Both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea create an extensive coastline along Morocco's northern border, while the interior is mountainous. The country's landscape is incredibly diverse. It is populated by plateaus, luscious valleys and fertile plains, with the Sahara Desert taking up the far south and causing the heat the country is known for.
Expats moving to Morocco will be greeted by a colourful land characterised by scenic beauty, bustling marketplaces and delicious food. Most expats move to Rabat, Casablanca or the red city of Marrakesh. Though the expat population in Morocco is still relatively small, it's growing steadily.
Living in Morocco as an expat
Expats looking to work in Morocco may struggle to find a job. Tourism is traditionally a large industry and may therefore be an option for expats looking for work. Otherwise, opportunities exist in the technology and business sectors, especially for multilingual expats. Many expats may also find employment in teaching English.
Arabic and Berber are the official languages in Morocco, but expats will find that French is more commonly used in business. Brushing up on their language skills will certainly help expats make headway in communicating with the locals and reading road signage.
While expats may have their reservations about relocating to an Islamic country, they’ll find that Morocco is far more liberal than most expat destinations in the Middle East. It lies at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Middle East and elements of these different cultures are visible in everyday life.
Moroccans tend to be open minded and are interested in learning about new people and other ways of living. Privacy in the home is something which is treasured, so there is little concern about what expats do behind closed doors.
Expats have plenty of options when it comes to outdoor pursuits – hiking and biking in the Atlas Mountains and swimming in the Mediterranean are just a few of the exciting activities Morocco has to offer. Food is also central to Moroccan culture and the country is a foodie’s dream.
Cost of living in Morocco
The cost of living in Morocco is relatively low, especially in comparison to Western Europe and North America. Property prices are incredibly reasonable, which is why most expats living in Morocco choose to buy a home rather than rent. As domestic help in Morocco is readily available and affordable, expats will find that they have more time for leisure activities.
Safety in Morocco
Expats generally find Morocco to be a safe place. That said, constantly being followed by hustlers offering directions or trying to sell various goods can be a problem, especially for Western expats and women. This is, however, more of an annoyance than it is dangerous.
Expat families and children
While public schooling in Morocco is not up to the standards that many expats may be used to, there are a number of international schools in the larger cities that teach at a high standard. International school fees are expensive when based on local standards, but are typically cheaper than those in Europe. Despite this, expat parents will have to take the cost into consideration when choosing a school that will suit their budget.
Climate in Morocco
Morocco has a tropical climate, with soaring summer temperatures, while winters can drop to 41ºF (5ºC). The interior is generally hot and dry, while the coast has weather typical of other Mediterranean countries.
Ultimately, expats moving to Morocco should do so with a sense of adventure. For those who can overcome the language barriers and elements of culture shock, expat life in Morocco is a rewarding and enriching experience.
Population: Over 37 million
Capital city: Rabat
Other major cities: Casablanca, Fes
Neighbouring countries: Algeria, Spain
Geography: Morocco's coast is adjacent to a stretch of fertile plains which run along both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The northern and interior areas are mountainous, while the southeast is arid.
Political system: Parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Major religions: Sunni Islam
Main languages: Arabic, Berber dialects, French
Money: Moroccan Dirham (MAD)
Tipping: Although there isn't standard tipping etiquette, it's usual to tip 10 percent of the bill for services rendered.
Time: GMT (GMT+1 from the last Sunday in March till the last Sunday in October)
Electricity: 220 volts, 50 Hz. Round, two-pin plugs are used.
Internet domain: .ma
International dialling code: +212
Emergency contacts: 190 (police) or 150 (ambulance and fire department)
Transport and driving: Driving is on the right-hand side of the road. Although the Moroccan government has focused on improving its roadways, some roads in Morocco are still in need of repair. Otherwise, there are train, bus and taxi networks to ensure that expats can get around in the country.
►Read about the experience of expats living in the country in Expat Experiences in Morocco.
"Marrakesh is a great and diverse city to live in! When I miss the bustling streets and traditional culture, I go to the Medina – which is the historical ‘old town’ of Marrakesh. When I want to feel like I’m in Europe, I walk in my neighbourhood, the modern Gueliz district, which was designed and built by French architects. This district has wide boulevards, many chic restaurants and newly built shopping malls. In Marrakesh, I enjoy the local food vendors and the fact that people don’t care too much if you walk in the streets in your pyjamas. The locals are also extremely friendly. Unfortunately, this means that I may, especially as a blonde girl, receive too much attention." Learn about Rasa, a Lithuanian expat, and her experience of moving to and living in Morocco.
Are you an expat living in Morocco?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Morocco. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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