Making a home in Lebanon as an expatriate is surprisingly easy, but there are some things you will have to adjust to. If you’ve lived in the Middle East before, you may not think you’ll face much culture shock, but Lebanon is like a world all to itself, especially the capital of Beirut. While the transition from another Middle Eastern country will be less, you can still expect some differences. Here are a few tips for foreigners who have decided to make their homes in Lebanon.
The Country Is Very Diverse
Lebanon is home to a number of different nationalities and religions. You’ll mostly find Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, Druze, and Christians in the country, but don’t be surprised to run into someone who follows another religion or no religion at all. Because of this mixing of different beliefs, you’ll discover that your work calendar has days off for many different holidays and religious ceremonies. It doesn’t matter what religion you follow, you’ll get these days off.
You Don’t Need to Know Arabic
While Arabic is Lebanon’s official language, it’s hardly the only language spoken. Due to the many different nationalities in Lebanon, especially in Beirut, many people speak English and French. Both languages are offered to students in many schools and all three are used in business. As long as you are fluent in one of the three languages, you’ll be able to easily conduct all of your business transactions. Your children shouldn’t have any trouble in school, either, especially if they attend a private international school.
Your Chance of Buying a Home Depends on Other Foreign Owners
If you’ve lived in Lebanon before or if you’ve been leasing a home for a while, you may decide it’s time to put down permanent roots and purchase some real estate. Before you buy Lebanon property, however, you need to see how many other foreign individuals own land in Lebanon. While foreigners can purchase property in Lebanon without going through any special channels, there is a limit to how much property foreigners can own.
If three percent of the country’s land area is currently owned by foreigners, you will have to either purchase some of that land or wait until one of the foreign owners sells land to a Lebanese citizen. If you’re going to live in Beirut and ten percent of the city’s total area is in foreign hands, you also have to wait to purchase property or buy from a foreign owner. Those two limits cannot be exceeded.
You’ll Need a Car
If you don’t own a car, be prepared to spend a good amount of money on taxi services. Beirut and many of the other larger cities in Lebanon do not have extensive public transportation systems and many are spread out. That means owning a car is a necessity unless you enjoy long walks in the heat. You can pay for taxi services, but if you do so on a regular basis, be certain you can fit that expense into your budget.