After obtaining a Residence Permit (RP), finding a place to live is usually the second most important priority when moving to Qatar. Some people may be lucky enough to avoid this hassle and have accommodation provided by their employer but for the rest of us, it’s a tricky and frustrating game.
Doha is mostly urban and accommodation options for people moving here fall into 2 main categories; in a compound or in an apartment building. Compounds are gated micro-communities comprised of villas (and sometimes apartments) and usually a gym and pool. Some of the bigger compounds will also have tennis courts, a cafe, small supermarket, and maybe even a dry cleaners and hair dresser. They can also range in size from a small crescent with 10 villas to a compound almost big enough to warrant driving from one end to the other. There are also different ‘feels’ to compounds; some may have a very social atmosphere while in others, people may keep to themselves.
Apartment buildings are just that, and mostly situated in the Al Sadd or West Bay areas of town, the city bits. Some apartment buildings will have facilities like a pools and gym, but many of the older ones often will not.
If you ask me how to go about finding a place to live, I really cannot tell you how to do it. There is no central real estate website in Qatar advertising places to rent and most of the websites that are out there are not up to date so of little use anyway. There are a few forums and websites that most people look to for Qatar advice and where owners can independently list their properties; this is how I found my apartment. Many things happen by word of mouth here and finding a place to live is no exception, especially when it comes to the more popular compounds with waiting lists.
I was lucky or rather I made an executive decision to only search at a new development called the Pearl. The Pearl is a group of apartment buildings and villas structured on a series of artificial islands in the north end of Doha. The Pearl is a bit secluded but I was drawn to it because of its proximity to my work, and because of the shops and restaurants/cafes that encompass the buildings at ground level; in a city where you need to drive everywhere, this is one place where I can step out of my apartment and actually walk around.
I’ve been in my place for a little over a year and I really can’t complain. Well, yes I can, the rent is high, but rent, in general, is very high in Doha. However, I’ve got a gym and an outdoor pool so I don’t need to pay extra for any club memberships. I feel safe living here on my own, I’ve got undercover parking, a nice balcony, a frozen yogurt place a stone’s throw away and a noodle house downstairs that delivers.