Morocco is still very much a developing country, so the cost of living is very low compared to Western standards.
If you decide to rent a place of your own, you can expect a two bedroomed house in Marrakech to cost approximately £250/$370 per month. Rents are even cheaper in the old town (Guéliz neighbourhood) , with a similar-sized flat costing around £130/$210 – perfect if you want to save as much of your salary as possible to explore the mountains, beaches and fascinating cities that Morocco has to offer.
Food is equally cheap, but it’s worth noting that alcohol is heavily taxed in Morocco as it’s illegal for Muslims to drink. Nevertheless a beer will still only cost £1/$1.50.
Moroccan dishes have been influenced by a range of different cultures, resulting in unique spices and flavour combinations that aren’t found in any other cuisine. A traditional Moroccan dish is a tagine (named after the pot it’s baked in); a slow-cooked stew of spiced meat, which is marinated overnight, with honey, almonds and raisins added for a sweet taste.
Another love of the Moroccans is cous cous, which accompanies nearly every meal, either as a side dish; or with meat and vegetables mixed in for a more filling meal – spices such as ginger and turmeric are also added for a Moroccan twist.
As a Muslim country, although it’s illegal for Muslims to consume alcohol, foreigners are allowed to do so, and you’ll find it served in bars and restaurants, as well as in supermarkets. One of the most popular alcoholic beverages is the local beer, Flag, costing around £3.50/$5.60 for a 6 pack if you buy it in the supermarket. However, if you’d prefer to unleash your inner-Moroccan, ditch the can of beer for a mug of sweet mint tea, which is essentially mint leaves and sugar mixed in with green tea. It’s drunk several times a day and is considered a social activity, with friends meeting up for tea – so don’t be surprised if your new Moroccan friends invite you round for a pot of tea!
Inland cities like Marrakech enjoy subtropical climates, with it regularly reaching 40 degrees in the summer, and warm winters of 20 degrees, although nights can get very cold. Coastal areas such as Casablanca and Rabat don’t have particularly good weather: because of the Atlantic breeze, temperatures are much cooler, and a thick mist rolls in every morning, with the wet air doing bad things to your hair! Don’t be fooled into thinking Africa is warm all the time – be sure to pack some winter clothes if you plan on teaching English in Morocco!
Whilst it’s not common practice for employers to provide accommodation free of charge to those teaching English in Morocco, you will receive help finding a place, and are usually provided with a monthly stipend of around £150/$230 for rent. However, accommodation will not be of a standard that you are used to at home – even in the city centres. When searching for flats, avoid renting an unfurnished apartment as it comes completely bare, with no fridge or freezer; and be aware that repairs are not carried out before a new tenant moves in, as responsibility is placed on the new tenant to get it fixed. Therefore, if the flat isn’t of an adequate standard when you go for a viewing, don’t agree to move in.
The majority of teaching jobs in Morocco are found in the cities of Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat and Fez, where there are more international schools and businesses due to the larger populations.
With so many issues of dishonesty and untrustworthy contracts surrounding private language schools, it is best finding work with the British Council or other reputable agencies such as ALC or AMIDEAST. As such, you’ll be teaching English to either businessmen who are working for international companies, or the children of middle-class parents.
If you want to live in a city with a large expat community during your time teaching English in Morocco, whilst the four major cities are all popular, Casablanca is the best option. Although rough around the edges, Casablanca is the busiest, most modern city in Morocco, with a range of restaurants, cafés and shopping malls for you to explore on your weekends off from teaching. Nevertheless, Marrakech enjoys a large number of tourists all-year round as the most-visited city in Morocco, and has a magical feel, with snake-charmers on street corners, and bustling souks selling traditional Moroccan goods.
The cities in Morocco are best covered on foot: although buses are cheap, with a one-way ticket costing just 28p/$0.45, they’re extremely packed and notorious for pickpockets on board.
Taxis are generally safe in Morocco, referred to as petit taxis (holding up to 3 people), and grand taxis (for 6 people). You can hail one down in the street, but be sure to either check the meter is running, or agree on a price before the driver sets off. Be aware that haggling is very common in Morocco, and this extends to taxis too: for a local, a 10 minute journey costs no more than £1.40/$2.20, but it’s common for drivers to try their luck on tourists, quoting a charge of £7.10/$11.35. Always be prepared to haggle, as you can easily agree on a price of £2.10/$3.40. Whilst taxis are good to use if you want to get home in an evening, they’re not ideal for everyday use, which is why it’s better if you live within walking distance of your place of work.
Although it’s unlikely you’ll finish your TEFL job before 6pm on weekdays as it’s common to have a 2 hour lunch; an average working week for someone teaching English in Morocco is 20-25 hours, and with 13 public holidays, you’ll have plenty of time to explore your new home in Morocco. With regards to paid holidays, it depends who you’re working for: avoid the unreliable private language schools who only offer 2 weeks’ holiday, and find work at institutions such as the British Council, or international schools where holidays vary from 6-10 weeks – that’s a lot of travelling to be had!
The train is the easiest way to travel across Morocco, and although the lines aren’t extensive, the larger cities are well-connected. The trains are generally comfortable, and prices are cheap: a one-way ticket from Marrakech to Rabat costs just £8.50/$13.60, and takes 4.5 hours in total.
If you have extra money to spare from your TEFL salary, then a plane is much quicker, with return flights from Marrakech to Casablanca taking 2.5 hours and costing £89 with national airline Royal Air Maroc – note that all flights have a short stopover in Casablanca.
If you’re looking for a weekend trip with a difference, travel to the Northern Moroccan city of Tangier, where you can catch a ferry to Spain and Gibraltar – the Gibraltar ferry takes just 80 minutes, and with return tickets a mere £64.80/$104, you’ll easily be able to afford a few trips on your teaching salary!
In the classroom, it’s common for students to interrupt other students and teachers while speaking, but ultimately, any criticism shouldn’t be done face to face – instead, more indirectly: “praise your friend in public but reprimand him in private”. Classroom-wise, give general feedback to the whole class, rather than correcting individuals (unless they ask, of course!)
Whilst Morocco is seen as fairly modern when considering the fact it’s a Muslim country, there are still many rules and regulations to be aware of: for instance, homosexual and extra marital relationships are illegal, as is criticising the monarchy – all of which can result in imprisonment. If you’re a female walking the streets without a male, unfortunately it’s also likely that you’ll be subject to verbal abuse.
Whilst in Morocco, you HAVE to take a trip up the Atlas Mountains, with tons of tourist excursion companies offering trips. Most impressive is Jbel Toubkal, which is the highest mountain in North Africa at 4,167m high and permanently covered in snow; although the Ait Bougmez Valley and Jbel Sarhro regions are ideal if you fancy a relaxing stroll.
If you’re keen to find out more about teaching in Morocco then you’ll want to check out the i-to-i TEFL free guide. Plenty of useful information on finding your first job, where you can teach and how to negotiate the best salary package.
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