Samantha Left her home in South East London
Hammam Sousse in 2008
Hammam Sousse is an area lying to the North of Sousse, close to Port el Kantaoui. It is a vibrant area with many hotels, cafes and bars and some lovely sandy beaches! Tunisia's current president, President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali was born there. It is an area very popular with the British holidaymakers and many, like Samantha, are choosing to make it their new home!
Samantha, formerly a legal secretary in London, describes her life in Hammam Sousse to No Marmite In Tunisia.
You have been living in Tunisia, only since October now. What are your first impressions?
I have been living in Tunisia since October 2008 and have been enjoying settling in and getting used to a new way of life. My first impressions are good ones - the country is beautiful, with lots of interesting places to visit.
You are living in your own house that you have built in Hammam Sousse. How does your house and the area compare to where you were living in the UK?
We are living in a house in Hammam Sousse, which we had built approx 3 years ago. It's more spacious that our 2 up 2 down in the UK - and cost a fraction of the price. This allows my son, Adam-Jamal, much more freedom.
It's more spacious that our 2 up 2 down in the UK
For a would-be expat thinking of moving to Sousse, would you say that the town was best suited to families/the young single person/retirees/or any?
Hammam Sousse is located between Port El Kantaoui and Sousse so it is ideal for families, couples, the elderly and all those in between. With good transport/taxis you can get to just about anywhere! And the local beach is only a 10 minute walk.
Port El Kantaoui - Near To Our Home In Hammam Sousse
Describe how easy it was to build your own house. Could you have built something similar for the same price in the UK?
It was difficult to find a house at first, we had to ask a local cab driver if he knew of any builders or properties for sale. In the traditional Tunisian way, he knew a guy, who had a cousin, who had a brother-in-law, who knew a builder! We were taken by the taxi driver to a small office (literally a doorway) to meet an "agent" who knew of a builder who was in the process of building some houses. We were shown a property that was available, but it wasn't what we wanted, and so ensued our plan to have a house built from scratch.... We had a look at some land the builder had, and decided to go ahead with having our house built. It cost a fraction of the price of houses in the UK and was twice the size!
Have you met many Tunisians or are most of your friends expats?
I am starting to make a mix of friends - some who live here permanently and some who visit regularly - most of whom have come from the No Marmite site - thanks Melanie!
New Year's Day - Port El Kantaoui Marina
Your son is now going to a local Tunisian school. After being thrown in at the deep end, has he managed to settle in well, make friends and pick up any of the language
My son goes to a local school, which is a small private Tunisian school. There are only about 21 students so he gets lots of attention. He is the only English child there, the majority being Tunisian. He is being taught in Arabic and French and his progress has surprised not only us, but his teachers too! In five months he is conversing with the other children in Tunisian and Arabic!
What are the main differences that you have found with a Tunisian school and a British one?
The main differences between Tunisian schools and English schools is the discipline, the long days (8.00 to 4.30) and the size of the schools - they are much smaller.
Your husband is running a karate school in Hammam Sousse, (details of which are on our "Sports in Tunisia" page,) and your son has also become a member. Have you managed to attract many of the locals to join?
The karate school is doing well for a new project and there are students of all ages - from 5 to 40+ - the children are able to take exams and are awarded certificates of achievement. Students come from as far as Port El Kantaoui for lessons. the classes are Wednesday evening, Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.
The karate school is doing well!
How do you find the prices of food and cost of living as compared to the UK?
For an expat the cost of living is low - the food is cheap - especially at the local markets where a kilo of tomatos can cost as little as 50p!
10) Many people dream of emigrating to a warm, friendly, Mediterranean country with hospitable locals and of having an outdoor lifestyle, as well as a healthy diet and more relaxed pace of life! Would you describe Tunisia as being all/some/or none of this?
I would describe Tunisia as being all of those. Of course, like anywhere, there are difficulties and hurdles to cross, but you just have to learn to calm down, breathe deep and get into the Tunisian way of life - which is slow!
Tunisia, A Warm, Friendly, Mediterranean Country With An Outdoor Lifestyle!
11) The UK has sometimes been described as a country where even in the most upper-class areas of London, people do not feel safe walking the streets at night! Does living in Sousse feel any different to this?
I am more than happy to walk alone late at night. I take my son to karate in the winter evenings and walk home alone in the dark. People here are naturally eager to speak to you, I look different to them, being tall and fair with blue eyes and I find that the women look at me with some suspicion, the men with curiosity and the small children, as if I have just dropped from the sky! But as I am a permanent fixture, people are getting used to me, and I'm not such a novalty now!
Do you have any shops/restaurants/cafes that you recommend in Hammam Sousse or do you travel to Port el Kantaoui or the centre of Sousse for this?
There are lots of nice restaurants around Sousse and Port El Kantaoui but one of my favourite cheap and cheerful ones is Maghreb, which is located just past the roundabout at the Cleopatra, on 7 Novembre. Its good local food and is always full of Tunisians, which is a good sign.
Describe briefly how your life has change since moving to Tunisia?
My life has changed completely, I am able to spend more quality time with my family and if we feel like going for a walk on the beach then we can. I like being able to spend time in the kitchen cooking family meals and being able to collect my son from school - which is something I've never been able to do in the UK, as I worked full-time.
How do you spend your leisure time in Sousse?
I spend my time cooking, and visiting other places, like Monastir, Hammamet, museums, markets and generally relaxing with a cuppa and a good book.
Where I Relax With A Cuppa And A Good Book!
Did you manage to bring any of your furniture and belongings over from the UK and if so how easy and expensive/inexpensive was the process?
We brought our personal belongings over by ship, using Excess Baggage Company, who were very good with us and kept us informed all the way. It took about 6 weeks and cost approx £1000.
Have you had time to travel to any other areas in Tunisia and if so do you recommend any places?
I've visited Hammamet and Monastir, both of which are very pretty, although Monastir is smaller than PEK and Sousse. I have also been to the museum in the Sousse Medina walls - which was fantastic!
Monastir Is Very Pretty!
Have you travelled back to the UK yet and if not how often do you hope to pop back there?
I've just returned from the UK (March 2009) after a 2 week visit. I couldn't wait to come back here - it all seems so depressing over there - although I do miss my family and friends. I will probably only go back to the UK once a year, as the flights are expensive from here. It cost approx £550 for me and my son to return with BA via Tunis.
What do you miss about Britain?
The things I miss most about Britain are my family, my friends, my local Chinese and Indian take away and my car!
What don't you miss about Britain?
What I don't miss is the stuffiness and closeness of the houses - my son has asthma and we find that he can breathe much better out here. And I dont miss the overcast, rainy days and dark nights! Also, the travelling on packed trains in and out of London!
Do you see the move as being permanent....or could the British shores once again tempt you back there?
I don't know whether it is permanent - I never say never! But for the present, we are enjoying life here and I hope this is where we will remain!
From Overcast, Rainy Days And Dark Nights To This!