Expat Cost Of Living In Qatar

After speaking about some of the cheapest places to live as an expatexpat cost of living in Thailand, and in the UAE, this article will discuss some of the costs associated with living in Qatar.

The article will also look at some other aspects of living in Qatar, including getting work permits.

Please be aware that some of the information and facts contained here might have changed since we wrote this article.

For any questions, or if you are looking to invest as an expat, you can contact me using  this form, or via the WhatsApp function below.

Introduction

Qatar is a state on the Arabian Peninsula, which is often called one of the richest countries in the world, while noting the high purchasing power of its inhabitants.

There are large reserves of oil and natural gas here, the export of which brings Qatar most of its income. But the country’s budget is replenished not only by fuel money. 

Thanks to its favorable location, Qatar has become a transit point for tourists making long flights from one part of the world to another.

Local airlines sometimes offer travelers not only to wait for the next flight in the new comfortable terminal, but also to stay at a hotel in Doha for free and get acquainted with the country’s culture. In 2022, Qatar is hosting the FIFA World Cup. In addition to tourists, the state seeks to attract business and even set a flat tax rate for companies at 10%. 

Today, Qatar interests not only a huge number of tourists but a lot of people for a permanent residence.

Yes, Qatar is a very rich country, the capital Doha is a very luxury city, and if you want to live there, this article will help you. Here we have attached a lot of information about living costs in Qatar, starting from moving expenses, housing, transport, food and other costs. 

The standard of living in Qatar, his salaries in 2020 allow literally every resident of the country to live comfortably. Prices in Qatar are in line with local salaries.

Many projects are being implemented to build 12 stadiums, increase the number of hotels and their size, and modernize the transport system. Only in the road network they are going to make a contribution of $ 20 billion!

There is also a plan to build a new city that will house 200,000 people. However, the situation is different with migrants. An interesting fact is that the per capita income in Qatar is $ 88,000. 

But at the same time, the annual salaries of builders at the already mentioned stadiums do not exceed 2-3.5 thousand.

This is for 6 working days a week, 15 hours a day! The secret is that upon arrival in the country, workers renegotiate contracts, part with the promised monthly salary of $ 500, free housing and food.

Accordingly, the standard of living of immigrants is significantly different from that of the native.

Therefore, do not rush to immigrate and obtain Qatari citizenship, take care of a good job and a high salary. Now let’s start studying this country, its costs and other details every expat should know.

1.Moving to Qatar

The country’s advantages include comfortable weather for eight months a year (the other four months are very hot) and a decent level of payment. The fact that the employer pays for food, transport and housing can save large sums.

There are no complicated formalities and bureaucratic delays when moving. It will only be necessary to pass tests for HIV and hepatitis, do a fluorography, sign a contract and wait for air tickets. The residence permit is issued on the spot, and it does not take much time. You pass the same tests again and wait about three weeks.

The weather is perfect, the people there are very calm, you will not see aggressive Muslims here, besides, many labor migrants flock to Qatar, mainly from India, Nepal, Egypt, Lebanon, the Philippines, and the country has already turned into a multi-religious and multicultural place.

But traditions are still observed here. You quickly stop paying attention to the national clothes of the locals, but the Qatari driving style is always striking. Everyone spits on the rules and courtesy on the roads, even Europeans, who are considered cultured and accurate drivers.

2. Housing

It is almost impossible to own a home here: only Qataris have the right to buy, with the exception of the Pearl area, where expats are allowed to buy real estate, but it will cost insane money.

The cheapest option – a studio of 70 square meters will cost at least a million riyals, and that’s not counting commissions and other related expenses.

Normal apartments with two to three rooms cost from 2 to 3.5 million riyals (about $535000-$935000). The price usually includes parking and all the advantages of a condominium: swimming pool, gym, 24-hour concierge and cleaning services.

Almost all housing here is rented – prices for decent housing start at 5,000 riyals ($ 1,350) per month and go to infinity. A rented apartment has the same advantages: a swimming pool, a hall, a parking lot. In most cases, the company provides housing.

Locals usually live in villas and apartments. They also have an analogue of our summer cottages – trailers in the desert.

It can be called a trailer conditionally – in fact, these are small houses with a full luxury set inside and a servant in a quarter consisting of such houses. In the evenings or on weekends, wealthy people go to the desert to drive through the dunes in jeeps and barbecue and stop in these trailers.

3.Transport 

Doha is a comfortable city if you have a car, so in most cases everyone drives either their own transport or the one provided by the employer. But if you don’t have a car and do not plan to buy one, no worries, there is a good-working and cheap public transport available. 

The metro is due to open soon, but for now you can use the buses. The bus network covers the entire city, there is a convenient app for route planning.

The journey costs from 2.5 to 10 riyals ($ 0.7 – $ 2.7), you can buy a transport card for 30 riyals ($ 8), and then you can pay about three riyals ($ 0.8) for almost any route.

The buses are air-conditioned, the windows are tinted, so that the transport is perfectly adapted to the local climate, but the bus stops are not: often it is just a post with a stop sign, there is not even a roof.

It is still easier to take a taxi. You can get from the airport to the center for 50 riyals ($ 14). Uber works here, but there is also a local Kareem with about the same prices.

The roads are beautiful, the asphalt is in excellent condition and does not melt during the heat. There are a lot of cars, traffic jams are constant, and at rush hours it is generally impossible to get anywhere.

At the same time, city planners push highways and junctions everywhere, but this does not help traffic. There are practically no pedestrian crossings, like normal sidewalks.

4.Food

Almost all products are imported. Moroccan tomatoes cost about eight riyals ($ 2.13) per kilogram, local cucumbers – four riyals ($ 1.07), potatoes – 4.5 riyals ($ 1.20), bananas from Ecuador – 5.5 riyals ($ 1.47), apples from Italy – from eight riyals ($ 2.13). A couple of pieces of rib-eye steak, which you just have to fry, will cost about 40 riyals ($ 10.67), a whole chicken – about 20 riyals ($ 5.33), a loaf of bread – about three to four riyals ($ 0.80 – $ 1.07). You usually spend from 250 riyals ($ 66) per week, but this is on condition that your employer feeds you.

Alcohol can only be bought by those who have a salary above 4 thousand riyals ($ 1070), have permission from the employer and a foreign passport. Moreover, alcohol is sold in one state store, there is also pork restriction in Qatar. Since the locals also want to relax, there is hookah tobacco for them in the supermarket from 15 riyals ($ 4) per pack.

5.Internet & Communication

There are two mobile operators in the country – Vodafone and Ooredoo. The first is more focused on Europeans, the second – on local and other migrants. Coverage areas and prices are about the same. An Internet package for one gigabyte costs 30 riyals ($ 8), 2.5 gigabytes – 60 riyals ($ 16), four gigabytes – 80 riyals ($ 21).

But all these packages are valid only for a certain period: for example, a gigabyte needs to be spent in 14 days. Unlimited for 200 rials ($ 54) is just called that, but in reality there are still restrictions – 35 gigabytes. However, free Wi-Fi is available in many public areas.

Video calls do not work in Qatar, and about half of the sites are blocked, mainly due to pornography. You can’t just go to many sites, as they contain unsafe materials. Therefore, you constantly have to use a VPN. The only exception, where nothing is blocked, is Wi-Fi networks in international hotels, otherwise Western partners will not understand.

6. Working in Qatar

Features of obtaining a work permit in Qatar:

  • A work permit can only be submitted by an individual or legal entity registered with the employment authorities. These applicants are usually sponsors of prospective employees. Sponsorship and immigration are linked in Qatar. 
  • After receiving the immigration card, you must register with the Department of Labor and apply for a visa. The gender, nationality and position of the employed workers must be indicated. 
  • Once approved by the Department of Labor, copies of passports with the appropriate education certificates must be submitted to the Department of Immigration in order for each worker to be registered with his or her work permit. 
  • If all goes well, the employee can obtain a residence permit.

Temporary work visa

This visa is obtained for further employment after entry. Make sure that your citizenship, sponsor details and planned activities are approved by the Department before dealing with relocation and visa issues. Otherwise, further visa processing will be impossible. 

Although visa processing is a long and complicated process, it is worth it, because even such a short-term (as the name suggests) permission to live in Qatar is valid for 1 year. An annual visa extension is possible.

Be sure to also complete a variety of medical examinations, including blood tests and fingerprints. All necessary procedures must be completed in the first 3 months after arrival.

Permanent long-term visa

If you are going to work in Qatar for a long time and receive a residence permit, and subsequently citizenship, you need this option.

The sponsor also draws up the documents, and he can start doing this only after the future employee accepts the offer of cooperation and arrives in Qatar for work. Accordingly, the conclusion suggests itself that obtaining a long-term visa is possible only after obtaining a short-term one. 

This type of visa is valid for up to three years if there is a contract with a company for a long time. If for any reason you want to leave the country, you will first need to obtain an exit visa (when moving with your family, its members do not need such documents).

Job change process

Work requirements were simplified in 2019. You must be safely employed by your chosen employer for at least two years. 

  • After the expiration of the term, if you want to change the place of service, you will first need to take a special document (NOC) on the absence of claims from him to you as an employee. He may be asked for a quick transfer and transfer from one employer to another. 
  • If it is not possible to obtain such a document, the person leaves and receives the Visa Channel status and can return again with a new work visa. This happens if the person has not fulfilled the contract. 
  • If the contract has been completed, no additional documents are required.

Positive aspects of life in Qatar

So, let’s now understand whether it is worth leaving for a permanent residence in Qatar, and we will do this with the help of the pros and cons that you will see below. Now then, the obvious advantages of living in Qatar include the following:

  • Safety – Qatar is one of the quietest countries in the region; terrorists are only talked about in foreign news. Crime is at a very low level, you can calmly walk at night not only in the center of the capital, but also on the outskirts of the city. And this despite the relatively small (compared to the total number of residents) the number of representatives of the security agencies.
  • Sights – the state is rich in unique architectural structures. The capital of Qatar, Doha, is itself a masterpiece of building art. It surprisingly combines unsightly two-storey buildings and skyscrapers mesmerizing the spirit. You can get an unforgettable experience from visiting a local amusement park, a zoo, unique for the climate and desert area, aesthetic pleasure will be given to a tour of the National Museum of Qatar. True, it is necessary to clarify that none of the above can be photographed, since this action is prohibited by law (in relation to attractions, as well as police and military facilities).
  • Shopping – although Qatar is an expensive country, it can be quite attractive in terms of buying cheap things. There are shopping malls all over the country where you can stock up on inexpensive textiles and jewelry. If the shopping trip falls on a sale or discount day, then there is a high probability that the buyer simply cannot take away all the purchases. But it is not recommended to buy electronics or high-tech goods, primarily because of the price.
  • Leisure – the service sector is widely and professionally developed in the country. The tourism industry is not as developed as, for example, in the United Arab Emirates, but a person with a sufficient amount of money will not be bored. Extreme safari, diving, vacations on the shores of the Persian Gulf – all this will not hit the pocket of a tourist, a local resident, or even an immigrant who has decided to forget hard work days for a day.

Unfortunately, there are also enough disadvantages in this country. The main disadvantages of the country are:

  • High level of salary for native Qatari people – true, one clarification needs to be made here – the level of wages is high either for local residents or for narrow, in-demand specialists. For an immigrant without special skills working in the service sector, the salary will be 400-600 US dollars, while a Qatari citizen in the same position will receive at least three times more.
  • Territory – by the appearance of the terrain, the entire territory of Qatar is a desert. The weather is also not very diverse – dry and hot gives way to very hot and very dry. So a person who does not tolerate the heat will not stay in this country for health reasons
  • Life in the country is very expensive. If the employer does not provide housing and food to the immigrant, then coming to Qatar on a work visa will practically lose its meaning.
  • Qatar, in contrast to the same UAE, is a rather radical Islamic state. Associated with this are a bunch of limitations for residents and immigrants. For example, if a visiting worker is caught in a “not very sober condition”, deportation to his historical homeland will follow within a very short time. Stricter restrictions apply to the month of Ramadan, when the use of any food or smoking in public places is prohibited
  • Strict conditions of the working contract – if a person want to go to work and live in Qatar, than he must be ready work very hard. The fact is that local employers are “sponsors” of visitors, paying for the flight to the country and processing all the necessary documents. For an Indian or a Filipino, it is common practice to renegotiate employment contracts with unenviable conditions (for example, with a salary of two hundred dollars instead of six hundred). You also need to be prepared for such a turn of events. Until recently, it was not legally allowed to leave the country without the written consent of the employer. Also, the contractor is not allowed to look for another job during the entire duration of the primary contract (in most cases, it is two years).
  • Problems with obtaining citizenship – it is extremely difficult to obtain Qatari citizenship for an immigrant. If the issue of obtaining a long-term work visa or even a residence permit can be resolved, then serious difficulties will arise with full citizenship. Firstly, the applicant will be required to live in Qatar for at least 20 years (if the applicant is Arab, then 15 years). Secondly, the applicant must have legal sources of income and no complaints from law enforcement agencies. And thirdly, the immigrant must pass the Arabic language proficiency test.
  • In 2017, Qatar faced serious diplomatic problems with neighboring states – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and a number of other Muslim countries have severed diplomatic relations because of the alleged statement by the Emir of Qatar regarding Iran. At the moment, the above countries are carrying out a trade blockade of Qatar, which greatly affects the standard of living. The fact is that the emirate imports almost all foodstuffs through the territory of Saudi Arabia, and within a few days after the imposition of the blockade, the shelves of Qatari stores were empty. Therefore, purely for reasons of providing food for oneself, it is better not to visit Qatar until this critical situation is resolved.

At the moment, Qatar is not the most attractive country for labor emigration. Not to mention current events, the living conditions of the “unsettled” visiting worker will leave much to be desired until the expiration of the first contract. Therefore, it is better to refrain from traveling to this country.

Conclusion

Qatar isn’t the easiest country to emigrate to and cost aren’t low. However, due to the tax benefits and high packages on offer in some industries, it can still be a good place to live financially speaking.

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 232.6million answers views on Quora.com and a widely sold book on Amazon

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