Kuwait City, Kuwait Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Kuwait City, Kuwait

Kuwait City, Kuwait 02/18/20

Background:

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

No. I've also lived in Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, Sapporo, Chennai, Shanghai, Kunming, Paris.

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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?

USA. Most flights transit through Dubai.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

The U.S. Embassy has a compound for about 1/4th of mission members. Compound housing mostly goes to families with pets or small children. The commute from the compound is just a short walk, fewer than 3 minutes.

Off-compound housing is in apartments throughout the city. Commute time can vary from 10 minutes to 40 minutes depending on traffic.

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

More expensive, but not outrageous.

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

Nothing in particular. Between the local shops, the small Embassy PX and the military bases you can normally get what you need.

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

There are many online delivery services, such as TALABAT, DeliveryRoo, and even a local grocery store called Sultan Center that has their own iOS App that you can use to have food delivered same day or next day. It really is a food delivery culture.

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

Geckos, ants, and some cockroaches, but 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?

Local postal facilities are not functional. Mail regularly gets lost. The Embassy community relies on DPO and pouch.

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

Help available. Many people hire housekeepers and nannies.

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

Most expats workout at the Radisson Blu Hotel gym which is very nice.

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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 and yes.

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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 works pretty well. However, people handling deliveries often only speak Arabic. Classes are available.

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

Difficult to say, but most buildings seem accessible once inside.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are OK and frankly almost essential unless you self drive. Western expats generally do not use buses. There are no trams.

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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?

Traffic accidents are common as locals drive fast and recklessly. A larger vehicle that might protect you in a collision is recommended. A vehicle with a slightly high clearance is preferred but not essential, as once you get off the highway some local streets and parking lots can be a bit rough. Many people have problems with car batteries frequently dying in Kuwait. Perhaps it's the dust, perhaps it's the heat. Do not be surprised if a normally reliable battery needs to be replaced every six months or so.

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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. Doesn't take too long, maybe ten days to two weeks.

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

Local provider. Sim card kiosks and shops are everywhere.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Not a pet owner, unsure. Other expats do have pets here though.

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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?

Teachers and government employees usually dress business professional. Military contractors dress more casually, often in tech wear and polos.

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Health & Safety:

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

Traffic safety. Women may be harassed by men in some circumstances. Check travel.state.gov country information for more information.

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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 quality can be terrible sometimes. Hospital facilities are excellent, the doctors are OK.

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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 can be bad and is a major concern for most. The Embassy has an air quality monitor. Some days the air quality is great (60 AQI), some days it's horrible (160+ AQI).

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

If you have respiratory problems consult a doctor before deciding to come.

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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)?

When tensions in the region are high it can be stressful on families.

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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?

Summer is extremely hot, but fall and winter are excellent. It gets chilly and the afternoons are like a nice spring day. It's basically unbearably hot for six months of the year, and the other six months are great.

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Schools & Children:

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

Many schools of varying quality. For elementary the local British school called TES (The English School) gets good reviews. I've heard that the main American school, ASK, has had some complaints of bullying and regarding quality of education. There are many other options however and generally expats are happy.

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

Available, but expensive. There is one called Bright and Brilliant near the US Embassy that is popular with expats.

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3. 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?

Kuwait is about 2/3rds expats and 1/3rd Kuwaiti. Most of the expats are from the Philippines, Egypt, India, Pakistan, and then you have the Western expats. The two groups have vastly different experiences in Kuwait. Overall morale is alright. Everyone is here for economic opportunity, and will leave as soon as their contract is up.

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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?

Expats often arrange gatherings around food and other activities, it's not difficult to find a social group.

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

Better for families or couples, singles often spend their weekends traveling regionally elsewhere.

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

No. There is information for LGBT travelers on travel.state.gov.

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

It seems that local Kuwaitis, who are often wealthy, tend to expect that Asians are in the country as housekeepers or nannies so may look down upon them at first glance. I've heard that people with roots from Iraq may be treated harshly by local authorities.

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

It seems that local Kuwaitis, who are often wealthy, tend to expect that Asians are in the country as housekeepers or nannies so may look down upon them at first glance. I've heard that people with roots from Iraq may be treated harshly by local authorities.

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

Oman is a gem!

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

Travel to Oman. Also, Tblisi Georgia is fabulous and is a short flight away. The other travel destinations are pretty obvious: Egypt, Jordan, Dubai.

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

Carpets.

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

Short flight to Dubai.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Didn't realize the air quality could be so bad.

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

Only for work.

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

Snow boots. Alcohol (it's illegal). Bicycle... Not many good roads for long distance bicycling. If you work hard perhaps you can find a place, but they're not obvious.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen. Hat. Sunglasses. Water bottle.

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

None.

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Kuwait City, Kuwait 11/06/18

Background:

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

This is our second post. The first was Merida, Mexico.

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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. It's 13 hours from D.C. to UAE, a two hour layover, and a one point five hour flight to Kuwait.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year out of a two year assignment.

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

U.S. Embassy 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?

FABULOUS! We opted to live in a high-rise overlooking the Gulf. Three bedrooms, four baths, closed-off kitchen with eat-in area for two, combined dining, living room, and maid's quarters (that we use as a storage room). Closets are quite large in every room. Our bathrooms have zero storage, but that is unique to our building.



I've been in three other high-rises, all very nice. uniquely different. Most, if not all the high-rises in the Salmyia area have a pool. We have a balcony, but not all apartments do. We wake up to the water every morning and it makes living here more palatable in the sense that I see water and blue and the surrounding trees. This country is very sandy and lacks color, unlike UAE or Oman. We prefer a smaller footprint with a better view over more square footage and living on compound or in one of the villas in the residential areas.



We have two small children who share a room. There is no area for them to run around outside, so we go to the embassy for them to roam free and ride scooters, bikes or tricycles. Our commute, without traffic, is eight minutes from our house to the embassy. With traffic it's between 20-25 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 here. If you cannot find it, Amazon probably ships it. The first six to eight months I used the popular grocery stores, LuLu and Sultan Center for all my shopping. Family of four, with two adults and two small children is usually about 40 kd (US$130) for about a week.



I mainly shop at local co-ops and my grocery bill has been cut in half. We don't buy a lot of shelf-stable products, so it doesn't bother me that I cannot find Hidden Valley Ranch or Kraft Mac n Cheese at the co-ops. I buy meat from a local butcher now, too. You can buy cheaply here, you just might have to go to multiple places and not everything might be there that you want. Or you can go to a very nice western-looking grocery store and buy everything you want in one shop, but pay more.

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

Diapers are expensive here, so we bought through Amazon. K-cups (for a Keurig) aren't a thing here. The Arabs use Nestle. So we buy coffee on Amazon.

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

Every type of restaurant exists here. The Kuwaitis love to eat, and they really love American fast food/chains. Dining out is what they do, minus the drinking. You can really find everything. Some places are better than others, but it's all here. There are two delivery companies here too that also deliver everything under the sun.

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

Since we live in a high-rise, we have no problems with bugs, but embassy housing has lizards and ants.

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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 very reliable.

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

One hour is between 2kd-3kd (US$7-10). You can hire anyone to do anything here in Kuwait: nanny, housekeeper, driver, staff to the help with serving a party/bartenders, car washer, or dog walker. Live-in help and live-out help.

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

The embassy community has free access to a hotel gym and pool facilities and it's very nice with great workout classes that are co-ed. The open gym is co-ed too. There are private gym memberships for about US$15,00/year.

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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. Credit cards are excepted almost everywhere. AMEX isn't as widely accepted. You will need cash at the small street-side veggie/fruit co-ops.

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

Yes. You can find ANY religion here with an associated service. Most are in English. If it's not in English, it's probably at a mosque with Arabic.

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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?

None. All your service-oriented professions are third country nationals who all speak English. The embassy is predominantly English-speaking. The only times I wish I knew a little Arabic is sitting and working at a coffee shop and trying to eavesdrop on the conversation next to me. That said, my daily life is done in English with little to no problem.

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

Yes... I do see people in wheelchairs and think, "how???" Thresholds are not flat, doors are not wide, lots of stairs, uneven pavement, minimal curb cut-outs.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis can be between US$7-10 a ride. Buses are around $2/ride, but I've never taken the bus.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Driving is by far, to me, is the most dangerous thing you will do in Kuwait. With that being said, I would recommend a car that you are comfortable driving and know the dimensions well in relationship to the surrounding area. I am daily fighting school traffic (my children are too young to ride the bus), and every day, I am inches away from tapping someone's car or getting hit by someone else.



Traffic is not bad all the time, but during the times it is, knowing the boundaries of you car will keep you the safest. I don't feel strongly about an SUV vs a sedan. Roads are fine. Four-wheel drive isn't a must. Higher clearance is nice because there are speed bumps EVERYWHERE. And some are very high. I have never felt unsafe in my car because of a potential carjacking or robbery.

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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 about the same price as the US in D.C. It can be slow from 8 p.m. - 11 p.m. at night. Everyone is on and the cell towers don't seem to spread their distribution well, but we can stream Netflix 9 out of 10 nights a week without a problem. We will have maybe one or two buffering sessions that last 45 seconds. I work from home, online, and I have no problems during the day.

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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 or VIVA. I have a pay as you go sim card and pay about US$15/month and that works for me. I rarely go over that. When I'm home, I use our home Wifi.

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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?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

You can get involved in lots of volunteer work. There are many options if you look and ask around.

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

At the Embassy, work attire is mostly suit/tie if you're in a job that requires you to leave the embassy or welcome guests to the embassy. If your not client facing, slacks/dress shirts are fine. Locals tend to get very dressed up to go out at night/dinner/parties/etc. There are lots of events associated with the embassy and outside of the embassy where formal attire is required. There are lots of opportunities to dress fancy and go out.

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Health & Safety:

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

Driving is a very, very serious concern to me. There seem to be many that drive crazy expensive cars fast and recklessly while sharing the road with people that have never driven a car before and are going under the speed limit. OR someone is texting while driving. Otherwise, Kuwait is very safe.

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

Air quality can be very bad. Dust, oil refineries, and general pollution. Some days you'll look out and think it's foggy and then realize that it's dust. It also rains dirt here which is gross and very messy. Medical is very very good here. We opted to have a major surgery done on our three- year old here, instead of going back to the U.S., and it was a great decision for our family. Dental is also very good here, but it can be pricey.

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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?

See above.

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

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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)?

Winter is wonderful in the Gulf! It can get cold here, but overall October through May is really really nice. The summers are awful in my opinion, but doable. In my option, 90 degrees F is hot and there isn't a lot of difference for me between 90 and 125. I don't want to be outside either way. Humidity is not a huge concern here, unlike the other Gulf countries. So think of the heat as a dry Arizona/New Mexico heat, but hot is hot. And if you hate the heat, you'll hate summers in Kuwait.

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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?

Extreme hot in the summer. Nice fall/winter/spring. Winter can be wet.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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

Wonderful. We have our three year old in a five day a week preschool from 7:30am-12pm and our two year old is in a bilingual nursery school three days a week. We pay out of pocket since they aren't yet in kindergarten. It's less than Arlington, but not super cheap like Mexico. We are very very happy with the two schools we picked.

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

We don't have our children in any, but there are lots and lots of options for after school activities for kids. LOTS! Embassy-sponsored, school-sponsored, and private.

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Expat Life:

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

Two-thirds of the country is expats, so you have many many cultures colliding here. The expat morale is very good here. Each country seems to have a group, but you can join in and be invited to many events from all walks of life. There are many organizations to get involved in. I feel like you could overload your plate with groups/clubs/organizations to participate in. People are very friendly 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?

American Women's League, adult soccer leagues, Cross-Fit groups, running groups, Harley Davidson riding group, British Women's League, and health clubs also have smaller groups to participate in. There are also women who meet to cross-stitch or knit. There are Bible studies. There are a TON of Mommy and Me groups to join. There is a golf course here too and an equestrian riding club. There are art groups that meet and photography groups. Kuwait is a country that is run off Instagram. You can find anything you want.

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

I think it's great for all. Theres is something for everyone. And when you feel like you need to get away, you can jump on a flight and go anywhere quickly and relatively cheaply.

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

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

It's hard to describe the Middle East in one paragraph. There seems to be racism here regardless of culture. Arabs love children. I have not felt personally discriminated against, but I do see it daily - in the car, at the grocery store, everywhere. Again, it's subtle, but it's there.

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

The travel opportunities, the house-parties, the camel races, the food, time spent at beach chalets or at the pool, music events and cultural exhibitions. There is something to do every night of the week if you wanted. You have to put yourself out there though.

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

All the cool souks, Friday Market, the beaches further south, Avenues Mall, dining out, the aquarium, the Corniche, the Marina, The Kuwaiti Towers, the cultural centers.

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

Not a lot of Kuwaiti crafts, but you'll find third country nationals having cultural events where they sell crafts from their country. Rugs are great here. Thrift stores and designer outlets are FABULOUS here!!

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

Cheaper in-home help, life is easy, English is everywhere, travel opportunities are plenty. You'll see American brands everywhere, so if you need to get a dose of Americana, you can... or you can stay away. You really can make Kuwait whatever you want it to be. It can be laid back, boring, crazy busy, fun... you have to make it what you want. It's all here.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Living by the water makes all the difference to my husband and me. Kuwait is not green and can be depressing in that sense. People don't really walk here, so if fitness is a priority, you'll need to schedule it into your life. You won't just by accident, walk three extra miles to and from dinner like you would in DC. The bread here is amazing and if you're not careful, ten extra pounds can creep up on you. Wait to get things framed here. It's nice and not very expensive. American clothing store are expensive, but you can find fur and leather jackets for cheap. One of the BEST things about Kuwait is the availability to get custom clothing made!

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

Yes, though two or three years is enough. I wouldn't want to move back after I had already experienced it. There are too many other cool places to live. But, it's not awful here. I don't love it. But I like it. And it's a very easy life. Not complicated like some places. For my family and I, we have enjoyed raising little children here.

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

Road bike. Not a lot of places to ride and drivers are intense.

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4. But don't forget your:

Winter clothes, your VPN for American Netflix, any clothes that you want a tailor to copy for cheap, wine glasses, vanilla extract, rubbing alcohol, nasal sprays (the dust can be aweful), art work/wall art (the ceilings are 10' in most homes, apartments).

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

Instagram: #lifeinq8 #q8 @everydaykuwait @where_to_go_q8

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Kuwait City, Kuwait 05/21/17

Background:

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

No, I have had several tours in the Arab world.

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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. The trip takes a full day. The "City Pair" fare right now is with American Airlines which translates to either British Airways or Etihad. Neither allows pets, which makes you cost-construct. As a result, you will take either KLM or Lufthansa. So, either way, its about 7 hours to Europe and then another 6-7 to Kuwait. The Kuwait Airport is one of the worst, so get ready.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three years.

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

Diplomat.

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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 generally excellent. For singles, you will have a 3-bedroom apartment in a high rise overlooking the Gulf. For families, you will have a large home--typical Gulf style with lots of rooms and marble.

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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-there are excellent supermarkets--Lulus, Sultan Center, True Value, Ace Hardware Store. But, everything is quite expensive--think New York city prices for most groceries.

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

Anything like vanilla, which has alcohol in it. Pet products, though available, are very expensive here.

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

Every American chain is here--Shake Shack, Smash Burger, etc. -The restaurants are largely better here than in the U.S. Kuwaitis are huge foodies (highest diabetes rates in the world), and they are very picky and demand quality and good service.

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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?

DPO is quite good--usually takes a couple of weeks from the States. I have never used local post.

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

Very available, with most help coming from South Asia or the Philippines. They all prefer to work for Americans because we treat them much better. Kuwaitis pay about 400 per month for 6 days/week and a live-in, while we pay 650 for live in and 5 days per week and we provide all food, a month's vacation per year and a round trip ticket to their countries of origin.

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

Very prevalent but are quite expensive. The US embassy has free access to a local hotel gym which is nice, and a basic Marine gym. There are plenty of private gyms around, but they are costly and not mixed (women and men).

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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 regularly use credit cards and my ATM without any issues. All restaurants, grocery stores, etc., take credit cards.

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

There are several churches here.

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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 Kuwaitis speak English, but Arabic can be helpful.

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

No one walks here because it's too hot, but have not seen many accommodations anywhere for disabled people.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe and available, but a bit expensive. The buses are used by foreign workers. There are no 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?

Kuwaitis are the worst drivers in the Arab World including Saudi Arabia and the UAE--very, very fast and reckless. Therefore, I suggest having a large SUV. The roads are very good, however.

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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, its available and as good if not better than in the U.S. To install it, however, you need your civil ID, which takes a few weeks.

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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?

The US embassy provides a phone and service with Zain. I brought an unlocked I-Phone. Its very easy to get another phone, but you need your CIVIL ID. --Everything here is tied to one's civil ID.

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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?

There are a number of solid veterinary clinics--IVH and Royal Animal Hospital are two good ones. The vets are European or South African. Care is good, but quite expensive.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There are jobs available and its fairly easy to find them-part or full time. Salaries are fairly normal for Americans and other westerners. The bureaucratic process here is painful, however, so it takes time to obtain official permission to work.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are a variety of western womens' groups, expat groups, NGOs, etc. Also, groups to assist abused workers are available.

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

The embassy is formal but not over the top. Shirt and tie are the norm for men. Kuwaitis wear either western clothing or "dishdashas." Its very. very hot here in the summers, so consider linen, etc. Its far more permissive for women here than in Saudi or even Doha. No need for an abaya or hijab, but shorts and tank tops are definitely not advisable due to the attention you will get.

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Health & Safety:

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

This region has obvious risks, but compared to everywhere else, its very safe in Kuwait. There are bad people here, but its fairly benign in general. There is some criminal activity in areas frequented by south Asians, but otherwise, its a pretty secure place.

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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 air quality is not very good. Its very dusty and given the oil refineries, etc., the air just does not seem clean. Also, the Gulf is not/not clean at all.

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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?

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

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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)?

Its always sunny here but Kuwait can be very boring and slow---it's a bit of a gilded cage, so you have to travel every few months. People get cabin fever here and it takes time and effort to make friends with Kuwaitis. Lots of other foreigners here who are readily available, but they often just want access to embassy happy hours and liquor, as Kuwait is a dry country.

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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?

From May until September, scorching hot-up to 125 F. Otherwise, it is beautiful and moderate.

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Schools & Children:

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

The schools are just not great, in my opinion. ASK is the historical school used by Americans but the facility is old and worn. The teachers there are mediocre in my view. The new school, American United School of Kuwait is brand new and beautiful and its improving. Its also very modern and close to the embassy, etc. The quality of teachers is OK and can be hit or miss, but I guess that is the case with any school. Some of the AUSK teachers are very good and we have had good luck. The facility is state of the art and utilizes all the latest technology and gadgets.

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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?

The schools have basketball 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?

Most people in Kuwait are workers from other countries. They live to work and send all of their money to support their families in their countries.

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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?

House parties--Kuwaitis are fun, but it takes time to meet them and become friends.

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

Its boring and primarily focused on families, though there are several underground scenes here for singles.

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

Its illegal here but present.

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

Everyone other than Kuwaitis are on a lower class level. Americans of European background are probably treated the best by the Kuwaitis with all others coming next. People of Asian and/or South Asian or African backgrounds can face discrimination from the Kuwaitis. Likewise, non-Gulf Arabs can face similar discrimination from Kuwaitis.

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

I have really enjoyed Kuwait. Getting to be close with several Kuwaitis was very important. Try not to be like a lot of Americans and simply hunker down and hang out with other Americans and drink. Kuwait can be fun and interesting and I enjoy the culture, but it takes time.

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

Go to the desert with Kuwaiti friends and go fishing.

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

Nothing is really unique to Kuwait, though their favorite pastime is shopping. Some beautiful malls are in Kuwait, but that gets old fast.

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

Its family-friendly and easy. Everything is close and available for delivery.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, its been a nice and fairly easy tour.

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

Small cars and short dresses.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and big SUVs.

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Kuwait City, Kuwait 03/25/17

Background:

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

This is our fifth expat location. Previously we lived in Seoul, Tirana, Yerevan and Port au Prince.

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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?

USA - About 24 hours door to door

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost two years.

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

US 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 US embassy has a housing compound with 24 homes which are smaller than local homes, the commute is great for those units. Other housing opportunities include apartments with a view of the gulf or large villas. Most folks have less than 30 minutes to drive to work, but the traffic can be heavy.

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

In general the groceries are almost double the price in the US. Some things are surprisingly inexpensive, to include some locally grown produce and bread. Almost anything can be purchased here. There is a wide variety of imported items from the US, Great Britain and Asia. Produce comes from all over the world and is frequently labeled with the country of origin. Pork products are not available nor are products containing alcohol. SO...no vanilla extract. No chicken or beef broth. Vegetable broth is readily available. Marshmallows and jello are made with fish gelatin.

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

Vanilla extract, pineapple canned in juice (not syrup), broth concentrate.

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

American chain restaurants are abundant here. There are three Cheesecake Factory locations, Texas Roadhouse, Olive Garden, Applebees, etc. Don't despair, however, the diverse ethnic populations living here provide for plenty of curries, middle eastern delights and more. Some restaurants have vegan options. You can order almost anything to be delivered to your home.

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

Ants from time to time.

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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.

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

Local household help is about 2 Kuwaiti Dinar per hour (aprox 7 USD). Most domestic help is from India, Sri Lanka or the Philippines. They require a "sponsor" to be in the country, which can be a diplomat. A typical contract includes a month of vacation and a trip to their home country in addition to other benefits. Many human rights abuses occur in this country with household help. Please be a responsible employer.

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

There are many gyms available. Members of the US mission have access to the facilities at the Raddison Blu Hotel in addition to the MSG gym. The Curves chain operates 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?

You can use your credit card safely here and use the ATM as well. I have not had any problems.

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

Catholic, Evangelical, Latter Day Saints, Pentecostal and more. There is a Catholic cathedral downtown.

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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 language classes are available. Visit the website for the Aware Center to see about pricing. Although, almost everyone speaks English. The accents vary, but it's English.

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

Some, but not much. Not all buildings have ramps and some have small sets of steps.

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Transportation:

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

The local public transport is safe to use. Mostly buses. Taxis are plentiful. Most people work with a specific driver that they trust.

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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?

There are many car dealerships here. You will see all types of high end automobiles to include Bentley, Maserati, Porsche, Lamborghini, BMW and Benz. Drivers drive really slow or really fast. The roads are well-maintained. Bring what you are comfortable driving. Car imports must be less than five years old.

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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?

I have been very happy with my internet service here. I stream television shows without difficulty. It's very reasonably priced. Less than 300 USD per year. Local cable television is available also with many viewing 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?

Local provider - Zain.

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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 good vets here. The International Veterinary Hospital has several vets on staff. Pet supplies are available at their facility to include special diet foods. Kenneling is also available at this location, www.ivhq8.co. Lots of feral cats on the streets. Dogs are not looked on favorably. There is no quarantine.

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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?

The US mission has a bilateral work agreement with Kuwait. Some spouses have found good jobs in banking, teaching, publishing, health care (PT and mental health) and education. Others have had more difficulty, for example, nurses. Nursing positions are available, but the prevailing wage is extremely low.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

The American Women's group does some charity work. A nurse volunteers at the local cancer hospital.

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

Business casual at work. No religious garb is required. Although many muslim women dress conservatively. Meaning, a tunic with pants and a hijab, etc. For time to time, there may be an opportunity to dress up more.

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Health & Safety:

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

Because of the location of the country, it would be wise to have situational awareness of your surroundings. For time to time, there has been a minor event linked to terrorism. Otherwise, Kuwait is a safe country. There are not big problems with 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?

The air quality. It's worse than the US. Mostly due to sand storms and petroleum processing. You can find some data at airnow.gov. Having said that, people who might have illness exacerbated by air quality should be aware of this (asthma). Local private medical care is pretty good if you know where to go. The government system can be hit or miss. Again, you need to know where to go. There are many excellent physicians in the government sector. Many medical specialists are available in private practice. In the event of major trauma, care must be provided by the government hospitals.

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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?

See the above comments.

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

There are pollens here similar to the desert climates in the US. Advice: use your HEPA filters in the home, bring your nasal steroids, inhalers, epinephrine, etc. There is a pediatric allergist in the private sector. There are bees, but no wasps, hornets, etc for those with sting allergy. Gluten free foods are readily available at local supermarkets.

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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)?

There is discrimination here, especially with Asian women being harassed. Many assume they are sex workers or here as domestic help. That treatment can lead to discouragement, etc.

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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 summer is excruciatingly hot. But, there is a winter season when temps can get into the 30's at night. The spring, fall and winter are quite pleasant. From time to time there is enough rain to cause some minor flooding.

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Schools & Children:

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

The Embassy uses four different schools. Two "American" and two "British." One of the American and one of the British go through high school. Several children have graduated here and gone on to universities in the US.

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

Very little is available 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?

Several families send their children to pre-school. They seem happy. The International schools have after school activities available.

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

Yes, there are drama clubs, music lessons, basketball, volleyball, etc. Little League baseball is big here. Some children take equestrian instruction 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?

There is a large expat community here that includes oil workers, teachers, security specialists, military contractors, etc. And...most of the daily work done in Kuwait is done by expats. You will find people from Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Britain, Germany, the Philippines and elsewhere. About 1/3 of the population are expats from all socio-economic levels.

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

There are churches, book clubs, women's groups, community theater, biking groups, etc. No clubs.

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

That depends on what you want to do. There is no club scene here, but if you make some friends, it's a good place to live. For the most part, people are friendly.

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

Homosexuality is illegal here. But, if you look carefully, you will find them. For those who are discreet and already coupled, it should be fine.

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

People of ethnic roots similar to the domestic and labor force may face discrimination. For example, they may be asked to prove that they can pay for dinner at a restaurant.

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

It's easy to travel to many locations from here. It's 6 hours to London, five hours to Columbo Sri Lanka. Northern Africa is also reasonably close. Many people visit other parts of the middle east, such as Egypt, Oman and Jordon from here. Others go to the Maldives. The various Gulf airlines have good connections to lots of fun locations.

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

The Oil and Gas Museum is nice. The Opera House is beautiful.

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

There isn't much to buy here in the way of local handicrafts. There is traditional weaving done at the Sadu House that can be purchased. But, there are lots of retail shopping malls with names that you will recognize such as Ikea, Dean and Deluca, Pottery Barn, Victoria's Secret, etc.

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

A blend of western and middle eastern living.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Movies at the cinema are edited to take out cursing and kissing, etc.

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

Yes, I have enjoyed my time in Kuwait.

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3. But don't forget your:

Winter coat, vanilla extract and sunscreen.

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Kuwait City, Kuwait 08/16/16

Background:

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

Bangkok, Kabul, Geneva, Dakar, Abu Dhabi.

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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?

Portland, Oregon. ~24 hours, Kuwait-Frankfurt-Chicago-Portland or Kuwait-London-Portland or Kuwait-Dammam-Amsterdam-Portland...

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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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?

Large, 3BR apartment, 20-minute commute (traffic during the school year can be very bad at the start and end of the school day).

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

Vegetables, bread, meat are moderately priced. Imported things can be much more expensive. Nearly everything is available including a surprising amount of locally grown produce (compared to Abu Dhabi). Most things are still imported and many familiar brands are available from the U.S. and UK. It's hard to find anything unscented e.g. unscented laundry detergent, dryer sheets, cat litter... No alcohol or pork is legally available to those outside diplomatic missions. Many brands of pet food are available, including premium brands.



There is an Ikea and more expensive options, also.

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

Unscented cat litter, unscented laundry detergent, unscented dryer sheets, anything from Trader Joe's, Asian specialty items, whole pinto beans (although many types of dried beans _are_ available including many, many Bob's Red Mill options), corn tortillas are hard to find, but flour tortillas are made locally. OTC medications--there are pharmacies, but many local people take traditional, herbal medications. Tampons.

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

Everyone uses Talabat.com that delivers from a majority of the restaurants in the city with a huge variation of cuisines--Indian, Iranian, Lebanese, Italian, pizza, burgers, even fast food restaurants, limited Mexican, limited Thai. Nearly every American fast food chain is available. There are nice restaurants inside and out of hotels. No alcohol is available.

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

We had a minor issue with ants.

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Daily Life:

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

Through mission mail. I don't have experience with the local postal service. They do have FedEx and Aramex and other international delivery services.

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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 expatriates hire housekeepers or nannies, especially from India, occasionally the Philippines. Cost includes sponsoring visa, inexpensive insurance, money set aside for a return ticket home should they be separated, an annual 30 days of paid leave, and end-of-service benefit of one month a year at the end of the contract, and salary. Kuwait recently passed a minimum wage for domestics, beyond that salary is negotiable based on language skill, experience, whether they cook in addition to other duties. Employers should have a written contract to protect both employee and employer.



Kuwait has recently passed the first laws in the Gulf countries to protect domestic workers. Of course, we should treat people with dignity and respect because it's the right thing to do, but it is now also the law.

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

There are many gyms, clubs, and hotels with workout facilities. Many apartment buildings have small gyms and pools. Some clubs are quite 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?

Credit cards are widely accepted and safe to use. ATMs are common and seem safe. Taxis do not take credit cards, so small change is good to have for transport.

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

There are Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and a few Protestant churches. The number of churches are under the authority of the Kuwaiti government.

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

You can easily get by in English. People appreciate an effort to try a little Arabic. It actually takes an effort to use Arabic and there are many dialects spoken by Arabic speakers from around the region. Classes are available from various institutions.

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

Yes, the sidewalks and buildings are not consistently accessible. People do tend to respect parking spaces for people with disabilities. Malls tend to be accessible.

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Transportation:

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

There are no trams or trains. Taxis are not standardized. It's best to find a company you trust that will send taxis with seat belts and an English-speaking driver and a set price. They are cheap compared to Washington, DC, but meters don't work and you have to agree before you get in the car or know what it should cost, hand them the money, and be willing to just get out. It's a balance, you don't want to cheat anyone, but you don't want to be taken advantage of either.

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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 with really good a/c. Many people drive Mitsubishi Pajeros, Toyotas, Ford Explorers, Mercedes G-class, etc. Some makes have a single distributor in-country, but parts and service are available. Don't bring a small car or something brand new. Gas is cheap, driving is fast and in close-quarters, and often reckless. Bring something you don't mind getting dinged up. I think they have to be five years old or newer.

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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. Some apartments offer basic wifi for free. Kuwait has possibly the world's cheapest 4G network, but there aren't a lot of alternatives (e.g. fiber-optic, DSL). To get a phone or internet line, you need a civil ID which takes at least a couple of weeks.

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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 put my home country plan on pause and got a local line. There are several major mobile companies with various plans. Everyone uses WhatsApp to text each other.

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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?

There are qualified vets and kennel services, although I would be very selective about groomers. Animals do not need to be quarantined if their paperwork is complete beforehand. The airport authorities may insist on taking pets through cargo with various fees and delays involved. Traditional culture considers dogs unclean and authorities may be unsympathetic towards pets' circumstances.



Local people often have dogs foreign to a desert environment such as huskies or German shepherds. You may see exotic (often illegal) animals.

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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?

There is a wide variety of dress here. Women and men tend to have their knees and shoulders covered. Not all local women cover their hair, some wear niqab (covering all but the eyes), others wear western dress. Westerners wear a wide variety, too. I've seen men at the mall wearing a range from baggy shorts and t-shirts all the way to dishdashas. Formal dress is rarely required, but there is a regular concert series and events for which you might want to dress up occasionally.

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Health & Safety:

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

On the whole, Kuwait feels very safe to me, but I have heard of harassment of people of Asian or African descent, especially women driving alone. There's little petty theft here. You should be aware as you would be anywhere else. Terrorism is mainly a concern due to the country's location in the region.

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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 quality is often dusty and bad for allergies. Car safety is a major concern (many people don't wear seatbelts and drive fast). There are hospitals and clinics, but we would be sent home or to London for anything major. The weather in the summer is unbearably hot. It's almost impossible to be outside at any time of day.

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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?

Bad. It is often dusty throughout the year. Yes, many people have respiratory problems, colds linger.

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

I would not trust servers in restaurants to understand food allergies. Bring your favorite antihistamine, decongestants, etc.

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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)?

In the summer, due to extreme heat, people often have Vitamin D deficiency. You have to plan trips away regularly to go somewhere and get outside, especially if you have children. People get a little stir crazy.

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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 weather in the winter can be lovely and we even wore sweaters and jackets. There were several thunderstorms between fall, winter with high winds and heavy rains. The summer is brutally hot--with temps sometimes over 120F. In late summer, it also gets humid, too. People tend to go from a/c to a/c.

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Schools & Children:

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

Yes, especially important to keep kids active in the summer when they can't play outside.

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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. People often complain about being bored. It's good to join social groups, exercise classes, and have books, games, activities that you enjoy indoors. Many western women have married Kuwaiti men. Many expats live in Kuwait for long periods of time. It's great if you can meet them and get connected and learn about the local culture.

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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?

Order in and watch movies (you can get Netflix here) or play games with friends. There are book clubs, sports clubs, language gatherings, dining clubs, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyya offers a concert series, lectures, and other cultural events. There is a very good community choir. There is no social dancing in public and there are very, very few dance performances, there are some classes at sports clubs.

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

It's good for people who can entertain themselves and make their own fun.

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

Women (local and white women, at least) tend to be treated with respect, those of Asian or African ethnicity, less so. I have not experienced prejudices personally.

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

Having an apartment with a nice view--it is very important to like where you live since you will spend a lot of times indoors in the summer. The nice response when you do try to speak Arabic to someone. Getting invited to a Kuwaiti home for a bookclub. People speaking openly about their country and culture.

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

There are some local designers, moderately interesting markets, and gigantic malls but it's not a shopping post for traditional items. I mostly go to the very nice, large Avenues Mall to walk on the weekends early in the day before the parking gets crowded. There are sometimes special fairs for Palestinian or other cultures.

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

The people are more open to expats than some of the other Gulf countries. The press is more free. There are laws to protect human rights. They like Americans, in general. It's a calm country in an increasingly dangerous region. You might have the opportunity to advance at work that you wouldn't have in another country.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, because my husband and I both found jobs here.

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

Pork. Brand new car.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, sunglasses.

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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 Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi.

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Kuwait City, Kuwait 06/09/15

Background:

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

First experience

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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 - 14 hours via direct flight, also flight through London which takes longer.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2012-2014

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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 variety of housing options. Being with the embassy there are apartments on the compound, villas, town houses and apartments in the city. We had an apartment in the city with an ocean view. Not much in walking distance but most apartments have a small gym, pool and often limited playground equipment for the kids.

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

Great availability, but the cost is generally higher. Especially if you buy American brands.

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

Most American fast food and sit down restaurant chains are here....from McDonald's, Burger King, KFC to Chili's, Cheesecake Factory, Texas Roadhouse. It is generally more expensive than the U.S. Entrees usually start around US$16 us and go up from there.

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

No real bug problems. There are crickets part of the year. But they aren't dangerous, might hurt your sleep patterns if you aren't used to it...it felt like a piece of home for me.

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Daily Life:

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

Readily available and pretty affordable. Average part-time help is 2kd an hour.

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

Cards are accepted most places and we never had a problem using ours.

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

Very little. A few pleasantries are nice though. English is spoken almost everywhere.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe/ish. Often No seat belts, and driving in Kuwait is in and of itself slightly dangerous given the price of fuel. Taxis are kind of expensive. A typical cost to work from home was US$12 for 8km distance.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

We brought a small SUV. Most people choose to go with something larger but no problems with a small car. Gas is so cheap.

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Health & Safety:

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

No real security concerns. You should always be aware of your surroundings but that is anywhere. Driving is a bit tricky. My rule of thumb was to think of the most dangerous things someone could do while driving and expect it to happen.

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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?

Good private healthcare. Particular experiences with OBGYN were good. Nice hospitals for birthing etc.

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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 the desert and as such it's dusty. Especially during the summer.

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

Dust dust and more dust. If you're allergic you will have troubles. You'll likely need to dust and vacuum daily or at least every other day.

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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 is hot. It is generally dry which does make it more bearable. There are a few weeks of humidity usually on August that makes it miserable and those are the days you go outside as little as possible. The winter is fabulous though with mostly sunny days around 70F. There were a few days it got into the 40'sF at night, but generally I never needed more than a light sweater in the winter. Though indoors in the summer you may need something a bit warmer.

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Schools & Children:

1. 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?

They are available but fairly expensive and we chose not to use any.

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Expat Life:

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

Very good for families. I can see how it would be challenging for singles and young couples. There is obviously not a club scene. The biggest past times are going out to a restaurant, the mall or a movie.

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

No experience but I'd say not given local laws and customs.

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

Our daughter was only 6 months when we moved to Kuwait. It's a great city for children. Everyone is so friendly towards them and you never feel like a burden when bringing your kids out and about.

The beaches aren't the cleanest but it's better than nothing. One of my favorite activities was visiting the mirror house, a very quirky tour through an artist's home that she has covered in shards of mirror.

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

Shopping in one of the many malls, the souks are all worth a visit, we enjoyed the mirror house. Lebnanai was the best Lebanese food we found. Located off of 30 in Al-Shaab.

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

Great food and spices, dates, lots of carpets, wood workings from region though little is made in Kuwait.

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

There is amazing food in Kuwait. Great Lebanese food, more burgers than you can shake a stick at, the best Indian food I've ever had to name a few. You can buy most any Western product you could want or need. There is a plethora of stores to shop in and generally speaking the people are friendly. Winter weather is awesome, sunny and 70F most days from November-March.

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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. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor, remember to roll with the punches and know that things will be different. Accept and enjoy it.

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3. Do you have any other comments?

Kuwait is the kind of place that is what you make it. Go in with a positive attitude, expect things to take a long time particularly during Ramadan.

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Kuwait City, Kuwait 03/23/15

Background:

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

Not my first experience. Have also lived in Swansea (Wales), Moscow (Russia), Belgrade (Serbia), and Kampala (Uganda).

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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 US. Either Atlanta-Frankfurt-Kuwait, or Dulles-Kuwait.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Nearly two 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?

Lots of big villas throughout. Also apartments. Nice housing. But housing costs are skyrocketing. Commute times vary by where you live and where you work.

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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 basically available. But it's EXPENSIVE! A box of cereal is US$8.

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

Mexican food.

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

All. Talabat.com is your key to getting ANYTHING food-related delivered to your door.

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

None really, except the mosquitos during the spring and fall that get in because no one here seems to use screens. Other than that - there's geckos, cute hedgehogs, 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?

You don't.

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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. Treat them well though as many Kuwaitis don't. Average cost for a full-time, live out maid/nanny is about US$600/mo.

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

Yes - Gold's gym, the Corniche Club, and others. No idea the cost.

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

Widely accepted.

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

Catholic, protestant.

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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 helps. But most people speak English.

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

Definitely.

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Transportation:

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

No trains. Taxis are safe and affordable. But buses are not a good option.

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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?

People here drive SUVs and cars of all sizes. But again, the driving is CRA-ZY.

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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 the same as the U.S.

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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?

Widely available and not too expensive.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Not quarantined, but they need to have recent shots. Quality vet care is available at Royal or International vet clinics.

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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?

Teaching, nursing and a few other positions are pretty numerous.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots volunteer for animal rescue leagues.

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

Business, business casual unless you're at the gym.

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Health & Safety:

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

Driving. Drivers here are reckless and incredibly rude. And the police don't actually stop anyone it seems. They just sit at traffic circles and check their phones. So no one is afraid of getting a ticket and the bad driving continues.

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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?

Decent basic medical care. For any surgery, people go to the US or UK.

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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?

Blowing dust and sand - generally unhealthy.

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

Dust. Lots of 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?

So, it's hot here in Kuwait. As in really hot. From June - mid-September your skin feels like it's searing on your body. Kind of like a turkey in an oven on Thanksgiving. During the "winter" it's actually pleasant - mid 50s F during the day. When it does rain here - it rains through the mesh awnings where the dust has gathered - which means it effectively rains mud! Lovely, eh?

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Schools & Children:

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

My child goes to TES, although there are several good options for schooling. Most of the kids from the Embassy go to ASK, TES, BSK or the new AUSK. Unfortunately ASK is the only game in town for HS aged kids. A lack of competition has not inspired ASK to improve their facilities or the quality of their programs - though I've heard from parents that it is getting better. For me, the sheer size of ASK (1,400 students) was too big and I didn't want my child to get lost in the crowd.

Also, TES (600 students) has some of the best facilities and academics for younger kids. They aren't trying to expand their years served (PreKG - Year 8 in the British system) and focus on really good schooling for the 13 and under set. But, its hard to get into as its developed such a good reputation - so register EARLY.

BSK is good and goes through HS though the student population seems to include a majority of SE Asians. If you're okay with that - it's a really good option.

Another school growing in popularity is AUSK. Several families have chosen it lately and really like it. AUSK goes up to 8th grade and has new facilities. They're planning to expand their ages served each year until they have can graduate a class from the HS.

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

Basic learning disabilities are addressed at some schools, but nothing for anything more severe.

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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. Several good ones.

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

Yes - several. The British Academy of Sports has good organized groups. The British Association of International Arts (BAIA) also has dance classes for ballet, modern, jazz and tap.

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Expat Life:

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

Morale here is low as there's NOTHING to do. You can't even swim in the Gulf as it's still so polluted.

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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?

Have people over for dinner.

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

There are things for families to do - though not much. Aqua park, science center, aquarium. There's very little for singles to do, or couples. No alcohol served anywhere here. And no pork. Don't even think about it.

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

Absolutely not. You'll get arrested.

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

Not really. Though women need to be respectful of the culture and not dress provocatively.

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

Ummmmmm - seeing camels I guess? Everything that could be really neat - Kuwait Towers, camel racing, the Heritage Village near the border with Saudi, Arabian horse shows, etc. suffers from a lack of publicity, directions, poor planning and nothing in English.

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

Get out of Kuwait and travel the region. Kuwait has done NOTHING to encourage or develop tourism.

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

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

If you like chain restaurants, this place will be a dream. Places like Pizza Hut and Burger King have prominent places on the Gulf.

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10. Can you save money?

Definitely not. Cost of Living is HIGH.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How hard it is.

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

No. Go to anywhere in the region but Kuwait and Saudi. It's not fun in either place.

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

Mini skirts, bacon and Jack Daniels.

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4. But don't forget your:

Personal hobbies - scrapbooking, reading, etc.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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Kuwait City, Kuwait 12/17/13

Background:

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

No. A few in Europe and Africa. 1st experience 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?

Houston. Typically about 15-20 hours - Houston to Europe - Europe to Kuwait. Oor Houston to Dubai - Dubai to Kuwait.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years 10 months. Still resident.

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

Energy Project.

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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 professionals are in high-rise apartments near the beach, small villas (houses and duplexes), or subdivided Kuwaiti Villas (very large houses, Kuwaitis often live with extended families in huge mansions and when move to a newer place in a trendier neighborhood subdivide).

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

Everything at again maybe a 25-50% premium. Co-ops are local subsidized stores with more reasonable costs but fewer western favorites. With a little looking around you can find almost everything you'd find in U.S. except beer, wine, and hard liquor. Beer and wine are freely available and not too bad, especially the good German-brewed stuff.

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

Get's occasionally cold in winter. Didn't have a heavy jacket.

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

All the American chains, and I mean ALL of them at maybe 25-50% higher cost. Fast food is just a little higher. Lots of great, reasonable ma and pa places. Kuwaitis marry all sorts of foreigners and sometime buy their wife a restaurant to run with her relatives or guest workers to cook her favorite recipes e.g. Mexican, Chinese, Ethiopian, Lebanese, Iranian, you name it.

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

Not bad. Few mosquitoes but occassional but very persistent flies.They come and go depending on heat and draught.

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Daily Life:

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

DHL for packages. Letters through a corporate mail drop.

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

Reasonable. 4-5 per hour for temporary workers. Slightly lower for poor English, higher for good English.

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

Many reasonable modern gyms, both stand-alone and associated with the big western hotels.

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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?

Safe and ubiquitous kiosks.

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

Two large Roman Catholic churches on either end of the city. Numerous small protestant churches with American, English, Phillipino, and Nigerian pastors out of converted villas or shopping mall conference rooms. Actually Arabic Christian Church too for Coptic Egyptians and I think Lebanese, Armenians, etc.

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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?

None, but you are treated better if you know a few social phrases in Arabic. English is a quasi co-official language, especially in the government and business world.

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

Pretty decent in the modern restaurants and malls. Just stay away from the old outdoor soukh's and poorer immigrant ghetto's.

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Transportation:

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

No trains and buses are dirt cheap. Taxi's cost medium range (it's a small country, about the size of New Jersey. You can ride across the whole country for about US$25).

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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?

Decent roads but terrible drivers. Bigger is better (for safety). Note that gas is 80 cents per gallon so don't worry about your bill. Foreigners get socked with import fees so just buy when you get here from a Kuwaiti dealer. Just a bit more than USA. So many expats get sent out on short notice - lots of good deals to be had for used cars - maybe even cheaper than USA. Especially ones bought for wives who were afraid to drive them much with all the reckless drivers. So you might find a 5-year old car with 30,000 kms.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes. Kind of high per monthly contract, decent per yearly contract. Not very high though. They have theoretical high rate plans but local infrastructure in your neighborhood won't let you take advantage.

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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?

3 or 4 good operators.Reasonable.

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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?

A few in the American and British consulate and schools. For trailing spouses it's much easier if they have either Arabic or a academic specialty at BS level or above. Pretty hard to compete at menial with hard-working Egyptians, Sudanese, or Lebanese who know the language better or Indians or Phillipinos who will work for less.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Pet shelter a big one. At your kid's school. Some charities for the poor Sub-Continental construftion workers - collecting winter coats, food relief, etc.

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

Very informal (but I work at an oil field). I think in the government offices, it's suit and tie (maybe more formal than in the U.S.). Don't think smart casual has caught on so it's Dishdashi's (robes) and suits.

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Health & Safety:

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

Seems like no crime whatsoever but I read about occasional crimes of passion in the newspapers. Usually teenagers drunk, road rage (horrible driving the biggest security risk) fights, bad home-made liquor. No major gang violence, little firearm violence despite many Kuwaiti's being Dove Hunters (see them along the side of the road). An indication, big outdoor soukh's often have a money changing area. No elaborate booths with locking doors and bulletproof glass and windows and little slots. Just tables piled with cash (probably several thousand $'s) of various currencies. No cops in sight. However nobody messes with them. Can you imagine this in Houston or New York?! I suspect this is because of the justice system. Most Kuwaitis are too rich to bother, expats would be stupid to give up jobs paying higher than their homeland to be deported and banned from return or, for serious violent crimes, be thrown in prison for life with no appeal.

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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 malaria or yellow fever. I've had some minor injuries and was fixed up fine. do see rich Kuwaitis go to Europe and U.S. for specialized cancer treatments, etc. Lots of foreign specialists sort of parachute through and advertise for a few months and go home. I think sort of luck of the draw if you get real good treatment or real bad treatment for difficult conditions. They do have many modern hospitals, both public and private. Very good socialized medicine for all permanent residents (not just citizens) for the public hospitals and clinics.

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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?

Rotten egg smell near the refineries. You can catch a bad wind occasionally depending on where you live. 5 or 6 sandstorms stir up allergies. Usually the fine dust settles by about the 2nd or 3rd day. Pretty decent otherwise (however I don't live or work anywhere near a refinery).

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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?

May to September is very, supernaturally hot - like Death Valley hot. It can be 130F a day or two a year. Weeks at 115-120F and lows in the 90sF! It's very dry though on days when it's so hot. It can actually feel worse when winds blow from the Gulf of Arabia rather than across the Arabian Desert. Then it's 95-105F but 80% humidity and stickily awful.

October and November are wonderful. March and April are wonderful. Like normal dry Mediterranean summers in Southern California or Italy. 80-90F highs, 50-65F lows. Dead of winter isn't bad - December-February - but very changeable. Almost never below freezing - maybe 30F one or two days a year way out in the desert. A typical January week will have 3 days in the high 50s, 2 days in the low 60's, 2 days in the mid-40s and you'd think you were in Siberia with everybody getting out their fur coats.There is a surprising amount of rain - not all day but pretty good gullywashers that can cause local flooding because of atrocious drainage built into roads and building developments in a usually dry place.

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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 direct experience. I know for a fact there is no High School Football (American Style). Therefore my Junior/Senior class son stayed in Houston with relatives and didn't come with us. I haven't heard major complaints from coworkers. It seems OK getting into American and British Uni's from the American and British schools. They have sporting competitions in other Gulf states and even southern Europe (only a handfull of schools in this small city state).

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

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

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

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Expat Life:

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

Huge (more than 2/3 of 3 million population). Very variable. Among Americans they usually either love it or hate it. Haters are usually folks on first assignment or those who have only been posted to Europe. It's one of those 'enjoy the good parts and ignore the bad parts.' Getting to know a few locals really helps. If you don't reach out, they can seem a little stand-offish or arrogant but some are very open, interesting people once you get to know them.

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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?

Movies. Eat out with friends at very good restaurants. Bowling, Target shooting.

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

I'd say fine for families, married couples, and single men. Single women aren't always happy. Most Western single men are locked up on military bases or oil guys on month on/ month off buried in their work. No clubs or much opportunity for social life if you are single. Single men seem OK as there are plenty of expat SE Asian women, a few European and American teachers and embassy workers, etc. Opportunities with Middle Eastern women is possible but highly dangerous.

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

I'm a straight married guy but I don't think you'd want to be too open or outrageous anywhere in the Middle East if you were gay. Ironically, straight men here are very free and affectionate with each other here compared to USA and kiss twice and hug on greeting, walk along talking holding hands, etc. I think actual gay acts and crossdressing are illegal and you could be arrested.

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

All kind of subtle tiered ethnic things. It's not really racial because Kuwaitis are very variable in skin color from light Meditteranean olive to medium-brown. But all kind of gradations from Islamic (preferred) to Christian (OK) to Hindu/Budhist/Eastern (only tolerated because they like the hard workers) to Jewish or Atheist (better not let anybody know or you will be thrown out). We even have a few churches for open worship of Christianity but other religions have to be in private unmarked houses.

There is also a varying list of preferred/not-so-preferred ethnicities. Hierarchy is basically : Kuwaiti->Saudi->other Arab (Egypt,Jordan,Sudan,Syria)->other Muslim (Iran,Pakistan, Indian Muslim)->non-Indian Muslim->Phillipino and other East Asian->on the out's because of recent history (Palestinians for siding with Sadaam; Pakistani's for Taliban and sheltering Bin Laden). However, this list changes constantly and I may be out of date. Also some of the lower-ranked folks are personally elevated by being here for generations - sort of honorary Kuwaitis without the extra pay or social welfare benefits. Unlike the USA, being born here doesn't make you a citizen. You must have ancestry dating back to the 1930's or very high-level (like Emir's family) sponsor.

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

Camel riding on Failaka Island, riding on my new Kuwaiti friend's speedboat at very high speed across Kuwait Bay and buzzing the shoreside restaurants, camel racing at the track, Grand Avenues Mall window shopping at an indoor "Rodeo Drive" (not buying). The U.N. international nature of the place (dozens of countries' nationals working here; more than Kuwaiti)

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

See above.

Also, Dune Buggy rental. Sea Doo rental. Scuba and skin diving off reefs (not really up there with Red Sea or Caribbean, though).

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

Shisha pipes. Fancy lamps. Furniture (Kuwaitis' don't make cool carved chests and furniture anymore but lots of small shops building custom stuff manned by Sub-Continentals).

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

Foreign service premium. Arabic culture. Vacations to Europe, Africa, and Asia are much easier than from America. Very decent comfort and safety for the Middle East in our perilous time.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes. But be careful about foreign travel and the luxury stores. You can get bored and blow half a months' paycheck easily.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How much fun it could be but how you need a lot of patience to get use to the culture and how it works. It's very deceptive because it looks superficially like an American city but the real culture and modus operandi is quite different. It's also sort of a democracy but then sort of an authoritarian state. It takes a while before you feel comfortable about what you can get away with. Turns out it's pretty laid back - especially compared to neighboring Saudi.

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

Yes. It turned out much better place than I expected.

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

Ski outfits and parkas. It's flat as a pancake and not very cold. For women - their string bikini's. You probably won't get arrested but you don't want to hear the catcalls and folks that think you are a "working girl".

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, sense of humor.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:


on Red Addair and the other wild well fighters puting out the wells after Sadaam set them on fire upone being thrown out by coalition forces.

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

Small Kingdoms
by Anastasia Hobbet. It's good because it has multiple characters of Kuwaiti, American, British, Indian background etc as well as of varying statuses e.g., from doctor to maid.

Kuwait Complete Residents' Guide
(multiple authors) - available at malls and Amazon

I don't know the name, but a young Kuwaiti author one the major "Pulitzer Prize" equivalent to the Arabic Books in 2013. It might be out in translation soon.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

It's definitely not paradise but good money, good food, safe, and lots of interesting people and culture. You'll have to travel to neighboring countries like Lebanon, Egypt, and Turkey for fabulous scenery. I plan on staying for as long as my company lets me. People are very affected by dust allergies and it's hard for single women (not to say it's impossible, just less fun) - they will have more challenges.

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Kuwait City, Kuwait 05/26/13

Background:

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

Fifth USG experience

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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?

14 hour direct flight to DC, daily.

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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?

For U.S. Embassy employees, compound living (townhomes), apartments, or some single family homes off compound. In general, it's spacious, modern, and nice but, apart from the compound there is very little green space.

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

Everything but pork and alcohol is available the local economy. There's a PX about 45 minutes from the embassy, offerring a limited range of U.S products, but most everything is available on the local economy. If you shop at Dean and DeLuca, you'll be in for sticker shock. Otherwise, it is still more expensive than the US, but this is offset tremendously by the super-cheap gasoline!

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

Everything is here.

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

Any food you want, it's here -- at a price.

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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?

APO/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?

Easily available but not inexpensive. While local law permits hiring of domestic employees for $180 per month, most U.S. Embassy staff pay well beyond that ($500 per month).

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

The embassy has a gym and access to at least one local hotel club.

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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 access anywhere.

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

Yes. Catholic, Protestant, etc. are all widely available.

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

Yes. Inexpensive.

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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. Most public workers speak English.

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

Many Kuwaitis are disabled, so among other non-European posts where we've served, this is probably the best. But it is still not on par with the U.S.

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Transportation:

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

Some staff take taxis, but they aren't inexpensive.

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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?

Four-wheel-drive, simply for the protection. Kuwait has one of the highest rates of motor fatalities in the world - fast cars, young drivers, too many cell phones, and excellent U.S.-designed roads.

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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. $100 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?

Widely available.

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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)?

High quality care is available at several vet hospitals 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?

Yes.

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

Conservative while keeping in mind that it's hot.

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Health & Safety:

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

It's the Middle East, so there's always the possibility of a regional issue impacting Kuwait, but it's very safe here, with little to 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?

Reasonable health 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?

Very unhealthy during dust storms, but okay the rest of the time.

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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?

Summers get up to 120 - but it's dry! Winters are quite comfortable.

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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 options. The English School, British School of Kuwait, or American School of Kuwait (the only high school). None has state-of-the-art facilities, but most families are happy.

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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?

Available but expensive.

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

Yes - after-school programs include basketball, ballet, soccer, karate, etc.

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

Mostly at home entertaining given restrictions on alcohol.

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3. Morale among expats:

It really, really depends.

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

It's a make-your-own-fun kind of place for all of the above, with good regional travel opportunities.

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

It is illegal to practice homosexuality in Kuwait, however couples have successfully lived here.

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

Kuwaitis are generally very welcoming to U.S. citizens. However, those who are of Arab or "other" descent may experience some prejudice. Kuwaitis are not very accepting of South Asians, Asians, or other non-Gulf Arabs.

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

Weather in the winter is fantastic - clear, cool, sunny days.

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

Movies, malls, American restaurants. Some water sports, camel racing, desert camping. That's about it.

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

There is a dearth of local shopping opportunities.

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

Easy living, but be prepared to pay. The malls here are unlike any others - on par or better than those in Dubai, but everything comes at a price.

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11. Can you save money?

It really depends on your grocery intake and requirements, as well as your travel pattern. If you don't travel regionally and don't require tons of imported 'gourmet' foods, absolutely.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

It's been a great post for my family, but there are a lot of unhappy people here.

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

short shorts, halter tops, and bicycles.

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3. But don't forget your:

sunscreen, BBQ grill, and books.

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Kuwait City, Kuwait 02/19/13

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. 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, United States

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4. How long have you lived here?

(The contributor is affiliated with the U.S. Embassy and lived in Kuwait City for two years, a first 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?

Off-compound homes and apartments are large and often luxurious. You will likely have to have a full-time domestic worker to keep these places up. On-compound housing is small, but that means no commute in Kuwaiti traffic. Traffic can be difficult to deal with. Many wrecks take place at a very high rate of speed.

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

Western groceries are expensive. If you want American and European products, check out Lulu's and the Sultan Center. The embassy now has a small exchange - a Godsend.

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

With the new embassy exchange, there is little you will need to bring.

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

Everything is here.

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

If you go "camping" out in the desert there can be lots of house flies. Many of the desert camping areas are strewn with amazing amounts of garbage.

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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, if necessary.

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

Again, pay the extra amount and have a clear conscience. You may determine, as we did, that you really don't want a full-time, live-in. After trying that, we found that a once-a-week cleaning is really all we need. If both parents (assuming you have kids) work, then you will find the situation here virtually ideal.

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

There is a small gym on compound. There are a lot of private gyms, but they are expensive. Embassy employees get free admission to the Radisson - it has an awesome pool and a great atmosphere.

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

Credit cards, debit cards, ATMs everywhere, but watch the hidden currency conversion "fees".

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

Almost everything - Catholic, several types of Protestant, Anglican, and LDS. There are many, many Christian congregations that meet on the NECK (National Evangelical Church of Kuwait) compound. Also, there is an evangelical congregation called the International Christian Fellowship of Kuwait that meets weekly.

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

Kuwait Times, Al-Watan Daily English, and the Arab Times for newspapers. You can get Arab satellite off-compound, or an OSN satellite package. On-compound, you get about 50 channels, including American 24-hour news channels, international news, AFN channels, 3-4 OSN movie channels, and some Arab satellite movie channels that show American movies.

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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?

Arabic definitely helps, but many service workers are Philippine or Indian and speak English.

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

Many. Pedestrians beware! There are some areas along the Gulf where you can walk or take a wheelchair.

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Transportation:

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

Find a good, reliable taxi company and use them.

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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 whatever. You may feel safer in a little larger 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, its speed and reliability depend on where in the city you live. On-compound is adequate and costs around $700 - $800/year or more for better 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?

Embassy provided.

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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)?

The embassy compound now has a fenced-in area for dogs. A western-quality vet is available.

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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 spouses work in embassy jobs. I don't know of anyone working on the economy whose spouse works 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. Women should dress very conservatively, so as not to attract unwanted attention. As an Arab friend told my wife soon after we arrived: If an Arab man speaks to a Western woman in public, he has ill intentions." You will run into the occasional Kuwaiti who went to college in the U.S. and just wants to chat. Men should not wear shorts in public unless they are exercising, and even then, make sure they are long - no running shorts, dude.

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Health & Safety:

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

There have been protests in front of the U.S. Embassy at times. There are many public marches, sit-ins, and demonstrations in the ongoing political dispute betweeen the government and the opposition. They are something to be cautious around, but they are not anti-Western and are 'generally' peaceful. Do your best to stay out of Jahra. The traffic there is something to behold. There are many high-end sports cars and huge American pick-ups being driven at high rates of speed and with complete disregard for anyone else on the road. It will help if you understand that what people are doing to you in traffic is not in any way personal; they actually think it's not rude to drive this way. People do not know how to wait in a line here, and like water flowing downhill, they will try to go down emergency lanes, over curbs, over medians, or just make an extra lane where there's not one. Because the interstates are so nice, you get fooled into thinking that people will drive like they do in the West - - - but they won't. If you see someone using a blinker, they are Westerners. The many young Kuwaitis driving aggressively at high rates of speed, mixed with South-Central Asians driving older smaller vehicles at 60 km/hr below the speed limit, doesn't make for a good combination. All that being said, I never got in a wreck, and at some level it will help you to drive a little more like a Kuwaiti. If you park on a street somewhere, the people who will parallel park in front of and behind you will likely figure out how much room they have by just running into your front and rear bumper. Okay, enough about the traffic. I have a friend that came from the third world, and he thought driving in Kuwait was a dream come true.

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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?

Dust storms - they will be worse than you are thinking. There is decent medical care here. We had a baby while we were here and chose to go back to the US to have it. Doctor care here is solid, but there is no comparison with nurses. Kuwait does not even come close to the professionalism and expertise of American nurses.

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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?

The dust storms March - May were undersold in previous descriptions that I read about Kuwait. They will alter your lifestyle when they occur. There may be some outside of these months, but they are few.

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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 hot during the summer, regularly in the 120's. You know you have been through a Kuwaiti summer when you start to look at the 5-day forecast and are excited about the day where it will only be 115.The summer lasts from mid-April to mid-October. November through February is very nice. It will get cool some nights.

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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 a daughter in ASK for one term in 2nd grade. It is total luck-of-the-draw as to which teacher you get. Some are great, some don't care. Usually the teachers are so mentally beaten down by the unruly kids, their disorganized administration, and parents who think their kids should be given something for nothing, that they barely have time for the good students. TES has a better reputation, a higher level of academic rigor, fewer behavioral problems, and more expats. We ended up home-schooling during most of the time we were here, and it was best for us. Also, there are a number of Westerners home-schooling, and they have a group that meets on Thursdays, when all the kids get together to work on their social skills (parks, field trips, etc.), because everyone knows that home-schooled kids need to work on their social skills :).

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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?

Preschool is available. Domestic workers are plentiful. Non-U.S. Embassy-employed expats and Kuwaitis pay their domestic workers $195-$300/month. Most U.S. Embassy personnel pay theirs between $500-$600/month. Just suck it up and pay the extra amount if you want a full-time live-in domestic worker. Their families back in their country of origin are dirt poor, and they are making amazing sacrifices to earn a small amount of money to help their families and children back home.

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

Yes. Friends' sons played on a travel baseball team and loved it. Daughters took ballet and gymnastics. There is an extraordinary expat community here with many, many talented people. Daughters took private violin and voice lessons from extremely talented musicians for very reasonable prices.

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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, but there is a good-size Western expat community. Some of the best people I have met in my life are American expats living here long-term.

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2. Morale among expats:

Some are frustrated, but it's all about making a decision to laugh off the frustrating things and embrace the good.

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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?

There are Monday night and Thursday night AEWA gatherings. There are usually a couples with nice homes or apartments who are good at entertaining. If you can crack into Kuwaiti social events, do not turn them down, they are usually very fun.

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

Men and women stay largely segregated in public unless they are an immediate family.

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

Homeosexuality is illegal, but like everything else that is illegal in Kuwait, it goes on behind closed doors.No. There is probably a hidden scene, but I don't know for sure.

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

There is a hierarchy of importance here based on religion, race, and nationality. Kuwaitis at the top, followed closely by other Gulf Arabs. You will see that while some Asians have work in skilled positions here, there are countless Indians, Bangladeshis, Egyptians, Sri Lankans, Nepalese, and others employed as domestic workers, sanitation workers, cleaners, and construction workers who are barely viewed as human beings.

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

I have met several Kuwaitis who are friends and have kept my attitude about the country somewhat positive.

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

The highest likelihood of getting to know a Kuwaiti is through some type of work relationship, depending on your job. Take advantage of that and take them up on their offers to take you places - they are not asking just to be polite, like Westerners, hoping you'll refuse. They take hospitality to a different level. If you get the opportunity to go to a wedding celebration, you must go. Go out to the desert camps if you get a chance. We did not travel much regionally, but everyone who went to Oman raved about it. Bahrain is a nice getaway - it is a little more permissive, Western-friendly society. Expats do a lot of productions here. Check out the Ahmadi music group, Kuwait Little Theatre, and others. Visit Falaika Island and tour the city abandoned after the Iraqi invasion - it's like time stood still.

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

There's not really a lot made in Kuwait. I bought some diwaniya furniture. Go to the "Friday Market" - go to the "Heritage Sooq".

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

If you want to be in the Middle East, you will be in one of the places on the shrinking list of posts where you can still bring a family. While many find it difficult to save money, we have managed to do well in that area. COLA is 25%, Hardship 10%, and there is Sunday pay.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, but I recommend getting out of Kuwait when possible. Kuwaitis travel all the time to Europe, the U.S., and the Far East. You need a break, but if you can limit your travel and you don't get addicted to shopping on Amazon, you can really save.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I'm glad we did. The work experience here was outstanding, but I probably wouldn't choose to come back. Regardless of what your interests are, you can probably find others who are into it, you just might have to be very proactive.

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

Bad attitude. I have been guilty of getting caught up in the expat whining about Kuwait. Really, the value here is in the relationships that are available with some Kuwaitis and the rich expat community. I have friends, who are long-term residents (Westerners), that shame me with how positively they view living here.

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3. But don't forget your:

Conservative clothes.

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

Small Kingdoms

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

There are a lot of facades here. Often times, there are facades behind the facade. Kuwait is extremely complex, and just when you think you are figuring things out, you will see another piece of the puzzle that challenges your previous notions. Things are not the way they appear on the outside. There are 1.2 million citizens sitting on 10% of the world's proven oil reserves. There is tremendous wealth here, and centuries of "the way we've always done it" is clashing with a tech-savvy youth that are confused about what traditions to keep and which ones to discard. Find the reasons to enjoy being here and invest in those pursuits.

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Kuwait City, Kuwait 01/20/13

Background:

1. 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?

Louisville, Kentucky --- 16 hours with a connection in Washington, D.C.

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2. 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 Kuwait City for fifteen months, a fifth 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?

Housing used to be one of the main positives about coming to Kuwait, but that situation is deteriorating as most landlords are increasing rents to the point where most embassy employees are way below their maximum allowed square footage. If you are a family and you are not lucky enough to get assigned to compound housing, it will be hard on your kids.

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

Excellent availability but you pay for it. An example would be 10 USD for a package of Ball Park hot dogs.

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

Toilet paper.

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

Everything. A family of 3 will spend no less than 75 USD on a nice dinner.

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

Seasonal flies.

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Daily Life:

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

We send and receive mail via the post office in 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?

US$7.50 an hour is the going rate for part-time help. If you want a live-in, rates are negotiable based upon what you want to be done and the size of your house. An estimate for live-in would be 400-600 USD a month.

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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?

We have not had a problem with the ones that accept our card.

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

Yes, Catholic, Protestant, gospel, and non-denominational Christian.

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

Yes; do not 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.

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

The sidewalks are in poor shape.

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Transportation:

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

We do not use busses and trains. We call a taxi, which is nice when we need one.

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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?

Just about everything is here, along with the shops that can work on them.

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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, 10 MB per second download speed is about 800 USD per year.

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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 do not think so, but there are certain breeds of dogs that are not allowed to enter the country.

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

Yes, there is an Italian-run vet hospital which offers boarding.

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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?

Generally conservative.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not significant.

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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?

Good, except during the dust storms, when it it BAD.

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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 extremely HOT from mid Apr-Oct when it starts to cool off. The rainy/winter season is short and will usually come between Dec-Feb. March and November are the short Spring and Fall times.

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Schools & Children:

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

The English School (British Curriculum), British School of Kuwait (British Curriculum) and The American School of Kuwait (American Curriculum). American School of Kuwait is the only option if you have High-School-aged children; the other 2 stop at 7th grade if I remember correctly.

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2. 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?

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Neutral.

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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?

Make friends and you will have a good time.

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

Families: it is better for families, but housing is changing that. Singles: it is a DRY country, so there is a very limited party scene. Couples: you can travel within the region.

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

Do not know - it must be well hidden.

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

Nothing abnormal for the Middle East.

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

It is easy to travel to the other more exciting locations within the mid-east.

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

Eat, they have everything. Some beaches are nice. Amusement parks are of poor quality. Malls are very nice but extremely expensive.

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

There is nothing unique here in Kuwait.

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

The grocery stores are very good. You can get great produce year-round. There is just about every American chain restaurant here. There is not too much that is special about Kuwait.

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11. Can you save money?

No. With the cost of groceries and necessities, you will spend a lot.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

NO, not at all. The only reason we came here was because we were evacuated from Syria, and this was what was available.

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

snow boots.

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3. But don't forget your:

sweaters; it does get cold here.

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4. Do you have any other comments?

I would not bid on this location. The housing situation really is deteriorating.

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Kuwait City, Kuwait 05/17/12

Background:

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

No. Yemen (various cities), Sudan (various cities), Addis Ababa, Cairo

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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?

Richmond, VA16 hours. Direct flight from Kuwait to Dulles, then a 2 hour drive south.

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3. How long have you lived here?

9 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 families live either on compound (great, grassy area), in villas, or in high apartments. Other expats here with private companies typically live in flats, as rent is very high. Commute times to schools can be up to an hour or more, as there are only a few good schools clustered in one area.

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

Anything except pork any alcohol can be purchased here if you are willing to pay for it. If you are here with the US govt you may have access to the APO and be able to order most things you would need.

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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?

Every thing you can think of!More expensive than in the US.

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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 available in Western style grocery stores.

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

Usual ants and cockroaches coming in the houses when the weather gets hot. Small lizards. Mosquitos but no malaria.

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Daily Life:

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

APO via 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?

Highly available. Many people have live-in help and pay them around $400 USD a month. Part time help runs approx. $3-$4 an hour. Most from the Phillipines, Sri Lanka and India.

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

Yes, lots of the name brands if you are willing to pay.

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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?

Can be used at most all retail outlets.

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

Catholic, Evangelical, Anglican services. A few English speaking mosques.

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

All available.

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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 necessary, but PLEASE make an effort to at least learn please and thank you in Arabic. It shows a lot of respect and surprises Kuwaitis (pleasantly) if you know any Arabic.

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

Not a lot of handicapped parking. Not many walkable areas.

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Transportation:

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

Very little local transport. Taxis are fairly expensive compared to other Middle Eastern countries.

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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?

Lots of toyotas here. Can drive anything from sedans, to motorcycles, to large SUVS.No hybrids.

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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, comparable to US.

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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?

Can buy whatever you want.

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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)?

A few.

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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?

Teaching, tutoring. Not a lot else.

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

Modest. Women should cover elbows and shoulders to be respectful, but this is not required.

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Health & Safety:

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

As we are here with the US govt, and live at the embassy compound, we have security issues to face each day. The heightened tension in Iraq has not helped this. However, for the typical expat, security is not a concern. The population is 65% expat, so you don't really stand out!

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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?

Western style medical care, but not up to US standards. Lots of hospitals. Decent care for having a baby, basic surgery.

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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. Dust season (approx Feb to April) can be difficult, particularly if you have allergies or asthma. There is very little industrial air pollution though. It is much cleaner air than many major world cities. No burning trash, etc.

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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?

May-Oct over 100 degrees Farenheit each day, dry heat. Nov-April beautiful days of highs to 70s or 80s. Occasional frost at night in Dec and Jan.7-10 rainstorms a year.

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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 School of Kuwait (ASK) and The English School (TES) are the ones recommended by the embassy. There are numerous others. TES has an excellent reputation, but admission is competitive with long waiting lists, even for the preschool program. ASK has a poorer reputation for student life, a higher percentage of Kuwaiti students, and older facilities. Many, many other international schools to choose from. If your employer is not paying for school, start saving money!Typical tuition for preschool starts at $7,000 a year!!!

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

Don't know.

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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?

Numerous preschools, with varying levels of standards. Most require 5 days a week starting at age 3 or 4.Tuition is a lot!See above comment. Most people use nannies for small babies in day-care situations.

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

Through the schools. Also Little League.

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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!2/3 of Kuwait is expat, but that includes all the non-Western service workers. Many, many contractors here from the US who are former military.

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2. Morale among expats:

Poor. Unfortunately, many people come to Kuwait expecting it to be Dubai, which it is not. Kuwait also attracts a lot of expats on their first overseas tour, who often aren't prepared for cross cultural living. The Western veneer of Kuwait hides a very Arab city at heart.

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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?

Movies, restaurants, in homes.

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

Families or couples. I think singles would have a hard time with the lack of a dating scene.

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

No. This is the Middle East, after all.

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

Women have more freedom here than many Middle Eastern countries, but still face some discrimination. There has been an increasing (in the last 3 month) crackdown on churches here, and Kuwait seems to be becoming more fundamentalist in politics and religious leanings.

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

Visiting the desert, learning of the 2 Iraq war histories. Long walks on the Corniche by the Gulf. Interacting with expats from all over the world when I leave my home!

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

Aquarium, desert camping, lots of malls, old market, art and Gulf War museums, parks.

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

Rugs from Iran, pashminas, furniture from India.

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

The weather is beautiful 5 months out of the year!Wonderful service culture in retail and restaurants, as these are all staffed by motivated Philipinos. Lots of modern amenities, no power cuts or water shortages!

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11. Can you save money?

Hard to as the cost of living is high.

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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:

Dogs. There is no place to walk them or let them roam free, and dogs are not valued in the local culture. So don;t bring your dog and then complain about no dog parks, or kids throwing rocks at your dog. This is the Middle East!

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3. But don't forget your:

Flexibility, Open mind, sunscreen and sun hat!

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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?

Don't come expecting to find the same amenities you do in America. Be prepared for dangerous driving on the highways. Learn a little bit of Arabic. Enjoy the beautiful views of the Gulf, but don't expect to swim in it's polluted waters while you are here. Have an open mind towards Kuwait---it's had a rough 20 years of recovery from wars.

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Kuwait City, Kuwait 05/14/12

Background:

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

First post, first expat experience.

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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?

Home base is Utah. Travel from Kuwait to Dulles is 13 hours 30 min on the direct United Flight, then we had 3.5 hour flight to Utah.

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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.)?

Trailing spouse with 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?

There is traffic in the morning, and then again at midday when everyone goes home for a downtime ( 1-4pm ), so stay off the major roads from 12:30-1:30pm. Then traffic picks up again around 6pm when everyone goes back out for night-time adventures.

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

If you shop at the neighborhood co-op grocery stores, you will save more money then shopping at the western import stores like Sultan Center and Lulu's Hypermarket. I shop mostly at our local co-ops (Mishref and Zahra co-ops--Zahra is particularly well kept and nice) and once a month go to Sultan Center and Lulu's on 208 for bigger trips and for things I can't find at the co-ops.

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

Holiday foods (canned pumpkin, cranberry sauce, stuffing mix), but they sell all that here at Sultan Center. It's just really expensive. Kuwait has almost everything now (except real Vanilla and almond extract). The only thing they don't have here is good Mexican food, but you can buy tortillas, salsa, enchilada sauce, and refried beans from the Sultan Center now.

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

Almost every single U.S. fast food chain is here, including Arby's (known as Hardees here). Taco Bell came last year. Prices are comparable to U.S.--a bit more expensive. There are also nicer U.S. restaurant chains: TGIFridays, Applebees, Ruby Tuesdays, Fuddruckers, Johnny Rockets, Potbelly's, Chicago UNO's Pizza, Pizza Express, Pizza Hut, Papa John's.....list goes on and on. There is even Cold Stone, Marble Slab, and Krispy Kreme.

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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?

Not so much, however they are moving towards more local-grown, organic options. The Sultan Center in Hawally has started selling local organic produce.

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

Hardly any. Flies and mosquitoes before it gets too cold or too hot, but they are hardly a bother.

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Daily Life:

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

We are lucky enough to have APO, however, a company called Aramex is here and you can set up an account with them to receive packages. Kuwait doesn't have a reliable private residence 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?

Domestic help is readily available here. Price ranges from a very low end of 60-80KD per month (Kuwaitis pay their help very little) to a more reasonable price of 110-160KD per month (generally expats pay theirs better -- at the embassy we are encouraged to pay a more reasonable price then the Kuwaitis pay their help). Price varies depending on whether or not your help is full-time live-in, or full-time live-out, or part-time. Generally, part-time is 2KD per hour.

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

Yes, tons. Most are segregated. U.S. Embassy families receive free membership at the SAS Radisson. The Palms hotel gym is nice. Most hotels have memberships you can join, and there are other private gyms: Flex, Curves, Gold's Gym, 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?

We mostly use cash here. At restaurants and stores at the mall I have used my credit card, but for grocery shopping and other misc. shopping around town I always use cash.

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

There are services here for many different religions that meet privately in villas, in addition to a few that meet in hotels--the Catholic church meets at the Radisson, there is a New Evangelical Church that has their own building downtown.

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

The Kuwait Times and Arab Times can be found in English online for free.

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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. We have learned greetings and 'thank you' and that's it. Everything is in English (other than local restaurants in neighborhoods and some signs).

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

Malls and grocery stores are wheelchair-friendly, and handicapped parking can be found at every shopping center. There are sidewalks along the water as well. Sidewalks in neighborhoods are non-existent.

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Transportation:

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

I do not know of any Americans or any British friends who take the local buses. They aren't reliable enough to follow a set schedule and may be late or early. Many, many people take taxis here. They range in price and are safe, but be sure to only get in a marked taxi and not someone who pulls over and may not be a taxi.

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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 bigger is better here--the roads can be dangerous and we definitely feel safer in an SUV vs. a small sedan. The terrain isn't rugged, unless you go out into the desert for camping. Gas is cheap, so why not drive a gas guzzling SUV?

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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?

Kuwait's internet can't be described as fast, but it isn't dial-up slow either (except high peak times like Thursday and Friday nights). There are many companies--the easiest is to get a Zain stick and pay per bandwidth until you can get faster DSL set up if it's available in your building. Most of the embassy community uses Quality Net or Fast Telco.

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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?

SIM cards are plentiful and cheap. You'll need your passport to get one, and it will have to be prepaid. After you have your civil ID it can be postpaid. Cell phone stores are in every mall and many grocery stores.

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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 have pets, but much of the embassy community does, or did find pets while they were here. There are many cats and dogs in the shelters that need homes. There are vets and kennels used by the embassy community, and I think they are fine with the quality (haven't heard complaints). The embassy has a Pet Clinic every few months, so you can just bring your pet to the embassy for shots and check ups.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There is tons of government run around if you want to start your own private business, but there are plenty of teaching jobs available for qualified individuals. I'm not familiar with other jobs outside of the embassy.

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

Definitely shorts should come below the knee for both men and women. You would stand out for sure if you had exposed knees or shoulders. No tank tops or low-cut shirts. Showing any cleavage out in public would be extremely inappropriate here, and you would get unwanted attention. I wear skirts that come to my knees to church, but I wouldn't wear them to the malls here. Regular shirts and cap sleeves are fine.

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Health & Safety:

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

We are advised to use caution here in Kuwait. Don't engage in road-rage aggression, although you may be tempted. There are the obvious regional issues with terrorism and protests. Kuwait is safer than much of the middle east, but we are advised to stay away from Jahra, as we would stand out as the only westerner's there (although I have lots of non-embassy friends who go there to see the Red Fort). We are advised to not explore through the desert where we might encounter land mines, but we have gone out exploring in popular places where people camp a lot (around Mutla Ridge). Lots of people go desert camping, but I'd go in group. We feel very safe here, and I go out by myself to the souk, or to see shows at night by myself and feel completely safe -- other than the crazy drivers and speed demons on the road.

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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 a few clinics that have higher reputations, such as International clinic, Hadi Clinic, and many expats deliver children at Royale Hayat hospital in Jabriya. For big emergencies, it's best to go to the government hospital like Mubarak Al-Kabeer.

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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?

The dusty, hazy air has been a concern, but neither I nor my husband, nor our two children have had any infections or illnesses due to the dust. Occasionally we get allergy symptoms if a particularly bad storm comes through.

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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 (100-120 degrees F from May to mid September). Humidity only kicks in every once in a while, although if you are on the coast you'll feel it more. It is wonderful, temperate 60-70 degree weather from November to February, sometimes even through March.

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Schools & Children:

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

Our children were young, and we kept them home instead of paying for private preschools which are expensive.

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

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

There are a few British-owned reputable preschools. As mentioned, they are expensive when compared to preschools/nurseries in the U.S.

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

There is Kuwait Little League, Kuwait Ice Hockey (at the Ice Skating rink). There are also private soccer clubs. The Little Gym Kuwait offers gymnastics classes. The schools also have swimming programs. I have friends with kids in Karate classes here as well.

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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 are many, many expats here from U.S., Australia, Canada, as UK as teachers, plus many Americans here as military contractors or for oil. And, as I mentioned, Kuwait's society working industry is run primarily by workers from other countries, such as Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, etc.

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2. Morale among expats:

There is a split between those who love it here and those who hate it. Generally, I think people cope well with Kuwait. We have good days and bad days, but mostly we just go with the flow and try not to let the hard things get us down, and work at finding the neat things to do.

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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?

There are some neat things here for entertainment:-bowling-movie theatres-Kuwait Little Theatre -Ahmadi Music Group-DAR Al Athar Islamiyyah programs -Cinemagic Rooftop Theare in Salmiyah-Go Kart Racing-Paint Balling

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

We find it very safe, and good for families. Singles tend to not like Kuwait, since there is no nightlife (no bars, dance clubs, drinking, etc.) except for 'underground' ones that you might be able to find, all of which are illegal of course. The embassy does have a Happy Hour and a soccer team, an ultimate frisbee team, and we have access to the Arifjan Army base that has MWR activities, although it's 45 min. south.

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

Public displays of affection, even between men and women, definitely should be limited to hand holding. Gays or lesbians should be discreet when in public, as it is generally unaccepted here among the culture.

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

Kuwait is quite conservative in regards to religion. A few religions are officially recognized here, but many many more meet together weekly in villas. We are advised to remain discreet. There are many, many expats from all over the world here. The only prejudice I've heard about is from my friends who look more middle eastern (dark hair, dark eyes), and who have been looked down upon by more traditional Kuwaiti women for not covering their hair and arms/neck (they assume that these Americans are actually Muslims). Even as a woman, I haven' felt any prejudices from men here. I find that everyone is very polite and willing to help me.

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

Visiting Jerusalem was definitely a highlight. Go-Kart racing was fun. A ridiculously large house was pretty awesome (again, this is provided by the embassy, so other expats may have a different experience). We really like Cinemagic Rooftop Theatre, and I was involved in many shows at Kuwait Little Theatre, which was a neat experience. Going to the Heritage Souk and getting to know that and exploring new corners of it was always a fascinating adventure. Same can be said for the Friday Market.

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

There a couple of museums: Heritage Museum, Invasion Museum (Kuwait House for National Works), Maritime Museum, Tareq Rajeb Museum, Tareq Rajeb Calligraphy Museum, Modern Art Museum, and the Aquarium & Discovery Science Center. Each Mall has an arcade/amusement park (like Chuckee Cheese on steroids) with bowling alleys, pool tables, and rides. Avenues and 360 Mall are popular places to go, although we never go out at night---toooooooo busy and tooooooo much traffic. mornings are best for exploring. Check out a website I put together with things to do here: www.favoritethingskuwait.blogspot.com

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

Iranian carpets are a popular thing to buy. Not much is unique to Kuwait. Most souvenirs come from India (wood camels, tables, etc). We are happy with our Pashminas from India, carpets from Iran or Afghanistan, jewelry with our name in Arabic (bracelets, keychains, necklaces). You can buy traditional Kuwaiti weavings from Sadu House, and dhow replicas of their pearling boats at the souks.

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

Most people say Kuwait is best as a traveling hub for other more interesting nearby places to visit. While we did visit Cairo and Jerusalem -- and that definitely was one of the best things we did -- for me being able to experience the middle east in a safe, comfortable environment was also valuable. Our living accommodations on the U.S. Embassy compound were fantastic.

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11. Can you save money?

You can save money by shopping at co-ops and not eating out too much....but most people say 'what else is there to do besides eat out and travel away from Kuwait?' So it can be hard, depending on how you live. We didn't travel much, and shopped at Co-ops, so we saved some.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, we had a fabulous tour here. We lived like royalty and were treated that way too. We would definitely do it as a first tour again. Many people coming to Kuwait as a second or third tour had a hard time if they came from Europe or Asia. It can be seen as a step 'down' but for us, we had nothing to compare it to, and really enjoyed it. It's all what you make of it.

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

bikinis, small cars, driving rules, and high expectations.

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3. But don't forget your:

sunglasses, sunscreen, patience, and sense of adventure.

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

There are a few books that people read-- Understanding Arabs, Small Kingdoms. However, I'd suggest reading the local blogs to get a real feel for Kuwait:2:48AM: http://www.248am.comGrapevine: http://www.grapevinekuwait.com/His & Hers: http://hishersq8.com/Expat & The City: http://expatandthecity.blogspot.com/Ladies Who Do Lunch in Kuwait: http://www.ladieswhodolunchinkuwait.com/

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Kuwait is what you make of it. You can come and enjoy your time here, see what there is to see, embrace the culture, get lost in the souks and love it, get things tailored for cheap, and have fun traveling to nearby places. Or, you can complain about the dust, restrictions (no alcohol or pork, lots of run-around trying to get things accomplished), traffic, sandstorms, lack of entertainment and things to do. After 2 years, we are ready to go, but we would have loved a third year, and we didn't complain our whole two years here like some others did. Find the hidden treasures of Kuwait and have fun exploring!

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Kuwait City, Kuwait 01/20/12

Background:

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

I have lived in the Dominican Republic and Moshi, Tanzania.

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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?

There are direct flights to Kuwait from Dulles. It take about 21 hours from Seattle to Dulles to Kuwait.

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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.)?

Educator.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Commutes are infamous. My commute from Fahaheel to Hawali was 45 minutes, and we had to leave early to avoid rush hour.

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

The cost of food is comparable to the US.

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

If you like fashion, don't buy anything here because while the prices are the same or higher, the quality is not. If you like bargains, again, do not shop here; bring your clothes. Kuwaitis like to travel to Dubai and Abu Dhabi to do their shopping, and to the UK and US.

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

Restaurants are a big positive in Kuwait. They serve excellent food (although food-borne illness can be an issue in the summer) and provide excellent service. There are a couple of Thai places, lots of Chinese, some Lebanese restaurants, Mexican (not super, but satisfies the craving okay), McDonalds, Burger King, Popeyes, KFC, you name it.

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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?

Organic food can be found cheaply in hidden places the Indians/Bangladeshis know of, or expensively at Dean and Deluca in the Avenues mall. Fruits and vegetables are abundant, imported from Egypt, Australia and other countries, as well as a few vegetables that are grown in Kuwaiti green houses.

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

Cockroaches can be an issue. I saw a mosquito once or twice.

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Daily Life:

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

Most get mail through a courrier service. Legend has it that there is a postal system; I don't know anyone who uses it, Kuwaiti or expat.

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

Filipinos are the most educated, and therefore the most expensive. They tend to speak the best English. Most ex-pats tend to have Sri-Lankan domestic help. They tend to cost go from 7-10KD per week.

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

Gyms exist and are expensive. The Palms offers a discount for married couples, and they don't mind males and females who are acquaintances registering together.

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

Credit cards and ATM machines are no problem to use.

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

Yes, there are mosques everywhere, and a few non-denomination Christian churches. The Mormons don't have a church, but they have a community. I'm not sure what else.

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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?

It is a good idea to speak some Arabic; the main opportunity to use it is with taxi drivers, who are often Bedouin. Know how to say left, right, straight, yes, and no. Learn numbers so you can negotiate a good price. Indian, Bangladeshi and Filipino cab drivers usually speak enough English to understand directions and negotiate prices.

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

Malls are wheelchair accessible, and that's about it. Sidewalks are full of inconsistencies, and sand is ubiquitous--sometimes the only way to get from point A to point B is to either walk through it or walk in the street.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are what ex-pats tend to use, but the bus system is reliable and much cheaper. In busses, be careful about sitting next to the window, as kids sometimes like to throw bricks at them.

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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?

Kuwaitis teens who do desert driving like Hummers. Most can use just about anything because the roads are well-tended.

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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?

Dongles are used, so the speed isn't the best, and service can be dodgy at times. Overall, though, it works. The cost is around 25KD a 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?

The best phone company depends on where you live. Choose the company people around you have, because reception varies from place to place.

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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 is a decent veteranarian next to the Friday Market, and a couple of others on the outskirts of town. The Friday Market also has a row of pet supply stores.

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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 lot of jobs for teachers and engineers who work in oil.

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

Do not show the knee, cleavage or shoulders, and wear nothing see-through or tight. Many a Kuwaiti teen pushes this envelope, but it makes the locals uncomfortable. Police stop non-Western expats who break this code.

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Health & Safety:

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

Kuwait has a penal code that includes torture, so it's pretty safe, and theft is pretty rare.

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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 great in private hospitals, with Western-trained doctors, many who are amenable to alternative medicine. The public hospitals are good for when you don't want care, but need a certificate proving you were sick for work. The cost is only 1KD per visit there, the check-up is cursory, and the certificate is easy to get.

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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 lived in Fahaheel, where the air quality is often terrible because the oil refineries are nearby and oil is in the air. Add that to the dust that has many people on nebulizers one a month.

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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?

Most of the year, the weather is quite pleasant. It gets cold enough for a scarf in December; the summer is scorching.

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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 schools (but not all) are a bit rough for ex-pats. Kuwaiti students are often poorly behaved and low achieving, and as they are a pretty closed society, ex-pat kids may be left out. This is not always the case, as Kuwaitis are also intrigued by Americans, so someone outgoing can make friends. There are also a few half-American Kuwaiti kids to be found. They are more open, particularly if they have been raised partly in the US and don't speak much Arabic.

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

Most schools have special needs programs because these are big money-makers, costing twice or three times regular tuition and often, for Kuwaitis, paid for by the Higher Council. The quality of special education is often low, because resources depend on the school investing in them rather than pocketing that extra tuition. There are some well-trained special educators, however; you just need to know where to find them.

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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 lot of the schools include preschool; I do not have a lot of direct experience with them. I can say that they tend not to be comparable to those in the US in terms of early intervention opportunities for children with delays.

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

Yes, particularly through the better international schools. They even have ice hockey.

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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 expat community is big, but people tend to stick with the people they work with or live near.

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2. Morale among expats:

The morale of those who have been there a while is pretty high because they are plugged into their community. It depends on how easily you make friends, and if you find people you click with.

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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?

Parties, where expats make their own home brew, are popular.

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

There are three things to do in Kuwait: visit other ex-pats (the most popular), go to the beach (a nice place, actually), or go to a mall (and there are many, many malls to choose from). Rarely do ex-patshave the opportunity to befriend Kuwaitis, but when that happens it is a good thing; they are fun to be with and have great parties.

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

The gays I knew were not out in Kuwait for fear of the known: it is illegal, and breaking the law is dangerous.

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

Kuwaitis are tolerant of religions other than Muslim, often highlighting the similarities to Christianity. They are offended by atheism and Judaism (particularly Zionism). Men do not take to female authority figures, but understand the differences of culture between East and West, so many try to be tolerant of Western women.

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

Highlights mainly include the travel: in my first year of living there I visited Oman, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, and Dubai, all recommended destinations, all pretty cheap, particularly if you can use Al Jazeera airlines.

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

The biggest perk to living in Kuwait is travel to other countries. There's desert camping, which leaves much to be desired in Kuwait. Other countries provide tourist experiences for desert camping, such as musical entertainment in Oman and Bedouin experiences in Jordan. Kuwait has no tourist activities.

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

Plane tickets.

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

The advantages of living in Kuwait are cheap travel to other countries in the hemisphere. Popular destinations include Sri-Lanka, Thailand, Jordan and, for a quick weekend away from the drinking restriction, Baharain

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if travel is kept under control.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I loved it there; I had wonderful friends and we had a great time together. But there is no reason to go back to live. The place is great as a home base for seeing the Middle East. I've seen it now, so I'm done.

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

parka and bikini, although the latter can be worn at private pools.

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3. But don't forget your:

appetite. The food is aces.

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

Married to a Bedouin for visiting Petra in Jordan.

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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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Kuwait City, Kuwait 07/29/10

Background:

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

First expat experience.

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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?

Atlanta, GA via Dubai or Amsterdam. 15-16 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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

Wife of Govt. Contractor.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Efficiency/Medium/Large flats (apartments). We have a 4bd/3.5 bath with maid's quarters. Bedrooms are huge. Houses are also large if you are so lucky to live in a villa. But, sadly, no closet space. Commute times average 30 min-1hr depending on traffic. The earlier the better.

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

The Sultan Center has at least 4 locations. They import American products. So if one doesn't have something, you might have to travel to another, and there is a good chance they will have it. Otherwise, their are Co-ops. But remember, imports are 2.5 times what you'd pay for in the States. You can also order from Netgrocer. Just don't try and order alcohol.

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

Bedsheets, vanilla extract, baking soda, cookware, Orville Redenbacher popcorn, Pampers, hair products.

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

All the fast food places you can think of are here: Popeye's, KFC, Domino's, Mc Donald's, Burger King, Chili's, Ruby Tuesday's. Hey, you will never go hungry here, that's for sure. Kuwaities LOVE to eat.

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

No problems.

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Daily Life:

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

APO.

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

Lots of Sri Lankans/Filipinos/Indians/Ethiopians/Indoneasans. The rates vary, but average price is about $400 a month for a live-in. More expensive if they live out. Unfortunately Americans/Brits are charged nearly double what the locals pay for agency fees.

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

Many gyms! (segregated and 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?

No problems.

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

All denominations are here. They are open -- just respect their religion.

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

Yes. Cable is comparable to the US rates. I'm pretty happy with my service: Orbit/Showtime.

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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?

Most everyone knows some English. It helps to learn a few basic words.

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

This isn't the States. A few places cater to wheelchair-bound people. I think this is because of the large number of horrendous car-accident victims who survive.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are cheap. Only third-world nationals ride the buses. Most seem to have only men on board. That says enough.

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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 people either have a company vehicle or lease a car. Most people drive SUVs because of the roads and crazy traffic. Gas is 67 cents a gallon! BTW-you're likely to see all your dream cars 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. Zain is great. Cost is the same as in 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?

Bring an unlocked phone if you want to have a BlackBerry or I-phone. They are way too expensive here. Otherwise, there are a few good service providers. Regular phones are not too pricey.

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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)?

Yes. There are a few pet organizations. Sadly, Kuwaitis typically abuse pets.

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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. If you have a degree in anything, you can teach. (I hear)

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

Business casual/normal business attire, depending on where you work. Women dress modestly. Well....sort of. Tanks are ok, shorts/mini-skirts are not, unless your legs are covered with tights. Interesting, huh? You can show your shape, but you are limited in showing your skin. Kuwaitis are very fashionable. Women dress up just to go to the mall -- wearing Gucci pumps and Prada bag with an Abaya (traditional dress) decorated with rhinestones.

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Health & Safety:

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

None.

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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?

Many people develop allergies/asthma because of the sand. This is inland. You see many people wearing masks outdoors. Healthcare, at both the International clinic and the government hospital, is excellent. Unfortunately, it looks as though it has not been updated since 1950, and there are no rooms: just wards with no tv. But they don't scrimp on service, especially for americans/brits. Every citizen here has 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?

Unhealthy air quaility due to random dust storms.

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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?

It can get as high as 140 degrees in late spring/summer months. Lows in the evening are still in the 100's at times. Winter can get chilly, especially early morning, if you work further towards the the desert. Bring a light winter 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?

Decent schools, though some people complain.

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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?

Lots of nurseries. Some are better than others.

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

Yes-although the Kuwaitis normally are not very active people. There is Youth Soccer & Rugby.

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Expat Life:

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

More expats here than Kuwaities themselves.

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2. Morale among expats:

Again, if you try to be social (and open minded) there are lots of activities and events going on. Of course, there are the people who complain (they probably did the same thing at their home country). Some people just leave the country every chance they get, because flights are cheap.

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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?

Kuwaities hold events and private parties. Many people entertain in their homes. BTW, if you are invited to a Kuwaiti dinner party, don't expect to eat until MIDNIITE! They party all nite too!

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

It is better for families, as mentioned above. But if you are the social type, there are enough activities.

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

I've seen cross-dressers and quite a few gay men (and some women too.) It's underground, but they definitely have a gay scene. Men hold hands here, but they're not gay.

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

If you're brown, you pretty much blend in. Most people are respected. Sadly, however, third-world country nationals have a much harder time. Women are not well respected in general. Men rule here.

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

Getting involved in various social events has opened many doors. For example: Ahmadi Music Group, PAWS, British Ladies' Society, British Society, Kuwait Scorpions Rugby for Adults, Kuwait Saracens Rugby for Children.

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

All types of water sports. Malls are outstanding. Rugby/Softball/Diving Clubs/Music. No niteclubs. Only hotels and private functions.

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

Rugs, custom-made gold jewelry, custom clothing (for cheap). Also, fine cuisine and all sorts of trinkets.

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

Great for families and singles if you are social. Kuwaities LOVE children-so much that they spoil them rotten. Store clerks will even watch your kids while you shop! Many hotels have sitters (for a small fee) so you can go out and party with the grown-ups! How cool is that? In less than an hour you can get from one border to the next. You'll see a lot in a short time. Other destinations are just a hop away, and it is not expensive to get to them.

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11. Can you save money?

Uh......you CAN if you don't: travel, shop or dine out. But that's what keeps you going.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, but three years is enough. I am ready to move on. I've met quite a few people who have settled here, though. Over 10+ yrs. (They have a business here -- tax free...hello?)

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

memories of American news media "distorted" portrayal of the Middle East! Also your thoughts on defensive driving -- this place is like nothing in the States. Also most of your clothes-you will be shopping a lot.

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3. But don't forget your:

manners.

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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?

Prepare yourself for the dangerous driving here. That's the only real THREAT here. No courtesy what-so-ever! You're likely to see at least 2 accidents per day. (Maybe a deadly one once a week.) Also, not seeing enough "green" starts to get to people after 3 months. Alcohol is "forbidden" in Kuwait. Notice the quotation marks around "forbidden" ? Only if you're invited to one of the embassies here can you drink openly on the premises. Otherwise contractors are told "fly to Bahrain/Dubai" or where ever you need to go if you just need to have that sip. Please don't try and ship it!! You've been warned. I've traveled to other gulf states and have felt perfectly safe. Again, PLEASE don't believe the media's portrayal of this region. I'd personally like to try living in some of the other places I've visited. Make the best of your post!

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Kuwait City, Kuwait 07/20/10

Background:

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

No, Harare, Zimbabwe and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

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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. United has a direct flight that leaves daily. Flight time is about 12 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

U.S. Embassy employee posted in Kuwait.

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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 either in apartments or villas. Both are spacious and very nice.

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

Groceries can be very expensive, especially if you want U.S. products. Everything can be found here. You might have to go to two different stores, but you'll find what you're looking for.

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

Vanilla extract. They don't sell it 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 John's, Hardee's, Pizza Hut, Popeye's, and Little Caeser are all available and most deliver. Prices are comparable to those in the States.

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

Geckoes are the biggest issue here.

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Daily Life:

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

APO.

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

Domestic help is available and can cost from $300 a month for a live-in to $500 and up for a non-live-in.

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

There is a gym on the embassy compound, and the Radisson Blu gives us free membership to their gym w/ 50% off of the classes.

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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 cards and ATM regularly and have had no problems.

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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?

Yes, Orbit Showtime Network out of UAE for about $60 a month and AFN from 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?

Absolutely none. Almost everyone speaks English.

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

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Transportation:

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

There are a couple of reputable taxi companies.

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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?

Big and safe. I have a Volvo SUV and wouldn't get anything smaller. The driving here is crazy.

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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?

I have wireless in my house and pay about $100 a month. There is cheaper service, but you may sacrafice quality.

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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 a quad-band unlocked phone from the States and use a Kuwait SIM card. Phones can be purchased here, but they are pricey.

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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)?

There are two vets that most people frequent who will also kennel your animal. I've been pleased with International Vet Hospital.

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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. And the pay is very nice with no taxes taken out.

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

Business casual in the office. This is a Muslim country, so people tend to cover a little more than we would in the States. I have gone out in sun dresses on the weekends and felt very comfortable. It all depends on the person.

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Health & Safety:

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

No, of course we must be aware of our surroundings, but I've had no problems in the two years I've lived here.

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

Medical care is readily available and very good. Most doctors were trained either in the UK or the States

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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 range from moderate on a clear day to very unhealthy during one of the frequent sand storms.

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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 EXTREMELY humid during the summer months. The temperature can go up to 120 in the summer and down to 50 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?

I have two kids that attend The English School (TES) which is on the British system. I am extremely pleased with the small class sizes and the level of education provided. Other families have kids in The American School of Kuwait (ASK) and The British School of Kuwait (BSK). I've heard of many complaints regarding ASK but none from TES or BSK.

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

Not sure.

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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?

My kids first attended Happyland Funskool (yes correct spelling). It was a simple daycare that focused more on interaction with other children.

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

There is a Little Gym here, a softball/baseball league, soccer, and martial arts all for small children to teens.

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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.

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2. Morale among expats:

It has its ups and downs.

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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?

Most get together for food and fun at each other's homes. The embassy has a happy hour twice a week.

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

Families and/or couples would tend to fare better here, since there are absolutely no night clubs and not much to do.

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

No.

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

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

Traveling. Flights can be found for cheap.

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

Travel. It is also possible to go to the beach on the weekends and rent jet skis for a couple of hours. During the cooler months, people like to go out to the desert and rent atvs to ride around on.

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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?

Easy to travel to other neighboring countries such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Turkey, Egypt and Jordan.

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11. Can you save money?

Kuwait is very expensive, but if one tried, I'm sure they could save a little.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. I actually extended my tour by one year because I liked it so much.

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

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3. But don't forget your:

swimming atire, sun block.

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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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Kuwait City, Kuwait 07/30/08

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. How long have you lived here?

22 months; departed Jan 2008.

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

Worked at the U.S. Embassy.

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

Direct flight from Washington DC around 13 hours.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

On compound - homes for families, apartments for singles. They are very convenient to work but everyone knows what everyone else is doing. Off-compound housing is villas or apartments. Commute time could be anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour depending on traffic. Housing is large and grand. Apartments are located in popular area of town with shopping, restaurants, groceries. This causes a lot of traffic jams, however.

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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 most anything for a price. I almost bought a carton of Florida's Natural Orange Juice until I realized it was US$15!

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

Nothing really, everything is available, although expensive. There seemed to be more and more available as time went on, I imagine it's the same now.

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

Tons of fast food, almost all of the major chain restaurants (Applebees, TGIFridays, Ruby Tuesday, Chilis, Johnny Rockets, Hard Rock Cafe, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts), and some of the hotels have amazing sushi, steakhouses, and Italian. You won't go hungry, but you might go broke eating out!

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Daily Life:

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

We have APO.

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

Plenty of help available, many Embassy folks employ maids who are always looking for new clients, so ask around. I think I was paying about $7 an hour and my maid came for about 10 hours a week.

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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?

I used them pretty much anywhere that had walls (meaning, not in the souks/markets or from street vendors).Never had a problem.

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

I hear there are many kinds available, although I never attended myself.

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

Cable TV has some English programing but it's not great (mostly B-list sitcoms from the USA on the minor networks) but Embassy staff can get AFN in their homes, providing much better English language (American) TV.

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

You don't need to know any Arabic, most everyone speaks English fairly well. It is always nice to know greetings, thank you, etc. as a gesture of good will.

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

It's not great, lots of holes in the sidewalk, etc. I have seen only a few people in wheelchairs.

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Transportation:

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

Right hand.

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

No trains. I wouldn't take a bus, too nasty and dirty, and I have no idea if they are safe or not. Taxis were a decent option, fairly 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?

Big and safe, for when you get into the accident you will eventually get in. Gas is very inexpensive so gas guzzlers aren't as much of an issue, and will protect you much better than my little Ford Focus did me.

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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's available, semi-reliable, not overly expensive. It came free with my housing but I hear others were paying $600 a 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?

You can get one in Kuwait easily, not overly expensive.

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

I used Skype.

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Pets:

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

It seemed sketchy to me. I fostered two kittens for one of the animal shelters and when the kitties got sick, I took them to a vet at the open market/souk. It didn't seem clean, was fairly unorganized, the people seemed to wait for a long time to get their pets seen, and the meds my kitties were given caused very bad reactions. But I do hear there is an International Pet Clinic that is fairly decent. The shelter made me take my kitties to the sketchy place so I don't have first hand experience with the International Clinic but I hear good things about it.

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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?

At work it's business attire. In public, modest dress, make sure your shoulders are covered and your shorts and skirts are not too sort. You will likely feel out of place in hot-pants or a tank top.

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Health & Safety:

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

Moderate, lots of dust storms though.

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

No serious concerns.

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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?

Thankfully, I never had to use the medical care, so I don't know how good it is, but I don't recall hearing great things about it. Not a lot of health concerns, maybe the occasional food poisoning, or cold/flu. Dust storms can be pretty bad and make the air really dirty. Traffic accidents are the big danger here.

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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 in the summer, upwards of 130F and more, but dry. Winter, while short, can get cold, in the 40's. There is a rainy season and it really dumps rain. We had hailstorms in April.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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

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Expat Life:

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

Very large, more expats than Kuwaitis.

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2. Morale among expats:

Medium. It's not the hardest place to live but it's not what I would call

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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?

Getting together with other Embassy people. Embassy happy hours and activities.

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

Great for families as there are many other families at post. Not much for singles to do, being a single female is even worse as there are few options for dating. Couples do alright here.

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

It's all hush-hush but there is plenty of gay activity if you know where to look. Publicly, not so great.

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

Difficult as a female to deal with males, who feel females are lesser beings.

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

Jetski, shopping, eating, parties with friends, souks/markets, camel racing club, visit the beach, travel outside of Kuwait. There are not many options for fun here. Embassy people tend to enjoy the happy hour and Embassy activities.

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

Carpets, gold, wooden boats, hookahs.

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9. Can you save money?

If you don't eat out and don't travel, you could.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Probably not. It wasn't an awful experience but I didn't really enjoy it either. I wouldn't go back for vacation either.

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

Driving ability, love of nightlife, and expectation of timely resolution of most situations.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, patience.

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

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Kuwait City, Kuwait 06/02/08

Background:

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

No, I've also lived in Tokyo, Japan, Fukishima, Japan, and Tel Aviv, Israel.

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2. How long have you lived here?

21 months.

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

I work for the U.S. Government.

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

14 hours direct flight on United from Dulles to Kuwait.

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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 large. There are options of all kinds--villas, compounds, apartment. By far the largest housing we've ever had. Only about 10 minutes to work and school.

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

Almost everything is available. It's much like shopping in the U.S.--even U.S. brands. But it is all very expensive. For a family of four, we typically spend US$300 just on groceries.

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

Paper products and printer ink.

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

Everything under the sun is available for food--McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Applebee's, Macaroni Grill, etc. plus many, many fun and interesting local restaurants.

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Daily Life:

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

We have APO access.

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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 easy to find. Expect to pay US$6-10 an hour for part-time help. About US$450 a month for live-in.

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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?

Very easy. ATM's everywhere. Credit cards good at all major shopping areas. Cash in needed in the souks.

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

Both Catholic and Protestant available downtown. Also Bahai and Mormom communities.

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

AFN is free to embassy. Satellite is also available, though we don't have it, so I am not aware of the cost.

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

None.

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

No handicap stalls in restrooms. Sometimes only Eastern toilets. No sidewalks. Some elevators not large enough for wheelchair. No ramps.

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Transportation:

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

Right.

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

Only foreign workers take buses. They are probably safe, but not advisible. Taxis are fine.

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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?

Large cars are best. Gas is cheap, so bring your biggest SUV! But driving is crazy. The worst ever. Expect to actually see at least one accident a day. Service at the dealer is generally not quick. Plan up to a week for anything that requires specific parts--longer if labor is difficult.

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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 it's inconsistent. Connections are lost often and it's not easy to get connection reestablished through the company. It can take over a week. Cost can range from US$500-1000 per 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?

They are easy to buy here and relatively inexpensive to use.

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

Use Skype or Vonage.

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Pets:

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

It's okay. Don't bring a pet with health issues.

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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. There are many, many jobs available on the economy here.

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

Work is business casual. Public is conservative. No bare shoulders, no skirts or shorts above the knee.

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Health & Safety:

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

Very unhealthy. Many, many dust storms and generally unclean air.

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

In general it feels very safe. There aren't going to be break-ins to cars or homes because it is an Arab country. But there are many, many foreign workers living here and there are parts of town that feel unsafe, especially at night.

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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?

Medical care is hit and miss. I would never want to have a major problem here (no surgery). Good doctors can be found, but it's not easy. And hours are strange: 9-12 and 4:30-11pm.

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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, hot, hot. Summer is March to November. Very little rain, lots of dust.

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Schools & Children:

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

Many, many international schools. Two are American, many British curriculum schools, as well as French, Canadian, etc. Our daughters attend The English School, and it has been a very positive experience.

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

In my experience, very little.

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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 available through some of the larger schools. There are three daycare centers that are most typically used by women in my circle. All of them have good reputations.

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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. More expats than Kuwaitis.

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2. Morale among expats:

Fairly low because there is nothing to do here and it's an ugly country. I've never met anyone who truly enjoys living here. Everyone just tolerates it.

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

Social life is mainly meeting friends at their homes or the beach clubs.

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

This is a wonderful post for families with small children (younger than 10). There are many, many families in this community, so there is a lot to do with other children. I would never bring older children here as there is very little to do in terms of sight-seeing or outdoor activity. Singles would most likely be bored. It is a dry country, so there are no clubs or social scenes apart from work. Couples may also find it boring unless they have a good social network.

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

NO.

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

Of course. It's an Arab country. Women are not valued, Christianity is allowed.

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

Very, very little. Beach clubs, camel races (in the cooler months), aquarium.

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

Beautiful carpets, gold.

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9. Can you save money?

Not easily. Everything but gas is expensive, and you need to get out of the country every six months to maintain your sanity.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

It's been okay with young children, but I wouldn't come back, and I won't miss it.

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

Winter coat.

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3. But don't forget your:

Indoor fun kit.

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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