Are you thinking about accepting a job offer and relocating to Qatar? Or, maybe you're planning an extended holiday to visit family and soak up the sun and the crystal-clear Gulf water? Whatever your reasons for spending time in Qatar, it's always helpful to have a picture of what life here will cost.
There's no doubt that the cost of living in Qatar can be very high, but if you're wondering whether the salary and benefits you're offered will cover your cost of living, the real answer to that question is -- it very much depends. It depends on exactly how and where you wish to spend your time and money, your life expectations, the district you wish to live in, the cost of the property you wish to rent, and a host of other factors.
Though some reports suggest that the cost of living in Qatar is, in general, one of the highest in the GCC,the truth is that there are so many options to choose from it could be easier to achieve a balanced level of costs than you think. For example, you may notice that some things are cheaper here than they are in the country you migrated from...while others may seem quite expensive. What's true is that Qatar is still a good place to save some money if you're a bit conscious about your pocket-book.
Here's a guide to the cost of living in Qatar to help provide you with an overview of some of the more expensive costs you can expect, as well as some of the more budget items. Included in our calculations are items such as rental costs, groceries, transportation, social activities, school fees, and other utilities.
Rental costs in Qatar will almost certainly account for the major portion of your monthly budget, and you may also have to factor in the purchase of large items such as beds and sofas, as the majority of properties available for rent in Qatar are unfurnished -- unless you're considering a grand apartment or large villa.
Depending on the location, quality, and amenities of the flat you choose, the monthly rental for studio and one-bedroom apartments starts from approximately QR 2,800 to QR 7,000. Based on classified ads posted on the different property-find websites, a bed space rent ranges from QR 500 to QR 1,500, and averages out at around QR 900.
At the upper end of the scale, a one-bedroom apartment at the luxurious Pearl-Qatar development starts at QR 10,000, and a two bedroom apartment would set you back around QR 12,000 to QR 14,000. Two-bedroom apartments in Umm Ghuwailina start at QR 6,500 per month, whereas a two bedroom fully-furnished apartment at Al Wakra would cost a more reasonable QR 5,000.
Everyone needs to get around in busy cities like Doha, but the good news is that petrol is very reasonable and second-hand cars are easily available at relatively low prices. However, you don't always have to buy or lease a vehicle -- by far the most widely-used mode of transport in Qatar is via buses, Karwa taxis, or private taxis, which are plentiful and relatively cheap.
The approximate cost for a taxi trip inside the city of Doha is QR 1.6 per km, exclusive of a minimum fare of QR 10 and flag fall fee of QR 4.
If you have your own vehicle and use it within the city of Doha, petrol will cost around QR 1,000 to QR 1,500.
Premium grade petrol costs approximately QR 1.85 per litre, with super grade costing QR 1.95 per litre. Diesel is around QR 1.90 a litre.
If you have a family, another major portion of your income will be spent on educating your children. There's a public school system in Qatar, and it's free -- but only to locals. The truth is, that educational costs will vary a great deal and the school your child attends will be relative to your own individual circumstances. The quality of private schooling in Qatar is generally excellent, but can be expensive, so if you're on any kind of budget it pays to shop around.
Fees vary and are also relative to your child’s level of educational attainment or school grades. For example, kindergarten fees come in at around QR 24,000 per year, while fees at the wide range of high schools can be anything up to QR 70,000 annually. That's not including separate costs such as application fees, uniforms, and transport fees. There are also different schools for different nationalities, including Pakistani, Indian, and Filipino schools to name a few, and these can very often prove to be less expensive.
Before you commit to any one school, it's also useful to note that many employers will provide you with an allowance to offset school fees -- but it's always wise to make sure of this.
Although Qatar is trying very hard to create local and sustainable food production, the nation imports most of its food products. In and around Doha, expats will discover the presence of many major supermarket chains such as Monoprix, Spinney's, and Carrefour, and shopping at them will prove as familiar as shopping at home. However, you'll discover that your regular brands of, for example, cereal, beverages, canned goods, and condiments will often be more expensive than at home. But, with judicious experimentation with supermarket's ‘own brands’, you'll soon find a balance!
The topic of which supermarket offers the best deals is a massive one on online forums in Doha, so get online and check out the best places to find your favourites or their substitutes! Organic meat and dairy products can also be found, but may prove expensive. A great alternative is to sample and select locally-produced vegetables and fruit, as well as meats and fish which are very nutritious and much more reasonably-priced. Expats will probably spend between 10 to 20 percent of their salaries on food per month.
There are many excellent options when it comes to eating out in Qatar, with a huge range of different price-points. The usual chains are all present, and there are many upmarket offerings in the hotels, but smaller, independent restaurants can be found all over Doha, many offering great value and nutritional food at sensible prices. For those who like to experiment and like to go more ‘native’, some excellent culinary choices, such as Lebanese and Indian restaurant experiences can be found.
The cost of clothing and footwear is regarded as being expensive in Qatar compared to other countries, but this often focuses upon the demand for designer brands in the high-end boutiques. However, once again, if you're adventurous and shop around, you'll most certainly discover much cheaper items of clothing, like women’s and children’s fashion and school-wear. You'll most likely find these among the Indian textile and clothing shops and manufacturing sector.
If you're medically insured, you'll pay QR 25 per visit to a medical specialist. For a private hospital visit, you can expect to pay QR 100 to QR 250, and for a private specialist consultant you will be looking at a bill of QR 250 –to QR 600. If you want to go to a Primary Health Care Center, the cost is much cheaper. You can get a Hamad Health card for around QR 100, and visiting a health centre is free if you have the suitable health card and pay a minimum charge for any relevant medicines.
Your mobile phone and Internet bills will range between about QR 200 to QR 500 depending upon your usage.The water tariff in Qatar is QR 4.40 per cubic metre for up to 20 cubic metres of water, while the electricity tariff is QR 0.08/kwh for consumption up to 2,000 kwh.
Did this article help you learn more about the cost of living in Qatar? And, if you're a Qatar resident, how much are your living costs? Are you able to save any money? Please share your findings with us so that we can compare and report! And don't forget to like and share this article!
(Data credits to www.numbeo.com for the prices of different products. These data are based on 2,336 entries in the past 18 months from 310 different contributors which was last updated in February 2018.)
(Cover image credit: Omar chatriwala/Flickr, Other image credits: iStock by Getty Images)
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