How to find a short-term apartment in Amman
Replies: 3 - Last Post: Jun 21, 2013 7:21 AM Last Post By: onlyMark
Jun 20, 2013 10:06 AM
How to find a short-term apartment in AmmanThe guide I wish someone had written before I came to Jordan:
In my very limited experience, rooms for rent is an almost exclusively expat phenomenon, which means options are quite limited. Most people from Jordan live with their families until they marry. Exceptions include people from other cities in Jordan and those that simply enjoy living with foreigners, like my roommate.
Another issue is that, among those apartments available in traditional media, most landlords want long-term renters of six months or more. People will often try to charge more for short-term rentals because of the "uncertainty" involved, or simply won't rent at all.
As you can imagine, this is a difficult real estate market for short-termers doing work assignments or internships in the Middle Eastern capital of the NGO-Industrial Complex. Most of these summer sublets are circulated by word-of-mouth or through conscientious employers, leaving us unconnected folks high and dry.
For those poor souls, I've compiled some advice I received in my own journey through the apartment hunting desert.
#1 Accept you may have to wait until arriving.
Amman is a digital city, but apartment listings have not caught up. In order to the proper due diligence with respect to your apartment, you really need conduct your search in-country. So, if you can't couchsurf, get yourself a couple nights in a decently cheap hotel (25 JD per night) or hostel (10-12 JD per night). Lonely Planet's top listings are really good.
#2 Get a mobile phone ASAP.
Maybe this advice seems stupidly obvious, but you're going to need at least a couple dinars ("JD") of credit for all the calls you're going to be making! I recommend Zain, which is the most common mobile carrier and has some of the cheapest rates, especially for local, in-network calls.
I probably paid too much for my 20 JD Nokia burn phone (+5 JD for tax, 2 JD credit, and activation), but I was between a rock and a hard place. Perhaps someone can advise below on the going rates.
Also, don't be shy about calling potential landlords any time before 10 p.m., especially during Ramadan when people are up all night.
#3 Have a local prices in mind.
For a room in a decent apartment, 150-250 JD is the typical range for basic rent, not including utilities. By "decent," I mean that it's furnished to average student standards and the hot water/appliances work well, although you may not necessarily have air conditioning. For 300 JD per person, it had better be pretty luxurious!
#4 Check, and keep checking, online.
The online options are somewhat limited (hence, tip #2), but it's worth staying in a place with good wifi so you can check the following websites:
• Expatriates.com (http://www.expatriates.com/classifieds/amm/)
Expatriates is the closest Amman gets to Craiglist, which we Americans know and love as our go-to spot for apartment searches. You can directly message people, and I recommend also calling if they offer a number. Be sure to check under "Housing Available > Rooms," as the whole-apartment listing tend to be a bit ridiculous if you're not already going in with someone.
I did not personally have a good experience with the house I arranged here before coming, but plenty of my friends have found places on the site. In any case, NEVER pay rent upfront. That bit of common sense really saved me.
• Gweet (http://www.gweet.com/)
This house-share site was started by the Amman Couchsurfing Ambassador Simon. Don't get sticker shock when you convert the places to "monthly"; people on Gweet often don't appropriate list different daily and monthly rates. Just contact them and try to bump the rent down to something reasonable.
• Airbnb (http://www.airbnb.com/)
I have heard of people using this, and I think it's basically the same deal as with Gweet.
#5 Go where the expats are.
This means the cafés on Rainbow Street in Jabal Amman. Check out the bulletin boards at Caffé Strada and Turtle Green on the western end of Rainbow Street near First Circle. Then, head down Omar bin al-Khattab Street (Mango Street) to Books@Café. Most of the ads will be in English (lucky for you!) with telephone numbers.
Unlike most places, it's actually worthwhile to put up a "housing wanted" ad on one of these billboards. That's how I met someone who, although we didn't end up living together, put me in touch with my current roommate!
#6 Be flexible.
You're going to need to visit lots of places, often on short notice, to find a place that is decent and within your price range. I called my current roommate and was shown the place ten minutes later. For this reason, it may be easier to do your search on the weekend.
#7 Believe in miracles, but also know when to cut your losses.
It's really amazing how things often just work themselves out. It may be a casual conversation with a coworker or even someone you just met in a café that lands you your dream apartment; anything is possible in this crazy city! But also don't spend your whole trip looking for an apartment. There is at least one hostel in Amman that will negotiate discounted long-term rates and provide decently cheap food so you don't absolutely have to cook.
On that note I wish you all the best of luck! اهلا وسهلا بكم and see you in Jordan!
Jun 20, 2013 10:45 AM
1Good advice, which matches my own experience in Amman. If you want only a room, and for less than 6 months, you are pretty much limited to the options described. Estate agents will usually only help you find whole flats or houses, and for periods of at least 6 months. For a whole flat you are looking at a monthly rent of at least JD 500.
Renting only a room can actually be a blessing because whoever rents or owns the whole flat (and sub-lets one room to you) will hopefully take care of bills and maintenance. Jordanian architecture and technology is not of a high standard, so expect things to break regularly. I have experienced everything from damaged heating, water in the fuel tank, gas leaks, defective air-conditioning and uncloseable windows to water dripping through the ceiling and flooding in my flat (courtesy of the flat above me). And that was in the best part of Amman (Abdoun)! Water supply is cheap, but electricity is very expensive and few Jordanian flats and houses are energy-savers. Diesel (heating fuel) is moderately expensive.
Depending on when you come to Amman you need to worry more about heating than cooling. I never used air-condition, not even in July or August. But I would have frozen to death without proper heating between October/November and March/April. If you run an electric heating (most modern A/C units can heat) do not be surprised if monthly electricity costs are as much (or even twice) the monthly rent in winter! Find out how hot water is provided. If it is solar-heated you can have a warm shower in December only on a sunny day after 10 a.m.!
During the three or four hottest summer months many Gulf Arabs come to Jordan, wipe the market dry and drive rents up. I once had an open-ended rental contract for a flat only to be thrown out after the initial six months. It happened to be June and my dear landlord calculated that any random Saudi family would happily pay a year's worth of rent for having a flat until September. On the other hand, these summer guests hardly look for one-room backpacker accommodation, so you are unlikely to face stiff competition.
Lastly, I presume that a good place for room-hunting are notice boards and other "comminication tools" around the University of Jordan. I am not sure if living in that area is a good idea, though. It is a long way from everywhere.
Jun 21, 2013 12:01 AM
Jun 21, 2013 7:21 AM
3When Buffy says, "...Water supply is cheap..." that is true enough but bear in mind the water is usually stored in tanks at the apartment that are only filled once a week via the mains supply. If the apartment doesn't have a big enough tank (rare nowadays though) or if there is bad weather, e.g. a heavy rainfall causing silt/sand/dust to flow into the reservoirs then it can easily happen the tank isn't filled up that week.
Just a thought that you can't expect 24 hour mains water all year round, there are shortages.
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