Rabat, Morocco Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Rabat, Morocco

Rabat, Morocco 04/13/18

Background:

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.

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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?

East Coast of the USA, all flights except for one from Casablanca connect through Europe.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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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.).

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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.

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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

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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.

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

Cockroaches and ants are common in houses.

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Daily Life:

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

Through 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?

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.

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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.

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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?

We never used ATMs and were careful about credit card use.

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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.

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

The city is not designed for physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

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.

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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?

Parking is always difficult, but the driving in Rabat is awful. It is best to have a solid car that can weather car accidents.

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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?

There is high-speed Internet available, but the quality is variable.

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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?

Laila is an excellent veterinarian who has been incredibly helpful.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There is a good local volunteer and donation FB board.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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).

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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?

Overall good for North Africa, but traffic, construction, and trash burning can cause air quality issues.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Pollen allergies were not a problem here.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Expat Life:

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.

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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.

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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.

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

Street harassment of young women is common.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Clean air, beach, and manageable size.

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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.

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

Yes.

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

Snow boots.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, hat, and sturdy vehicle.

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Rabat, Morocco 10/24/17

Background:

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

Bonn, Germany, as a child, and Stuttgart, Germany, as an adult. This is my first FS post, however (as an EFM).

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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?

Ottawa, Canada. Most flights out of Rabat connect through Paris, so it would be about 10 hours door to door. However, about an 1-1.5 hours' drive/train away is Casablanca, which has direct flights to all sorts of cities, including DC.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Just under half of our two-year tour.

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

My husband's diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We are in an apartment approximately a 15-minute walk from the embassy. The complex is new (built about 2.5 years ago) and very nice: large, spacious rooms, marble flooring, new bathroom and kitchen fixtures, and large windows, with 3 bed and 2.5 bath.



Families with children get villas, which range in age, but as far as I have seen generally have large gardens, many rooms, and are mostly located in the same neighborhood. Singles or couples usually get apartments, which are located all over the city. Traffic, while a bit crazy, flows pretty well and commutes are rarely over 30 minutes from anywhere in the city to the embassy.

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

As others have said, if you eat local and seasonal food, expenses are dirt cheap. There are many local corner stores that sell fresh produce and household supplies for a pittance. Larger grocery stores (Marjane – similar to a WalMart – and Carrefour, among others) have almost anything you might want and are regularly well stocked, though more expensive (but not like US prices, in my experience). We have a commissary about 15 minutes' drive from the Embassy and a quick shop and cafeteria (with surprisingly cheap prices) at the embassy that provide much that you can't otherwise find on the local economy.

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

Kalamata olives and dill pickles are about the only two products I really can't find locally (but I've requested they be included in the commissary's orders). Otherwise, Spain is an easy weekend trip away, where you can buy any pork or alcohol products you can't otherwise find – most pork products are available at the commissary (pork shoulders, belly, bacon) or in stores (salami, prosciutto, etc.) and alcohol is available at both quick shop/commissary and on the local economy, but is significantly more expensive than in Spain.



Mexican and Indian spices are hard to find on the local market, but available in Europe, commissary, or via Amazon ordering.

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

Local restaurants run the gamut from local cuisines to almost all European types. There are a few Thai/pan-Asian and sushi places. Mexican and Indian are probably the two most popular culinary cultures that are NOT (or very poorly) represented here. Many restaurants offer either food delivery or take-out and there are several fast food chains represented here as well, including a new Starbucks.

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

Morocco is a huge sandbox so ants are pretty much ubiquitous. Many people have mild roach problems, but nothing overwhelming.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch are available to U.S. embassy people. I've never really dealt with local postal facilities, as there's never been a need.

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

Our housekeeper/cook works twice a week for 20 USD/day (200 dhs). Many people employ similar help on a similar basis (few have full time, live in help, though it is available). For people with kids, housekeepers often double as nannies. The CLO has a list of staff previously used and vouched for by U.S. embassy personnel. We have had no issues with our housekeeper.

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

The U.S. embassy has a good gym and the commissary grounds have two pools (adult and kid sized), which are open seasonally. There is a tennis club/gym/indoor pool complex within a 10-minute walk of the embassy, as well as a golf club and horseback riding club within easy drives of the embassy. There are many other gyms around town. There is also an embassy/diplomatic softball league that runs out of the Rabat American School. Running/cycling/walking trails abound all over the city and are safe.

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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?

Most restaurants and large stores accept credit cards. Smaller corner stores and almost all medina/market stores are cash-based. ATMs abound and are safe to use.

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

There are a few churches, though I am not a member so cannot speak to this.

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

The embassy provides language training for free to employees and EFMs. Modern Standard Arabic is understood, but you won't understand the local dialect, Darija, with it. This dialect doesn't seem too hard to learn (my husband picked up the Arabic alphabet within a few hours and has learned enough to get by with minimal study within a few months). French is very useful and will get you through almost every interaction - taxis don't always understand in-depth instructions, but simple directions are fine.

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

Probably, depending on the extent of the disability. The U.S. embassy is wheelchair accessible, but many buildings don't have elevators and have steps to even enter the front door, with few ramps that I've spotted. Sidewalks are also not always in the best of conditions.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are fairly safe (no seatbelts, but no stories of kidnapping or anything of the sort) and fairly abundant. Uber and its Middle Eastern version, Careem, are available, safe and just a little more expensive than the extremely cheap taxis.



There is a tram downtown, but it doesn't run to the embassy or to much of the housing (yet). I would not suggest the local buses as they get extremely packed and don't always look very sturdy.



Inter-city trains are available, safe, and cheap - and sometimes particularly nice.

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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?

Any car is fine here. I wouldn't suggest a huge car though, as it would make parking a bit tricky, but this is no different from many U.S. cities. The roads - both in the cities and between them - are generally very good and well-maintained.

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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?

We have fiber-optic and it's great. It took about a month to get it set up as they had to run it to our complex. Most people get internet within two weeks of arrival. ADSL is significantly slower, but also cheaper.

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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?

We got Google FI when still in the States; we got to keep our American number and it works in 135 countries worldwide (if memory serves). There is a local provider - Maroc Telecom - and the ECA staff can help you set up a plan.

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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?

We adopted two street cats while here (and many people end up getting a pet here as there are so many strays to choose from). I can't speak to bringing pets into the country - though many have done it and I have not heard of the process being particularly difficult.



There are several good vet choices, with one or two that speak good English. I'm not familiar with US vet prices, but I find our vet to be rather cheap, for very good care too (e.g., a visit is about $20, neutering a cat is about $60).



There are quite a few older stray dogs, which can get intimidating, though they are not commonly found downtown or on busy roads. I would, therefore, not suggest letting outdoor cats roam beyond a garden wall and would keep a sharp eye out while walking dogs. There are larger parks, though I haven't seen any dog parks where dogs can be off-leash.

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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?

With the hiring freeze, spouses who are working are typically working on a freelance/telecommuting basis. I understand it is possible to work locally, though I don't know many doing this.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Volunteering is definitely available. AIWA (the American International Women's Association) organizes some volunteers, but there are personal options too.

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

So far, the only time I will have been formal in almost a year at post is the Marine Corps ball. My husband is in IT, so usually wears khakis and a button-down or polo; most of the rest of the staff seem to wear suits or equivalent for women. In public, while they say to cover shoulders for women and not wear short-shorts, I have seem many a local woman wear these outfits. I have worn tank tops all over the city with no repercussions at all.

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Health & Safety:

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

Far less than most U.S. cities. Driving can be crazy, but surprisingly there seem to be very few crashes. The usual petty thieving is an issue, but if you're aware of your belongings and careful about how you hold on to things, you won't have issues.

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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?

There is a medical center at the embassy and local doctors (for teeth, eyes, etc.) are also very competent in my experience. I've heard of very few evacuations.



Otherwise, it's advisable to wash your veggies with vinegar (but that should really be done anywhere in the world) and not to eat street meat. The water from the tap is safe in all big Moroccan cities, though bottled water is very available.

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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?

I would say it's quite good, depending on your neighbourhood. There are a lot of cars, but the air flow seems to be good enough that the pollution doesn't accumulate too heavily

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

There are various plants in bloom at any time, as it is a warm post, so allergens can get pretty intense.



Some stores (Carrefour Gourmet) have started making gluten-free items available. The biggest problem might really be the language barrier. Many foods are labeled in French or Spanish, but quite a few are still only labeled in Arabic. If you have a serious food allergy, it might be quite difficult to figure out exactly what is in certain items. The same would go for restaurants – while most restaurants have French and even English menus, not all the staff are as knowledgable as one might hope on what goes into certain meals and able to answer questions in French, let alone English.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

SAD is definitely not an issue - it's almost always sunny (gets a bit tiresome, to be honest)!



I have not heard of/noticed any particular mental health issues associated with this post. Driving is anxiety-inducing to be sure, but the general culture is very relaxed, and Europe is so close that most people tend to take mini breaks to get to a more "Western" cultural setting. Moroccans are very friendly and helpful by nature and I haven't noticed any anti-Americanism directed at post employees.

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

In the winter it is lovely in the sun and cool in the shade and at night. In summer it is hot everywhere, though only really bad in July/August when the humidity rises. I've heard it favourably compared to Northern-ish California weather.

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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 well regarded. I have no kids, however, so can't really speak past this.

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

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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?

They are available, and a lot of parents hire housekeepers/nannies to do child care. Household help is about $20/day; I have no idea about pre-schools.

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

Yes. The tennis, riding, and golf clubs all provide lessons. Additionally, I have heard of some martial arts and dance schools with kids classes, but have no real information on this.

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Expat Life:

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

The U.S. embassy employs over 100 Americans; with family, this rises to somewhere in the neighborhood of 300. Morale is good - there's a lot to do in the city and the country and our CLO is active, though events are not always very well-attended (a bit of a fickle community in this way). Many people organize their own parties though and there's usually a lot to do and a good sense of community.

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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?

With American expats, there are regular CLO activities. With locals, there are sports clubs (listed above), and others such as AIWA (listed above).

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

Most of the U.S. expat community seems to be families here. There are a few couples and a few singles, as well, but if you want to socialize without kids, it can get a bit tricky, as a lot of the events are organized with kids in mind. This is definitely a product of the fact that Morocco is safe, cheap, and very kid-friendly.

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

It is a Muslim-majority country. While I have some LGBT friends and have seen a few people (including locals) that are clearly a part of this community, there is no "gay village" and few, if any, gay clubs. I think being obviously LGBT could potentially make you a bit of a target for harassment, though I doubt it would escalate past this.

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

It's a Muslim-majority country, so women are still discriminated against, though it's probably one of the best such countries and getting better. Many women have stopped wearing even the hijab and it is getting freer and easier. That being said, as a woman, I hesitate to go very far alone at night, for example.



I have noticed no explicit prejudices otherwise.

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

So many! Fez, only a couple of hours' drive (and a beautiful drive at that) away, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth it. It can even be done as a day trip. Casablanca is a fun, big, metropolitan city only about an hour away. Chefchaouen, up in the mountains, is picturesque and quaint. And there are any number of other possible cities in between to venture to.



There are beaches galore, mountains, hiking, waterfalls, surfing, and the desert, which hosts a vast array of camping and "glamping" experiences.



Europe is also very close - short flights out of Casa or Rabat or a drive/train up to Tangier and the ferry across to Tarifa (other ferry options exist too). We have done this a few times and have loved it every time!

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

The Royal Club Dar Es Salam (riding club) offers trail rides and riding lessons, as well as pony rides for kids. The zoo is apparently lovely and there's an exotic botanical garden. T

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

The potteries in Salé (just across the river from Rabat - about a 15 min drive from the Embassy) offer a huge array of pottery and furniture for insanely cheap prices (at least for the pottery).



Otherwise, rugs, ceramics, clothing, leather goods, etc. abound and are of very high quality. You can find anything in the medinas, but I recommend Fes for leather and rugs and Salé for pottery. Our CLO has tons of suggestions too.

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

It has pretty much any amenity you would like. The American Club is close to completion on its renovations and we have a pool. We're right on the coast and have an international airport. It's clean and safe, the weather is almost too perfect, and the people are friendly. I feel so lucky to be here!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That dress codes for women are not nearly as strictly enforced as I'd thought and that there are some delicious restaurants here, so not to fret.

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

Absolutely! Even more enthusiastically if anything.

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

Winter gear and SAD lamp.

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4. But don't forget your:

SUNSCREEN! Bathing suits, sunglasses, and light clothing.

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

The Caliph's House is a super entertaining book by Tahir Shah about renovating a large house in Casablanca and living in Moroccan culture. It's not very accurate to Rabat, specifically, which is a pretty modern, rich city, by comparison, but it does give a pretty fun overview of certain customs and beliefs.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Rabat is truly a dream post! It will be very hard to leave this lovely city and country when our tour is over.

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Rabat, Morocco 10/23/17

Background:

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

Third post, Dominican Republic and Indonesia previously.

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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?

New England, USA. Most flights to Rabat route through Paris. 10 hours door-to-door from JFK or Boston. There are direct flights from JFK and Dulles to Casablanca, if you don't mind the 90-minute trip up to Rabat via car or train.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Sadly, only a year.

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

Diplomatic posting for language training.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Families all live in detached villas, while singles and couples get apartments. Housing is spread across the city, but most commutes are between 15-25 minutes, depending on traffic.



Houses range from vintage to modern. Older houses will have larger yards, beautiful tile mosaic walls, and a lot of space. Newer houses lack the character of the old houses, but are sleek and clean. Apartments run the gamut of quality, but are usually spacious.

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

If you eat locally and seasonally, food is dirt cheap. Fresh produce, meats, and fish are all available at the supermarkets, and there are many local markets selling all kinds of food - fruits & vegetables, meat, fish, grains and spices.



Household supplies are also inexpensive, but sometimes the quality can be sub-par compared to the U.S. Diplomats have access to a commissary, and a wide range of U.S. products are available there for a small premium.

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

Almost none. You can find it all in-country if you look hard enough. I think Asian ingredients would be the exception to that rule...

If you really, really need it, a "wine & swine" run to Ceuta can be done over a weekend.



If you have dogs, do ship heartworm meds for them... Local vets do not have it.

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

Rabat has a wide variety of restaurants. Moroccan, French, Spanish, Italian, American, German, etc. restaurants are in the city. Many places deliver, and there's a smartphone app for delivery services (Jumia).



U.S. fast food options are McDonalds, Burger King, Dominos, Pizza Hut, KFC. All deliver.

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

Sugar ants are everywhere. Occasional cockroaches. HUGE grasshoppers that do bite/pinch if harassed. The large number of feral cats keeps the rat/mouse population down, but these cats are everywhere and are shameless in coming into your yard.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch for U.S. embassy folks. There are a couple of reliable local couriers. I didn't have the opportunity to try out the local Poste Maroc.

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

$20/day for cleaning & cooking. English-speaking help is a little more expensive than French/Arabic. Nannies are available for about the same price. Most folks use a housekeeper for childcare duties on top of the cooking/cleaning. It works, but interview carefully and check references.

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

There are gyms all over the city. The embassy has a well-equipped gym, and the American Club has a pool that's open seasonally. There are also many walking and running trails in the city (Foret Hilton, the Corniche, out by the Royal Golf Club). Surf clubs in Rabat and just south. Skate parks. There are plenty of opportunities.

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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 used credit cards in the cities, and there were a few ATMs I trusted. Keep an eye on your statements, and realize that ATM skimming is an issue.

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

Not sure.

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

It is essential to have "taxi and restaurant" Arabic or French. Very few people in Rabat speak English, and even fewer in the smaller towns and cities, unless you're in a touristy part.



Darija, the local dialect of Arabic, is tricky to understand if you speak classical Arabic. It takes a while to get used to. As a Caucasian Westerner, even when I spoke MSA or Darija to locals, I usually got French in reply. However, if you have some French and some Arabic, you can definitely get by using a mix of the two.



Berlitz is good for French, and Qalam wa Lawh is the go-to Arabic language school.

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

Yes. There aren't a lot of "ADA-compliant" facilities outside of the U.S. embassy. Sidewalks are challenging. Forget about the medinas....

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Transportation:

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

"Petit" taxis (metered) are cheap and plentiful in most parts of the city. "Grand" taxis travel set routes, and you just kind of pay what you want (I'm sure there's a pricing scheme, but I never figured it out. 10-20 dirham and a "Shukran!" seemed to do the tick.) Trains are cheap and mostly reliable. The tram in Rabat is very modern. I wouldn't use public buses...

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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?

Japanese brands do well, as do European brands. If you really want to explore Morocco, a large 4x4 is best, as roads can get dicey out in the sticks. Small cars are fine, and are easily maneuvered through the hellish city traffic.

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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?

Fiber optic internet is pretty fast & reliable. About $60/month for ~50 MbPS. I can't speak for non-embassy folks, but the employee association takes care of the internet hook-up, and it took about 2 weeks.

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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?

Post-paid and pre-paid options are cheap & ubiquitous. $20/month for talk, text and data.

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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?

Veterinary care is adequate for routine care and some more serious cases. There is one clinic that most expats use, and their care is decent and inexpensive.



Animals do not need to be quarantined upon entry, and importing pets is quite easy. Getting them OUT of Morocco is the real challenge. The export process takes 2-3 days, and must be done within 48 hours of departing. You get to go to a functioning slaughterhouse, deal with the government vet, and shave 5 years off your life with the stress. You also need to speak French or Arabic (or bring someone who does), as the vet does not speak English.

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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?

Unless you work at your embassy or the American school, it will be nearly impossible to find a job on the local market without fluency in French, Arabic, or both. Pay is about 40 percent of the average U.S. salary for the same type of work.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty...there are many social services organizations working with orphans, people with disabilities, etc.

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

Dress at the embassy is formal. Most Moroccans dress in Western formal or casual wear or traditional Moroccan garb. Conservative dress by women is recommended, not required.

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Health & Safety:

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

I always felt very safe in Morocco, either in the cities, wandering the alleys of old medinas, or out in the smaller towns and villages in the countryside. Use your head, keep valuables out of sight, and watch for pickpockets in the more touristy areas.



Women report harassment by males when walking alone or in small groups. This is a very real and common occurrence.

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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?

Local medical care is adequate, with some doctors and specialists trained in Europe and able to speak English. The embassy evacuates most non-minor medical issues to London for treatment.



The biggest risk of injury is motor vehicle accidents. There are no real risks of malaria or dengue, and with vaccinations recommended by the CDC, you should be protected against most other communicable diseases.

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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?

Allergies and respiratory problems can be exacerbated in the dry season (March thru October), as pollution and dust are prevalent.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Most common allergy and asthma medicines are available on the local market for a fraction of the cost in the US. Food allergies are not really recognized, so have a Epi-Pen or two with you at all times if you suffer from them, and make sure you have a supply in your suitcase.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Anxiety from daily driving in the city.

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

Morocco is a "cold country with a hot sun." Summer days can be quite hot, but nights are pleasant. In Rabat, the temperature rarely gets over 95 in the summer, usually staying in the mid-80s. Nights are in the upper-60s. Winters never see temperatures below 45 in Rabat, but the rain and dampness make it chilly.



Trips up into the mountains can cool you off in the summer, and snow is definitely a thing in the Atlas and Rif mountains. If you don't like the climate where you are, you can always drive a few hours & experience a totally different one.

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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 and Khalil Gibran School are the only two schools in Rabat offering English-language instruction. KGS is tri-lingual (English, Arabic, French).



RAS has its share of issues, but the new headmaster is trying to effect positive changes. I'd say the elementary school is adequate, MS is "meh," and the HS is not very good at the moment.



If your family speaks French, there are many schools in the city to choose from.

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

Anyone on a highly-specialized IEP will have difficulty at RAS. There aren't enough resources at the school to support students with anything more than minor special needs.

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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?

There are TONS of creches in the city. Prices are reasonable, and the quality varies. Do your homework.

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

RAS has sports and after-school activities. There are soccer clubs around town. Anything having to do with locals will require French or Arabic.

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Expat Life:

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

Again, this one is tricky. Anglophonic expat community is limited to the Britsh, Canadians, and American Embassies. There are many Francophone expats living in Rabat and Morocco as a whole.



Morale among Americans is low, but I think it's self-inflicted. Yes, if you don't have the language, you'll have a hard time getting out and about. Rabat is a small city and the seat of government, so it's lacking in nightlife & cultural activities. This can feel isolating at times. Some of the issues with the schools can leave families in the lurch, and singles (especially women) can feel isolated.



My advice is to learn the language and try to use it at every opportunity. Moroccans are very warm and friendly people, and will go a long way in trying to communicate with you if you make the effort. I think this would make your experience there much more pleasant.

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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?

There are a few expat clubs and organizations. The U.S. embassy has activities, as do the international schools. I used to go down to the medina (market) and walk around, talking to as many people as I could... with my Arabic and French and adventurous spirit, I definitely made more connections with the locals than most.

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

I think that Rabat is good for anyone. Single women may have a harder time dating than single men, but Rabat is what you make of it. If you get bored, just get in the car or hop on a plane, and you can be in a different place in a few hours' travel time.

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

Homosexuality is illegal in Morocco. Same-sex couples are in the U.S. embassy community, but I'm not sure of their experiences.

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

Gender equality has come a long way in the last 10-15 years. Still not perfect, but better than a lot of other places.



Dark-skinned Africans, refugees and migrants are definitely discriminated against. I have witnessed Moroccans swerving their cars in an attempt to strike the dark-skinned beggars on the street. It's very real.

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

I loved Morocco, and would return in a heartbeat. We took trips to Ceuta (Spanish enclave), Chefchaouen (the Blue Pearl), Fes, Marrakech, Agadir, Meknes, the Sahara, Spain, and all the places in between. It's a stunningly beautiful country with every imaginable landscape available.



If you're adventurous, you can fill your time with so many different experiences. I highly recommend traveling the country as much as possible.

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

There are a couple of nice beaches within a 30-minute drive (Bouznika and Skhirat). The medina is fun to wander around. Volubulis is a 2-hour trip (ancient Roman ruins). There's a carpet market (Tuesday mornings) in Khemisset, vineyards near Meknes (2 hours), and Tanger is a 2.5 hour drive away.

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

CARPETS! Make sure you have weight in your HHE to accommodate the carpets you will buy.



Woodworking, metal works, mosaic tiles, brass lamps, poufs, silver and gold jewelry, it's all here.



Be prepared to bargain your butt off to get the best prices (25-30 percent of the initial "ask").

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

It's a sleepy, safe, coastal city with a great climate and lots to do, either locally or via travel. Managing traffic can be dicey, but commute times are easy for the U.S. embassy community.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That I should have had 1,000 lbs. extra weight in my HHE for all the rugs and handicrafts I wanted to buy.

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

YES!

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

Expectations of a fully-functioning Western city.

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4. But don't forget your:

French or Arabic language phrasebooks, sense of adventure, and "joie de vivre!"

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Rabat, Morocco 08/29/17

Background:

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

This was our fourth diplomatic post.

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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?

All flights to Rabat connect through Paris on Air France.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most families live in houses, with decent size gardens. Commute time for us is about 15 minutes.

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

Groceries are inexpensive, especially if you buy produce that is in season, availability of products is decent.

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

Bacon and wine?

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

Pizza takeout is easy and plentiful

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Daily Life:

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

We do not use the local post.

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

Approximately 20USD per day for a housekeeper that cooks.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards are widely accepted. I know of several ATM skimming incidents.

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

Basic French definitely helps.

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Transportation:

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

Local taxis are cheap and there is an uber type option.

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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?

Your car will be dinged and scratched after a couple of years.

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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?

Fiber-optic internet is fast and reliable.

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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?

Local providers are adequate.

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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?

Decent veterinary care is available.

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Health & Safety:

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

Women tend to be harassed when moving about on their own.

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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?

Local care is adequate but not great.

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3. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Expat morale is not great.

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Schools & Children:

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

Please do your homework if you have school aged children. Rabat American School is sub-par, at best. We had major issues with the high school and I know of several families that have departed or the mother and children have left because of the school. IB results for 2016 and 2017 were disappointing and there is a general lack of respect and interest both among teachers and students in the high school.

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

None that I am aware of.

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Expat Life:

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

Morale is low among expats, something we were very surprised by. Community is very small, especially the English-speaking community.

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

No, homosexuality is illegal in Morocco. Even unmarried opposite-sex couples can have difficulties renting hotels/traveling together.

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

Great access to Spain!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No, we would have accepted a different posting.

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Rabat, Morocco 07/20/14

Background:

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

No. Sub-Saharan Africa also.

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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?

The Colorado Front Range. 4-5 hours to the east coast, plus 8-10 through either London+Casablanca, or Paris. I like to avoid CDG (Paris airport) at all costs; but their international terminal is not too bad, nor are the employees--especially if you speak even a little French.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2+ 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?

Houses are nice but not to U.S. standards. It's hit or miss in the housing pool right now. That said, Facilities and GSO do everything they can to support you and make you comfortable. Many folks are housed in apartments; Agdal is the downtown area and is great for no kid households, Mahaj Riad is great for families with teens or tiny kids--no grass/play area. Commute varies and we move to the new embassy compound (NEC) in 11/2014 so all that will change, but typically now-20-30 minutes. There is a beach community as well with fabulous views (Hauhorra--spelling??) but the houses are much older and the commute is 40-60 minutes. Regardless of where you live you will struggle with the traffic here. Plan twice as long as it should take to get anywhere.

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

More expensive than in the U.S. except for the lovely organic produce which is cheap,seasonal, and abundant. The ECA commissary has a wide variety of goods available and has been a huge boon for our tour here. They can special order cases of virtually anything and keep a ready supply of U.S. products at a premium. It may cost more but I don't mind when I have the comfort foods I crave at my fingertips.

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

You can get most everything you want here either at the commissary, via DPO, or the pouch. More blankets and slippers for the family during winter. The floors are all tiled so they are cold and very slippery with just socks!

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

McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominoes. Nothing with pork products! Pepperoni is beef, bacon if available, is turkey.

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

Ants, ants, ants EVERYWHERE. You won't get rid of them completely--ever. Roaches (the big ones) are common as well as most of the typical African flying insects; flies, bees, wasps, termites, and mosquitoes.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch.

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

180-200 Dirham per day is standard for both nanny and maid services. Gardener 150-180 day.

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

Yes, pricey.

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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?

Don't use them unless at a hotel or the Embassy.

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

Almost none. I found a Catholic service in English once per week and I hear the LDS community is happy here. Other than that, I don't know.

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

Darija (Moroccan Arabic) is the most important though in the cities French will go along way. English is useless outside of the expat/Diplomatic communities.

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

Absolutely.

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Transportation:

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

Blue taxis yes, but only if you have a good grasp of a local language! Trains are good between cities but not intercity. Avoid buses and white taxis always!

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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?

Whatever you like to drive. I like the higher profile of a small SUV so I can see better.

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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?

The Employee Cooperative Association (ECA) offers several packages and has an added benefit of collective payments You pay your ECA bill each month and they pay your phone/TV/Internet bills for you.

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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?

Bring an unlocked one with you and buy the sim locally. You will find many knock off's at the Medina but they are unreliable and expensive.

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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 quarantine; there are two vets here and they are so-so: Dr. Laila and Dr. Benchaffi. They are both very caring but not as knowledgeable as I would like.

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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?

Not unless you work at the school or in an English language teaching position.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

American International Women's Association is active here (AIWA). RAS and CLO can keep you busy if you want to volunteer!

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

Business at work, business casual though it is easy to feel under-dressed when visiting a Moroccan home! Moroccan men do not wear short pants in public unless exercising or at the beach. As a rule, women do not show their shoulders or much leg, though this is less of a rule in Rabat and Casa.

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Health & Safety:

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

The residences are safe and have had security measures put in place. Grills on all access points, etc. There is crime here though most is petty theft. Send nothing of value to the school with your children (cheap phones only) because it is set up that they cannot get to their lockers between each class and the expectation is that they leave their bags piled up. They get looted. Even the school supplies and textbooks (which are PRICEY to replace) are stolen.

Friends have been mugged for their bags during daylight hours in busy parking lots and residential neighborhoods. Most want your cell phone or electronics. Any ladies I know who have a penchant for running have either quit or used a treadmill here. Men can be very forward, especially with foreign women; Asians and blondes will have the worst time of it. My teenage girls were regularly approached on the street; men following, reaching out to touch them, and/or block their path. I also know of several attempted sexual assaults on members of the mission community.

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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?

Dismal medical care here. The providers all believe they are on par with Europe but they ARE NOT even close. Chiropractic and massage is sub-par. This post has a lot of MedEvacs. Dental is FANTASTIC here, and very inexpensive.

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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?

Due to the abundant sea breezes, surprisingly good. I expected more pollution based on the number of vehicles on the road.

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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?

Fantastic for 8-9 months a year! 80's (F) most of the time. We love to sit on our terrace and enjoy the cool sea breeze! Though as others have mentioned, I have never been as cold in the winter as I was here inside my house. Even in the mountains of Colorado and being no stranger to cold weather; I had difficulty managing the high humidity + cold that seeped into not only my bones, but my concrete house. Once those walls got chilled, they simply did not warm up. The first year we tried to keep the utility costs/consumerism down to a dull roar by using our split pac heater/AC units only when we were home. The next year we were more successful at staying warm when we turned them all on high and left them there. Folks tell you to do the same thing with the space heaters; but I had two brand new ones that shorted out and the wires smoldered. I was glad I was home and awake or we may have had much bigger problems!

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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 (RAS). I have not had a great experience with these folks. My kids are in high school and struggled with many issues. My friends with younger kids have had no better time with it and many EFMs have chosen to throw themselves into the PTA or other school program to help protect their children's interests. Moroccan high school students drink A LOT of alcohol and there are many other readily available street drugs. For all students, especially HS boys, there is unresolved bullying and other social issues between the wealthy locals and the rest.

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

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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?

I hear they are available but most folks I know use nannies.

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

Yes, at RAS they have volleyball, soccer, track, and basketball.

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Expat Life:

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

Medium size expat community with various morale. It is definitely what you make of it.

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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 one movie theater that shows movies in English, only has them on Thursday evenings and it's in Casablanca. Driving in Casa is a whole different animal that I describe best as driving in a school of fish--blind fish. We avoid it at all costs. We spend the bulk of our leisure time with other expats/friends socializing in homes or out together at restaurants.

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

What do you want to make of your tour here? If it's a vibrant nightlife and travel opportunities, then yes. If you have primary school-age kids you have a built-in community waiting for you. If your kids are older, there isn't a lot of opportunity for them to begin to gain independence by stepping out on their own.

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

Not good for single LGBT folks looking to date but couples seem to do fine. I'm not sure how low of a profile they keep.

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

Gender yes. I have heard that dark skinned women feel it more.

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

Going south into Erfoud/Merzouga into the desert. We have had visitors here and taking them around to the sites was fantastic. Chefchaouen, Fez' tannery, the square in Marrakesh, and the Ziz Valley should not be missed. Experiencing firsthand the generous nature and culture of sharing, by friends and strangers alike. Though we haven't done it yet, many folks appreciate the close proximity to Spain. Cueta is a Spanish enclave on this continent and is an easy 4-hour drive from Rabat for short weekend trips to clear your mind.

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

The travel opportunities

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

Pottery, rugs, leather goods, spices, trinkets, and Moroccan tea sets.

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

Travel opportunities, amazing food, experiencing the various cultures (Arab & Berber), and the weather. This may sound weird to put in this section but the dental care is GREAT and very affordable! Dr. Rami (chat with CLO) speaks English and is fantastic. CLO has an extensive knowledge of Morocco; use their experience to maximize your time here.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, if you plan accordingly and try not to splurge on too many of the fabulous travel options!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I was surprised by how difficult day-to-day life can prove to be. It is on par with Sub-Saharan Africa in many ways (traffic, bugs, housing, quality of medical care) yet instead of 15-30% hardship you get nothing (just changed in 2013 to 5%). If you are coming here with the expectation that this is "little Europe" with typical DOS African housing you will be sorely mistaken. Also wish I had known how much the constant sexual attention and harassment would negatively affect my outgoing third-culture teens.

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

No; but I am happy to have met and known some amazing Moroccan people.

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

Misconceptions about Muslims as these folks are generally kind, generous, and outgoing.
If you have a propensity for road rage--you know who you are--don't consider this post!

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4. But don't forget your:

Winter clothes, love of cats, rain gear, tour-long supply of decent wine, and sense of adventure.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The movie Casablanca is not a good example of life here.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Moroccan people are amazing, warm, kind, and generous--to a fault. This is most obvious when you are interacting on a personal level. When driving, shopping, or waiting in line, however; they can behave rudely and appear self-serving UNLESS you acknowledge them with a greeting and a smile. In the big cities, the attention shown to women in public (when not accompanied by a male) can be rude and ugly.

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Rabat, Morocco 11/17/11

Background:

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

Fourth diplomatic assignment, Middle East and Europe.

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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?

Rabat to Paris to an airport in Chicago or NY or DC is about 14-15 hours total. If you are going to a different city in the U.S., as we do, that adds a 3rd flight and a few more hours. There is a direct Casablanca - New York flight on Royal Air Maroc, but most people don't like it.

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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.)?

Affiliated with the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most singles and some couples live in apartments in wealthy neighborhoods, and families and many couples lives in houses in these neighborhoods. The housing is generally good. Most people have good yards and plenty of space. Our house is enormous, but has almost no yard. Commutes are quite reasonable, like 10-20 minutes.

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

The local grocery stores are good for a developing country, supplemented by butchers, fruit/veggie stands, fish stores, food markets and bakeries. You can get a lot of great stuff if you are willing to cook like a local (same ingredients at least). If you want more obscure ethnic dishes, you can online shop or use the (American) commissary or bring stuff back from Spain or elsewhere. As an example, it is possible to get rice noodles and rice paper (for rolls) here at local grocery stores, as well as (mediocre) chips and salsa -- which you couldn't say about many posts.

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

Some bulk items or dry food goods would have been fine, but here at the Embassy you can have large items shipped in commissary containers for a small extra fee, so people have ordered pianos, auto tires, playground equipment and stuff like that.

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

There is a good, but not exhaustive, range of restaurants. The best ones are, obviously, Moroccan or French, but there are also some Spanish, Italian and Asian options. Casablanca has a much more vibrant and extensive restaurant scene, so when one goes there for work (or fun) you can scratch various itches.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Well, a lot of things are naturally organic and I guess there are vegetarian options. Otherwise, not much special in this regard.

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

Fairly bad problems with ants and cockroaches. Some people have good luck combatting that with poison, some don't. We have to take very defensive measures in the kitchen to keep ants out, and for two-thirds of the year have to kill a couple cockroaches a week in the house -- despite having a lot of poison and spraying the entrances.

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Daily Life:

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

At the U.S. Embassy we have pouch and DPO, which are usually quite fast outside of the holiday season.

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

The situation here is quite good. A gardener is about US$20/day (most people have once a week, some people twice a week). A maid or nanny is that or slightly more (depending on her quality--one able to speak and read/write in French would be high-end, one able to only speak Moroccan Arabic and illiterate might be the cheapest), and it is possible to get full-time help, or just part-time. Of course, the wealthy Moroccans and certain of the expat communities -- like the French -- pay far less and demand much longer hours.

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

Yes, there are a range of options at different price points and neighborhoods. Also the Marine House and the Rabat American School have rooms. There is a very large park where most people go to run; there are plenty of people around there.

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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 feel okay using ATMs in normal places, although most U.S. Embassy people cash checks with our cashier. Credit cards are not very reliable; some fraud has been perpetrated, and many places say they take them but then look at you horrified and the whole grocery line comes to a halt for 15 minutes while they try to make it work -- and then it doesn't.

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

There is a pretty good range of options. Many Catholic services in French, English, and Spanish. Some Protestant options (French and English) and a Mormon community (English). Jewish options as well.

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

There are some newstands with some English magazines like The Economist. There is a bewildering range of satellite channels, some of which are English but it depends on which package you buy. On a monthly rate, it isn't expensive (US$15-20 for a couple hundred channels, mostly Arabic with some French and a couple English).

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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?

English is not widespread. Almost all signs and packaging are bilingual, so if you know some survival French that should be okay. That being said, it isn't like the average taxi-driver or store clerk is fluent in French. You might face some difficulties. Standard Arabic speakers have problems as the local dialect is very different, and, unfortunately, in a way that makes it hard to comprehend (words are shortened and vowels cut out; much vocabulary comes from Berber/Amazigh or French or Spanish).

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

Pretty much what you would imagine for most developing country cities.

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Transportation:

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

I don't know any expats who use buses. Some use trains for tourist trips; they are okay but not great. Taxis are old and dirty, but cheap.

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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?

You can feel safe with a range of options. Terrain isn't a factor unless you want to go deep out into the hinterland. Parking space or road width isn't much of an issue either. The main consideration would be service, but even then many expats have makes that aren't locally available and make do with parts that are shipped or ordered by the garage.

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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, it is pretty fast and not that expensive. Something like $30/month.

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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?

It isn't anything I've had to think about -- pretty easy.

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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?

I don't think so.

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

We don't have pets, but lots of people do; I assume the situation is decent.

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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?

Not on the local economy, but there is a good range of options in the Embassy (in addition to the usual CLO, Mail Room, Commissary jobs, there are some "EPAP" jobs doing FSO-like work) and at other institutions around town, like the school.

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

Work is suits or something slightly less depending on your job. In public, most anything goes except for the extremely revealing. I don't think a woman should walk around in a bikini at a restaurant next to the beach, for example, but I've seen plenty of Europeans doing it.

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Health & Safety:

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

Security here is quite good. There is some non-violent crime, I had a visitor spoil an attempted bag-snatching and I know non-Mission people who have had break-ins, but our houses have good protection and alarms and most places I know of have worse problems than here. There was a home invastion murder of an EU couple (in front of their children) 5 or 6 years ago, but that was an isolated event that could have happened anywhere.

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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?

The American Embassy currently has a good medical unit, although that might vary based on the quality of the person in charge. There is a solid range of specialists for various complaints, many of whom speak English. If you need something significant done, you get medevaced. The only major concern is emergencies -- if you have a car accident and need life-saving trauma care, the quality of ambulances and emergency rooms is not reassuring. But you could say that about most any non-1st World country.

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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?

Air quality, in terms of pollution, is good. However, many kids (and adults) here have allergies to something or another--for example, olive tree pollen. I have a child on several daily medications to keep that manageable, and I am on three myself.

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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 climate is close to ideal. Summer is hot but not overwhelming--usually just a couple weeks in the 95-105 range, with the rest in the 80s. Fall and spring can be rainy here and there, but many beautiful sunny days. Winter does not get harsh at all. The only problem is that Moroccan housing, even in the most elite neighborhoods, is very light on A/C and heating. I have lived in the hottest and coldest parts of the U.S., but always moderated by machines. I have never felt as cold as in our house here during the winter.

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Schools & Children:

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

Most everyone of school age goes to Rabat American School, although some kids are sent to one of the many French schools because their parents want them to become fluent in French. RAS is very good, we feel. There are lots of activities and quite a student:teacher ratio (in the elementary school, there is a teacher and teacher's assistant for each class of around 15 students).

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

I know that RAS is accomodating of physical disabilities, but not sure how it handles mental/learning issues; probably well.

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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?

For the littlest ones, most people use an in-home nanny/maid, as the cost is cheap and the quality decent. For 3 and 4 year olds, there have been various options, including some in-home preschools run by expats and various private English, English/French and French/Arabic choices. Generally, if you pay less (say $200/month), you get 20 kids in a room and a lot of chaos. If you pay more (maybe $400-600/month), you get better quality.

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

Yes, RAS has both after-school activities and more official sports teams that play against other schools.

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Expat Life:

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

Quite large. I believe that there are 100 embassies; the French are said to have 1,000+ here from all walks of life, the U.S. Embassy has 100 families/individuals plus other affiliated Americans (schoolteachers, for example).

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2. Morale among expats:

Wide range. Among the official American community, most Department of State people are pretty happy as this is an easy assignment compared to most developing countries. But the Embassy also a lot of different agencies present with employees who have never been overseas before, and (generalizing) they are often quite negative about how this compares to Washington or New York or elsewhere in the U.S. -- or to their previous travel experiences in western Europe.

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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?

Representation responsibilities are standard. Official events are fairly formal. For non-work socializing, there is a large range. Families with little kids have lots of playdates and birthday parties. Adults have dinner parties and backyard cookouts and night parties. If you want to mingle with the non-Anglophone expat crowd, then French becomes a must as that will be the language of a party of mixed Moroccans and expats, or expats from various countries (obviously two Swedes and two Americans having dinner are going to speak English, but a party with people from 10 countries and with 20 Moroccans is going to mostly be French).

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

It has a reputation as a family post and this makes sense. There is also plenty for couples to do -- socialize with others, explore Morocco and so on. Singles can also make themselves happy, but the dating options are scarce. Almost everyone we know who came here with a long-distance relationship married that person months later, which wasn't true of previous posts!

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

It would take pages to describe the complexities of Moroccans' views on this. I don't think anything particularly bad would happen (no one is going to beat you up for holding hands, considering the locals do it), but can't speak for how the dating scene goes.

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

Yes. Moroccans range from red hair and green eyes to sub-Saharan African in origin, but despite claims to the contrary, darker skin tends to mean less social status. Women get a lot of sexual harassment; I know several blondes who dyed their hair another color, but of course it doesn't just happen to blondes by any means.

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

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

We tend to either travel hours away to another city or spend time at kids' parties or restaurants; haven't pursued a lot of hobbies. But I know people who play golf avidly, surf, ride bikes, ride horses, take various lessons, shop a lot, cook (with some great ingredients available), etc. There are some good swimming options in range.

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

A huge range of stuff. We came here with no furniture to our name and will have many pieces. Rugs and carpets of course. Some clothes. Many small decorative items. Lamps. It's Morocco--you probably have some pre-conceived notions and you are probably right.

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

The weather is quite good, with lots of sunshine and few truly hot or cold days. Of course we have easy access to famous Moroccan tourist destinations like Fes, Marrakesh, and Tangier. There is some amazing shopping available. For a developing country's capital, Rabat is pretty low-stress. However, in the American system we also don't get any "hardship allowance" currently.

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11. Can you save money?

We save a lot, despite having full-time nanny/maid, a gardener, and usually having 1 kid in a school we have to pay for. But, we both have jobs and I get a language bonus. For couples with one spouse working, I think it is less likely, depending on one's habits.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, definitely. Except for the aggravating driving habits of Moroccans, it is very easy to get through a week here, and you have plenty of options to entertain yourself. I am not worried about getting mugged or carjacked or coming down with malaria. Morocco is a fascinating country with so many influences, and rich cuisine and arts and decorations/furniture/architecture and music to delve into.

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

Classical Arabic? Assumptions (if applicable) that Morocco is like Egypt or Saudi Arabia? Assumptions about a 0% hardship differential post?

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3. But don't forget your:

French study books. Willingness to explore. Taste for new foods.

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

Nothing about Rabat, but there are plenty of books about Morocco to read. Amazon has at least a dozen novels translated into English, several history books, and a couple current events books. Read them all over 3 years.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

None about Rabat... the usual suspects about Morocco.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

1. Because Morocco has a good reputation and is a tourist destination, you will get a lot of friends/relatives who want to visit. Also as a consequence, the Embassy (and other embassies) gets a lot of official visitors from Washington. Not as many as Istanbul or London or Paris, but a pretty steady flow.

2. Morocco is very heterogeneous in many ways, but very homogeneous in one critical way: Islam. I have lived in a few majority-Muslim countries, but they had minorities and people were aware that not everyone was like them. Moroccans are all Muslim except for a tiny Jewish community and Christian expats. Ramadan is extremely important. Eid Al-Adha is extremely important. If you live a surface, expat, lifestyle this only causes minor obstacles. But if you dig deeper, sometimes you can feel very excluded because you will never have that in common and Moroccans have a hard time imagining anything being different.

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Rabat, Morocco 11/16/11

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?

24 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 year post.

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

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing here is very nice.

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

You know, pretty expensive. Milk (UHT) is terrible. If you can find Presidente (french) brand anything buy it, because it's that much better. Anything made in Morocco became suspect. The quality was just not there.

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

Nice soft toilet paper. Mexican cooking stuff. Coffee Mate.

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

McD's, KFC (hahahahah), Pizza Hut (puke). You can find really good Moroccan food. It gets old really fast. There's no infusion. It's standard fair....and after 3 months of Tagine you want to shoot your self in the face.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Hahahahahahah

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

Mosquitoes.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO - Flawless.

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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 cheap and reliable.

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

Marine House. Passable. Barely. The local gyms are not for the peasantry, hence their hefty price. $200 a month for a gym.

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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?

None of the ATM's I ever used worked. Like they are permanently not functioning. It's a microcosm of the entire society.

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

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

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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?

I had none and got by.

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

Impossible.

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Transportation:

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

Take blue taxis. Have change. Don't take White taxis. I hear the train is ok.

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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?

Small car or SUV. I wouldn't recommend a giganto vehicle as parking can be tight. You need something quick and nimble. These people drive like complete idiots.

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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?

Available and pretty good. I think it was 35 bucks through the Embassy?

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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?

I had a verizon world with unlimited data plan. I could bbm all my friends and family without incurring text charges. Also had unlimited internet which is nice.

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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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & 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?

I was highly skilled and had a very tough time finding work.

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

Business.

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Health & Safety:

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

Women have a particularly hard time. Men have virtually no respect for women, and even less for western women. I'm a big guy (muscle) and never once felt threatened. I know people who have been mugged.

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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?

Med unit was awesome.

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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?

The air quality is really good. You are on the ocean.

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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?

Wonderful weather. Hot in the Summer and temperate in the winter.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

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

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Expat Life:

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

100-200?

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2. Morale among expats:

Fair. Really low when people were getting close to the end of their tours.

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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?

Big in the community. Virtually nothing outside of that. Their idea of partying is smoking 16 packs of cigarettes and pretending to look important.

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

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

Absolutely not.

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

How Arab Moroccans, as opposed to Bedu or Berber, treat sub-Saharan Africans like dogs.

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

Asilah. Amazing place. Rabat's an urban waste. Fez is interesting in the sense that you are effectively stepping back in time.

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

There are a lot places to go see. The only caveat is that it's ll predicated on people selling you something...tours, guides, carpets...my brother's shop. When someone befriends you, they are trying to get you to come to their shop or whatever and it becomes a real drag because everyone is suspect.

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

Carpets, glassware, woodworking.

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

Special advantages include: Proximatey to other places -- Portugal, Spain, France. Tickets are extremely cheap...right before the taxes Morocco levies on your flight.

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11. Can you save money?

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Interesting for a little while. but it just got old. The work ethic is terrible, the FSN's are on Pluto (some, not all), and driving in this country is a trip through absolute stupidity.

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

Winter anything. Seriously, you'd think it was 40 below by the way Moroccans dress in winter. Laughable.

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3. But don't forget your:

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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?

We are simply a meal ticket. The combination of ignorance and arrogance in this country is astounding.

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Rabat, Morocco 09/18/11

Background:

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

We have lived in Paris, Cairo, and Belgrade

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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?

Washington, D.C. We fly from Dulles to Paris, Paris to Rabat. It takes about 14 hours including the lay-over

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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.)?

US 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?

Most of the Embassy have lovely homes with yard. Best places to live are Hay Riad and Souissi. Temara is by the ocean and is gaining some popularity. Nice apartments in Agdal which is the hip city center area with lots of restaurants and shops. Rents are very high, more like D.C. Many of the houses have unusual floor plans that are not typical of the US. Also heating is limited and because of the concrete construction they can be very cold.

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

The supermarkets have most items you would need during your stay. The meats are good, there is fresh pasteurized milk, cheeses, great fruits and vegetables and many American products including Duncan Hines and Hagen Das. Groceries are a bit more expensive than the US.

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

Our favorite Italian dressing. But they have most things here.

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

McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Dominos, TGIF, lots of Italian, a few Japanese and Chinese, a Lebanese, lots of French and needless to say, Moroccan restaurants. Cost is about the same as the US.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

There is a lot here.

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

Ants, cockroaches and some mosquitoes.

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Daily Life:

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

Morocco has a good mail system.

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

There are lots of available domestic help. They are paid weekly. We pay about $20 per day. Gardeners are also available and we pay about $30 per day.

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

Yes, there are several and they are expensive.

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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?

We use our credit cards at the supermarket and shopping. Most people use ATMs.

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

Yes, Catholic, Anglican and a more Evangelical church are available. There is a Jewish community in Rabat but the services are in Hebrew and French.

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

There are numerous satellite programs available. Not cheap but good.

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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?

It is good to have some French.

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

The city offers minimal problems except many houses have lots of steps, many sunken levels etc. Traveling in country can have challenges in that old cities with big bazaars are not accessible by vehicles and the pavement is uneven with lots of potholes and hordes of people etc.

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Transportation:

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

Yes to all. There is a new metro in Rabat also.

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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?

Newer small cars. Streets are small and parking is limited. If you are going to do lots of mountain or desert trips then bring a four wheel. Many at the Embassy have them. Don't bring a car that you will be upset if it gets a ding. Traffic is crazy and scratches are common.

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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, about $50 per month.

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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?

You can buy them here or if you have an unlocked one, you can buy a SIM card easily.

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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, there are good vets here.

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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?

No.

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

Same as in the States, suits for men, dresses and skirts for women.

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Health & Safety:

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

Rabat is pretty safe, that said, it is in the Middle East and one does need to be vigilant in guarding against terrorists but not to the extent we are in places like Yemen or Pakistan.

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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?

None.

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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?

Air quality is good in Rabat.

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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?

A sunny city but cool climate. Think San Francisco. Sometimes it gets really hot but very rarely.

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Schools & Children:

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

There is one here that has the International Bacculariat Program. Classes are small. My son is grown so we have not used it, but many families are delighted with the programs and high school aged students have been getting into great colleges.

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

Minimal.

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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?

It is available but you need to get on the list as soon as you know you will be coming. It is expensive. Ms. Elizabeth's is a favorite with the English speaking ex-pat community.

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

The Rabat American School has programs. There are also tennis lessons and horseback riding, as well as surfing lessons.

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Expat Life:

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

Medium sized if you include all nationalities.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good overall. Some people will complain if they are looking for a more vibrant city, but this is a beautiful post.

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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?

Lots of barbecues, dinners at restaurants, happy hours.

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

Best for families or couples. There is not much of a bar scene here and many singles complain that it is too quiet.

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

No, even though Morocco has a reputation for lots of gay activity for tourists, Moroccans are basically homophobic and make no apologies for it.

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

Moroccan law allows people to worship their own religion freely as long as they do not try to convert others to their persuasion. Evangelicals are not welcome. They also don't want other Moslem sects trying to convert Moroccans who follow the Maliki version of Islam to other sects such as Sh'ia, or Wahabism.

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

We took a road trip to Fez and then up to the mountain city of Chefchaouen. Fez has one of the oldest medieval bazaars in existence that is still inhabited. The potteries and tanneries are still working and produce gorgeous ware. Chefchaouen is a blue and white village high in the mountains that was home to many Jews. It has a history of weaving lovely bedspreads and other unique crafts.

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

The Chellah is an ancient ruin that is mostly a part and great for taking pictures. There is surfing at the ocean in Rabat and wonderful shopping in the bazaar.

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

antique doors, pottery, tile tables and fountains, leather goods

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

The weather in Rabat is incredible. It is about 70 degrees F. all year. It has a rainy season but it is not very long or heavy and the vegetation becomes very lush. Rabat is a quiet, mellow city perfect for families. The country has so many wonderful places to visit that offer spectacular views of nature, architecture etc.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Definitely.

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

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3. But don't forget your:

Warm lounging clothing and pajamas (houses are cold). Business cards because they are too expensive to have made here. Bath mats and rugs if you have space.

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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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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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Rabat, Morocco 06/03/08

Background:

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

No, Tokyo.

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2. How long have you lived here?

9 months.

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3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Paris to Rabat, Paris to Casablanca, Amsterdam to Casablanca, Rome to Casablanca, JFK to Casablanca. I have found Paris and Rome to be the best.

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

I work for the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Nice, large homes 10-20 commute to Embassy or American school.

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

Moderate. Some things are difficult to find (cheddar and american cheese, peanut butter, etc) but you can usually find them periodically at the commissary. Prices at the commissary are increasing because of transportation costs. Sometimes online is cheaper.

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

Peanut butter, soft toilet paper, strong paper towels, baby products (formula, food, diapers), muffin mixes, dinner mixes, favorite foods.

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

McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Domino's and they just opened a TGI Fridays. Local restaurants are pretty good but they open later in the evening.

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Daily Life:

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

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

My maid earns 150 Dirham a day as does my gardener. Today the exchange rate is about 7 dirhams to the dollar. My help is VERY hard working and have become part of our family!

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3. 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 use my ATM to get Dirham frequently with no problems.

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

LDS (Mormons), Catholics and Protestants advertise services in the Embassy newsletter.

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

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

It helps to know French or the Moroccan dialect of Arabic. I've slowly picked up some French but wish I would have had classes prior to my arrival.

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

Streets are poorly constructed as well as sidewalks (when they exist). High curbs. It's not fun with a stroller.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right.

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

Taxis and trains are safe. We are advised against taking buses. I take the petit taxi frequently with no difficulties.

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3. 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?

If you are driving in city any car will do. (Many are for sale from families that are leaving). IF you plan to go to more remote places then you'll need a 4WD or rent one.

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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?

I pay about US$100/month for the fastest service offered. There are cheaper rates for slower service available.

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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?

I get the ones with the prepaid cards and have spent about US$50 a month buying minutes. Very affordable.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Vonage or other type of Voice over internet Protocol service.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & 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?

I see some advertised in the embassy newsletter but I don't know anyone who works on the local economy.

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

Work - professional dress (tie for men, slacks, skirts, dresses for women). Public - With the locals you'll see a variety from jeans and shirt to fully covered with only the eyes exposed. Technically you can wear what you normally wear in the U.S. but personally I feel uncomfortable going in public in shorts, skirts above my knees or sleeveless shirts.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate.

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

No major concerns. We are encouraged to be aware of our surroundings, etc.

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

Good clinic at the embassy. No encounters personally with medical in town but I've heard no complaints. I've had good dental experiences here for VERY good prices!

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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?

Mild winters, warm to hot summers.

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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 (RAS) - it's an ok school. I'm personally not overly impressed but they treat the children well.

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

None for severly handicapped.

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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?

Expensive at RAS, affordable French and Moroccan preschools around.

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Expat Life:

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

Approximately 60 families with the embassy, Many more with USAid and Peace corp and even more from other countries.

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2. Morale among expats:

It's what you make of it!Professionally, there are some issues in the workplace (inefficiency, lack of follow through, etc but personally I've made some really great friends who I can depend on.

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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?

Activites at the embassy (mentioned above), there are a few nightclubs and people have get togethers at each others' homes, etc.

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

Families and couples yes. I think it would be hard on singles.

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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?

None that I've encountered.

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

CLO (community liaison office) is good about activities at the Embassy: things such as holiday parties, happy hours, quiz nights, etc. The tourist things you see in the tour books are nice but once you've done it it's not that exiciting anymore.

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

So many things!Beautiful woodwork, brass work, and more.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't shop too much at the medina! :)

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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

Car that you don't want to see with dents! Driving here is CRAZY!, 120 V appliances.

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3. But don't forget your:

Golf gear if it's your thing, camera, favorite foods, sense of humor.

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

The Strings of the Lute and Moroccan Mystery: The passport series were written by fellow expats here at the embassy.

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

The Strings of the Lute and Moroccan Mystery: The passport series were written by fellow expats here at the embassy.

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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