How to rent a long term home in Marrakech
Relocating to Marrakech can be an exciting adventure, especially finding a property to rent. Marrakech can be very expensive and at the same time, incredibly cheap place to live; all depends on how well you know the local rental market and your connections.
Many things in Morocco work differently than in Europe, so don’t get frustrated! You will save yourself a lot of headaches following these tips on how to find the best dream place in Marrakech.
If you are a newbie in Morocco, you will probably go to some local rental agency. Their commission is usually equal to the one month rent. Here is a handy list of the main agencies made by Madein-Marrakech. Many agencies have their listings on websites such as Mubawab.ma, Marocannonces.com. There are some focusing on expats that don’t speak French, like Cote Medina or Atlasimmobilier etc.
The biggest online advertisement website in Morocco is called Avito.ma. Many rental property listings are offered by agencies, though. Another option – ads on Facebook groups, such as Expats in Morocco, Marrakech.
Moroccans love talking, they prefer live chats or calls rather than emails or text messages. When we were looking for a place to rent, my Moroccan friend and I simply went to the streets and asked around. We avoided agency commissions and only paid something for a guard who helped us. However, if you don’t speak Arabic or some basic French, this task can be a challenge!
Be careful of random guys offering you to show places and pay something only if you decided to rent. These guys can be a pain in the ass, so be very strict.
Location in Marrakech matters, especially if you are an expat. Most of the expats prefer living in a modern district called Gueliz, located next to Medina. Gueliz was designed and built by the French architects and it has planned streets, wide boulevards, many chic restaurants and newly built shopping mall Carre Eden.
Because of modern buildings, close location to Medina and comparably safe streets, Gueliz is a bit pricey place to live. However, paying more you will avoid a lot of attention you would get living in a traditional district. I lived in Gueliz for a year and never had problems getting home even at night.
The old town of Marrakech, called Medina, is always crowded and noisy district full of hectic street markets (souks) and all kinds of traffic in narrow streets. It might sound like a fun place to live, but only if you are a tourist. Trust me, daily attention and attempts to sell you anything will make you tired soon.
Even more, you must be careful walking in a Medina at night. Once I found a beautiful giant riad for 650 euro/month, but it was located in a very traditional district of Medina, the entrance was facing a very hectic street market. Because of the narrow streets, you had to walk there passing dark and not the safest streets. While seeing the riad, I even witnessed a fight in the street.
Marrakech can be very cheap, and very expensive place to live. In Medina, you can rent a simple, small riad/house (2-3 rooms) for around 700 euro, depending on its condition. Often they are without any pieces of furnitures. Bigger fancy riads (like in the main picture, no furnitures) will cost you around 1500 euro. However, if you are not a fancy person, there is a possibility to rent a mini house in Medina for even 250 euro. Squat toilets and no hot water tank are a normal practice in the cheap properties of Medina.
Two-bedroom apartment in the modern Gueliz costs around 500 euro and not always includes furnitures. If you don’t mind living in more traditional districts, two-bedroom apartment outside the city centre (like Saada) will cost you less than 200 euro!
I have Moroccan friends who pay only 100 euro or even for their flats, because of a special deal with the owner, called un rhan. So, you rent the landlord e.g. 5000 euro for some years and then can pay very little rent. After you move out, the landlord gives back the money.
If you are coming with family, why not rent a villa with swimming pool (outside the centre, e.g. Targa road)! You can get one for around 1000 euro including a beautiful garden and terrace. For an upscale life, check Palmeraie district with fancy riads and villas.
Because your Moroccan landlord or agent sees you as a rich “tourist”, the rent can rise prior to contracts being established. I had a terrible experience on the lease signing day when the landlord decided to increase the price without any reason. However, after visiting many properties and knowing their prices, I feel much more comfortable bargaining the price down.
To sign a lease you need to pay one or two months deposit/caution. The contract will be signed (in French or Arabic) in a place called mokataa; make sure that all terms and conditions are exactly what you were told. In mokataa you will register your lease contract in a special book (yep, still an old school system). If you pay the rent in front, sign a paper how much money you gave. Never pay any deposit in advance without seeing a place or signing a contract!
Other important things
- Always ask who are the neighbors. If they are traditional Muslim families, you should be careful with alcohol consumption, inviting guests or walking with a short dress (with respect to the traditions).
- It can be extremely hot in the summertime, so don’t forget to rent a place with an air-conditioning.
- Almost every residence in Marrakech has a guard that know all the residents, cleans the entrance and sleeps inside. Often his salary is already included in the rental price.
- Make sure that the electricity bill you receive each month is only for your place, otherwise, you may find paying someone else’s electric bill too. My American friend without knowing was paying for 5 apartments!
- There are many Westerners wishing to start their own hotel in a riad. However, it is not easy to find a suitable riad for business.
p.s. Finding accommodation will not be a headache if you are a student of hospitality or culinary arts – do an internship in Selman Marrakech Hotel and get free accommodation, free meals during and out of shifts and covered transportation costs during your time there. Placement International– the number one luxury hospitality recruiter in the world – will help you start your Morocco adventure and explore one of the most beautiful and diverse places of the world without leaving your career behind!