Let’s just start out by saying, if you’re moving to Beirut, prepare for some of the greatest times of your life. Not to be biased or anything, but Beirut is amazing. It is the best city in the world. Why, you ask? Because it just is – check back with me a few months after you’ve settled in. Not to say that there are no downsides to living here – HA! That list is endless. But in the end, Beirut is magic.

Here are some of the essential things you need to know before moving to Beirut, just to make your transition a little easier.

1. There are more ‘service’ in Beirut than there are people.

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They are everywhere. Like ants. You cannot leave your house without being honked at from every direction. And somehow, when you really, really, really, need one, miraculously, they all disappear.

2. It’s extremely loud.

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Rest assured, you will never, ever, hear a single moment of silence. Even in the dead of night. First, there are the construction sites - and let’s not even get started on those, they’re pretty self-explanatory. Then you have the cars - the honking, the broken engines which create more noise than a tank, the motorcycles – oh the motorcycles – and the ever so popular ‘jagal’ driving around with his music blasted. It's so loud in this city, AUH opened up an entire wing dedicated solely to curing headaches.

3. Construction is the devil.

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This is no exaggeration people – it is the devil. You don't wake up whenever your little heart desires, you wake up when the guy next to your building turns on the jackhammer.

4. People will stare and dirty men will make disgusting comments.

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This is especially eminent in the summer, but equally applicable in the winter. It’s degrading, disgusting, and absolutely terrible. You’re going to have to learn to ignore this, ladies, or throw a good punch – although I don’t advise you do that, as much as I’d like to.

5. The city itself is tiny!

One thing people here forget is that you really don’t need a car to get from downtown Beirut to Gemmayzeh. You can walk literally everywhere (unless it is summer – then you will melt on the way).

6. You have got to explore.

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Don’t come here and spend all your time in the same places – you’ll hate it. Grab a friend, walk around, and I guarantee you’ll find something amazing.

7. There is an all-night happy hour place in every single neighborhood.

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Find it. Live it. Love it.

8. The local music scene is beyond words.

There is so, so, SO much talent in Beirut. Always, and I mean always, go to local shows. Trust me, you will not regret this. (On that note, check out: Lazzy Lung, Wanton Bishops, Pindoll and Charlie Rayne).
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9. The weather is bipolar.

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One day it’s 40 degrees (Celsius, we work in Celsius here), the next it’s 10. Only two seasons exist in Beirut – winter and summer. The transition from one to the other does not occur gradually – no, one day you’re in shorts, the next you’re bundled up in your toughest jacket. The summers are intense, six month periods of scorching, humid, heat that makes you curse the second you thought it was a good idea to leave your beautiful air conditioned house, and the winters are 6 month periods of indecisiveness. One day it’s relatively cold, the next it’s hot. And when it rains… it pours.

10. Beirut is overwhelming. It gets to you.

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Find what calms you down, and do it. Whether it’s listening to music on the balcony at 3 in the morning (which is the only time it’s quiet), a kickboxing class, an escape to Teta’s house in the mountains, find the thing that retains your sanity, and do it, as often as you can.

11. There’s more to Lebanon than Beirut.

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Take weekend trips – it’s not all concrete jungle in Lebanon. There's some beautiful nature, too. You just have to drive to it.

12. Scooters and Motorcycles have a tendency to use sidewalks as their own personal roadways.

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It’s not uncommon to get hit by one ON THE SIDEWALK.

13. There are some pretty amazing blogs.

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The earlier you discover these, the better. (Check out: Hummus for Thought, Blog Baladi, Karl ReMarks, Ivy Says, and, we save the best for last, Beirut.com!)

14. 24 hour mini-markets are a godsend.

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Find one that makes sandwiches and befriend the guy that makes them and you will never go hungry. Also, for those days you’re low on cash, you can live on manakeesh, HOWEVER, not without consequence. If you do it too often, those favorite jeans of yours will no longer fit.

15. Little dakakeen make THE BEST COFFEE IN THE WORLD.

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Ask for “Nescafe with Nestle.” STARBUCKS BE GONE.

16. People complain… a lot.

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At first it’s pretty annoying, but soon enough you’ll join in. It gets to you.

17. People are pretty judgmental.

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While an average girl (or guy) will spend maybe, approximately 30 minutes getting ready in the morning, here the process takes more than double the time. There is so much pressure to look your absolute best, it’s ridiculous. You have to wear a super stylish outfit every day, hair has to be meticulously curled or stick straight (Frizz! The horror!), and your eyeliner has to perfectly applied to resemble that of a cat. Every. Single. Day.

All that being said, people here are also friendlier than they seem. Never feel intimidated to ask questions or get to know someone.

18. Traffic is even worse than what you've heard.

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Prepare yourself.

19. Electronic music is huge here.

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HUGE. HUGEEEEEE. If you’re into that, you’re in for a treat.

20. People, for some inexplicably weird reason, like to drive around with their music blasted.

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This is annoying. It is very annoying.

21. Learn to look up, down, to the side, behind you, in front of you – basically everywhere.

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Don’t trip on the random holes and bumps, and watch out for flying projectiles from construction sites. Also, those damn motorcycles.

22. The internet – don’t bother.

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Our speed ranks 167th. There are only 19 countries in the world with slower internet than us.


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Staying super fresh is a daily struggle.

24. Lights Out.

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I’m pretty sure you’ve heard all the rumors about our little electricity problem. I’m not going to go into details on this one, but, let’s just say that it’s not exaggerated. In this country, everyone has two electricity bills.

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