Casablanca, Morocco Report of what it's like to live there - 09/21/22

Personal Experiences from Casablanca, Morocco

Casablanca, Morocco 09/21/22

Background:

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

No, several other previous assignments abroad with the government.

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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, DC. Easy flight on Royal Air Maroc, but of course thanks to government restrictions you have to go through Paris instead.

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3. What years did you live here?

Currently.

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4. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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5. 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?

This is a modern city. You can go to small markets, outdoor bazaars, or very European grocery stores to buy familiar or equivalent supplies you want to get.

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

The prices have changed recently with inflation, foodstuffs went up a good bit, but by EU or US standards you are not spending much money at all for what you are getting.

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

As much as possible. It takes about half a year or more to receive your shipments, and anything you have any attachment to or would make the life you are living (out of your suitcase) more convenient you might as well ship to yourself.

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

Excellent variety, there is a broad range of cuisines, restaurants, and delivery options.

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

Some ants and roaches, but nothing out of the ordinary.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch or DPO. It takes about one month to six weeks to receive items since they are processed by Rabat and trickle in our direction.

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

It is inexpensive and plentiful. The locals tend to be better than the West Africans, but both are available.

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

They tend to be expensive by local standards. There are a handful of gyms, usually busy, and you likely will not find them within walking distance.

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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?

They are widely used, low fraud concerns, and ATMs work well.

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

None.

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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?

You really do need French or Arabic. It's hard to get a taxi, food service, or anything else with English. Especially if you want to get out of the city at any point.

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

Yes, getting around is extremely challenging for the able-bodied. It is not designed for anyone with physical limitations.

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Transportation:

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

They are safe and very affordable. The taxis will rip you off usually, but to the cost of a dollar or two, and the trains are extremely dependable and modern. You will likely need a local language to use them.

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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 will work. There is theft, and what you would do in modern cities (like opening your glove box and not keeping any valuables in your car) would keep anyone from breaking into it.

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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?

It is, but it may not be available upon arrival. It may take a week or two to get it going, and it is expensive by local standards. It will go out once in a while, and resolving it requires a local language.

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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 phones are inexpensive and using your work phone is good. Many will use other international plans with varying levels of success.

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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?

For dogs and cats there are plenty of services, vets, and stores. Other pets may be problematic.

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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?

The consulate is very small and has a limited number of jobs.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

You need to have a local language, but there are plenty of opportunities as there is high poverty here and several charitable organizations in need of help.

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

Anything you wish. At work business casual is common, but people do dress down.

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Health & Safety:

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

It is a normal city, meaning that there is crime, bad neighborhoods, harassment of women, and normal precautions should be taken. Police support may be limited at times, so avoiding these risks on your own is the best way.

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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?

Medical care is limited. If you have anything requiring any regular visits plan them in conjunction with your trips outside the 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?

It is generally good. Since it is on the water there is a regular wind blowing through it and pollution is not an issue most of the year.

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

Very low food poisoning cases here, but cleaning your raw foods is a must.

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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?

It is generally mild in winter and hot and humid in summer.

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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 are a few but they tend to be insular. Morale is good, but it is difficult to break into their circles.

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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?

Meeting through work events, or trying to make friends with one in order to be invited to join their social circle is the way, but challenging at best.

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

For singles not so much, couples or people with kids fare better for social isolation reasons.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

There is a wide array of races here and they all tend to be treated about the same.

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

No, the community is kept hidden due to local moral, legal, and cultural reasons.

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

Women are second class citizens in general, but Moroccan women tend to have a freer hand than they do elsewhere in dealing with harassment, so it happens less than in neighboring countries.

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

Local trips are easy and great (if you can get your car delivered and registered--usually after about six to eight months).

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

Road trips to discover local history.

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

It is, you can get a lot of artisanal goods for low prices.

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

It is a modern city with all sort of amenities.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

The shipping of personal items will take well over half a year for anything. It takes months to get accredited, and several months to get your shipments. You will be living out of your suitcase for a very very long time, and you will have to figure out local transportation options if you cannot go to work on foot. Also, the consulate is moving in the next couple of years, so everyone will have to commute to work through pretty awful traffic.

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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:

Expectation that things will work normally.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience!

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

Not Casablanca! I would suggest you read up on Western Sahara and the conflict with Algeria. It really frames a lot of what the government does and make you understand the country better.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

The reputation that this city is grungy does not really reflect what it is. It is a modern city with all the issues you find in them, but you also have great amenities, easy travel, local ways of doing things that make sense to those living here, and a bit of common sense and understanding will go a long way.

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