More to do than just lying on the beach

Retiring to Agadir
by JL Farmer

OK - now we're done with work - Goodbye to our working career lives - now we want to do some living!
Agadir is a great place to think of for your imminent or eventual retirement

Down at the Pool in Agadir

Introduction to Living in Morocco

Living in Morocco is not meant for everyone. It involves being assertive on a daily basis. It means refusing to be intimidated during the bargaining process while shopping for goods and to take the initiative in most conversations. It often means bargaining in the souk for the things that we want to buy and, for those with a social conscience, being prepared to get out of a petit taxi when the driver refuses to put the meter on for us because we refuse to be ripped-off when the fare would most likely be less than half the price. There are also not too many anglophone folks around either, which may make for somewhat further alienation for people who don't speak other languages. One good idea, in this respect, is to learn French, the language that is spoken almost universally in Moroccan cities (at least.)

For sure, living in Morocco is a whole different ball-game to living in a western country, but with time, we adapt and grow to admire the warmth and general hospitality of the Moroccan people and we begin to respond in kind - we look into people's eyes when we speak with them and we begin to walk down the street with a natural smile on our face - and this timing often happens to coincide with the time that the locals don't take us for a tourist anymore. One may wonder why.

Make Sure That You Grow Your Network and Get to Know Your Neighbours

I have mentioned (elsewhere) on this web site about the importance of building a local, social network of prominent Moroccan people, such as the chief of police, local cops, good lawyers and such like. You do this by asking the names and contact details of people who are being particularly helpful towards you and by adding their details to your address book (with a note, so that you remember them.) After reading a recent story from hell, I must say that this is not simply advised, but that it is crucial that expatriate residents do so. This will ensure that one has a friendly team of professional resources in the event of the arrival of an adverse situation or problem (residency or visa problem, banking problem, personal robbery, home burglary etc.)

When it comes to neighbours, no one is suggesting an extensive, involved, friendship here, (but you can have that too, if you like) but a respectful, casual yet friendly accord with the people who live close by. I knew of an expatriate European couple who moved to central Agadir. They did not introduce themselves to their neighbours, did not ever speak or greet their neighbours not even with a polite "Hello, how are you" and two years later their home was burgled - and how. They told me that they lost almost everything. The robbers removed a large metal window grille to gain access and even used the couple's travel luggage to cart away all of their best clothes, computers, jewellery - everything of value. They called for help by ringing neighbour's doorbells - but nobody wanted to know - just like the couple didn't want to know their neighbours during those two years. What do they say about Karma?

If you have valuables, buy a large, heavy safe. Larger the better. This is an essential investment and you can leave things in it when you travel outside of the country. There is a man selling safes inside of Gate 11 of the Souk in Agadir (take the street first right upon entry.) A large safe can be bought for around 1500 dirhams, with 100 dirhams delivery charge (takes 3 men to deliver) and worth every penny. Consider carefully and choose your spot to place it (you most likely will find it too heavy to move, later on) and totally cover it with an attractive cover and maybe a pot of flowers.

Bring Yourself With You When You Arrive

One of the main points for successfully living in Morocco is to bring one's own inner resources with them when they arrive. We need to have things to do and be occupied in our daily lives here to our own personal level of satisfaction. Some people take up sport, or a new hobby, such as bird watching or watercolour painting. (I happen to organise a local, expatriate, free watercolour workshop, if anyone is seriously interested.) If we fail to satisfy our personal criteria for satisfaction and happiness in our life of retirement, then it is likely that we will become dissatisfied and consider moving on - and this can be true of living anywhere on the planet. Some people come to the conclusion that they can't be doing with what they may perceive as an "alien" way of living and feel that they cannot adapt, so they change their mind about living in Morocco - and leave the country to go home.

Some links:

Guardian: "How to retire successfully: You need to ask what you want out of life"

Guardian: "Could your 60s and 70s be the best decades of life?"

Things to Do In and Around Agadir

The wide boulevards and avenues of central Agadir along with the lack of multitudes of people milling around and with not so many mopeds on the roads (and in the souks) are pretty much unique aspects for a city in Morocco. One may only truly appreciate these aspects of Agadir after visiting cities like Marrakesh and Casablanca and witnessing the mass of humanity, along with heavy traffic and thousands of mopeds, on the streets every day.

Ornithology, anyone? There are beautiful flower gardens and parks around Agadir and birds, especially at the Valley of the Birds and the Jardim Olhao in the centre of Agadir and also within the Souss Massa National Park (French: Parc National de Souss-Massa) which is very close by. The Souk Al-Ahad is also a regular venue on our agenda - a wonderful place to visit, go shopping and relax with a mint tea.

All Things Berber

There is also a Berber Museum in Agadir (French: Museé du Patrimoine Amazigh) and some expatriates take-up the study of Berber culture by making scrapbooks, visiting destinations and Berber museums in other parts of southern Morocco (such as the Berber Museum in Jardin Majorelle and Tiskiwin House, both in Marrakesh) and the Oasis Museum (French: Le Musée des Oasis) at Ksar El Khorbat (which also {optionally} has beautiful guest rooms) near Tinejdad, to mention just a few) and by generally immersing themselves in this fascinating subject of Berber cultural study.

"Berber People" Wikipedia.

"The Culture and Arts of Morocco and the Berbers" pdf

"Berbers: The Empire Without Borders"

"Amazigh, (Berber) the Indigenous Non-Arab Population of North Africa, and Their language"

"Berber Museum" nice booklet. 26 page pdf (Jardin Majorelle) English    French

"Berber Women of Morocco" pdf (Jardin Majorelle Exhibition) in French

"The Exquisite Moroccan Gardens of Jacques Majorelle" pdf

"An Introduction to Berber Culture" (Jardin Majorelle)

Yes, The Weather

And then... there's the hot sunshine. 300+ days a year, and not forgetting the beautiful coastline around Agadir, with outdoor swimming possible almost all year round. Many people enjoy visiting Taghazout, a small fishing village which is 19km north of Agadir. One may also take a day trip to Taroudant, which is just over one hour away by grand taxi, and be back in Agadir the same evening.

The Golden Rule of Privacy

There is one simple privacy rule in Agadir: if you want something to remain confidential, then DON'T TELL ANYONE - unless that person is a well-trusted friend of long-standing - and even then, it's always best to make a point of mentioning, if the subject is confidential, and to say so at the time, as one cannot always assume that your friend may regard it as such. Seriously. It is necessary to mention this here as there are quite a lot of people who find it necessary to get their enjoyment through becoming a part of the almost daily gossiping local expatriate grapevine. And yes, it does exist - as it exists almost everywhere overseas. And yes, we avoid it - like the plague. We find it a real shame that there are so many expatriates who treat their "friends" private lives as public property when in reality, they are not. Stories are rife about who has fallen out with whom, because people are living inside of each others lives all the time instead of scheduling a more reasonable arrangement of friendship in quality time. One hears these stories without asking for anything. As the saying goes, accomplished people talk about concepts and ideas, whereas unaccomplished people talk about other people.

The important thing with relocating to Agadir is to have realistic expectations and not "up and move" on a whim or an over-fantasised notion of some kind of "oriental experience" - which it is not and may possibly lead to failure. To follow this basis rule can lead to a happy story ending and most likely a permanent residency in Agadir.
I hope this page has been helpful to you and wish you much happiness in Agadir!

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to send an email if you like this article or have any questions.

JL Farmer
Talborjt, Agadir
November 22, 2009
This page may be updated from time to time

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