Amman, Jordan Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan 09/05/18

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 London, UK.

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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?

US/DC. It is about 24 hour trip, all said and done. There are direct flights from NYC and Chicago.

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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 (spouse).

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Large housing that varies in terms of how nice it is. Most homes are apartment-style. We had black mold and roaches. Maximum commute time to the embassy is about 10 minutes; very close and walkable for many.

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

Most things are available, but also expensive due to being imported. You may need to stock up when you see specific things available (canned pumpkin,
chocolate chips).

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

There was really nothing I couldn’t find there if I wanted to pay for it. Everything was expensive, so I just gave up and shopped locally. Prime pantry is an option.

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

You can get most things delivered, but there wasnt anything amazing. People like a burger place called Fatty Dabs.

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

Roaches are common. Have heard of rats being in or around housing, but this is less common.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic post office. Not sure of local mail situation.

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

Many people hire household help, nannies and cleaners mostly. The rate varied, but roughly 3 JD an hour at the time for full-time help. Very available, though good help can be a challenge.

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

Many options available locally but expensive. The embassy had a gym that was good enough for a decent work out. May be better now after new construction.

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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?

You will need to carry cash, though many places accept cards. We only used the embassy ATM. We didn’t have any problems in this regard.

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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?

There were classes at the embassy. We managed without knowing much of any Arabic, but there were definitely times it would have been helpful.

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

Yes. Little to no accommodation outside of the embassy.

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Transportation:

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

No to buses. People used taxis and uber. Uber was not running legally when we were there. I didn’t feel comfortable using them alone, so mostly drove.

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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?

Nothing too nice. It will likely get bumped and dinged. We had an SUV and I enjoyed having the size with all the drivers that seemed unsafe.

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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, we had fiber through Zain. Our sponsors were able to have it installed prior to our 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?

Local providers are good enough and not expensive. It took me ages to realize that voicemails aren’t used here. Everyone used WhatsApp for messaging. Many video calls from abroad are blocked.

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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?

Our dog was killed with rat poison that was thrown in our yard, and we found that the vets were not skilled enough to help. I consider them livestock vets. I wish we would not have brought our dog. The vets will be fine for very basic care. There was no quarantine needed. People seemed scared of the dogs and didn't seem to like them.

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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 telecommuted full-time, but was eventually laid off as I was told the company did not feel Jordan was secure enough. Most spouses worked inside embassy or not at all. I feel spouses are never paid what they’re worth in embassy jobs, and most don’t do it for the money. It is a means to be out of the house, meet people, and keep an active resume.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Probably many, though I don’t know specifics.

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

Don’t wear shorts, short skirts or deep v-necks as a woman and you’ll be fine in the expat bubble of Abdoun and surrounding area. Outside of this area, I would err on more conservative.

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Health & Safety:

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

We had 24/7 local guards outside our house that seemed to be more of a nuisance than anything. Rat poison was thrown in our front yard and our dog was killed; we were lucky it wasn’t one of our toddlers. Our alarm was triggered while we were after two years of living there and the guards reported they thought it was me trying to access the home. After two years it seems the guards could not positively ID me and did not confirm. Locals frequently tried to pick-up, touch, or photograph my small children.

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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?

My youngest daughter has constant respiratory issues while there. Dust, olive pollen, mold and pests in home. I would not recommend coming here with severe asthma or other respiratory problems.

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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?

Many people suffered with allergies; dust, mold, olive pollen, and pollution are all problems.

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

I had a infant in neonate formula and I had to have a local pharmacy order it for me. It was difficult to get at 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)?

Culture shock, depression. Morale was not great with most people I knew there. Many traveled very often for frequent breaks from Amman.

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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?

A little bit of everything, but most of the year it is sunny, warm, and dry. Winter ranges from cold with snow, to cold with lots of rainy days while we were there. It does get hot in the summer.

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Schools & Children:

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

They are available. Most people use American or British. My daughter went to the French School for preschool and we were happy with it.

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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?

Preschools are available. Most people used a nanny instead of daycare. I didn’t see any preschools that offered an option other than daily attendance and the days were longer than most US preschools to start.

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

A few and they are expensive due to limited supply. We did ballet and Kindermusik.

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Expat Life:

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

It was large, but I don’t know the number. I felt like I didn’t know anyone who had been there over a year that wasn’t ready to leave. I feel strongly that this should not be longer than a two year post.

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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?

Book clubs and embassy functions.

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

I think it would be difficult to come here as a single unless you traveled a lot. It’s pretty boring and dating outside of the embassy wouldn’t be common.

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

Likely not, but I know some couples who seemed to be doing fine.

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

Yes.

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

My kids enjoyed going for weekends at the resorts at the Dead Sea and Aqaba.

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

This would depend on your interest, but I didn’t find many 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?

People buy lanterns, Syrian furniture, and rugs

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

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Words of Wisdom:

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

To have my mental health services lined up from the start. This was a very difficult post for us.

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

No. You always hear that people love this post, but it was not my experience. Our family had an exceptionally hard chain of events here and curtailed after two years.

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Amman, Jordan 09/03/18

Background:

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

France, Japan, Bolivia, Zambia, Egypt, and Jordan.

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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, USA. There is a direct flight from NYC to Amman, but we like to break it up with a stop in France, Germany, or England. You can make the trip in fewer than 24 hours door to door.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Over one year.

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

USAID at the US 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?

Good housing. Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, eat-in kitchen, living room, dining room, den, sun porch, and bonus room. We live near the embassy, as all families do. Many shops and restaurants walkable. We have a small yard. Most people live in spacious apartments with gardens and/or patios. Commute time is minimal, maybe 5-10 minutes for most, within walking distance.

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

Groceries are not expensive, though some items that are imported can be high. Many people set up a schedule for household and grocery items on Amazon.

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

Vanilla, ham, and wine, though even these things can be found on the local market, just not as easily as in the US.

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

Local restaurants are very good. Lebanese, Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, etc. Talabat is the local app for restaurant delivery. It is quite good. Restaurants can be pricey if they are specialty, but many are reasonable.

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

We have the occasional ant near the dog's food dish. Nothing major.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO is fantastic. We receive packages and mail a few times per week. They are very organized and timely.

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

We have a Filipina housekeeper that comes three afternoons a week. We pay her 5 JOD per hour which is around US$7.50 per hour. We are appreciative and thankful. Many people hire full-time for less per hour.

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

The embassy has a gym that is pretty good. There are many others available in Amman. They seem reasonable.

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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?

Yes. Yes. Yes. No problems at all.

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

For churches, there are many to choose from. We go to Amman International Church which is great. Our kids enjoy the weekly youth group that is a mix of kids from several different churches. For another Protestant service, there is Oasis International Church. We also have friends who go to the Anglican Church led by an Australian pastor. As for Catholic churches, I have a friend who said she is happy with one she found in her neighborhood.

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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?

Most everyone speaks a decent level of English. That being said, it's always nice to know some Arabic. There are (free to us) local language classes offered through the embassy, and tutors are available and affordable.

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

It would be pretty hard, but there are staff at the embassy who use wheelchairs. I think the embassy has tried to be accommodating, but I wouldn't say that this is city-wide.

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Transportation:

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

I see local buses, but I wouldn't take one. They might be safe, but they seem crowded and slow. No trams or trains, but taxis are safe and affordable. Uber is great, too.

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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?

4WD is good especially if you want to go desert camping. It's not completely necessary otherwise. City driving is pretty smooth and easy with the typical "I can't stay inside the lines" type of driving in the Arab world. Parts seem to be available, but you can easily order through DPO for some parts. I just wouldn't bring a Volvo because parts would be hard to buy. I haven't heard of any theft.

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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. Just a couple of days.

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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?

We use Zain. It has been good. We recently installed magic jack, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you want to be bombarded with telemarketing calls. My husband uses it to call the US, so I tolerate it. I do turn down the ringer so it's more of line that we use to call out and not receive calls. We also have Skype that we use on occasion. Facebook messenger is a favorite of mine for calling friends and family back home in the US.

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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 are local favorites. Our cats did not have to be quarantined upon entry, so, I think that this answer is "no." Just make sure records are up to date. We recently adopted a dog from the local Humane Center for Animal Welfare.

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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 taught for a year on the local economy. It was a good opportunity, but I won't do it again because the pay was about half of what I am used to making. Many jobs are available at post, but there is always that "Do I really have a master's degree to be a secretary?" sigh when perusing the newsletter job announcements.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty of opportunities to help with refugees.

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

Seems pretty Western. Most women steer away from short skirts and tank tops, though I comfortably wear short-sleeves. It's not a big deal. Save formal dress for the Marine Ball.

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Health & Safety:

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

There is occasionally a peaceful protest near the Embassy, but I have never felt overly concerned other than the angry voice coming from the mosque the day after the "Embassy in Jerusalem" announcement. I feel safer in Amman than I feel in the US, honestly.

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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?

I can't think of any. Medical care is good. Pregnancies usually require a 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?

Good air quality. Great weather, really. Even in the summer if it is hot, the evenings are cool, and we enjoy sitting outside on the patio. There might be some seasonal allergies, but they aren't long-lived.

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

Spring might bring some pollen-related allergies. I can't think of any food allergy-related problems.

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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)?

I can't think of any other than typical post-related ones. There is a little bit of a lack of a variety in spousal employment opportunities, although it's getting better. I am a little put-off that I can't wear shorts freely, but I grin and bear it in my capris.

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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?

Great seasons, really. Nothing extreme except it does get hot in the summer during the day. It does get cold in Amman, too. It has been known to snow on occasion in the 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?

People used to enroll their kids in ACS without giving it any thought. However, when we read reviews of the past few years, we decided to visit several schools in the area. ACS admin seemed overly-impressed with themselves, and gave us the attitude of "if there's space available for your kid, we'll consider your application," so we didn't even bother applying.



We have been very impressed with ICS. With my experience of American schools, the transition to ICS has been great. Less drama, good uniforms, easy to understand homework routines, more diverse international community, more after school activities, good special needs accommodation, etc. We have one child in elementary, and one in middle school. I would give two thumbs up in a heartbeat. In fact, the enrollment of US Embassy children nearly tripled from last year from around 12 to 33. So, that should indicate a growing preference for ICS. However, I have heard that there are good teachers at ACS, so, I would just do my homework and ask several families who have their kids there. ICS is a longer bus ride compared to ACS, but that does not bother most people since ICS is just a 20-minute bus ride.



And now a shout-out to King's Academy for high school. We have a high schooler in King's Academy which is a top-of-the-line boarding school modeled after the King's alma mater, Deerfield Academy. If you have a high schooler who would thrive in an academic setting with eclectic staff, this school is for him or her. The embassy covers most of the tuition, but you will still be out of pocket 10K. (If you didn't choke, keep reading.) It is well worth every penny because they recruit the best of the best staff from around the world, and their graduates can basically go anywhere they want after graduation. Quite a few embassy families have chosen to put their high schooler there as a day student or even a week-day boarder. It's an exceptional school with a very high bar for academics and extra curricular alike.

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

I would ONLY consider ICS for special-needs kids, even mild cases! They are great. They have in-class help as well as varied IEPs. Call the school for details.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes and yes. I don't think that they are too expensive. If you want elementary school-aged children and middle-school aged children to have two (back to back) after-school activities, I would go with ICS. They are more accommodating for a longer day if you need that because of a parent's work schedule.

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

Yes, there are some. Fall and spring baseball, soccer, horseback riding, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, etc. Plenty of after-school activities at the local schools, too.

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Expat Life:

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

US Embassy Amman is a very large embassy (our Facebook group alone is huge) and has just recently expanded to accommodate the growing number of US employees. I would say that morale among expatriates is good. It can always be better, but part of that is on us. We need to host more events, etc. I think it's good considering where we are ("the eye of the hurricane"). The work load can be a lot on the staff, but that's understood considering the location and the times we are in. If we ever need an escape, I have to say that travel is easy to Europe. Many people were thrilled when Ryan Air announced more direct flights from Amman.

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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?

BBQ outdoors almost all year-round. The embassy has weekly pizza night, monthly Taco and Trivia night, etc. There could be more things happening, but I think that there are plenty of things to do if you look for them. Even locally there are great things to do like desert camping and going to the Dead Sea for the weekend. Jordan is packed with little interesting day trips, too.

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

Yes, but I wouldn't assume that the dating scene is similar to the one in the US. singles here seem to have fun mixing and mingling. For couples and families, it's a great post- just speaking from experience.

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

I'm not sure that I would say that it is a good city to be very welcomed in, but we do know LGBT couples. It's a majority Muslim country, and Islam frowns upon homosexuality.

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

On the surface, no, but there definitely seem to be religious prejudices. We have had quite a few friends affiliated with the church we attend have their visa renewal application rejected for no apparent reason. The only common denominator is that they are Christian families. And gender equality? What's that?

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

Desert camping, Petra, Dead Sea, easy access to Israel, easy flights to Europe.

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

There are definitely some hidden gems. Think, "Old Testament." We have seen Lot's cave, one of Herod's castles, the River Jordan, Mount Nebo, etc. If Biblical archeology interests you, take advantage of this location. It's packed with history.

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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, but I think I'm getting bored of buying things from other countries, so, I'm not the best person to ask. There are, however, some great works in mosaic to purchase in Madaba. Items carved out of olive wood are nice, too.

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

It's a good, family-friendly post. There are many day trips to take. The weather is great. It is low-crime. You don't have to learn a lot of the local language if language learning is not your thing. It's a large post with many people to meet. The people are friendly for the most part.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I can't think of anything that I wish I had known about Amman before moving here because we had just moved from Egypt which is similar. (Egypt is more chaotic and crowded .) I think you will have more interesting responses from other people who have answered this question.

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

Absolutely! Although, I wouldn't live here long-term.

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

Shorts and mini-skirt collections, car turn signal, punctuality.

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4. But don't forget your:

Jacket. It can get chilly in the winter.

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

The Rough Guide to Jordan.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Ask as many people about their Amman experience as possible before coming to any conclusion.

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Amman, Jordan 03/16/17

Background:

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

I have had prior experience in Europe and Africa.

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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 area, USA. Many flight options through Frankfurt or London or Paris.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost four years, 2013-2017.

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

US 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?

Spacious duplex with small yard. This is one of the better houses in the pool although even the apartments tend to be large, well-maintained, and in good locations. RSO mandates that all housing be within 3 km of the embassy meaning easy commutes, even walkable for most.

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

Good availability with large chains such as Carrefour, Safeway, etc. A lot of imported goods so prices are more than the US but not significantly so. Local produce is very cheap and great when in season.

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

You can get just about anything but it is useful to ship brown sugar, Tex-Mex items. We still use the pouch quite a bit.

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

Great restaurant scene, wide variety. Jordanians love eating out! Although they do tend to start much later than we were used to. Prices are a bit high but there are a lot to choose from. Some of the eating out is the "to be seen" scene and there is a lot of just lounging smoking hookah so I wouldn't necessarily say that the quality makes it foodie heaven.

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

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Daily Life:

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

Not much local service, we use the diplomatic pouch which is quite efficient. DHL also available.

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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 provided by third country workers, mainly Filipino or Sri Lankan.

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

Many modern gyms, Fitness First/Vega Fitness and Crossfit are very popular. They tend to be expensive. The US embassy has well-equipped gym that has been sufficient for us. One of the great benefits has been the ability to run outside. I need to do it in the mornings before much traffic and there are a lot of hills but I've been able to train for and run marathons while here.

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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?

Mainly a cash economy but many grocery stores and restaurants take credit cards. ATMS are easy to find and, in most areas, safe to use.

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

A few Christian congregations offer English services, including Catholic, Adventists, Evangelical, Mormon.

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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?

Arabic classes are widely available but, to be honest, I have never met anyone who achieved anything close to working proficiency through such classes. Arabic is not something you dabble in, either do some sort of immersion or just content yourself with simple phrasebook level.



The truth is, you can get by quite well with English.

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

Yes, sidewalks and building access is often blocked and not well designed.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are fine and affordable. Uber has gotten very popular here. Buses are not recommended.

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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?

A sedan is fine, the roads here are quite good and even driving out of the city to major sites (Dead Sea, Jerash, Petra) is all by smooth roads. The drivers here are quite aggressive so sometimes being in a big SUV is nice just to make sure that you are seen.

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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, DSL and fiber is available at reasonable cost. Installation is pretty quick.

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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?

Big providers are Zain and Orange with reasonable plans. Be careful about exceeding allowable data however, that gets expensive fast.

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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?

Great in-home service at reasonable prices. Have not used kennel services yet but they do exist. No quarantine required, we brought a cat straight here.

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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?

Many embassy jobs and some in the NGO community and at schools. Getting work permits can be difficult, there is a big problem with jobless youth and college grads so the government tries hard to prevent foreigners from taking what jobs there are.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are a ton of groups working with refugees and disadvantaged populations. The groups would prefer donations rather than labor but you can find places to use your talents.

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

Business dress at the office, business casual when you go out. You see some people wearing shorts on the streets but it is usually foreigners. Women are much more limited in what to wear, depending upon where you are going.

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Health & Safety:

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

This is a high threat post, formerly receiving danger pay. Jordan is in the eye of the hurricane in the fight against ISIL so precautions must be taken. That said, most parts of Jordan are safe and we have not felt any limitations on our movement or felt in imminent danger. There is surprisingly little street crime, particularly in West Amman. The only problems are usually late at night and for women on their own. As always, awareness and avoiding risks is key.

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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?

Health care is excellent, some expats choose to stay here to give birth. The US embassy has a great medical unit and there are specialists for referrals.

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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?

It can get dusty at times but strong breezes and relatively high elevation keep the air pretty good most of the time.

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

A lot of nuts in the cuisine here so you have to be proactive to avoid them. I know several vegans who have done fine here.

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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)?

Stress. This is a high-tempo post and even though it is safe there is a sense of constantly being on edge because something bad could happen at any time. This wears people down.

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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?

The climate here is quite wonderful with noticeable season changes. In the summer it gets hot but in the evenings it cools down quite a bit and there tend to be nice breezes in Amman. We use our patio quite a bit for barbecues and entertaining. It does get cold in the winter, two of the years here we had significant snow that shut the city down for a few days. It was great! Some rain from late fall to early spring but mainly clear blue skies.

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Schools & Children:

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

Quite a few options. The main school for US embassy kids is American Community School which has some great teachers but the quality declines in the higher grades. Other options include the International Community School (British) and the French school. There are also international schools that are have mainly Jordanian student bodies such as the International Academy Amman and the Amman Baccalaureate School. lso a top-notch boarding school in Madaba.

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

Not much.

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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?

Tons of pre-schools, especially popular is Eco-Kids.

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

Not a huge sports scene outside of school and even for the school it is limited. Seasons are very short, and the quality of coaching is mediocre, in my opinion. With all these international schools you would think there would be some robust competition but that doesn't seem to be the case.

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Expat Life:

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

Quite large with a broad mix. Interestingly, a lot of "Gulfies" (Arabs from the Gulf States) maintain residences here so that makes up a broad swath of the expats. Also, many international organizations are based here.



Morale seems quite good. There are many who have lived here for years. Compared to other places we've been living , Amman is quite comfortable and convenient so it is hard to find things to complain about (although some do, of course!).

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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?

Jordanian culture is very tribal or family based so it can be hard to truly break in, even though the people are very kind and hospitable. There are lots of activities like hiking, biking, music, and art that can be an entree for like minded people. There are many Facebook and WhatsApp groups for both general and niche interests.

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

For families, we've found that it is great. Very family and child friendly, safe with appropriate activities. For singles it can be tricky to break in, there is not a lot of dating with foreigners, particularly for Muslims although it does happen. A lot of my single friends find Amman a bit sleepy but they still enjoy it.

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

Probably not. The culture here is very hostile to LGBT. There have been several same sex couples that have been fine but they were not living particularly openly.

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

There is a bit of a hierarchy of ethnic groups. Jordanians definitely seen themselves as the peers of Gulf State sheikhs, just without the money. Certain jobs are just assumed to be performed only by Egyptians. It is not particularly overt, just understood.

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

Great in country travel opportunities: Petra, Jerash, Um Qais, Dead Sea, desert castles, Aqaba and Wadi Rum.

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

We've loved finding some off-the-beaten-track hikes up wadis that have been a lot of fun. Fun indoor climbing gym Climbat just south of town. Organized hikes with rappels through Tropical Desert. Dead to Red Relay Race (182 miles of pain!)

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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 are some crafts and local handicrafts but most of the nice stuff is brought here from somewhere else.

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

Ease of living, convenience. Mobility around the city although traffic can be bad at rush hour. Large expat community with a wide range of interests.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I had traveled in Jordan a few years ago so I felt like we came in with eyes open with regards to living here. The pace of work and stress involved in such a high profile mission was the hardest part of my tour.

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

Yes. This has been a great four years.

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

Misconceptions about Muslims and Palestine.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, hats, snow boots!

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

"Leap of Faith" by Queen Noor.

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Amman, Jordan 07/01/16

Background:

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

No, we have lived in Mexico, China, Senegal, and the United Kingdom previous to this assignment.

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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?

We are from the West Coast in the U.S., and the trip is a long one. There is a Seattle-Frankfurt flight and then Frankfurt-Amman. In total the flight time is a grueling 20+ hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year with two more to go.

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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 great. We have a large house with a lovely garden and car park. he commute to the U.S. Embassy is less than 5 minutes, and to the American School it is about 10 -15 minutes.

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

Everything is available for a price. Local produce is reasonable, but we have found the meat to be of poorer quality. There is a fantastic butcher, but the cost is prohibitive to purchase for daily use. I am grateful for DPO for things ranging from pet supplies and toilet paper to cereals, nuts, and seeds.

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

A good Costco run of bulk peanut butter, walnuts, brown sugar, chocolate chips, sensitive laundry detergent, kitty litter, and dog food.

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

Great food. Every neighborhood has a favorite schwarma or falafel place, and you will find the best hummus in the world. If one gets tired of the local food, there are many different restaurants, and almost anything can be delivered.

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

We had ants and used peppermint spray to get rid of them.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic Post Office (DPO).

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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 for about 4JD an hour. Your employees will also want taxi fare to and from the house, which is about 4JD a day.

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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.

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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?

I use my credit card and have not had any problems.

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

There are options. Check out the Embassy newsletter, which offers specific contact information.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are fine if you have the language. Even if you don't have the language, the taxis are okay for easy-to-find locations.

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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?

We have a Toyota RAV4 which has been fine.

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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?

We had high-speed internet installed before our arrival. Our social sponsor had it hooked up and ready to go when we arrived.

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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?

I think there are two providers, but I have little experience here other than to say that no one seems to complain.

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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?

Good vets, no quarantine. The only thing to consider is that cremation does not exist in this country. If your pet dies and you want to cremate the remains, you will need to look at go to Israel or another country. Also, pet supplies are very expensive, so ship in what you can.

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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?

Embassy EFM employment. The post needs Speech and Language Therapists!

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are lots of volunteer opportunities with local organizations supporting the refugees, and if you want to get involved, you can!

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

Business.

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Health & Safety:

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

We are in the eye of the storm. Every day feels safe, unless something happens.

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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?

This is a medical tourism destination, so there is great medical care.

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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?

We served in Beijing for four years, and we find that the air everywhere else in comparison is clean. Stay inside during the rare sandstorms.

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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?

Hot and dry four months out of the year, and during the rest of the year you will experience moderate seasons (fall, winter and spring.)

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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 a few schools: the American Community School, International Community School (British curriculum), Kings Academy (older kids only), and a few other smaller schools.



We have two children at ACS. We were pleased with the teachers and disappointed with the administration and the efforts to resolve serious behavioral issues in the school. The biggest problem is there are several children who entered the school very young, and 5 years later they have serious undiagnosed behavioral or learning differences which have been ignored or not properly addressed. Even though these issues were brought to the Administration's attention early (and for several years previously), the teachers were not given extra support, and the children's needs were not met. The disruptions in the classroom create a very difficult environment for the remaining kids. Both my kids' classrooms were like those in low-income Urban schools in the U.S.



Additionally, the school purports to support mild special needs however there is one learning support expert for the entire elementary school. As noted above, there are numerous kids who need support and the coordinator is overwhelmed and unable to meet the needs. The Administration has stated they will only accept kids to the learning support program who are more than 1 1/2 years behind their current grade. So, for example a child who has received early intervention and is at grade due to the intervention no longer qualifies for support-even if they have a known learning difference that requires continued support.

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

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

After-school activities are available at the school. There are also a number of other activities available on the local economy.

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Expat Life:

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

There is a big expat community and moral is pretty good. The Embassy is a very fast-paced mission, and some folks complain about the pace and burnout. The Embassy pool was lost to new building construction, and I am not sure what is planned for replacing that area --which was a great place to meet friends, have pizza and a beer, and let the kids play.

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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?

The schools are always great for meeting other parents. There are walking, hiking, and cycling groups and other activities going on around town.

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

It appears to be good for families and couples, but much harder for single women, due to social norms and prevailing male attitudes toward women.

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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?

Yes.

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

The history is unique and special. It is an easy country to travel in, and there are lots of things to see.

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

All the obvious ones: Petra, Wadi Rum, Dana Bioreserve, the crusader castles, Ajloun Forest, Jerash, etc. Also, this is a great stepping-off place for travels in Israel and Egypt. We did a trip to Sharm El Sheik for 10 days, and it was a steal!

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

The furniture here is gorgeous. Also, the mosaics in Madaba are beautiful.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

There are very few places for your children to play outside. We miss parks and walking areas. The main school is below international standards, and the administration is unable or unwilling to address key issues.

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

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Amman, Jordan 03/27/16

Background:

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

No, our 5th

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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. transiting London, Frankfurt, or Vienna.

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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.)?

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?

The vast majority of housing is apartments. The apartments are large and pretty nice. You will feel like you are living in a white marble box. Most have two living spaces (traditionally one for men and one for women). You will need to request a ground floor if it is something you want. Lower your ground floor expectations. Regardless they are small and have limited grass. The housing isn't the best we've ever had but it isn't bad. Most places are super close to the Embassy and have neighborhood pharmacies and markets.

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

EXPENSIVE. You will use your entire COLA and then some. US$10 box of cereal. US$4 for a liter of milk. Order what you can online. The local stores have everything, you will just pay through the nose. Meat Masters is the local butcher and it carries Australian and NZ grass fed beef. They are super helpful and friendly. The co op is well stocked but expensive.

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

Wrapping paper (it's near impossible to find), scotch tape, birthday gifts for kid parties. Art or craft supplies.

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

Everything from McDonald's to Popyes to Pizza Hut. ifood.jo does delivery which is awesome. However, the local food is amazing. ifood.jo delivers everything!

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

Ants that seem to come out when it rains.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch. Takes 1-2 weeks.

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

Readily available. If you are coming from Europe you will think help is cheap. If you are coming from Asia or Africa you will think it's expensive. Full time help,usually charge a flat monthly rate. Part time charges roughly 4JD/hr.

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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 several embassy spouses who do yoga or Pilates out of their homes.

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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?

We have never had a problem

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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?

In Abdoun, where the embassy is, not much. Once you leave the neighborhood you will need some.

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

Yes. There are some sidewalks but they stop suddenly or have landscaping plopped in the middle.

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Transportation:

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

Cabs are fine but you need some Arabic.

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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 goes. people have sedans, suv's, and minivans. There are really good and reliable mechanics that even do door to door service.

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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. We pay about US$60 a 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?

No quarantine.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Professional.

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Health & Safety:

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

Um, yeah. Jordan likes to say it is an oasis of calm in a bad neighborhood. It's true to a point. I've never been concerned about petty crime. There is, however, a constant threat of terrorism and it's real. Syria is a stones throw away. I've been amazed by the number of people who are shocked or uninformed about the security situation when they arrive. Do your research before you come.

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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?

Allergies. Worrying about being injured in a car accident due to crazy drivers. Good medical care locally. We've been pleased. Doctors take their time with you and call for follow up later.

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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?

Not great at times , surprisingly. There is a large concrete factory nearby and you will see clouds of dust and funk rolling in. The olive trees, while cool, make for terrible allergies. I know of many people who had to go on allergy meds upon arrival. The apartment buildings are made of concrete and absorb moisture like a sponge which leads to mold in homes. My kids developed persistent coughs here that seem to disappear when we go away.

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

You may develop allergies due to olive trees.

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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?

Beautiful weather. Most days are blue skies and zero humidity. Spring and fall are fabulous because you get some rain and nice breezes. Winter gets some snow but not too much. Summer is hot but dry. A wonderful change from hot and sticky D.C. Bring an umbrella, rain boots, and a winter coat.

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Schools & Children:

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

Most people send their kids to ACS and some send theirs to ICS and King's Academy.
People are split on ACS. My take is the teachers are great. We have been very happy with that side of things. The administration? Awful. That is actually the general consensus. They are remote, obtuse, out of touch, and a disappointment. The school is closed over 36 days a year for holidays and "development days". The administration seems more focused on the facilities aspect of the school than education. The library was turned into a "learning center" which just translates into computers and study pods. They left some books but I was underwhelmed. I hear that bullying is a huge problem but I can't speak to that first hand. My advice? Research all the options before choosing a school.

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

ACS- none from what I have heard. They do have an amazing speech/language therapist but I'm not sure if they are replacing her when she leaves. ACS doesn't have gifted programs either. I asked about that but the Superintendent said they treat all kids like they are gifted. Totally false.

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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 tons of great preschools. I hear wonderful things about them all. The CLO has a complete list.

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

I've heard of kids doing baseball and soccer.

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Expat Life:

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

Massive and growing. Morale is ok. Again, for many it's a sprinting marathon and it impacts morale.

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

I'd say best for couples. Hard for singles. Families? Maybe good 5 years ago. Before we came we heard what a great family list it was. I think times have changed. There is a massive construction project going on now that took away the pool and club which were central to embassy life. The playground was replaced, which is great. However, there is no longer space to ride bikes which is tough since Amman is not/not pedestrian friendly. There should be a small temporary pool soon but everything is in flux now. The embassy is busting at the seams and is just huge now. Adding to that is the work pace. It's just brutal and not family friendly. It's a war zone pace at a family post. Kind of a sprinting marathon. Be prepared.

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

Nope.

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

Being able to visit Petra, float in the Dead Sea, see amazing ruins. Petra exceeds all expectations. It's just amazing. Bobbing in the a Dead Sea is a once in a lifetime experience. Jerash is definitely worth repeat visits. It's so well preserved it is as if it has been dipped in amber. Egypt is a quick flight away and not at all expensive. Visits to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are popular. Desert camping or "glamping" at a tented camp in Wadi Rum. Obviously travel is the highlight of Jordan.

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

Lots of nice day trips. Madaba, the Citadel, Jerash, the Scandanavian forest, downtown Amman, Aqaba, the Dead Sea, Jesus' baptism site, and of course, Petra. Eat at Hashems, Reem, Gerard ice cream, Arabic coffee, local street food, go to Rainbow Street. Wadi Rum.

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

Tea sets, daggers, tiles, mosaics, and Syrian furniture.

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

Touring, weather, and food. There are lots of great trips within Jordan and Jordan is a great launch point for regional travel. The weather is close to perfect. The food is just so good.

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8. Can you save money?

We have, but not as much as we thought we would.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That the driving would be a real stressor. That the embassy construction project would happen snack in the middle of our tour.

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

Yes but I'm glad we didn't extend. The good outweighs the bad here. The food is amazing. The travel opportunities are once in a lifetime. The weather is great. The Jordanian people are really wonderful and welcoming.

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

Dreams of saving a ton of money.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience, umbrellas, and desire to travel.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Lawrence of Arabia, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and the Martian were filmed here.

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Amman, Jordan 03/23/16

Background:

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

My 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.--fly through London or Frankfurt, or take a non-stop to JFK and connect there.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost 2 years.

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

Government job.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Good housing all close to the Embassy--typical commute time is 10-15 minutes.

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

Grocery shopping can be cheap if you stick to local veggies and only buy fruit when it's in season; otherwise, it can be very expensive. You can find anything here for a price and if you're willing to visit a couple of different stores to find/purchase it.

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

Lots of TP and paper towels (they are expensive here and TP is not like American TP), cereal (it's expensive here), almond or rice milk if you need it or like it. Like I said, you can get anything here if you're willing to pay for it (it can be expensive).

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

Lots of fast food options, delivery options, and chain restaurants--anything you want, you can get.

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

Lots of flies, but otherwise nothing major.

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Daily Life:

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

The Embassy--pouch or DPO. Shipments do not take that long--maybe a week or sometimes less. It's great!

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

Very cheap--most people have a housekeeper come once a week if not everyday.

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

Most workout at the Embassy--gyms in Amman are expensive.

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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?

ATMs are safe; credit cards are fine; however, smaller shops don't always take them.

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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?

A bit--while western Amman is very western-leaning (and most people speak English), knowing the basics has helped a lot.

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

Yes--this city is not ADA friendly.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are OK and cheap, buses are off-limits.

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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?

An SUV or 4x4--when it rains, it floods; when it snows, the entire country shuts down. Good to have wheels to get you out of your driveway and to the store when a storm hits.

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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, at about 60JD/month.

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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?

Bring an unlocked phone and just buy the SIM card from a local provider.

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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 problem bringing a pet--lots of good vets (and if you REALLY need help, go over to Tel Aviv).

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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?

Nope. You'll need to work for the Embassy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Not sure.

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

At work it's business attire--men in suits, women in pants or skirts. In public it's conservative.

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Health & Safety:

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

While we lost danger pay, we're going to be labeled a high threat post soon. Syria is only 30k 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?

The Med Unit at the Embassy is great and the hospitals are fine--lots of expat women have babies here.

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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?

Seasonal allergies can be bad, as can the sand storms.

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

Bring lots of allergy pills! Shockingly, in the spring it's pretty green here--things bloom and you suffer.

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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?

PERFECT! Winters are hit-or-miss--sometimes it snows (a lot) and other times there's nothing but rain. Great spring and falls. Summers are fine--no humidity, so it's better than DC.

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Schools & Children:

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

They seem fine from what I've heard--a couple options between the American school and the British school, or even King's Academy or the French 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?

Yes--people seem happy with the options/schools/prices.

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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?

The size of the Embassy has exploded the past 2 years--we've outgrown the Embassy. Morale is not that great right now, perhaps due to the size, what's going on in the region, and the lack of work-life balance.

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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?

People go out to dinner or the movies, hang out at the Marine House on a nice evening, or people entertain at home.

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

Good for families and couples--from what I've heard it's hard for singles.

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

No--it's illegal here.

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

Gender, yes--women here are not always respected. Race--from what I've heard, yes, it can be an issue.

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

Petra, Dead Sea, Madaba, the weather--just getting out and about!

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

Petra is only a 3-hour drive away, Dead Sea is only a 45-minute drive away, lots of good restaurants, jabal al weibdeh is a hidden 'hood with neat cafes and galleries.

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

Art, Syrian furniture, rugs.

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

Lots to do and see--lots of history, hiking, great food, and perfect weather. Cost of living is high--very expensive city.

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10. Can you save money?

Sure, if you don't go out a lot (it's an expensive city for dining and shopping).

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Words of Wisdom:

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

It gets colder in the winter than I thought! I brought winter boots and a wool coat thinking I would never use them, and I did--lots!

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

Yes--it's been great, but 2 years is enough.

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

Clubbing outfits, short skirts.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunglasses, hiking boots, camping gear.

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Amman, Jordan 11/18/15

Background:

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

Yes

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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?

California, we flew from D.C. to London and then onto Jordan. I know there is a direct flight from Jordan to Chicago.

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3. How long have you lived here?

6 months

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

Department of State- US 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?

Housing is apartments. Can range from small to 4/5 bedrooms. Nice with tile flooring. The housing here in Amman is typically really nice. We requested top floor so we live on the fourth floor. Families with young kids usually try to get a ground floor with a small yard. Both are nice. The floor is tile and post has large area rugs/carpet for living room etc. All homes come with "zombie blinds" on the window that when shut block out any light. Each apartment typically will have at least one balcony.

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

Groceries range from cheaper fruits and veggies to more expensive specialty items. Definitely a mix.

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

Coconut oil is at least double the price here. I would bring a nice supply. Toilet paper is expensive and having a Costco pack or two is really nice. Same with paper towels. Also add Costco paper plates bowls and plastic ware.

To bring:
Coconut oil (lots), TP, paper towels, paper goods, pancake mix, 220 volt bread machine (the sandwich bread here is very dry), container of Costco popcorn kernels, a plastic container of floor (you can get here but a little more expensive) syrup, favorite canned goods, spaghetti sauce, Jelly beans (to take to parties) a lot of Costco brownie mixes (to take to parties or anytime you need to bring something to share), favorite cleaning supplies, detergent, cereal. Cereal is expensive $8+ a box. We order our boxes through WalMart. Soap, shampoo and conditioner.

Gluten free: It is pretty easy eating gluten free here. Lots of veggies and fruits (in season). Kabobs and rice or potatoes. Bring gluten free noodles and a good supply of Gluten free flour.

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

Lots of local choices, also Chili's, Applebee's, Burger King, and some other fast food restaurants that I can't remember. Everything here can be delivered to your door. Even donuts.

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

No insects problem in Amman. The Dead Sea is experiencing a lot of flies because of the manure dumping practices of the chicken farms.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO, if you have to go through the Jordanian mail system, it is very slow and unreliable.

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

4-5 JD per hr. A lot of people here have part-time or full-time domestic help.

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

My husband and I like to exercise. We use the US Embassy Gym. It is adequate: four tread mills, four elliptical, 2 bikes, weights, boxing bag, a couple of machines and mats for stretching/abs. There are 2 gyms close to the Embassy. One is Fitness One. It was going to cost just me about $150 and twice that if I wanted to add my husband. The other gym is called the Orthodox Gym. It is a little cheaper but there wasn't anything there that I didn't feel like I could do at the Embassy. There are several Pilates clubs and Yoga clubs. Also other gyms farther away. We aren't going to lose the gym throughout the OBO construction.

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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?

I use credit cards at larger Grocery Stores and Restaurants. The only ATM I know about is in the U.S. Embassy that is only open to employees.

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

Christian, including Catholic, LDS, and Evangelical.

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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?

It isn't necessary to learn Arabic. I do pointing and right/left hand gestures when taking a taxi.

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

Not a lot of access. It is rare to see a sidewalk and when you do, there is a tree planted right in the middle of it with the branches taking up the whole sidewalk.

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Transportation:

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

Taxi's are cheap and plentiful. We don't ride the bus. The cost to the school is a little under $2. It is the law that the taxi's have to be metered. Make sure your taxi has one or they will try to charge triple.

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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?

Definitely bring a car that you can service here. Parts will need to be shipped from the States. We bought an older Pajero SUV when we first arrived. Toyota, Lexus, Honda are all very common here. We have a GX470 Lexus. It is the Land cruiser. Another name for it here is the Prado. They are a great choice. Others have Rav 4's or Honda Pilots. When it rains here, it floods. Not for long but that and the possibility of going off roading to see some sites makes a 4 wheel drive Vehicle nice. The driving here is a little crazy. I am always on the defensive. The bigger the vehicle, the better you can push your way into the roundabouts. We expect to be dinged up before we leave post. People do have smaller cars here but since this is my opinion, I recommend at least a small SUV +. The 2 month wait for your vehicle is tough. That is why we bought a car here from someone leaving. Not everyone is allowed two cars so plan for that. For my next post, I will be looking for a SUV to buy from someone leaving post (if possible). Taxi's are cheap and plentiful.

I should add that there isn't a concern for car jacking.

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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, and it is pretty good. Cost about $60/month.

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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?

I use Orange. The plans are cheaper than in the U.S. Try to bring an unlocked phone.

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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?

Unknown but there are vets.

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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?

Some

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are different charities and I just found out that the Home of Love is a charity for abandoned handicap children.

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

Business Dress at work, Modest for going around town. Kids can wear what they want. Teens and up should have shorts/skirts close to their knees and no tank tops.

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Health & Safety:

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

We stay vigilant but feel safe. Treat it like you are in a big city in the States but the U.S. has more crime and violence. Besides some passionate are jesters, I haven't heard of any problems.

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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 concerns, and there are hospitals and doctors available. Braces are much cheaper here. I went to a local orthodontist trained in Russia and paid $1700. Others have paid up to $3000.

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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?

Clear with a few random dust storms that fill the air with sand.

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

I had allergies when I first got here in April from the olive trees. Gluten and Dairy free eaters can find a lot to eat. Especially if they like Swarma, various rices, hummus, etc. Just can't eat the flat bread.

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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?

A lot like Northern California. Shorter winter, nice spring and fall. Summer was mid 90's F with one week over 100F degrees.

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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 a lot of private schools to chose from. Most all of the embassy Community attends ACS, ICS (British School) or Kings Academy (day and boarding school). I have four kids at ACE (in all three levels) and I toured the other two schools. We are happy at ACS. There is over 700 children from K-12. It is a top choice for the more affluent Jordanians. The teachers have been great. They require each student from 6th grade up have a laptop at school. Upper grade school up through high school goes on an extended field trip in the spring (May). High School's "Week Without Walls" lasts 7-10 days. There are 4 or 5 choices to go out of country ($2000-$3000) and students can also chose to stay in country and participate in a dig at Petra, get diving certified in Acaba or attend Flight School (these choices are about $750).

The school is building an auditorium and pool but the project is behind schedule. When it is done, it will be beautiful. The construction is off to the side behind a wall so it doesn't affect the kids. Security has been rated as one of the best inspected. There is a playground, turf field for soccer, basketball and an large indoor gym. Unfortunately no uniforms. There are after school activities for a fee and they can fill up pretty quickly. The kids can ride home on a late bus.

ICS is a nice, the newer campus is on the other side of town from ACS.

Kings is a wonderful, academically strong school. My daughter was accepted into their high school program but we decided not to pay the $10,000 + extra from the allotted education amount and the students get home around 7:00pm. It makes for a long day. Again it is a great school...

The other private schools are mostly Arab and follow different curriculum. I considered putting my kids into one of those schools so that they could learn Arabic but it has been nice to have a more balanced mix of kids. As it is, Arabic is spoken a lot at ACS between the students.

I hear there is a big home school coop here in Jordan.

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

Not a lot. My daughter has mild learning disabilities and the teachers are understanding. If a child has savvier learning disabilities, they are less helpful.

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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 there are a lot and they are affordable.

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

Soccer, baseball, basketball, horse riding,

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Expat Life:

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

Large and good.

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

The Jordanian Culture eats late. When we go out around 6:00pm getting a seat at a restaurant is usually easy. It doesn't get hoppin until around the time we leave. So restaurants, movies, outdoor shopping at Old Town City Center (that is the only place that women should be covered from elbow to ankles. It is a more traditional part of town), malls. and plain old hanging out at the embassy and having dinner. Kids- play dates, soccer practice, baseball/sports. OBO is working on a big mutli-year remodel. They are taking out the pool now but will have a little smaller pool built this spring behind the ambassadors' house. That will be open to the mission until OBO rebuilds a big pool and Club house. A lot of families go home for the summer but the kids who stay here in Jordan swim everyday.

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

Good for families and couples. I think it is a little harder for singles. The dating norms here are different than in America. Usually the girls are set up on a date through family connections.

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

No, it is highly anti-gay/lesbian. The government prohibited gatherings and specifically included that the U.S. isn't to participate either.

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

I don't know about racial, religious I would say no. There are Christian, Muslim, etc. churches available.

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

We flew to Egypt Sharm Al Shek and it was awesome plus cheap. Israel, local trips all around Jordan. I would like to fly to Turkey and Dubai.

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

Hummus, Shwarma, Fatoosh salad, and Chocolate. There are a lot of Chocolate Specialty stores.

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

Mosaics, art, Imported Rugs.

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

Lots of amazing history. There is so much history here in Jordan. From the biblical standpoint, and from the Knights and the Crusades. The Romans occupied Jordan for a time and their ruins here are the most well preserved in the whole world. Petra is amazing, Aqaba is beautiful and the Bedouin tents in Wadi Rum are not to be missed. Israel is a fun weekend trip. When you get your residency card, you will be given the local discount for all of the entrance fees. Petra will be a couple of dollars instead of 50 JD. etc.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, but budget for food, hotels and excursions. Also school has expensive trips to plan for.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I wish I had know that with the residency card we pay pennies on the dollar for entrance fees to ruins and Petra. Everything at the malls is really expensive. Bring extra makeup, shoes, clothes, socks... you can order a lot on amazon. It takes about 2 weeks to arrive. I also didn't know that our post post-office accepts packages up to 90 days before arrival. I would have sent myself some things (e.g., cereal, oatmeal, tp, sponges, sheets and blankets). The sheets are really scratchy and the blankets that we were given were thinner than Motel 6's. Be sure to send to yourself and your official sponsor can pick up on your behave.

There is a SafeWay.
The welcome kit includes a TV and DVD player.

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

Yes, definetly. My children have told me that they are happy here. They like living in Amman and we have learned so much about this region of the world. My family kept saying, "are you going to be safe." Yes, we are safe.

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

Bikes. I didn't believe it and brought ours. For sure leave the kids' bikes behind. Some adults go on bike rides around town and outside; your fear of driving aggressively.

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4. But don't forget your:

Jackets, snorkel gear, camping gear, coconut oil, popcorn (you can actually buy kernels here as well.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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Amman, Jordan 05/05/15

Background:

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

No. Milan and Taipei

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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?

Salt Lake City. It takes 24-29 hours to get home, depending on layovers. We usually fly Amman>Paris>Salt Lake. We have also flown through Frankfurt and Vienna with a layover on the east coast of the U.S.

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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.)?

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?

Most embassy families live near the Embassy. Most are in large apartments with a few in duplexes. Ground-floor apartments have small yards. Housing is decent.

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

Amman has wonderful grocery stores. Cozmo is our favorite. American products are pricy--but available. Amman also has great family-run produce stands. Meat can be pricy. Some grocery stores deliver for free.

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

I'm picky about hair supplies and makeup, so I stock up when in the U.S. Otherwise, we get pretty much everything on the local market or through the DPO from Amazon.

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

Why would you eat American fast food when you can eat fantastic Arab food? But if you have to: McDonald's, Subway, Chilis, Fridays, Burger King, Popeyes, KFC, PF Changs, Pappa Murphys, Pizza Hut. There is ok Thai and Indian. But seriously, stick with the local Arab food! Our favorite Arab restaurants are Hashems, The Great Amman and Levant. Burger Shack makes good American burgers--though way overpriced. Also, most food is available for delivery through ifood.jo.

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

We occasionally have ant problems in our kitchen. Otherwise, bugs aren't a big problem.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch are available through the embassy. There is no local mail service.

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

We have a Sri Lankan helper who comes 2x per week and we pay 20jd for 4 hours work. It's pretty reasonable. Also, be aware that if you are in an apartment, you will have a building caretaker that you will be required to pay monthly. This ranges from 30-120jd per month; but is completely negotiable between you and him.

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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?

Credit cards are widely used at grocery stores, large restaurants and malls. Use cash in produce stands and bread stores.

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

Catholic, Mormon, Protestant.

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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?

Jordanians speak surprisingly good English. You can get by with a few Arab pleasantries. But knowing Arabic will help when you leave Amman.

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

The sidewalks in Amman are terrible. When there are sidewalks, most are impassable because of large trees and bushes planted in the middle of them. Many of the sidewalks are crumbling and poorly maintained.

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Transportation:

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

Public transportation is limited to taxis. We were warned not to have females ride alone in taxis. I have ridden alone in them a few times, without any problems. Our teenage sons take them all the time, with no problems. Be warned that most taxi drivers smoke--even with no smoking stickers on their windshields. There is a limited bus service in Amman, but we are advised not to use it. Jett Bus is available and safe for trips to Petra.

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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?

Many people drive SUVs, but they're not necessary. You will see cars of all sizes on the roads--compact to full-sized pickup trucks. We drive an American mini-van which has been fine. I haven't heard of any carjackings or break-ins.

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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 with embassy plans through Zain and Orange. It can be spotty and slow and the Jordan caps the Internet. Zain is putting in fiber throughout most of West Amman. This should make Internet better.

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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?

Cell phones are super cheap here. Zain has a plan for 1jd a month through the embassy. I have an iPhone and the data plan is cheap.

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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 a few jobs at the UN, schools and NGO's.

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

Men are fine in whatever. However, women need to wear skirts and pants at least to their knees and cover their shoulders. Women can get by wearing less modest attire, but it is considered very disrespectful.

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Health & Safety:

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

Obviously, we have dicey neighbors, so terrorism is always on our minds. However, we haven't experienced any security problems. There is petty theft, but that's rare. We take normal precautions for any city.

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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?

There are decent hospitals in Amman for minor health problems. I wouldn't have anything major done here, however. Dental and orthodontia are cheap and good.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Dusty, but rarely foggy or smoggy.

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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?

Very dry. Hot summers, but not sweltering. Winters are cool, but not cold. It generally snows 1-2 times per winter, which shuts down the entire city for a few days. Most of the time the skies are bright blue and cloudless. The weather is one of the best things about Amman.

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Schools & Children:

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

We have 4 children who have attended ACS. It is an above average school, with its share of problems. There are some really good teachers--as well as some really bad teachers. Many of the local kids are disrespectful and spoiled; which can cause some problems. Having said that, there are some really good things happening there as well. They are adding on a big new section, which will be really nice once it's finished. By-and-large, we have been happy with the school. Parents who send their kids to ICS seem to like it.

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

Swimming is big. ACS has some after-school activities, but they're limited and not great.

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Expat Life:

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

The U.S. Embassy community is large, tight-knit and friendly. There are very few private sector expats in Amman. Educators that I know that work at ACS, ICS or Kings Academy are happy. Those working at any other schools in Jordan have horrible experiences and many leave within a few months.

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

It's a great post for families. I think that singles might find it a little boring, as there isn't a vibrant night-life. But there is a good community feeling through the embassy. And the CLO does a lot of fun activities--especially for families.

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

Arab food is fantastic! You will be ruined on hummus. The people are very friendly and genuine. Petra is amazing and should be on everyone's Bucket List. Also, living right next to Israel (but not in Israel) is great. We have made the border crossing 7x in 2 years.

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

Great Arab restaurants. The food here is fantastic! Petra, Wadi Rum, Jerash, Umm Qais, Madaba, Aqaba, Dead Sea. There are lots of fun hikes. Access to Israel. If you like history, this is a great place!

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

Mosaics, textiles, rugs, gold, olivewood products, Dead Sea products, Syrian furniture.

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

Food!!!! Weather, culture. This is a very interesting culture to experience. It is also historically amazing.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Arabs are extremely friendly, hospitable and genuine.

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

Absolutely! Amman has been a fabulous place to live.

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

Shorts, tanktops, bikes, rollerblades.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunglasses, sunscreen hiking shoes, good camera.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0088OINTU/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0088OINTU&linkCode=as2&tag=thesunspousunder&linkId=5J5FCVDSKU2VOIDC

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

Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life,

Married to a Bedouin,

The Source: A Novel,

and The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East.

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Amman, Jordan 03/18/15

Background:

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

Yes.

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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?

Ottawa - a 10 hour direct flight to Montreal, or about 18 hours to connect through Frankfurt or London.

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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 posting.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Low-rise apartments. Most expats live in Abdoun, Swefieh, or Deir Gabar, where most embassies are also located. Commutes are pretty short - rarely more than a 15-minute drive. I'm within walking distance but it's not pleasant or safe to walk given traffic and the lack of functional sidewalks.

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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 pretty much anything, although you'll pay through the nose for imported things (especially cereal) and availability is spotty. When I see something I like (ie natural peanut butter) I buy in bulk. Local produce is amazing and cheap, but buy it at a local veg shop, not the big chains.

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

Natural peanut butter, more tampons, cereal.

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

Every kind of American fast food, plus a lot of local shawarma/falafel joints. I don't really eat at the American chains but you can easily have a feast of hummus, falafel, etc for under 5JOD a person and it's delicious!

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

Mosquitoes are tiny and seem to be able to slip through any window screen. Occasional ants and roaches in some apartments but nothing major.

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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.

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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 but not super cheap - we pay 35JOD for two half-days. People with live-in help pay a much better per-hour rate.

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

Yes, but very expensive. Most of the embassies have at least small gyms.

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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?

Easy - I've never had a problem.

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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?

A lot of people speak at least some English but having Arabic is helpful for taxis, ordering food, and communicating with building caretakers.

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

Yes - uneven, broken, and garbage-covered sidewalks that usually have dumpsters and cars parked on them. Elevators are common but there are usually at least a few steps leading to them.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are very cheap and safe-ish, as long as you don't mind no seatbelts and smoking while driving (and talking on the cell phone). The city buses look terrifying, although the JETT bus to Petra is fine.

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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?

I drive a small hatchback with no problems but some people prefer SUVs, as drivers are pretty aggressive and tend to follow a "might has right" approach. 4x4 is needed if you want to do any off-roading. Diplomats aren't allowed to import motorcycles, unfortunately.

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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, for about 50JOD a month. For some reason I can stream hi-def Netflix no problem but web pages often don't load.

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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?

After a year of frustration with a post-paid plan with Orange (who kept cutting off our service because they'd change the plan and not tell us), I gave up and bought a prepaid Zain sim card. Prepaid seems to be a lot easier to manage yourself and Zain has much better coverage outside of Amman.

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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 need for quarantine. Good vets and at least one good kennel available, although diagnostic and treatment capabilities are pretty limited. People are pretty scared of dogs here, and there are a lot of stray cats.

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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?

Not really, unless you are in the aid/development field. Arabic would be essential.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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

About the same as North America, although women are restricted in terms of how much skin can be showing (regardless of how hot it is). Anything above the knees is pretty risque, and shoulders (at minimum) need to be covered. I always keep a scarf in my bag.

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Health & Safety:

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

Petty crime has increased during our time here, and women tend to face a fair amount of street harassment - cat-calling, aggressive staring, following, flashing, and gropings are sadly quite common. There have been threats on malls and western interests (particularly since Jordan joined the anti-ISIS coalition) but so far nothing has occurred.

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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?

I've gotten several stomach bugs and parasites from the water here. Medical care is decent but they tend to over-medicate (I've had antibiotics prescribed to me for viruses, which I can't seem to explain to my doctor doesn't make any sense).

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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?

Pollution from vehicles is pretty bad, and it's extremely dry and dusty.

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

My husband suffers from seasonal allergies back home but hasn't had any problems here, presumably because there's a lot less pollen. I imagine asthma would be bad here because of the dust.

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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?

Summer gets hot - mid-30s (C) - but because it's so dry the evenings are gorgeous no matter how scorching the day is. Fall and spring are brief but perfect - mid-20s and sunny. Winter (December-February) hovers around 0-10C and we've received at least one big snow storm every year. It will also rain more during the winter, which makes driving difficult.

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Schools & Children:

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

No personal experience but people seem pretty happy with ACS and the Lycee.

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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 think so.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge - the U.S. embassy has something like 300 families here and most other countries have a fair sized presence. Morale varies - as mentioned above, singles and people without kids can get bored. I find that I need to leave the country every 6-8 weeks or I start getting twitchy. Luckily Tel Aviv is an easy 4-hour drive!

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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?

It's patio weather at least 8 months of the year, so eating al fresco is always nice (either at home or at a restaurant, as long as you're okay with heavy shisha smoke).

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

Families seem to enjoy it here because it's a big diplomatic spot so there are lots of other families and some of the embassies have pools/clubs. For child-free couples and singles it's a bit boring as there's not a lot of night-life. Single men do a lot better on the local dating scene than single women, although the cultural differences can create a fair bit of drama.

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

In theory you could get away with more PDAs than a mixed-sex couple, but I couldn't imagine having to keep such an important part of my life "under cover." Homosexuality is technically legal in Jordan but heavily frowned upon.

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

Yes, yes, and yes. visible minority expats experience prejudice - if you're of Asian decent, expect to be mistaken for a housekeeper quite a bit. If you're Christian or Muslim that's fine; don't out yourself as Atheist, Jewish, or anything else. In terms of gender, as a woman I'm at best treated with paternalistic condescension.

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

Visiting Petra, driving across the border to Israel, and competing in the Dead 2 Red relay run.

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

Downtown Amman is worth a wander, and there are a growing number of independent cafes and restaurants, particularly in Jebal al-Webdieh, Rainbow Street, and Abdoun. Cooking at Beit Sitti is a fun evening. For the most part, though, the best thing to do on a weekend is to get out of the city - go up to Ajloun or Jerash, trail running in Wadi Shitteh, go for a hike, or zone out at the Dead Sea.

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

Textiles, pottery, spices, dead sea products.

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

The weather is fantastic 10 months of the year - Jordan receives 3600 hours of sunshine a year. There are also great tourism opportunities and because the country is so small, you can do pretty much anything on a regular weekend trip.

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10. Can you save money?

Not really.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Touring Jordan and living in Jordan are very different. The country has some amazing things to see but living in Amman can get pretty boring. There's also a veneer of things working like they do in North America - 3G service, high-end malls, flashy buildings - but beneath the external layer things have a tendency to break, leak, and in general not function properly, to which the predominant local attitude is a shrug. Keep your expectations low and learn to make your own fun.

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

To visit, definitely. to live, no way.

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

Short-shorts, bicycle, club gear, expectation that things will work the way they're supposed to.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunglasses, sunscreen, patience, adventurous attitude, and moisturizer!

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Amman, Jordan 07/24/14

Background:

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

Not a first post. With FS, we've lived in Manila, Lome', and Chennai before here. As a military brat I lived in Brussels, Kinshasa, Algiers, and Niamey.

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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?

We don't have a home base (no home ownership) but typically end up in Virginia. Flights from Amman can go either direct to Chicago or NY or typically transit Vienna, Frankfurt, or London to go to DC.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We've been here for 2 years and have another 2 years to go. We extended to avoid a PCS between 11th and 12th grades for one of our kids.

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

Department of State Foreign Service - 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?

All homes are within 5km/10-minute drive of the Embassy (which totally beats the 1 1/2 hours my husband used to drive in the DC area). Most residences are apartments, all will have various degrees of issues with dust, construction noise, water issues, neighbor noise, traffic. Please adjust your expectations accordingly. People seem to ignore the fact that they are moving to a water-poor (therefore not used to and not built for the sporadic but expected rain deluge) desert, Muslim country in the Middle East, and think they are special/important with regards to wishes for ground floor residences with lots of green space for their dogs, away from dust and construction and the Call to Prayer, and walking distance to work, shops, restaurants, school, etc. This sort of request is much like asking in all seriosness for a pet unicorn.

Yes, I sit on the Housing Board.

Homes have water delivered (city for normal use, GSO for emergency delivery), propane (FAC) and diesel (GSO) delivered, electronic security systems installed, full shutter protection on windows (for the zombie apocalypse). Many homes have radiators and/or sub-floor heating for winter, though a/c can double as heating units as well.

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

Costs -look like- what you'd pay in the U.S. or are higher, therefore with the conversion (70fils=$1, 100 fils=1JD) you end up paying quite a bit more.

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

Whatever you forget, Amazon will provide. Or drugstore.com. Or any other website. DPO even allows liquids in limited quantities, so there's no need to hoard. We order in paper towels, toilet paper, and napkins, for quality/quantity sake.

We have an IKEA. IKEA, BABY!

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

Pretty much everything. Of course some favorites are missing (Chik-Fil-A anyone?) but Abdoun has Chili's, PF Changs, Buffalo Wings & Rings, a lot of fast food,and of course every form of Arabic food you could want. We have Caribou Coffee, Starbucks (one is even drive-through), Costa, and tons of Arabic coffee shops/cafes. Prices look like American prices (3JD for a Starbucks coffee) but 70fils=US$1 so the prices are about a third more once you convert.

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

During the rainy season (winter-ish), the ants can get pretty heavy in the homes. Mosquitos can increase in the summer time. Not much else.

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Daily Life:

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

At the Embassy we have DPO and DPM. DPO is the primary personal mail service for both receiving and sending mail, packages included. We fill out customs forms for packages mailed. Please warn family members in the U.S. that they will have to fill out a customs declaration sheet for every package mailed as well. Amman also has DHL and Aramex for international packages.

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

Readily available, though Jordan has a sponsorship program that costs serious JD for foreign born domestic help. Many people hire part-time helpers that are sponsored by other families. Please follow all labor laws when hiring help. For part-time help, it's not uncommon to hear 4JD/hour.

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

Yes. The gym at the Embassy is free but gets busy at the high times (before 9, at lunch, after 4). There are several gyms around for membership. I don't know the prices as I'm not a member at any of them, though I've heard they are considered expensive. The Embassy gym has a trainer that comes in for fitness/boxing/kick-boxing but his schedule is a little unreliable.

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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?

There's an ATM in the Embassy and a number of them around the Embassy. We've used them fine, including the ones at the Taj Mall. Primarily, Amman is a cash society so aside from the malls and restaurants in Abdoun, or the tourist destinations, you won't use your CC too much. OK, also Amazon.com.

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

Each available Christian faith offers English language services. Jewish services are not available.

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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?

In Abdoun and the tourist spots, very little. In the rest of Jordan, you need to know some Arabic. MSA is different than the local dialect, so be aware that even if you think you're speaking Arabic, locals may not understand.

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

Yes. When sidewalks are present, they are uneven and planted with trees, with curbs that are often a foot high with no ramp access to the street. When I say uneven, I mean that it's common for each home/storefront to have designed their own sidewalk space with no discussion with the neighbors, so they don't match, much less meet evenly. Elevators in building, from apartment buildings to medical buildings are often designed for 3-4 normal-sized people.

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Transportation:

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

Yellow taxis are a common form of transportation. There are no trains, and city buses are prohibited by RSO, though the JETT (Jordan Express Tourist Transport) bus to the tourist destinations are allowed. Typically, between work and home shouldn't cost more than 1JD.

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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?

You can bring pretty much anything. I wouldn't bring an expensive or brand new car just because of the inevitable dings and scratches you will get. Sand/dust is hard on coats of paint. It also means your car will often be quite dirty (we don't wash our car but a couple times a year, it helps to keep track of finger prints or activity on the car that perhaps shouldn't be there). Fender benders happen. For up-to-date restrictions on the age of the car, please check with Shipping.

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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 quality depends on where you live and the kind of service you have. With all the hills, valleys, and concrete walls though, typically bandwidth is far far below what is promised. And for what you get, the cost is high.

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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?

Everyone has one, get one. Or two (a lot of people carry a work phone and a personal phone). The phone companies are OK as far as cell service but terrible across the board for customer service. Actually, you'll find that customer service in any industry here is pretty abysmal. Accept that and your life gets much better very quickly.

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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 quarantine. Basic paperwork is required to bring in a pet to Jordan, namely the certificate of health and rabies certificate. More complicated are the requirements to transit Europe and the restrictions on transporting pets via various airlines. Vets are available as well as a couple kennels. Best to talk to people at Post about who they use. We also ship in our cat food and cat litter.

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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. Please check with the Global Employment Advisor (GEA/GEI) and the Local Expatriate Spouse Association (LESA). The U.S. has a de facto work agreement with Jordan, so each position is determined individually. Many members run home-based businesses, after COM approval.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

If you're with the Embassy, the refugee camps are not an option without RSO approval. Seriously, don't go unless you have permission to go from the right people. Otherwise, there are events and opportunities open to serve orphans and get involved in various charities.

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

At work: business. Outside: typically business casual. Jordan is a conservative Muslim country so women are expected to dress accordingly... sleeved tops, no shorts, etc.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, but not typically within Amman itself. Periodically areas within Jordan flare up, and of course Jordan borders a number of difficult places - Israel/Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. At the moment, we are truly the eye of the storm. As such, people seem to arrive at Post and forget that security is an issue and that the 15% danger pay is in place for a reason. Last August we were very close to authorized departure, at the same time this August we are welcoming 34 new direct hires/families, including 46 children. Life in Amman can be very comfortable but it can also turn on a dime.

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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?

Amman is a medical tourism destination. Doctors of all sorts are found here and the quality is decent. Some medical issues still require medevac, and though MED prefers all women medevac for pregnancy delivery, many women give birth here.

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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?

Depends on the time of year. We have a few heavy dust seasons but for the most part expect moderate dust on and in everything.

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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?

Awesome weather 10 months of the year (one month typically pretty cold with snow, another month typically pretty hot around August). This summer, the weather has been particularly mild.

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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 3 schools primarily used by Embassy families. The American Community School (U.S. AP program) has about 150 of our children, the International Community School (British curriculum, not IB) has a handful, and King's Academy (high school only, boarding, AP) has fluctuating numbers each year. This year there were 2 students, next year we anticipate 4-5 students. There are other options as well, Whitman Academy (religious based) and a thriving homeschool group (both Embassy and non-Embassy kids).

Our children attend ACS in both high school and middle school. The academics are good, the grounds are limited due to location though there is a construction progect currently on building a gymnasiuam/natatorium as well as an underground auditorium. It's slated to finish Fall 2015. The biggest challenge with the school (currently at around 750 students, PreK to 12) are the cliques and the divisiveness between the expat kids and the local kids. Bullying is a problem, don't believe anyone who says it isn't.

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

There is a school here for special needs, called Al-Masar, for mild needs to severe needs. Therapies are also offered after school or on appointment basis. ICS has a fairly well-developed program for mild-moderate needs, though, if one student is accepted, they expect all students in the family to attend ICS. ACS does not have a special needs program.

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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 seems to be a preschool around every corner. Nannies are also hired by families. Our kids are not preschool age, so I don't know that much about then other than the ones people find and use seem to be well-regarded. There is a thriving preschool playgroup (Embassy and non-Embassy families) for easy contacts and info sharing.

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

Yes, but you have to hunt for them. Horseback riding is available (ask around, several people go to Saifi Stables off Airport Road), basketball (ask around), soccer (ask around), tennis (available on the Embassy compound), baseball (Amman Little League). Because Jordan is relatively land-locked there is a minimal swim culture. You'll find that girls who are into sports often end up in local clubs with all boys. ACS offers after-school sports for middle school and JV and Varsity for high school. These are not the same level of competition you're used to at other schools or in the U.S.

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Expat Life:

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

The U.S. Embassy community is roughly 800. Morale is generally high with pockets of those who are not happy at post.

The refugee population is about 1 million.

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

Yes, yes, yes. Security issues aside, there is something for everyone here. Having said that, Jordan is not a big country and you can see/do everything you'd want to at least once within a year. People who aren't into outdoorsy stuff can get bored over time. How many times can you go to Petra? (Four at last count.) How many times can you go to Jerash? (Four at last count). How many times can you go to the Dead Sea? (Three at last count). You get the idea. We've only gone to Aqaba once so far because a) it's 4 hours away and b) the quickest way to get there is along the Desert Highway which is currently prohibited through a particular town which means a roundabout way that adds a couple hours. Singles tend to stick together and create their own fun with trips to Wadi Mujib or Wadi Rum or the Dead Sea. There are several organizations that arrange weekly hikes and trips all around the country (Tropical Desert and Experience Jordan are only two of them).

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

Um. It's a relatively moderate (compared to the neighbors) Islamic country, but no, not really.

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

Yes. Yes. And Yes.

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

Mosaics from Madaba. Dead Sea mud products. Paintings from Jerash. In-laid Syrian furniture that makes it to Amman.

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

Great history in Jerash and other ruins, the Dead Sea, Petra, Um Qais, desert castles (Kerak and others).

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7. Can you save money?

Depends on how you live.

It's expensive to visit Israel. The grocery store can pack a wallop (we're a family of 6). If you travel to Europe you'll spend to your last dime. Staying at the resorts is expensive. Housekeepers/nannies aren't free.

But if you like to adventure out, take day trips, eat local, walk/bike, follow a guide-book... you'll do just fine.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That it's a LOT easier to live in than I expected. There's a lot more green in Amman (during certain times of the year) than I thought. That Jordan really is amazing, especially Petra but well beyond Petra as well.

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

Ab. So. Lutely.

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

Skis? I'm not sure actually. Jordan has a little bit of everything - snow, rain, desert, heat, history, modernity, easy travel in-country, proximity to Europe, grocery stores, recently released movies... did I mention IKEA?

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4. But don't forget your:

Camping gear (if you like that sort of thing).

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Lawrence of Arabia?

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

Read the guide books. Then put them aside and venture out.

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Amman, Jordan 03/31/14

Background:

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

No, we have lived in Iraq and Tunisia previously.

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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?

We travel to the West coast mostly, and with connections the travel time is about 18-20 hours. From Washington DC it is closer to 14 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost 2 years.

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

My husband works for the U.S. Embassy here.

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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 housing provided by the U.S. Embassy is largely apartments and all are in Abdun and Sweifiah. The apartments are pretty spacious and vary in size between 3-5 bedrooms. Some have gardens or patios while others are on higher floors and sometimes have roof-top terraces. Almost all have a living room/dining room and a separate family room. The commutes here are great -- the embassy leased housing is all within 5 minutes to 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?

It depends on what you buy. If you buy local fruits/veggies/meats, it can be pretty cheap. They import everything, so you can find anything, you just have to pay for it. For instance, Pillsbury or gold medal flour in the grocery store could be US$10-15 a bag, but right next to it you'll see flour from Oman for US$2-5 per bag. It's really all about shopping and brand names -- if you want Ocean Spray, you can have it, but it'll cost you more.

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

I've really been able to find most everything we need here or order it through the DPO. Although, humidifiers come in REALLY handy for the dry times.

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

They have everything in Jordan except great chefs. Every chain restaurant you can imagine is here, as well as stores. The prices tend to be higher than the U.S. though not exorbitant for food. The best restaurants are Middle Eastern places like Sufra, Fakhr al-Din, and Levant, though there are also some good Asian places like Yoshi, Umami, and Vinagarette, though they really don't have a chef culture or inventive food choices.

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

There can be ants particularly for ground floor/garden apartments but no major bug issues. At the Dead Sea there can be flies at certain times of the year.

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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 the Embassy DPO but locals use the post office downtown.

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

Very available and it ranges from 400-700 JD per month for full time help depending on how experienced the person is, etc. I'm sure Jordanians probably pay less, but that seems to be the average range for expats. Overtime or hourly tends to be around 3JD.

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

There are and the costs are very similar to cities in the U.S.

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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?

While credit cards are becoming more accepted, it is a cash based culture. We use ATMs affiliated with banks here without any problems. More and more vendors are also offering to charge your credit card in US$ or JD, so that's nice for people who want the option.

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

There are a few. I know there are several Catholic churches, AIC is the main international English speaking church; also, there is an Anglican church and something called Oasis. Most meet on Saturday evenings.

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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?

Not much, Jordanians love to speak English though it comes in handy with cab drivers, working people, and outside of Amman.

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

Yes, though amazingly people seem to do it. There are no real continuous sidewalks, and they all are about 8 inches from the road, so treacherous for the disabled. I think you'd just have to go everywhere in a vehicle if you were disabled.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe and affordable IF they use the meter. Just make sure it's running before you go anywhere and get out if they tell you it's broken. I would not take the buses -- they are very crowded, and I don't even know if they have trains.

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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 SUVs are preferable. Amman is a VERY hilly city, and Jordanians are terrible drivers, so it's nice to be in something bigger. Parking makes it so you want a smaller car, though it's not impossible to find a place for a larger SUV either. I think you can't import a car older than 5 years, or with tinted windows, though there are enough of them on the road here!

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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, though "high-speed" is a relative term. It's around 16 JD per month.

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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 are several companies, though Zain and Umniyah tend to be the most popular

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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?

It is varied. There are opportunities but they don't all pay well so it really depends on your expectations. But I do know a lot of people who work in AID/NGO type work. There are also a lot of teaching jobs, etc.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Several, depending on what you're interested in. There are organizations focused on the refugee population, migrant workers, Jordanian poverty, etc. Embassies and international groups and churches are great ways to find out about places to volunteer if you have an interest.

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

Fairly conservative, though in Abdoun you see quite a range. As a woman, I wouldn't wear shorts and a tank top, but jeans and t-shirts are common. For work I tend to wear more professional attire.

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Health & Safety:

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

Jordan is very safe and relatively crime-free. There have been more instances of petty theft with the growing population of largely poorer people. There is also frequent tension in the air because of regional instability but Jordan itself remains pretty stable - knock on wood!

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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?

Air/allergies affect people the most. That said, Jordan has pretty good medical care and a lot of people come here for medical care from other countries. I know several people who have had babies here and thought it was great -- we also see a dentist here and a pediatrician who are great.

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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?

There is a lot of dust in the air and several people we know have developed allergies to either olive tree pollen or dust. The air can definitely feel heavy and dirty even though there is enough wind that blows through. The really bad days usually don't last too long. With the ever booming refugee populations in Jordan as well as the very high cost of living in Amman, there are also more people burning trash during the cold months so that has contributed to poor air quality on particularly cold days.

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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 climate is very moderate. It rains November - February, and while the country is largely brown without a trace of green for most of the year, it is amazingly green from about February to April. Jordan is the fourth most water poor country in the world so "dry" is very much the definition of the climate around 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?

There are several schools -- most of the embassy families have their children at the American school although a handful enroll their children at the British international school. The Canadians have recently opened a school, though I think the grade level is only through middle school. There are a few other religious schools as well. Our children are young so we have had our son in preschool. The main preschool choices among the embassy community seem to be Eco Kids and Hill House. We have been very happy with Hill House, which provides curriculum in English and Arabic.

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

I am not well informed on this, though I do know a few parents with special-needs kids who love the British international school and comment on how well their children are doing there, so I assume that school is more equipped with programs for special needs children.

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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. Both Hill House and Eco Kids offer programs for 2-year olds until Kindergarden and the enrollment is around US$4-5,000 per year. The programs typically run from 8am-1pm. There are many other daycares all over, though I don't have any experience with them.

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

Yes, though largely offered through the schools.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge, and I'd say pretty good. Lots of families with small kids end up in Jordan, so if that's you, there is a big community here.

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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?

For the US embassy personnel, a lot revolves around the Embassy and other people's houses. There are a lot of restaurants in town, movies, occasional concerts, and documentaries.

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

This is a great city for families, as Jordanians love children and families can find a lot of activities here. The major downside is a lack of outdoor parks/play space. Most families take their children to indoor play areas, or museums, etc., because of the lack of parks. I think singles and couples do fine here, though Amman feels like a small town and it doesn't take too long before you've sort of done it all. It is probably the most ideal place for people with small children.

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

It's probably not a bad city as Arab/Muslim countries go, but in general the Middle East isn't really a warmly welcoming place for gays and lesbians.

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

Jordanians are 60% Palestinian, and with Israel so close, there are a lot of strong feelings about the Israel/Palestine issue here, and you're very likely to run into people who have family who lost their homes or land and were forced to come to Jordan as refugees in 1948 or 1967, so if you're Jewish, I'd probably not say so until you got to know someone pretty well. I've also never seen a synagogue here, so I'm guessing there isn't much public support at least for the Jewish community here. There are a lot of negative feelings lately about all the refugees from Iraq and Syria, particularly as the cost of living is going up and poverty is on the rise. In general, I think women do fine in Jordan, but it is a very male-dominated culture, so something to be cognizant of at least.

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

We have visited Petra, Wadi Rum, Jerusalem. There is a lot of culture in the area though not always well maintained. The Jordanians are not great at marketing what they have but there are some real gems in the country once you become settled here.

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

Petra, Wadi Rum, Dana Nature Reserve, Umm Qais, Jerash.

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

Dead sea salts/muds/soaps, pottery, mosaics, art work.

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

The weather is great, especially for a Middle East destination. The days are pretty warm but because it is a dry climate the evenings are very comfortable and you can have your windows open most of the year. It snowed our first year for one day and melted quickly; but this year we had a week of snow that pretty much shut down the country. In general, seasons exist, but the weather is fairly temperate. You can drive all over Jordan and there are more things to go see than we first realized. You can also drive to Israel which is fairly easy.

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10. Can you save money?

It's possible, but hard. Things are really expensive here so you just have to order via amazon if that's an option for you or try to buy local products and steer clear of the malls.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Hmmm...¦ i'm not sure anything -- it's been fun to discover things as we go.

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

Yes, we've enjoyed Jordan and it actually became more fun the second year we were here.

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

Stroller and frisbee.

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4. But don't forget your:

Humidifier and sense of adventure.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Body of Lies,
Lawrence of Arabia (Restored Version) [Blu-ray],
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Special Edition)



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Amman, Jordan 12/10/13

Background:

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

I've also lived in Dhaka, Geneva, and Singapore.

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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?

An easy way to get here is to fly direct from Chicago. People also transit via Vienna.

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3. How long have you lived here?

4 months. I still feel new.

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

I work for the 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?

Most people live in apartments in small apartment buildings scattered throughout Abdoun and Dier Ghabar, about 10 minutes drive or less from the Embassy. People either walk, take a taxi, or drive to work.

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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 what you need here for a little more than in the States. You'll want to bring or order paper products (like in many places). Produce is mostly cheaper, depending on what you buy, but the quality really varies. Imported items cost quite a bit more, but sometimes you don't mind paying more when you really want something. There were turkeys in the grocery stores at Thanksgiving, and what you can't find locally you can get find at the Embassy co-op or order from Amazon for the most part.

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

Kids' clothes, winter clothes, more paper products, more formal work clothes.

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

They have all your favorite American fast food restaurants in the malls here, for about the same price as in the States. Decent restaurants charge quite a bit, like US$40 for lunch for two. We don't go out to eat much. There's a drive-thru Starbucks near the Embassy. When I used it the other day, I rolled down my window and my youngest asked why it smelled outside. It's not perfect here, but things are modernizing. There's a Chili's with a play area that we like. We also like to get falafel sandwiches and hummus takeoutlocally, which is very affordable (like US$1.00/sandwich).

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

I haven't seen any.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.

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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 more expensive than I expected. Filipinas mostly live out and charge US$600-700/month for 40 hours/week. The other most common nationality is Sri Lankan. If you are an American hiring a domestic, you tend to pay more. There are currently complications with bringing in domestics, so be sure you have all the proper paperwork in order if you plan to do so.

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

Yes but not sure how much they cost. The Embassy has a small gym. There's a fitness first down the street, and some people join the Orthodox club. I see flyers for all sorts of things like yoga, zumba, belly dancing, etc.

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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?

I use them all the time. Most gas stations are cash-only, but a few take credit cards. I use my credit cards at the grocery stores or malls.

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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?

English is common in the area where we live, but knowing some Arabic helps a lot.

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

We have a family member with physical disabilities, and we do just fine in the parking garages, supermarkets and malls. It really isn't the kind of place where you want to take long walks down the street, so it doesn't bother us that the sidewalks are uneven and full of obstacles. Our apartment is one-level, and we are fortunate enough to have an accessible patio area and elevator to the parking garage. Our habits are to stay home quite a bit, and living with disabilties day to day, I suppose we've grown accustomed to figuring out solutions for getting around with a wheelchair, much like someone with a baby gets around with a stroller. In some places it doesn't work out too well; in other places you're just fine. It's not perfect but not terrible, either.

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Transportation:

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

I use taxis to commute, and they are affordable. I pay about US$3.00/day on taxis, round trip.

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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?

We have a 4x4 but we could get by just fine in town with a sedan. Not sure about outside of the city.

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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?

High speed internet is about US$700 for the year, and we had to pay up front. It is fast enough to stream videos from the U.S. When combined with a VPN, you can use Apple TV and Netflix.

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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?

If you bring an unlocked phone, you can easily buy pre-paid sim cards. There are also phone plans like you would find in the states. I also like to use the free-talk app and majic jack for calling the U.S. and having a U.S. phone number.

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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?

Most who want to work do so at the Embassy. Local wages are much lower.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots.

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

Dress code at work is like in Washington. In public, American women will need to dress slightly more conservatively than they would in the States. Keep a lightweight jacket or sweater handy for when you feel the need to cover up.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes indeed. The situation in Syria has caused an influx of refugees, which average Jordanians aren't thrilled about, creating an undercurrent of tension. There's an uneasiness about what might happen if the civil war in Syria worsens or if the U.S. takes drastic action. There is also a slight threat of terrorism towards the Embassy. At the same time, people here live fairly normally. We go to modern grocery stores and malls. We can take taxis easily. We can travel within the country to tourist sites. There are modern hospitals and medical offices. Crime is low.

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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?

You need to drink filtered/boiled water. You can find most of what you need for medical care here.

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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?

It's fine. Occasionally it gets a little dusty.

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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?

Climate reminds me of southern California. Hot dry summer, but bearable; moderate fall, and cool winter. Locals here dress up in their wool coats in the winter, but I'm fine most of the time in a lightweight jacket.

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Schools & Children:

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

We use three different schools. Hill House Preschool and Kindergarten provides English and Arabic instruction and has small student-teacher ratio and a really nice shady playground. We couldn't be more pleased with it. Al-Masar is a special needs school that has both English and Arabic classrooms. They provide therapy within the school day and can even accommodate children with significant special needs. It is small and a fairly long drive from where embassy families live, but they can provide busing. It is a terrific resource if you need special education or outpatient pediatric therapy. American Community School is pretty good. They are constructing a swimming pool which will open in 2015. Some embassy families also like ICS which follows the British system. A few use Kings Academy, which is both a day and boarding high school. All will provide bus service from your doorstep.

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

In addition to Al-Masar, ICS will accept children with moderate needs, and I think ACS is at least open to talking about it. ACS has a lot of stairs, though, but also an elevator.

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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 mentioned Hill House preschool (above). Others use The Little Academy and Ecokids, and some also use ACS (which more expensive). Costs range in the neighborhood of US$6-8,000/school year for part-time.

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

Yes, some. Don't expect competitive leagues (esp. swimming) like you would find in the U.S.

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Expat Life:

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

The Embassy community is large and fairly impersonal.

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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?

Going to movies. Going to receptions at people's homes.

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

Good for families. The Embassy has a club, but the club venue will be changing in 2014 most likely. There is a huge construction project planned which will relocate the restaurant and pool. I think singles struggle here; not sure about couples. Despite the large expat community and club, I can't say that the community is close. People tend to do their own thing or only socialize with others from their own office. Speaking of the office, in some sections it tends to be a busy, workaholic atmosphere. There are many visitors here.

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

I doubt it; it's a Muslim society, albeit somewhat moderate.

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

Yes.

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

Jordanians are very kind and welcoming. Tourist sites within Jordan and Israel are within driving distance. Jordan is a kingdom that places an emphasis on peace in the region and modernization. We haven't seen too many of the tourist sites yet, but we did enjoy the Royal Automobile Museum. Families with kids like the children's museum.

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

Carved olive wood items, carpets, handmade inlay wooden boxes, dead sea minerals products, trips.

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

Weather is gorgeous, so sunny and clear so much of the time. Not too humid. It cools off in the winter and rains/snows occasionally.

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9. Can you save money?

Not sure, maybe.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I wish I would have known how busy my job would be and how expensive household help and preschool are here. I also wish I would have known about the Embassy renovation project and the changes planned for the club facilities. I wish I would have known not to expect a tight knit community (but that is OK).

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

I haven't decided yet; I'm still adjusting.

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

Umbrella.

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4. But don't forget your:

Suit for work.

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Amman, Jordan 08/03/13

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 Lima, Lagos and Athens.

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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, about 18 hours with a layover in Frankfurt.

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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.)?

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?

The housing is nice. Most embassy families/singles live in apartments which are pretty big and comfortable - all within 10 minutes of the Embassy (driving).

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

Groceries are generally expensive and selection is hit or miss. There are a number of large western-style stores which cater to expats but you still have to adjust your expectations.

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

Tires. Paper products (there are of very poor quality, so Amazon Prime is a good option).

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

Burger King, McDonald's, Chili's, and other franchises. The cost is comparable to the U.S., maybe a bit more expensive.

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

VERY large "water bugs" or flying cockroaches that come up from the plumbing, especially in the warmer months.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.

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

Relatively inexpensive. Many embassy families have Filipina domestic help, the quality can be wide-ranging.

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

There are a number of gyms. There is a small one at the Embassy. The community gyms (like Fitness First) are expensive and seem to be hot spots for looking for a husband or wife as people are very dressed to impress instead of working out.

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

Credit card use is possible, but there can be complications, especially with Mastercard. ATMs are available but not always in the places you need them, and fees are high.

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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?

None, you can get by with English. But knowing some Arabic will go a long way in opening doors.

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

The physical infrastructure is not at all accommodating to those with physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

Some taxis are fine but there are cultural rules for women to follow for safety. Make sure to agree on price ahead of time and know landmarks for where you want to go since addresses are not used.

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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?

Driving in Jordan can be an experience and fender benders or scrapes are common since basic driving courtesies are not the norm. Almost any vehicle is ok, with SUVs being good if you plan to do a lot of distance driving or desert driving. The difficult part may be getting parts for some makes. Tires are very expensive.

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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 not great quality. It can range from US$30-70/month.

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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?

Not really.

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

Modest for women. Business casual in the Embassy.

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Health & Safety:

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

Women need to be aware of their surroundings and the culture, it is a very chauvinistic country. There are regular warnings of specific highways and roads which need to be avoided because of protests and sectarian violence.

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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 pretty good.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Very good, except for the occasional sandstorm.

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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 pretty mild, except a little too hot during the summer. Winter is not bad but some are surprised it snows - a little.

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Schools & Children:

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

Limited information. People seem to be ok with the American Community School, describing it as satisfactory but not great.

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

This is not a place with many resources for special needs kids. There are some but from what I hear parents are not very happy with what is available.

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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?

Some.

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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.

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2. Morale among expats:

Variable moral. People like living here overall but are usually very happy to leave when the time comes. Some people are very unhappy.

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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?

Not much to do except go to restaurants or malls or home gatherings.

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

It is a good city for families but not much to do for singles or couples.

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

No. Same-sex relationships are illegal so it is mostly underground.

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

Yes, yes and yes.

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

Getting to Petra and Wadi Rum.

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

The Dead Sea, Jerash, the desert castles, Madaba, trips to Israel.

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

Jordan has some nice tourism sites like Petra, Jerash, Wadi Rum, Aqaba and the Dead Sea. The weather is nice, a bit too hot in the summer.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't intend to travel to much.

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Lawrence of Arabia.

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Amman, Jordan 07/30/13

Background:

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

This is my second overseas tour.

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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 requires a stopover, usually in Europe.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2.5 years.

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

U.S. Embassy family.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Low rise apartments within 5km of work. They are all fairly nice. Some are very close to work, some aren't. Taxi availability is hit or miss, sometimes it takes 1 minute of waiting and other times it takes 10-40 minutes, especially during Ramadan. Some residences are set very far back in residential neighborhoods, and it will take 10-15 minutes of walking uphill just to get to a busy street to catch a taxi.

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

Most U.S. products or the European equivalent are available.

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

Paper towels and toilet paper are overpriced here.

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

McDonald's, Burger King, Papa Johns, KFC, Popeyes, Hardees, and many others are around at about DC prices.

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

Not many.

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Daily Life:

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

Embassy DPO takes about 2-3 weeks and occasionally longer. Personal pouch takes 3-5 weeks usually.

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

Most American staff at the Embassy pay about US$3-4 per hour for part time work. Many have live-out nannies/housekeepers. Most choose a Filipino because they usually have good English reading and writing, but many are available from Bengladesh, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere. 40-48 hours per week help is probably US$500-800 per month.

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

Yes, a free one at the Embassy (rumored to be demolished in early 2014 and rebuilt elsewhere a few years later) and several very nice gyms around town. Expect to pay upscale U.S. prices for membership.

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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?

ATMs are everywhere and easy/safe to use. Credit cards are generally not used except at major hotels or well established dining locations.

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

Yes.

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

Don't know.

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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?

None in western Amman, but like most places you can have a better adventure if you learn the language.

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

Like much of the developing world, the concept of accessibility doesn't really exist here.

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Transportation:

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

No trains. Buses are few and far between in western Amman. Taxis are safe. Women should always sit in the back seat or it's perceived as suggestive. Taxis at night for women traveling alone are not as safe or require a bit of caution. Most rides cost between US$1-3.

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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 is fine. Jordan has a significant import tax on vehicles which artificially raises the cost of vehicles. Jordanians have a big incentive to take care of their vehicles. Roads are generally fine for normal cars. Parts for uncommon cars will be more expensive.

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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$40-60 per month. Good but not great quality connection. Downloads are capped each month but most people do OK with reasonable amounts of online streaming.

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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?

Electronics are overpriced here. Bring an unlocked GSM phone that will take a SIM card. The service is extremely inexpensive compared to U.S. prices, including data plans. Yes there is 4G data, yes it's inexpensive, yes it's good quality.

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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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2. 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?

More conservative than in the U.S. for women, but in western Amman it's far less of an issue. The elite Jordanian women can (mostly) dress however they please, so it's fairly accepted that western women will also in those same expensive neighborhoods.

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Health & Safety:

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

Generally you can move about the city without restriction. Most American employees spend most of their time in western Amman, which virtually never has problems. Occasionally there are reports of civil unrest that require using an alternate highway when heading toward the southern part of Jordan.

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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?

Hit or miss. Jordan has many excellent specialists trained in the U.S. and U.K. The hospitals and clinics can look a little run down with cleanliness not always to U.S. standards. Your doctor will give you his or her cell phone number and actually answer your calls.

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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 to great air quality.

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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?

Amman is at a high altitude so the temperatures are nice considering the region. Winter is slightly too cold and it can sometimes snow. Summer is slightly too hot with perfect, cool evenings. Spring and Fall are long with perfect temps.

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Schools & Children:

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

Most parents send their children to ACS and are happy with the school.

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

I don't know. Some families have networked in the community to find U.S. or U.K. trained therapists for their children.

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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?

A variety have cropped up with varying quality and standards. Overall a good selection.

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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?

Medium-large.

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2. Morale among expats:

People are happy in Jordan, although morale may take a huge hit for American Embassy families in 2014 as explained at the bottom of this review.

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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?

Amman has a decent variety of things happening all the time. For nightlife, there generally isn't mixing between groups of people. You can't easily walk up to a group of strangers and make friends, but if you're introduced by a mutual friend then they'll quickly adopt you.

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

Families yes, couples maybe, singles depends on the person.

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

Don't know.

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

In western Amman, not really. I imagine Jewish people need to be cautious about identifying themselves to people they don't know to avoid potential for verbal harassment. Women traveling alone or groups of women without a man present are more subject to verbal harassment.

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

Jordanians are very kind to families, especially those with small children.

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

Dead Sea, Petra, Aqaba, Wadi Rum.

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

Syrian furniture.

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

Excellent weather. The Dead Sea is a great getaway to get out of town.

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11. 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:

Perception that Jordan culture is as conservative or stifling as the Gulf countries.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and hat.

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4. Do you have any other comments?

For propspective American Embassy bidders:
Bidder beware! A major renovation project will start in 2014 and continue on for 4 years. They will be ripping out the American Club which is the social nexus of family life for embassy families. Most especially this is goodbye to the beloved swimming pool and playground. The administration is hinting that they will put in a temporary pool but as of July 2013 nothing has been promised.


Extra warning for Diplomatic Administrative & Technical staff with families:
Amman is a driving town. If you don't live within close walking distance to the Embassy or close to a major road you will absolutely need two cars or have to get your spouse to drive you in the mornings. You'll only get one duty-free vehicle (full dip get two). Expect prices to be US$3,000-5,000 higher for a used sedan because of the duty. Also if you're planning to head to Israel for a weekend getaway, you can no longer use the nearby bridge crossing. That crossing is no longer open to A&T staff. You'll have to drive out of the way to the other bridge and spend a lot of extra time at passport control.

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Amman, Jordan 05/26/13

Background:

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

No - the second with the government. We previously lived in SE Asia.

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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 - 18-20 hours because of bad connections.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years so far.

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

My husband is posted at the U.S. Embassy here.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Mainly low-rise apartments with a few houses. All places are within a 10-minute drive of the embassy, and many are in walking distance.

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

Getting more and more expensive. Groceries here, by and large, are more expensive than the in the US (except for locally-grown produce and products). Also, the quality here really varies. We find ourselves ordering a lot of household goods through Amazon.

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

Tires for my car (they are expensive here, and not all sizes are carried).

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

All fast food places are here, they deliver, and their prices are reasonable. But we don't like to order from them when Middle Eastern food is healthier, just as fast, and just as cheap.

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

There aren't a lot of mosquitoes, but ground-floor units get them and they are vicious here. But at least they don't carry diseases. Ants are also an issue. Not much else.

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Daily Life:

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

All through DPO. Jordan's mail service only goes from their post offices. There is no local mail delivery service.

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

Cheap compared to the US - around $700-$800 per month for full-time help. Most help is from the Philippines and is English-speaking.

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

Yes, but they are very expensive outside of 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?

You can use them.

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

Yes - there is a Mormon church, an Anglican church, a Catholic church, and some non-denominational churches.

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

Yes - Jordan Times, but I don't think you can get it delivered. You can buy it from street sellers. For TV, we get AFN and some local package that doesn't have a lot of channels, but you can buy more than what we have.

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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?

It helps to know some of the local dialect, but you don't need to know a lot to get by.

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

A lot. That said, we do have some disabled people at the embassy, and the embassy and ACS are continually making improvements to make those places more accessible. But the rest of Jordan is not.

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Transportation:

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

Not really safe. Taxis are affordable. I prefer to drive myself.

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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?

4WD is ideal, as there are times you will drive on very bumpy or nonexistent roads, but we have gotten by without one. I would recommend an SUV or some type of larger vehicle because the biggest vehicles on the road get the right of way. Japanese cars are well serviced here. You drive in the right lanes, same as the US (wheel on the left).

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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?

It is, but it's terrible. No one is happy with their service. If you have a business that thrives and requires high-speed Internet, then you will be very unhappy. Price is about $35 - $50 per month, but that is for a set number of GB.

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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?

We are fine with the plan from Zain that we get through the US Embassy.

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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.

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

Decent enough and getting better.

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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?

Not really. Pay is very low on the local economy, and most organizations want Arabic fluency. Also, as Americans affiliated with the US Embassy we are prohibited from going to a number of places near the border, refugee camps, etc., which limits jobs that might be available through the UN and NGOs. For US Embassy employee spouses, the best opportunities are through the US Embassy or ACS (if you are a teacher). Many spouses here work, as there is not much else to do if you don't have small kids.

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

Conservative, but a veil is not needed.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, this is a danger post, so you always need to be vigilant. Unfortunately, the places we are allowed to go to, especially on Friday afternoons after the mosques get out, are shrinking as more and more protests--some of which can turn violent--happen. Currently we are prohibited from driving on the desert highway (one of the main roads) from Ma'an to Aqaba at any time (not just Friday) because of fighting tribes, so we drive on the Dead Sea highway instead. The situation is always changing. However, if you stay in the embassy bubble area of Abdoun, you will feel like you haven't left the west, for the most part, which is kind of a shame.

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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?

A lot of allergies because dust is everywhere, as is pollen, in the spring. Medical care is plenty good for the basic stuff, but for anything major you are better off leaving the country. Dental care is good. Mental health services are virtually nonexistent (other than the embassy psychiatrist who travels a lot and is not at the embassy much because her position is regional). A number of people who have curtailed did so because of the lack of mental health services for either themselves or their kids.

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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 off the main roads; unhealthy on the main roads.

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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?

Beautiful climate. Can get cold (with snow/ice) in winter and hot in summer, but it is moderate most of the year with cool breezes in the evenings even on the hottest days in Amman. However, everywhere outside Amman can be about 10 degrees warmer.

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Schools & Children:

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

We like ACS a lot for our elementary school kids. It may not have the academic rigor or amenities of some other international schools in some other posts in larger cities (or places that have more money), but it is a warm and caring place with some fantastic teachers. Most people we know are very happy with ACS overall. Some families like ICS, and a few send their high school kids to Kings' Academy. A surprisingly large number of families also home school.

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

ACS is trying to get better. It can handle minor needs issues, but not major ones. ICS will take special-needs kids, but I have heard some people are not satisfied with their programs. There is a school called Al Masar, which is geared towards kids with special needs, however I don't know of embassy families who send their kids to school there full-time. Instead, they make use of the after-school programs there for occupational therapy, etc.

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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, a number of preschools. Many people are happy with their choice at Little Academy or Hill House, but personally I would only send my kids to preschool at ACS or Ecokids as these are up to American-level preschool standards.

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

Yes, baseball, soccer, tae kwon do, swimming, and horseback-riding primarily.

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Expat Life:

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

Not that big - you will see each other over and over.

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2. Morale among expats:

Overall it's okay. There are people who truly love it here - primarily fundamentalist Christians and Arabists. The other people who love it are people who have lived elsewhere in the Middle East (or tough hardship posts) and feel like Amman is paradise by comparison. We like it enough to have extended our time here, and the work is really interesting, but life here can be both stressful and boring at the same time (an odd combination).

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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?

Really not much. Mainly hanging out at the embassy pool when the weather is nice enough, and going on picnics--sometimes with friends.

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

For families yes. I'm not as sure about singles and couples. It's really kind of dull.

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

Absolutely not. There are some gay hangouts, but people cannot be openly gay here.

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

Yes, yes, and yes. It is very tough to be Jewish here (i.e. don't tell anyone you are Jewish - many people may be okay with it, but some distinctly and vocally are not). There are also times when it is tough to be female, and you always have to dress conservatively (not a veil, but with longer sleeves, skirts, etc.). My Asian friends tell me that many Jordanians treat them like servants. And many domestic helpers in Jordan are treated terribly by their employers.

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

Visiting Petra, Dead Sea, Wadi Rum, and Aqaba. We also love the abundance of sheep and goats, many of which pass by our front door.

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

Visit historical places, find hillside areas (that are not covered in trash) for picnics. See the Children's Museum, eat wonderful Middle Eastern food.

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

Olive wood handicrafts, Syrian furniture, rugs, tile work, Palestinian embroidery, and local pottery. There are a few interesting things to spend your money on, but Jordan is not a shopping haven.

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

You can save money because there isn't much to spend it on if you don't travel much outside of Jordan. The weather is great, and if you are an ancient history buff, Jordan has many amazing places to see.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't leave Jordan. Driving to Israel is great, but it is a very expensive country. Flying out of Jordan to anywhere is incredibly expensive.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I'm very glad we came, but I wouldn't come back again for a second tour.

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

medicine (for the most part). If you have something you really need, check before you come to make sure it is here. Many prescription drugs are available over the counter for much cheaper prices than in the US.

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3. But don't forget your:

ice scraper (for the car), school supplies (very expensive in Jordan), treadmill (unless you plan to belong to a gym - jogging outside here is hazardous), and waterproof shoes.

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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:


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6. Do you have any other comments?

If you are completely devoted to your job, or if you have kids and don't go out much at night anyway, then you can have a good tour in Jordan. Currently it is still a stable place to be, but every year the situation in the Middle East eats away at this very poor country. It has few resources and can't handle the influx of refugees from Syria for much longer. Terrorism is unlikely to be the big problem here - it's going to be economic instability. One other point: the US Embassy is going to undergo major renovations starting in late Spring 2014 and lasting for 2-3 years. As the embassy is the main source of social life (pool, playground, club, etc.) for most American Embassy families, this could drastically change the dynamic for people coming in during that time period.

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Amman, Jordan 03/01/13

Background:

1. Your reason for living this city (e.g. corporate, government, military, student, educator, retiree, etc.):

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

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

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4. 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. It is about a 16-hour trip, connecting through London or Frankfurt.

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5. 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. It is about a 16-hour trip, connecting through London or Frankfurt.

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6. How long have you lived here?

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7. How long have you lived here?

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

(The contributor is affiliated with the U.S. Embassy and has been living in Amman for just over two years, a second expat experience.)

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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 commute no more then 10 minutes to the US Embassy. Housing is mostly in large flats. Workmanship is poor, so things frequently break or don't work, but it's not too frustrating. Chances are you will run out of heat and hot water a few times a year and wait a few hours until someone can come fix the issue. Housing quality varies: some apartments are gorgeous, while others are just okay. I think it's the luck of the draw when you arrive.

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

I commute no more then 10 minutes to the US Embassy. Housing is mostly in large flats. Workmanship is poor, so things frequently break or don't work, but it's not too frustrating. Chances are you will run out of heat and hot water a few times a year and wait a few hours until someone can come fix the issue. Housing quality varies: some apartments are gorgeous, while others are just okay. I think it's the luck of the draw when you arrive.

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

Fruits, vegetables and bread are cheaper than in the US. Everything else is much more expensive. It all kind of evens out, though.

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

Fruits, vegetables and bread are cheaper than in the US. Everything else is much more expensive. It all kind of evens out, though.

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

You can really get everything here, it just depends how badly you want it. Things are expensive, but if paying $30 for pecans is okay for you, then you can get them. I ship my cereal, but everything else I buy locally --- even chocolate chips at $7 a bag.

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

You can really get everything here, it just depends how badly you want it. Things are expensive, but if paying $30 for pecans is okay for you, then you can get them. I ship my cereal, but everything else I buy locally --- even chocolate chips at $7 a bag.

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

All of the American fast food you could want. Also good Arabic restaurants (and pretty much everything else) but nothing is cheap. You will pay twice as much as you would in the States to eat out somewhere decent.

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

All of the American fast food you could want. Also good Arabic restaurants (and pretty much everything else) but nothing is cheap. You will pay twice as much as you would in the States to eat out somewhere decent.

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

Lots of people have ant issues. Some even have mosquito issues and the occasional cockroach.

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

Lots of people have ant issues. Some even have mosquito issues and the occasional cockroach.

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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 DPO

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

Through the DPO

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

Full time is about $600 a month.

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

Full time is about $600 a month.

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

Yes

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

Yes

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

You can use your credit card just about anywhere. There are lots of ATMS.

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

You can use your credit card just about anywhere. There are lots of ATMS.

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

Yes. There is a Protestant church, Catholic and Mormon.

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

Yes. There is a Protestant church, Catholic and Mormon.

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

OSN TV costs about $70 a month.

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

OSN TV costs about $70 a month.

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

None

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

None

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

There are no sidewalks but that being said, I think it is doable.

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

There are no sidewalks but that being said, I think it is doable.

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Transportation:

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

They are relatively safe and affordable.

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

They are relatively safe and 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?

If you are thinking of doing desert camping, you will want a 4WD, but for around Amman you can drive anything. You will probably feel safer in a SUV, though, since the drivers are nuts here.

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4. 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?

If you are thinking of doing desert camping, you will want a 4WD, but for around Amman you can drive anything. You will probably feel safer in a SUV, though, since the drivers are nuts here.

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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. I think its about $400 a year or so.

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

Yes. I think its about $400 a year or so.

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

Zain or Orange.

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

Zain or Orange.

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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.

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2. 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.

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

Yes, there are vets and kennels.

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

Yes, there are vets and 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?

No

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

Conservative.

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

Conservative.

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Health & Safety:

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

Street crime is on the rise because of the economic situation, but it is still very low. It's the Middle East, so you are always thinking about security, especially since the Arab Spring. Jordan is one of the best countries to be in the Middle East

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

Street crime is on the rise because of the economic situation, but it is still very low. It's the Middle East, so you are always thinking about security, especially since the Arab Spring. Jordan is one of the best countries to be in the Middle East

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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?

Health care is decent. Dental care is decent and not expensive. Lots of people have been getting their vision corrected and have been very happy with the results. It's about one-fourth of the cost in the States. I wouldn't have major surgery here, but everything else is good. Most doctors and dentists were trained in the US or UK.

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

Health care is decent. Dental care is decent and not expensive. Lots of people have been getting their vision corrected and have been very happy with the results. It's about one-fourth of the cost in the States. I wouldn't have major surgery here, but everything else is good. Most doctors and dentists were trained in the US or UK.

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5. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate. Running outside isn't a good idea, not just because of the dust, but because you will probably get hit by a car or chased by a rabid dog.

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6. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate. Running outside isn't a good idea, not just because of the dust, but because you will probably get hit by a car or chased by a rabid dog.

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

4 seasons, wonderful spring and fall, short winter, great summer, hot but not above 100% usually.

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

4 seasons, wonderful spring and fall, short winter, great summer, hot but not above 100% usually.

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Schools & Children:

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

Good schools. People are overall happy with ACS (American) and ICS (British), and a few send their kids to a Christian school. Also, there is a large homeschooling population here. Pre-K schools are good, too: Little Academy and Hill House. People seem happy with the school choices.

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

Good schools. People are overall happy with ACS (American) and ICS (British), and a few send their kids to a Christian school. Also, there is a large homeschooling population here. Pre-K schools are good, too: Little Academy and Hill House. People seem happy with the school choices.

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

ICS takes special needs kids but doesn't really have the resources to help them

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

ICS takes special needs kids but doesn't really have the resources to help them

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5. 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?

Little Academy or Hill House. Everyone also has nanny.

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6. 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?

Little Academy or Hill House. Everyone also has nanny.

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

Yes. All the schools have programs and there is also ballet and rock climbing.

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

Yes. All the schools have programs and there is also ballet and rock climbing.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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

Large.

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3. Morale among expats:

Pretty good. Everyone has complaints, but overall Amman is a nice place to be.

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4. Morale among expats:

Pretty good. Everyone has complaints, but overall Amman is a nice place to be.

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

Restaurants, people's houses.

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

Restaurants, people's houses.

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

Great for families. Singles and couples seem to do well here.

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

Great for families. Singles and couples seem to do well here.

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

Probably not

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

Probably not

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

Not really

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

Not really

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

Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba, Dead Sea, Um Quais, camping.

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

Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba, Dead Sea, Um Quais, camping.

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

In Amman, there aren't a lot of things to do. The US Embassy and UK Embassy have pools. There is also the Orthodox Club that people can join. There are a few parks --- nothing great but we have kept busy.

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

In Amman, there aren't a lot of things to do. The US Embassy and UK Embassy have pools. There is also the Orthodox Club that people can join. There are a few parks --- nothing great but we have kept busy.

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

Carpets, Dead Sea products.

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

Carpets, Dead Sea products.

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

There are tons of things to do and see in Jordan, the weather is fantastic, and you can save money if you are not at the Dead Sea every weekend.

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

There are tons of things to do and see in Jordan, the weather is fantastic, and you can save money if you are not at the Dead Sea every weekend.

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21. Can you save money?

Absolutely! Just try not to go to the Dead Sea every weekend!

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22. Can you save money?

Absolutely! Just try not to go to the Dead Sea every weekend!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. As far as the Middle East goes, it doesn't get any better than this. Sure, the gulf is cleaner and it has everything you can buy, but Jordan has the best weather, outdoor activities and culture. You will probably find that two years will be enough, but if you are here longer it is still a good place to be.

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

Yes. As far as the Middle East goes, it doesn't get any better than this. Sure, the gulf is cleaner and it has everything you can buy, but Jordan has the best weather, outdoor activities and culture. You will probably find that two years will be enough, but if you are here longer it is still a good place to be.

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

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

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5. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and camping gear.

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6. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and camping gear.

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

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8. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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10. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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11. Do you have any other comments?

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12. Do you have any other comments?

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Amman, Jordan 04/07/12

Background:

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

Yes, this was our first experience living overseas.

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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?

Maryland, United States. It is a 14 hour flight if you fly direct (Amman to NY).If you pass through Europe, then you would have to include time for layovers.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have been living in Amman for 3 years.

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

My husband works at the US 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?

99% of Embassy housing consists of apartments. The apartments are large, but they are still apartments. We have 4 children, so this has been a particular challenge for us. Ground floor apartments aren't always easy to get, but push for one if you have children. We all have to live within a mile or so of the Embassy, so the commutes tend to be less than 10 mins.

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

Again, produce is very inexpensive, unless it is imported. Avacados are really expensive. Everything else is reasonable. If you want your US manufactured American brands, then you do have to pay for that. Therefore, I get cereal via an Amazon subscription and have it shipped to the DPO.But most things are available and affordable. The only issue I have come across is that not all US items are available all of the time. Sometimes you have to make do with what is available, do without, or order on-line. It hasn't caused me any major inconvenience.

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

Bounty paper towels and paper plates. The local paper towels are worthless, and paper plates are expensive. I order cereal, diapers and wipes, and cosmetics from various online retailers. You just have to plan ahead.

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

Everything is available here. McDonald's, Lee's Fried Chicken, KFC..and those are just up the street from where I live!There are many fantastic restaurants here. Jordanians really understand service. Prices at American chains are about 40% higher than in the US.A great meal at my favorite sushi spot costs some, but you can get schwarma and falafel for very little. I haven't found an amazing Italian restaurant yet, but I can cook pasta at home. Fahkra Al Dein should not be missed. Seriously, Amman has a lot to offer.

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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?

Cozmo has an organic/gluten-free section, but it is about 40% more expensive than in the US.There is a lactose-free milk that can be found from time to time. This is a Middle East country, so there is a lot of hummus, falafel, stuffed grape leaves...etc.

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

Mosquitos can be horrible. They are small and fast. Bring bug spray.

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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 the DPO.If you ship internationally, you will have to pay import duties.

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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 readily available and far cheaper than in the US.

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

The Embassy has a decent gym and there are fitness clubs available.

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

Small markets accept cash, larger super-markets will accept Visa and MasterCard. However if a merchant accepts credit cards, it will most likely only accept Visa. We only have a MasterCard, and we do just fine. There are many ATM's, including one at the Embassy.

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

Yes, Catholic, Protestant, LDS, Orthodox Christian.

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

We have AFN, but there is a satellite service that many subscribe to. The Jordan Times is an English newspaper that is available both in print andon-line.

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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?

Almost none. Pretty much everyone speaks English. It is such a blessing as Arabic is a difficult language.

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

Lots. There are very few passable sidewalks. For some reason, the Jordanians plant trees right in the middle of their sidewalks. You can use a stroller at the Embassy or at the mall, but nowhere else around town.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are cheap, but not all taxi drivers speak English. They are relatively safe, but there have been some issues from time-to-time.

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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?

You can drive almost anything here. Some streets are narrow, but many Jordanians still drive their Land Rovers. Car repair has not been an issue for us, and labor is far cheaper than in the States.

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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?

We just switched internet providers and are really happy. There are many internet providers, but not all are created equal. Ask around before settling with a provider. The cost per year is comparable to the States.

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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?

Everyone has a cell phone. Most plans are pre-paid, but the Embassy has recently offered a phone plan through Zain that I am completely happy with.

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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?

I don't believe so.

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

Vets are available, and again, we haven't had and problems. Our vet (we have taken in a few cats while staying here) makes house calls.

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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 some job opportunities.

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

At the Embassy, work attire is business. Women should dress somewhat conservatively. I never wear shorts in public. Skirts should be knee length and longer. If you are wearing a shirt that is sleeveless, then I would wear a wrap of some sort until I got where I was going. I can dress in jeans and a short sleeved shirt to go shopping and have no problems.

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Health & Safety:

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

We are in the Middle East, so there is some concern, however, I have not had any problems. The driving can be interesting, to say the least. Just be hyper-vigilant when you drive and assume that anything can happen at any time.

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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?

Pharmacies are numerous and you can get almost anything just for asking. Medical care is generally good, just remember that procedures pay. So pay attention to what is being done, and don't be afraid to ask, "Why?"We haven't had any problems, and we have made a few trips to ER.

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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?

In Amman, the air quality is usually pretty good all summer long. We do have dust storms in the spring which can make life for people with asthma uncomfortable. Many of us also suffer from allergies in the spring. But a trip to your local pharmacist should help.

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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?

Amman is arid, so hot and dry in the summer. It rains off and on from November until February/March, and then it is clear blue skies until the next winter. The Embassy pool opens at the end of March!It can get chilly during the winter months, but I usually don't need more than a fleece in the 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 the American Community School and the International Community School (British).We homeschool, but I think most are pleased with either of the above mentioned schools.

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

There is a special needs school here. From what I hear, it is quite good.

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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 a few pre-schools, but they are expensive.

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

Yes!The Family Tae Kwon Do Center in Sweifiah is a great place for children and their parents. There are little league sports, as well as private club soccer teams. Jungle Bungle is a great spot for children to play. And in the summer, we spend all of our time at the Embassy pool!The biggest issue we have had with being in Amman, is that the local children don't go out to play after school. In the States, everyone goes outside in the afternoons, and that is not the case here.(And it is not safe to play in the streets) We have missed that. So, you end up taking your children to places to play. That can be a little tiresome.

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Expat Life:

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

There is a decent sized expat community.

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2. Morale among expats:

Morale?Some like it, others don't. Amman is not without it's challenges. Driving can be crazy and stressful. For an American woman, living in the Middle East can be a "unique" experience. Women here have as many rights as their father/uncle/brother give them. But, just meet every situation with a smile, and all will be well.

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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 I have already mentioned, Amman has a variety of fantastic restaurants and lounges. Jordanians like to go out, and they stay out late.

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

There is a lot to do in Amman, and there are many quality restaurants. Most of the big hotels have lounges that are first rate. Therefore, singles and families are fairly happy. However, if you are single, your dating pool is fairly restricted. You probably won't be dating a local and will have to find someone at the Embassy. This is a good family post. As I have already mentioned, the locals love children. There is a little league type sports league which offers Soccer, baseball/T-ball; there is Tae Kwon Do, etc. Lots for the kids to do. The Embassy also has a great pool - we spend a lot of time at the pool.

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

Jordan is a Muslim country, so if you are gay, you won't be able to be openly gay outside of the Embassy.

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

Every society has its prejudices. Westerners are treated fairly well. The migrant work-force is looked down upon.

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

As previously mentioned, Aqaba and Wadi Rum have been two highlights for us. We have made several trips into Israel and have never been disappointed. We have toured many of the religious sights, and have made many friends here.

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

There are many great restaurants (they actually have two amazing sushi restaurants here!), major hotels have first rate lounges, lots of sightseeing, beach to the south, Israel to the West. But in the end, it is all what you make of it. Amman can get to you (especially the driving).But when it does, just go somewhere else.

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

Furniture, pottery, jewelry, trips to Aqaba and the Dead Sea.

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

There are many advantages to living in Amman compared to living in the USA.First, you have the opportunity to build relationships with various merchants around town. (ie:your local bakery, your favorite jewelery store, etc)And once you have a quasi-relationship with one or more of these vendors, you will find that they will do what they can to accommodate you. Second, Arabs love children. Children are welcome pretty much anywhere. Teach your children to smile and say hello to everyone they meet and the local Jordanians will love them. There are many Roman ruins to be seen here:Um Quais, Jerash, the castles in the desert...Aqaba is four hours away by car, and the Dead Sea is 45 mins away. Most hotels are 5 star. The Movenpick Tala Bay in Aqaba is an experience that should not be missed!Wadi Rum is amazing. There is a lot to see and do...just get out of Amman whenever it starts to get under your skin. You can definitely save money as well as spend it. There is some great pottery and jewlery, and you can easily spend money on travel - Turkey and Cyprus are quite close. Egypt is also close, but, it is having a few problems at the moment. Everything you really need to survive (bread and produce) is very inexpensive. But, if you must have your American brands, then you will pay for that.

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11. Can you save money?

It is possible.

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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:

Impatience, first-world standards. Things don't always happen right away, and Jordanians are NEVER wrong. But just keep smiling and all will be well.

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3. But don't forget your:

Smile, sense of humor, and ability to see the good in most situations. Oh, and bug spray. You will also need sunscreen and sun glasses for the summer months.

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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:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Amman, Jordan 03/17/12

Background:

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

Third. Previous tours elsewhere in 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?

Homebase is Washington, DC.Several flights to choose from to get to Amman. Direct flights from JFK or Chicago; connections from DC through London, Frankfurt, Vienna, Paris. Having flown all of them, my preference is United to London then BMI from London to Amman.

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3. How long have you lived here?

18 Months out of a total of 24 planned, 2010-2012

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

Foreign Service, US Embassy, Amman.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most US Embassy personnel live in 3-4 bedroom apartments. Houses are few and far between. Housing is generally fine, there are some people who really luck out and get fantastic places and some people who have awful places - most are in between. Everyone lives within in (literally) a five minute drive of the Embassy. It's a bit silly.

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

There are a number of decent grocery stores that offer a wide variety of local and imported goods. You can largely find most of what you need/want, though logistics and supply chain issues here abound...if you see XYZ product at the store, get it, lots of it, cause you never know when/if you'll see it again. Again - things are expensive here, expect to pay about double what you'd find at home for brand-name products.

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

More paper products (paper towels, TP, etc) because the local stuff is terrible and the imported stuff is insanely expensive. We buy most of it on amazon and ship it in now. Dog food, same story.

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

All kind of restaurants from American fast food and casual restaurants (Chili's, Applebee's, etc), and a wide variety of other restaurants. Many of the high end restaurants are quite mediocre, but still have the crazy price tag. It's a bit frustrating as prices have risen remarkably in Amman in the past 5 years, it's hard to find a good value anywhere. Amman sees itself as a very cosmopolitan city and offers a wide range of restaurants and a number of price points...unfortunately that cosmopolitan feel is largely a veneer and the quality of the food here is not high. That veneer cuts across many facets of life here, not just the food...

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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?

The green movement is en vogue here, which is hilarious because littering and general trashing of the environment is so prevalent.that said, there are a number oforganic produce, gluten-free products available in several of the grocery stores.

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

Mosquitoes in our apartment in the fall, nasty flies at the dead sea in the fall which makes visits there almost unbearable.thats about it.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch. Typical hit-and-miss service 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?

Prevalent and pretty cheap.

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

The embassy has an alright facility, and there are plenty of nice gyms in the area, similar to other high end gyms back in the states. Membership is expensive however.

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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?

ATMs all over, many places accept cards, it's never really been an issue for me.

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

People should be pleasantly surprised by this: there are a number of options to choose from, many different Christian denominations, obviouly plenty of Mosques to choose from, and there is even a decent-sized LDS population.

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

Plenty of TV options. AFN via the embassy, OSN is great, and there are a number of other satellite providers.

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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?

Around the diplomatic areas, no arabic is necessary. Even out and about in the rest of town, it's not difficult to get around. Many many people speak English here.

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

Even able-bodied people have problems getting around. It is avery hilly city, the sidewalks are not well maintained and inexplicably have trees/shrubs/etc planted in the middle of them most often which makes them generally unusable and forces many people to walk in the (already unsafe) roads. I think anyone with physical difficulties would find this a very challenging place to live.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are prevalent and largely safe/cheap.

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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?

Any kind of vehicle is fine here, as long as you are prepared to drive defensively/aggressively any time you're on the road. If you want to go offroad, there are plenty of options, just get a 4WD vehicle.

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Phone & Internet:

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

HIGH speed...no. There is WIMAX available throughout the city and ADSL. None of if it is HIGH speed, all of it is expensive. Orange ADSL is kind of a hassle to set up, but we seem to have better/more reliable service than most of the WIMAX folks...i recommend getting orange ADSL over the other options.

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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?

Plenty of coverage. Data networks (3G, etc) are limited so dont expect to breaking out your iphone and using all your apps all the time.

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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. USDA health certificate, and that is mainly to get out of CONUS with the dogs. When we arrived our paperwork wasn't even looked at.

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

NO. There are vets available, but most of them are NOT good care, and it is nothing like in the States, no matter how the vet's office looks and feels like a vet back home. There is a kennel, though, and the owners are great people. That said, any time we travel we have our maid stay to watch the dogs. It's worth the money in my book. Dogs are generally not welcome here, and we always get looks, harassing comments, etc., any time we walk the dogs or have them in the car. Or we scare people -- there is a great cultural fear of dogs here.

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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?

Not really.

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

Standard embassy-type stuff at work. Out in public I'd recommend modesty. I get lots of looks if I have to run errands in shorts after I hit the gym, and my wife would never do that. Not worth the looks and the odd harassing comment. The weather is comfortable enough, even in summer jeans/long pants during the day aren't that big a deal.

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Health & Safety:

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

Terrorism is a concern but not overwhelming. Amman is generally a safe place, except for driving, but that is not a security concern per se.

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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?

Knock on wood, we've never had any major issues. I know people that have had successful care here, and lots of people have had babies here. Personally, I wouldn't, but hey. For anything serious, I'd go back to the States or over to Israel.

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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 quality is generally moderate...some days are pleasant, some days are marred by burning trash and insane exhaust from vehicles that ought not be running.

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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 almost always awesome. Winter can be kind of terrible, rainy/gray/cold in December through March. Spring, Summer and fall are awesome.even in the hottest months it's not that bad, and cools of nice at night.

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Schools & Children:

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

Cant comment really, but most people seem to be happy with ACS.

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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?

Plenty of options it seems.

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

There are a number of sports leagues available for kids and the community in general.

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Expat Life:

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

Large. The US Embassy community is huge, and there are lots of western expats with the other embassies, NGOs, and business community.

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2. Morale among expats:

Mixed. Some people love it, some people hate it and some people think it's alright.

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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?

This is also a mixed bag, per my earlier comments. There are plenty of clubs that are just like back home if that is your thing, lots of options for dining out, etc. Sometimes there are comedy shows, theater, concerts etc, but I would say those are few and far between.

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

Amman has a history of being a great family pos, and there certainly are a lot of families. That said, not everyone here right now is happy. The Embassy compound is nice enough and parents tend to let their kids run wild because it's a safe place....I get it, but it can be really annoying. I think if one was single and made an extra effort to meet people outside the Embassy community they would be happy.

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

This is not an incredibly progressive place, but there are actually some options for a gay expat.

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

Yes, people here can be close minded, but it's no worse than any other place I suppose.

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

Despite my complaints, I have had some awesome experiences here. Most of them revolve around getting out of Amman and into the hinterlands with my dogs. Camping/hiking in Wadi Rum is fantastic, it's hard to describe just how wonderful it is. The dead sea is fantastic and so close to the city, it's a wonderful place to spend a day or a weekend. HIking options are good there as well...you can literally pull off the side of the road and start hiking up a wadi and go for hours. Petra is cool, Jerash is amazing, Jerusalem is an easy drive.

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

Plenty of outdoor activities, dead sea, red sea, Jerash, Ajloun, etc etc.see above.

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

Plenty of the standard Middle East items. There isn't much unique to Jordan.

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

Advantages?Few. Amman is generally a boring city. There are fun things to do outside of town, such as hiking, canyoning, spending the day at one of the Dead Sea resorts, touring/camping in Wadi Rum, driving down to the Red Sea at Aqaba. Weather is generally great for most of the year...the winters can be wet and a bit of a drag, but as Jordan is so water poor they definitely need the rain so it's hard to really whine about it. There is almost no infrastructure for dealing with rain water so when it rains heavily....there are essentially rivers and flooding everywhere in the streets. Generally not a big deal though. Most Embassy folks and westerners in general live in an area called Abdoun, which is kind of it's own reality in Amman...very westernized, full of wealthy Ammanis and many ME expats (Iraqis, gulfies, etc) so there is an air of entitlement and much of the famed Arab welcoming/hospitality is lacking here because people are too self important to be nice and respectful to one another. Abdoun is different than most of Amman and Jordan in general which is much more conservative and, unfortunately, poorer than in Abdoun. It's almost too easy to spend all of your time in Abdoun and not experience the 'real' Amman. Amman is ridiculously expensive (for what you get).Customs and taxes for imported items really jacks up the prices, even with your tax free privileges as a diplomat. Dining out is always expensive and almost always underwhelming.

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11. Can you save money?

If you try hard.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Hate to say it, but probably not.

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

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3. But don't forget your:

$$.This place is pricey.

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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:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

We have had some great, great times here. But unfortunately, for us, they have often been outweighed by the frustrations of living here. I'd say that is probably a fairly common sentiment, but I would also say that there is a slightly larger contingent that like it here more than we do.

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Amman, Jordan 03/14/12

Background:

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

This is our third expat experience. We have also lived in Kabul, Afghanistan and Ankara, Turkey.

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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?

The East coast. There are direct flights from Amman to New York (12.5 hours) and Chicago (13.5 hours).

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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.)?

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?

Embassy housing is all garden apartments in West Amman. Housing is not clustered, but Amman is not a very large city so everything is close. The longest commute is about 10 minutes.

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

Groceries and household supplies are fairly available but expensive. Almost all produce is imported, and all "foreign" foods (e.g. chocolate chips, celery, Western brands) are very expensive.

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

Nothing really, you can get almost anything here if you're willing to pay for it.

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

Fast food is widely available, both Western and Arab. The Middle Eastern restaurants (fast food and upscale) are great, there are a couple of Asian restaurants that are okay, several European/American/bistro style restaurants that are also okay. Meals in a "real" restaurant are priced comparably to major metropolitan cities in the U.S.

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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?

All fairly available, but for a price.

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

ANTS. If you have a ground floor apartment, you will be battling ants nonstop. Some people have roach problems, and outdoors bees can be a nuisance, but ants are the only serious insect issue we've encountered and they're ubiquitous.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO

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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 very inexpensive, most people have at least part-time help.

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

Absolutely. There is a gym at the embassy, as well as many private gyms all over the city.

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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?

Widely available and generally safe to use.

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

Anglican, Catholic, LDS, and Evangelical Protestant services are all available. Most services are in the evening.

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

Jordan Times is in English, generally a good paper and widely available. TV is mostly satellite, and there are packages available with English stations. AFN is also available through the embassy.

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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?

In West Amman, everyone speaks English. In East Amman you may need Arabic, but at all the major tourist spots people will speak English.

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

Significant. There is very little accommodation for people with physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are very cheap and fairly safe, very few incidents have been reported. We don't use buses as taxis are so affordable, and there is no other public transport.

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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?

Any vehicle would be suitable, although most people here drive SUVs.

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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?

It is available, and costs about $400-600 a year depending on your speed.

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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?

Cell phones are widely used, relatively cheap, and service is reliable.

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

We don't really know, but we've heard it's not great. Arabs don't like dogs as a general rule.

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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, English is very much in demand and we have a number of friends who have local jobs.

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

Somewhere between business casual and business attire.

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Health & Safety:

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

No. There is virtually no crime, and Amman is very stable politically. Jordan is a safehaven in the region, wealthy residents of surrounding countries come here when their home countries become unstable.

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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 excellent, some of the best in the region. You are still in the third world, however, and everyone deals with food-borne illness at some point.

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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?

Moderate. There are dust storms in the spring and fall, and some locals burn coal in the winter.

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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 one of the highlights of living here. We have nine months of dry, sunny days with temperatures between 75-95. The winter is fairly mild and lasts two or three months, we've had one (minor) snow per 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 are several good international schools in Amman. ACS (American) and ICS (British) are the big English-language schools, there is also a French school that offers bilingual instruction (either English-French or French-Arabic). There are a multitude of schools offering bilingual Arabic-English programs and several that have trilingual Arabic-English-French programs. Our son is in the French school (preschool), and we've been very happy with it.

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

I doubt there is much accommodation made for special-needs kids, although ACS may have some programs.

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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?

Preschool is widely available from age 2.5 up, in English, English-Arabic, French, or English-Arabic-French. I don't know of many daycares, but nannies are widely available and fairly inexpensive.

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

Yes. There are gym programs for kids as young as 12 months, and for older kids there is soccer, baseball, Tae Kwan Do and others.

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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 large. There are expats from all over the world, between the embassies, the UN, and other foreign workers there's a huge English-speaking expat community.

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2. Morale among expats:

Morale is very 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?

Jordan has a lot of nightlife, we have several single friends who enjoy it very much.

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

Great for families, good for couples, okay for singles.

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

Probably not. The country is 90% Muslim, and although Jordanians are relatively progressive they would be unlikely to embrace open homosexuality.

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

Yes. This is arguably the most progressive Arab country, but it's still the Middle East. Hatred for Jews is fairly open and accepted, mistreatment of people of African descent is common. Arab Christians and women are treated as inferior as a matter of course.

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

Petra, Wadi Rum, and Jerusalem.

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

Roman ruins, ancient desert castles, the Dead Sea, Petra, Aqaba, Israel. There's a lot to see and do, and it's easily accessible.

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

Syrian furniture and glass.

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

The weather in Amman is great. Travel in Jordan is easy and there are several good day/weekend trips.

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11. Can you save money?

If you choose to, but you can also spend a great deal of money. One night in the nicest hotel in Jordan is half of what you'd pay in Dubai, but you can easily spend $300/week on groceries.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

In a heartbeat.

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

Bike (Amman is very hilly).

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, water bottles, and sunglasses. And your winter coat, believe it or not you'll need it in January!

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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:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

If you wanted a Middle Eastern experience but were afraid of the Middle East, Jordan would be the perfect post. It has a lot of the nice qualities of the Middle East with few of the negatives...it is as many like to say "Middle East lite." I would live here again with no hesitation.

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Amman, Jordan 10/14/11

Background:

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

No. Tel Aviv, Tijuana, Guatemala, Sydney.

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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, 15 hours via NY.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Over 1 year.

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

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?

Large apartments within walking distance or under a 10 minute drive 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?

Good and very varied. Price in the international supermarkets is slightly more expensive than in the US.Price in the little bodegas is 1/4.

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

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

Cheap--under $5 per person for dinner at a casual dining place. Street food is under $1.

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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?

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

Mosquitoes are around but are not disease-carrying.

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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?

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

Yes

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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 problem.

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

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

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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?

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

Sidewalk pavement is very uneven. It is difficult to navigate a stroller. A wheelchair would be the same.

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Transportation:

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

Local taxis are cheap ($1.40 per trip in Amman) and readily available. Buses are few and not recommended.

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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?

Not a vehicle with low clearance due to the frequent speed bumps.

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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?

Zain through the US Embassy has fabulous deals.

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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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2. 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?

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Health & Safety:

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

There is a small risk of terrorism. Crime is minimal.

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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?

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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.

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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?

Excellent. Mild. Very dry (bring lots of skin lotion and drink lots of water).Short rainy season in the winter months.

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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 Community School is adequate.

Update in 2014:

I have been attempting to obtain a final copy of my children's report cards from the American Community School for the past year and 9 months to no avail. I have emailed the school 5 times requesting the final report cards and we went in person twice over the summer of 2012 to try to obtain them. We are now in a difficult position as we need the final report cards for the school at our onward assignment.

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

ACS has a learning support center for children with special needs.

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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?

Yes

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Expat Life:

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

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2. Morale among expats:

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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?

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

Good family post since most social activity is centered around the US Embassy, its playground, and swimming pool.

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

I would not recommend it. Our last Post had a vibrant LGBT community. In Amman, I do not know a single gay person.

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

There is a MAJOR problem with being Jewish here and this is why I am submitting a Real Post Report on Amman. We expressly told our children's school that we wanted to remain "low-key" about being Jewish and we declined a request to speak to the students about our holidays. We were inadvertently outed by one of our children's teachers to several other parents; word spread quickly and several parents expressed vehement objections to us. We've had negative comments from the neighbors, as well, even though we have not displayed any obvious outward signs that we are Jewish. The population is also 60% Palestinian and many express their outrage with Israel and merge Jews from the diaspora with Israel in their minds. Protests against the Israeli Embassy are common and the Israeli diplomatic presence has been downsized to be now miniscule for security reasons. Jewish Peace Corps volunteers have been asked to keep their religion a secret here for their own safety. Jewish university students on study abroad have also been asked to do the same. Many find, as a result, that living here is very stressful, and that they cannot "be themselves" here or share their identities with their host families.(We have met about a dozen underground Jewish students here who all say the same thing.)I would recommend that non-Muslims and non-Christians avoid living here.(I have also heard negative comments about other religions from locals.)

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

Petra (must see), Dead Sea, Ajloun Castle.

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

Archaeology

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

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

Touring, saving money, visiting ancient ruins

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11. Can you save money?

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Words of Wisdom:

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

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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. 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:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Amman, Jordan 08/05/11

Background:

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

First expat experience but an experienced overseas traveler.

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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?

Based in DC.There are direct flights to Amman from New York and Chicago. Other cities require a European layover like London, Paris, or Frankfurt. I don't recommend the Paris layover as bags tend to get lost due to the short layover before departing to Amman.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Presently living here and going on two years.

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

Posted here and working at the US Embassy, State Department

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most embassy folks live in pretty nice and large apartments. Commute times are pretty short as the city is not large and everything is close by.

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

Imported foods tend to be pricey and can be found at Cozmo, Safeway, and Miles. Locally or regionally produced items are good and are priced well.

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

Clothing tends to be expensive and of poor quality so we tend to get most of it online.

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

They are ALL here. One of the funniest sights I ever saw was some pretty cool and hip Jordanian twenty somethings hanging out by their car eating a bucket of KFC.

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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?

Lots of fresh vegetables produced locally and cheaply.

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

Surprisingly mosquitoes can be a problem here, depending on location. Not everyone has this problem but some do, often because of water collecting in air conditioning units.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO

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

Fairly inexpensive and almost all Americans have a housekeeper.

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

There are some gyms in town that are pricey.

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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?

Available everywhere and are safe.

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

Most denominations available.

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

English language daily newspaper in circulation.

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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?

It helps to have it but it's not that necessary as most Jordanians speak really good English. In the posher parts of town like Abdoun, you may try to speak Arabic with folks but they'll respond to you in perfect English.

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

Forget about finding ramps or facilities for the disabled.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe and cheap. Buses are also available but I've never used 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?

Most expats tend to own SUVs and they are probably the preferred type of vehicle.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes, not as good as in the US but not bad at all.

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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?

Thriving cell phone providers here and many phone options available. However, buying a high end phone can be much more expensive than in the US.If you can get an unlocked one back in the US it might be best.

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

Lots of vets that make house calls and for a decent price.

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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?

Not really as most spouses of embassy employees tend to get jobs at the embassy.

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

Suit and tie to work and pretty casual around town. Women tend to dress more conservatively than men do because of local customs.

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Health & Safety:

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

It's considered a high threat area for Americans due to US foreign policy. That being said I have NEVER felt in danger here. There is NO street crime.

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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?

Americans tend to go to one hospital that has high quality medical care.

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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?

Pretty good and none of us have had any problems. I don't know of any one who has problems because of pollution.

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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?

Nearly perfect. You get about 7 months of gorgeous weather from May until November. A typical summer day has blue skies, no humidity, and always a mild breeze to cool the day. It can get cold in the winter and even snow.

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Schools & Children:

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

Most people are happy with the schools here.

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

I have heard of special needs kids finding facilities here.

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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?

Most say they are okay but expensive.

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

Little league, soccer league, basketball league, etc. The kids find plenty to do and tend to be pretty happy 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?

Fairly large and also many naturalized Jordanian-Americans.

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2. Morale among expats:

Pretty good as most folks like it here.

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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?

Going out to dinner, smoking shisha, hanging out with friends are the usual outings.

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

Excellent for both. My single friends and married friends love it here.

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

Beirut might be better but from what I hear it's not that bad here for the G/L community.

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

I haven't noticed any although Asian housekeepers aren't treated well by the local population. It's a problem in the whole region.

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

Traveling all over the country.

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

There is so much to do here the list could go on and on. But for Americans, most of the activities tend to revolve around socializing in the houses of other Americans.

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

Mosaics, pottery, local carpets.

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

There are great travel opportunities in Jordan. One can see Petra, Jarash, the Dead Sea, Ajloun Castle, the Crusader castle at Karak, easy access to Jerusalem and Israel, Aqabah and the Red Sea. There is tons to see and do.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, not a lot but some.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

If I could, I'd retire here.

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

Respectful driving, as here it's every man for himself. Also any notion you had of Middle Eastern food, as here you'll get the real deal.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience and tolerance.

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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:

Caramel. It's not about Amman (it's about Beirut) but it's a good introduction to the modern Arab world.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

You'll love it here.

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Amman, Jordan 08/03/11

Background:

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

No, we also lived in Vienna, Austria.

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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?

Sterling, VA 14 hours direct flight.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years (2008-2010).

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

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 a 5-minute commute to the embassy from almost any embassy house and in a nice location of Amman. Most of the government housing was apartment style, but very large apartments. Very few free-standing houses

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

A lot of imported American products at the grocery stores (although still not everything). Household supplies are easy to find. Groceries (not necessarily the imported items) are very cheap. Fruits, vegetables and meats are extremely affordable.

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

Nothing in particular other than my bed. I always take my own bed. Otherwise, you can get just about everything you need there.

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

McD's, Subway, Burger King, KFC, Fuddrucker's, Pizza Hut, Papa John's pizza, Chili's, Houston's steak house, Quiznos, Popeye's, Hardee's. All are very affordable if not cheaper than the U.S.

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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?

There is a grocery store with a pretty good selection of gluten free items and a few vegetarian items, but I don't recall a significant amount of organic items.

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

None that i was 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?

Embassy personnel can use the post office at the embassy. Otherwise, there is a local postal service that can be used to ship things to and from the US.

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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 very available and very inexpensive. I paid our help 3JD/hr ($4.50/hr), and I was paying the highest because I didn't need her full time. I know a friend who had a full time nanny and housekeeper for about $600/month.

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

Yes. On the embassy compound and out in the 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?

Not many places take credit cards (restaurants, etc.) and if they do, they require a manager to handle it, etc., so it's easiest to use cash. ATMs are everywhere.

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


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

There is some English-language TV, and the local paper is distributed in English. There are also a couple radio stations in English.

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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?

Very little. MANY people speak English. I really only used local greetings and otherwise could always find someone that spoke English. And they like to use their English. They are very proud of themselves when they do!

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

I don't recall seeing ANY wheelchair ramps, etc. It is certainly not accommodating in that regard, so I think someone with physical disabilities may have some problems

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are generally NOT safe for women. There have been several unfortunate incidents regarding western women. There are buses, but I don't know anyone who took them because they don't look to be something you would want to ride on. However, taxis are EXTREMELY cheap.

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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?

I'm not sure about restrictions. We purchased a used vehicle from there. Roads can be bad, although they are improving. MANY people get into fender-benders because there are no real 'rules' on the road. I'm not sure about parts, because we didn't require any. I would not take a nice car over there. Many people buy a car and then sell it before they leave. I would contact the embassy for the newsletter that lists the cars for sale.

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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, we paid up front for a year, and it was about $500 for installation and services for the year.

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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?

I know some people who brought theirs from the US (BlackBerries, etc.) but it's easiest just to buy a cheap phone locally. They don't even have voicemail on most plans, but you can 'pay as you go' for really cheap. I would put 40 JD ($55) on my phone every 3 months or so, and that was all that I would need.

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

There are vets around, and cats are EVERYWHERE. But of course, the muslim people do not care for dogs. Plenty of americans brought their dogs, however, and I was never aware of any problems.

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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 very few that I am aware of.

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

Women need to have their shoulders, chest and legs mostly covered. I wore skirts that were below the knee. Capris were fine, and short sleeve shirts were okay. Men generally wear pants and short-sleeve shirts

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. women need to be aware of how to address Jordanian males, avoid taking taxis, etc. And there are general security concerns for that part of the world.

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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?

The quality of medical care is generally okay, regarding physicians' knowledge, etc., but the hospitals can be close to unsanitary. My husband was hospitalized for three days and it was fine, but you have to close your eyes to the unsanitary actions of the nurses, etc. I would not choose to have any serious medical procedure done there.

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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, although the dust storms can be a little rough maybe twice a year.

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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?

Excellent. Zero humidity and sunny 90% of the time. "Winters" are mild with a jacket required, although nights can get quite cool. Otherwise it is about 85 degrees F almost every day!

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Schools & Children:

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

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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?

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Pretty big. It's easy to meet Australians, British, French, etc., and the American Embassy community is quite large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Very good. I think most people find life in Jordan to be pleasurable, aside from the minor irritations of cultural differences and driving!

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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?

Plenty of restaurants and bars, hookah lounges, etc., and the embassy community is very active with consistent events.

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

Couples, yes. We were able to go out a bit to the movies, dinner, etc., but otherwise, activities are pretty limited.

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

I wouldn't think so. There is a small underground culture of gay men in Amman that I had heard about, but it's not really a culture that tolerates gays/lesbians.

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

There is an overall tolerance for christians and christmas,etc although prostyletizing is against the law. Of course, there are gender prejudices that women especially need to be aware of.you wont see women in the general work force nearly as much as males.

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

Visiting Petra and living in a strong American community.

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

Visit Petra, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea, Wadi Rum desserts and israel. There is a vast amount of history.

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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 furniture and pottery.

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

Saving money. Touring is limited due to political turmoil.

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11. Can you save money?

Absolutely! The cost of living is so inexpensive that I think most people save quite a bit.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. We have discussed doing another tour there.

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

bikes. The roads are not safe for biking.

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3. But don't forget your:

sunscreen!

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

The Lion of Jordan (about the history of Jordan and the late King Hussein and the royal family.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Once people find a comfort zone in Amman, I think most of them will find it very livable for the most part. And I am not one who absolutely FULLY embraces expat life, so I'm a little more picky about where I live... and Jordan is okay by me!

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