Accommodation in Libya has evolved over the years as expat demand has increased. Now, many more options for fancy facilities and modern villas exist within the major cities of Tripoli and Janzour. In many cases, employers arrange accommodation for their expat employees prior to their arrival in Libya. Housing prices vary depending on the area one chooses to live in.
Except for citizens from Malta, it isn’t possible for foreigners to own property in Libya.
Types of accommodation in Libya
The housing market in Libya has seen great development over the last few years. Expats looking for accommodation have a wide variety of options to choose from.
Libya’s capital city, Tripoli, has an abundance of apartments. Apartment blocks can range from smaller two- or three-storey buildings to large 10-storeys. Apartments are highly popular and usually don’t stay on the market very long.
In Libya, the term 'villa' refers to what most Westerners would think of as a typical house. There is no standard size or layout for villas. In cities such as Janzour, villas with multiple levels, large yards and landscaping are typical. Some may even have private swimming pools. In larger cities such as Tripoli, yards will typically be much smaller, but will still be enclosed by a wall or fence.
Expats hoping for cheaper accommodation may consider renting a traditional house called a hosh. These houses tend to be older and rarely stand alone. A hosh may lack the luxurious finishes associated with villas, but they stay much cooler during the hot Libyan summers.
Finally, the most expensive option for foreigners is gated communities. These can range from large communities, such as Palm City, to smaller compounds that contain 10 to 15 villas. Gated communities often have their own shops, restaurants and supermarkets as well as shared facilities such as swimming pools.
Gated communities are usually preferred by expats as there is a built-in feeling of security and community. It also gives expats an area where they can freely mingle with other foreigners and it lessens feelings of alienation.
Finding accommodation in Libya
At first, finding accommodation in Libya may seem a daunting task. If at all possible, expats should ask their employer to help them find safe and suitable accommodation. If an expat doesn’t speak Arabic or French, the language barrier may make the process difficult.
The best approach to finding accommodation in Libya is by approaching a real-estate agent. There are many established companies who have experience with helping foreigners find housing. Expats should ensure they understand the agent’s fees and conditions before they start looking for properties. Typically, an agent’s commission is the equivalent of one month's rent on a one-year lease and half a month's rent on a six-month lease.
Word of mouth is also a popular way of getting things done in Libya. Expats who have friends or colleagues already living in the country should not be shy to use these contacts to find housing. Alternatively, in recent years, Libya has seen an increase in online property sites. Expats should note though that many of these sites don’t keep their listings current and many properties may already have been rented out.
Renting property in Libya
Rental contracts in Libya vary quite dramatically. It is important that expats fully understand the terms of the lease they are signing. It is recommended that expats ask a friend or colleague who understands Arabic to look over the contract before signing anything. Most housing contracts in Libya are for six months and above, though one-year leases are preferred. Homeowners also appreciate payment of the entire contract in advance. However, there are possibilities to negotiate alternative payment plans.
Renters are usually required to pay a security deposit to secure the property and compensate for any damage. The deposit is returned at the end of the lease, provided that the property is left in a suitable condition.
►Shipping and Removals in Libya provides expats an overview of moving possessions to Libya
"The renting market is difficult here because there is more demand than what's on offer. It is fairly easy to rent a flat for a single person but it gets complicated for a family house. Besides, many companies offer accommodation to their employees as part of their salary packages. The standards of newly built accommodation are very high. Libya is a rich country and people like their comfort."
Read more about French expat Jameela's experiences in Libya.
Are you an expat living in Libya?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Libya. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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