Rabat, Morocco Report of what it's like to live there - 04/08/10

Personal Experiences from Rabat, Morocco

Rabat, Morocco 04/08/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes.

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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?

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Apartments and single-family houses. Some of the homes are quite nice, older homes have larger yards. Bedrooms are limited to about 4 max, which could be a problem for large families. Rabat is not a large city so commute times are 10-15 min's depending on the time of day.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Although many items such as produce are relatively cheap and of good quality, other items can be expensive. The ECA is getting better and provides many of the basic items you would need, although somewhat expensive.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

If you have school-age children...toy's...your child will get invited to many birthday parties, and local toys are of cheap quality and expensive. I'd also bring any special spices or dry goods that you can't live without.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, KFC, TGI Fridays, Pizza Hut. Prices are moderate. Local restaurants are good and can be a real bargain.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes can be bad during the summer months. Since it is Africa, ants are a constant problem.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO at the embassy.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very resonable and easy to find, but don't expect them to work more than about 6 hours a day.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, but very expensive for what you get. Marine House has a decent small gym that embassy personnel can use for free.

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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?

I have used them, but sparingly. Others use ATM cards all the time with no apparent problems.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, I'd contact the CLO for more details.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, relatively inexpensive.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Even basic French would be a huge help! Some families have no prior languge training, and routine tasks can be tough at first.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Getting around could be a little difficult.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes.

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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?

The streets in the city tend to be somewhat narrow and large SUV's may find it a problem to get around. However, more than a few families have large vehicles and do just fine. I would not bring a new vehicle if you don't want it dinged by locals, they don't seem to care. Parts are limited for most vehicles.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, ADSL. Some houses have better connections than others for some reason. About $40/mo and up depending on speed.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get one...they all use them. You can buy min's at the ECA or locally.

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Pets:

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?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes, at least 3 local vets, some make house calls. I have heard that some have kennels.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Local....not really. However, the embassy does have openings for family members advertised in the embassy newsletter all the time.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Varies at work from casual to suits. No specific public dress code from what I've seen.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Not really, with common sense....a fairly safe city. There is some petty crime.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Black mold is an issue in just about every house. Embassy HU is good. The local clinics are decent, but using them can be difficult with no language skills.

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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?

Moderate, many of the vehicles are diesel. Quite a few are older and have awful exhaust fumes.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The weather is generally California-ish during all but the winter months from about Nov-Mar when it can rain quite a bit.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Rabat American School is generally the school of choice. For the most part it is a decent school, although some families have had some issues with the faculty.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Contact the school prior to coming to Rabat if you have children with learning disabilities, since there have been some issues in the past.

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3. 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?

Yes, decent and fairly inexpensive.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

RAS does have some activities.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Moderate.

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2. Morale among expats:

It's funny.....I have seen that you either love it, or hate it. At least 7 families have curtailed in the past few years for a host of reasons, some probably housing related.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Thank god for Marine House and the American Club! They offer an easy rewarding break for most families. There are bars and clubs, but most families get together at each other's houses when no other events are planned.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This is a family-oriented post, not much to do for singles unless you travel every weekend.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Meeting some wonderful people.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

You would have to leave the city and travel outside of Rabat to get a feel for Morocco. The country has some beautiful sights to see.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Pottery, rugs, wood carvings, fossils.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Weather, saving money.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes...unless you travel a lot.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No. Although Rabat has rewarded us with many new friends and experiences, I would not do it again. If you are fortunate enough to land one of the nice houses with no facility issues...consider yourself lucky. Some of the houses appear very nice, but they can come with a multitude of issues. Getting maintenance done in a timely matter can be very aggravating.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

winter clothes and new vehicles.

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3. But don't forget your:

specialty dry goods, diapers....or kids' toys for gifts.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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