Pros and Cons of Moving to Oman
Expats should consider both the pros and cons of living in Oman before deciding if this is the place for them.
Accommodation in Oman
PRO: Accommodation is arranged
CON: Accommodation is limited
Lifestyle in Oman
Oman has a noticeable expat population consisting of mainly British, American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African citizens. The type of lifestyle an expat can expect depends on where they live: Muscat is the most developed city, with shopping malls, restaurants, bars, sports clubs and entertainment venues. Because of the large expat population and numerous expat social clubs, it's easy to live a Western lifestyle. Smaller, more rural towns are not nearly as Westernised, but many still have large expat populations and social groups as well.
PRO: Large expat population
It’s easy to make friends in Muscat as there's a large expat population and a number of social clubs and organisations which expats can join to meet people. Oman caters for many different tastes and styles. For the younger generation there are clubs, bars and malls to keep them entertained and for those who favour the outdoors there is plenty of opportunity for camping in the desert, swimming on the beautiful beaches, hiking in the mountains and swimming in the unspoilt wadis.
CON: It's hot, and can be hard to get around
The heat in Oman in the summer can be oppressive, particularly on the coast, where humidity reaches high levels. Muscat is not a particularly pedestrian-friendly city, and the only feasible way to travel is by car or public transport. Although rural towns have beautiful deserts and beaches on their doorstep, one's nightlife and entertainment options are somewhat limited there.
Safety in Oman
PRO: Little crime
Oman is a very safe country with a low crime rate, so it's a particularly good environment to raise young children.
CON: Traffic accidents
Working and doing business in Oman
PRO: Networking is easy
CON: Business culture and laws
Culture shock in Oman
Although Oman has a large number of expats, it can still be quite a culture shock for first-time visitors to the Middle East, particularly if moving to a small, rural town. It can take some time to adjust to Omani culture and a bit of patience is required.
PRO: Lots of Western expatsIt's quite easy to make friends with other expats in Oman, as there are many expat social clubs to join. Expats are in abundance even in the rural areas, and one can easily get involved in group trips or outdoor pursuits. Muscat is not far from some of the smaller towns and cities and there are many Western shopping malls, bars and activities to engage in should one feel homesick.
CON: A conservative stateAlthough Oman is one of the more liberal countries in the Gulf, it's still a Muslim country and one should respect and follow its customs and cultural practices.
Displaying affection in public is not illegal, but it is frowned upon. It's also not permitted to shake the hand of an Omani woman.
Westerners should attempt to dress appropriately. Men can wear shorts but they should extend to the knees. Similarly, women should make sure their knees and shoulders are covered.
Alcohol can only be obtained through the acquisition of an alcohol license which can be quite an arduous process.
Oman is a classist society, which can be difficult to get used to. Like other neighbouring Gulf countries, it has a large migrant workforce of Asians and Filipinos who generally do menial jobs like construction, housecleaning and working in factories and restaurants. It is not hard to find cheap manual labour in Oman such as someone to clean a house, carry bags in the supermarket or wash clothes.
Cost of living in Oman
PRO: Driving is cheapCompared to the West, fuel and cars are quite cheap in Oman. In the long run, purchasing a vehicle can be much more economical than using public transportation. Because taxis and buses are the only feasible form of transportation, purchasing a car is a good idea if expats want to visit rural areas or go camping.
CON: A Western lifestyle is expensiveThe cost of living in Oman varies, depending on whether one is in the bigger cities or the smaller rural towns. As a rule, the cost of living is higher in Muscat than neighbouring regions, but salaries are adjusted to account for this. Eating Asian and Omani food can be extremely cheap, whereas eating Western food can often be extremely expensive, as is drinking alcohol. Western clothing brands, electronic goods and furniture can often be expensive as well.
Education and schools in Oman
While Oman has a number of international schools catering for expat children, government schools are for Omani children only. This means that expats will have to pay to put their child in a private school. While expat parents hunt for a school with good facilities and extra-curricular activities, it's wise to look out for a curriculum that coincides with future plans should relocation be the plan.