Cost of Living in Bahrain

The cost of living in Bahrain is consistently on the increase due to inflation, as well as the presence of a growing Western expat population prepared to pay more for goods and services.

That said, compared to other regional commercial centres, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Bahrain is still a reasonable destination when it comes to balancing the budget and putting away a little something extra in the bank account.

The 2016 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Manama, the country's capital and largest city, 71st out of 209 cities. However, as in all locations, cost of living can vary tremendously depending on the lifestyle one chooses to lead, and salary can be high or low in proportion to an expat's nationality, experience and academic qualifications.

In the past, accommodation and car allowances were common add-ons to expat salaries in Bahrain, however, lately these are less common. Therefore it's vital to make sure one’s base payment plan adequately covers these expenses, and then some.

Cost of accommodation in Bahrain

Accommodation will be the largest expat expense, and costs have risen in recent years; many landlords actively ignore the cap placed on annual increases. Still, there are plenty of different housing options that satisfy nearly every budget.

Property in the expat compounds is by far the most expensive. In contrast, opting for an apartment in town will cost less, with utilities and taxes included.

Cost of transport in Bahrain

The next largest cost expats will need to budget for is a private vehicle. Again, prices vary tremendously based on a number of factors. A pre-owned older make and model will decrease in price accordingly.

Cost of schools in Bahrain

Expat families usually send their children to a private or international school as language and cultural barriers can make Bahraini public schools an impractical choice. This can be a large unforeseen expense, especially for expats coming from countries where school expenses are covered or subsidised by the government. Tuition fees change depending on the school age of children and the school selected.

Expats sending their children to an international school may need to budget annually for school fees. Additional expenses may include extra-curricular activities, school uniforms, textbooks and other basic school supplies.

Cost of food in Bahrain

Food costs in Bahrain are generally reasonable, especially if one foregoes the temptation of dining out and opts to eat at home more frequently. That being said, household labels from abroad will be highly priced; whereas fresh produce and local products are extremely affordable.

Cost of living in Bahrain chart

Prices may vary depending on location and service provider. The table below is based on average prices for Manama in December 2016.

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre 610 BHD
Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre 430 BHD 
One-bedroom apartment in city centre 350 BHD
One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre 240 BHD 
Milk (1 litre) 0.60 BHD
Dozen eggs 1 BHD
Chicken breasts (1kg) 2.50 BHD
Rice (1kg) 0.72 BHD
Loaf of white bread 0.40 BHD
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) 1.40 BHD
Eating out
Big Mac meal 2.45 BHD
Coca Cola (330ml) 0.20 BHD
Cappuccino  2 BHD
Bottle of beer 2.50 BHD
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant 15 BHD
Utilities/household (monthly)
Mobile call rate (per minute, mobile to mobile) 0.05 BHD
Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable average per month) 13 BHD
Hourly rate for a domestic cleaner  2 BHD
Utilities (average per month for standard household) 30 BHD
Taxi rate per km 0.25 BHD
One-way ticket 0.30 BHD
Petrol (per litre) 0.15 BHD