HOW TO: MOVE TO BEIRUT

Four steps to finding a home in Lebanon’s capital.

Step 1: Crash with a stranger and refuse to leave
When I relocated to Beirut 5 years ago, it was because a guy I’d met in a bar while traveling asked me to move in with him. I would recommend this strategy because it takes the legwork out of the moving process. Plus, you might get a husband out of it (I did).

If this seems like the best option for you, why are you still reading this? There’s a barstool with your name on it somewhere in Gemmayzeh.

 

Step 2: Try to find an apartment online
Sure, it’s possible. People have done it, and they usually use the following resources*:

Waseet (if you read Arabic)
Ahlein.net
Facebook group: Apartments in Beirut

However, the people who have had success finding Beirut apartments from New York or London or anywhere else are like unicorns – they might exist but no one’s actually seen one.

 

Step 3: Crash with a stranger and plan to leave… eventually 
Beirut is a city where the easiest way to accomplish anything is by doing it in person, which in this case means jumping in headfirst and homeless. Unless, of course, you happen to be arriving with a fist-load of cash. In that case, skip to Step 4.

If you’re broke or cheap, find a reasonably priced place to stay when you first arrive in Beirut. Some places, like Saifi Urban Gardens, offer discounts for long-term stays (and others might be willing to negotiate). Some suggestions:

Saifi Urban Gardens Pasteur St., Gemmayzeh
Hostel Beirut Akram al-3eed, 11 Rue 56, Geitawi
Embassy Hotel Makdessi St., facing Liban Post, Hamra
Mady’s Floor 6, Azirian Bldg., above Frigoliban, Gemmayzeh

This will ease the housing pressure, giving you the chance to decide which neighborhood is right for you and to find new friends/potential roommates. Let everyone you meet (and trust) know that you’re looking for a room. Word of mouth is key in finding rentals here, and some of the most impressive apartments are advertised with only a sign on the window. Don’t be afraid to wander side streets looking for leads. If that doesn’t work or you’re in a rush, visit the above rental sites and schedule a time to see prospective places in person.

 

Step 4: Give up and call a realtor
If you’re blessed with the budget for a realtor or just plain desperate, the following contacts have proven helpful**:

Sodeco Gestion, 01.616.000
Sogetim, 01.980.033
Randa, freelance realtor, 03.521.177

Unless you’re familiar with the city, I’d still suggest staying somewhere temporary when you first arrive, just to get your bearings. Each area offers something very different, and you want to be sure you’re signing a lease in a place you’ll be happy.

*Having used the method described in Step 1, I can’t actually attest to any of these
**I’ve worked with some of these companies but in the end stayed in my current place, so I can only vouch for how helpful or pleasant they seem in the early stages of house hunting

Do you live in Beirut? If so, how was your house-hunting experience? Comments are welcome below.

 

If you’re lucky you’ll find a place as beautiful as May Daouk’s Beirut abode, above. Images courtesy of Architectural Digest.

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