Expat Guide to Living in Amman: Essentials

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by Claire Sturaker


Amman, Jordan, may not feature on every expat’s radar, but did you know that this city, home to ancient ruins and ultramodern facilities, boasts a cosmopolitan flair attracting a growing community of over 50,000 expats? Making the decision to embark on living in Amman as an expat is the first step into a world where eastern traditions meet western comfort.

Through this comprehensive expat guide to living in Amman, we unravel the threads of day-to-day life in this dynamic city—a nexus of history, culture, and development. Navigating through the streets of Amman, expats find themselves amidst a mix of old-world charm and new-age advancements, from bustling souks to serene residential neighborhoods favored by the vibrant Amman expat community.

Whether you’re contemplating the move or already unpacking your bags, understanding the essentials of Amman’s lifestyle, including healthcare, transportation, and local customs, will be pivotal to your journey. Now, let’s take a dive into the heart of Amman and discover what life truly has in store for its expatriate population.

Discovering Amman’s Cultural and Historical Richness

For expatriates considering working in Amman, this ancient city offers much more than a bustling work environment; it is also a hub of cultural and historical significance. Amman stands as a testament to human civilization, with its history stretching back to Neolithic times. Today, the city is a mosaic of old-world charm and modern innovation, making it a uniquely attractive place to live and work.

The capital’s pulse can be felt through a series of experiences, from its ancient ruins to the contemporary cultural scenes that infuse daily life with a sense of connection to both the past and the future. The best neighborhoods to live in for expats in Amman capture this blend seamlessly, offering tranquil retreats amidst the city’s vibrancy.

  • Petra: A wonder of the world, providing a breathtaking window into Jordan’s Nabatean past.
  • Roman Temples: These ancient structures stand as markers of a time when Greco-Roman culture thrived in the heart of Amman.
  • Cultural Festivals: From film to music and food, celebrate the diverse cultural heritage that Amman has to offer.
  • Rainbow Street: Popular among expats for its local handicrafts and inviting cafes, featuring traditional Jordanian crafts and international goods.

For those fortunate enough to be working in Amman, the city does not merely provide a workspace but immerses them in an environment that values heritage, hospitality, and progress. Amidst the ancient ruins, bustling streets, and quiet neighborhoods, expatriates find a quality of life that is rare in its richness and diversity, making the decision to settle in Amman an enriching experience.

Navigating Healthcare in Amman as an Expat

The cost of living in Amman can significantly fluctuate based on individual lifestyle choices, particularly when it comes to healthcare. In Amman, the healthcare infrastructure is lauded for its high standards, often compared to that of leading developed countries. For expatriates residing in this vibrant city, understanding and accessing healthcare services is a crucial part of their well-being.

Healthcare facilities in Amman

Expatriates typically favor private healthcare due to its efficiency and the reduced wait times. With an impressive array of private hospitals and clinics spread across the city, the private sector is equipped with advanced medical equipment and is staffed by proficient, English-speaking doctors. Furthermore, many healthcare providers in Amman focus on medical tourism, which ensures that facilities maintain international standards of care.

To manage the costs of living, especially in healthcare, expats are strongly advised to invest in private health insurance. Such coverage ensures peace of mind, granting access to the full spectrum of medical services without substantial out-of-pocket payments. Notably, despite the potential costs, emergency medical services that do not require hospital admission are often provided free of charge, reflecting Jordan’s commitment to maintaining a healthy society.

  • Private healthcare facilities are readily available and provide quality care.
  • Private health insurance is crucial for expats to offset potential medical costs.
  • Emergency medical care not requiring hospitalization is usually free.
  • Investing in health insurance is a key factor in managing your cost of living in Amman.

Expatriates considering the move to Amman can take comfort in knowing that the city’s healthcare services are both comprehensive and accessible, contributing to a manageable cost of living when appropriate health coverage is secured.

Getting Around Amman: Transportation Options for Expats

For those living in Amman as an expat, navigating the city’s transportation system is a vital aspect of daily life in the bustling Amman expat community. Whether commuting to work or exploring the historical city, understanding the various transport options can significantly enhance the experience of residing in Jordan’s capital.

While Amman’s public transport is evolving, expats generally rely on the following methods:

  • State-run buses offer a cost-effective and relatively reliable way to traverse the city.
  • Taxis are abundant and include the choice of individual yellow taxis or the shared white ‘servees’ taxis, known for being economical.
  • For those who prefer personal space and convenience, app-based services like Uber and Careem have a strong presence.
  • Expats who opt to drive themselves should prepare for a unique driving experience, as traffic can be unpredictable.

To aid newcomers, here’s a quick reference table highlighting key transportation features:

Transport Mode Reliability Cost Convenience Recommended for Expats
State-run Buses Good Low Moderate Yes – for cost-savers
Yellow Taxis High Medium High Yes – for convenience
White ‘Servees’ Taxis Moderate Very Low Low Yes – for budget trips
App-based Services Very High Medium Very High Yes – for safety and comfort
Private Vehicles Varies High (ownership costs) Very High Optional – seasoned drivers

Financial access for the mobile expatriate is seamless; ATMs and credit card facilities are widespread, facilitating cashless commutes. When driving, mandated safety items such as seatbelts, fire extinguishers, and emergency triangles are a must to comply with local driving laws and safeguard one’s journey.

Living in Amman as an Expat: Accommodation and Neighborhoods

Finding a home in a new city can be daunting, especially when you’re miles away from familiar territory. For those considering relocation to Jordan’s vibrant capital city, unique living options abound. Amman, characterized by its contrasting urban and historical façades, offers accommodation reflecting the diverse cost of living in Amman, suitable for various expatriate budgets and lifestyles.

Expatriate Accommodation Options in Amman

Amman’s Western districts, for instance, have become synonymous with expat comfort. Here’s a closer look at some of the best neighborhoods to live in for expats in Amman:

  • Abdoun: A dynamic area popular for its bustling nightlife and shopping destinations, Abdoun caters to those seeking a modern urban experience.
  • Dabouq: Known for its serenity and upscale living spaces, Dabouq is an emerging neighborhood that promises both peace and prestige.
  • Sweifieh: This commercial hub blends daily convenience with accessibility, hosting a variety of entertainment options and malls.

When considering costs, it’s important to explore your needs and align them with the area’s amenities and connectivity. The table below simplifies the average monthly cost for different housing options in these neighborhoods:

Neighborhood Apartment in City Center (1 Bedroom) Apartment Outside of Center (1 Bedroom) Luxury Villa (3-4 Bedroom)
Abdoun $700 – $900 $500 – $700 $2000 – $3000
Dabouq $600 – $800 $400 – $600 $2500 – $3500
Sweifieh $500 – $700 $300 – $500 $1500 – $2500

While the cost of living in Amman can vary greatly depending on your lifestyle, these neighborhoods offer a balanced take on urban life, with each reflecting Jordan’s fascinating cultural tapestry. Finding the right home in Amman is not merely about a budget but about the environment that resonates with your personal and professional life.

Understanding the Climate: Adapting to Amman’s Seasons

For those considering living in Amman as an expat, familiarizing oneself with the local climate is essential. The city’s Mediterranean weather patterns are marked by stark contrasts throughout the year, from sweltering summers to damp, chilly winters. While adapting to these changes can be a challenge, understanding Amman’s seasonal rhythms is a key part of the successful expat guide to living in Amman.

Summers in Amman can escalate to extreme heat with temperatures soaring up to 40°C (104°F), necessitating the use of air conditioning and ample hydration. Conversely, winters may surprise newcomers with their coolness, and at higher altitudes, snow isn’t uncommon. This diverse range of conditions suggests that expats should prepare wardrobes for both extremes.

  • Summer attire should prioritize lightweight, breathable materials not just for comfort, but also for respecting local customs that lean towards conservative dressing, despite the heat.
  • Winter gears such as heaters, thick clothing, and appropriate bedding are necessary as many homes in Amman may not be equipped with central heating systems.

Annual rainfall in Amman is modest, typically peaking at less than 300 mm and is most likely to occur from November to March. This small window for rains also indicates the importance of water conservation in daily living and the strategic planning for possible drought conditions.

Adjusting to Amman’s climatic conditions involves more than personal comfort—it’s about integrating seamlessly into the fabric of local life. Whether it’s planning social activities or simply going about daily tasks, having a grasp of the weather patterns will ensure expats experience a smoother transition to their new environment.

Embracing the Local Lifestyle and Customs in Amman

For those living in Amman as an expat, the city offers an inviting blend of tradition and openness, making the settling-in process a unique and enriching experience. Jordanians are known for their warm hospitality, allowing newcomers to immerse themselves in local practices while still enjoying familiar comforts. Access to alcohol and pork is less restricted compared to many other Middle Eastern countries, catering to Western tastes alongside the rich flavors of Jordanian cuisine. However, a level of cultural sensitivity is crucial, particularly in areas of religious significance, to foster mutual respect between expats and local citizens.

Dressing conservatively is another aspect of daily life in the Amman expat community that serves as a testament to the respect for local customs. Public displays of affection are not part of the cultural norm here and may be met with disapproval, so it’s advisable for expats to be mindful of such sensibilities. In a culinary scene dominated by dishes like the beloved “mansaf,” vegetarians may need to navigate carefully, though international dining options are also available. The key to a fulfilling expat experience in Amman comes from embracing its customs while contributing positively to the vibrant cultural tapestry of the city.

When it comes to education, Amman does not disappoint. With a high literacy rate, education is a cornerstone of society here, offering numerous international schools that cater to the expatriate families and ensure a smooth academic transition for their children. This emphasis on learning not only aids personal growth but also serves as a bridge between expats and locals, enhancing cross-cultural understanding and cooperation. Ultimately, the successful integration into the Amman expat community lies in the eagerness to engage with the culture, uphold its values, and rejoice in the diversity that this dynamic city has to offer.

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Claire Sturaker
Claire, PhD in Luggage Logistics and Master of International Relocation Sciences, navigates the globe with the precision of a Swiss watch and the enthusiasm of a kid in a candy store. Whether she’s detailing the art of cramming life into a suitcase or choosing the perfect city for your study-abroad adventure, the tips in her articles turn daunting travel dilemmas into why-didn’t-I-think-of-that settled decisions. With more diplomas than a wall can hold, Claire is your go-to guru for shipping your life across borders with a smile.
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