Relocating to Marrakech can be an exciting adventure, especially if you are dreaming of living in a beautiful riad or a palm tree surrounded villa. However, finding a long term property to rent in Marrakech can be challenging. You will save yourself a lot of headaches following my tips.
Updated 1st of May 2020
I live in Marrakech for 5 years and during that time rented many places. To find a long term rent apartment/property in Marrakech, I tried all kind of ways, starting from my connections to asking random people in the streets or relying on agents.
Over the last few years, it became not easy to find a proper place to rent not only for expats but also for locals. The Marrakech long term rental market is currently “exploding” because of a more short-term rental. Marrakech became a popular place among foreigners buying apartments and riads for short-rent businesses, making fewer places available for long term rentals.
I live in the modern and trendy part of Marrakech, called Gueliz. My foreigner friends are so surprised to know how much I pay for my apartment. They imagine than Morocco is a super cheap country to live, but the truth is… is not anymore if you want to have a decent, European quality life. My local friends, opposite, are surprised how little I pay for such a beautiful apartment because they know the Marrakech rental market.
I know many of you are dreaming of living in a beautiful authentic riads, located in the old part of Marrakech. However, opposite then Europe, the old town/Medina of Marrakech is not a dream place to live, I will tell you later why. Here is an article about my experience living in Marrakech Medina. Many, including me, are dreaming of living in a beautiful villa or house. However, private residences or villas became very expensive. Or, if you find a cheap option, it can be far from the city.
If you are on a budget and willing to stay in the residential areas further from the centre, the rents are very reasonable. However, don’t forget that many things in Morocco work differently than in Europe! Depending on your lifestyle, you need to adapt to different rules that are mostly unwritten.
If you are struggling to find your dream place in Marrakech, contact me, I provide consultations for people relocating to Marrakech and struggling to find reliable information about life in Morocco.
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. Many agencies have their listings on websites such as Mubawab.ma, Marocannonces.com. Some are focusing on expats that don’t speak French, like Cote Medina or Atlasimmobilier etc. The downside of relying on an agent is the commissions. However, the agent will save you a lot of time.
The biggest online advertisement website in Morocco is called Avito.ma. Pay attention that on Avito, many agencies offer many property listings, so you still need to pay their commissions. When you call or send a Whatsapp message, always ask first, if it’s a private person or an agent.
I had a few cases, when an agent post advertising with one apartment, but after making an appointment, shows you a different one. He might explain that the one you were interested in was rented fast; however, the real reason is that they just want to “catch a fish” and try to sell another place.
Another good source finding a long term rental is Facebook groups, such as “English speaking Expats in Marrakech” (you need to be approved by moderators), “Marrakech location et colocation / Marrakech flat rent and flat share”. If you are a woman, can join women-only groups and ladies there. Keep in mind, in some groups you will be only accepted if you live in Marrakech or will prove plans to move here asap.
Moroccans love talking; they prefer to 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.
2020 update: we decided to move to a bigger apartment and tried to ask around guards, shops owners. Unfortunately, we didn’t find anything decent as rental agencies take many apartments. We realised, asking around now takes too much time and effort and relied on the real estate agent (contact me, and I will help you to connect with the best agents).
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.
For me, Gueliz and Medina are like 2 different worlds, a considerable contrast showing the diversity of Morocco. In Gueliz, it feels like you could be anywhere, in any European city, but it’s nice for a change of pace. I understand, for many tourists, Gueliz is too modern compared to the exotic medina. However, if you like Art Deco architecture, definitely spend some time scrolling the streets while discovering cute boutiques and cafes.
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.
After Gueliz and the train station, you will find the modern Hivernage district that is known for nightlife, with a casino, cocktail lounges, hotel dance clubs and chic global restaurants with live music. Hivernage is calmer than Gueliz; many clubs are located further from residencies and restaurants. However, I prefer Gueliz because of its history and architecture.
Medina is called the old historical part of a city. It is walled and contains narrow streets, fountains, palaces, mosques etc. Medina of Marrakech itself has different neighbourhoods.
The 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.
If you still want to live in Medina, I would recommend checking the Kasbah quarter of Medina. The Kasbah pays tribute to the Saadian dynasty with the famous Saadian tombs inside. Kasbah is more peaceful than Medina. The streets are not so busy, filled with local restaurant and street markets.
Keep in mind that riads are old buildings, requiring a lot of maintenance. As well, I wouldn’t live in a riad because I love having a lot of light in my house while riads have windows facing the inner garden. It’s excellent protection from the heat but as well can be too dark.
If you are moving to Marrakech with a family and are planning to buy a car, I would recommend renting a house outside the city centre. The best area to look for villas is Targa. The most expensive neighbourhood is called Palmeraie (palm grove), a palm oasis of several hundred thousand trees with many residential villas or small residential villages.
To rent a villa with a swimming pool can cost from 1500 euro/month. There is an option to live in one of the residential villages, called Palmeraie Village 1,2 or 3. An apartment in the secured residential village cost around 750 euro/month. Each so-called village has its own huge swimming pools and even tennis courts.
Another good place to search for a long term house is the road to Ourika or Rte d’Ourika. It’s not such a posh and expensive area to live, with small authentic villages and considerably close to Marrakech. The last time I was looking, in 2019, there were not many options available for rent. If you are planning to buy land, Ourika road is a perfect place, becoming more and more trendy for small boutique hotels and venues.
However, what I don’t like about most of the villas in Marrakech and around is their size. They are huge; usually, 3 floors, requires a lot of time cleaning and money to furnish. For this reason, many families are renting one floor of a villa, because they don’t need so much space.
Marrakech can be a 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 furniture. Bigger fancy riads will cost you from 1500 euro.
However, if you are not a fancy person, there is a possibility to rent a mini house in Medina for even 300 euro. But then, you might have a squat toilet and will need to buy your own hot water tank. Check here for my article about a house I rented in Medina for 350 euro.
Two-bedroom apartment in the modern Gueliz costs around 500 euro and not always includes furniture. If you don’t mind living in more traditional districts, two-bedroom apartment outside the city centre (like Saada) will cost around 200 euro.
I have Moroccan friends who pay only 100 euro or even for their flats, because of an exclusive deal with the owner, called un rhan. How does it work? 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. On the Moroccan online advertising places, like Avito, you will often see this word “Rhan”, meaning cheap rent with a big loan for the landlord.
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.
Yes, don’t be afraid of bargaining. Rule of thumb, never show an excitement seeing your dream place; play “hard to get”, complain about small details. Never say “yes” after the first viewing. By following these steps, you can bargain the price for sure.
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, no laptops). 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!
If you are a foreigner on a tourist visa in Morocco, you still can sign the long-term contract. Always double check if your name is spelt properly; sounds funny, but they misspelt my name in so many contracts.
Some legal issues
Under Article 490 of the Moroccan Penal Code, all persons of the opposite sex who are not related by marriage, and have sexual relations with each other, are punishable by imprisonment for one month to one year.
Meaning that in Morocco, if you are not married Moroccan couple, you cannot rent a property legally together. However, this rule does not apply to foreigners. If you are foreigner couple, very rarely the landlord will ask if you are married and if he does, just say you are 🙂
Another talk is if you want to live together unmarried with a Moroccan partner. A few years ago, this was a big issue; recently, landlords became more relaxed about it.
However, for mixed couples, I would not recommend looking for a place in a traditional neighbourhood. This is the reason why many choose the modern Gueliz area or private villas. As I said, it’s more relaxed now, however, make sure you are not renting a place in a building full of local families. As well, ask the landlord if it’s ok to bring opposite-sex friends. Sounds funny, but if you are a single person, often a visit from an opposite-sex friend (only friend), especially Moroccan, can cause questions to the building concierge. They can even call the police!
One of my friends, a single decent guy with an excellent job from Europe, was rejected a few times by landlords because they were scared he will bring Moroccan girls. Only when he lied having a Spanish girlfriend that lives in Europe, he finally got a place.
Other important things
- Always ask who the neighbours are. If they are traditional Muslim families, you should be careful with alcohol consumption, inviting guests or walking with short clothes (concerning the traditions).
- It can be boiling in the summertime, so don’t forget to rent a place with an air-conditioning. As well, before signing the contract, make sure the air-conditioners are working correctly.
- ! Almost every residence in Marrakech has a guard/concierge/syndica that knows all the residents, cleans the entrance and sleeps inside. Often his salary is already included in the rental price, or you need to pay him separately around 200-300 DH/month. Become a friend with the concierge, tip him time to time with some snacks, cigarettes. He can also help you change the butane gas bottle, call electrician etc.
- 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!
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