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Expat Exchange - 10 Things to Know Before Moving to Lebanon
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10 Things to Know Before Moving to Lebanon

By Betsy Burlingame


Summary: If you're planning a move to Lebanon, here are 10 things expats living there wish they had known before moving to Lebanon.

Lebanon, a small country with a rich history and vibrant culture, is a popular destination for expats from around the world. Whether you're drawn by the allure of its bustling cities, the charm of its picturesque villages, or the warmth of its people, moving to Lebanon can be an exciting adventure. However, like any major life change, it's important to be prepared. Here are ten things you should know before making the move.

1. Understanding the Cultural Diversity of Lebanon

Lebanon is a melting pot of cultures, religions, and traditions. It's home to 18 recognized religious sects, and its population is a mix of Christians, Muslims, and Druze, among others. This diversity is reflected in the country's politics, cuisine, and social customs. As an expat, it's important to respect and appreciate this diversity. You'll find that Lebanese people are generally very welcoming and open to foreigners, but it's always a good idea to learn about the local customs and traditions to avoid any cultural faux pas.

2. The Importance of Learning Arabic

While English and French are widely spoken in Lebanon, Arabic is the official language. Learning some basic Arabic phrases can go a long way in helping you navigate daily life and connect with locals. There are many language schools in Lebanon that offer Arabic classes for foreigners, and you can also find online resources to help you learn the language.

3. The Lebanese Love for Food

Lebanese cuisine is renowned worldwide for its flavors and variety. From the famous hummus and tabbouleh to the less-known kibbeh and manakeesh, there's a dish for every palate. Food is a big part of Lebanese culture, and sharing a meal is often a social event. Don't miss out on the local food scene - it's a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and make new friends.

4. The Vibrant Nightlife of Beirut

Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, is known for its vibrant nightlife. The city is filled with trendy bars, nightclubs, and restaurants that stay open until the early hours of the morning. Whether you're into live music, clubbing, or just enjoying a quiet drink with friends, you'll find something to suit your taste in Beirut.

5. The Beauty of Lebanese Nature

Despite its small size, Lebanon boasts a diverse natural landscape. From the snow-capped mountains of the north to the beautiful beaches of the south, there's plenty to explore. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy activities like hiking, skiing, and paragliding, while those looking for a more relaxed experience can visit the country's many vineyards and nature reserves.

6. The Rich History and Heritage of Lebanon

Lebanon's history dates back thousands of years, and the country is dotted with historical sites and ruins. From the ancient Phoenician city of Byblos to the Roman ruins of Baalbek, there's a wealth of history to discover. Many of these sites are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, making Lebanon a paradise for history buffs.

7. The Lebanese Education System

If you're moving to Lebanon with children, it's important to understand the education system. Lebanon has a high standard of education, with a mix of public and private schools, as well as international schools that teach in English or French. However, the education system can be competitive, and it's advisable to start the school application process well in advance.

8. The Lebanese Healthcare System

Lebanon has a good healthcare system, with a mix of public and private hospitals. However, healthcare can be expensive, especially for non-residents. It's recommended to have comprehensive health insurance that covers medical treatment in Lebanon.

9. The Cost of Living in Lebanon

The cost of living in Lebanon can vary greatly depending on your lifestyle and where you choose to live. Beirut is the most expensive city, but it's also where you'll find the most job opportunities and amenities. Rent can be high, especially in the city center, but you can find more affordable options in the suburbs or smaller towns.

10. The Warmth and Hospitality of the Lebanese People

Perhaps the most important thing to know before moving to Lebanon is the warmth and hospitality of its people. Lebanese people are known for their friendliness and generosity, and as an expat, you'll likely be welcomed with open arms. This hospitality, combined with the country's rich culture and beautiful landscapes, makes Lebanon a truly unique place to live.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.



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