While some expats in Jordan are lucky enough to have their employers arrange their accommodation, many have to go it alone, which can be quite daunting. But with a little patience and perseverance, expats are sure to find a home to suit both their budget and lifestyle.
Types of accommodation in Jordan
Compounds are by far the most popular choice among Western expats looking for a taste of home in the midst of the sometimes jarring unfamiliarity of Jordan. These compounds are essentially gated communities consisting of a number of houses, villas or apartments. They are often luxurious and may include amenities such as swimming pools, clubhouses and other recreation areas.
Some expats find that the atmosphere in compounds tends to be less conservative than is typical in Jordan, and they can behave and dress as they would back home. On the other hand, living in such a community does hinder cultural assimilation and means expats often miss out on a great deal of life happening beyond the walls of the compound.
Once expats have decided what kind of accommodation they're looking for, they will also need to consider whether they want fully furnished, semi-furnished or non-furnished accommodation. In fully furnished accommodation, everything but linen and towels is provided, while a non-furnished place won't have much beyond kitchen cabinets. Semi-furnished accommodation varies but will typically include white kitchen goods such as a stove, microwave and fridge.
Finding accommodation in Jordan
Jordanians are generally happy to chat to just about anyone about anything at any time, and this can be very useful for house-hunting expats. Scouting out potential neighbourhoods and having a chat with locals in the area can yield useful information about places to rent nearby.
Of course, searching online could also yield results. There are a number of websites that cater specifically to expats, although some may try to take advantage of foreigners by overcharging. While the internet is certainly a good place to start one's search for accommodation and it may be tempting to sort out a place to live with just a few clicks of a button and an email or two, it’s important to view the property in person and meet the landlord before paying or committing to anything.
Property sections in local newspapers can also be useful, but only expats with a good understanding of Arabic, or who have access to a translator, will be able to make much use of this resource.
It's worth considering hiring a real-estate agent as they are knowledgeable about the local housing market and the paperwork involved in renting, and can do most of the required legwork. While convenient, this can be an expensive route to take.
Renting accommodation in Jordan
The rental process in Jordan is fairly standard, at least when it comes to compound living. Property owners within a compound are accustomed to dealing with foreigners and won't be fazed by any additional paperwork required. For those opting for accommodation outside a compound, it might be useful to enlist help from a Jordanian contact or the expertise of an estate agent.
Leases in Jordan are typically for one year with an option to renew, and landlords usually expect the entire year’s rent upfront. So, before searching for a house, expats should ensure that they have the money ready, be that in the form a loan, savings or an advance from their employer. Some landlords may be open to negotiation, such as paying six months' rent upfront and the rest at a later stage, but striking this kind of deal will normally push the rental price up.
Once a lease is signed, it is unbreakable. Because of the lump-sum payment, landlords do not usually ask for a deposit (although legally they are entitled to). But if the tenant breaks the terms of the lease by moving out early, they will not be refunded any remains of the rent. Shorter leases of six months are possible but again, this will result in an increased rental price, usually by up to 20 percent.
In most cases, the cost of basic utilities such as gas, electricity and water are included in the rental price. There are some instances, especially with short-term rentals where additional expenses such as telephone rental and internet are also accounted for within the rent, but for longer-term contracts tenants are most likely to be required to organise and pay for these optional services themselves.