe on long weekends.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, if you do not travel. But you WILL travel.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

NO.

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

110v appliances and high expectations in quality of work. Workers, embassy staff or contractors will go through your drawers if they are in your apartment.

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3. But don't forget your:

Transformers and patience

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:


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5. Do you have any other comments?

The LES (FSN) run the Embassy; if they want something, they demand or say they will quit or write a petition and they get it. As an American you and your bags will get screened before entering. Why? Because the LES said it is not fair that they get screened and Americans don't. The list goes on. No matter what section you work in be prepared to be micro managed.

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Algiers, Algeria 12/18/11

Background:

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

No -- Tel Aviv, Kabul, Amman.

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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?

Washington -- 12-14 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2008-2010.

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

Government (embassy).

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Embassy housing was either on the compound, or not far from the embassy. Commute times could vary, as traffic could be quite bad. There were surely times when walking to the Embassy would have taken less time than driving.

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

The economy remains very Soviet. A rudimentary selection of groceries is available, and not too expensive. Most anything imported can be difficult to find. Little imported fresh produce is available, and you will often be limited to what is produced locally. We shopped frequently from amazon.com and netgrocer for dry goods.

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

More liquid goods -- cooking sauces and the like.

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

There are few appealing fast food restaurants. The only worthwhile pizza place I found was Woodpecker, in Hydra. Some decent French-style restaurants, and a few very good Indian restaurants, can be found.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Little to none of these things are available. Those seeking these should ship them, or order them, from outside the country.

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

No insect problems.

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Daily Life:

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

Through the embassy 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?

Domestic help is widely available, but is all Algerian. Quality can be decent but spotty, and you can expect to pay well for good help.

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

There are few gyms or workout facilities. That said, the city is very hilly, so if you are a jogger or runner, you may find running in the city very challenging.

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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?

Except in the major hotels, credit cards and ATM cards issued outside Algeria do not work in Algeria.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

I am not aware of any English-language religious services, except perhaps at the Anglican Church attached to the UK Embassy.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

One can get satellite TV, though I have no experience here. I saw little in the way of English-language printed press.

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

Those who speak only English and no French will struggle to get by, and almost certainly will not have a good time.

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

There are few accommodations for handicapped people, in my limited experience.

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Transportation:

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

I have no experience here.

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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?

Local roads can be small, so the smaller the car, the better. Roads in the city are decent, but often crowded. Carjackings are not a major problem.

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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?

Residential DSL is not expensive (circa $30 per month), but not terribly fast.

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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?

American non-GSM cell phones likely will not roam here, though many from Europe likely will.

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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?

Not in my experience.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

One veterinarian, Dr. Hamiti, is available. She does house calls, and took very good care of our cat.

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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?

I would imagine not.

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

Algerians are very formal. Men should expect to wear suits and ties to work every day.

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Health & Safety:

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

In the wilaya of Algiers, security is good. Police are ubiquitous.

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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 decent, but not great. There are relatively few local health concerns. Sanitation is decent, and there are few if any endemic diseases.

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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?

Air is decent.

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4. 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 -- mediterranean and moderate. Summer has maybe three really hot weeks per year. The rest of the time, it is not bad, certainly nicer than places in the Gulf. In the winter, the weather changes frequently. You will rarely have long stretches of cold or rainy days during winter.

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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 no American school.

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

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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?

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

I don't have any experience here.

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Expat Life:

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

Maybe a few hundred diplomats.

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2. Morale among expats:

Fairly good, given the closeness of the community.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

As noted above, options here exist but can be limited.

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

Living here is fairly dull in general, for couples or singles. There were no families in our embassy with school-age kids when I was there.

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

Well -- homosexuality is not something widely spoken or or celebrated, but it certainly exists. I would imagine that gay men would have an easier time than gay women.

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

I can't really speak to this.

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

The diplomatic community there was small, but very close. And I had the good fortune to meet the local wine broker during my third week there.

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

There are circa 10-12 restaurants in the city worth visiting. There are occasional cultural events which are worth attending. Getting out of Algiers, as a diplomat, was rather difficult under Algerian government rules. If you can do so, the city of Oran is supposed to be interesting. And tourism in the southern areas of Ghardaia, Tamanrasset, Taghit, etc. can be enjoyable if you have the time and money to do so.

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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, handicrafts, and the tile work is quite good.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Few -- it's close to Europe.

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11. Can you save money?

Maybe, as there is not much to spend money on.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Perhaps, but it would not be tops on my list.

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

110-volt appliances and high expectations. And check the wine/alcohol import rules, as these can be restrictive and can change frequently.

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3. But don't forget your:

Given that the economy is so Soviet, bring most anything else, and a great deal of patience.

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



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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The Battle of Algiers,
Bab El-Oued City,
and Rachida

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Algiers, Algeria 09/23/08

Background:

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 Riyadh, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Prague, London, Kuala Lumpur, Tehran, Islamabad, Port of Spain, Tokyo, Nairobi, and Lagos.

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2. How long have you lived here?

One month.

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

Accompanying husband on telecommunications assignment.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Takes around 4 hours from London.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We lived in a lovely 4 bedroom apartment in Les Dunes over-looking the sea. It was devine.

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

Meat, chicken, fruit and vegetables were in plentiful supply, but the choice is limited. Loads of deli products and everything else you could think of in the top supermarkets. Everything was very good quality and cheap too.

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

Nothing really.

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

Fast foods: there are lots of pizza places, The Milkbar, The Big Blue. Top End: The Hilton, The Sheraton, Le Dauphin, Auberge du Moulin and Dar Lahlou. All serve much of the same food. Lots of fish, meat and couscous. You pay for it though! Alcohol is readily available at the top end restarants which is a plus. The local beer is good too and the cheapest of course! You won't go home with much change from DA 8000 pp.

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Daily Life:

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

Being in Algiers for only one month we didn't have that problem. We did send some postcards home though and they took 4 weeks to reach New Zealand!

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

Not sure. Wouldn't expect it to cost too much though

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Don't! Take cash. Either GBPs or Euros.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There were Christian religious services available but not sure if they were in English or not.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

We had a satellite TV and could get some English programs. Not sure of the cost as this was all paid for, for us. Didn't see any English language newspapers.

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

You really do either need French or Arabic or a translator! We had a terrible job as we only speak English, Dutch and German! Most people speak French but Arabic is becoming the main language with the younger generation.

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

Decent footpaths were non-existant. It would be difficult in a wheel chair, or if walking was a problem that is for sure. There is really no thought as far as people with disabilities go. It is Africa, and this is one of the wealthier African Countries, but there just isn't the infra-stucture in these countries to make it easy for disabled people I'm afraid.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right.

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

Not sure if they are safe, but they would be affordable. We had our own drivers at all times for security reasons.

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3. 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?

The roads are pretty good in Algeria so any normal car would be fine. We got around in a Peugeot.

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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?

No.

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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?

There were 4 operators in Algeria. They all seemed to be OK. We just used our own Nokia mobiles and were given a SIM card on arrival which were very cheap to purchase.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

We only had our mobile phones at home. Internet is not widely available. My husband had Internet at his work and kept in contact with folks back home via Skype.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Probably not.

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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?

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

Smart casual. Women should have their arms covered and legs too really. Having said that the local girls would wear a sarong down the street, but I think we lived in an area where this was tolerated more that in other parts of Algiers.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good.

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

High. Two bombs had just gone off as we were leaving for Algiers. Security was fantastic, there were Gendames and police everywhere.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The medical care was not up to International standards and you were advised to have a full cover insurance that included evacuation if necessary.

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

Temperatures range from 15-40C degrees and there is a lot of rain at times: Jan - Mar and October - December being the worst rainy months. It is quite muggy at times, humidity can be high in Algiers.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

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Expat Life:

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

Small.

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2. Morale among expats:

Was there too short a time to meet any of the expats. Most of them were in the high end hotels and we were out there with the locals!

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3. 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 had a great time with our drivers. We also went out to a lot of hotels and restaurants and met people there. The Algerian people are very friendly and helpful and go out of their way to look after you. There were bars to go to but it was mainly men who were determined to get drunk.

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

Probably not so great for singles and families. Could be a bit too dangerous. We were there as a couple and entertained each other and had the local Algerians to look after us.

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

Probably not.

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

There are the usual problems being in a mostly Muslim country. Actually it was pretty relaxed in Algiers. I could wear my bikini on the beach and short sleeves, and pretty normal clothing actually. I was surprised. It is best to be respectful though and cover up a little. I wore long sleeved, lose fitting tops and dresses over jeans most of the time.

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

There are loads of interesting museums. The down town area is very pretty and it is lovely to look at all the French architecture. Palais du Rais is well worth the visit. The French lived here in splendor. It is in good condition and very beautiful.

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

There is a lot of gold, jewelery, silver, leather, carpets, tiles and beautiful materials too. The Tangines are a must to take home.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Definitely! I loved it there. Very romantic place indeed.

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

Winter gear. It was 37C degrees at 9am Your computer if you are not there on business as there will be no Internet at your apartment.

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3. But don't forget your:

Swimwear, sunglasses, sunscreen. Light long sleeved shirts and dresses. Walking shoes and crocs. Lots of magazines and books, movies and DVD's to entertain yourself with.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Algeria. The people are fantastic and wouldn't let us pay for anything.

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Algiers, Algeria 05/09/08

Background:

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

Tripoli, Lybia; Dubai, UAE.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years and a half.

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

My husband's job although I worked as lecturer / teacher as well.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Alitalia, Air France, Air Algèrie fly directly.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Big villas, the market is quite expensive. Residential areas are close to main offices.

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

A bit less than the European standards. Imported goods can be quite expensive. Bread, local groceries and meat quite cheap.

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

Furniture, dresses.

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

Some international restaurants are available, as well as local restaurants which do not serve alcohol.

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Daily Life:

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

The local post is quite efficient. DHL and some other couriers are in place.

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

It's difficult to find trustworth domestics but it's very cheap.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

There's no credit card/ATM system. Credit cards can only be used at international hotels. Opening a local bank account will allow access to local ATMs but the amount of money one can withdraw would be quite restricted.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Probably not.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Satellite TV. It's very cheap.

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

French is fundamental.

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

The city and all infrastructure are not yet equipped for these situations.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right-hand side.

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

Taxis are affordable.

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3. 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?

All cars would be suitable but there are some difficulties due to importation permits.

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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, it's not too expensive. Many companies opened breaking up the monopoly.

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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?

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Fixed line, mobile phones, skype.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Sufficient.

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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?

Yes, if you are hired from overseas.

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

Business. Not too uncovered.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate.

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

Some terroristic attack to strategic targets (last one at the UN building).

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Private clinics are ok, but for seriuos problems going overseas is advised.

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

Quite warm in summer. Winter can be mild or rainy and cold.

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Schools & Children:

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

From my friends' experience I know the level is quite low. The French high school is ok but the international one is crap. The Italian one just opened in 2007.

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

None.

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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?

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Expat Life:

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

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2. Morale among expats:

Either you leave the country or you enjoy it.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Mainly private dinners/parties.

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

Can be good for couples and open-minded singles. Most of the wives get bored and decide to leave the country.

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

Absolutely not.

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

They are quite liberal towards foreigners. Still expats are supposed to behave according to common sense criteria.

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

Visits to the desert and to some ancient cities. Some clubbing in Algiers and Oran.

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

Some jewelry and antiques.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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

Skis.

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3. But don't forget your:

Home theater.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

I loved Algiers and Algerians for the complexity of their history, their sense of pride, their friendship and loyalty, and for the hidden beauty of the whole country.

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Algiers, Algeria 03/04/08

Background:

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

No, I've also lived in Libreville, Kinshasa, Niamey, and Peshawar.

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2. How long have you lived here?

7 months.

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

I work for the U.S. Government there.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

It's best to fly from Milan or Paris to Algiers. About 8 hours flight time with 4-5 hours in lay overs from the U.S. East Coast.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There are multi family and single family houses. Commute times can range from 7 minutes to over 30 depending on the time of day. Most homes are located 1-3 miles from the Embassy.

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

Algiers is expensive. A pound of butter is about US$5-6. Meat is terribly expensive and not very good quality.

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

Baking supplies, kids stuff (diapers).

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

There are expensive French restaurants, decent schwarma stands and good Indian food.

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Daily Life:

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

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

Domestic help is available, not that good and expensive (US$400 or so per month for a cleaner/cook).

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Do not use them.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Catholic.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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

French is good to know. The algerian arabic is only spoken here and it's hard to understand.

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

They would not be able to get around. There are no facilities for those who have physical handicaps.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Left, as in the U.K.

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

We are not permitted to use public transport.

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3. 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?

Something small - Japanese, French or German-made. The roads are narrow, winding and driving is hard.We

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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, but it's unreliable, about US$200 for 6months.

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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?

There is a local company called Djezzy.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Skype or vonage.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Limited; vets are trained in basics but nothing too serious.

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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?

Few, the Algerians make it very difficult.

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

Conservative, but Modern/European.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Unhealthy.

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

Tons. Security drives the quality of life here due to the credible, ongoing, significant threat from Al Qaida.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Care is only okay here; car accidents are a major concern.

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

Similar to Southern California.

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Schools & Children:

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

None.

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

None.

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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?

There is one decent preschool, French speaking only. It was hard to conform to their limited schedule. You must have a car to get there.

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Expat Life:

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

Medium size but shrinking due to security concerns.

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2. Morale among expats:

Low.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Eating out, some group get togethers, musical/art events

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

It's a good city for couples. Singles have a hard time dating and families with kids don't have any outlets for the kids. There are very limited activities even when the security situation isn't so rough.

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

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

Yes, recent media reports indicate that members of the Catholic/Christian community are being scrutinized more for their activities in Algeria.

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

Some limited sightseeing.

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

Pottery.

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9. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No.

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

Cold weather clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Good rain jacket.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The Battle for Algiers.

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

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Algiers, Algeria 03/03/08

Background:

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

No. I have lived in Kenya, Djibouti, and now Algeria.

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2. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

I am the spouse of a foreign service officer.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Travel time is minimal from Europe; maybe 2 hours on average. There are several airlines from Europe: Air Algerie, although I'd use other airlines first, SpanAir, Air France, Lufthansa, AirItalia, and Iberian Air. There are even ferries between here and France and probably Spain.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

I live in off-campus housing and I love it. The off-campus apartments seem adequate as well and the on-campus housing is comfortable.

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

I recommend bringing cleaning supplies in your consumables. Food and good food is easy to find albeit a little pricy for the imports. All the canned baby food is imported, so don't expect to find any meat based baby food except for fish.

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

Pet supplies, toilet paper, meat-based baby food, diapers, cleaning supplies, wipes, more outdoor toys for kids if you have a yard, Non-perishable pork products as you won't find them here.

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

There is one of the best Indian restaurants I haver been to called the Maha Raja. It's exquisite. I recommend the butter chicken. They do do take out, but no delivery.

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Daily Life:

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

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

Good help is available even nanny help has been fabulous. The Americans tend to pay higher than anyone else, so expect to pay around US$300-400 a month.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Don't.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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

I get away with little because my housekeeper speaks English and can help out with daily interactions, but speaking French even a little will greatly improve your life here.

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

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

On the right but traffic lines are merely suggestions here.

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

We aren't allowed to use them.

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3. 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?

Well, my husband has a car he uses for work. I do not and it is an inconvenience, but I wouldn't have anywhere to park it and you will find that two-car parking is almost nonexistant in any of the off-campus housing.

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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?

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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?

Make sure you have one.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Either the IVG line if you are at the Embassy or get Skype.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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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?

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

In public, it's best to dress conservatively.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate.

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

With the bombs on December 11 and the targeting of the U.N. building, the threat to foreigners has increased. Anyone who tells you it's safe is either uninformed or deceptive. You will have to be willing to accept the risk of uncertainty when it comes to security.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

There's a Doctor on staff at the Embassy and a good pediatrician at the Lebanese Embassy.

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

Northern California type weather. It's great!

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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 are no international schools.

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

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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?

There are excellent preschools but taking advantage of them is at your own risk because the security sitation is so unpredictable. I did not enroll my children for that reason.

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Expat Life:

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

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2. Morale among expats:

Wow. Where do I start. A recent visitor from HQ here did a survey said the morale was the lowest he'd ever seen. As it stands, policies have taken precedence over people. Part of the problem was an OIG survey that mandated certain changes, but the survey was done well before the suicide attacks of 2007 by people who don't live here. It's almost surreal some of the policies that they are trying to implement. They have been not only harmful, but illogical at a time when security is paramount. Sadly, many are growing very bitter and cynical towards the internal leadership here and the stress level is high.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Bring, movies, toys and lots of entertainment if you have a family as you will spend a lot of time at your house for the foreseeable future.

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

For families, the city itself isn't the problem as there would be outlets and activities for children if it were secure. However, the limitations imposed on us because of the security situation, while difficult, wouldn't be half so difficult if the leadership at the Embassy were more responsive to the needs of families. Unfortunately they have not been. In fact, such requests by those of us with families have been dismissed or ignored.

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

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

None that I have noticed except for people trying to kill you because you don't follow their brand of Islam.

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

Algeria has many fascinating places to see, but you won't have easy access to any of them unless the security restrictions are lifted or unless you can arrange for a security escort. In that case, I'd recommend the Casbah, Tipaza and although I've never been Timgad with its Roman ruins, Ohran, Ghardia and Tamanrasset.

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

Beautiful tiles, metal work, traditional jewelry and clothes.

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9. Can you save money?

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I loved the first year here, but with the threat increasing, and with the attitude of the current internal leadership as it is now, I would not bring my family here again. If the Embassy did even the minimum of what they should be doing to accommodate families, I might recommend it for those with very young children who don't need daily social outlets.

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

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Battle of Algiers, it's a socialist propaganda film, but worth a view.

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

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

If you have children don't expect the internal leadership at the Embassy to go out of their way to accommodate the needs of your family while you are here. You will need to be prepared to go it alone or be prepared to put up a good fight for change. Also, keep an emergency suitcase packed with whatever your family will need for 24 hours. We had to evacuate our house for a night after the December 11 bombings. The bomb was 400 meters from our house.

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Algiers, Algeria 02/25/08

Background:

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

No. I've lived in Rota, Spain; Manama, Bahrain; and several other locations as a child.

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2. How long have you lived here?

1 year and 8 months.

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

I am affiliated with the U.S. Government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

From Paris, CDG, it's less than 2 hours, from Frankfurt about 2 hours, and from Barcelona about 1 hour (good place for a holiday from Algiers).

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

For DOS employees, housing is fairly nice. There are 24 apartments in the American Residence Compound (ARC) with 2 bedrooms and varying floorplans. The storage space is limited. There are a few apartment buildings off post with an average of three apartments per buildings. They seem to be nice as well, though parking and storage are always difficult.

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

Most items are now available, though imported and somewhat expensive. The bread is fantastic. Seasonal organic produce and meats (though they take some preparation) are easily available. Algerian wines and beers are available. Beers are a pilsner and the wines are iffy and match stateside prices. Spirits are imported (when available) and expensive. Household supplies are available, but brands are mostly French or local.

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

A treadmill. There are not a lot of places to go for a walk around here.

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

There is no fast food other than Chwarma (grilled chicken or meat) and Pizza. There are no deliveries but a few decent restaurants that are surprisingly expensive (security permitting).

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Daily Life:

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

Good question. Send it with someone who is traveling. I don't hear good things about local post.

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

Widely available and fairly reasonably priced. Our nanny was US$400/month (and I paid too much I found out later) and maid is 1000dzd (about US$15) per visit.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Not used here.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are Catholic services at Notre Dame D'Afrique (security permitting) and private worship groups for other denominations (security permitting).

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Not that I know of. Post provides AFRTS for on compound residents and others buy an English/Arabic service from Movie Star satellite company. I am not sure about the cost but I think it's about US$500/year.

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

A lot. Most Algerians speak French or Algerian Arabic (derdja) and very few know any English alhough kids are always anxious to practice with you.

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

Quite a few. The streets and sidewalks are in disrepair and there are not many elevator or ramps. You have to make quite an effort to avoid using stairs.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right, middle, left.. whatever.

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

DOS personnel are not permitted to use these.

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3. 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?

A small SUV or an economy-size car. Traffic is crazy. There are a number of Toyota dealerships and French (Renault and Peugeot) dealerships.

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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, it's free for on compound residents. I don't know for off post.

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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?

Nope, they're all the same.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

VoIP, IVG+ calling card for the U.S.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are several vets who will come to the Embassy to provide shots, etc, but for more advanced care, I can't say. Algerians aren't big on pets and pet supplies are rare (though available) and quite expensive.

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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?

No.

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

Conservative but not as formal as back in the States.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate.

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

Yes, Al Qaida is active here and managed two spectacular attacks in Algiers in 2007. There are daily skirmishes/attacks in the countryside.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Post has a local doctor who is good. I haven't had to visit any off post med centers.

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

Great! The winters are cool and sometimes damp but spring and autumn are warm and beautiful. Summer can get hot but not unbearably so.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

I had my child with me until the 11 December bombings when I decided to take him home. Prior to that I had a full time nanny who was reasonably priced. She was not trained as a nanny but she loved my kid, so it worked out. A family here had their child attend a local preschool and they seemed satisfied, though they also took their children home after the bombings.

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Expat Life:

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

Small. There are about 1,000 Americans in Algeria - mostly in the southern oil-producing region.

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2. Morale among expats:

I don't know - we don't do a lot of socializing with expats (there are very few of them in Algiers and the security situation is limiting)

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Mostly embassy-based.

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

This is a post with danger pay and it's there for a reason. If you're single and outgoing, there is always something to do with other employees and, when the security situation permits, out in town. Same for a childless couple. I would not recommend this post for people with children. There is no infrastructure for kids, no place to take them, and the security situation is unsettled.

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

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

There seems to be some tension between Berber and Arab, but it hasn't (yet) erupted into violence... at least in Algiers. Women work in every sort of business but normally in traditional roles. There's still a lot of French influence so it's not like many Muslim areas.

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

The beach is lovely (security permitting), some expos in the Safex Expo center (security permitting), a few nice museums (security permitting), French cultural center holds concerts, and CLO trips (security permitting)...

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

They have nice ceramics.

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9. Can you save money?

Not as much as you'd think. Groceries can be expensive and Internet shopping can get addictive, but with danger pay and post differential, you can manage.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No, I brought my kid with promises of improving security and a school in the works for 2007. Neither of those materialized.

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

Hiking shoes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Flexiblity.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Battle of Algiers, Bab El Oued City, Rachida, Inchallah Dimanche.

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

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Be aware that Algeria and Algiers can be a very volatile place. The people are lovely (if gruff), especially with kids, and the country is beautiful, especially the countryside. The Government is opaque and aging rapidly, so no one really knows what the next few years will bring with all the variables: ailing president, terrorism, unemployment...So it's hard to say if this post will have to once again shut down, or if it will be able to make further normalization attempts.

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