Rabat, Morocco Report of what it's like to live there - 04/13/18
Personal Experiences from Rabat, Morocco
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
This was our fourth expat experience as a family.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
East Coast of the USA, all flights except for one from Casablanca connect through Europe.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Single family house with a small yard. We understand complaints about housing are common (mold, shoddy construction, cockroaches, etc.).
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Produce is reasonably priced except for some off-season and imported items. It's necessary to shop at multiple places, though the new Carrefour Gourmet is helpful. Except for local produce (that is limited), the quality of produce is somewhat less than what you will find in Europe.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Vanilla extract, brown sugar, maple syrup, and/or any specialty product such as hemp seeds or flax
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
It's helpful to join the expat boards in order to hear about good restaurants in town. There isn't a large variety and the quality is not very high, but there are a few standard places. Our favorite place was definitely Yamal Acham near the medina. There are some delivery options, but they can often have trouble finding your house. Darija language skills (much more so that French) are extremely helpful.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Cockroaches and ants are common in houses.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Through the embassy.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Household help is available and many families have full-time help including a weekly gardener. Darija language skills are helpful on multiple fronts and household help can help fill this gap for families.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There are gyms across town. Unfortunately, there are very limited gym facilities for children.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
We never used ATMs and were careful about credit card use.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Basic French is necessary for daily life but Darija is even more helpful since the vast majority of Moroccans speak little to no French.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
The city is not designed for physical disabilities.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Public transport is not commonly used by expats. Petit taxis are used but they can be in bad shape and the drivers sometimes drive very poorly. Careem is an Uber-type app that is used with a fairly good degree of success since the drivers worry about ratings.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Parking is always difficult, but the driving in Rabat is awful. It is best to have a solid car that can weather car accidents.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
There is high-speed Internet available, but the quality is variable.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
Laila is an excellent veterinarian who has been incredibly helpful.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
There is a good local volunteer and donation FB board.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
There is a wide variety of public dress, but legs are commonly covered by both men and women.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Rabat is a very safe city, but has the same security concerns found in any medium-sized city.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Local medical care is awful and we are advised to never call an ambulance. Make sure to have the best emergency facility mapped out on your phone and to also have a stash of cash available because this is necessary for any treatment (regardless of your insurance).
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Overall good for North Africa, but traffic, construction, and trash burning can cause air quality issues.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Pollen allergies were not a problem here.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Overall, the climate is incredibly dry. The wet season varies but the largest chunk of the year is dry. Summers can be quite hot. Winters aren't cold but the houses tend to be very poorly heated and insulated.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
The vast majority of English speaking expats send there children to RAS (Rabat American School). The common sentiment is that the younger grades are OK and the older grades are problematic. Bullying is common and academic quality is low.
2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
There is a wide variety of preschool available, largely French-speaking.
3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
The FB boards are helpful for finding classes and sports activities. WIFAC has good swim teams and classes.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
There is a fairly large expat community, especially the French expat community. We found that there was far less community support at this post because of the easy travel opportunities (everyone is always going somewhere) and there is a large presence of expats on their only international tour. Morale is high in large part because of the wealth of travel opportunities. Spain is an easy drive and there is a lot to see in Morocco.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
The FB groups are important for community connection especially since expats are scattered through town.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
From my perspective, this city would be ideal for an active childless couple. Good playgrounds and green spaces are limited in town. The beaches are best for surfing and commonly covered in trash. Rabat is a quiet city that is good for working life and as a home-base for travel in and outside of Morocco.
4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Street harassment of young women is common.
5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
This has been our best travel post. There is so much to see in Morocco, Spain, and Portugal.
6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Enjoy Morocco, but also take the opportunity to drive through Spain and Portugal.
7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
There are expats who spend a lot of time shopping at the medina buying rugs, ceramics and custom-made furniture.
8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Clean air, beach, and manageable size.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
The green spaces and playgrounds are very limited.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
4. But don't forget your:
Sunscreen, hat, and sturdy vehicle.