Cost of Living in Doha

With one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, expats might expect the cost of living in Doha to be quite high. On the contrary, it’s actually one of the more affordable Gulf region destinations. Prices have remained fairly steady, even amidst the world economic downturn and ensuing recovery.


Cost of accommodation in Doha

Accommodation in Doha is generally financed by an expat’s employer, and the type of housing arranged is based on the number of family members present.

Within expat compounds, rent often includes access to communal areas, such as a gym, pool, and even mini markets and nurseries.

The prices of stand-alone villas are set by the landlord and/or owner. These tend to rise in cost annually, despite laws intended to protect renters. It is best to keep this in mind when arranging a lease.

There are places in Qatar where expats can own property. Among the most popular are in the Pearl development project, a mix of commercial, retail and residential space (that includes apartments and villas) built on reclaimed land; and the Zig Zag Towers in Lagoona Plaza. However, buying property is expensive and complicated, and most expats prefer to rent.


Cost of food in Doha

Qatar relies heavily on imports for nearly everything, from produce to meat and other goods, and it follows that food prices in Doha are high. Buying local will always save a buck or two, and buying the brand names that expats recognise from home will always cost a pretty penny. It’s best to shop around for certain items, as they can vary by several riyals depending on the outlet.

There is a range of grocery stores, from the bargain favourite Carrefour to the more expensive Megamart, which tends to feature international brands and speciality items, such as organically farmed eggs. There are a host of neighbourhood shops and local establishments, such as Food World, Family Food Center, Al Meera, Lulu Hypermarket and Qmart. 


Cost of schooling in Doha

Some employee packages include schooling for children, and many have a maximum number of children they will fund. Furthermore, some policies offer school compensation from three years of age, and others only at age five. These details vary, so it’s best to check with the expat's recruiter or the hiring business's human resources department from the onset of contract negotiations.

Expats should keep in mind that tuition at international schools is expensive, and can increase depending on the child's age and if they are to be involved in after-school or extra-curricular activities.

The best schools and nurseries often have long waiting lists, so if trying to decide between two schools, or having a particular institution in mind, it’s best to get on the waiting list as soon as possible.


Cost of healthcare in Doha

Qatar’s Hamad hospital and clinic system offers free healthcare to nationals and to residents. It is important for expats to obtain a health card either from the employer’s Human Resources office or via the hospital system directly to use these services. Emergency services are free, while visits to the government clinics without a health card will incur a fee.

Expats should note that because everyone in the country does have access to these services, lines can be very long and the appointment system is not as punctual as in other countries.

There are a variety of private hospitals in Qatar that offer excellent outpatient and surgical care, and many expats have insurance policies included in their employment package that may cover the costs of these private service offerings. If such a policy is not included in the package, it can often be purchased from one of the private hospitals directly.

Expats can also pay in cash for services used, or obtain a similar policy via Qatar Insurance or similar companies in the city. That said, most complicated procedures and oncology are dealt with at Hamad, so if an expat does choose one of the other hospitals, a serious condition will mean a referral to specialists at Hamad, in which case a health card is essential.


Cost of transport in Doha

Qatar does not yet have a city-wide public transportation structure, though there are plans for monorails and a train connecting Doha to Bahrain, as well as the UAE. There are bus routes powered by Mowasalat, but these are spread throughout the city, and often the route paths and the route timings are inconvenient and unhelpful.

Taxis are often for private hire via a limousine service. The meter taxis, Karwa, are also available. In either case, it is best to book in advance, especially on the weekends and weekday mornings when many people use them for school drop-offs.

Quality used cars have a high resale value in Qatar because of the three-year cycle of many expats; places like compound clubhouses, employee mailing lists, and online forums such as Qatar Living, are often updated regularly. Car insurance varies based on the make and model of the car, as well as the number of accidents or traffic violations the owner has incurred. For new car owners, comprehensive insurance is required until the loan is paid off.


Cost of living in Doha chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Doha in October 2018. 

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Two-bedroom apartment in Al Sadd

QAR 13,500

Two-bedroom apartment in West Bay 

QAR 14,500

Two-bedroom apartment in the Pearl 

QAR 18,000

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

QAR 13

Milk (1 litre)

QAR 8

Rice (1 kg)

QAR 10

Loaf of white bread

QAR 6

Chicken breasts (1kg)

QAR 30

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

QAR 12

Eating out

Big Mac meal

QAR 25

Coca-Cola (330ml)

QAR 8

Cappuccino 

QAR 18

Bottle of beer

QAR 38

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

QAR 200

Utilities

Mobile to mobile call rate (per minute)

QAR 0.78

Internet (Uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

QAR 300

Basic utilities (per month for a standard household)

QAR 250

Hourly rate for domestic help

QAR 33

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

QAR 2.50

Bus/train fare in the city centre 

QAR 5

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

QAR 1.91

Mohana Rajakumar Our Expat Expert

Mohana Rajakumar is a writer and educator who has lived in Qatar since 2005. A scholar of literature, she has a PhD from the University of Florida with a focus on gender and postcolonial theory. Her work has been published in AudioFile Magazine, Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, and Qatar Explorer.

She is the creator and co-editor of five books in the Qatar Narratives series, as well as the Qatari Voices anthology, which features essays by Qataries on modern life in Doha (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, 2010).

Additionally, she's written a course for the Global Coach Center and lead the corresponding teleclass on "Living and Working in Qatar".

Catch up on her latest via her blog or follow her on Twitter @moha_doha.

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