The standard of living is reputedly very high in Qatar, and with extremely low unemployment rates it’s believed that virtually none of the population lives below the poverty line. Doha is considered to be one of the richest and most modern cities in the world but the cost of living there is relatively modest compared to similar cities around the world. This is not necessarily because prices are low, but because the lack of taxation and generous utility subsidies mean that people have more disposable income and better purchasing power. Accommodation costs can be significantly higher in Doha compared to other cities in Qatar.
Foreign nationals have only recently been allowed to purchase property in Qatar, and there are still restrictions on where expats are allowed to buy. As a result, most foreigners continue to rent property instead, with rents estimated to account for around a third of expat expenditure. The most desirable properties tend to be on secure compounds which have shared communal facilities and public spaces. It is fairly common for companies to arrange accommodation for their international employees, but if you are renting privately you will find that Qatari law offers good regulation of the landlord-tenant relationship. Rents are capped, but you often have pay estate agent fees on top.
Deposits in Qatar are typically one month’s rent and are usually returned at the end of the lease providing that there has been no damage to the property. Some expats are alarmed to find that landlords ask for a whole year’s rent up front in the form of post-dated cheques, but this is a very common system in Qatar as banks will usually refuse to cash cheques before their date.
There are no property rates or taxes to pay in Qatar.
Electricity and water supply are provided by the state-run Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation, better known as Kahramaa. Tariffs are subsidised so they appear very cheap compared to many countries, but remember that air-conditioning in summer months will soon increase your electricity bill. Telephone, internet and pay TV packages are provided by Ooredoo, which also offers mobile phone services in competition with Vodafone.
There is no fee for owning a TV in Qatar, and television programming is available in several languages. However, most expats pay extra to access more channels in their native language.
Healthcare and medical costs
Non-Qataris who hold residency status in the country are entitled to apply for a health card. The card costs QR100 (≈£16.35), but it allows you to access subsidised healthcare and prescriptions through state-run medical facilities, so it can be excellent value for money. The quality of care is generally very good but service can be slow, so some expats prefer to use private medical centres. This is a growing service area in Qatar and can be very expensive, but many employers offer private medical insurance as part of their benefits package.
Doha has a great selection of shopping malls and obtaining designer goods and branded products is not usually a problem. However, as almost everything is imported, the price of goods can be very expensive. This includes food and grocery shopping, with just a small choice of local produce available at lower prices. Alcohol is also very expensive.
There is no value-added tax charged in Qatar. The only tax levied on services is the 10% service tax and 5% government levy on restaurant and hotel bills, while goods imported for resale are subject to import tax.
- Rent on 1-bedroom apartment in city centre – QR7,168.42 (≈£1,171.28) per month
- Rent on 1-bedroom apartment outside city centre – QR5,124.81 (≈£837.36) per month
- Price of apartment in city centre – QR21,967.38 (≈£3,589.34) per square metre
- Price of apartment outside city centre – QR21,788.22 (≈£3,560.06) per square metre
- Loaf of bread – QR5.49 (≈£0.90)
- Milk (1 litre) – QR6.39 (≈£1.04)
- Bottled water (1.5 litre) – QR2.13 (≈£0.35)
- Draught beer (0.5 litre) – QR40.00 (≈£6.53)
- Packet of cigarettes – QR9.00 (≈£1.47)
- Petrol (1 litre) – QR1.00 (≈£0.16)
- Cinema ticket – QR35.00 (≈£5.71)
Source: www.numbeo.com (accessed May 2014)