The Standards Of Living [In Jordan]

You never really understand the plight of Jordan until you actually try and make a living here and experience just how quickly your monthly salary disappears.

It’s absolutely terrible. The difficulty of attempting to save anything at all. What’s worse is where it goes. I have absolutely no idea.

I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I don’t go to places with 10JD entrance fees. I don’t have a family to support or bills to pay (except for gas). Yet by the end of the month…poof…it’s gone.

What’s more puzzling than the disappearing act my salary pulls is the infinite wondering of how people who make a third of what I make manage to survive and even feed a family. It’s insane.

I know, I know, everyone lives according to the strata of society their income puts them in. Nevertheless. It seems to me that the more a person makes in such a small country, and an even smaller city; that person is bound to spend more.

Maybe I should keep a spreadsheet of where the money goes. Follow the trail.

Speaking of…

A recent CSS poll showed that people are increasingly losing their confidence in the Bakhit government, which is obviously nothing new. The government itself is nearing the end of its lifeline anyway. Unemployment, poverty, rising prices and declining living standards were all the major issues those polled were concerned with; again, nothing new. While the poll showed that only a third of Jordanians believe their standards of living have decreased in recent years, I would put the number as high as 80% in my opinion, especially when taking into consideration inflation.

The national poll, made up of 983 respondents from the general public, revealed that 33.5 per cent believed their living standards had declined over the past three years, while the percentage among opinion leaders was 35.6 per cent.

Opinion leaders include former officials, journalists, businessmen, academics and other professionals.

In all, 44 per cent of citizens said their families’ living conditions had remained unchanged, while among opinion leaders, the figure was 36.4 per cent.

Only 22.1 per cent of citizens said their living conditions had improved.


  • well we are ranked first among arabic coutries in terms of living cost ahead of dubai and beirut so its gotta reflect somewhere
    thats acording to the economist report 2007 not mercer

  • Try and track all your cash each expense, each day for a week – jot, type all fuel, groceries, eating out, telephone payments. It’s a useful experiment if you can do it for a full month (including payroll & tax deductions)

  • Should we be looking for the cause behind this?Or go with the solution?

    Is it because of the Iraqis (I don’t think so) or because of those Khaleeji Projects (Towers,etc) and the greedy land owners?

    Anyways, the government should go easy on all the (Yay shu cool) investments, even top Jordanian capitalists can’t compete with oil money.

    I’m not sure about blaming the government (or this government in particular), we didn’t reach this point in just few years, it all started after 1991. I think the whole system is screwed up, and the people are to be blamed since they keep quiet and they are part of it.

    I am in no defense of the government, but the people take the full responsibility for not speaking up and for not taking any action. After all the government (lousy PM,corrupted officials, incompetent governmental dude who yells in your face) is nothing but the people (although not fully representative of all Jordanians).

    No change till we change ( I think the prophet said something like this, Allah does not change a people’s condition until they change themselves) or something. The only problem is, some think that (by changing themselves) they should go with the beard, Niqabi and Dishdash thing,the bad short Dishdasheh not the good one.

    You are not alone, I’ve done the spreadsheets and all, you’ll come to the conclusion that all your spendings are a necessity and you can’t do much, unless you start telling people you don’t have enough credit in your cell’s, make missed calls,take the Bus,shop at cheaper places. Too much hardship for saving only Max. JD150.
    Don’t forget to buy the latest cellphone (new or used), and then not being able to buy credits afterwards.

    PS: Start taking your special one to Hashim,Abu Subhi REst, Cinema El Hamra in Wast El balad, tell her that you are a communist and like to mangle with real people and stuff.

  • Bambam is right …

    Amman is the most expensive city on a per capita income basis of any Arabic city.

    Heres a calculation I used to do when i was in jordan.. ( i have not been in Jordan for a year … so excuse me if the numbers are off … but its a general comparison )

    Monthly Average Jordanian minimum wage = 150 JD
    Cost of a cinema ticket = 5 JD
    Cost of cinema ticket = 3.3 % of monthly minimum wage

    Monthly average USA minimum wage=($7.25/hr * 40 Hrs * 4 weeks)=$1200
    Cost of cinema ticket = $ 10
    Cost of cinema ticket = 0.8% of monthly minimum wage

    So basically … a Cinema ticket is Jordan is 4 times MORE expensive than a ticket in the US

  • One of the problems is the hefty 16% tax that gets added to everything. Go out to a nice restaurant and include a gratuity and you may end up spending up to a quarter of the price of the meal on extra charges.

    Another problem is that prices of “Western” items (fast food, movie tickets, etc.) are placed to be equivalent to prices in the West (5JD = $7, nearly the average cost of a movie ticket in the States), rather than balanced to match a Jordanian’s salary. Like Deeb pointed out, the cost of items per monthly salary percent ends up being much higher in Jordan.

    Let’s not even factor in the cost of fuel in Jordan. Fuel prices have recently risen in the States to just over $3 per gallon (the average is around $3.15/gallon). Compare that to the average price in Jordan for the past year, which is around .660 fils per liter…an equivalent of $3.52 per gallon!

  • While I feel with you Nas as I don’t know where my salary goes as well as not being able to comprehend how people with half my salary live while supporting a full family, and while I agree with what the guys said of the cost of living in Amman which is more expensive than many other Arabic cities, I find it a hard to believe the percentage of people who claim that their living standard have lowered in the past couple of years. In the contrary of you I dont think the percentage as higher as of 80%, I think it is even lesser than the 33% who stated it. Jordanians are used to complaining and looking at the dark side. In the past couple of years a lot of changes happened to our economy, while prices went up, salaries have went up as well. 10 years ago, 1000 JD was a target to be achieved with very rare people approaching it, now it is very common. A lot of inverstments came to this country and a lot of internation companies opened here that raised the salary expectations of Jordanians.

    I am happy with the performance of our government, and I look forward to more improvement to our economy and society.

  • Observer,,I have one simple question for you,why don’t you go down to Maan , Tafelaha or maybe A Shoubak and ask if people make 1000JD a month?
    I challenge you’ll not find not even one person makes this kind of money.

  • alurdunialhurr, I really don’t have any statistics about the salaries in small cities in Jordan. I am talking about my perspective in general of how salaries have been raised in Amman and I gues in others cities as well.

  • u know nas, i think its the same everywhere.. i’ve always had this theory, inno il nas are 70% middle class and 30 % are either too flithy rich, or too msa5ma6een 😀

    and please note that middle class can always become msa5ma6. coz most middle class ppl dont save much, but live decent, so should any mseebeh arise, they become tight for a year or two, or take a loan or re-mortgage their house.

    i used to make around 2 years ago 1/3 what im making now il7amdila, and still i wonder how the hell did i make ends meet back then, w howcome thrice my previous salary is almost dong the same now..

    i blame the media 👿

  • Nas..I have posted 10 times already,what happened,I have the gut felling that your Blog is being monitored ,call me conspiracy theorist.

    dude…get over yourself

  • Clearly Jordan is expensive, especially Amman which is increasingly outside the comfort level of most Jordanians.

    Yes salaries have gone up, but the rate of increase for most workers has not kept up with inflation (especially housing and energy costs). Jordan is a country where a significant portion of the workforce is employed in the public sector. These workers have not benefited from increased private-sector economic activity and foreign investments in Jordan. In a perfect world, one would think the government’s increased tax revenues would some how translate in wage increases. However, as with all governments, more revenues means a larger government-more programs, more departments, and simply more bureaucracy. The recent pay raises did very little really to combat the wave of inflation.

    I agree with Deeb and Dave. The real story about cost of living in Jordan is not on;y the sheer numbers, but rather the percentage of available household income. As a result, rent in Amman can quickly consume 30-50% of annual income even for the highest income brackets. Energy costs can eat up another 30% easily. Lower income households who seek refuge in areas with cheaper housing would end up paying more (and wasting more time) on transportation to and from work!

    This may be just the beginning of a long and painful transition to a free market economy. The Russian experience comes to mind. It took years before things stabilized and the rule of the law was relatively restored. So it is no surprise that reading daily news from Jordan, one comes across stories of citizen cutting telephone cables and poles in order to sell for a few Dinars…people stealing water and electricity…and even people trading in human organs (see my blog

  • Free market economy is going to be complete disaster for the people of Jordan,and time will tell,Iam just warring all those market economy enthusiasts ,that the theory has failed in many countries and Jordan is no exception.
    بدوب الثلج وراح نشوف الي تحتي

  • The migrant that will never came back

    Hi people

    Believe me the cost of living in Amman is the same as Dubai & many European countries a have visited with a big difference in quality of services you are getting.

    Just live the country, & let other people benefit from our experience & youth age.
    I am here in Dubai getting 3 times what I expect to get in Jordan meanwhile expenses is the same , with better quality of every thing.


  • Deeb: you studied economics….people who make 150JDs do NOT go to the cinema for 5JDs. They also do NOT go to McDonalds.

    People adjust their standards of living to their income.

  • The question Nas,Can you live on is not whether people can adjust or not.and what can you buy in Amman with 150JD,taking into consideration ,you have to spend on one month time span.

  • “The question Nas,Can you live on 150JD”

    thats not the question but the answer to that is it depends on how one defines “living”

    what is a person’s “standards” when it comes to living

    people adjust their lives according to their income. the poor in jordan were not once rich, they’ve always been poor…its just become harder to be poor is all.

    the 150jd security guard is worried about the rising kilo of tomatoes or cucumbers…not about the cinema.

    those who make 400 or 500, will raise the bar of living a bit.

    and if you’re making 1,000 then you’re worrying about car payments and gas and affording the new lifestyle.

    etc etc etc

  • Nas,

    Of course people that are making minimum wage are not going to worry about the new pirates of the Caribbean, but for us to be able to make a fair comparison between two countries; I used two common factors …. Minimum wage and a cinema ticket. You can do the same analysis, instead of a cinema tickets substitute a kilo of tomatoes … or a gallon of olive oil. You will find that the results are similar.

    I felt that a cinema ticket would just be more relevant for this audience. As for the minimum wage … well it is what it is … you can’t really debate that.


  • “people adjust their lives according to their income. the poor in Jordan were not once rich, they’ve always been poor…its just become harder to be poor is all.” بل لله عليك Is 150JD considered an income?,talking into consideration that you have to bay 100JD just to pay rent,in my opinion ,thats what I call slavery .

  • Deeb, a kilo of tomatoes or the price of bread (staples) are more fair economic comparisons than cinema tickets.

    alurduni….150jds is an income whether you like it or not, whether you agree with it or not. granted that it is a very very low income, but it is an income nevertheless. the alternative is being unemployed and making nothing. slavery is working against your will for no wages at all. it usually involves being whipped by an overseer.

  • Ha! That is so true. Even did the money trail equation, and honestly, it only made me regret the simplest of purchases. It seems to me, that even though you might be financially independent from your parents, you are still bound to ask them for some sort of support eventually. For instance if you want to put a down payment on a car, or if you want to invest in a small business. So it’s pretty hard to sustain yourself while you’re still young. I mean, I had to resort to doing 2 or 3 jobs on the side, just to be able to go comfortable all through the month, and hopefully save some money. But until now, I find myself in your situation, with a small amount of cash saved at the end of the month. And I am telling you, I am doing things on the side!

    Just to prove Nas’ point, in a more scientific way than Deeb did. The GDP per capita is something around JD2,400 per year. Translating to JD200 per month. However, the Department of Statistics weighs that the poverty line for a family of four, with one working dependent, is JD500. So even if both parents work, this average Jordanian family will still reside under the poverty line.

    As for the expenditures Nas. I have to admit that I do smoke and drink, but that’s just besides the point. Even if you don’t want to expense these items, and want to let’s say, buy a name brand shirt. That would be around JD30-40. Buying a pair of sneakers is JD40. Buying a name brand, but basic, laptop mouse is JD25. This is all because we are reliant on foreign exports, and without having strong local industries. If we did manufacture our own clothes, our government wouldn’t have to tax foreign products in order to encourage consuming local products (assuming that our government does have these Utopian values), and everybody would be happy. Our economy would be strong. Unemployment rates would be lower, and prices would be lower. But then again, this is all just wishful thinking.

  • A little late, but I do recommend a spreadsheet. We keep track of every dinar spent and it helps put savings away at the first of the month, living on the rest.

  • This blog reminded of an article here back in 2005 about the oil industry in Jordan.

    How is all that working out ?

    Does Jordan still import most of its oil ?

    There was an American company named Sonoran that was supposed to explore for oil in Jordan. What happend to them ?

    Oil revenues “should” help the living standards.


  • I live in the USA now and I’ve got a $55,000 / year job as a Systems Analyst. Do any of you know what the employment opportunities are like in Jordan? My wife of five years wants to move there eventually. She loves Jordan and all her family is there. She grew up in a wealthy family, so money was always easy to come by and she has had to deal with little hardship. I’m just afraid I can’t find the same type of job in Jordan; even if I did, not be able to make enough money to secure a future.

  • I stumbled upon this blog, as I was starting a feasibility study into relocating my business from Egypt to Jordan. We employ around 50 people.

    From what I am reading my operating costs in Jordan would be approximately 30% higher than in Egypt. I am being strongly urged to make the move by various people in Jordan – but can anyone suggest to me where my interest as a foreign investor would lie?

  • Michael: that all depends on the investment and what you’re investing in. That 30% is mostly because labor is cheaper in Egypt.

    But there are many factors for you to consider as an investor. Closeness to a specific market you’d like to target is one example.

  • Well, we have well-established markets in Europe, Americas, and Middle East. The main interest in relocating quite frankly is the “obstructionism” of Egyptian officialdom. What scares me is to jump out of the frying pan into the fire, and pay around 30% of my operating costs for the priviledge.

    Difficult choice. We recently spent the Eid holiday in Aqaba, and had a wonderful time, just trying to get a feel for your country.

  • Michael: I would argue, as a business writer and not a business man, that we do have less officialdom due to the new era of business encouragement. if you’re a manufacturer and you set up in a QIZ, you might be able to offset the costs. otherwise..

  • Thank you for responding so promptly to my thoughts 🙂

    The ASEZA package is very promising, and is what first drew my attention to Jordan. I agree that some of the additional costs could be offset by Jordanian and US fiscal advantages, the US remaining one of our major markets. And it may well be that the net increase would be a price worth paying in terms of greater regulatory transparency, better productivity, better quality of life, etc…

    Well, we shall see. I have been offered sponsorship of a kind by one of the major foundations, and we are only now setting out on the feasibility study. It is perhaps too soon to reach conclusions based on what I read about the cost of living and rising inflation….

  • Michael: for sure the standards of living have an impact on businesses and business owners, but the point of my above post, and indeed most takes on the subject, are the huge impact on the ordinary citizen that doesn’t make much money.

  • That 22% of citizens say that living conditions have improved suggests that 1/5 of society is actually benefitting but the effect is not trickling down to a majority in society. Considering how 45% of the labour force is employed by the government but only contributes 17% to GDP (Economic Production) is evidence of how unbalanced things are. Jordan not only has unemployment but even those employed are under-utilised. Most agree that 1/3 of the public sector can be cut without impacting on the economy.

    Wages disappear because Jordanians think that the government SHOULD pay them more to look after all the children they have. Since being irresponsible is not condemned or punished (take traffic violations as a hint) people naturally think that their pay should be raised if they choose to be irresponsible by not considering having children a responsibility. Unfortunately too many think that three sons is a must &/or my tribe must be larger than everybody elses’.

    I made 800 JDs a month in 2002 & I wasn’t happy with that. The more you make the more expensive life seems to become, & I didn’t have a family, didn’t drink, smoke or pay rent yet was supposed to be ‘grateful’ for my situation. I think that I wasn’t productive enough simply because the market was never big enough & the technology we used was not the best or latest. We also lacked sufficient support systems (such as spare parts) & in turn it wasn’t always easy to cope especially since technical hitches were often costing us a lot & in turn our wages were reduced.

    That’s the Jordanian work environment.

  • I have been asked to move to Jordan to begin working for HR stuff but it does not pay that well. 300Jd a month I believe…I am looking to ask a few questiosn regarding the lifestyle in Jordan. Someone here said a ticket for the cinema is 5jd…how much is a place to rent? Is anyone willing to answer some questions I have. If so please email me

  • I have been suffer from the lifestyle in Jordan. I don’t say that I am not a Jrdanian, and you don’t need to be from another country to criticize lifestyle in Jordan, it is just common sense and not trying to live the same life of other nations.

    What is happening that a lot of people in Jordan have got a lot of money without earing it, but by selling land or comming from abroad, this affected the prices of everything as those people will pay anyhow. On the other hand, merchandise have degraded in quality and quantity, as people will buy anyhow. Now, people earning their living have to follow because they don’t have any other choices, which will make rich people become richer, and poor people even poorer, and the vicious loop will keep turning.

    I don’t have any opinion on how to solve this problem. Maybe if employers try to split what they earn with their working power by raising salaries the problem will ease a little, but this will not get us out of the loop, and I don’t think theye will do.

    By the way, I know a lot of highly qualified and productive people who are planning to leave Jordan for good, as “it is not the live anybody can live anymore.”


  • Hi! I just read this article when I was trying to figure out if I could live in Amman with 600 dollars per month. I´ve been offered a job in a newspaper there (where they promised me a raise after some months), but I want to know the real possibilities of being able to live with that salary. Is is possible? How much would I have to pay for a room? I´m a woman, so maybe I can´t just live anywhere in Amman… Please, I need a little bit of guidance in order to know what to do.

  • Dear Susana, 600 US dollars is about 426 dinars and in my opinion, trying to live in amman on that budget is going to be rather difficult. you might find a roommate to split the rent, but it will still likely take up half that salary, leaving you barely anything for food and transportation, etc.

  • Dear all, I have read through this article with much interest. I am interested in opening a IT company in Amman. The staff will perform business analysis and system support. In order to secure and retain a contented employee, what would the appropriate annual salary scale be for a graduated employee with 3 years experience.

  • Hello everyone! me and my husbnd (no kids) are planning to go to Amman in the summer. He has been offered a job in an international english school and he will be paid 1500 JD amonth plus acomodation and electricity and water bills. I wont be working. Can we save some money at the end of the 2 months contract? we don´t like going to night clubs but enjoy eating outside and going to cafes. Thank you!

  • hi everyone.. i have an offer to work as a nurse with a salary of $530 plus free accommodation and food.. will it be enough for me? i enjoy buying make-ups..=)

  • I am planning to relocate to Jordan. My savings expectation 5000 USD per annum. I am living single. Kindly advise me the negotiable salary and the cost of living in Jordan.

  • Hey

    I’m talking to a company in Amman about getting a position as a global logistics and procurement manager. They want to know what I’m looking for in salary/benefit package. They said I would get helath insurance free, a mini van, 14 days vacation (plus more if I need it), 14 sick days. Other than that, I have no idea how to research this. Any suggestion? Thanks.


  • Iam thinking to live in Jordan ,I love to live between my arabic people . today the 03 .02 .2010 ,I was sitting all day at home doing some painting , a little writing,reading ,watching TV and feeling in general bored . About 11pm came the idea in to my head to return to live in Amman -Jordan ,Iam a single and 65 years of age retiree person My monthly pay is abot 900-1000 Jordanian Jd’s .Iam asking if this amount of money is good for me to live in Amman , I want to live in comfortable life please your prompt reply and advice will be very much appreciated best regards/ yours in good health / Nabil

  • It’s interesting how people find their way to this post and don’t seem to get that either this is a blog or that my post is meant to discuss an issue as opposed to giving immigration advice.


    @Harry: probably 700Jds

    @Raqel: don’t know if your husband took the job but yeah, you should be able to save but not much.

    @shel: it’s not a great salary…i’d lay off on the makeup

    @Mruthul: depends completely on what you do

    @Steve: I expect the salary would be in the ballpark of 2,000-3,000JDs. But this might have changed in the past few months.

    @Nabil: for retirement, 900-1000 a month is more than enough (in my opinion), especially if you’re not paying rent. If you are, then it might still be enough. this depends completely on where you want to live and what your lifestyle is. In amman you can either live cheaply or wealthy, the middle ground is hard to find.

  • How much do Engineers make in JO?
    0-1 Exp
    1-2 Exp
    I think they are the worst paid in that country

  • Hi
    I’m planning to move to amman in a months’ time. I have lived in dubai for 4 years and my prospective employer tells me that the cost of living is almost half of that in dubai. From some reading on the internet, i can see that it might not be the actual case. If i earn about 2500JD per month, can i live a good lifestyle? what amount should i pay for a 2 bedroom furnished apartment? What about schools? how much will i have to pay for my daughter to attend a primary school?

    thanks a lot to all who contributed to this blog.


  • 2500 JD is not bad, but it all depends on your lifestyle. I can’t help you with the rent although |( I have no info), but if you know where you want to live, that will help (nice neighbourhoods in west Amman will be more expensive).

    As for Schools, the range is between 1000 (something like Rosary college) or Sands National Academy to around 4000 for the IAA and ABS (affluent and the most expensive schools), there is free education in government schools, but it’s not the best education you can give your kids.

    Overall from my expereince, is that rent and schools in Amman are somewhat cheaper than Dubai, but all other things will be a bit more expensive (groceries, brand clothes, etc ) due to the hight taxes.

    Good luck and I hope this helps with your decision making

  • @Wnkle What is your position?
    Look if you are not a jordanian,it would be expensive for you since you dont know ur way around and get simply paying high cost for things

    1.Poverty line in Jordan is 600JD/month 🙂

    Rent 400JD/month
    Living 500
    School/child 350
    Bills 250 JD
    Surprises 200 JD
    Total 1700 Of course it all depends on your lifestyle,if you plan to live as in Dubai Standards,say you where living large there,then don’t come for 2,500/

    You could save between 500-1500

    What’s your title to tell you if it’s fair or not? For example, an eng with 5-7yrs exp gets 600-800JD, Bank employee (teller) 320JD , teacher with huge experience 500-600JD , uni professor 1000JD
    So go figure 🙂
    Managers at private companies. 4-5kJD

  • @Diana : thank you for the quick reply and info. Yes, I hear that the taxes make a lot of imported items more expensive than Dubai. I dont lead a very lavish lifestyle in Dubai and stay far from the expensive places.

    i’m indian by descent, but bought up in the Middle East. I was hoping to find a good indian school in amman, which i’m told is not available. I’m guessing the schools you mentioned follow the US/British syllabus. i’m assuming that the school costs that you indicated are annual!!

    @soso : thanks again for the info and cost breakdown. i’m an engineer with 9 years experience. But due to the crisis in Dubai and its unstable nature, i was considering this move. I might join as a junior manager.

    Is public transportation developed? or would i be better off with a small car to move around?

    what are the surprises that i need to look out for if i do decide to come over ? Would anyone think its a good idea to come to jordan for a week/fortnight and check out, before i make a committment?

    sorry for the many questions.. but thanks again for this lively blog…

  • I got offer from one of the IT firm from Jordan.

    Company is providing me following benefits.

    1. 1400 Jordanian Dinar per month
    2. Accommodation near to company with 1 person sharing in furnished flat.
    3. 6 % PF contribution (same like in India which is 12%)
    4. Medical insurance
    5. Visa and flight tickets
    6. 14 days personal and 14 days of sick leave
    7. annual air ticket to and from India
    8. Position – Software Engineer

    I am currently working as a software engineer in India and having 5 Years of experience.

    Could anyone suggest whether it is worth going to Jordan and how much saving I can make?

Your Two Piasters: