The Renovation Journey

Hunting for a Riad

We viewed so many Riads, many of which should be in a museum or we simply didn’t have the budget for them. So the majority of the searching continued from Australia which was conducted online (and in french!) which was fraught with translation issues, poor quality images, and confusion about the market… challenging was an understatement! One of the biggest difficulties we faced was finding something titled. Unlike the property market in Australia and the UK, Morocco has a lot of family-owned Milkea Properties which really need to be titled to protect you from any issues down the road (more on that later). And YES, foreigners can buy property in Morocco with very few exceptions. Even foreign non-residents can buy property in Morocco and it is a very friendly investment environment. 


There is a huge range of properties and Riads in Morocco. Some are so beyond repair that they have sadly fallen into ruin and others have been sliced up over centuries making them tiny and cramped. Many have not been updated with the sewage and power required to run a guest house, and some are made from mud walls which is also a challenge. However, with great bones, quality builders, a clear vision, and supportive neighbours, anything is possible!

When Riad hunting, I would imagine all the wonderful family gatherings that have taken place there over the years. Moroccans take such pride in their homes and the attention to detail- from the plastering on the walls, to the decorative doors and the intricate designs used in the infamous Moroccan tiles- is like none other. It’s hard not to fall in love with the charming features of these loved family homes. Making the hunt really hard work.


To give some perspective on why buying property in Morocco is a slow and intricate process, you must appreciate the history of the area and how Riad’s have changed with time. The Medina of Marrakech was founded in the 10th century, Kasbah in the 12th century and Agdal gardens in the 12th – 14th century.

The most modern part of the Medina is near the extension of the walls, built in the 18th century.

Riads in the Medina have been passed down from generation to generation using scrolls in the local mosque just as the English did in the churches. This was around the same time the Domesday Book was created in the 10th century in England. 

Finally- found it! Little did we know, the perfect Riad was just under our noses the whole time and right next door to @bemarrakech, the guest house of Nicole and Mohamed. It was a Milkea Property and after everything I’d heard = this was to be avoided. So the first visit I was hesitant to say the least. However it was owned by a lovely man whose family currently lived in the property. Reluctantly we ventured in through its big black arched shaped double doors, down a very dark passageway and into the light of the courtyard. As they say, “what your heart desires, your spirit attains”. I was immediately enchanted by the huge orange tree that flourished in the centre of the courtyard. It was fundamentally a part of the home and instantly captured my heart. It was that moment, when the owner jumped up into her branches to pick a huge juicy Valencia Orange, that I knew it all felt right. Even Little Zahara was kicking, the Riad had great bones so we decided to give it a go! We paid the deposit, signed a contract, and that is when the dream started to become a reality.

The property was once very large and unfortunately over time had been sliced up into a smaller home. This is quite common as the aristocrats declined occupation in the riads and it became more expensive to maintain. So a solution is to sell off rooms and sections- subdivided as such and sold off in parts. In many cases, the neighbours opened up a wall and closed off a door. Hence why riads today have so many quirky entrances and layouts.

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