Welcome back to, “Survival Guide for Studying in Amman”. I’ve returned to Amman after my semester in the summer because of the wonderful staff, and the wonderful opportunities CIEE Amman had to offer. In my previous post I discussed and offered recommendations regarding housing options. The next topic to be discussed is “Money Matters.”
Judging by the tuition prices of the Summer, spring and fall semester, you might have an idea of how pricey it is to live in Amman. But fear not, there are plenty of ways to budget during your study abroad experience. The main factors that will affect your experience abroad consist of: transportation, meals, traveling, and shopping.
Since you are unable to rent a car in Amman, there are three main forms of traveling within the city limits. All modes of transportation are cheap if you utilize them strategically.
- The first is the taxi, which is relatively cheap ranging from 1-4 JD per trip. It can be far cheaper if you just split the fare with some friends, but be wary of drivers who will try to scam you as some do even back in the States. Something to note with taxis is to check the meter, as they should be set on .25JD flat.
- The second is Uber or Careem. Careem is very similar to Uber, and has a mobile wallet function that allows you to ride card free. With Uber, you are able to split the exact cost of your ride with other passengers. This avoids the hassle of having to split the cost with other passengers. Unfortunately, this option is not available with Careem, but you can match the prices with both options and pick the most cost efficient option.
- The final one is my personal favorite, and is the most exciting to be on: the Coaster Bus. This mode of transportation ranges from 30-50 cents per passenger, and it takes you to the main centers in Amman. These buses usually have a small gentlemen yelling out the destination of the ride, and if you’re unsure, you can easily ask which bus can take you to “shariah al-Jama'ah.” Here you will get the full cultural experience, and you save a good amount of money.
The second most important thing next to saving money is food. Jordanian cuisine is very tasty, and very cheap depending on where you go. But you will find that every small restaurant on street corners are as tasty and much cheaper than the “Top Best Restaurants in Amman” that you will probably google. Utilize the corner stores as much as you can, because it is there that you can do your grocery shopping. The corner stores sell fresh bread and produce daily that can be half as cheap as those sold in bigger and higher end supermarkets. Lastly, making your own foods and packing your lunch will help save cash if you live in an apartment. If you live in a home stay, your host mom will probably pack you food to take to school and will help you save a lot of money as well.
If you are lucky enough to spend a whole semester abroad in Jordan, and you have the funds to do so, please take advantage of how accessible it is to travel all around the world. I know traveling can be very expensive, and for the most part it is, but thanks to Ryan Air it is much easier to travel to countries such as, Cyprus, Greece, Milan, Germany, Hungary, Malta, among several other destinations. The prices range from 10-60 Euros, and is perfect for anyone who wants to leave with just a backpack full of clothes and their passport.
Most important thing to note, if you plan on traveling multiple times outside of Jordan, please do invest in the multiple entry visa prior to the program start date. The price of $180 will be much less than having to pay the 59US entry fee.
If you’re tight on cash, there are also plenty of things to do within Jordan that can be cheap to do with a group of friends. You can take the coaster bus for 60 cents to Jerash for a day trip to the ruins, or split a taxi with some friends to the Dead Sea for 20JD. Regardless of what you plan on doing, there are ways to travel under $100 and have fun if you need to budget abroad. It is always worthwhile to consult the CIEE staff for trips within Jordan as they know how to get where the cheapest.
Lastly we have shopping, which I’m sure you’re going to do a lot of before coming to Jordan. My advice with saving money abroad is, do not overspend before coming to to Jordan. Don’t spend all your money on a fancy universal converter or a bunch of clothes, because odds are everything you find in the US you will find here in Amman. From personal experience, I payed $25 on a universal converter for it to not work. In Amman, I’ve found a converter for 50 cents that I’ve used since my summer semester in 2018.
The only things I would suggest buying in the US are pain killers, hair products for specific hair types (i.e. curly or kinky hair), and maybe specific toiletries that are difficult to find elsewhere. The things you can find here in Amman are big brand named fashion companies, such as Forever 21, and a thrift market on Fridays called Souk Jama’a. The Souk is one big flea market where you can utilize your Arabic with haggling. There you can find second hand clothing that could cost $20, but can be sold for $5. Overall, pack less and pack smart is the key to studying abroad on a budget.