Living in Doha Qatar
Cost of Living in Doha Qatar (2015)
The cost of living in Qatar, or in any place for that matter, largely depends on your lifestyle and where you come from. Qatar is not very expensive place to live in, and the government does not charge a lot on several things including electricity, water, and home phone lines. Qatar hardly imposes taxes. The only tax being levied is the import tax, but that is also quite reasonable. The citizens here get free electricity, water, and phone lines! The major expenses that you may have to really deal with here are - accommodation, which largely depends on your location of stay, apart from educational expenses if living with family.
However, people entering the country with the motive of just work and live, may notice that while some things may be cheaper here, others may be quite expensive. The overall cost of living is high compared to other GCC regions like Kuwait, Oman, KSA and Bahrain. So, it is important to remember when we talk of that impressive salary that, you have to live on it as well as save it.
Apart from very cheap petrol, many daily goods are getting more expensive in Qatar than in other countries. About 90 ninety percent of food in Qatar is imported, and hence even basic foodstuffs may be pricey. Also, the cost of entertainment is no less.
The overall cost of living in Qatar can be classified based on prices for specific quantities for the same goods and services across major Basket Groups. The cost of living for the year 2015 in Qatar has been forecasted to be largely steady.
Last year, increase in cost of rentals, domestic fuel and energy, led to rise of inflation, but, the rental costs steadied by November. Qatar National Bank has predicted that hike in rentals may continue for another two years, but, the pace of growth may remain slow.
Rentals usually constitute about one-third of average monthly expenses of an expat family, and accounts to one-third of CPI (Consumer Price Index), a cost of living measurement which compares real-time prices of common consumer goods, in comparison to same month previous year. The CPI is usually calculated by comparing the cost of an average basket of goods purchased by residents in a typical month.
The year 2015 may be a steadier year, ending with a CPI of 3.5 percent, the Bank has forecasted.
Other categories of consumer goods that show month-over-month price increase in the CPI this year are clothing, footwear, household equipment, furnishing, food and beverages. However, there has been a decline in cost of transportation, restaurants and hotels, and miscellaneous goods and services.
The cost of education and healthcare, which are tightly monitored by the government have remained stable in Feb’15, just as is the cost of tobacco, communication services, recreation and culture.
Accommodation / Rental Expenses
Almost all expatriates working in Qatar rent their properties, and majority of them are on employment contracts that offer free or subsidized housing, utilities and furniture. Majority of properties in Qatar that are available for rent in Qatar are unfurnished, irrespective of whether it is a grand villa or a modest studio apartment. The unfurnished apartments will offer only the bare essentials such as a kitchen unit, curtain rails, lighting fixtures (could also mean semi-furnished). There are also furnished properties but, they are harder to find and are more expensive.
Almost all expatriate accommodation in Doha come with a range of amenities including swimming pools, gymnasiums, tennis courts and playgrounds. Majority of villas and houses have gardens. It is also possible to find separate apartments and townhouses to rent.
Finding a rented accommodation in Qatar is a straight-forward, well-established practice. Several leading international firms often have their own housing arrangements in the form of long-term leases on properties for their staff. But, if you have to find self-accommodation, there is considerable choice and depends on the type of property you want.
You can decide on a budget, and choose a location depending on the importance of accessibility to your work place, the type and size of living space you want, irrespective of whether it is villa or apartment, number of bedrooms, etc. Doha, being a small city, almost all areas are easily accessible to the City Centre, schools and airport.
But, with the shortage in rental accommodation at present and due to huge rental prices, owing to booming economy, growing population of expatriate employees seeking accommodation in Qatar, and due to clearance of old buildings over the last two years, the rentals have almost tripled.
However, in recent years, due to landlords and agencies having increased rentals, some expatriates have found it impossible to cover the cost of their family accommodation out of their fixed housing allowance and have either left the country, or have sent their families back home, and are living in shared accommodation.
The cost of living in Qatar remained largely the same from January to February, though increases in housing and other categories suggest that 2015 may be another expensive year for residents who rent their accommodations. This is largely due to increased monthly expenditure on housing, water and electricity, which constitute largest share of household expenses.
The typical monthly rentals for apartments at present (approximate values) are as follows: But, the rates vary largely depending on the location of the property.
The approximate cost for a single bedroom or studio for rent could be QR8,742 on average falling in the range QR6000 to QR12,000 depending on the area. A single bedroom apartment outside city centre may cost about QR5,944 , falling in the range QR4000 to QR7500.
The rental for triple bedroom apartments located in City Centre will be about QR16,240, falling in the range QR12,000 to QR18,000 and that outside City Centre will be about QR10,673.91 falling in the range QR7500 to QR14,000.
In the case of apartments, the price for purchasing an apartment in City Centre may be about QR18,916.67, falling in the range QR13,000 to QR25,000, while the price per square metre to buy apartment outside of centre may be about QR18,125 and may fall in the range QR14,250 to QR22,000.
Now, with these kind of rentals, unless your employer gives you a generous housing allowance, even the most appealing tax-free salary may not be of any help when you relocate to Qatar.
Cost of transportation for public transport, vehicle fuel, vehicle insurance, vehicle maintenance including in the form of hire purchase or lease of vehicle, petrol or diesel, public transport service maintenance, vehicle insurance and vehicle purchase is comparatively less when compared to most other cities. <
Petrol is very reasonable and second-hand cars are also reasonably priced. The general mode of transport in Qatar is through Bus, Karwa taxi or private taxi. The approximate cost for a taxi trip on a business day (basic tariff for 8km) may be about QR27.
The cost of 1 litre (1.4 gallon) of gas, oil or petrol is QR1.00 (super petrol) and about QR0.8 for 1 litre of normal petrol.
Educational expenses are increasing by the year in Qatar. The cost of private education could be high, but in certain cases, the fees are borne by the employer as part of the employment contract. It is important to be aware about the cost of private schooling when moving into Qatar with a school-going child, especially if it includes university education. Although it may seem manageable initially, it may end up being a financial strain owing to regular increase in fees, as often is the case. The cost of schooling varies depends on the type of school and curriculam followed.
Reports state that the cost of education in Qatar has jumped 11.4 percent since the year 2013. The latest CPI from Qatar’s Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics (MDPS) compared the average cost of education from the year 2013 to January 2015, and revealed that education costs in Qatar are rising faster than overall rate of inflation.
The April 2014 report by Supreme Education Council (SEC) shows that on an average, the cost of education for a child in Qatar jumped to QR13,026 during the year 2012-13 with an increase from QR10,208 the previous year.
At present, to educate your child in a good school, you may have to pay about QR70,000 (American school) annually, and about QR55,000 to QR65,000 (in English school). There are Indian, Pakistan and Philipino schools too, which may be cheaper.
Cost of clothing and footwear including business suits, casual clothing or children’s clothing, and accessories such as hats, coats, evening wear, and innerwear is said to be little too expensive in Qatar, when compared to other cities. However, this is the case only when you look out for designer labels. There is hardly any need for winter clothing here. Given, the region’s hot climate, lots of clothing is unnecessary. Office wear for men is generally a shirt and tie, except for formal occasions.
At present, when shopping, a pair of jeans(Levis 501 or similar brands) may cost about QR380, a summer dress in a chain store like Zara or H&M may cost about QR250, a pair of branded shoe (Nike, Adidas or similar) may cost about QR385 and a pair of leather business shoe may cost you about QR405.
The daily cost of living is largely dependent on food prices. The cost for food, non-alcoholic beverages and cleaning material items, including baked goods, canned foods, baby consumables, dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, fruit juices, oil and vinegars, meat, pet food, ready-to-eat meals, sauces, snacks, seafood, soft drinks, spices and herbs are rather expensive in comparison to other cities. About 90 percent of food in Qatar is imported, and hence, even basic foodstuffs may be pricey. If you purchase internationally-renowned branded foods and household goods, you might end up paying higher prices than in your home country, although there are plenty of cheaper local and regionally produced alternatives available offering good quality products.
In the year 2015, the consumer price index showed a modest increase of 0.1 percent in February, according to Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics.
The cost of healthcare, medical and medical insurance such as general practitioner, consultation rates, hospital private ward daily rate, private medical insurance, non-prescription medicine, medical aid contributions, are all comparatively more expensive in comparison to other cities. Qatar has a well-resourced state healthcare system, namely, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), which offers free emergency treatment to all those who register. In Qatar you get good public health insurance for comparatively cheaper price of QR200 annually.
But, now, HMC is facing pressure due to long waits for treatment, and hence majority of expats opt for private healthcare which can be expensive. Therefore, check if your offer letter includes health insurance for you and your dependents and the exclusions that it may have.
Qatari government has announced plans to introduce universal health insurance system in future, which implies that every company may have to provide health insurance for its employees.
Cost of various modes of communication including home telephone rental and call charges, internet connection and service provider fee, mobile phone contract and calls, all are equally expensive on an average, in comparison to other cities. Mobile and internet bills may cost you about QR200 to QR500 depending on your usage.
Utilities including water, electricity and gas are subsidized to a certain extent by the government in the region, which owns these services (except for bottled gas supplies), aiming to offer cheaper water and electricity, to benefit the local population. Therefore, utilities are cheaper than most European countries. But, in peak summer air-conditioning costs will surge, instead of the cost of heating in other colder countries.
The cost of alcoholic beverages such as wines and spirits, where these are permitted, are a little lower than in the UK, or other countries, although they are still higher than average European prices.
Electronic goods including television, DVD players, computer hardware and software, photographic equipment are all generally less expensive than in Europe, owing to lower import duties.
Cost of personal care products and services such as cosmetics and hair care or moisturizer and sun-block, pain relief tablets, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, conditioner, are all equally expensive on an average in comparison to other nations, depending on the brand opted for.
Cost of books, cinema tickets, DVD and CDs, are comparatively more expensive than in other cities.
Restaurants and eating out costs such as business dinner, or family dinner at a restaurant is comparatively expensive here. Basic dinner out for two in a neighbourhood pub may cost about QR146, while tickets to the movies for 2 may cost about QR70 (in case going in for best available seats, may cost QR332 for 2 tickets). If opting for dinner in an Italian restaurant with wine and dessert, you may have to shell out QR485 or more.
Here is the approximate break-up on monthly cost of living in Qatar as per the current rates:
- Single bedroom unfurnished flat – QR4000 to QR5000
- Single bedroom furnished flat – QR6000 to QR8000 (Rentals largely depend on the area. For example, apartment rent for a single bedroom in an area like West Bay or Pearl may be about QR11,000 per month, which is four times of what would be paid in other western countries.). The range of accommodation can be from minimum of QR4000 to QR20,000 entirely depending on your choice.
- Transportation (taxi) for minimum commutation – QR20 to QR40. For own car, fuel and maintenance – QR2500
- Food (depends on the individual) – QR1000 to QR2000 a month if cooking at home (QR30 to QR50 per single meal in normal restaurant). Food expenses depends on family size, and if living with two kids may even be QR3000 a month.
- Health Insurance – QR200 to QR500
- Education (depends on the school & curriculum) – QR5000 to QR7000
- Entertainment (movies may cost about QR35 and for 3D IMAX QR55). Shopping, mobile bill, cinema all put together QR1000 to QR2000.
On the whole, if planning to live in Doha as an expat with family, you will have to negotiate a good enough salary (QR15,000 to QR20,000 or more) to lead a comfortable life in a good area in Doha.
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