*Libya's UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) has declared a state of emergency. Several foreign governments, including the US, UK and Australia, have advised on their websites that citizens should not travel to Libya.
Libya is a Middle Eastern country in the Maghreb region of North Africa with a large coastline on the Mediterranean Sea. Expats moving to Libya will find a country still recovering from a violent civil uprising which began in February 2011. Despite the end of the conflict in October 2011 following al-Gaddafi’s death, the security situation in Libya remains uncertain and protests and violent clashes between opposition groups and clan factions continue to occur sporadically across the country.
Living in Libya as an expat
Needless to say, Libya is not the expat destination that it once was. Although some foreign companies and expats who left Libya at the height of the conflict have slowly trickled back, the situation remains uncertain and jobs are not guaranteed. Expats seeking work opportunities in Libya should consider their options carefully and continue to monitor developments closely.
Libya is an Islamic nation, and Western expats may experience a degree of culture shock in this conservative society in which nightlife is limited, alcohol is banned and eating out is nowhere near as frivolous an experience as in the Western world.
Most expats moving to Libya are concentrated in Tripoli, nearby Janzour, or in Benghazi. Misurata and Zawia also attract their fair share of expats. It’s rare that foreigners relocate to Libya without confirmed employment, most of which is in the hydrocarbon or construction industries. As a result, many expats have their accommodation, visas, healthcare and even their children's education arranged by a relocation agency or by their employer. The demand for university ESL teachers is also high across Libya and attracts many expats.
Cost of living in Libya
The cost of living in Libya is exceedingly reasonable, and thanks to lucrative relocation packages, expats moving here enjoy an excellent quality of life. Everything from petrol and groceries to public transport is cheap. Perhaps the biggest expenses facing expats in Libya are accommodation and back-up power. The country faces extensive and frequent power cuts, which necessitate having a generator.
Fast and reliable internet and cable are also quite expensive relative to the general price of goods and services in Libya. Expats will also need to budget for a comprehensive private health insurance policy that covers medical evacuation to neighbouring countries in case of emergency.
Families and children in Libya
Expats may find that the public education standards in Libya are well below what they're used to. It is only in recent years that more options have become available for expat children – although choices remain few, the handful of international schools available are generally well organised and reputable. These are generally pricey, so it is best for expat parents to negotiate an education allowance in their employment package.
Climate in Libya
The climate in Libya is influenced by the Mediterranean Sea in the north and the Sahara desert in the south. This results in diverse and unpredictable weather conditions. The north of the country experiences dry summers and wet winters, while the south is known for pre-desert and desert conditions that with sweltering daily temperatures.
Libya is a developing country and one that has been severely impacted by a devastating conflict. Expats moving to Libya should not expect a vibrant modern country replete with cultural, retail and nightlife opportunities, but one where uncertainty rules and every day is an adventure. The uncertain security situation is another major deterrent for now, and one that will hopefully be resolved before long.
Population: Approximately 7.08 million
Major religion: Islam
Capital city: Tripoli
Legal system: Provisional government
Main languages: Arabic (official), English (tourist centres, business)
Time: GMT +2
Electricity: 127/230 V, 50 Hz. Round three-pin plugs are used.
Money: The Libyan Dinar (LYD) is the official currency, and it is divided into 1,000 dirhams.
Tipping: Not common, and may be offensive. That said, tipping tour guides is appreciated.
International dialling code: +218. City codes include (0)21 for Tripoli and (0)22 for Tripoli International Airport.
Emergency numbers: 1515 (police and fire) and 193 (ambulance)
Internet domain: .ly
Drives on the: Right