Moving to Bahrain
Expats moving to Bahrain will fast find themselves living the high-life, loving the low-slung sea shores, and enjoying the medium-blend of modernity and more traditional Muslim culture found on this 33-island archipelago.
Often referred to as "Middle East lite", Bahrain can be considered a starter course set out to introduce foreigners to the characteristics so commonplace in many Persian Gulf nations. The country is considerably more liberal than neighbours Saudi Arabia and Qatar, but is still rooted in an Arab belief system.
There is a sizeable expat community, over 500,000; but not enough of a population to overshadow the local Bahrainis - Arabian Business statistics estimate nearly a 50/50 split.
Most expats moving to Bahrain do so for improved financial/career opportunities. In fact, the 2010 HSBC Expat Explorer Survey reported that expat professionals living and working in Bahrain were the third richest overall; placing first in terms of the luxuries they acquired upon their relocation and second in terms of the total disposable income they had.
As the financial centre of the Middle East, highly-skilled foreigners will find plenty of positions available in the banking sector. Furthermore, as Bahrain had made intense efforts to diversify its economy past the petroleum industry, jobs in many multinational firms exist as well.
Moving to Bahrain also means bigger houses for many. Properties of all shapes and sizes designed to suit all budgets and tastes eagerly await new tenants. Expats can choose between towering high-rises, stand-alone villas or even homes enclaved in a secure compound.
While those with children won't be able to enrol their little ones in public schools, plenty of high-standard private and international options exist; though spots disappear quickly so be sure to make registration a priority upon relocation.
Expats' largest challenge seems to be adjusting to the intense Middle Eastern heat, Bahrain temperatures can reach 45°C and the humidity more than 95%.
Still, as the "Kingdom of Two Seas" there's plenty of shallows around, and air conditioning and pool facilities abound.
As far as Middle Eastern destinations are concerned, Bahrain is increasingly becoming an expat favourite, and a fantastic alternative location for those based in neighbouring countries looking to situate their families in a more liberal environment.