I’ve owned my riad (guesthouse, home) in Marrakech, Morocco for one year. And what a year it has been! What a process of paperwork and meetings. After months and months of research, I knew I needed to start a corporation. So that came first. Naming it was the first step in that process. In the middle of one restless night I came up with the word ‘myriad’ for part of the name. I liked the word mostly because it’s ‘my riad’ when separated. Briliant, I thought. It also means countless or many, so it’s not limiting ownership to just this one riad. The final name of the corporation is Myriad Property and I love it. First step finished.
Next came the arduous task of finding an attorney (or notary as they are called in Morocco), and an accountant. Immediately I found the notary: a woman in her 40’s who is considered the best notary in Morocco. After meeting her I knew instantly she knew what she was doing and she was ‘neeshun’ or straight. Says it like it is. Follows the rules. That’s what I needed. Done.
Finding the accountant was not as easy. Especially since it was made clear from the beginning that I had no interest in doing any funny business. No corruption. I only wanted neeshun / by the rules. Finally, after about 6 interviews with various candidates, I found my man. He knows my requirement for following the rules and he’s good at that. He even calls me Madame Neeshun. Done.
Next step was to find the house. I had looked obsessively online and worked with multiple real estate agents and knew the market inside and out. Since there’s no MLS system or the like in Morocco, I saw the same house listed in various places and at various prices, all listed in Euro. Very interesting. One agent showed me a home that I fell in love with immediately! My business partner and I spent many hours at the house with the owners and it began to feel like mine, except the price was too high and I had to admit there was just no way I could afford it – – even with the falling value of the Euro (and thus, the rising value of the USD). I am still in touch with the owners and I still have hopes that the place will be mine someday. Riad #2, hopefully.
Once realizing I couldn’t afford the one I really wanted, I considered a small one that I had seen online. It really was the only other one I had any connection to, so after cancelling all other appointments with other agents, we kept the appointment with the agents who could show me this one.
We drove through the gates of Bab Doukkala and down the narrow and busy street to another more narrow street and I knew. This was my new neighborhood. I loved the vibrancy and the energy – – and the fact that there were no tourists. The agent opened the door and we walked in and I gasped! This house was mine. My partner and I both knew it.
The process was underway. There was so much paperwork that I couldn’t believe it. We made so many trips to various government agencies where we stood in long lines and saw a zillion government workers who required signatures in their multiple ledger books for cross-referencing. Everything is in French so it takes double-time to have everything interpreted. What an experience! And I loved every minute.
The most fun of all was naming the house. I wanted something pretty and also simple. So I googled a list of female Arabic names. I also knew I’d use the word ‘riad’ or ‘dar’ in front of it; both words mean guesthouse / house. I always like names that end in ‘a’ so narrowed the list down quickly. Basima was the name I first found, which means ‘smile.’ I have a friend who is named Basyma, with a ‘y’ so I pretty much knew that’s the name I wanted. She told me that spelled with a ‘y’, Basyma means ‘a big smile, almost a laugh.’ Boom. That’s it. Dar Basyma was born. And to this day I just love it.
In May 2015 we had our first guests. And a week later, two more came. And then a group of four. And then the tax man knocked on the door. “We know you’re renting out your house,” he said. “You owe us taxes.” We realized we had done almost everything except that part so after a trip to the proper agency, that was taken care of and we’ve been sailing smoothly since!
Of course there are many, many stories to be told. Business cards and a website was created, guests with strange requests came calling, unending neighborhood hijinks and gossip, etc. Look for additional posts with those details!