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1500KD, good salary Kuwait??
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jd



Joined: 11 Nov 2004
Posts: 9
Location: currently georgia, US

PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 3:38 pm    Post subject: 1500KD, good salary Kuwait?? Reply with quote

My husband has been in Kuwait for 4 days, I will join him in one year. We have 2 kids, 10 and 7, and are currently living in Georgia, US. I was born and raised in Connecticut, US, and have a BS in BA. My inquiry is two-fold. One...the money....is 1500KD good for a family of 4, (car is provided)? Cost of accomodations, health insurance, food, utilities,clothing, electronics, etc. Two....lifestyle.....my kids are used to riding bikes, playing ball, freedom to rome and explore, are they going to be miserable? I also ejoy freedom to do whatever. I spent the summer in Amman Jordan, and hated it, so did my kids. Garbage everywhere, people stared, and the health care system was atrocious, and not very regulated. Any insights will help.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi jd,

Please don't put the same message on three different threads. Smile Someone who reads one thread would read them all, and then you don't have to search around for any answers.

But on to your question. If you read the other threads, you can see that an English teacher thinks that 750 KD is a decent salary. Since your husband is being offered double that, that is good. But, you were not clear on what other benefits he is getting - other than a car, which is great. Teachers normally are provided with free housing (or an allowance), free medical, and annual tickets home for the family.

I am just estimating on prices here, but to rent a flat with three bedrooms would be probably from an absolute min of 300 KD up depending on neighborhood. You would have to provide all furnishings including appliances. The costs for appliances would be a max of equality with US prices. Food costs are also similar. Bring clothing for yourselves - kids clothes are plentiful and cheap. I've never heard of health insurance there, but medical costs are a fraction of US prices... there are good doctors and bad - just like in the US.

A major expenditure would be schooling for the kids. The western curriculum schools are very expensive. LIke all the Muslim countries, Kuwait is very kid-friendly and kids are certainly safe anywhere. But, the traffic is horrendous in Kuwait, so bike riding would need to be carefully monitored. As to yourself, you can pretty much go and do whatever you want, just as you could have done in Amman. Naturally, you would be expected to use common sense and be culturally sensitive.

Personally I loved Amman, and with your comments about it, it sounds as if life in Middle East may not be for you. If you were not happy there, you will probably not be happy in Kuwait either. It is certainly much hotter for most of the year for one thing. If you felt that the staring was a big problem, it will be MUCH worse in Kuwait because of the large numbers of workers from the sub-continent whose only diversion is staring. Not intending to be critical here, but your comments make it sound like you are someone who is better off staying at home. Not everyone is meant for the expat life.

VS
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jd



Joined: 11 Nov 2004
Posts: 9
Location: currently georgia, US

PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 6:28 pm    Post subject: 1500KD enough?? Reply with quote

Sorry about the multiple threads, needed to get as much response as possible. Not meant for the expat life?? I don't know........spent a year in Southern Ireland and loved it. There it rains allllllll the time, gray skys, etc. I still loved it. But then people put their garbage in garbage cans. My husband has no other benefits except for a car and salary,( cell phone for work), thats it. 300KD for an empty apart. w/no appliances?????expensive! I searched the govt. web sites, and it seems it will cost me and the kids, (each),$1000 a year for health services. The medical is socialized for those who are actually working. The one american school I was able to find will cost over $20,000 a year for both my kids. I will look into home schooling should this really come to pass, unless there is something cheaper and as good. Is there any green in kuwait? Some of the web sites say there is along the coast line, I have yet to see any pictures attesting to that. When were you in Amman and where did you live when you were there, (perhaps that has something to do with your good experience)
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jd,

Well, I'd say that life is Ireland is much more comparable to life in the US. I only barely consider it living "overseas" - it is a Western, first world country where they speak English. I lived in Egypt for years and Amman was one of the places that we went to holidays because it was SO clean and quiet and nobody stared or bothered you. So, all is relative. Personally I love the culture and the lifestyle in the Middle East and after a week or so, I never noticed the dirt or the staring because I really felt that they were irrelevent to the advantages and pleasures that I found over there.

I have lived in Kuwait and it is merely a richer version of Jordan. It is just as messy, but I found the people of Jordan to be much friendlier and nicer. I spent most of from '85 to '01 living around the Middle East and the year I spent in Kuwait was the least pleasant. Kuwait is mainly one sprawled out city sitting in the middle of rather ugly boring desert whose main features are oil facilities. Thus there is no country to explore. No natural greenery, but a few parks. Expats normally join a social club that will have a pool and usually a garden - often attached to a hotel.

You asked about dress in the other thread. You will be stared at no matter what you wear - they are harmless. Just ignore them... think of it as comparable to walking past the average American construction site - without the wolf whistles. Capris are fine. Avoid too much formfitting... avoid showing excess flesh... sandles are fine... Personally I found the most comfortable thing to wear was long skirts. Those broomstick skirts are perfect - culturally appropriate, easy care, cheap, and cool and comfortable. (and this is from a woman who lives in jeans in the US... I almost never wore slacks over there... too danged hot!!)

I suggest that you look seriously into home schooling. That is the usual price. The cheaper schools are the Indian schools or the Filipino schools. Many of them provide a perfectly good education, but they may not meet your expectations. As to the flat rental, the 300KD price would be the bottom of the market. It will NOT be in the nicer neighborhoods, or perhaps far from things like shopping.

While I was there I lived a block from a beach. The city is on the Gulf. But, I wouldn't consider entering the water - too polluted. I walked on the beach most evenings and it was pleasant enough. Kuwait probably has the least pleasant beaches of the Gulf countries.

To be serious, I don't think you will like Kuwait. Financially you may be better off staying in the US, getting free education for the kids, and getting a job yourself. That way your husband could save most of his salary.

VS
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jd



Joined: 11 Nov 2004
Posts: 9
Location: currently georgia, US

PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 3:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vs
Thanks for the input, the more I research the more I'm thinking along the same lines as your last suggestion.....get a job stay in the US.

I really could not stand the pollution in Amman. I am so used to the catalitic,(sp?), converters on the cars in the US. Every time I took a taxi, I was sick to my stomach from the fumes. I just about died in August in Zarga from the heat, (110F), and the kids were soooo unhappy, especially my son who was constantly being beat up by the neighborhood kids, and called a "stupid american". He is only 7. It seems the only way children communicate over there is through physical violence,at least in the neighbor hood we were living .

My daughter and son were constantly ill with parasites, (3 infections in 8 weeks), I was ill for 12 days with a parasite. When I asked the doctor about it, his reply was, "Welcome to Jordan". He suggested not drinking any of the water and not eating in any of the restaurants because they were unclean. The sewer system has deteriorated to the point that it sometimes dumps into the drinking water and the government does not have enough money to fix it fast enough. Amman has grown too fast. The water treatment plants are also not functioning properly, this was explained to me by the pediatrician who tended my children. Amman has changed alot since I was there 10 years ago. Although there is a lot more newer realestate development, they have done nothing to maintain what is already existing. I was told there is an entire street in Amman dedicated to prostitution and drugs, and crime is at an all time high. The government's response is more visible policeman carrying rifles, stationed on foot around the city. There is also a great deal of resentment towards americans because of the Irag war and the palestinian situation. However, I am told that Kuwaitis do not harbor any resentment toward americans, due to the gulf war. I talked to some Lebanese women last week who had been to Kuwait. They said women, especially american, are treated with great respect and any women will be served, (when a que is envolved) before any man, regardless of his wait. My husband has been treated very well in the last 5 days that he has been there.
As I read more on this web site someone pointed out that an individual can stand just about any difficult situation depending on the group of people they are with. I think that is the Key to this situation. But..........I must think of my kids first. Many things can change in one year.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi jd,

Well there is nothing unusual about getting sick from water. I am just amazed that you even considered drinking the water there. No one who travels at all would drink the water anywhere. Tourists who come to US often have the same problem. Everyone has to get used to the particular bugs and parasites in a locality. I am careful what I eat in the US. In all of my years overseas, I only once got sick - and that was intentional. Since I knew I would be in Cairo for a few years, I decided to gradually acclimate to the water - so I was sick for a couple of days - and from then on, I could drink it with no effect. I was still careful of food because of the worse things you can get from that - like hepatitis.

The activities of the US in the Middle East have naturally had an effect on how we are treated in the world. We can thank you-know-who for that. And things will get worse now that the rest of the world perceives that we chose him - even though 56 million of us voted against. You may also want to consider that if Iran is invaded, Kuwait is in a very bad location stuck between the two. While many in Kuwait still feel some appreciation of the US getting Saddam out in '91, there are also now many more people there who are completely against our current activities. There have been shootings of Westerners near the US bases. I did not find that I was treated any better there than in the other Gulf countries - in fact the other countries have much more polite bureaucracies. The fact of women being able to go to the front of a line is true all over the Gulf - it is because they want you to get out quickly. It is certainly handy. Smile

Jordan is a poor country with some very rich people. Kuwait is an extremely rich country that imports lots of poor people to do all of their work. Their water and sewage works well enough, but I would never drink the water - which you also have to filter for your laundry because it has a red die to it. (it actually colored my hair) As to crime and prostitution, that exists everywhere to a certain degree. I think it is safe to say that however you measure it, Amman is still hugely safer than urban or suburban America where every yahoo has a gun. And Kuwait is safer than Amman.

The pollution is probably about the same in Amman as Kuwait. Kuwait probably has more cars, and more of them are newer, but there are no catalytic converters. I didn't find it all that bothersome in either place, and it never even bothered my Asthma. The heat in Kuwait is much worse than in Amman. The temps go over 100 in early April and often reach 120 or more - and that lasts until late October before it finally cools down. Often the low temp at night will be in the 90s. At least the humidity is 'usually' low.

What I have found makes the happiest expats are those that go because it was their choice (not their spouse or parents) - those who have a fascination with other cultures - and those who want to experience what life is like in someplace that is nothing like home. It also takes a sense of humor Smile and an ability to go with the flow. Most of the people I worked with through the years were married with children and for the most part the kids thrived. But, if you are going to hate it, that will likely make them hate it too. It just doesn't sound like a happy situation.

VS
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Stephen Jones



Joined: 21 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suspect you will hate it in Kuwait. Guess what? It's a desert. Deserts don't have water; grass needs water. Sure you will find irrigated parks, but what you will see in Kuwait is sand, tarmac and more sand.
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veiledsentiments



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2004 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very true and it is not even that pretty colored sand that the wind arranges into artistic dunes which you can find in some areas of the Middle East. It is just flat and beige.

VS
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Atassi



Joined: 13 Sep 2004
Posts: 128
Location: 평택

PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi jd and everyone else. Just wanted to make a quick comment. While vs is being practical about the choice to live in the middle east, which I agree with, I also like to assume that anyone has the potential to like visiting another country and experiencing another culture. So my post is only meant to be constructive.

About the experience of your children before, kids will act that way. Bullying happens more often in schools in America than the countries in question by my experience. If you were in Kuwait, it would help your children to befriend local parents whose children befriend yours. The local kids will then more likely be hospitable, and they can protect your children from other bullies. It sounds simple, but I know the culture here. As anywhere you will find exceptions, but children here do grow up respecting families that are close to theirs. Its a general rule.

Also, I don't know what is offered in Kuwait for education besides the expensive American school. But I couldn't help but notice that you didn't mention any other options yourself. My personal opinion is that if your children can adjust to living with the local population, they will be better off in the long run.

Whatever you decide to do, I wish you luck. Cool
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jd



Joined: 11 Nov 2004
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Location: currently georgia, US

PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Atassi:

In regards to the kids and bullying, I did go to the parents and sat and had tea and coffee with them. Their response to all of it was, "boys will be boys". Last time I looked normal play did not include cutting others with broken glass and throwing bricks at childrens heads, drawing blood. My concerns over the behavior were dismissed. As far as schools go, my children are not allowed to attend public schools in Kuwait and school tuition I quoted is the going rate range for all private schools. I am considering home schooling.

I agree, I think everyone has a capacity to, and should take an opportunity to, observe, experience, another countryand culture. I agree so much that I married it 15 years ago. I am no stranger to the middleeastern culture.

jd
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jd



Joined: 11 Nov 2004
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Location: currently georgia, US

PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

vs

The state department said it was ok to drink the water, and so did my inlaws, whose little children were constantly sick like mine with parasite infections. There really is something wrong with Jordan's water beyond the norm. Ten years ago I never got sick and neither did my baby.

Your information gets better and better. I never thought of the Iran angle and with our fearless, ("uhh, uhh, I'm workin real hard"),leader in power for the next 4 years, that is a possibility. I DID NOT know that civilian westerners had been shot in Kuwait. That is very disturbing. I know they had been shot in Jordan, but not in Kuwait.

When you were in Kuwait, was the shoreline any cooler than inland, and could you get any relief from the heat by going into the water at the beach. Also, is it ok for a woman to don a bathing suit and go into the water at the beach, if the suit was more of a wind surfing type suit. Do the children in Kuwait swim at the beach?? I know you mentioned before that there is a lot of rebar sticking up in the sand and a lot of construction material has been dumped on the shoreline. Is that all the shoreline? Is all of the water area polluted? There are some hotel advertisements showing people in the water on jet skis, etc.

Gas fumes...my kids were also very sick after every taxi ride,(longer than 15 minutes), from the gas fumes.

I think you are right about the line cutting, they would just rather see us out of there. Your colleagues, what did they do about education for their children?

If the eventual outcome is for me to embark on this adventure, it will be my decision to do so, and therefore I will be committed to and take full responsibility for my decision. I will absolutely make the best of it for the sake of my mental health and my childrens. I just have to arrive at a decision that I can live with.

Thankyou so much for all of your thoughts, insights, and information. It truley is appreciated.

jd
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Atassi



Joined: 13 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jd, I understand more now. Those were some rough boys. I hope you didn't see them all like that though.

Just to clarify, if you happen to meet parents that become very close to you it would be easier. I didn't really mean that any boy or any family would be sufficient. It's just that kids here grow up with others protecting and defending them. In America you would never see boys hugging and kissing each other and holding hands; umm, I mean just out of friendship...

That is a major cultural difference here.

Honestly, in Kuwait home schooling would probably be a great idea if you aren't busy there. You could just find afternoon activities for your children to bond with others, or find out what a child of a family you know would be doing. I think it would work out. Your kids will grow up where ever they are, and as a parent you will be happy that they receive a well-rounded education. I cannot imagine that 20 years from now they wouldn't look back and appreciate that. Good Luck Smile

ps Tell your husband to consider Syria next move. There is trash on the streets as that is the trash system here also, but there is definitely a lot more to see than in Kuwait. And your children will blend in to the populace - no one will be able to tell that they are not Syrians, even if they have blond hair and blue eyes. Exclamation
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veiledsentiments



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi jd

I am amazed that our state department that normally gives silly overcautious advice would tell anyone to drink the water anywhere. But, then in all my years of living overseas, I never found anything they said very helpful and I totally irgnored them and the embassies when I was overseas. Confused Bottled water is easily available everywhere and that is all I drink.

As to the shootings in Kuwait, there have been at least 3 that I know of that involved deaths - and there are likely more that I hadn't noted. But, they have all been out in the environs of Camp Doha. Our activities in Iraq are slowly, but steadily eroding any positive attitudes of the populations of all Muslim countries. (and this has become much worse now that individual Americans are perceived as having 'chosen' Bush) Various governments of the Gulf are nominal 'allies.' But, the populace is increasingly negative. Where the country has a population of poor locals who feel left out of the mainstream (like Saudia, Bahrain, and Kuwait), there is more danger of attacks.

As to the shoreline being cooler, the answer is no - mostly it is just more humid. I never saw anyone venture into the water, though there were male subcontinentals fishing - and I wouldn't have considered eating the fish, as just nearby a huge sewage pipe was emptying directly into the water. The only people that I knew that went into the water took boats way out and went diving. Since I wasn't one that hung out at the 5* hotels, I don't know if any of them used their beaches. Most people used various swimming pools.

Back to the kids, all of my colleagues were provided with school fees by their employers. It is part of the normal pay package for expat university teachers. As to the excess amount of bratty boys, I think it is partially cultural. Corporal punishment is often severe within the family and children who are physically mistreated often turn that onto their friends. And another factor, which seems an opposite, is that the boys are very spoiled. There is very much a 'boys will be boys' attitude. The cultural difference seems to come in as to what we would consider a punishable offense. There is a real problem with vandalism among boys from about 7-14. I only dealt with college age, by which time they have mostly become good citizens. Smile

VS
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annscholl



Joined: 22 Jun 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 9:01 am    Post subject: Living CrossCultures Reply with quote

I'm adding to this late, but thought I might throw in my 2 cents. I think what VS and others are suggesting is that not everyone is suited to living abroad, and it has nothing to do with cultural awareness, etc. For instance, I once vacationed in Greece with a friend from the UK. I thought he would be fun, as he was always the first to befriend immigrants from anywhere: Latin America, Africa, Far East, Middle East and so forth. He was naturally tolerant of cultural differences and saw people as individuals. Even so, he complained about everything. "It was dirty," "meat not cooked properly," "women were insufficiently dressed on the beach," "everyone smokes everywhere," "the men stared at the woman he was touring with (me)" --I have long red hair, it is noticed wherever I go, esp. in places where red hair is not usual--, etc. The problem was simply that he wanted things the way he was used to them, not that he was "insensitive." The tolerance required is a tolerance concerning oneself; a matter of how much one requires "normal for oneself", not necessarily of others.

Now that I have lived abroad for some time, I must admit to the truth of the frustrations. Among my expat colleagues, some do well, others do not. One colleague in St. Petersburg, for instance, deals well with the brown tap water by setting a project for himself: how long can he exist on orange juice alone? I joke that the elevator in my building has a night life as a toilet. Others are too used to (what nonAmericans might view as a bacteria phobia) American surburban neat lawns and efficiency of American public works and go home early, or hang out at MacDonald's. It is not an "ethical" fault; some, like my friend, must be able to live in a manner to which they are accustomed. Most of us are in the middle: we can live somewhat differently, but still hang out on occasion at expat bars, sports clubs, etc., for a taste of home .

Americans don't stare at others, unless is done confrontationally: it is not impolite or confrontational where I am now, and both men and women do it. One of my students here remarked that while in NYC, he narrowly escaped a physical confrontation because he stared too long at another man, who responded with the NYC, "YOU LOOKING AT ME?!" Moreover, how much staring do Americans do at immigrants whose clothes or skin or hair tones are not the norm? The unusual catches the eye. (This is not to say that the stares are always nonconfrontational, esp. given the current political situation.) Americans are not used to being "other," and it is an uncomfortable feeling.

I can only say that the question, "Can I tolerate living differently?" is a personal question that no one can answer for anyone else. I am always surprised at who can easily live cross culturally, and who can't. Many times, the most ethically concerned and tolerant of cultural difference find themselves personally unable to live differently. And this is true for anyone, from any culture.
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scot47



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2005 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds to me like you should NOT go to Kuwait. Not for you !
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