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Moving to Jordan

Sitting in a strategic location and home to one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Jordan remains a popular expat destination in the Middle East.

Phosphate mines in southern Jordan have made the country one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of this mineral, while agricultural produce is another large contributor to the economy. There are also many international software and hardware IT companies present in the capital, Amman, which is the national and regional hub in communications, transport, education and investment. Consequently, most expats living in Jordan are located in Amman. 

Expats in Jordan tend to work for international organisations and multinational companies in the finance, media, development and oil and gas sectors. Some expats also move to Jordan to work in the educational sector.

Expats should be aware that Islam is the state religion. Nevertheless, Jordan is one of the most liberal countries in the Middle East and expats are unlikely to face discrimination for practising a religion other than Islam. Expats should, however, show respect for local customs and etiquette – women, in particular, should dress modestly and preferably wear their hair up or cover it with a headscarf. This will also lessen the chance of attracting unwanted attention. 

Jordanians are known for being friendly, warm and welcoming to foreigners. Arabic is the official language but most Jordanians can speak English, and expats should not have a problem communicating in professional settings and business dealings, particularly in Amman. Still, expats are likely to experience some level of culture shock, particularly if they are unused to life in the Middle East.

Expats moving to Jordan need not worry about their health. The country has one of the best healthcare systems in the Middle East, with both private and public medical facilities providing a high standard of care. Most doctors are proficient in English and have been educated abroad, and the country is becoming a popular regional medical tourism hotspot. 

Jordan has a high literacy rate and the government views education as a priority. The language of instruction at local schools is Arabic, and expats seeking to continue their children’s education from home will be pleased to know that there are a number of international schools in Jordan, catering for a variety of different nationalities. These are mostly located in Amman.

Essential Info for Jordan

Population: Nearly 10 million

Capital city: Amman

Neighbouring countries: Jordan is bordered by Israel and Palestine to the west, Syria to the north, Iraq to the north-east and Saudi Arabia to the south and east.

Geography: Largely landlocked except for an 11 mile (26 km) coastline at the south-west edge of the country, most of Jordan is situated on a plateau. The East Bank of Jordan is largely arid desert, while the West Bank is mostly rough mountain terrain with a few sections of highly arable land used for farming.

Political system: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Major religion: Islam

Main languages: Arabic is the official language, but English is also widely spoken

Money: The Jordanian Dinar (JOD) is divided into 10 dirham, 100 qirsh, or 1,000 fils. It is easy for an expat to open a bank account in Jordan and ATMs are ubiquitous, especially in the cities.

Tipping: Most of the better hotels and restaurants will add a 10 to 12 percent service charge to the bill, but smaller establishments usually expect a tip. It is customary to round up the price of a taxi trip. 

Time: UTC+2 (UTC+3 during daylight savings time)

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. A variety of plugs are used in Jordan, including European two-prong round-pin plugs and British plugs with three flat blades. 

Internet domain: .jo

International dialling code: +962

Emergency contacts: The general emergency number is 911. Ambulances in major urban centres usually arrive quickly.

Transport and driving: Driving is on the right-hand side of the road. Traffic can be very heavy and drivers can be erratic. If driving in Jordan, expats should keep an eye out for livestock such as camels crossing the road. Buses and taxis are the most common forms of public transport.

Weather in Jordan

Jordan has a Mediterranean-style climate with hot summers and wet winters. Expats expecting year-round sizzling temperatures may be surprised to learn that the country can be subject to colder temperatures, not to mention rain and even a bit of snow, in the winter months. However, those who enjoy sunshine can rest assured that such conditions are the exception rather than the rule, and Jordan is by and large a warm and sunny country. 

The spring season is from March to May and brings with it an array of dazzling wildflowers to the Jordanian countryside, which make a brief reappearance at the start of the rainy season in mid-October.

Summer, from June to August, is characterised by hot daytime temperatures with an average of 90°F (32°C). During this season it is advisable for expats to wear lightweight but modest clothing, not forgetting that skimpy clothing will likely be considered disrespectful.

In April, a hot southerly wind known as the khamsin wind blows over the country. The khamsin can build up to gale force and beyond, and often causes dangerous sandstorms. The arrival of this wind can cause the temperature to rise by several degrees, sometimes up to 104°F (40°C), within just a few hours. During these times, expats should beware of low visibility and should stay indoors if possible.

Despite the hot days, summer evenings can very quickly become chilly, so it’s always a good idea to carry an extra layer to throw on in the case of being out at night.

In November, rainy conditions start to make their way across the country heralding the arrival of winter, which is from December to February. The rainy season lasts until around April and can bring vicious storms causing flash floods and mudslides. During this time, expats should wrap up warmly and wear waterproof jackets or overcoats. It is during winter that Jordan’s capital city, Amman, may experience a few days of snowfall.

Embassy Contacts for Jordan


Jordan embassies

Embassy of Jordan, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 966 2664

Embassy of Jordan, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7937 3685

Embassy of Jordan, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 238 8090

Embassy of Jordan, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6295 9951

Embassy of Jordan, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 346 8615


Foreign embassies in Jordan

United States Embassy, Amman: +962 6 590 6000

British Embassy, Amman: +962 6 590 9200

Canadian Embassy, Amman: +962 6 520 3300

Australian Embassy, Amman: +962 6 580 7000

South African Embassy, Amman: +962 6 592 1194

Irish Honorary Consulate, Amman: +962 6 553 3616

Public Holidays in Jordan

 

2020

2021

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

Independence Day

25 May

25 May

Eid al Fitr

24-26 May

13-16 May

Eid al Adha

31 July-3 August

20-24 July

Islamic New Year

20 August

10 August

Prophet's Birthday

29 October

19 October

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

* Islamic holidays are subject to the sighting of the moon, and dates can change on the Gregorian calendar.

Working in Jordan

Finding work in Jordan is no easy feat. For the last few years, unemployment in Jordan has remained at a high rate. The trend of high unemployment has been steadily increasing for some time and has made finding work a challenge for locals and expats alike.


Job market in Jordan

Despite the epidemic of unemployment in Jordan, its economy is one of the strongest in the Middle East thanks to its rich mineral resources such as phosphates and potash. Aside from mining, other strong or fast-growing sectors that expats might consider are the tourism industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the telecommunications/IT industry.

As with most countries whose primary language is not English, it’s also possible to find work teaching English in Jordan. Most commonly, though, expats in Jordan will be found working for international companies as engineers.


Finding a job in Jordan

To search for and obtain a job in Jordan, it isn’t always necessary for an expat to already be in the country. Searching online from home has distinct advantages, such as the possibility of finding an employer willing to pay for ticket and relocation costs. There are a number of job portals online that are widely considered to be good sources for jobs but expats should be wary of suspicious-sounding job posts or offers that seem too good to be true. Apart from maintaining a healthy sense of scepticism, expats should only use reputable and well-known job portals.

Jordanian newspapers also regularly run ads in job sections, though this is only useful if one is already in the country. Even then, online job portals remain the most popular and convenient way of finding work.


Work culture in Jordan

The workweek in Jordan runs from Sunday to Thursday due to the fact that Friday is the holy day of the official state religion, Islam. Working hours consist of eight hours of work a day, five days a week, adding up to a total of 40 hours a week. The usual work schedule may be disrupted by holy occasions such as Ramadan. Expats should also take note that a call to prayer is sounded by mosques five times daily and Muslims will stop whatever they are doing (including work activities) to partake.

While Jordanians are generally extremely friendly and hospitable to foreigners, there is some level of resentment from locals towards foreigners employed in Jordan. The soaring unemployment rate has made the job market is extremely competitive – this makes it understandably frustrating for Jordanians to see a job go to someone else. The current Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan has only worsened this ill-feeling towards working expats.

Doing Business in Jordan

Expats looking to do business in Jordan will likely find opportunities in the country’s growing economy – however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the process of doing business is a smooth one.

In the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2019, Jordan ranked 104th out of the 190 countries surveyed. The most notably troublesome area is resolving insolvency, for which the country ranked 150th. However, it’s not all bad news as Jordan ranked 62nd for getting electricity and 72nd for registering property.

Despite any bureaucratic shortcomings, the warm nature of the Jordanian people certainly makes doing business in the country a more pleasant experience.


Fast facts

Business hours

The workweek in Jordan runs from Sunday to Thursday. Business hours are usually 8:30 to 13:00 and 15:30 to 18:30, but as Jordanians aren’t sticklers for time this can vary.

Language

While Arabic is the official language of the country, most international business dealings are done in English. However, expats would do well to learn a few key Arabic phrases, and for the convenience of Jordanian associates, business cards should be printed in both Arabic and English.

Dress

Jordanian businesspeople are well dressed and expats should follow their example. Men should dress the same as they would for doing business in the West; smart business suits are key, and casual wear should not be worn. Women should ensure all sleeves are elbow length or longer and should wear high necklines and skirts that fall below the knee.

Gifts

Gifts are not expected at initial meetings but a small gift may be given if invited to a Jordanian’s home. Do not give alcohol. Sweets or flowers are appropriate as long as they’re not too lavish.

Gender equality

Women are underrepresented in the workplace in Jordan, but expat women report that this doesn't seem to impact much on doing business as a woman in the country.

Greetings

Handshakes are the standard greeting in Jordan and eye contact is important. Men should, however, wait for women to initiate a handshake. The most senior person, usually the eldest, should be greeted first.


Business culture in Jordan

As in any new place, it may take expats some time to get used to the Jordanian way of doing business. As the state religion, Islamic ideals affect the workplace as do the strong cultural values held by Jordanians.

Time

In Jordan, time is more loosely defined than what expats may be used to. Jordanians prefer to deal with things organically and value spending time with people and building relationships over chasing deadlines. As a result, meetings or social gatherings may often begin later than the appointed time. It’s best not to follow suit in arriving late, though, as this may be thought of as rude or unusual behaviour from a Westerner. Instead, aim to be on time but not to be early for meetings. When setting up a meeting, expats should be aware and respectful of the five daily prayer times.

Socialising

Jordanians are famous for their hospitable spirit and friendly nature, and this extends to business dealings. The first five to ten minutes of the first business meeting will often be devoted to getting to know one another, and values like respect, friendship and trust are paramount in business dealings and personal matters alike. Often locals will take a great interest in the personal lives of foreigners and may pepper them with questions that may seem nosy or prying. Expats shouldn’t take offence at this; it is simply the Jordanian way of showing interest in getting to know new arrivals. Any social invitations should be accepted and reciprocated at a later date. If at all possible, do not decline such invitations as this could damage the business relationship.

Emotions

Jordanians don’t often show strong emotions, except sometimes anger, and even this is rare. Affection is not openly expressed and public displays of it, even between a married couple, are not appropriate. If faced with a situation where they must confront someone about something, Jordanians will always do it privately and expats should afford locals this same courtesy. Having a public confrontation would cause the offending party to ‘lose face’ and this is unacceptable.


Dos and don’ts of business in Jordan

  • Do be patient if a Jordanian associate arrives at a meeting late

  • Don’t jump right into business at the start of the meeting

  • Don’t expect to drink alcohol as part of socialising – most Jordanians are Muslim and don’t drink

  • Do avoid talking about Israel or politics, even if locals seem keen to chat about these topics

  • Don’t ask Jordanian men about female family members – some will find this suspicious

Visas for Jordan

Expats wishing to go to Jordan, whether for a visit or to stay long-term, will all have to navigate the country's visa system. Nationals of some countries have a much easier road ahead of them than others when it comes to tourist visas, but all nationalities wanting to work and reside in the country will have to go through some red tape to secure the necessary visas for Jordan.


Tourist visas for Jordan

The procedure for obtaining a tourist visa for Jordan depends on the nationality of the individual wishing to enter. Nationals of several countries can obtain a visa at the border and do not need to apply beforehand. Nationals of other countries will need a visa in hand before travelling to Jordan – they may require Security Approval for entry as well, which also needs to be obtained in advance.

Note that no visas are issued at the Wadi Araba and King Hussein Bridge borders; if entering at these borders, visas must be arranged beforehand.

Whether obtaining a visa at the border or before travel, the above nationals can ask for a single-entry visa valid for up to two months, a double-entry visa valid for three months or a multiple-entry visa valid for six months.

Some travellers are exempt from visa requirements and may enter Jordan using just their passports. Nationals of these countries may stay for up to three months per six month period for tourism or business purposes. These are the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as well as Lebanon and Turkey. Nationals of Egypt and Palestine are also allowed to enter the country without a visa but may stay for only one month.

It is illegal to work in Jordan while on a tourist visa. A passport valid for at least six months after the date of entry is required to enter for all but Lebanese nationals, who may enter using an ID document.


Work visas for Jordan

Jordan issues work visas as well as work permits – though this sounds confusing at first, there is a very simple difference between the two. A work visa is used to give a foreign national permission to enter the country for work purposes, and a work permit is required to take up work once such a person is already in the country. In other words, an expat wishing to work in Jordan will need a work permit in addition to any visa used to enter Jordan. This includes expats who enter on a work visa.


Residence permits in Jordan

Residence permits in Jordan are distinguished from one another based on the circumstances of the person applying – for example, whether the applicant is married to a Jordanian national, and whether they are employed in the country.

A Jordanian residence permit is valid for one year and will need to be renewed annually.

Expats can become a naturalised Jordanian citizen after living in Jordan permanently for a number of years, depending on their nationality. Wives of Jordanian men have a fast-track on this. A foreigner who has lived legally in Jordan for 10 years and is not yet eligible for citizenship may apply for a five-year residence permit.

* Visa requirements can change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Cost of Living in Jordan

Jordan is one of the most expensive Middle Eastern countries to live in, and it certainly bears a higher cost of living than many would expect from a developing country. In Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2018, Jordan’s capital city, Amman, was ranked alongside European world capitals like Lisbon and Barcelona, placing 94th out of 209 countries surveyed.

The problem is not so much that goods and services are expensive; rather, local salaries aren’t high enough to be able to comfortably afford them. Expats tend to earn higher salaries than locals, though, so most will be able to afford a comfortable lifestyle, but this is not always the case and expats should consider carefully before accepting any salary offer.


Cost of accommodation in Jordan

Rental costs are likely to monopolise salaries in Jordan, though the extent of this varies according to what type of accommodation is chosen. Sharing a house or apartment is a great way to cut costs; on the other hand, living alone will drive them up quickly. Furniture and electronics can be expensive, so it is usually worthwhile to opt for fully furnished accommodation even though the rental costs are higher than those of non-furnished accommodation.

The cost of utilities is generally separate from the rental price and must be paid by tenants. This includes water, electricity and gas for heating and cooking. In winter, the utility bill can easily double, so expats should adjust their budget accordingly.


Cost of food and clothing in Jordan

If expats stick to buying local fruit and vegetables that are in season, the cost of groceries is likely to remain at an affordable level. However, imported goods are typically expensive. The same applies to clothing. Expats will find reasonably priced clothing at local shops but the price tag on international brands can be eye-wateringly high.


Cost of eating out and entertainment in Jordan

Expats accustomed to regularly going out for a quick drink after work will find this an expensive habit to maintain in Jordan. Because the country is run according to the principles of Islam, most locals don’t drink alcohol at all. There are Western-owned bars and clubs available for the minority in Jordan who do drink, but the relative scarcity of alcohol in the country allows owners to charge exorbitant prices, and the heavy tax imposed on alcohol pushes the price up even further.

The cost of eating out in Jordan varies greatly. Local restaurants are usually affordable but restaurants attached to hotels or in touristy spots such as resort areas are known for their often ludicrously high prices.


Cost of transport in Jordan

Taxis are a cheap way to travel provided that expats don’t allow drivers to take advantage by overcharging them. Buying a car in Jordan can be expensive, but expats may be able to save some money by importing a car from a neighbouring country. Petrol is quite affordable in Jordan. 


Cost of education and schooling in Jordan

Basic schooling is compulsory in Jordan and is provided by public schools at no cost. Private schools and international schools carry a far higher cost, though, and expat parents in the process of negotiating relocation benefits should consider asking for an education allowance if this is the route they want to go.


Cost of living in Jordan chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Amman for December 2018.

Monthly accommodation

Furnished two-bedroom house

800 JOD

Unfurnished two-bedroom house

600 JOD

Furnished two-bedroom apartment

700 JOD

Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment

500 JOD

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

1.65 JOD

Milk (1 litre)

1.20 JOD

Rice (1kg)

1.15 JOD

Loaf of white bread

0.35 JOD

Chicken breasts (1kg)

5 JOD

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

2.50 JOD

Eating out

Big Mac meal

5 JOD

Coca-Cola (330ml)

0.30 JOD

Cappuccino

2.85 JOD

Bottle of local beer

5 JOD

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

35 JOD

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

0.05 JOD

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

32 JOD

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

60 JOD

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

0.50 JOD

Bus/train fare to city centre

0.50 JOD

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

0.85 JOD

Culture Shock in Jordan

Expats living in Jordan will likely find that the culture differs very much from their own. Experiencing culture shock in Jordan can make it difficult to settle into a new life, but the all-pervading hospitality and friendliness of Jordanians do a lot to ease the burden of this tricky transition.


Religion in Jordan

The dominant religion in Jordan is Sunni Islam, with more 90 percent of the population practising this faith. There is some Christian presence in Jordan, but this is very much in the minority with Christians making up only six percent of the general population. Despite this disparity, Christians are free to practise their religion and there are plenty of churches available for them to attend. Members of lesser-known religions have a slightly higher risk of being discriminated against, but this is rare. 

Religion plays a vital role in shaping the daily lives of Jordanians and, by extension, the lives of all who live there. For instance, scheduled prayers are held five times a day. Prayer times are publically signalled by mosques and devout Muslims will put everything on hold to pray, bringing business to a standstill. The opening times of restaurants are also affected by religion – during holy occasions such as Ramadan, restaurants will accommodate traditional fasting practices by opening just before sundown.

Members of other faiths are not obligated to fast alongside Muslim friends or colleagues during Ramadan but should refrain from eating and drinking in front of them as a sign of respect. In addition, eating or drinking in public in daylight hours during Ramadan is technically illegal and could result in a fine.


Women in Jordan

Women in Jordan are afforded more rights and privileges than women in most Middle Eastern countries. One of these is the ability not just to work, but the possibility for working women to earn equal pay and benefits to that of their male peers. Even so, life for women in Jordan is greatly influenced by the value that the Islamic religion places on patriarchal power.

On a daily basis, expat women will be affected most by how they are expected to dress. Although it isn’t necessary for a Western woman living in Jordan to cover her face or hair, she should be sure to keep her shoulders, legs and chest area covered.

It is an unfortunate fact that Western women are sometimes targeted by Jordanian men on the street and expats should be prepared for this. Usually, this behaviour is limited to bothersome but ultimately harmless catcalling and staring. If not discouraged, though, it can escalate into stalking, indecent exposure and sexual harassment. This kind of unwanted attention may be avoided by travelling with a companion, particularly when out at night, and dressing conservatively.

Public displays of affection between a woman and a man such as hugging, kissing and hand holding are frowned upon but are freely exchanged between friends of the same sex.


Language in Jordan

The dominant language in Jordan is Arabic, a notoriously difficult language to master. Most Jordanians are able and willing to speak English, but expats should try to pick up as many common Arabic phrases as possible, especially with regard to navigating social situations.


Food and drink in Jordan

In Jordan, expats are likely to find themselves often being invited to drink tea with locals. A shop owner or stranger one has just met on the street is just as likely to offer a drink of tea as an old friend. Jordanians take great pride in their hosting skills and will go out of their way to make sure their guest is comfortable. 

Social gatherings, when not centred on tea drinking, are all about sharing a meal or enjoying a sweet treat together. Expats should be aware that eating utensils are generally not used in Jordan – rather, bread is served with almost every meal and is used as a spoon to scoop up one’s food. A common faux pas to avoid is eating with one’s left hand, as it is considered by Jordanians to signify dirtiness.

Accommodation in Jordan

While some expats are lucky enough to have their employer arrange their accommodation in Jordan, for the many who have to go it alone this task can be daunting. However, with a little patience and perseverance expats are sure to find a home to suit both their budget and their lifestyle.


Types of accommodation in Jordan

In Jordan expats will find a variety of housing options – from villas to high-rise apartments and Western compounds, there’s plenty to choose from. 

Western compounds are popular with those 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 like swimming pools, laundry rooms and 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. However, living in such a community does hinder cultural assimilation and expats staying there will 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 the standard kitchen cabinets along with other kitchen goods such as a stove, microwave and fridge.

It is quite common for expats to seek roommates to share the cost of accommodation, and this can be an excellent way to cut costs and to make a new friend in the country.


Finding accommodation in Jordan

Jordanians are happy to chat to just about anyone about anything at any time, and this can be very useful for expats looking for a place to live. Scouting out potential neighbourhoods and having a chat with locals in the area can yield useful information about places to rent nearby.

As with most international destinations, the search for a place to live in Jordan can also easily be conducted online. There are a number of websites that cater specifically to expats, although some may try to take advantage of foreigners by overcharging. While it can 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 are likely to have plenty of options but only expats with a good understanding of Arabic, or who have access to a translator, will be able to make 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. However, while convenient, this can be an expensive route to take.


Renting property in Jordan

Leases in Jordan are typically a year long with an option to renew, and landlords usually expect the entire year’s rent upfront. Therefore, before embarking on a search for a house, expats should ensure that they have access to this amount of money, whether in the form a loan, savings, or an advance from their employer. Some landlords may be receptive to negotiation, such as paying six months of rent up front and the rest at a later stage, but striking this kind of a 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). However, 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.

Healthcare in Jordan

The healthcare system in Jordan has been widely praised, and expats accustomed to receiving a high standard of medical care back home are sure to be equally impressed with the expertise of Jordanian doctors. 

The cost of treatment is considerably lower than what many expats may be used to – it is estimated that having a procedure done in Jordan costs on average about ten to 30 percent less than the same procedure would cost in the USA. This has made the country a popular destination for medical tourism; currently, it is one of the most highly praised medical tourism destinations in the Middle East and North Africa.

It should be noted, however, that although excellent facilities are available in Jordan, they are mainly located in its capital city, Amman. 

Doctors are usually able to speak English well and many Jordanian doctors have studied in the West.


Public healthcare in Jordan 

Public hospitals in Jordan usually have up-to-date technology at their disposal and are serviced by knowledgeable doctors. However, like many other public healthcare systems around the world, the Jordanian public sector faces its share of problems. In the past, the chief complaint among those using the service has been long waiting times, but lately, this issue has begun to escalate.

The recent influx of Syrian refugees into the country has put a huge strain on Jordan's public healthcare system, resulting in overcrowding and overuse of resources. It has been reported that Jordanians awaiting elective surgery have been turned away so that the hospitals can treat the war injuries and other urgent medical conditions of refugees. In an effort to remedy the situation, the Jordanian government has put out an international appeal for funding.


Private healthcare in Jordan

While the public sector usually offers medical treatment equal to the quality of treatment offered in the private sector, many expats prefer to utilise private healthcare facilities. Expats often find that some public hospitals can be a bit sparse in terms of comfort and privacy, so those who can afford it usually feel that private facilities are more of a pleasant experience. In addition, waiting periods tend to be shorter in private hospitals.


Pharmacies in Jordan

There are many pharmacies throughout Jordan, some of which are open after hours. Pharmacists should be able to dispense basic medical advice, but not all will speak English. Many medications are available over the counter but expats may be surprised to find that some medicines are restricted – for example, anything containing codeine can only be purchased using a prescription.


Health insurance in Jordan

Public healthcare in Jordan is funded by the government and mandatory contributions from the country's workforce. A monthly deduction is taken from the salaries of all employees in Jordan. These employees are then granted access to social security, which entitles them to free or subsidised healthcare.

Although treatment in the private sector is still a fraction of the cost of the same treatment in other countries, most expats nevertheless take out health insurance to cover the costs incurred. Expats under an international insurance policy should ensure that their cover is comprehensive, and if living outside of Amman, it is recommended that expats choose a policy which includes emergency transport to Amman.

In the case of an emergency, treatment in Jordan is free of charge as long as the patient doesn't require hospitalisation. This applies to Jordanians as well as foreign nationals. Private health insurance is nevertheless recommended in case hospitalisation is required.


Health hazards in Jordan

Temperatures in Jordan can soar in summer, so expats should be sure to drink plenty of water and apply sunblock to avoid dehydration, heat exhaustion and sunburn.

The region has been considered malaria free for over a decade and has a relatively low incidence of tuberculosis and HIV. Nevertheless, appropriate precautions should be taken at all times.


Emergency services in Jordan

The response time of ambulances in Jordan is close to the global average of around seven minutes. Expats cal dial the general emergency number (911) or ambulance and fire emergency number (199) for medical assistance

Education and Schools in Jordan

Although Jordan's education system is considered one of the best in the Arab world, the language barrier deters most expat parents from enrolling their children in local public schools. Since classes are taught in Arabic, it can be daunting to propel an expat child into such unfamiliar territory.

That said, very young children are able to adopt a new language much faster than teens or adults. Learning Arabic and growing up alongside local children can help them to assimilate culturally, making public schools a useful for option for those planning to stay in Jordan for the long haul.

For globally mobile families or those with older children or teens,  private international schools are generally the first choice.


Public school in Jordan

Those who are able to enrol their children in Jordanian public school will find that the country's model of education is advanced. Public schools are free to attend and school books are usually also supplied at no cost.

Schooling is divided into primary school and secondary school. Mandatory school attendance is from ages 5 to 15. For all but Christian students, Islamic Studies is a compulsory subject in secondary school.

Once students are 15, they have the option of leaving school or continuing for another two years. If they choose to continue, there are two possible streams to follow: the academic stream, which prepares students for university, or the vocational stream, which prepares students for community colleges or the job market.


International schools in Jordan

Despite the sometimes astronomical price of school fees for international schools, most expat parents choose to take this route. This makes it possible for children to be educated in English, often in a curriculum that is familiar to them. A variety of curricula are on offer, from American, French and British, to the globally recognised International Baccalaureate. This results in as little disruption of the child's education as possible, and the continuity can be reassuring in a situation where so many other things are different and new.

Places at these schools are limited so it is advised that parents start the application process early. Schools might require students to write entry tests and are likely to request reports from previous schools or recommendations. There may also require the child to come into the school for an interview.

Transport and Driving in Jordan

Expats in Jordan do not have many choices when it comes to transportation. Most roads are in good condition, but unpredictable Jordanian drivers make getting behind the wheel a less-than-appealing option. Meanwhile, the country's mountainous terrain largely rules out cycling and walking as forms of transport.

Taxis are popular with locals and expats alike and are useful for everyday transport, while buses are ideal for getting from city to city.


Public transport in Jordan

While Jordan is a highly developed country in areas such as education and health, its public transportation infrastructure is lacking. However, expats will find that with planning and patience it is nevertheless possible to get from point A to point B using public transport.

Trains

There is only one passenger train in operation in Jordan: a steam train running along the Hedjaz Jordan Railway, which goes daily from Amman to Damascus in Syria and back. With the railway's long and fascinating history, a trip along this route is more for the experience of the ride rather than any practical use. However, due to the war in Syria, the railway's operations are currently suspended.

Mini-buses

Mini-buses are shared taxis which carry seven to nine passengers. They are known locally as servees and can be frustrating to use as they do not follow regular timetables. Rather, drivers will wait until they have a full complement of passengers. While this is not too much of an inconvenience on popular and well-used routes which fill up quickly, expats planning on taking more obscure routes will usually be in for a long wait. Once a mini-bus is full, it will depart and will generally only stop along the way if a passenger asks them to.

Buses 

Expats in need of a bus service that adheres to a timetable should make use of JETT buses rather than relying on mini-buses. Apart from the benefit of predictable and reliable timing, JETT buses also offer passengers a comfortable journey with air-conditioning and toilets onboard. 


Taxis in Jordan

A popular and cost-effective way of getting around, taxis are the main form of transport for many in Jordan, especially in Amman. Taxis are typically yellow in colour.

Expats should be aware that taxi fares in Jordan are anything but straightforward. Firstly, prices are usually in fils, not dinars – and taxi drivers are unlikely to correct anyone who mistakenly pays in dinars.

If the taxi has a meter, make sure the driver turns it on as this will usually be cheaper than paying a set price for the ride. However, while metered taxis are abundant in Amman, taxis in the rest of Jordan seldom have meters. In this case, it is necessary to negotiate a flat fare – expats should do so before getting into the taxi.

When negotiating a fare for a group, taxi drivers are notorious for quoting a seemingly low price for the ride and later claiming that the quoted price was per person. Be sure to clarify this before accepting. 


Driving in Jordan

Driving in Jordan is not for the faint-of-heart. Although most roads are in good condition and are signposted in both Arabic and English, Jordanian drivers have a reputation for driving erratically and unpredictably.

The roads are full of hazards, from unmarked speed bumps to wandering livestock such as sheep, donkeys or camels – in fact, livestock collisions are one of the most common causes of car accidents in Jordan.

At night, the roads are poorly lit and many local drivers are of the opinion that driving without headlights makes it easier to see. This makes it inadvisable to drive after dark unless absolutely necessary.


Cycling in Jordan

Cycling in Jordan can be hazardous – not only do motorists in Jordan lack knowledge of cycle safety, but there is little to no cycling infrastructure in even the most developed parts of the country. Jordan's hot and stifling weather along with the constant dips and rises in the landscape also make for an unsuitable place to use cycling as a regular mode of transport.

Keeping in Touch in Jordan

With the country’s rapidly expanding telecommunications industry, keeping in touch in Jordan is easier than ever. From typing out a quick text message and uploading pictures to Facebook to sending a handwritten letter or parcel by post, expats have a variety of convenient and affordable ways to contact their loved ones back home.


Internet in Jordan

The latest estimates put Jordan’s internet penetration at over 70 percent – one of the highest in the Middle East. Although getting access to the internet is easy, expats from highly developed countries may find the speed a little slow. It is, at least, slightly above the average speed of other countries in the Middle East and Africa.

WiFi hotspots are easy to find in big cities, as are internet cafes.

Internet censorship in Jordan

Jordan is considered partially free when it comes to internet censorship and most websites can be visited easily. However, a law passed in 2012 made it a legal requirement for all news websites to apply for and obtain a government licence – without this licence, access to the website is blocked and charges are pressed against the offending news outlet. This has been seen as a move towards covert censorship.


Mobile phones in Jordan

As is the trend worldwide, mobile phone use has overtaken landline phone use in Jordan in recent years. Expats have the choice of signing up for either a prepaid or postpaid plan. Some postpaid plans include a set number of free international minutes, which can be particularly useful for those wanting to keep in touch with friends and family back home.

If bringing a mobile phone that was purchased in another country, expats should be aware that it may be locked to a particular network. 


Postal services in Jordan

The Jordan Post is a state-owned countrywide postal service. They are considered to be generally reliable but it is recommended that important documents or packages be sent through one of the international courier companies operating in Jordan.

Expat Experiences in Jordan

When considering a move to a new city, there is nothing more useful than hearing real-life stories from other expats who are living there. Enjoy the interviews below and the insight they afford, and please contact us if you live or have lived in Jordan and would like to share your experience. 


Sarah is an American woman living as an expat in Amman, Jordan. She has always loved travelling and learning about new people and cultures. She views every day of expat life as a learning experience and a chance to be a blessing to others. Read more about her expat experience in Amman.

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