I am Jim Wright, originally from Alabama, USA now living in Amman, Jordan.
After living twenty years in Birmingham I became listless and ready to move on. I had spent 12 years in the Navy traveling the globe. As a student of ancient history I decided to move to the Middle East and as I had friends in Jordan, this seemed the logical place to live.
What challenges did you face during the move?
By far the biggest challenge was the fact that I still did not know much Arabic at the time of my move. Making the transition from a largely consumerist and unfriendly society to the basic and hospitable culture of Jordan was quite a surprising shock.After a year and a half I still find myself marveling at, and acclimating to the open and friendly society here.
How did you find somewhere to live?
I was very fortunate in having friends in the area who looked at properties to rent, provided photos and descriptions as well as advice to help me decide where to move. In the end, the flat was ready for occupancy on the day I arrived. Thankfully, there was no difficulty at all in this area.
Are there many other expats in your area?
To my knowledge, there are no other expats in the area in which I now live. Most of the expats I have come to know I have met through their blogs.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
The locals here have accepted me very readily. I have even been proclaimed as a member of one family! Every person I have met, without exception has welcomed me and been most helpful in getting things I need without being cheated, showing me places to visit, taking me around the kingdom and inviting me into their homes and shops for tea or coffee. Every one has gone out of his way to ensure I feel happy and comfortable living here.
What do you like about life where you are?
The simpler, unhurried lifestyle, the genuine hospitality of the locals, the lack of “big box stores” (i.e. Walmart, Sams, Costco), the lower cost of living, the list goes on and on…
What do you dislike about your expat life?
The difficulty finding clothes that fit (I am a big guy), driving!!, the need for “wasta” when attempting to do pretty much anything, driving!!, the lack of simple things for which I must find substitutes (buttermilk, cornmeal, crockpot, waffle iron, etc). The biggest thing I dislike is missing my family, particularly my parents who are getting quite old and my sister with whom I have always shared a very close relationship.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Do it! Plan well in advance, if you have a local friend by all means utilize his or her knowledge to help in landing a flat and assist with learning your way around the city and the best way to get things done.
What are your plans for the future?
For the foreseeable future I will stay right here in Jordan, continuing to chronicle my travels as I research for a possible book on Jordan. Living here this past year and a half has convinced me I am “home” and right now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Jim shares more about life in Amman through his blog olbigjimsplace.blogspot.com