The number one comment/question people ask when they find out we've moved to Morocco is,
“I/We would love to do that but I'm not sure how we can afford it/find job(s).”
Of course, when considering moving this is a major stumbling block. A little while back I wrote a post about how people afford to have a global lifestyle. This post is going to give you a lot of different ideas of how you can make an international location possible.
One of the hard realities is that most people want to leave Morocco because of it's limited income opportunities. That being said I do think it's more than possible to not only survive but to live a comfortable life.
So how do we do it?
Before we moved to Morocco I had been working from home for a little over a year. This is one of the reasons we were able to make the decisions to move. I have a combination of freelance work that I do online which provided our means to live here.
About six months after we moved and settled in we ended up starting our own business. I still do freelancing work, consulting, and a host of other things however our business has offered us a lot more stability in how we live and what we can do. It also allowed us to stay in Morocco.
Our plan was to stay for one year and financially that was how we set up our move.
My best advice for someone considering the move and wondering how to afford it, is to figure out how to transfer and/or learn the skills that will allow you to work remotely.
Jobs are hard to find in Morocco.
If you can either start your own business or work remotely you are in a far better position than having to look for something on the ground.
The second bit of advice is to learn at least one of the languages spoken in Morocco. A conversational and written fluency in Arabic, French, and/or Spanish depending on where you live will help you find work here. If you have training as a language teacher (English, French, Spanish etc) there are many schools that hire. Some only want you to have an undergraduate degree and fluency in the language while others require a training certificate.
Research the schools in the area you are considering moving to, to see what teaching jobs are available and their requirements. One thing is for sure, you will need to get creative and think outside of the box as more traditional jobs are hard to come by and typically require you to speak at least two and usually three languages.
But, how much does living in Morocco really cost?
Depending on where in the country you decide to live, the costs associated will vary. Keep in mind the average salary here is between 3000-4000 dirham a month, about $400-$500. In a group I belong to online there was a recent discussion on monthly budgets. It's possible to live on a lot less than these figures but it wouldn't be comfortable at least not by western standards. Some of the figures given were;
– Small City – Taza – $600 month (2 people – no children)
– Large City – Casablanca – $1500 month (4 people – 2 children) – and I think this is low.
– Suburb of Casablanca – $1650 month (5 people – 3 children)
When we moved we budgeted $1500 a month for living costs in Marrakech. Broken down this is (please note I rounded up here to make things easier);
- $250 for school/tutoring (2 kids in private French/Moroccan school) + language lessons for me
- $100 internet/cell phones – this is higher than some may have because I need the highest speed internet for work
- $100 student loan payments
- $500 housing and utilities – our price may be lower than most for this as we “rent” from my mother in law
- $250 food
- $80 house cleaned 2x a week
- $220 flex – medical/dental, clothing, gas, travel, etc.
Today, 5 years later I can say that our costs are quite a bit more as we've opted for more comfort items like an air conditioner/heater which means much higher electric bills. We also have two teenagers and a baby now so the food costs and miscellaneous costs have gone up.
There were many upfront costs that we did not budget for as we should have. Some of these costs included (again rounded up);
- Washing Machine – $350
- Cooktop Stove – $200
- Countertop Convection Oven – $60
- Kitchen Tools/Dishes/Silverware – $150
- Vehicle – $6000-$10,000 for a used, reliable vehicle
- Paperwork/Translations/School Fees – $250
- Living Room Furniture – $350
- Beds and Matresses/Bedroom Furniture (2 twin beds, 1 Queen Bed, bedside tables) – $500
- 32″ TV – $400
I hope this post gives you a little better idea of what things cost and how much is needed to live here. I hope to do another post on the cost of food which has increased a lot since I first came to Morocco but for the most part it's still very affordable especially if you're not purchasing many imported goods.
I appreciate all the comments that have rolled in on this. I wish I could help each of you individually but I just can't offer a good opinion on whether a certain salary will be enough in any specific city. There are so many variables. I'd urge you to consult the guidelines above based on different cities.
A few other questions that keep coming up;
What kinds of jobs are available if I don't speak Arabic or French?
Not many. Most local jobs require Arabic and French and many now also require English.
Will I earn enough to save money?
Probably not. Even if you work for an international company most pay based on the local cost of living. Depending on what financial responsibilities you have this may become difficult.
How easy/hard is it to find a job once I get there?
This again will depend on where you choose to move. Larger cities are more expensive and have more opportunity. But keep in mind Morocco has a sky high unemployment rate so it's a tough place to get a job.
I work remotely, how reliable is the internet/phone system?
Good news. I also work remotely and have few issues with internet. That being said it's not as reliable as connections in the US but have found it oftentimes is scores better than internet in Spain or Italy. Certain times of the day tend to be easier to use more bandwidth for streaming video or making video calls. You also may need to use a VPN to access certain websites.
I have a professional license (doctor/dentist etc) how easy is to transfer these credentials?
Honestly I have a very basic idea of this. I do know it's possible for example to become a local doctor however you have to go through language and training programs that can take several years. My guess from how difficult most bureaucratic things are to navigate here it won't be easy. Even if you can transfer them you still may have a language hurdle.