I am used to hearing phrases like this:
To say "I lived here [before]", however, it seems you can't use 了 at all:
Why is this not "以前我住了在这儿"? Is there a formal reason why 了 is inappropriate to use here?
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This will not answer your question but shed some light to the mystery of the 了 particle.
了 does not mean past tense. It denotes **CHANGE**.
This sentence points out no change. It only says that once you were living there.
Your friend calls from the kitchen: 吃饭了！ This one points out a change, namely that we are ready to eat the meal. It is not past tense, it's in the present, but a change has occured, so wo use 了.
You can use this sentence to say 'Fine with me!'. There is absolutely no past tense here, it just says that I have made up my mind, so now we have a change from the previous undecided situation to one with a resolution.
Stop quarreling! Here you see, an imperative really has nothing to do with past tense, yet there is a 了 in the sentence because the speaker orders the ones he/she speaks to, to make a change from quarreling to silence.
了 is a particle for completed action, similar to the perfect tense in English. Your sentence is in the simple past tense with no special emphasis on completion, or finishing of an action, so 了 is not necessary here.
Compare these two sentences:
以前我住在这儿。 I lived here before.
我在这儿住了五年了。 I have lived here for 5 years (already).