Moving to Amman
The modern day capital of Jordan is one of the oldest cities in the world with evidence of inhabitation stretching back to the 8th millennia BCE. It takes its name from the Ammonite people described in the Old Testament. Its ancient importance receded in the face of earthquakes and other natural disasters until it became a major settlement again in the twentieth century - as the capital of the British protectorate of Transjordan and, following Jordanian independence, as the home for countless Palestinian refugees.
According to legend the city was originally built on seven hills but now sits atop and among nineteen of them. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Amman has become a major business hub in the middle east, processing major transactions and hosting the headquarters of Arab Bank as well as large branches of HSBC, Standard Chartered and Citibank.
The greater economic activity has also brought a greater influx of western immigrants, a trend which has seen western consumer brands like McDonald’s and Starbucks follow. The attraction of Amman to new arrivals from the west is not hard to explain. The city is one of the most liberal in the Arab world with relaxed attitudes to dress, alcohol and adult forms of entertainment.
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If you're moving to Jordan from anywhere in the world, there are a few things you should start looking at including the job market, property and neighborhoods, the education system if you have children and moving your belongings to your new place.
Moving to Amman From the UK
While the official language is Arabic, English is widely spoken in Amman, smoothing the way for potential new arrivals from the UK. It’s entirely possible to live and work in Amman without learning any Arabic (depending on your job) but making an effort to pick up the lingo will obviously help with integrating into Jordanian society and making Arabic friends.
The large number of western expats already present in Amman can also help with transitioning and mean that western style schools, restaurants, bars and brands can all be found quite easily.
Public health facilities in Jordan are very good for the region though expats will probably prefer to obtain private health insurance in order to maintain equivalent standards to those in the UK. Amman is actually a popular destination for medical tourism such are its standards of private care.
Jordan’s property market suffered heavily from the effects of the global crisis in 2008 when house prices fell by between 10 and 15%. However, government moves to support prices, including property tax cuts and exemptions, have been successful in the interim period and, along with improved economic growth, have raised average apartment prices back up to around JOD 950 (£839) per square metre. Foreign buyers must hold on to their Jordanian property for at least 5 years.
Comparing Amman vs London
Amman’s cold semi-arid climate has a temperature range not dissimilar to London’s but with much warmer summers, less precipitation and much more sunshine. Average high temperatures in Amman in June and July reach 32 °C (as compared to London’s average highs of 23 °C) and average lows in winter drop to around 4 °C (as compared with 3 °C in London).
On average though Amman sees less than half the annual rainfall of London and most of that falls between the months of November and March, leaving summers bone dry. Average annual sunshine hours are more than double those of the UK capital.
Living costs are significantly lower in Amman. As well as property and rents being much cheaper in the Jordanian capital prices at restaurants, for transportation, in supermarkets and on utility bills are also generally lower. You can expect to pay more for alcohol though as well as some consumer goods such as western style clothing.
On average inhabitants of Amman report themselves as feeling safer than Londoners and as receiving better standards in healthcare. On the other hand they also report spending longer commuting and putting up with more pollution.