Cost of Living in Qatar

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Qatari Riyals, at the heart of an expat's living costs
Official sources and on-the-ground experiences tell different stories about the cost of living in Qatar. It’s often taken for granted that living costs in the emirate are lower than the UAE, with the 2015 Mercer Cost of Living Index placing Doha at 99th out of 199 cities surveyed.
Qatar’s wealth is on par with other Gulf region power players and the International Monetary Fund expects it to have the highest GDP per capita in the world for some time, creating the impression that everyone in the country benefits from a high standard of living.
In reality, there is a huge wealth gap in Qatar with the highest echelons of society mostly made up of locals. Below them are wealthier expats, middle management and unskilled workers.
Lucrative employment packages are the main draw for many expats but salaries in Qatar have decreased in recent years, while good and services have become more expensive.
This might make the country seem less appealing but the expat population continues to grow and there are still opportunities to make and save money in Qatar.

Cost of accommodation in Qatar

Rent prices in Qatar depend on the type of property and its location, and can be ridiculously high for expat accommodation. Prices also depend on whether a place is furnished or unfurnished, but it doesn’t hurt to try and negotiate a lower price.

Most expats in Qatar are based in Doha and choose to live in an area based on availability and its proximity to work or their children’s school.  Different areas of Doha will appeal to different tastes, but it has no ‘bad’ neighbourhoods.

Some expat salaries include a housing allowance that is either paid in monthly instalments or one lump sum, so it is good to double check this. Others might include a shipping allowance, which could be used to bring over larger or more expensive items, depending on how long an expat intends to stay. Furniture, home accessories and electronics are expensive in Qatar, and local stores may not have the range or quality expats are used to.

Utilities are reasonably priced but extra accommodation costs can add up. Some apartments have maintenance fees, so expats should find out whether the tenant or the landlord is responsible for paying.

Cost of transportation in Qatar

Petrol in Qatar is cheap, which adds to the intense love people have for their cars and may explain the nearly non-existent public transport system.

Hiring a driver, buying and renting a car are all viable options. While drivers might be less hassle, they may not allow as much freedom but might be economical for expats who only plan on travelling for work and grocery shopping.

There are plenty of car rental companies in Qatar, many of which offer better rates the longer the lease period. A small car, such as a Nissan Sunny, will cost upwards of 1,800 QAR per month, while a larger four-wheel drive vehicle will cost 6,000 QAR or more.

Buying a new car is not a problem, but the high turnover rate of expats means that there are very good deals on used vehicles.

When deciding on a car, it is important to note that most European and American car parts are more expensive and harder to source than Asian brands.

Free parking in Qatar is available in certain public places (Corniche, Rumaila Park) and shopping centres. Expats who are unlucky enough to get a parking ticket will have to pay around 350 QAR. Traffic violations such as speeding can cost more than 1,200 QAR.

Public transport in Qatar consists of buses and taxis, both of which are good value. Taxi fares start at 4 QAR per kilometre, while bus fares start at 3 QAR. Buses only run the main routes of Doha, and taxis are usually found at a handful of ranks around the city or in shopping centre parking lots.

It is also important to remember that Qatar is not the cheapest travel destination. Most employment packages offer expats a travel allowance or annual flights to their home country, but getting there is often expensive, especially during the summer and at the end of the year.

Cost of schooling in Qatar

The free public school system in Qatar is almost exclusively for locals, so foreigners will have to pay for their children’s education. Although the quality of private education is good, it can be expensive.  

Many employers offer an education allowance but it is good to double check this. School fees vary depending on the school and the child’s grade level. Kindergarten can cost around 22,000 QAR a year, while high school fees can be as much as 65,000 QAR a year, excluding application costs, uniforms and transport fees.

Cost of health insurance in Qatar

Health insurance is normally organised by employers, and the standard of care in Qatar is good. If health insurance is not included in an expat's payment package, they can access highly subsidised health and dental care with the Hamad Medical Corporation by purchasing a Hamad Card.

Cost of food and clothing in Qatar

A souq in Qatar, part of the local lifestyle.Qatar imports most its food products so, while expats can find familiar brands, they will be far more expensive than local equivalents. Organic produce, meat and dairy products are available but come at a price.
A small selection of local fruit, vegetables and fish can be quite reasonable, while fresh Qatari flat breads are downright cheap. Depending on the size of their family, expats will probably spend around 10 percent of their salaries on food.
There are numerous options when it comes to eating out in Qatar. Small, independent restaurants are cheaper and offer better value for money than the chain eateries and posh establishments found in hotels.

Alcohol is expensive, can only be purchased from one warehouse and requires a permit, but drinking out is even more expensive.

As with food, many familiar clothing brands and department stores can be found in the seemingly unending array of malls in Qatar, but high-profile labels will be more expensive. The latest electronics can be found too, but most expats tend to buy their phones and cameras overseas as it can work out to be much cheaper. 


Cost of living in Qatar chart 2015 (Based on Doha) 

Accommodation per month
Two-bedroom apartment in Al Sadd  QAR 10,500
Two-bedroom apartment in West Bay  QAR 18,500
Two-bedroom apartment in the Pearl  QAR 17,000
Four-bedroom villa in Al Rayyan QAR 22,000
Dozen eggs QAR 12
Milk (1 litre) QAR 7
Rice (1 kg) QAR 9
Loaf of white bread QAR 5.80
Chicken breasts (1kg) QAR 28
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) QAR 10

Eating out

Big Mac meal QAR 21.50
Large Coca Cola  (2.5 litre bottle) QAR 7
Cappuccino  QAR 18
Bottle of beer (local) QAR 40
Three course meal at a mid-range restaurant QAR 150

Utilities/household (monthly)

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile) QAR 0.75
Internet (Uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)  QAR 350
Basic utilities (Average per month for standard household) QAR 270


Taxi rate/km QAR 2
Bus fare in the city centre  QAR 5
Petrol/Gasoline QAR 1

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