Where to live
Popular areas for expats in Amman are Abdoun (probably also the most expensive), Swefiah, Rabiah, Shmesani, Um Uthaina or close to any of the circles from 3rd to 7th or in Webdeh (especially for students and younger people). Somehow, the more West you are the more expensive (Dabouq) and the more to the East you are, the more affordable it probably gets. The map below shows the Aboun area, although maybe a bigger part than this will count towards it in reality.
Finding an apartment
There are several different ways to find an apartment. When you don’t speak Arabic you will not find the newspaper very useful. Hence, you can have a look at real estate agencies such as MarketJo which focuses on Expats and many others. They usually will show you then a few properties in the desired area and you can make a decision after seeing some different options. We found an apartment through distant family that already has been here before, so it was a bit easier. You can have a look at Facebook groups such as Expats in Amman, Jordan Expats or search other websites, too. Also you will see many signs on buildings that are for rent or sale. This actually might be a good opportunity, because you can have a look at places in a certain area and then give it a go, although again it might help to have somebody with you who speaks Arabic.
Most of the buildings are 4 floors high (above the ground) and have a square layout. Size has a different dimension here opposed to Europe, so it is fairly normal that 2-3 bedroom apartments are around 130-200 sqm large. I don’t want to go too much into prices as, like everywhere, they depend much on the area, age, size and other characteristics such as parking spots, view, furniture and of course general conditions and quality of appliances. However, for a single, a 1-2 bedroom apartment (furnished) that has descent quality in a good area (see the above mentioned) can range from 600 – 1000 JD/month. The more rooms you have or the more special the apartment or home the higher costs can get. A 2-3 bedroom apartment (furnished) might cost around 10.000 – 16.000 JD/year. If you look at something more luxurious, prices might start from 15.000 JD/year with open end…
Paying Rent and additional costs
It is common that rent will be paid for 6 or 12 months in advance, especially when you are a foreigner. Since usually expats get compensated for moving into another country and/or might receive a housing allowance (upfront), these huge costs can be covered. Before making such a huge payment, be sure you are comfortable with the place and location you choose and make sure everything works before you pay as it might be hard to impossible to get back any of that money paid upfront.
Most of the apartments will have a “guard” living probably in the basement. These guards are mostly from Egypt and they also provide other services such as going to the supermarket, bringing and picking clothes from the dry cleaner or cleaning the car if agreed upon. The fee is usually between 25-40 JD/month per household. You pay this money directly in cash. It is a good idea to obtain some sort of proof of the payment, in case it comes to any arguments.
Electricity is provided by mainly/partially governmental owned companies. It is moderately priced if you do not use too much air condition or other heavy use such as heating with electricity. Due to the fact that the price per kWh becomes more expensive the more you use, you should watch your consumption. However, as family with a little child, heating water with a boiler and using a washing machine fairly often, we tend to pay an average of 35 JD/month, while in Winter it might be as much as 60-70 JD, in summer it can be less than 20 JD. The selling price for the private consumer is below the production price and electricity is subsidized by the government.
Sometimes the guard (see above) can go and pay it for you or you can pay it at certain supermarkets such as safeway next to 7th circle and also via online banking, efawateer (the Jordanian online payment service for several bills) which I do through Arab Bank. Also see my post on E-Fawateer.com – or how to pay your bills in Jordan.
Paradoxically, Jordan being one of the driest countries on the planet, water is still cheap compared to Europe, again because it is subsidized. For 3 months we pay around 12 JD. While certain areas in the country do struggle with water supply and some many household in non-urban regions do not have water on a regular basis, the households in (Western) Amman do have regular, constant water supply. We haven’t experienced any water shortage, yet. However, keep in mind to save as much as you can. Also the last winter had a lot of rain and therefore water was not as scarce as in the last 7-8 years.
Similar to the electricity bill you can pay in several ways and also via online banking through eFawateer which I do.
As most people do, we do not drink water from the tab. In order to avoid to many plastic bottles and carrying heavy water supply, we order Drinking Water from Nestle. The service is convenient and the water does not cost more than if you would buy it from the store, although we always give a tip. Depending on your area, they will come on a certain day a week. Since we are at work, when they come we just put the bottles in front of our apartment door with the money next to it and when we return from work we have new bottles of water. The initial bottle costs 5 JD deposit and a refill is currently 2.70 JD for 5 Gallons or 18.9 L. For orders check their website or call (06) 550 5500.
Around 98% of families in Jordan cook with gas, so will you probably. Cooking with gas is very convenient and professional cooks do it alike. A full large gas cylinder costs around 7 JD at the moment and they are fixed so should not cost more. Your guard, see above, might help you with contacting the seller and installing the bottle wherever it is supposed to be installed. Also, you will hear the little trucks with a typical melody driving through the city. That way you know when the supplier is driving past your home. For us a bottle lasts around 2-3 months. We often cook but also go to restaurants for dinner. All in all it is a very cheap source of energy supply. If your place has the option of installing two bottles at the same time, it is a great solution, so you can never run out of gas. There is also an app to order gas cylinders in Amman but it does not seem to work at least not with me.